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Christians, that should be also oppressed, should be fulfilled. This destroying of other Christian dissenting churches coincides with the slaying of the two witnesses, by the beast out of the pit. We can not but think this refers to the late suppression of Hungarian and Italian liberty by Russia, Austria, and the tyrants in other portions of Europe. We are, certainly, now living in the period of the fifth seal.
SIXTH SEAL-DESTRUCTION OF MONARCHY.
"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 to the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were removed 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 bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the rocks and to the mountains, 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?"
This sublime and extensive description reveals a period of vastly greater interest than has ever yet transpired in prophecy. It is, however, most clearly symbolic, as it comes with symbolic characteristics from the seat of symbols. We shall consider the symbols separately.
1. "A great earthquake." An earthquake is a symbol of great revolutions and changes in the government
of the world.—Jer. iv. 23; Joel iii. 16; Haggai ii. 6–7. It is frequently used in the apocalypse in this sense.
2. "The sun became black." As the sun rules the day, so the civil government rules the kingdom, and it must here represent the whole civil power of monarchy, as this seal coincides with the destruction of the fourth empire.
3. "The moon became as blood." The moon is always used as the symbol of a church. As the sun, or civil power, disappears in great affliction, so the moon, becoming as blood, shows the dissolution of the empire church in great slaughter, since blood and carnage are synonims in prophecy.
4. The stars of heaven fell unto the earth." A star symbolizes a prince, "as a star out of Jacob; " and, also, a deity, as "the star of your god Chiun;""the eleven stars" represented eleven sons of Jacob, the heads of the tribes of Israel. The falling of the stars will represent the collateral fall of all princes, at the time of the fall of monarchy.
5. "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together." This is a symbolic representation of the old political world; for after it is gone, we see men still on the earth running for shelter. The political world is here to be understood by the terms heaven and earth; they are so frequently used in the old prophets, in this sense, that every one is familiar with the proofs. Indeed, if any one doubts that these are symbolic heavens and earths, all we have to say is, that he is very simple, for the proofs that they are so, are as abundant as could be desired. We have here a double description of the same great events; the first by the sun, moon, and stars; and the second by the quaking earth, and removing heavens, and mountains, and islands. Moun
tains and islands symbolize the governments of the political heavens and earth. This removal of the heavens and earth, sun, moon, and stars, mountains, and islands, is further interpreted to be the overthrow of monarchy, for the kings of the earth, and princes, and all together, are represented as flying for shelter from the wrath of the Lamb.
6. "The wrath of the Lamb." As this represents a scene before the Millennium, the Lamb must represent some great power conformed to Christianity, for a Lamb must represent a kingdom of a kind like itself, or actuated by the gospel of Christ. Wrath is not a quality of a Lamb, but it must be remembered, that at the same time Christ is called a Lamb, he is called a Lion.
7. "The great day of his wrath is come." This must be a day that had been anticipated, because predicted. It conforms, in time and circumstances, to the smiting of the great image; the taking of the beast; the judgmentday of the ancient of days; and the predicted triumph of Israel; and must, therefore, represent the same general destruction of monarchy predicted by "the casting down of thrones," in Daniel, for it is just before the Millennium.
8. Immediately after this great victory, follows a description of the organization of the Millennial government, under the symbol of the sealing of Israel, and of the gathering together of the good of all nations. The twelve tribes coincide with Israel restored, before the other nations were received into confraternity. This period coincides with the changing of the stone into a mountain; the possession of the kingdom by the saints, and of the deliverance by Michael of those written in the book; and of the end of the time of the end; and with the marriage supper of the Lamb; and the first
resurrection. It must be kept in constant memory, that the prophets represent two general judgments; the one is a political judgment-day, and the other is a spiritual judgment-day; the first precedes the Millennium, the second succeeds it. The great day of the wrath of the Lamb symbolizes the former, and the great white throne symbolizes the latter. Christ certainly will not appear till after the first; he will appear on the throne at the second. There will also be two coincident resurrections; the first at the beginning of the Millennium, the other subsequent to it; the first may be purely political, and the next will be a literal one.
"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." Silence signifies a cessation from action, and as this was a cessation in the heaven, it was a cessation of the vision in the temple, for a season, to be resumed again at another time. The apostle is next directed to a set of prophecies without the temple. Now, these other prophecies are not said to be in the seventh seal at all, but quite the contrary is seen to be true. John, within the temple, had been looking principally at the religious history of the world down to the Millennium, and he now views the scene outside, as the altar was outside; that is, the political prophecy of the same period embraced by the seals. The seven trumpets will be treated of in regular order in another place; and we shall here bring in the interpretation of the period given in the little book. The seventh seal is renewed at the spiritual judgment-day, or at Millennium.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF INTERPRETATION.
ALL symbolic prophecy is twice repeated, as we have before observed, and is also interpreted. The second vision of the same events is regarded as an interpretation of the first; and it generally adds some new particulars in the same symbolic language. This is stated by Joseph to Pharaoh, when he said, "the dream is twice doubled, because it is certain and the interpretation is sure." As no interpretation had been given when Joseph spoke, it is plain, that he referred to the second vision as the expositor of the first, though both needed a literal translation. Daniel's visions, while they are twice doubled, have each of them also an interpretation; and John's visions, being symbolic, must be expected to follow the general law of symbolic visions. John's receiving a little book which goes over the same field with that of the seals and trumpets, must be but a book of interpretation, since he inwardly digested it. This prophecy of this book, like all others, has a magnificent introduction, which, with the book itself, we shall now notice. We first quote the introductory text:
"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, and he had in his hand a little book open. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me, saying, Go and take the book which is open in the hand of the angel. And I went unto the angel and said unto him, Give me the little book.