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THE following Treatise was written before the author had perused any commentary on the Apocalypse more recent than that of Archdeacon Woodhouse, with the exception of Mr. Clarke's ingenious work on the Dragon and the Beast; nor was he aware that the subject had since employed so many able writers.
But instead of their works rendering superfluous the publication of his own, they have rather furnished additional motives for it; as none of them has pursued the same plan, or taken the same view of the subject,
This peculiarity consists in regarding the Apocalypse as altogether a spiritual, and not a political prophecy; that is, as relating exclusively to the progress of true religion, and not to the history of the Roman Empire.
This general principle is derived from the excellent work of Archdeacon Woodhouse, which the writer has adopted as his guide; whose translation he has for the most part preferred; and from whose erudition he has received assistance at almost every step of his progress. If, as he proceeded, he has found himself obliged to deviate from the path of his excellent conductor more frequently than he expected at the outset, he trusts it will be found, that those deviations regard the letter only, and not the spirit of the work in question.
The reasons for adopting the view of the subject
which has been stated, will be found in Note A which, with the rest of the Appendix, was written after the author had perused the more recent commentaries; and was intended partly to meet such objections as that perusal had suggested, and partly to strengthen those arguments, which, though convincing to himself, as stated by Archdeacon Woodhouse, yet appear not to have succeeded generally in carrying conviction to the minds of others.
The Apocalypse being a subject upon which a short treatise may tempt many readers who would be deterred from the perusal of a larger volume, the original design of the writer was, to compress the interpretation into as narrow a compass as the prophecy itself, and to devote not more than an equal space to historical references.
Though unable fully to attain this object, he has adhered to it as closely as he could, and studiously confined his references to a few works, in order that the originals may be easily consulted by those who desire it.
On the subject of the authenticity of the Revelation, nothing is offered in the present Treatise; for were such an enquiry not beyond the reach of the writer, there appears nothing wanting to the satisfactory evidence adduced in the valuable dissertation of Archdeacon Woodhouse. While the external testimony of its genuineness is there shown to be as strong as that of almost any other part of the Sacred Writings, the internal evidence of its divine origin will, it is hoped, speak sufficiently for itself.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE historical Epitome, and the Vocabulary of symbols, prefixed to the prophecy, are intended to supply deficiencies, which were felt, but could not be remedied by the writer, when the Exposition was first published. Besides these, the reader will find other additions, that will, it is hoped, render the work not less acceptable. Of these, the principal is an interpretation of the four living Creatures, and the Vision of the Divine Glory, subjoined to the Appendix, in Note O.
With regard to the historical Epitome, it is possible that the extraordinary coincidence between the history and the prophecy, may excite a suspicion, that the former, being written avowedly for the illustration of the latter, presents only a partial view of events. To this the writer has to say in reply, that, beyond the exclusion of matters irrelevant to the spiritual progress of our religion, he has not made so much as a selection of events; having studied only to give a faithful transcript of the original, and by condensing the subject to present the characteristics of each period within the narrowest compass.
If then such a suspicion arise, it must attach to the original history, and not to the abridgement; and it will surely be the first time that Mosheim has been suspected of falsifying history, for the