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world, and that men love darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil. But there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. The last look of Robespierre told something of the death that follows with infidelity. But whosoever followeth Jesus has the light of life, and shall never taste of death.
PRIMITIVE Christianity, white as the unsunned snow; Mahometanism, red as the blood-stained murderer ; Popery, dark as the blackest midnight; and Infidelity, pale as death, were figuratively unsealed by the Son of God in the beginning of the Revelation of the things that were to be thereafter. And they unfold the spiritual state of man from that time to the present hour. But his own faithful people, however few comparatively, were not forgotten by the Lord. And he who could thus decipher spiritual wickedness in all its character, and detect it in all its guises, and trace it in all its progress, was not unmindful of the faith and patience of his saints. The perfecting of them, as well as the punishment of iniquity, was, perhaps, the end for which evil was permitted, and the final triumph of Christianity, ultimately the more glorious, delayed. The next seal-still discriminately descriptive of spiritual things alone, but in which no other form of religion appears, and no succession,
point of time, is denoted,—is evidently, in the first instance, retrospective; and no less clear than the rest, it marks the trials and sufferings of the servants of Jesus, during the long-continued operation of the mystery of iniquity. As at the opening of the third, distinguished from the second, the object was immediately in the apostle's view.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held : and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ? And white robes were given unto every one of them ; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Ver. 9–11.
Here, as illustrative of the past, in noting the fulfilment down to the present time, we need only remark, that, from the earliest to the latest period, the conflict through which Christians have to pass in fighting the good fight of faith, and being faithful unto the death, is set forth to view, as well as the sure triumph of the faith in which they lived, and for which the martyrs died. The early persecutions to which Christians were subjected, and by which paganism hoped to triumph over the gospel; the oft repeated conflicts and patient endurance of the Valdenses and Albigenses, by which, throughout the darkest ages, they bore testimony to their faith ; the renewed martyrdoms which ushered in the Reformation, by which the papal power sought to maintain its dark dominion, seemed, for the time, as if the Christian faith was devoted to destruction, and not destined to conquer : but the fidelity with which they were borne, shewed the efficacy of genuine faith, and forms a peculiar feature in the spiritual history of
man, and is here noted in the vision, as it is otherwise repeatedly and more fully unfolded. Of the final triumph of Christianity, however long delayed, there cannot, from manifold predictions, be a doubt. But it may here be remarked, that it is after the last enemy of the church of Christ hath appeared in the pale and spectral form of infidelity, that it is said unto the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Warning seems thus to be given, that persecution, even unto death, may yet await the faithful in Jesus. But the full import of this and the following seal, may remain to be made manifest as the signs of other times ; and they may best be viewed connectedly with other predictions. The retrospect of the spiritual state of the world brings us down to the border of events the most momentous.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake ; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood ; and the stars of heaven fell from the earth, even as a fig. tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand ? Ver. 12, &c.
To complete the outline of the religious state of the world, as connected with Christianity, is, we apprehend, the purpose of the immediately succeeding vision, (chap. vii.) descriptive of the partial and simultaneous conversion of many of the Jews and Israelites, for which the universal war is on every side suspended or delayed, previous to the last great catastrophe, which shall decide the fate of the world, and the triumph of the church.
It seems remarkable, that it should ever have been doubted, that such an obvious interpretation, as now it seems, so clear, consistent, and comprehensive, shews the true import of the first six seals. Let the reader peruse these two chapters, and say whether they do not carry on the same subject from its commencement to its close.
The seventh seal, including the seven trumpets, the seven thunders, and the seven vials, to which no allusion is previously made, is manifestly of a different character : and, if we mistake not greatly, the ORDER is, not that all the seals describe events, that, according to human canons of interpretation, must necessarily follow in the same order, but that the spiritual state of the world (to use the plainest terms,) was described previous to the political, and that, as the outline of the former is contained, as we have seen, in the first six seals, the seventh seal, under the seven trumpets, begins to open up the latter to our view, and that each has to be viewed connectedly in its own order.
The book was written within and without, or 6 on the back side," sealed with seven seals. And hence it
does not follow, that what is recorded under each súccessive seal, can only refer to events that follow in like manner in order of time. In regard to the same course of things, utter derangement would obviously ensue from a violation of that order ; but not so when different subjects have to be introduced. The history of any kingdom might naturally be classified under different heads or subdivisions; first, ecclesiastical, next political; and their mutual relation being separately discussed, the whole history would be distinct and complete, and the effect would be a clearer elucidation, rather than derangement. In every regular history, such a method is at least partially adopted, whenever events require to be detailed which vary in their development, and lead to a combined result. In commencing a new chapter or book, the reader is often led far back in point of time, from the period at which the former terminated. Each subject is separately discussed ; and that connexion of events, rather than of time exclusively, is the real order, without which every history would be disjointed and broken. Such, complete in all its parts, and these parts then forming one harmonious whole, and a pattern for history in point of completeness and order, nothing redundant recorded, and nothing essential omitted, and nothing either misrepresented or misplaced,—the abused and slandered Book of Revelation, shall, we cannot doubt, be ultimately found to be. But, like every other book, it must first be read and understood, before all the fulness of the matter it contains can be told. And its symbols will no longer be a barrier to its intelligibility, when once it is unveiled by the events ; any more than are the symbols of which every Chinese book is full, when once they are understood; or the language in which any book is written, when once it is known.
At the time when the things that were to come thereafter were written in a book, the Christian reli