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great events of the last days. Their design is, that God's people should "not be in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief." But that they may be prepared to obey Christ, when he says, (between the sixth and seventh vials,) "Behold, I come as a thief; blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments; lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Much does Christ give the command, at that day, watch, watch, watch! Come, my people, enter into thy chambers!"-All of which implies a knowledge of the signs of the times, and of the events then coming upon the world. It is said of the ungodly of that period, "none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." Of the former it is said, "Thy judgments are far above out of his sight." Of the latter, "When ye see all these things, then know that it is near even at the doors." In the numerous scriptures of this tenor, is fully implied the duty and blessedness of a good knowledge of the Revelation in its predictions and warnings.
6. Events of modern date have much facilitated the exposition of this book. They have furnished a clew to some of the most interesting predictions in it, which were never before furnished. In addition now to the learned labors of past celebrated authors, we have facts, in modern, and in passing events, which prove a rich help to the exposition of this book. Should these facilities be overlooked, we should be most inexcusable; and should appropriate to ourselves the censure of Christ,-"Ye hypocrites; ye can discern the face of the sky! how is it that ye cannot discern the signs of the times?"
How is such neglect consistent with the duty of the Christian watchman? Is he not set to give warning of the approach of danger, as well as to comfort the people of God with the promises of good? To do this, the preacher must declare the whole counsel of God, and "diminish not a word." People feel that they have a right to inquire, "Watchman, what of the night?" and that he ought to be able to give them some correct reply. It is given in divine command, relative to the approach of the battle of that great day of God, Joel ii. 1: "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land (earth) tremble for the day of the Lord, for it is nigh at hand.”
7. The prophecies in the Revelation open a rich field of devout contemplation, and of the improvement of the
succession of events of the Christian era, which are there predicted as of signal interest to the church. The line of those events,—of protection to the church, and of wrath upon her enemies, -God saw fit kindly to foretell, for the rich benefit of his children, to warn them of their dangers, and to assure them of his protecting goodness. And shall such divine kindness be unheeded? What ingratitude and folly! Such events are not to be contemplated merely as things political; but as the works of the Almighty, in vindication of his justice and of his grace, and in faithfulness to his word. This gives to saints a new interest in those events; while their faith is invigorated, and their devotion and confidence in God excited. They hence learn and feel that God is indeed a wall of fire round about Zion; that they who be with us are more than they who be with the enemy; that the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob our refuge!—that he will indeed "create on every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, a cloud and smoke by day, and a fire by night; and on all the glory shall be a defence.' The histories recorded in the Old Testament are of this kind; such as the deluge;—the burning of Sodom;the bringing of Israel from Egypt;the scene at the Red Sea;-events of Israel in the wilderness, in Canaan, in Babylon;-numerous protections of the church, and judgments on her enemies;-these furnish sources of rich Christian instruction and consolation. And no less will the events predicted in the Revelation do it, when duly understood; particularly the protections of the church, and the terrors of divine wrath on her enemies, through the period of the Christian dispensation, and especially near the Millennium. These, when seen in their true light, and duly improved, will nourish and enrich the faith and confidence in God of his dear people. And for these purposes the prophecies of the Apocalypse should not fail of being studied and improved.
With this conviction, I have for many years desired to become myself acquainted with the true sentiments of the. Revelation; desiring, that the veil which has so long lain upon it, may be in a greater degree removed; and that the intelligent and practical improvement may be made of this closing part of the Bible, which the importance of the subject most clearly demands. Most of the expositions, in this key, of events which were antecedent to the sixteenth century, essentially agree with the most approved
commentators. Relative to events since the early part of the sixteenth century, particularly the first five vials, and the synchronical predictions of the judgments which fulfilled them;-in these things, my path has been new. No antecedent scheme of the vials has been satisfactory to intelligent readers; and my views of these particulars have had the approving testimony of the best of men.
It will be seen, that I have not cumbered my pages with the views given of many writers on the various subjects; nor with any refutations of those I do not approve. This would have but perplexed common readers, rendered my book unwieldy, and provoked altercation. It is enough for me, after examining all, to give the result of my own judgment on each point; and others may do the same. If my views are expressed as though I believed them, I
I yet lay no claim to infallibility. To err, is human; and it would be like miracle, if, in such a course as I have been led to take, there should be no error. But the events of Providence, for twenty years, have been such as to confirm me in the essential correctness of the views which I had formed before that period. · Several circumstantial errors I have discovered and corrected. I have felt the impropriety of venturing too minutely on the circumstantial parts of future scenes.
This has been one sad error of writers on the prophecies,-seeming to wish to be prophets, instead of being simply expounders of prophecy.
gree of this has crept into some of my past writings, I have since designed to set a double guard against its creeping into my present pages. May the subjects of the Revelation be examined with that prayerful, candid, and diligent attention, which their solemnity and magnitude demand! And may it be done with that aid of the divine Spirit,—that holy unction of grace,-without which, this part of our holy oracles, and the whole Bible itself, will be but a dead letter,--a savor of death!
Ver. 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
This book is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, because Christ, as the Head of the church, gave it to man. The Father is spoken of as having given it to Christ, in allusion to the official inferiority of Christ to the Father, he having engaged, in the covenant of redemption, to operate as Mediator between God and fallen man, and thus to occupy a sphere of subordination to the Father, in the great work of redemption. May this distinction be ever remembered, that this inferiority of Christ to the Father, is not one founded in the nature of Christ, or in any want on Christ's part of being possessed of real, proper, and infinite divinity; but is founded in his undertaking in the work of man's salvation; according to the following inspired testimony; “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man. To Jesus Christ, in this his state of official inferiority, God gave this blessed book, as the finishing part of his holy book of grace to man. And Christ communicated the same to his beloved disciple John by a heavenly messenger. The angel Gabriel had, ages before, been sent from God on a similar message to the prophet Daniel; Dan. ix. 21–27. And the prophetic parts of the Revelation may in a sense be called a new and enlarged edition of the prophecy of Daniel, with liberty of paraphrase; especially as it related to events future of the period in which John lived. This Revelation was communicated by one who is called an angel-a heavenly messenger-as the term imports. A
human spirit, sent from heaven on this message, as well answers to the term angel here, as would a person of a superior order. The term imports one who brings a message;-"one employed to communicate information to another at a distance.' On which account, a minister of the gospel is called an angel of his church; Rev. ii. 1. The word angels, when found in the plural, signifies (at least usually) the superior order of intelligences in the invisible world. But when used in the singular number, to denote a bearer of tidings from heaven, it may mean one from that superior order, or one of the glorified saints. Should one of the latter be sent on a divine mission, the word angel would as fitly apply to him as to one of the superior order. Some have hence been of opinion, that the messenger here sent with the Apocalypse to John, was the prophet Daniel. In favor of it, they adduce what he says, chap. xxii. 9, when John (supposing him to have been Christ) falls down to worship him, and the angel says, “ See thou do it not! for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book; worship God!” They suppose we learn from these words, that he was one of the prophets; and they think none so probable as Daniel, the "man greatly beloved,” and who had been blessed as being inspired to predict various of the same great events found in the Revelation, and of which the Revelation seems to be an inspired commentary. And his keeping the sayings of this book, may seem to indicate such an interest in them, as one would naturally have who had been the honored instrument of their being first revealed! Such conceive that Daniel was sent from above to give an enlarged view of his own former prophecies. Moses and Elijah had before been sent from heaven to converse with Christ on the mount of transfiguration: and Daniel might be sent on the present message. But a belief or disbelief of this, is of no great importance to us.
The object of this message is to us of deep interest:"to shew unto his servants things that must shortly come
These, the Saviour calls (ver. 19 "the things which shall be hereafter." These must mean the line of events then future, in which the people of God would have a deep interest. What these things are, must be decided by the facts that are revealed; and not by the caprice of any man.
None can have a right to say, they must mean only several great events; as the overturning of the Jews;