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song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." We are, therefore, warranted to conclude that “the cherubim," as well as the crowned “elders," are symbols of the church triumphant, which is one day to be manifested on earth, and with Christ to take the kingdom and the dominion under the whole heaven. What are the different parts of this blessed company, and what their several functions, as represented by these different emblems, perhaps we cannot know till the day shall reveal it; but these cherubim seem to be stationed nearer to the throne and to the Lamb than even the crowned elders!
I have already expressed my notion of the emblem of “ the Lamb as it had been slain ;" that it is but another symbol for him who sits as a king upon the throne : accordingly, he is seen“ in the midst of the throne,” as well as in the midst of the cherubim and angels. In short, it is an emblem of something now in God, that is to say, of the manhood taken into God — of that human nature which God the Son (who personally sat on the throne) had taken upon himself, in order to redeem mankind, and to accomplish the ultimate purposes of creation. He, according to the flesh, was the shoot from the root of David," “ the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” Judah's future victorious Chief. He is represented in the vision as prevailing, by his worthiness, to have the book of futurity unfolded, and its contents revealed for the instruction of his redeemed people. Hence the title of this closing book of Scripture, “ the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning: for it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it has happened unto them according to the true proverb: The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
This last passage strongly marks the fall of some, whose creed was pure, and whose principles, to a certain extent, had been efficacious in their moral influence on their lives : but the allurements of a spurious liberty deceive them — or rather betray them, and undeceive the world, respecting the supposition of any real change or conversion of soul. And we may say of this part of Scripture generally, that it describes the predicted apostasy of the Christian world, as beginning in the interested perversion of sacred institutions; and proceeding to the most undisguised licentiousness and disregard of all authority; till at length, as we read in the following chapter, the true believer, dwelling in the midst of nations enlightened by revelation, is surrounded by the sneers and scoffs of infidels. St. Peter speaks of this last temptation of Christ's church upon earth, as a matter which had often been enforced upon its attention:
“ That ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ? for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creatior." *
Chap. iii. 2.
lopment of the great day of Almighty God: and the history of the world, as far as it goes, will be our surest guide to the interpretation of these prophecies.
Here, then, let us recall to our recollection the historical prophecies of Daniel. The grand outline of prophetic history there afforded us, will serve to circum. scribe our researches, and to confine our inquiries in the proper line of events.
It was revealed to this prophet, in different visions and by different symbols, that four great empires, in their rise and fall, should govern the destinies of the world, as those destinies affected, more or less, the church of God upon earth. Four empires were to bear rule over the civilized world. The fourth was to be of a peculiar description, and to continue, in some form or other, till the time of the end,- so that this fourth empire should only give place to the erection of the kingdom of God upon earth. This made the symbols of the fourth kingdom an object of particular inquiry to the prophet; and, accordingly, it will be seen, by adverting to that part of the present work, that many particulars respecting this "last earthly empire, and concerning the history of the world in the latter days, were partially opened to the prophet Daniel, and is written for our information, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
This fourth kingdom, as we have seen, has proved to be the Roman empire. This empire was in full dominion, and had nearly reached its utmost extent, when John saw the vision of the Apocalypse. The kingdom represented, in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, by the “ legs of iron," and in Daniel's corresponding vision, by the “ fourth beast, dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly," with its great “ iron teeth,” was now explained by the
destruction of the present mundane system: if so, we must understand by “the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men;" not the fiery indignation poured upon the fourth apostate empire, but the last final judgment, at the general resurrection of the wicked. Or, perhaps both judgments may be in view of the Spirit; for the judgment of the apostates, at the first resurrection, is evidently a commencement of the last fiery indignation, that shall at length consume all the wicked, as we shall see more plainly hereafter.
8. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing; that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
The Church, when told of the coming of its great Redeemer, must not calculate the time of its fulfilment, as though it were the promise of a mortal, which, unless it be accomplished within the compass of a few short years, can never be accomplished at all: and where long delay' may justly lead to the suspicion that the promise is forgotten. We must remember, as the ancient prophecy admonished us, time 'occurs not to the Almighty ; and in his dealings with his church, and with her adversaries too, he invests them with immortality! His promise and his threatenings, though delayed a thousand years, will be true to the utmost, at last.
9. “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness ; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
As repentance is the gift of God, and He bestows it on whom he will, taking away the stony heart, and never perfect or lasting, still keep the members of the... empire together, and draw a line of distinction between it and the other nations of the earth.
Correcting this view of the historian, his history perhaps in itself the most important history that was ever written, if its inpurities, as well as its infidel principles, did not forbid its being generally recommended, connecting, as it does, the ancient history of mankind with the present times, is of especial importance, as far as it goes, in explaining the prophecy of the Revelation. Mr. Gibbon, in the distribution of the great events of history, in his marking out the grand epochas and their connected eras, will be found, with wonderful exactness, to tread in the steps of prophecy; so much so, indeed, that the composition of such a history, at such a time, and by such a man, appears as providential. The reader, for the explanation of the “ seals” and “ trumpets” of the Revelation, will need no other expositor than the infidel historian. With the completion of the sixth trumpet, his narrative in reality ends; and our course afterwards becomes more intricate and perplexed; not so much on account of the loss of our guide, but because we are approaching nearer the unfinished periods of our own times, when we cannot so well weigh the importance of events and revolutions by their lasting consequences on the fate of the church or of mankind : when we cannot so well explain how facts and characters, which appear from their nearness and close connexion with ourselves, to be so great and so important, will appear, when they are seen on the page of general history; when their true consequence is known in their bearings on subsequent events, and on the future changes to take place in the state of nations.