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The meaning imputed to any passage must never contradict, but must harmonize with that of parallel texts. In illustrating the several references in the Apocalypse to the same events and epochs, a repetition of scripture is somewhat unavoidable. These pages have resulted from notes prepared in a familiar course of Bible-class instruction, where the study of brevity was necessary. Without designing to speak dogmatically, the didactic was found the more direct and simple mode of expression.
In presenting this exposition, merely as the opinion of the writer, it is with the hope that it will give, in a small compass, a common-sense view of the intricacies of this book, and be acceptable to those interested in the study of prophecy. The Grammar of any science is a development of the principles by which it is governed. As the science of interpretation must be founded on some fixed and uniform laws, the unfolding of these is the first step in the study of prophecy.
Biblical Exegesis and Sacred Hermeneutics , are terms applied to the science of interpretation, or of learning the meaning of Biblical words and phrases. The Usus Loquendi , is the usual mode of speaking. When applied to the Scriptures, it denotes the general scriptural use of words.
To learn the meaning of scriptural terms, their general use must be ascertained, by comparing their contexts in the several places of their occurrence. Prophecy is the prediction of a future event. The term sometimes denotes a book of prophecies Rev.
Consecutive Prophecy gives the succession of future events in the order in which they will transpire. Discursive Prophecy presents future events, irrespective of the order of their occurrence. Conditional Prophecy is when the fulfilment is dependent on the compliance of those to whom the promise is made, with the conditions on which it is given. Predictions of mere national prosperity, or adversity, are usually conditional.
When the condition is not expressed, it is implied. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them: and he did it not.
And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them. Unconditional Prophecy includes all predictions which are absolute in their nature. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
A Vision is a revelation from God , supernaturally presented. Future events are made to pass before the mind of the seer , as if actually transpiring. A Symbolic Vision is where the future events, instead of being presented to the mind of the prophet, are represented by analogous objects.
A Literal Prophecy is where the prediction is given in words used according to their primary and natural import. Prophecy is figurative when it abounds in tropes, as in much of Isaiah and the minor prophets; and it is symbolic, when symbols instead of the objects themselves are presented—as in Daniel and John. Poetry is writing thus constituted by the metrical or rhythmical structure of its sentences; and is not necessarily any more figurative or obscure than prose writing.
It is, also, a term sometimes applied to the language of excited imagination and feeling. The Poetry of the Bible consists in Hebrew parallelisms, where the idea of the preceding line is repeated, or contrasted, in the succeeding one.
Highly Figurative , or Symbolic Prophecies—the [pg ] laws and use of Tropes and Symbols being understood are not necessarily more equivocal, enigmatical or obscure, than those which are literal. Literal Fulfilment of prophecy is prophecy fulfilled in accordance with the grammatical interpretation of its language. Literal Interpretation , when technically applied to the interpretation of prophecy, is not opposed to tropes or figures of speech, but to spiritual interpretation.
It interprets the language of the Scriptures, as similar language would be interpreted in all other writings. Spiritual Interpretation mystical seeks, in the language of Scripture, a meaning that is not expressed by any of the ordinary rules of language. It sets at defiance all the laws of language, and makes fancy the interpreter of prophecy. Ultra Literal Interpretation is a disregard of the peculiarities of symbols and of the several kinds of tropes—understanding them as if they were literally expressed.
Symbols and Tropes are literally explained, when interpreted in accordance with the grammatical laws which respectively govern their use. Prophetic Symbols are objects, real or imaginary, representative of agents or objects possessing analogous characteristics. All agents or objects seen in symbolic visions are symbols. The inspired explanations of symbols are always literal, except when they are affirmed to be the same as some other symbol which represents the same object, as in Rev.
Laws of Symbols. The Symbol and that which it represents are of the same , or they are of different species, kinds, or rank, according to the nature and use of the symbol. Symbols of the same kind, and used in the same relations, always represent one class of objects; and when the office of a symbol has been once shown, the same symbol, similarly used, always fills a like office. They are never used arbitrarily.
While like symbols represent like objects, the same agents are often indicated by different symbols. Inspired Explanations of Symbolic Representations :—. Tropes are figures of various kinds, used to illustrate the subjects to which they are applied. Laws of Figures — a.
Figures, in that respect, differ wholly from symbols, which never formally indicate, unless an interpretation is given, who the agents, or what the objects are which they represent. A Simile , or comparison, is an affirmation that one agent, object, or act, is like , or as, another,—there being a real or imaginary resemblance. Sometimes only the mere fact of a resemblance is affirmed. At others, the nature of the resemblance is indicated. Antithesis is a contrast, or placing in opposite lights things dissimilar.
A Metaphor is a simile comprised in a word, without the sign of comparison. It is an affirmation of an object, incompatible with its nature— i. When an object is affirmed to be what it only resembles, that of which the affirmation is made is always literally expressed. An Elliptical Metaphor is where the figure is incomplete. An object, instead of being affirmed to be what it only resembles, is introduced by the name proper only to that resemblance. The literal name of the object and the affirmation to complete the figure are to be supplied.
To find the meaning of an elliptical metaphor, trace the word through the Bible, and find to what object such metaphorical term is applied. An Apostrophe is a digression from the order of any discourse, and a direct address to the persons of whom it treats, or to those who are to form a judgment respecting the subject of which it treats. An Allegory is a narrative in which the subject of the discourse is described by an analogous subject, resembling it in its characteristics and circumstances—the subject of which it is descriptive being indicated in its connection.
Past historical events, instead of supposititious ones, are sometimes used for illustration. When thus used they serve as allegories, without affecting their original historical significance. See also Rom. A Parable is a similitude taken from natural things, to instruct us in the knowledge of spiritual.
The Parable differs from the Allegory in that the acts ascribed are appropriate to the agents to which they are attributed. The Parable is sometimes used to denote a prophecy, Num. The terms parable and allegory, are often wrongfully applied. A Riddle is an enigma—something to be guessed.
It is sometimes used to denote an allegory. The Hypocatastasis , or substitution, is a figure introduced by Mr. Lord , in which the objects, or agents, of one class are, without any formal notice, employed in the place of the persons or things of which the passages in which they occur treat; and they are exhibited either as exerting, or as subjected to an agency proper to their nature, in order to represent by analogy, the agency which those persons are to exert, or of which those things are to be the subjects.
A Metonymy is a reversion, or the use of a noun to express that with which it is intimately connected, instead of using the term which would literally express the idea. A Hyperbole is an exaggeration in which more is [pg ] expressed than is intended to be understood. Irony is the utterance of pointed remarks, contrary to the actual thoughts of the speaker or writer—not to deceive, but to add force to the remark.
The Interrogation —while its legitimate use is to ask a question—is also used to affirm or deny with great emphasis. Affirmative interrogations usually have no or not in connection with the verb. Examples of a negative. Exclamations are digressions from the order of a discourse or writing, to give expression to the emotions of the speaker, or writer. Fables are fictions—additions to the word of God.
All false theories and doctrines supposed to be based on the Bible, all interpretations of Scripture which do violence to the laws of language and falsify their meaning, and all opinions which are the result of mere traditions and doctrines of men, are to be classed as fables. Mark ; 1 Pet.
Synchronous Scriptures are the several passages which have reference to any one and the same event. Each portion of Scripture respecting any subject, must be considered in connection with all the Scriptures that refer to the same subject. It will thus be seen, that provision had been made for the future unveiling of what was left obscure in the predictions of the Old Testament writers; and for the unsealing of what was then closed up and sealed.
These were shown to John by symbolic representations, in a series of visions, the import of which was signified to him by an angelic interpreter. Therefore we may read, and receive the blessings promised to those who keep this testimony of Jesus. To discourage the study of it, is to treat with neglect, and to despise what God has spoken in these last days by his Son, Heb.
Those who thus neglect it, cannot regard the blessing promised to those who read, hear, and keep its sayings. Of the province of Asia, Ephesus was the capital, and was the principal place of John's residence. The seven cities which contained those churches, were situated in a kind of amphitheatre, surrounded by mountains. Smyrna was 46 miles north of Ephesus, and Pergamos 64 miles; Thyatira was 48 miles to the east, and Sardis 33 miles; Philadelphia 27 miles to the south, and Laodicea [pg ] 42 miles.
These churches had all been under the general supervision of John's ministry; and for this reason, doubtless, they are especially designated, instead of those with which he had not been so intimately connected. John observes the oriental custom of placing his name at the commencement, instead of the close of his communication. Few persons now deny that this was John the Evangelist.
The seven Spirits, would seem to be irrelevantly placed between the Father and the [pg ] Son,—the place always occupied by the Holy Spirit, when spoken of in connection with them,—if they were merely seven angels. Grace would also seem to be irreverently invoked from such,—its presence being implied where it is invoked,—unless they are expressive of the Holy Spirit, in which grace is inherent, and from whom it may be communicated; as it may not be from angels.
A burning flame is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The same is symbolized in Rev. Jesus Christ is the faithful Witness. He is the one who is to come in the clouds of heaven, in resplendent majesty, to reward his saints, and to destroy those who destroy the earth, This gives a clue to the date of the Apocalypse. John was banished into Patmos in the time of Domitian, in the latter part of his reign, and restored by his successor, Nerva.
But the book could not be published till after John's release, and return to Ephesus, in Asia. Domitian died in 96, and his persecution did not commence till near the close of his reign. He was the second that raised a persecution against us. In this persecution, it is handed down by tradition, that the apostle and evangelist, John , Antichrist's , openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the Revelation, for it was not long since it was seen, but almost in our own times , at the close of Domitian 's reign.
John was in the spirit; i. It was a day [pg ] which has been observed by all Christians in especial remembrance of that event. John does not appear to have anticipated any such announcement, until he was suddenly startled from his meditation by a voice in trumpet tones, announcing itself by the titles of Christ, and commanding him to write to the churches what he saw.
Hearing the voice, he turned to see who had spoken to him, and beheld a. The voice, by a metonymy, is used for the [pg ] person speaking. He turned to see the glorious personage by whom the trumpet-tones were uttered. Being turned, he saw the commencement of those great panoramic presentations, by which the events of the future were revealed to him, and the significance of which were explained by an angelic interpreter.
By this, and other symbols which are divinely interpreted, are unfolded the principles on which symbols are used. A candle or lamp stand, supports the light placed on it, as churches are the recipients and dispensers of the light of the Holy Scriptures. They are therefore appropriate symbols of churches. The sublime spectacle was too overwhelming for John's endurance, and, like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, his strength turned to corruption.
But the glorified Saviour was the same sympathetic being on whose breast John leaned, at the last supper, and he lays his endearing hand on John, and, by soothing words, restores his confidence. He explains the mystery [pg ] contained in the symbols shown, and enjoins on him to write the things he had seen—symbolic of the things which then were, and of those which were then in the future.
As no created resemblance is a fit representative of Deity, Christ is shown to John by the symbol of his own likeness. As the Saviour holds the stars in his hand, so does he sustain all his gospel ministers, enabling them to impart light to those who sit under their ministrations.
And as he walked in the midst of the golden candlesticks, so the Lord is ever in the midst of those who fear him, and call upon his name. The seven churches are not, themselves, seen in vision; they were symbolized by seven golden candlesticks. Consequently, these are seven literal churches that are addressed, and not allegorical, as some teach.
The symbolic portions of the Apocalypse, are the descriptions of what John saw, and the attendant utterances. What was addressed to the ear by way of explanation and instruction, does not come under the laws of symbolization. The Angel of the Church, here answers exactly to that officer of the synagogue among the Jews, called the messenger of the church, whose business it was to read , pray , and teach in the synagogue.
Timothy is [pg ] supposed to have had the care of the Ephesian church till A. They continued a fine and prosperous church, but had fallen away from their first love. Therefore He who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and holdeth in his hand the messengers of the churches, admonished them that, unless they repented he would remove their candlestick, i.
In the loss of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the loss of the first Angel , the extinction of the first candlestick of the Revelations. The desolation is complete, and the temple of Diana , or the church of Mary , will equally elude the search of the curious traveller. The Nicolaitanes, whose deeds God hated, were a sect of heretics, who assumed the name [pg ] from Nicholas of Antioch, one of the first seven deacons of the church in Jerusalem.
It is believed that he was rather the innocent occasion, than the author of the infamous practices of those who assumed his name,—who allowed a community of wives, and ate meats offered in sacrifice to idols. It was a short-lived sect. For hating their deeds, the church of Ephesus was commended, and also for not giving countenance to false teachers, who claimed to be apostles, and were proved to be liars. The angel of the church in Smyrna is supposed to have been Polycarp, who, rather than to apostatize, was burnt alive in that city about A.
It had suffered from the blasphemy of unbelieving Jews, who had a synagogue there and were particularly active at the martyrdom of Polycarp. Not a word of reproof is addressed to this [pg ] faithful flock; but they were to be still further tried, and a terrible persecution was foretold, which should continue ten prophetic days. Ten years was the duration of the last and bloodiest persecution under Diocletian, from A. This church passed triumphantly through all those trials; and Smyrna is now the most flourishing city of the Asiatic churches.
It contains a population of ,, and is the seat of an archbishop. From 15, to 20, of its inhabitants are still professedly Christian. The One who indites this epistle is thus designated, probably, because, unless they repented of the things alleged against them, he would fight against them with the sword of his mouth.
The church of Pergamos had refrained from apostasy, although situated in a wicked and corrupt city,—even where Satan reigned almost supreme and received the obedience of its inhabitants. They had been faithful in those days when Antipas, a faithful Christian, and probably the former pastor of the church, was slain Dr. Hales thinks in Domitian's persecution, in A.
Yet, the Lord had some things against them. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods. This was also, probably, the same as the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, p. The law having a shadow of good things to come Heb. I am that bread of life. In ancient trials, the votes of the judges were given by white and black pebbles. The former signified acquittal, and the latter condemnation.
Conquerors in public games sometimes received a white stone with their name inscribed on it, which entitled them, during the remainder of their life, to be maintained at the public expense. Persons were sometimes invited to feasts or banquets, [pg ] by the presentation of a white stone, with their name on it in connection with that of their hosts. The possession of the white stone evidently entitles the possessor to all the privileges of the heavenly inheritance.
Pergamos still contains a few thousand inhabitants. In commending the general piety of this church, they are censured for permitting a woman to teach false doctrines among them. The church is not only made responsible for what it teaches, but also for what it suffers others to teach. In this particular the church in Thyatira appears in contrast with the church in Ephesus. The doctrines which this wicked woman taught appear to be similar to those of the Nicolaitanes, p.
To receive the morning star, is to receive Christ, who testifieth of himself. The church in Sardis was Christian in name, but was destitute of spiritual life, with the exception of a few names who had not defiled their garments. Having become dead to the revivifying influences of the Holy Spirit, they are reminded that he who addresses them is the one who holds their messenger in his hand, and who hath the seven Spirits of God; i. They had doubtless become greatly conformed to the corrupt worldly influences by which they were surrounded, without having actually denied the faith, or embraced the hated doctrines of the Nicolaitanes.
Therefore they were exhorted to hold fast all that they still retained, and, by repentance, to recover what they had lost; and they were admonished that if they neglected those precautions, they would be suddenly visited; without its being designated what would be the precise nature, time, or manner, of their visitation: which made the threatening the more terrible.
White is an emblem of purity. To be clothed in white raiment, is therefore to be accepted of the Saviour. To blot one's name out of the book of life, is to erase his title to heaven. The figure seems to be an allusion to the ancient custom of enrolling in a book the names of all free citizens. If their names were confessedly written there, they were entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizenship; but if blotted out, they had forfeited these.
The church in Sardis, has long been utterly extinct; and what remains of the city is a miserable Turkish village. The church of Philadelphia had maintained her integrity, and is therefore addressed in the language of commendation, without the rebukes which were directed to her sister churches. The Jews in Philadelphia, who had claimed to be the only true church of God, but who were in reality of the synagogue of Satan, were to cease their opposition to the Christians, and to seek instruction and protection from them—recognizing the love of God to Gentiles as well as to Jews.
History is silent respecting the fulfilment of this; but there is no reason to suppose that it was not literally fulfilled. Some suppose it had reference to the persecution under Trajan, which was more severe and extensive than those under Nero, or Domitian: and others that it was the Mohammedan delusion. In such times there are peculiar temptations to apostatize, and the less faithful are in more danger of apostasy than others.
But because the Philadelphian church had been faithful thus far, they were to be kept from that trying hour. When the scourge of Mohammedanism swept over all the other [pg ] churches of Asia, this church maintained its integrity. At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and their freedom above fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans.
To receive the name of God, is to be recognized as belonging to God. As masters designated their servants by branding their name on them, or by some peculiar mark, so the children of God are referred to by the same figure. Their connection with new Jerusalem is similarly designated. By his titles of truth and verity, the Saviour prepares the Laodiceans for the humiliating threatenings, which are uttered against them. The Laodiceans seemed to have been very well satisfied with their own condition, without possessing any very marked characteristics.
They were neither good, nor very wicked; but supposed that they abounded in all spiritual wealth, when they were destitute of all the Christian graces. They could not appreciate their own condition; and not realizing their need, were unlikely to heed the counsel given them, and therefore they have long since ceased to have a name and a place on the earth.
The great majority of them seemed to have become unworthy even of the chastisement which God bestows on those he loves. The Saviour shows his readiness to receive those who will open unto him. To him that overcometh, as in another place he is promised a crown, so now there is the promise of a seat with the Saviour in his throne. Their divine origin, and, consequently, [pg ] the deference with which they are to be received as a revelation from God, are demonstrated by this symbolization of the presence chamber of the Almighty.
The revelator had before heard a voice speaking to him, ; and turning to look, he beheld the risen Saviour. He then writes the epistles which the Saviour dictated to the churches; and again he turns his eyes to the place where the voice spake to him.
It was doubtless an appearance of an aperture in the sky above, through which the revelator saw the vision. The difference between the two orders, is not fully apparent. The entire hosts of the redeemed are thus represented as interested spectators in the visions which are to be unfolded. It was an emblem of purity. Before entering the tabernacle the priest must there wash. Those admitted on the sea of glass, are those who are purified and made white in the blood of the Lamb, With this preliminary representation, the first series of events extending to the final consummation, is shown under the symbol of:.
The written book, must symbolize God's purposes, [pg ] which were about to be unfolded on the loosening of the seals. Its being written within and without, indicates the fulness of its contents, the completeness of the record:—God's purposes being fully and unalterably formed. To open the seals, no one was found worthy. There was no being in heaven among the angels, no human being on the earth, and no disembodied spirit, or demon, under the earth, who was able to unfold the future.
See p. The rejoicings on the announcement of Christ's ability to take the book, and to open the seals, indicate the greatness of the blessing which God gives the church, when he thus reveals a knowledge of the future. All creatures should join in these hosannas, and praise the Lord for his great condescension, in showing his servants the things which must shortly come to pass.
To neglect this revelation, is not joining in the ascription of praise. The golden vials, full of odors, symbolize the prayers of saints. Under the Mosaic dispensation, the frankincense and odors offered at the tabernacle were emblematic of prayer and praise to God.
Christ takes the book from the hand of him who sits on the throne, and opens the seals. Thus he makes known unto his servants the revelation which God had given him, As each successive seal is opened, successive portions of the writing in the book become accessible,—an epoch is marked, following which, and previous to that symbolized by the [pg ] opening of the next seal, are to be fulfilled, the events symbolized under it.
The voice is evidently addressed to the personage on the white horse, or to the agencies thus symbolized. It is the signal for their appearance on the stage of action. The symbol is that of a victorious warrior, armed with weapons of conquest,—success being indicated by the crown given him.
As there is no analogous order, except in the religious world, Mr. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Thus equipped, they went forth, conquering and to conquer. They assailed the strong-holds of sin and Satan, and planted the standard of the cross in all portions of the then civilized world. The period symbolized under this seal, was distinguished for purity of faith in the church, and devotion to the cause of Christ,—indicated by the whiteness of the horse that the warrior rides. This symbol, like the former, is that of a mounted warrior, and must also symbolize a body of religious teachers.
The color of the horse, indicates that the doctrine and character of the body symbolized will have lost the original purity of the church, and become more sanguinary; which is also indicated by the great sword given him. The warfare under this seal is not against outside enemies; for they kill each other. This, then, indicates an era when the church shall be disquieted, and her peace interrupted by internal dissensions.
Such was its history during the third, fourth, and fifth centuries. This period was distinguished for the contentions of the clergy; their usurpation of power not conferred by the apostles; their divisions and sub-divisions into parties; their opposing councils; their collisions and distractions; their love of power; their pride, discord, strife, and tyranny; their mutual anathemas and excommunications; the envy, jealousy, and detraction they indulged in, and the other hateful passions which they exercised.
Thus they marred the peace of the church; and by causing many to apostatize, killed each other with spiritual death. This foreshadows a period of great scarcity and cruel exactions. This, then, marks a period when the traditions and opinions of men are substituted for the word of God. With Origen was introduced a new mode of interpreting scripture, which afterwards became prevalent. The scriptures, instead of being received in their natural and obvious sense, were regarded as mystical and allegorical.
Substituting the conceptions of their own fancy for the word of God, they withheld from the people the bread of life, and produced a famine for the word of the Lord. Crude notions took the place of Bible doctrines; and pernicious speculations were substituted for the teachings of Christ and his apostles.
Baptism and the Lord's supper, lost their emblematic significance, and were regarded as saving ordinances. Heaven was sought to be merited by works, and sanctification was supposed to be gained by penance and mortification of the flesh. In short, all the corruptions of the apostasy were substituted for the primitive faith, and the Bible became a sealed book to the great mass of the people. The Christian church alone being analogous to the civil power, it is within its pale that the fulfilment of this symbol is to be looked for.
During this period, violence is substituted for famine; and men are compelled to apostatize, which results in spiritual death. The Papacy having the power to enforce her decrees, Christians had to embrace her faith, or be handed over to the secular power for punishment. They produced death by compelling men to apostatize, by withholding from them the word of life, by infusing into their minds pestiferous doctrines, and by the fear of the civil power,—symbolized by the sword, famine, pestilence, and beasts of the earth.
This symbolized a period intervening between the time of the martyrdom, of those [pg ] whose souls are seen in vision, and another time of persecution to follow. Consequently, the symbol represents the disembodied spirits of those who had already been slain. They symbolize the souls of martyrs who counted not their lives dear unto themselves for the sake of Christ; and being faithful unto death, were in expectation of a crown of life.
Says Mr. They are represented as having been slain, and as uttering their appeal to God because of their blood having been shed. The presentation of white robes to them, symbolizes their acceptance and justification. The declaration that they must rest till their fellow-servants are killed , as they have been, implies another persecution, to be subsequent to the period symbolized by the opening of this seal.
The persecutions which followed the Reformation, in which the fires of Smithfield were lighted in England, the Huguenots were driven from France, and thousands suffered martyrdom, probably fulfilled this. The interest taken by the souls of the martyrs in the avenging of their blood on the earth, shows that the spirits of departed saints look forward with intense interest to the time of their glorification.
And although the dead who die in the Lord are blessed, the glories of the resurrection morn are not less desired by those who are absent from the body and present with the Lord, than by humble, devoted, waiting Christians here. The opening of this seal evidently synchronizes with the commencement of the reformation, when they might have supposed the kingdom of God would immediately appear.
The laws of symbolization require that symbols should not be representatives of their own order when there is any analogous order to be representatives of. In other places in the Apocalypse, these symbols are used, under circumstances where it is impossible to regard them as symbols of their own order.
And here, as the kings of the earth call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them after the heaven has departed as a scroll and every mountain and island is moved out of its place, it is necessary to regard them as symbols of objects of analogous orders. The earthquake, then, as in corresponding Scriptures, symbolizes a political revolution.
The darkening of the sun and moon, would represent a change in the character of the rulers and legislators of the world, so that instead of extending a genial influence over their subjects, they should exert a deleterious one; and the fall of the stars, their ejection from their stations—synchronizing with the first five vials , and fulfilled in the political [pg ] revolutions of Europe during the past century.
By the passing away of the heavens and the removal of mountains and islands from their places, is symbolized the total dissolution of all human governments—corresponding to the seventh vial On the occurrence of this unprecedented state of anarchy, the inhabitants of earth will be aware of the proximity of the Advent. They flee from the face of the Lamb, which indicates his appearance in the clouds of heaven at his personal advent.
The great day of wrath will have come; but before the infliction of merited punishment on his enemies, the servants of God are to be designated, the righteous dead are to be raised, and they with the righteous living are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thess. The living righteous are designated by:. The symbols here presented, were seen immediately subsequent to the exhibition of the preceding ones. This alone would not prove that the events symbolized follow in order, but it is indicated by their being a continuation of the symbolization under the sixth seal, and before the opening of the seventh.
In the sixth chapter, the great men and rich men, as well as bond-men, are aware of the proximity of the day of the Lord, and seek for a refuge from the face of the Lamb. The next events in consecutive order, would be the resurrection of the righteous dead, the change of the living, their ascension to meet the Lord in the air, and the infliction of the wrath of God on the wicked.
After the wicked seek to escape from God's presence, the righteous are still unchanged upon the earth. But before the wrath of God is poured upon his enemies, the winds of heaven are to be holden while the angel of the living God seals his servants in their foreheads. The four winds are the winds coming from all directions; and symbolize strife, war, and commotion among men, analogous to the violent action of the winds of heaven.
In Dan. The blowing of the wind seems to be any influence exerted upon men. In Ezek. The angels holding the winds, consequently, must symbolize the agencies which have the power to excite or quell these disturbing influences. They do the bidding of the Lord in restraining or exerting the influences which should produce the effect symbolized. The holding of them indicates the proximity and certainty of their blowing unless they are restrained. The earth, sea, and trees, which would be hurt by the blowing of the wind, evidently symbolize the different classes of inhabitants of the earth, on whom an effect [pg ] would be produced by the blowing of the winds, analogous to the effect produced on those elements by a violent tempest, or hurricane.
The storm here symbolized is evidently that of which the Scriptures speak. The sealing of the servants of God in their foreheads, designates them, but does not constitute them such; for none are sealed, only those who are previously his. This is in allusion to the ancient custom of stamping with a hot iron the name of the owner on the forehead or shoulder of his slave.
Before the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Ezekiel saw in vision a man clothed in linen, with a writer's ink-horn by his side, who was commissioned to go through the midst of Jerusalem and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
The ,,—the whole number sealed, is a perfect number,—an appropriate symbol of all the living righteous on the earth. The twelve tribes, then, would symbolize all the branches of Christ's mystical body in which the servants of God are found. The pious dead would need no mark indicative of their acceptance, having previously, in the white robes given them, received the symbols of their justification, That their resurrection and the changing of the living, immediately succeeded, is evident from:.
This great multitude of white-robed palm-bearers, must include those who, under the preceding seal, anxiously inquired how long was to be deferred the avenging of their blood on those who dwell on the earth. That epoch had now arrived; and they come forth arrayed in the white robes then given them. The palm-branches in their hands, are emblems of victory. They symbolize the subjects of the first resurrection, caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The epoch, is a point of time intervening between the first resurrection, and the descent of the new Jerusalem, They are removed above the troubles of earth, which are impending upon the wicked, under:.
The epoch of this seal, is sometimes regarded as anterior to that of the trumpets; and those are often supposed to be included in the events of this seal; but no conclusive reason has ever been given for removing it from its obvious position as the closing one, of a series of successive periods, commencing with the gospel, and extending to the end of the world. If the first six are successive in their respective order, analogy would require that the seventh be thus considered.
Under the sixth seal, the great men and rich, are seen fleeing to the rocks for refuge from the wrath of the Lamb; and the risen saints symbolized, are in the Saviour's presence; but the infliction of the wrath of God on the wicked is not there symbolized. The events of that seal come down as far as those in the 19th chapter, which precede the marriage of the Lamb, The half-hour's silence, is the first thing indicated under the seventh seal.
Being so expressly noticed, it would seem to be of some significance. It would be a period of holy joy to the righteous in the Saviour's presence, and of awful suspense to the wicked. The seven angels, to whom were given seven trumpets, being introduced here, have doubtless caused the events of this seal to be regarded as anterior to the first trumpet. As those immediately following, evidently synchronize with occurrences of the closing epoch, the angels can only be introduced here in anticipation of the symbolization which they are to unfold under the sounding of the successive trumpets—the same as the seven angels with the last plagues are introduced, before the epoch of the commencement of their allotted work, The golden censer was the instrument in which incense was burned in the Jewish worship.
Incense symbolizes prayers The offering of much incense with the prayers of all saints and the smoke of the incense ascending up before God, indicates the acceptance of their offerings in heaven—the act being before the throne, and not on the earth.
The fire from the altar, symbolizes the instruments of divine justice; and the filling the censer with coals after the acceptance of the saints, and the casting of both the censer and fire to the earth, indicate that thenceforth there would be no more acceptance of prayer from those left on the earth, but the speedy infliction of impending judgments. They are the same, also, as those under the seventh vial, ; and symbolize the final overturn and commotion, previous to the cleansing of the earth and the ushering in of a better day: Then will the.
The sounding of each successive trumpet marks the commencement of an era, of a longer or shorter duration, as the striking of a clock does the succession of hours. During each era, were to be fulfilled the events symbolized in connection with its respective trumpet. Those under the trumpets are more of a political character than those presented in connection with the seals. The earth of the Apocalypse is regarded by most expositors as the Roman empire, in a state of comparative quiet.
As no tornado like this described has ever happened, its correspondence must be sought for in the political relations of the empire. There is great unanimity among commentators respecting the period and the agents here symbolized,—that it refers to the invasions of the Goths and [pg ] other barbarians, from A.
After , their incursions were more severe than during the earlier portion of that period. The third part of the earth, would be the third part of the Roman empire, in distinction from the other two-thirds. As all the green grass is burnt up, while only one-third of the trees suffer, the latter cannot include one-third of all the trees in the empire, but only one-third in the parts affected,—the grass indicating the more weakly, and the trees the more hardy classes of Christians.
The infidel historian, Gibbon, has given the events which fitly correspond with the symbolization of these trumpets. After the death of Theodosius, in January, A. The terrible effects of this invasion, are thus described:—. Their countrymen, who had been condemned, by the conditions of the last treaty, to a life of tranquillity and labor, deserted their farms at the first sound [pg ] of the trumpet, and eagerly assumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down.
The Goths were directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. In the midst of a divided court, and a discontented people, the emperor, Arcadius, was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war. The travellers who visited Greece several years afterwards, could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths.
The whole territory of Attica was blasted by his baneful presence; and if we may use the comparison of a cotemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved, by death, from beholding the slavery of their families, and the conflagration of their cities.
Being tempted by the fame of Rome, Alaric hastened to subjugate it. He put to flight the Emperor of the West; but deliverance soon came, and Rome was saved from his hands. Alaric was first conquered in But another cloud was gathering, and is thus described by Gibbon:—. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians, formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alani, who had found a hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to the heavy infantry of the Germans; and the Gothic adventurers crowded so eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus, that, by some historians, he has been styled the King of the Goths.
Twelve thousand warriors, distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth, or their valiant deeds, glittered in the van; and the whole multitude, which was not less than two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased by the accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four hundred thousand persons.
Many cities of Italy were pillaged or destroyed; and the siege of Florence by Radagaisus, is one of the earliest events in the history of that celebrated republic, whose firmness checked or delayed the unskilful fury of the barbarians. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the barbarians: their huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood.
The banks of the Rhine were crowded, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms; and if the poet descended the river, he might express his doubt on which side was situated the territory of the Romans. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins, could alone distinguish the solitude of nature, from the desolation of man.
The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished, after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburg, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.
That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars. After this invasion of the empire by Radagaisus, Alaric again returned, invaded Italy in , and in he besieged, took, and sacked Rome, and died the same year.
In the Goths voluntarily retired from Italy. Their numerous congregations, both in the cities and country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and of the exercise of religious worship. A mountain differs from a tornado, and must symbolize a compact, organized body of invaders.
Its being of a volcanic nature, renders [pg ] it so much the more terrible and destructive. The ships and fish in the sea, must necessarily symbolize agents sustaining a relation to the Roman Sea, analogous to the relation of such to the literal sea.
They are those who live upon, and are supported by, the people:—the rulers and the officers of state. The symbol of a burning mountain fitly represents the armed invaders under Genseric. In the year , with fifty thousand effective men he landed on the shores of Africa, established an independent government in that part of the Roman empire, and from thence, harassed the southern shores of Europe and the intermediate islands, by perpetual incursions.
The discovery and conquest of the black nations that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes towards the sea; he resolved to create a new naval power, and his bold enterprise was executed with steady and active perseverance. The woods of Mount Atlas afforded an inexhaustible nursery of timber; his new subjects were skilled in the art of navigation and ship-building; he animated his daring Vandals to embrace a mode of warfare which would render every maritime country accessible to their arms; the Moors and Africans were allured by the hope of plunder; and, after an interval of six centuries, the fleet that issued from the port of Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean.
The success of the Vandals, the conquest of Sicily, the sack of Palermo, and the frequent descents on the coast of Lucania, awakened and alarmed the mother of Valentinian, and the sister of Theodosius. Sailing from Africa, they disembarked at the port of Ostia, and Rome and its inhabitants were delivered to the licentiousness of Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions revenged the [pg ] injuries of Carthage.
The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public and private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric. In the forty-five years that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury of Rome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult either to escape, or to satisfy the avarice of a conqueror, who possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth of the capital.
The sounding of the third trumpet marks the advent of a third invader of the Roman empire. And such was Attila, the king of the Huns, who invaded Gaul A. Gibbon says:—. From the royal village in the plains of Hungary, his standard moved towards the west; [pg ] and, after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Necker.
At the head of his brave and faithful Huns, Attila occupied, in person, the centre of the line. The number of the slain amounted to one hundred and sixty-two thousand, or according to another account, three hundred thousand persons; and these incredible exaggerations suppose a real or effective loss, sufficient to [pg ] justify the historian's remark, that whole generations may be swept away, by the madness of kings, in the space of a single hour. Attila was compelled to retreat; but neither his forces nor reputation suffered.
After this dreadful chastisement, Attila pursued his march; and, as he passed, the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns.
He advanced into Italy, only as far as the plains of Lombardy and the banks of the Po, reducing the cities he passed to stones and ashes; but there his ravages ceased. He concluded [pg ] a peace with the Romans in the year of his invasion of Italy , and the next year he died. Thus he appeared like a fiery meteor, exerted his appointed influence upon the tongues and people, who were tributary to the Romans,—as rivers and fountains of waters are to the sea; and like a burning star, he as suddenly expired.
To show the consequences of sin. God has always taught men that His laws are more than mere word-rules; there is force in them, and he that breaks them must suffer. To bring to Himself. Man, O most ungrateful man, can ever Enjoy Thy gift, but never mind the Giver; And like the swine, though pampered with enough, His eyes are never higher than the trough. The penalty annexed to it is, in the first instance, corrective, not penal. Fire burns the child, to teach it one of the truths of this universe—the property of fire to burn.
The first time it cuts its hand with a sharp knife, it has gained a lesson which it will never [p. Now, in the case of pain, this experience is seldom, if ever, in vain. There is little chance of a child forgetting that fire will burn, and that sharp steel will cut; but the moral lessons contained in the penalties annexed to wrong-doing are just as truly intended to deter men from evil, though they are by no means so unerring in enforcing their application.
The fever, in the veins and the headache which succeed intoxication are meant to warn against excess. On the first occasion they are simply corrective; in every succeeding one they assume more and more a penal character, in proportion as the conscience carries with them the sense of ill-desert. Robertson, — As the child, fearing nothing, is so fond of his play that he strays and wanders from his mother, not so much as thinking of her; but if he be scared or frighted with the sight or apprehension of some apparent or approaching danger, presently runs to her, casts himself into her arms, and cries out to be saved and shielded by her: so we, securely enjoying the childish sports of worldly prosperity, do so fondly dote on them that we scarce think of our Heavenly Father; but when perils and dangers approach, and are ready to seize upon us, then we flee to Him, and cast ourselves into the arms of His protection and providence, crying and calling to Him by earnest prayer for help and deliverance in this our extremity and distress.
It is clear from this chapter that the Lord views the sin of mankind with intense regret. Israel in this case is not so much a type of believers as a representative of sinners in general. The greatest difficulty in the world is to make men think. The common but serious fault here condemned. Men are most inconsiderate—1. Towards God;  2. Some things that make the commonness of this fault surprising.
Men live without consideration upon a matter in regard to which nothing but consideration will avail. Nothing can stand in lieu of thoughtfulness in religion. In regard to other matters we can employ others to think for us. But in this matter we must think for ourselves. Religion is a spiritual business, and if a man lives and dies refusing to consider, he has put away from him all hope of being saved; for grace comes not into us by mechanical process, but the Holy Spirit works upon the mind and soul.
This inconsideration is practised in regard to a subject the consideration of which would be abundantly remunerative, and would lead to the happiest results. Some of the aggravations which attend it. It is fallen into by those of whom better things might reasonably have been expected.
They have had their attention earnestly directed to the topics which they still neglect. They have also been chastised, in the gracious endeavour to arouse them from their thoughtlessness. Many of them are very zealous in regard to outward religion, as were those whom the prophet rebuked. They have been most earnestly and affectionately invited to turn to God by gracious promises such as ver. They have ability enough to consider other things.
Some of the secret causes of this widespread fault. In the case of many thoughtless persons we must lay the blame to the sheer frivolity of their nature. In every case the bottom reason is opposition to God Himself. Upon some minds the tendency [p. Some make an excuse for themselves for not considering eternity, because they are such eminently practical men.
They are living for realities of the nature of hard case, and will not be induced to indulge in fancies and notions. Many are prejudiced, because some Christian professor has not lived up to his profession, or they have heard something which is said to be the doctrine of the gospel of which they cannot approve. In most cases men do not like to trouble themselves, and they have an uncomfortable suspicion that if they were to look too narrowly into their affairs, they would find things far from healthy.
Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. Whoever a courtier may neglect, he is sure to consider his king. Men when they start their sons in business will bid them mind the main chance, and attend to the principal point, and especially take care to stand well with such a man who has the power to help or to ruin them. Men, as a general rule, are far too ready to seek the assistance of those who are in power, and this makes it all the more strange that the all-powerful God, who lifteth up and casteth down, should be altogether forgotten, or, when remembered, should still be dishonoured by mankind.
Every good man desires to be on good terms with the good; unusual goodness wins admiration, and an invitation to associate with the eminently excellent is usually accepted with pleasure; yet in the case of the thrice holy God, whose name is Love, it is not so. All attractions are in the character of God, and yet man shuns his Maker. If God were a demon, man could hardly be more cold towards Him. Any trifle will attract him, but he will not consider his own immortality, or meditate upon the joy or the misery that must be his portion.
It is in very truth a miracle of human depravity—what if I say insanity—that man should be unmindful of his best self. I have known some also who, if they were called ungrateful, would indignantly spurn the charge.
They would count themselves utterly loathsome if they did not return good to those who have done them good; and yet it may be these very same persons have been throughout life unjust towards God, and ungrateful towards Him to whom they owe their being, and all that makes it endurable. The service, the thankfulness, the love which are due to Him, they have withheld.
In some melancholy spirits their godliness is too shallow to make them happy; they breathe so little of the heavenly air that they are distressed for want of more. In others the sorrow occasioned by gracious reflection is but a preliminary and passing stage of grace; there must be a ploughing before there can be a harvest; there must be medicine for the disease before health returns, and the newly-awakened are just in the stage and the condition of drinking bitter medicine.
This will soon be over, and the results will be most admirable. A great cloud of witnesses, among whom we joyfully take our place, bear witness to the fact that the ways of the Lord are ways of pleasantness. Our deepest joy lies now in knowing God, and considering Him. If he were a truly practical man, he would do that. And yet how often your practical man still more greatly errs; he devotes all his time to money-making, and not a minute to the salvation of his soul, and its preparation for eternity!
Is this practical? Why, sir, Bedlam itself is guilty of no worse madness than that! There is not in all your wards a single maniac who commits a more manifest act of insanity than a man who spends all his force upon this fleeting life, and lets the eternal future go by the board. Not he. He did not know how his affairs stood, and, moreover, he did not want to know; he did not like his books, and his books did not like him. He was going to the bad, and he therefore tried to forget it.
They say of the silly ostrich that when she hides her head in the sand, and does not see her pursuers, she thinks she is safe; that is the policy of many men. They spread their sails, and get up the steam, and go with double speed straight ahead. What, not look at the chart! No, they do not want to know whether there are rocks and breakers ahead.
Arrest that captain, put him in irons, and find a sane man to take charge of the vessel. Oh for grace to arrest that folly which is the captain of your bark, and put sound sense in command, or else a spiritual shipwreck is certain. Inconsiderateness is one of the commonest of all human characteristics.
While apparently a comparatively harmless thing, it is the source of nearly all the evils by which man is afflicted, and of the sins by which God is grieved and made angry. Look at some of the evils to which a want of consideration leads in the various spheres of life: educational, domestic, social, commercial, political, religious. Cultivate the habit of considering the issues of various courses of conduct.
Consider the relations in which you now stand to Almighty God. You must be either a rebel, exposed to His vengeance, or a pardoned child, shielded by His love. Which is it? Death comes and snatches away one man here, a second there; one before them, another behind them, and they are killed by death, undone for ever; yet they who survive take no warning, but persist in their wicked, ungodly ways Job.
A plough is coming from the far end of a long field, and a daisy stands nodding, and full of dew-dimples. That furrow is sure to strike the daisy. It casts its shadow as gaily, and exhales its gentle breath as freely, and stands as simple and radiant and expectant as ever; and yet that crushing furrow, which is turning and turning others in its course, is drawing near, and in a moment it whirls the heedless flower with sudden reversal under the sod!
And as is the daisy, with no power of thought, so are ten thousand thinking sentient flowers of life, blossoming in places of peril, and yet thinking that no furrow of disaster is running in toward them—that no iron plough of trouble is about to overturn them. But it is only for a moment, for we are artful to cover the ear, and not listen to the voice that warns us of danger.
The human sorrow and smart! And yet it never was in my soul To play so ill a part: But evil is wrought by want of thought, As well as want of heart! The universe is regulated by fixed laws, by which God preserves and governs all things.
Man is endowed with rational powers, intellectual faculties, capable of apprehending these laws, whether they become known to him by revelation or by his own discoveries, and of using them as his guides. His well-being depends upon his harmony with them, and his dignity and bliss on the right application of his mental powers. There are many subjects to which our consideration should be attentively and diligently given.
We should consider— I. The character and will of God. His words should lead us to this. If you see a beautiful picture, or piece of sculpture or mechanism, you naturally direct your thoughts to the artist or mechanist who has produced it. The grandeur of the divine works surrounds you, and ought you not to consider the wondrous Architect of the whole?
His relationship to you should induce it. Your existence is derived from Him, and He fashioned you, and bestowed on you all your endowments. He is your Father, your bountiful Preserver. Besides, you are ever in His hand, ever before His eyes, He surrounds you.
And He is great, wise, powerful, holy, and just. His love and favour are heaven; His anger and frowns are hell. What are we? What our powers? Are we answering the end of our being? Our spiritual state before God. Is it one of ignorance, or of knowledge? Are we heirs of wrath or perdition, or of God and salvation?
The importance of life. Life is the seedtime for eternity, the period of probation, the only opportunity of securing eternal blessedness. How short it is, how fragile, how uncertain! How criminal to waste it, to pervert it! The solemnities of death Deut. Consider its certainty, its probable nearness, its truly awful character.
Try to realise it. The great concerns of eternity. The judgment-day. Heaven, with its eternal glories; hell, with its everlasting horrors. Eternity itself, how solemn, how overwhelming! How blissful to the saint! That salvation which will fit us for living, dying, and for eternity. Provided by the mercy of God, obtained by the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed in the gospel, offered to every sinner, received by simple faith, and which delivers from guilt, pollution, fear, and everlasting wrath.
Our present duty and interest. Men are supposed to care naturally for these. But their care usually relates merely to the body, and the things of time. Consider whether it is not your duty to obey and serve God; whether it is not your interest 1 Tim. That there is no substitute for religion Jer. Some have never considered. Now begin. Retire [p. Cultivate the habit of consideration,  and carry into effect the conclusions to which you will inevitably come. There is hope for all who will consider.
They are hopeless who will not consider. Consideration, he knows, is the first step to repentance. He that doth not consider his ways what they are, and whither they lead him, is not likely to change them in haste. Israel stirred not until Moses came, and had some discourse with them about their woful slavery and the gracious thoughts of God towards them, and then they begin to desire to be gone.
Pharaoh soon bethought him what consequence might follow upon him, and cunningly labours to prevent it by doubling their task. Go therefore and work. By his good-will he should come at neither; no, nor have a thought of heaven or hell from one end of the week to the other, and that he may have as few as may be, he keeps him full-handed with work.
The sinner grinds, and he is filling the hopper that the mill may not stand still. Ah, poor wretch! As long as the devil can keep thee thus, thou art his own sure enough. He considered with himself what a starving condition he was in; his husks were poor meat, and yet he had not enough of them; and how easily he might mend his commons if he had but grace to go home and humble himself to his father!
Now, and not till now, he goes. Yet a little, And the last fleeting particle will fall Silent, unseen, unnoticed, unlamented. Come, then, sad thought, and let us meditate, While meditate we may. We have now But a small portion of what men call time To hold communion.
On this he mused, and mused the whole day long, Feeding his feeble faith till it grew strong. One only remains behind. He hears the tumult, but it weaves itself into the shape of dreams, and he seems to be listening to some parade, and soon the sounds begin to be indistinct in his ear, and at length they cease to make any impression upon him.
During all this time he is inhaling the deadly gas with which his apartment has become filled, gradually his senses are benumbed, and finally he is rendered unconscious by suffocation. And, in the midst of peril, and the thunder of excitement, that man who is the least awake, and the least frightened, is the very man that is most likely to be burned up.
We now call your attention to the true character of religious consideration. It should be serious and earnest. The subjects are too solemn and [p. It must not be a mere cursory survey, a rapid glance at these great concerns, but a careful, deliberate contemplation of them; just as a prisoner about to be tried for a capital offence would consider his defence, or a wrecked mariner how he shall escape a watery grave, or a traveller how to accomplish some momentous journey or voyage.
If it be done lightly and hastily, it will not profit us or please God. It should be prayerful. The exercise will be irksome to the natural heart. We shall be disposed to give it up, or do it slightingly. The grace of God alone can give the spirit necessary for the right discharge of it.
Therefore begin, continue, and follow it out with prayer. It should be pursued in connection with a diligent use of the public means of grace. All are needful to the soul, as wind, sun, rain, and dew are all needful to the ripening of fruit. It should be continued and persevering. Not too much to devote a portion of every day to it.
The first and last moments would be thus profitably exercised,  and it must be followed out. In conclusion, notice some reasons why you should consider. Because you have powers to do so. God made you for this end, that you should consider. In neglecting this, you despise your own souls, you sink to below the level of the brute creation. They do answer the end of their existence, and obey their several instincts.
Because it is your duty. God enjoins it—He urges, expostulates. To neglect it is, therefore, to despise God and rebel against Him. It is essential to the possession of true religion. Various are the ways in which God brings man to Himself; by a variety of instruments and means, but none without consideration.
It is the first great step towards saving religion. By prudent men, it is never neglected in worldly things. In entering upon any contract, in buying and selling, in all business engagements, in all secular pursuits. God may compel you to consider. By bereaving you of the dearest objects of your hearts, by afflicting your bodies, by embittering all earthly good.
Is it not better to avoid these corrections, sorrows, and griefs? You may consider when it is too late. Perhaps on the verge of eternity, if not in eternity itself. The consideration of the lost in eternity will be in vain—will be bitter beyond description—will be everlasting, and as horrible as it is durable. Therefore, consider now, while consideration may yet profit you. Often reckonings keep God and conscience friends.
Do with your heart as you do with your watch—wind it up every morning by prayer, and at night examine whether it has gone true all that day, whether the wheels of your affections have moved swiftly toward heaven. Oh call yourself often to account; keep your reckonings even, and that is the way to keep your peace.
And as this is to be confessed in all other arts, so it cannot be denied in divinity and religion, the practice whereof doth in excellency surmount the knowledge and theory, as being the main end whereunto it tends. For to what purpose do men spend their spirits and tire their wits in discerning the light of truth, if they do not use the benefit of it to direct them in all their ways? There is often as marked a difference between the divine and human estimates of character Luke xviii.
This is so because God and men judge by different standards; men take into account only their occasional good actions; God judges by that feature of their character which is predominant. What is His estimate of us? How true this is! The iniquities of a nation constitute a burden that impede it—1.
In its pursuit of material prosperity. With what desperate intensity this English nation toils! Chiefly that it may accumulate wealth. How greatly it is impeded in this pursuit by its costly government! But how much more by its costly vices! On strong drink alone this nation expends a larger sum than the whole amount both of imperial and local taxation—more than one hundred millions annually!
Other vices that are nameless, how much they cost, and what a hindrance they are to the nation in its pursuit of wealth! In its pursuit of social happiness. In its pursuit of moral and intellectual improvement. According to a monkish legend, the church of St.
A like contest goes on in our own land. Consequently, 1. To give a legal sanction to vices, or to connive at what promotes them, for the sake of certain additions to the national revenues, is suicidal folly of the grossest kind. Those are the truest national benefactors who do most to abate the national iniquities. Vices of all kinds should be branded, not only as sins against God, but as treasons against society; and all good men should, in self-defence, as well as in a spirit of enlightened patriotism, band themselves together for their overthrow.
That is a mistaken spirituality which leads some good men to leave imperial and local affairs in the hands of the worldly and the vicious. That which is true of nations is [p. Vices lay upon men a burden—1. Of expense. Vices keep millions poor all their lives. Of discredit. Of sorrow, clouding all the present. Of fear, darkening all the future. There is this terrific feature about the burden of iniquity—there is none so hard to be got rid of.
It is hard to inspire a nation or a man with the desire to get rid of it. How nations and men hug their vices, notwithstanding the miseries they entail! It is still harder to accomplish the desire! Society is full of men who stagger and groan under this burden, from which they strive in vain to free themselves.
In them the fable of Sinbad, unable to rid himself of the old man who he has taken upon his shoulders, has a melancholy realisation. These men feel themselves to be helpless, and their case would indeed be hopeless were it not that God has laid help for us on One who is mighty to save.
Cry to Him, ye burdened ones, and obtain release! A block of tin may have a grain of silver, but still it is tin; and a block of silver may have an alloy of tin, but still it is silver. Some plead for a kind of abstracted and sublimated devotion, which the circumstances they are placed in by their Creator render equally impractical and absurd.
They are never to notice the affairs of government, or the measures of administration; war, or peace; liberty, or slavery; plenty, or scarcity,—all is to be equally indifferent to them; they are to leave these carnal and worldly things to others. But have they not bodies? Have they not families? Is religion founded on the ruins of humanity? When a man becomes a Christian, does he cease to be a member of civil society? Allowing that he be not the owner of the ship, but only a passenger in it, has he nothing to awaken his concern in the voyage?
If he be only a traveller towards a better country, is he to be told that because he is at an inn which he is soon to leave, it should not excite any emotion in him whether it be invaded by robbers or consumed by flames before the morning? In the peace thereof ye shall have peace; and are not Christians to provide things honest in the sight of all men?
Are they to detach themselves while here from the interests of their fellow-creatures; or to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep? Is our religion various affected by public transactions? Can a Christian, for instance, be indifferent to the cause of freedom, even on a pious principle? Does not civil liberty necessarily include religion? Transmitted depravity is— I.
A doctrine of Scripture. A fact in human life. God will not fail to make allowance for it in dealing with us. We should make allowance for it in judging our fellow-men. Our censures should be mingled with compassion. By self-restraint and a life of virtue we should endeavour as far as it is possible to cut off from our children this and entail.
A bias towards good may be transmitted as a bias towards evil. An evil bird hatches an evil egg, and one viper will breed a generation of vipers. Most sins pass along from the father to the son, and so downward, by a kind of lineal descent, from predecessors to posterity, and that for the most part with advantage and increase, whole families being tainted with the special vices of their stock. Let a man be providing for an unborn child: in case of distribution of worldly property, he will take care to bind him by conditions and covenants which shall guard against his fraudulently helping himself to that which he is to hold for or to apportion to another.
He never saw that child; he does not know but that child may be the most pure and perfect of men; but he knows it will not be safe to put temptation in his way, because he knows he will be born in sin, and liable to sin, and sure to commit sin. All the presumptions are that the children of moral and sensible parents will become moral and sensible.
Only the grossest neglect and the most culpable exposure to temptation will overrule the presumption and likelihood that the children of good parents will be good. There may be opposing influences; there may be temptations and perversions that shall interrupt the natural course of things; but this does not invalidate the truth that there is a great law by which like produces like. I know multitudes of families in which the moral element is hereditary; and it is not surprising that the children of these families are moral.
Moral qualities are as transmissible as mental traits or physical traits. The same principle applies to every part of the human constitution. And where families have been from generation to generation God-fearing, passion-restraining, truth-telling, and conscience-obeying, the chances are ninety-nine in every hundred in favour of the children. How many souls are guilty of forsaking the Lord? This conduct is surprising. Is it not most surprising that men should forsake the great God, their Creator and Benefactor?
He is all-powerful. He is all-wise. He is all-loving. The soul cannot have a better helper in difficulty, or a truer and wiser friend in sorrow. From the Godward aspect of the case nothing is more surprising than that men should forsake God; but from the manward aspect of things this is not surprising, for man is carnal, and the carnal mind is enmity against God.
Satan draws the soul from God. It chases a phantom into the great darkness, and finds in the end that it has wandered from the Infinite Being. This conduct is criminal. We should esteem it criminal to forsake a parent, to forsake a benefactor, to forsake a master. But this offence is small compared to that of the soul when it wanders from the Lord. It exhibits insubordination. It rejects the Supreme Moral Ruler of the universe. It exhibits ingratitude. It forsakes its Redeemer.
It exhibits folly, for away from Christ the soul cannot obtain true rest. This conduct is inexcusable. The soul can give no true reason, or valid excuse, for such unholy conduct. He is attractive in character. He is winning in disposition. He is kindly in the discipline of life. He gives holy influences to draw the soul to Himself. Hence man has no excuse for forsaking God.
This conduct is common. The world of humanity has forsaken God. One by one souls are returning, and are being welcomed to Christ and to heaven. Many agencies are at work for the return of souls to the heavenly kingdom. Let us seek to make them efficient. Let us pray that they may be successful. Have you forsaken God? But how does it commonly happen that such a man falls away from the struggle for salvation? Is it ordinarily through some one powerful and undisguised assault that he is turned from the faith, or over one huge obstacle that he falls not to rise again?
Not so. It is almost invariably through little things. He fails to take notice of little things, and they accumulate into great. He allows himself in little things, and thus forms a strong habit. He relaxes in little things, and thus in time loosens every bond. Because it is a little thing, he counts it of little moment, utterly forgetting that millions are made up of units, that immensity is constituted of atoms.
The astronomer tells us, that, because they move in a resisting medium, which perhaps in a million of years destroys the millionth part of their velocity, the heavenly bodies will at length cease from their mighty march. May not, then, the theologian assure us that little roughnesses in the way, each retarding us, though in an imperceptible degree, will eventually destroy the onward movement, however vigorous and direct it may at one time have seemed?
Would to God that we could persuade you of the peril of little offences! We are not half as much afraid of your hurting the head against a rock, as of your hurting the foot against a stone. There is a sort of continued attrition, resulting from our necessary intercourse with the world, which of itself deadens the movements of the soul; there is, moreover, a continued temptation to yield in little points, under the notion of conciliating; to indulge in little things, to forego little strictnesses, to omit little duties; and all with the idea that what looks so light cannot be of real moment.
And by these littles, thousands, tens of thousands, perish. If they do not come actually and openly to a stand, they stumble and stumble on, getting more and more careless, nearer and nearer to indifference, lowering the Christian standards, suffering religion to be peeled away by inches, persuading themselves that they can spare without injury such inconsiderable bits, and not perceiving that in stripping the bark they stop the sap. The danger of despising the Divine chastisements.
Heedlessness destroys the very power of taking heed. The terribleness of the peace which is often the portion of the wicked. Like the cessation of pain in a sick man, which indicates that mortification has set in, it may be only a sign that God has given them up as irreclaimable Hos. The folly of expecting sanctification as the inevitable result of suffering. Contrary to the expectation of the Universalists, the sufferings of the lost may only confirm them in their impenitence Rev.
The present life is not the time for punishment devoid of mercy. While the sick man feels pain, there is vitality and activity in his constitution, and he may recover. How smoothly glides along the boat upon the wide, unruffled, though most rapid stream that hurries it onward to [p. How calm, and undisturbed by the smallest ripple, slumbers its unreflecting steersman! Or for one rock in the midst of its too smooth channel, against which it may be dashed and whirled about, to shake him from this infatuated sleep!
It is the only hope that remains for him. Woe to him if to the end his course be pleasant! That end will pay it all! Or, what a prodigious height do we see some come to in sin after some great sickness or other judgment!
Oh, how grossly and ravenous are they after their prey, when once they got off their clog and chain from their heels! When physic works not kindly, it doth not only leave the disease uncured, but the poison of the physic stays in the body also. Many appear thus poisoned by their afflictions. Trust not in any unsanctified afflictions, as if these could permanently and really change the condition of your heart. I have seen the characters of the writing which the flames had turned into a film of buoyant coal; I have seen the thread which has been passed through the fire retain, in its cold grey ashes, the twist it had got in spinning; I have found every shivered splinter of the flint as hard as the unbroken stone: and let trials come, in Providence, sharp as the fire and ponderous as the crushing hammer, unless a gracious God send along with these something else than these, bruised, broken, bleeding as thy heart may be, its nature remains the same.
That sin should not go unpunished is a law of our own hearts, and it is a law of God. But a more gracious meaning may be contained in them; they may be the first note of that tender Divine invitation which is fully expressed in ver.
For mark, God begins here to reason with men,—bids them look at themselves, their situation, the fatal folly of sinning when sin brings its own sure punishment. What need of these disasters? Note: the first aim of the Gospel is to make the sinner understand that sin and its torments are alike of his own seeking; repentance cannot come until he feels this.
These words may then be regarded as implying— I. That there is no inherent necessity that sinners should continue to be stricken. There is no reason in the nature of God Ezek. God is love. Love may ordain laws for the general security and safety, the breaking of which may be attended with terrible consequences; but yet God has no delight when these consequences overwhelm the transgressor.
He pities even while He punishes, and is on the outlook for the very first beginnings of penitence, that He may stay His hand. There is no reason in the nature of man. As man is not impelled by any inherent necessity to sin, but in every sin acts by deliberate choice, so neither is he compelled to repeat his transgressions. Even when he has done wrong, his consciousness testifies that he might have done right, and it is precisely on this account that his conscience condemns him!
That a way of avoiding the merited punishment is open. We know what that way is. The prophet saw it afar off, and rejoiced ver. The way of reconciliation is open: avail yourselves of it with patience, with thankful joy! First He teacheth us His will through the preaching of His Word, and giveth us warning. If such a rod will not do any good, and his son waxeth stubborn, then taketh the father a whip or a stick, and beateth him till his bones crack; even so, when we wax obstinate, and care neither for words nor stripes, then sendeth God unto us more heavy and universal plagues.
All this He doth to drive us unto repentance and amendment of our lives. Even so certainly, when God sendeth affliction upon our necks, there lieth hidden under that rod a fatherly affection. For the peculiar and natural property of God is to be loving and friendly, to heal, to help, and to do good to His children, mankind. The surgeon must cut away the rotten and the dead flesh, that the whole body be not poisoned, and so perish; even so doth God sometimes plague our bodies grievously, that our souls may be preserved and healed.
How deep soever God thrusteth His iron into our flesh, He doeth it only to heal us; and if it be so that He kill us, then will He bring us to the right life. The physician employeth one poison to drive out another; even so God in correcting us useth the devil and wicked people, but yet all to do us good.
Fire will inflame straw, soften iron, or harden clay; its effects are determined by the object with which it comes in contact. Warmth develops the energies of life, or helps the progress of decay. It is a great power in the hothouse, a great power also in the coffin; it expands the leaf, matures the fruit, adds precocious vigour to vegetable life; and warmth, too, develops with tenfold rapidity the weltering process of dissolution.
So, too, with sorrow. There are spirits in which it develops the seminal principle of life; there are others in which it prematurely hastens the consummation of irreparable decay. Even so the heavenly Physician, as long as He hath any hope to recover us, will not always suffer us to have what we most desire; but as soon as He hath no more hope of us, then He suffereth us for a time to enjoy all our own pleasure.
Never was tender-hearted surgeon more willing to take up the vein, and bind up the wound of his fainting patient, when he hath bled enough, than God is by His pardoning mercy to cast the troubled spirit of a mourning penitent. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. A whole nation may become morally corrupt. Vice may defile and degrade all classes of society. The natural tendency of national corruption is not to abate, but to spread and increase.
To pray constantly and earnestly for our country. Not to be selfishly indifferent to the sins of the classes of society to which we do not happen to belong. To put forth earnest efforts for the repression of public vices. Mere passive reprobation of them will be of no avail. Nor can we reasonably hope that time will abate and lessen them. In a modified sense, the declarations of our text are true of every human being. This representation of the doctrine is contrary both to Scripture 2 Tim.
But our rejection of this exaggerated form of it must not lead us to reject the doctrine itself. These facts—1. There is in us no vis medicatrix capable of overcoming and expelling it. If we are to be restored to moral soundness, it must be by a Power external to us. Should lead us to accept with gratitude the proffered help of the Great Healer. We all need His help. Without it we shall grow worse day by day.
His help will avail for us, however desperate may be our case; as it was in the days of His flesh physically, so it is now morally and spiritually Matt. Moral depravity brings on physical misery. The desolation set forth in vers. By an everlasting and most righteous decree a bad character and a bad condition are linked together, and can be only for a very little while disassociated. This is true both of nations and individuals. Sin inevitably leads to sorrow. Of this fact we have ten thousand evidences in this present world.
Hence also the realm of unrelieved wickedness in the realm of unmitigated woe. Were man always [p. Let them prevail with us Ezek. To a carnal understanding not enlightened by the Word, this always has been and is the greatest paradox. Indeed, when blind reason, which thinks it sees, is judge, it is not strange that this corruption of the understanding should be a wonder to it.
The reason, being the supreme faculty of all the rest, which judges all else, and is judged by none but itself, because of its nearness to itself, it least discerns itself. And so, though even corrupt nature discerns the rebellions of the affections and sensual part of man by its own light, as the heathens did, and complained thereof, yet it cannot discern the infection and defilement that is in the spirit itself, but the glass of the Word is the first that discovers it; and when that glass is also brought, there had need by an inward light of grace, which is opposite to this corruption, to discover it.
Goodwin, — Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. God had humbled His people because of their transgressions, but He had not utterly destroyed them, as He might have done in strict justice. This reminds us—1. That the punishments that befall wicked men in this world frequently fall short of their deserts.
That this disproportion between guilt and chastisement occurs because God is not so much concerned to punish sin as to reclaim sinners. God chastises, in the first instance, that He may correct, and it is with reluctance that He increases the severity of His strokes. These facts should lead us—1. To adore the divine benignity. How worthy of our love and worship is this God who is no mere vindictive avenger of broken law, but a loving Father who chastens us, not for His pleasure, but for our profit!
To gratefully acknowledge the mercy that has mingled with the judgments which our sins have drawn down upon us Lam. To shrink with abhorrence from any abuse of the divine long-suffering. The fact that God is so reluctant to punish, instead of encouraging us in rebellion, should incite us to prompt and loving obedience.
And so the Lord will excuse us when we accuse ourselves, remit our sins when we remember them, and absolve us from punishment when in all humility we acknowledge that we have justly deserved the fearfullest of His plagues. For if we, who have but a little of the milk of mercy, are moved with compassion when either our sons or our servants acknowledge their faults, and offer themselves of their own accord to suffer that punishment which they have deserved, how can we doubt that God, whose love and mercy towards us are infinite and incomprehensible, will be pitiful and ready to forgive us when He sees us thus humbled?
He that sins because of mercy shall have judgment without mercy. Mercy abused turns to fury Deut. Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. The prophet being about to make a still more terrible announcement, puts forth a renewed call for attention. It is well worthy of our study. We find in it—. A Startling Description. It reminds us— 1.
That man may be morally alike to those from whom they think themselves the furthest removed. Many a Protestant who hates the very name of Rome is himself a little Pope: he never doubts his own infallibility, and is ready to anathematise all who dare to dissent from him. For, like the inhabitants of those guilty cities, they had been living— 1 In habitual self-indulgence.
Self-indulgence may vary in its forms, but in its essential nature it is ever the same. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had pandered to the lusts of the body, the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the lusts of the mind see vers. All sin is rebellion against God,  and the manner in which we sin is comparatively unimportant James ii. If we rebel against God, it does not matter much with what weapons we fight against Him. That men may be utterly unconscious of their own real character.
Self-delusion as to character is almost universal. Man can live in the practice of gross sin without any compunction of conscience. Laodicea and the foul criminal David are at peace until the rebukes of God begin to crash like thunders over their heads Rev. As such delusion is most common, so also it is most disastrous.
It renders reform impossible. It sends men blindfolded into eternity to the most appalling surprises. That God describes men according to their essential character. He does not take men according to their own estimates of their character and conduct, and ticked them accordingly.
His description of man is often precisely the opposite of that which they would give of themselves, and even of what men would give of them. His neighbours as well as himself would doubtless have described the prosperous farmer Luke xii. Are we quite sure that God describes us as we have been accustomed to describe ourselves?
A Solemn Summons. It is the great truth announced in the following verses 11—15 , that worship offered by ungodly men is not only without value, but is positively hateful in the sight of God. The most flaming zeal concerning the externals of religion is often found in men of unholy life.
Yet the difference that looks so great to man may be very small in the eyes of God; and would look small in ours if we knew the different upbringing and history of both. The judge never knew what it was to want a meal; the felon often went cold and hungry to bed. The one, sprung of wise, kind, reputable, and perhaps pious parents, was early trained to good, and launched, with all the advantages of school and college, on an honourable and high career; while the other, bred up a stranger to the amenities of cultivated and Christian society, had no such advantages.
Born to misery, his struggles with misfortune and evil began at the cradle. None ever took him by the hand to lead him to church or school. A child of poverty, and the offspring of abandoned parents, he was taught no lessons but how to swear, and lie, and drink, and cheat, and steal.
The fact is, it is just as difficult for some to be honest as it is easy for others. What merit has that judge in his honesty? He has no temptation to be else than honest. Have they not sinned as others have done? I reply, They have not been tempted as others have been.
And so the difference between many honest men and decent women on the one hand, and those on the other hand on whom a brand of infamy has been burned, and the key of a prison turned, may be just the difference between the green branch on the tree and the white ashes on the hearth.
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Topics Bible study Collection opensource Language English. Reviewer: katya - favorite favorite favorite favorite favorite - April 20, Subject: Good book,don't know what the other guy is kvetching about A Nice Read. Instead it reads like an aeronautical engineer's bragging about what he's learned in college.
There were barely 2 pages of actual bible verse quoted in a third of the book, One would have thought Ezekial a man at least capable of scribbling a crude doodle of what he SAW.
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