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xxxiv., are parallel prophecies. And this opinion is fully sustained by the imagery and language of the predictions, which alike foretell a tremendous outpouring of Divine wrath during the same period, “ the day of vengeance," and on the same people, the inhabitants of Edom and Bozrah. But the Apocalyptic vision is parallel with Isaiah, lxii. 1-6, the same imagery, the treading of the winepress, being introduced in both; and it is, therefore, parallel with that of Isaiah, xxxiv., and will have its accomplishment in the same events. Now, as the fourth verse of Isaiah, xxxiv.—“All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree"—is made a part of the sixth seal, it is fulfilled by the events of the seal; and, consequently, the Apocalyptic vision (xix. 11, &c.) is likewise being then fulfilled. But the majority of commentators are of opinion (and we hope to prove) that the sixth seal describes a great convulsion in the Roman empire, in the fourth century; this being so, the war of vengeance, depicted by St. John, was waged against imperial Rome and her subject kings, as well as against papal Rome and the monarchs who bow to her domination.
THE WAR BEGAN A.D. 66.
The prophet says, “ Out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron." “He shall rule them with a rod of iron” is taken from, and identifies the vision with, the vindictive part of the second psalm.
The psalm is a prophecy of the Resurrection of the Lord, His session at the Right hand of the Father, of the preaching of the Gospel, of the vain rage of its enemies and their destruction by the Son, “Who breaks them with a rod of iron, and dashes them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” These enemies, as appears from verses 1 and 2, are the heathen and the people, the kings of the earth and the rulers; and who these are, can be easily known, by turning to the fourth chapter of the Acts of
| Rev. xix. 15; Psalın, ii. 9. Compare verse 19 of the vision, and 2 of the Psalm.
the Apostles, where this part of the prophecy is quoted and explained:—“Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea and all that therein is; who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together.” The Jews, therefore, and the Romans, with their subject nations, are the enemies whom the Son “ rules with a rod of iron, and dashes in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
The war, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, the slaughter and dispersion of the Jews, began A.D. 66. And, as a part of the vision and the psalm refer to the same events, the war described in the former, will commence at the same time. We may
arrive at the same date, by a different line of argument.
It has been seen the Lord has a double kingdom ;' and there are two remarkable periods, noted in the Scriptures, corresponding to this twofold dominion—" the acceptable year of the Lord,” and “the day of vengeance.” The “day of vengeance” commences after the publication of the Gospel. In Isaiah, the Redeemer is introduced saying, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek: He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God." There is, first, “ the acceptable year,” which begins with the offer of free grace and pardon; then, these being rejected, “ the day of vengeance” comes.
Vitringa, on Isaiah, lxi. 2, gives the following general explanation of this day:—“ The day of vengeance (says he) is joined to this day of grace (the preaching of the Gospel) from the contents of the entire word of prophecy, proved to the present day by the event and experience. For all the prophets
i P. 5, ante.
Isaiah, Ixi. 1, 2. Compare xxxiv. 8, Ixiii. 4.
teach, when the word of the Gospel shall have been published and promulgated, many enemies, the Jews first, and then the Gentiles, stirred up by Satan, shall oppose themselves, with all their strength, power, and authority, to the kingdom of the Son of God, the true Messiah; afterwards, the kingdom of the beast, by far the most formidable of all her enemies, shall prepare for the Church the materials of a long struggle—that all these enemies shall be subdued by the Lord, cast down, and made subject to Himself—that this struggle shall terminate in a terrible outpouring of the Divine anger, to be made in the last time, when it shall scem good to God to purge His Church from scandals, and to destroy the destroyers of the earth.”
The three prophecies, Isaiah, xxxiv., lxiii.1-6, and Revelation, xix. 11, &c., are parallel prophecies; the time of the first and second is the day or the year of vengeance; the day or year of
; vengeance is, therefore, the time of St. John's vision.
If, then, we can ascertain when “the day of vengeance " began, we shall know the commencing period of the symbolical war, Revelation, xix. St. James," writing to the Jews, says, “ Ye have condemned
' and killed the Just One, and He does not resist you." Then he warns them that their peace and security are but for a short time" The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
The Judge standeth before the door.” This epistle was written to the Jews, A.D. 61; the day of vengeance had, therefore, not yet appeared; but its speedy approach is announced.
St. Peter wrote his epistles, according to Lardner, A.D. 63, or 64, or not later than 65. Lardner, Scott, and others, assert the first epistle was addressed both to Jewish and Gentile converts. In the first epistle he writes thus :—“ The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God."2 The Christians, therefore, A.D. 63, 64, or 65, were suffering, or were on the eve of suffering, great persecution; and their persecutors were still at their ease: but it is distinctly intimated that the persecutors shall be speedily exposed to greater calamities than what they inflicted. “ The day of
vengeance," therefore, had not commenced A.D. 63, 64, or 65. But it had commenced A.D. 66, when Jerusalem was surrounded by the Roman armies. “When ye shall see,” says the Lord,
. “Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst of it depart out, and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” “ The day of vengeance” may, there
") fore, be assumed to have commenced A.D. 66.
“ The day of vengeance” is represented in Scripture as an outpouring of Divine vengeance on the persecutors of the Church, and on account of their persecutions. “ The day of the Lord's vengeance” being “ the year of the recompence for the controversy of Zion” (Isaiah, xxxiv. 8).
The disciples of the Lord were persecuted for the first time, by the Roman government, A.D. 64.
A.D. 66, the furious Jewish war burst out.
A.D. 67, another civil war began in Gaul, and was rapidly followed by a series of civil wars, which pervaded every province of the Roman world, and inflicted a wound from which the empire never did, nor could, recover.
It is a curious fact (of which some examples have been already given), and seems deserving of attention, that great writers, in their narratives or allusions to the events of a remarkable prophetic period, often adopt, unconsciously, the imagery and even the language of prophecy.
Tacitus, in his history of these civil wars, regards the miseries to which the empire was then exposed, an outpouring of the “ Divine vengeance." “Nor," says he," was it ever proved by more dreadful calamities of the Roman people, or by more manifest signs that vengeance, not our safety, was the care of the
1 Luke, xxi. 20, &c.
2 Nec enim unquam atrocioribus populi Romani cladibus, magisve justis indiciis approbatum, non esse curæ deis securitatem nostram, esse ultionem.--His. b. i. c. 3.
The Red Horse—the Earth—the Peace—Civil Wars—the Sword.
" And there went out another horse, which was red; and was given to him that sat thereon to take the peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.”
As the white horse of the first seal represents a state of things, the horse of the second seal (another horse), will likewise represent a state of things.
I have translated the Greek article (omitted before “peace” in the authorized version), because it is in the original. The prophecy is “ the peace,” not“ peace," or any peace, is taken from the earth. The Greek article is always a most important word, showing that the noun to which it is prefixed refers to something already mentioned or very well known ; consequently its omission or insertion may greatly alter the meaning of a phrase or sentence. When Nathan said to David, “ Thou art the man,” it was quite another thing from saying, “ Thou art man,” or
And so in the present case, there is a great difference between “ peace,” “ a peace,” and “ the peace.” The last obviously means some special, remarkable, and well-known peace.
The article is, therefore, a part, and, I apprehend, a most important part of the prophecy; because it indicates the time when we are to look for the commencement of those events in which the seal has its accomplishment, viz., the rupture of a
, great peace by civil war.
The characters of the seal are three; 1st, the peace is taken from the earth; 2nd, civil war (for to kill one another, or mutual slaughter, is civil war); 3rd, a sword is given to him that sat on the red horse.