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on the one hand to the legalization of Christianity,' and to the suppression of some of the most offensive rites and a general discouragement of paganism on the other. It did not extend to an overthrow of paganism. Idolatry not only continued to be tolerated, but he himself held the station of pontifex maximus through his whole reign, as did his successors to Gratian. The subordinate priests still exercised their office. Many of their rites were still celebrated, and their temples frequented. Constantine continued to use the arts of divination. His images still received an idolatrous homage from the soldiers and citizens, and at death his deification was decreed by the senate. It was not till the reign of Theodosius that paganism was legally discarded and Christianity formally adopted as the religion of the state. Finally : The influence on the votaries of idolatry of the change introduced by Constantine, exhibits no resemblance to the terror and flight of the kings and their subjects, who as Christ appears in that scene, are also to be regarded as representing themselves. Those votaries were disappointed, chagrined, and inflamed with resentment and malice, but history presents not the faintest hint that they deemed they beheld the Lamb of God enthroned in the heavens ; nor that, impressed with an apprehension of his approach to inflict on his enemies the vengeance threatened in his word, they fled promiscuously to the mountains and called on the rocks and the hills to cover them from his face; nor is the supposition admissible, as it would imply that though idolaters they were yet believers in the deity of Christ and the predictions of his word. The changes wrought by Constantine exhibit no resemblances then whatever to the representations of the symbol.

Vitringa's exposition so far coincides with that which I have given, that he exhibits the symbols as foreshowing the overthrow of the antichristian civil powers of the western Roman empire. He differs, however, in interpreting the moon and stars of the pope and superior prelates of the idolatrous church, and deems the catastrophe will be wrought by ordinary causes, and without a visible interposition of the Redeemer. That the apostate hierarchies must be dashed from their stations on the fall of the

governments by which they are upheld, is indeed manifest ; and that they are in some degree to perish together, is shown in the description of the great battle of God Almighty, when the false

· Eusebii de Vita Constant. lib. i. c. 42, 56. Ibid. lib. ii. c. 44, lib. iv. c. 23, 25. 3 Zosimi Hist. lib. iv. c. 36.

* Gibbon's Hist. chap. xx. and xxi. Codicis Theod. lib. xvi. tit. x. I. 12. 4.

prophet is to be taken with the wild beast and cast into the lake of fire. But that that body of false teachers or their chief is denoted by any of these symbols, is neither certain nor probable. Their office is to show the relations of the powers that are to be overthrown to the social world, rather than to one another. The relations, moreover, to a civil government of an apostate and subsidiary hierarchy, are not like those of the moon to the sun. Such a hierarchy may owe its support, its exclusive permission to teach, and its power to persecute, to the civil government; but its apostate doctrines, unlike the light of the moon, originate with itself. The great sorceress of Babylon is moreover to fall from that relation to the civil government, which is symbolized by her station on the wild beast, anterior to the catastrophe of the beast itself, and is to act the part in the last struggle, not of a ruling, but a subordinate power. And finally, that a visible advent of the Son of God is to consummate the catastrophe, is not only shown by the consternation and cry of the kings and their subjects, but also by the symbols of the nineteenth chapter, which denote his personal coming at the destruction of the wild beast and false prophet.

Cocceius interprets the earthquake of the wars of the emperor Frederick II. against the German princes, and others of France and Spain in the sixteenth century; the obscuration of the sun, of the false teachings of the pope ; the fall of the stars, of the dejection of Roman Catholic bishops from their sees in Germany, England, Scotland, and Ireland; and the removal of the heavens, of the abolition of the Catholic hierarchies. But an earthquake is the symbol of a political revolution, not of a mere war between princes and nations. The sun is the symbol of the supreme civil rulers of an empire, not of a pontiff; the removal of the heavens accordingly denotes the annihilation of the government in which the sun represents the chief, and the moon and stars the subordinate rulers. And finally, those contests did not result, as is foreshown of the agitations denoted by the symbols of this seal, in the total abolition of the governments of those nations.

Dean Woodhouse interprets the symbols of a great day of vengeance at the end of the world ; Mr. Cuninghame of the same period as the seventh trumpet, and regards the events foreshown as having commenced with the French revolution, and to be consummated by a visible advent of the Son of God.




And after these, I saw four angels stationed at the four corners of the earth, having power over the four winds of the earth, that wind should neither blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying, Ye may not injure the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we can seal the servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred forty-four thousand were sealed of the whole race of the sons of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Asser twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Is. sachar twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Zebulon twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

The four winds denote all the winds, and the four angels all the powers that excite and direct their violence, manifestly from the representation that they have power over them that wind should not blow on the land, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. They are obviously tempestuous winds, which when excited are to sweep land and sea, and spread them with desolation. The peculiar office of the angels is, not to restrain them, but to rouse and direct their violence; not to make them salutary, but the instruments of universal devastation. The restraint from injuring with them till the servants of God can be sealed, is a restraint accordingly from entering on their official work till that sealing can be accomplished.

What then are these symbolic winds ? What is there that sweeps over the great surface of the social and political world with an irresistible and mischievous power, analogous to whirlwinds driving in every direction over land and sea, stripping the trees of leaves and boughs, and whirling them into the air, prostrating dwellings, wrenching the sturdy forests from their seats, and strewing the earth with ruin and the ocean with wrecks?

Combinations and masses of men under the influence of new and exciting opinions ; multitudes and nations roused to passion and uniting in a violent demolition of social and political institutions, and the destruction of those who obstruct their ambition, or repress their madness. Who are the angels that arouse these tempestuous blasts? The authors and propagators of those opinions; the fomentors and directors of the violences to which they excite. That they are not to enter on their work till the angel from the sunrising can seal the servants of God, implies that though the elements of devastation are already in existence, yet their being blown into a whirlwind is to be a consequence in some manner of that sealing. It is by that process that the religious and political atmosphere is to be brought into the requisite state for the generation of the destructive tempest. No delineation is given of the figure of the four angels, which is natural from the extreme distance of their station.

To seal the servants of God, is not to constitute them such, but to fix a mark on their brows by which they are conspicuously shown to be his. It is as his servants, not as his enemies that they are sealed, and the change wrought by their sealing is not in their character, but their aspect. The symbol denotes, therefore, that the servants of God, ere the whirlwind of ruin begins, are to be led to assume a new attitude towards the apostate church and usurping civil rulers, by which, and in a manner never before seen, they are to be shown to be indubitably his true people. What that relation is to be is not left to conjecture, but revealed in a subsequent vision, in which their characteristics are exhibited as the opposites of those that distinguish the apostate church. They are pure, not adulterers seduced by the harlot great Babylon to worship the wild beast, its image, or other creatures, which is the homage of apostates. They are followers of the Lamb wherever he may lead, not of the wild beast and false prophet. They are sincere, not hypocritical ; and without spot, not like the worshippers of the beast, whose religion adds io their guilt. It is a public and formal dissent, therefore, from great Babylon the legalized hierarchies renunciation of the dominion over the people of God which the wild beast and false prophet have assumed, and testimony against it as an arrogation of authority over his laws. The angel who bears the seal represents those who excite and conduct this separation and testimony; and their agency, it is seen from other


parts of the prophecy, is to precede the slaughter of the witnesses and the fall of great Babylon.

The tribes denote the denominations of the church. As the twelve were all the divisions of the Israelitish family, they represent all the branches of the Christian profession that contain true servants of God. This movement, therefore, is not to be confined to one denomination, but to extend to all churches, either nationalized, or existing in the territories of the wild beast, that contain true worshippers. The precision of the number denotes a limitation probably, rather than a universality of the sealing; that a part only, not that all the servants of God are to share in this movement. This is indicated by the summons of his people to come out of great Babylon, the nationalized hierarchies, after the slaughter and resurrection of the witnesses and her fall, chap. xi. 13, xviii. 1-4. The sealed and the witnesses are undoubtedly the same.

The questions between the true and the apostate church, between God's exclusive authority over the faith and worship of his people, and the impious claims of the wild beast and usurping hierarchies, are to be so thoroughly discussed and placed in so clear a light, that a vast body of the true believers will understand and appreciate them, feel summoned as by a voice from heaven to withdraw from all relations to those antichristian powers, the continuance of which would imply a sanction of their usurpations, and to assert and vindicate the rights of God against them. Those also who still remain associated with them are after the resurrection of the witnesses and the fall of the nationalized hierarchies, to be again summoned to renounce their communion, as will appear in the exposition of subsequent visions.

To rise to the relation and fulfil the office to which the sealed are thus to be called, will be to take an attitude both towards God, and towards the wild beast, its image, and the nationalized church, which no body of believers has ever yet assumed. The great and palpable fact that to nationalize a church and dictate its faith and worship, is not only to usurp the prerogatives of God, but to assert a dominion over his rights and laws, has never been discerned and proclaimed, either by the pure worshippers as a body, or even by individuals. The ground on which religious toleration has been urged in the discussions that have agitated the church for three hundred years, has been that compulsion is a violation of the rights of conscience ; not that it is an arrogation of dominion over the prerogatives and legislation of the Almighty. Yet such it indisputably is. When civil rulers

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