« PreviousContinue »
neously interpreted. Yet the principle of homogeneity has been violated by Mr. Mede in his exposition of them : for he makes the first rider and his horse to be Christ and his spiritual Kingdom ; while he makes the three other riders and their horses to be three successions of Roman Emperors and three forms or conditions of the secular Roman Empire.
3. No interpretation of a prophecy can be deemed valid, except the prophecy agree, in every particular, with the event or character to which it is applied.
Thus, when the latinising expositor Bp. Walmesley applies the apocalyptic Babylon to Rome Pagan, he plainly violates this rule. For he
pronounces the burning of Babylon to denote the burning of Rome by the Gothic conqueror Totila. But the Rome, so burned by Totila, was Rome Christian, not Rome Pagan : nor was Rome Pagan ever burned by a foreign enemy. Therefore, by the present rule, Rome Pagan cannot be the antitype of the apocalyptic Babylon'.
Rev. xvii. 16. xviii.
4. No single link of a chronological chain of prophecy is capable of receiving its accomplishment in more than a single event or person.
Thus, when certain older expositors contend that Daniel's wilful King is primarily Antiochus-Epiphanes and ultimately the great Antichrist of the last time, they violate the present canon : because the character of the wilful King constitutes a single link in a chronological chain of prophecy. Hence, if the wilful King be Antiochus-Epiphanes, he cannot be the great Antichrist: and, conversely, if he be the great Antichrist, he cannot be AntiochusEpiphanes.
Unchronological prophecies are capable of a double interpretation ; and thus not unfrequently receive an accomplishment, both inchoate or typical, and ultimate or antitypical. But chronological prophecies are, from their very nature and construction, incapable of a double interpretation : for they, in truth, constitute no. other than a connected series of anticipated history; and we might as well say that each event in history has a double meaning, as we might say that each link in a chronological prophecy is capable of a double accomplishment.
IV. With respect to the Apocalypse, no prudent man will violate, and no rash man can violate with impunity, the admirable and well nigh mathematical principle of arrangement laid down so judiciously by Mr. Mede.
This principle has been well and clearly described in manner following.
Before I proceed, the reader must give me leave to say somewhat more about that GRAND RULE OF INTERPRETATION, which is of so great importance to the right understanding of the Apocalypse, and the neglect whereof I look upon to have been the general occasion of almost all the errors of expositors one way or other. I mean : that the order of all the visions is to be wholly taken from intrinsic characters in the book itself, and not at all to be conformed to any particular hypotheses or explications; that, from such an order first established, all the certainty and evidence of future applications is to be derived ; and that, without such order so established, all expositions must be precarious and uncertain, depending only on the fancy and imagination of every commentator. This was the great Mr. Mede's settled and constant judgment in this matter : and his attempt, being built on this method, had such vast and unexpected success, that the body of the Protestant Churches have generally declared themselves satisfied, in the greatest part of his foundations laid down in his Clavis Apocalyptica, and in the greatest part of his superstructure or interpretations also contained in his Commentationes Apocalypticæ and other more occasional papers thereto relating. And I take the true reason to be (beside his extraordinary judgment in the Scripture in general, his impartiality, and the blessing of God upon his labours), that he laid the foundation right by the exact observance of this method as far as possibly he could, and that he would not venture a particular application of any visions till by the demonstration of his SYNCHRONISMS he had fixed the order and series of them all before-hand'.
Those, who, like myself, profess to work upon Mr. Mede's PRINCIPLE, are at full liberty to doubt, whether that great father of apocalyptic interpreta
Whiston's Essay on the Rev. of St. John. part ii. P: See also Bp. Hurd's Introd, to the study of the Proph. serm. x. vol. ii. p. 126-132.
tion has satisfactorily established all his synchronisms : but no person, who values the praise of intellect, will ever venture to reject the PRINCIPLE itself. That principle is, in fact, an eternal abstract truth. In the particular application of it, even its illustrious author might err : but no error in the concrete affects the principle in the abstract. Those very persons, who have wished to correct Mr. Mede's supposed mistakes in the laying down of some of his synchronisms, have still, where they would undertake the task with any reasonable hope of success, invariably worked from his PRINCIPLE. In short, if the principle of ABSTRACT SYNCHRONISATION be rejected, the Apocalypse forthwith becomes a mere chaos, in which every expositorial adventurer may indeed freely take his pastime, but from which nothing can be expected more satisfactory than the abortive monsters that floated many a rood in the ill-digested abyss of the Chaldaic Omoroca.
V. To Treatises on the prophecies of Daniel and St. John it has been sometimes objected by superficial critics, that, if the events foretold had really as yet taken place, there would be neither doubt nor difficulty in pointing out the accomplishment. The very obscurity, therefore, which hangs over the