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information whatever, but would have thrown uncertainty over the whole system of symbolization; inasmuch as analogy or likeness would have ceased to be uniformly its characteristic. If there were an instance in which the use of the sign to denote the thing signified, was not founded on resemblance, and no reason could be discerned for the choice of such a sign in that instance, what assurance could be felt, that analogy is the principle of symbolization, and furnishes the clue to its meaning? No arbitrary sign then could have answered the end, as there would have been no key to the signification : nor could have been safe, as it would have rendered the relation of all other symbols doubtful to the things represented by them. From the necessities of the case therefore, in order to their representation to the senses of the prophet, the disembodied martyrs appear in their own persons; and to guard the student of the vision against interpreting them like other symbols, as representatives by analogy, they are expressly declared to be the spirits of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, and exhibited as uttering sentiments, and receiving an answer, appropriate to that relation to God. A similar reason exists in all ihe other instances, for the introduction in person of the beings whom the visions represent: as of the Deity, the incarnate Word, the martyrs and saints raised from the dead, and Satan. There is nothing in the universe presenting any analogy to the Selfexistent, the Redeemer in his glorified human nature and exaltation to supreme dominion, the saints raised from the dead incorruptible and glorious, nor the great prince of fallen angels, or his subordinates. These deviations from the general law of symbolization therefore, occasioned as they thus are by an impossibility of following it in these instances, and being the only mode of deviation that offers it no contradiction, manifestly support, instead of weakening it, and confirm the propriety of adhering to it in the construction of all other symbols. To depart from it, is as fatal and as absurd, as it were to violate any oiher invariable and important law of language. It would be universally felt to be an error, were an interpreter, in endeavoring to unfold the allegories of the prophets, to overlook the fact that they are all founded on one principle, and to be construed by one rule,--that of an analogy between the objects they paint to the eye and fancy, and another class which they are employed to illustrate ; and to construe some, as having no representative significance, and others as truly allegorical. Yet such an interpreter were not more unskilful, nor more inconsistent with himself, than he who pursues a similar course in the solution of prophetic symbols, treating some of them without any reason, as mere signs of agents or events like themselves, and others as representatives of agents and events of a different and analogous nature.
This, then, is the first great law of symbolization; the most extensive in its application, and the most essential to be understood. Unhappily, however, though graven in the most conspicuous characters on every page of the Apocalypse, it has not been the guide of interpreters, nor even attracted their notice. Had it been discerned and obeyed, it would have withheld them from a large portion of the solutions, which they have deemed of the utmost significance, and relied on with the greatest confidence. It overturns innumerable shadowy fabrics, which genius and learning have erected, and endeavored to invest with the air of truth, as
The sword of Michael smites and fells
Squadrons at once. Had it, for example, been perceived that symbols drawn from the rulers of the Roman empire, are not representatives of agents absolutely like themselves, but analogous persons in some other body of men, having a resemblance to the population of that empire, as a vast community of various characters, and sustaining a common relation to laws, teachers, and rulers, it would have withheld them from looking to the military or civil history of Rome for the verification of those symbols ; it being as preposterous to turn in that direction for the agents and events denoted by them, as it were to look to a vineyard for the agents and events denoted by the allegory of Isaiah, chap. V.; or to an eagle, a cedar, and a vine, for those represented in the allegory of Ezekiel, chap. xvii. Yet, such is the error of Grotius, Dr. Hammond, Eichhorn, Rosenmuller, and others, in interpreting the first, third, and fourth seals of the insurrections and wars of the Jews; and of Mr. Brightman, Mr. Mede, Dr. More, Mr. Whiston, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Mr. Faber, Mr. Elliott, and many others, in referring them to other military and civil actors and events of the Roman empire.
There are several subordinate laws of great importance, to which the law of analogy gives birth.
II. When intelligent beings or creatures of life are used as symbols, they represent intelligent agents ; never mere abstractions, actions, or qualities, in distinction from beings of whom they are predicable. This is obviously required by analogy. What resemblance is there between a creator, and the work which he creates ; an agent, and the acts which he exerts; a being of whom a faculty or virtue is predicable, and an abstract conception of that faculty or virtue. There manifestly are no things in the whole circle of existence more distantly unlike, and whose relations are more emphatically the converse of each other. It is equally requisite, also, in order to a certainty of interpretation. As several of those symbols are indisputably representatives of intelligent agents, and as no imperative reason can be conceived for a deviation from that usage, a departure in a single instance would throw a cloud of doubt over every other similar symbol.
That this is invariably the law, is indisputably clear, moreover, from the fact that in every instance where a living being is used as a symbol, actions are predicated of it, which were solecistical, were that which it denotes an action, not an agent. This is true not only of human and angelic symbols, as of the first three seals, the majestic shape ascending from the east with the seal of God, the giant form, clothed in a cloud and circled by a rainbow, descending from heaven; of monster shapes likewise, as the locusts and horsemen of the fifth and sixth trumpets, the sevenheaded dragon, the ten-horned wild beast, and the beast with two horns, but also of the spirits of the martyrs and saints in the twentieth chapter, whom many interpreters have regarded as representatives of actions and qualities, rather than agents. They are as indisputably as any other symbols in the visions, treated in their representative character as persons. They are not only exhibited as having at a former period acted in a relation to the wild beast, uttered a testimony for God, and been put to death, but as being now raised from the dead, and as reigning as kings with Christ a thousand years. To regard them as mere symbols of characteristics, such as the courage, patience, or fidelity of martyrs, is moreover to reverse the whole significance of the vision, and make it indicative of a persecution by the beast, and false prophet of the faithful, in place of their resurrection from death, exaltation to thrones, and reign with Christ on the earth. A patient endurance of evil, a dauntless courage, an inflexible adherence to the faith, amidst the greatest trials and sufferings, such as were displayed by the martyrs, can only be exhibited in conditions of reproach, persecution, and martyrdom like theirs.
III. The Son of God, when appearing as a symbol, is a representative only of his own person, never of his mere agency, the agency of the Spirit, or an act of providence. There is no analogy between his person and his actions; there is no analogy between his person and an act of the Holy Spirit; there is none between him, and an event of providence. To regard him as dhe representative of either of these, were therefore not only wholly without reason, but to contradict the principle of symbolization. It were likewise in contradiction to the reason that he appears in person in the visions, that there is nothing in the universe that can properly represent his nature and station as the King of kings; and finally, that he represents his own person only, not any other of the Godhead, nor his own, nor any other agency, is certain from the fact that in each vision in which he appears, he is shown to be the Word of God, both by symbols of his attributes and office, and express declarations; and by the ascription to him of actions that are peculiar to him in his exaltation as the incarnate King of kings.
IV. In all instances where beings appearing as symbols represent their own persons, it is clearly shown by declarations and descriptions who they are.
Thus the glorious human form appearing in the first vision, expressly declares himself to be the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who had been dead and is alive for evermore, and has the keys of death and the grave; characters that belong only to the incarnate Word in his exaltation to the throne of the universe. The disembodied spirits appearing under the fifth seal, are said to be the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, by the inhabitants of the earth ; those also who appear in the twentieth chapter, are represented as having lived at a former period on the earth, and many of them as having refused worship to the wild beast, and suffered martyrdom; and the dragon of the twentieth chapter is expressly declared to be the devil, who deceives the nations. As it is a deviation from the law of analogy that these beings appear as the representatives of themselves, care is thus taken to guard the reader against the error to which that law might otherwise have led, of regarding them as representatives, like other symbols, of analogous agents.
V. When purely fictitious agents are employed as symbols, they are exhibited in vision to the prophet acting out their agency, and invested in that manner with a sensible existence. Otherwise there were a want of reality, and therefore of analogy, in the representation. It were incongruous to employ an absolute non-existence, to foreshadow a real one.
This is an invariable law accordingly of symbolization. Not only are the fictitious representatives of the Apocalypse, such as the locusts and horsemen of the trumpets, the seven-headed dragon and ten-horned wild beast, and the beast of two horns, exhibited in vision, but so also were the wild beasts of Daniel, the image of Nebuchadnezzar, and the symbolic agents of Zechariah.
VI. When the real persons appearing in the visions are exhibited with symbolical insignia or accompaniments, the uses ascribed to those symbols are also symbolical. This is required by analogy. Thus as the sword proceeding out of the mouth of the Son of God, is a symbol of the organ of speech, so the use ascribed to it is representative of the sentence of death he is to pronounce on his enemies. And as the horse on which he is exhibited in the nineteenth chapter is a symbol, so is his descent from heaven on the horse, symbolic of a descent in an analogous manner, suited to his station as the King of kings, and the victory he is to achieve over his foes.
VII. The terms in which the symbols and their actions are described, are always literal, never metaphorical, and of propriety. To unite a symbol and a metaphor in the same expression, were as incongruous, as to attempt to metaphorize a personification.
VIII. There are no representative agents in the Apocalypse, except those that are exhibited as actors in the visions. Thus the seven churches obviously are not symbols. The letters addressed to them are not prophetic, but only declaratory of the attributes, rights, will, and purposes of the Redeemer. No agency is ascribed to them as certainly future. They are only apprized by the Saviour of his perfect knowledge of their past and present character, and of the gifts with which they were to be rewarded if faithful; and the judgments with which they were to be overwhelmed if disobedient. Neither for the same reasons, are any of the persons mentioned in the epistles to those churches symbolic ; such as the Jews, Antipas, false prophets, Jezebel, the Nicolaitans, and Balaamites. To regard them as symbolic were to overlook the distinction between symbols and simple history, and run into as gross an error as it were to treat symbolic representatives, as like ordinary portraits and landscapes, denoting nothing but such objects and agents as they present to the eye.
IX. Though nothing in the Apocalypse is representative, except what is exhibited in vision, yet in other prophecies symbols are employed that were not shown in vision, but merely displayed in verbal description. They, however, are distinguished by two characteristics.