Before we enter upon the prophecies, it will be requisite as a ground work for the superstructure to fix as nearly as may be; 1. the limits of these three divisions, or where each begins and ends; and 2. the subject matter of each; which constitute the most difficult points of the whole enquiry, and the most disputed among critics and commentators.

1. The opening of the first seal attached to the first sheet of the roll begins with the sixth chapter. In this, all are agreed, as also in the opening of the succeeding seals to the seventh ; beginning with the eighth chapter.

2. The four war trumpets plainly began to sound, with Rev. viii. 7.

3. The three woes attached to the three last trumpets, (viii. 13,) plainly begin with the ninth chapter.

4. In the course of the second woe, during the sounding of the sixth trumpet, (ix. 13-21,) is introduced the remarkable digression of the codicil with the tenth chapter; and the codicil itself plainly begins with the eleventh chapter.

The end of the codicil is much disputed. Mede, Lowman, Faber, &c. and most commentators, extend it through four or five chapters, ending with the thirteenth or fourteenth. But this, says bishop Newton, is to make the little book as large or larger than the sealed book; of which it is only an appendix, Dissert. Vol. III. p. 201.

5. He proposes, therefore, to shorten the little book, as ending with the fourteenth verse of the eleventh chapter, Vol. III. p. 132. But it rather more correctly ends with the preceding verse; for this 14th verse, “ the second woe is past; lo, the third is coming quickly,” evidently belongs to the sealed book ; resuming the subject from the conclusion of the ninth chapter, after the codicil is ended.

6. The third woe commences with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, xi. 15, and ends in a general thanksgiving of the spiritual Church to God for avenging his saints, and rewarding them at the first resurrection, xi. 18.

The account of the second and third woes, indeed, are extremely concise ; the second being dispatched in the eight last verses of the ninth chapter ; and the third, in the four last verses of the eleventh chapter, which properly ends with the 18th verse, the 19th verse beginning a new subject, in the twelfth chapter, to which it ought to be prefixed, according to the judicious distribution of Bishop Newton, Vol. III. p. 202 ; one of the best expositors of the Apocalypse ; treading in the steps of Joseph Mede, but not implicitly or servilely. Of whose scheme the present is chiefly designed to be an improvement.

4. The codicil contains a brief explanation of the leading events of the three last woes, during the persecuting period of a time, times, and half a time, originally noticed by Daniel in his appendix ; and here explained to denote forty-two months, or 1260 prophetic days, or years, xi. 2,3, see Vol. II. p. 529. 5. The supplemental visions, explanatory or illustrative of the book, and of the codicil, begin from the origin of the persecution of the Church of God, in the enmity of the old serpent, or fiery dragon, in the twelfth chapter; after this, an account of his prime instruments, the western and eastern wild beasts, is given in the thirteenth chapter, &c.

We shall next endeavour to unfold this simple arrangement, by a methodical outline of the whole.



1. Period. SEVEN Seals, 306 YEARS.



1. Seal. A white horse. The rider, Christ, as an archer con

quering and to conquer, vi. 1, 2... .

Foundation of the Church,
2. Seal. A red horse. The rider with a great sword, to inflict great

slaughter, ver. 3, 4 ......
Mutual wars and massacres of Jewish and Roman persecu-

tors of the Church *, ending with the desolation of



• The following were the principal persecutions of the Church by the Jews and the Romans.




1. By the Sanhedrim, alter Stephen's martyrdom, Acts viii. 1, ix. 31........ 2. By King Herod Agrippa. Martyrdom of James, Acts xii. 1-19..


1. By Nero. Martyrdom of Paul and Peter, 2 Tim. iv. 6, 2 Pet. i. 14........ 2. By Domitian. Exile of John to Patmos, Rev. i. 9..

65 95


3. Seal. A black horse. The rider holding a balance, to weigh the wheat and barley, v. 5, 6.......

136 Scarcity and famine ..

193 4. Seal. A pale horse. The rider Death, attended by Hades, v. 7,8. 194 Disease and pestilence

270 5. Seal. Cry of the Martyrs to God, for vengeance against their

persecutors, v. 9, 10.

5 303

3. By Trajan. Martyrdom of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch......

107 4. By Marcus Antoninus. Martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.

167 Martyrdom at Lyons *

174 5. By Severus. Violent and general

203 6. By Maximin. Of the Christian Clergy...

236 7. By Decius. Very severe and general. Torture of Origen. Many Christians recant through fear

250 8. By Gallus. At Rome chiefly

252 9. By Valerian. Martyrdom of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage..

258 10. By Diocletian and Maximian. The last, the severest and longest....

( 313 Diocletian and his associates' persecution for ten years, was the most terrible of all. This was designed, if possible, to extirpate the Christian name, as well as religion, and restore Paganism, as boasted in columnal inscriptions, found at Clunia, a Roman colony in Spain.



2. Diocletian. Cæs. Aug. GALERIO IN ORIENTE ADOPT.


ET CULTU DEOR. PROPAGATO. Lardner, Vol. VIII. p. 325. The reasons here assigned for persecuting the Christians, were, that they were turning the state," and " subverting the established worship of the gods."

The following profound reflection we owe to Montesquieu. “We know that the Romans received into their city the gods of other nations. But they did so as conquerors ; they carried them in procession in their triumphs. Whenever strangers attempted of themselves to establish their own gods, they were instantly repressed. We know further, that the Romans were accustomed to give to the strange gods whom they adopted, the names of their own gods most nearly resembling them: but when the priests of other countries wanted to introduce their gods, under their proper names, they were not permitted. And this was one of the greatest obstacles which the Christian religion found.” Rise and Declension, &c. cap. 16.

The Emperor Tiberius, therefore, paid Christ a particular compliment, when he proposed to the senate to enrol him, by name, ainong the number of their gods. See p. 280, &c. of this Volume.


See the circumstantial and affecting narrative of the persecution at Vienne and Lyons, under this admired emperor and philosopher, given by Eusebius, and translated at length by Lardner, Vol. VII. p. 417–437.



hold fast what thou hast, that no one take away thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God," Rev. iii. 7-12.

The sceptical historian moots the point, “ whether Philadelphia was saved by prophecy or by courage ?” The Christian reader cannot hesitate a moment, and Gibbon himself allows, that the Philadelphians “ defended their religion as well as their freedom.But where “the Spirit of the LORD is, there," and there only, “is liberty,2 Cor. iii. 17.

0! may the Church of England, that noblest pillar of THE REFORMATION, still stand erect” amidst the ruins of the continental Churches, in this dread hour of trial, or last woe, now actually come, (we apprehend) on all the world.

Injurioso ne pede proruas, Domine, (Rev. xi. 7.)
Stantem columnam !

Smyrna, that maritime city, is still populous. It is chiefly supported by its trade with the Franks, or western Christians, and the Armenians, or eastern, though under Turkish dominion. The Greek inhabitants, who, in Wheeler's time, were, at least, ten thousand, had but two Churches; the Armenians, amounting to several hundreds, but one; the English, who ranked next in number and consequence, had only a single chapel in the consul's house. Which is a shame," says Wheeler, considering the great wealth they keep up here beyond all the rest.An archbishop of the Greek Church resided there, and a Latin bishop, who then received a stipend from Rome.

“ But," says Wheeler, “I esteem a good English priest, (the chaplain of the factory at that time, an Evangelist, if compared with any of the rest,” and he represents the Christians in Smyrna as more numerous and flourishing than in any other of the seven Churches. This also was the result of prophecy, because of their patient endurance of persecution and poverty, rich in good works, Rev. ii. 9. “ Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer :- Be thou faithful unto death, and I will gire thee the crown of life," ver. 10. An encouragement peculiarly adapted to their Angel, or Bishop, the venerable Polycarp *, who suffered martyrdom rather than apostatize, A.D. 167.—“ Fourscore and six years

See the admirable Letter of the Church of Smyrna, describing Polycarp's martyrdom, Lardner, Vol. VII. p. 413-417.

have I served CHRIST, and he never injured me: how then can I blaspheme MY KING and MY SAVIOUR !" And our LORD forewarned them of the last and bloodiest persecution of ten years, by Diocletian, A.D. 303, “Behold the Devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have affliction, ten days," ver. 10.

At Pergamus our Lord noticed the recent martyrdom of “ Antipas, his faithful witnessduring Domitian's persecution, A.D. 94, Rev. ii. 13.

At Thyatira, the wicked prophetess, Jezebel, who seduced the people to idolatry and fornication, is threatened, she and her children, with death; and all the Churches shall know that I am HE who search the reins and breasts," Rev. ii. 204-23.

These awful, yet encouraging prophecies, were not confined to the seven Churches: they were written for our example, that

we also through patience and comfort of THE HOLY SCRIPTURES might have hope,” (1811.)

After this first terrestrial vision, others, still more amazing, were vouchsafed to the enraptured Apostle, by successive openings in heaven; (on the ensuing Lord's day, we may presume, affording new and more extended prospects of futurity. 1. A door was opened in heaven, which gave him a view of the Spiritual Church and worship, Rev. iv. l. 2. The spiritual sanctuary was opened, Rev. xi. 19. 3. Again, Rev. xv. 5. And 4. Heaven itself was fully opened, xix. 11*. Hence, the remainder of the book naturally resolves itself into four celestial visions. The first and grand vision beginning chap. iv. and ending chap. xi. 18. The second beginning chap. xi. 19, and ending chap. xiv. 20. The third beginning chap. xv. and ending chap. xix. 10. And the fourth beginning chap. xix. 11, and ending chap. xxii. 5.

GRAND CELESTIAL VISION. The Apostle was next invited by the same voice as of a trumpet, which he heard before in the first vision; “Ascend

These remarks are to be found in Wesley's excellent note on Rev. iv. 1, p. 210, furnishing a simple and most satisfactory master-key to the whole plan of the Apocalypse, by resolving it into four celestial visions, as above. It is remarkable, that Wesley himself did not apply this key, which he so happily suggested ; for he extends "the main vision, straight forward from the fourth to the twenty-second chapter,”

p. 246.

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