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Τ Η Ε
Approaching 'Deliverance of
THE FIRST PART. Of the Establishment of the Antichristiana
Empire, & its Characters.
CHAP. I. of the Seven Epistles to the Seven Churches.
That in all probability they are not Prophetical. The Thoughts of Interpreters thereupon.
Hen I undertook this Work, I
had no Design to make a compleat Commentary on that which is Prophetical in the Re
velations, as did appear in the first Edition : However, when I observed
that without designing it , I had explained almost the whole Apocalypse, I did believe that as for three or four chapters that remained to be explained, I ought not to leave them behind , tho they had no respect to the scope of this book , which is to find out Antichrift, & learn when his Empire must end. When one sees a system that is very perfect , & well attended with all the events foretold in this book, this will give such a fair aspect of truth to all the parts of it, as will be most easily perceived. Moreover the publick may have observed , that in the pourtraiture of Antichrist, I have referred the Reader in many chapters, as in the 13th. & the igth. tomy Book of Prejudices. Now as I have promised to epitomize the book of Prejudices, I thought it would be more proper to bring out of that book into this present work all that respects the Prophecies & their Explication on the subject of the description of Antichristianism, than to refer a part of this to another Book. So that in this lecond Edition there will be found an explication of all that is prophetical in the book of the Revelation.
We believe with the learned foseph Mede that this book is divided into two parts. The forft is contained in the book sealed with seven seals, which is to be seen in the beginning of the 5th. Ch. And the second in the book which the Angel gave to St. John in the 10th. Ch. The two little books move upon the same time ; the one & the other reach cyen to the end of the World ; but they do
ad not say the same thing, & have not the same
object. For the first little book that appea
reth sealed with seven seals , principally i respects the aftairs & the adventures of the
first Period of the fourth Monarchy , viz. the , temporal Roman Empire. And the second
book contains the destinies of the Church el corrupted during the same ages, & the same
duration of time; this is what we call the
The first thing that appears in the bookWhich of the Revelation is the seven Epiftles to fe- seven ven principal Churches of Asia', contained Epifles
in the three first Chapters. Tis very much pheticale c. question’d whether these Epistles are Prophe
tical or not. Some maintain that they are
them, but that all that is said in these Epiftles , refers to things that had happened in those seven Churches. It is certain that the Revelation is nothing but an Epistle. This is clear by its beginning & end. Now it was not usuall with the Apostles to direct their Epiftles to the Universal Church in generall of all places & all times , as some would have si John here to have done. The Apostles were wont in their Epistles to rank in the first place what they had which was dogmatical & Prophetical to write of; & afterward came that which respected what was moral. This is the method of St. Paul. St. John on the contrary in this Epistle sets that which is moral therein, before that which is Prophetical. The reason is because he little design’d to stay upon that which is moral, & his principal aim was to relate the visions which God had given him. Therefore he difpatcheth in the beginning that which was to make the least part of his Epistle, & which was less important , that without diversion he might stick to that which he principally intended therein.
I see but one thing that seems mightily to Hier eine favour the opinion of those that believe that
the seven Epistles are Prophetical. 'Tis the Churches.
number of seven. Why did the H. Spirit write to no more than seven Churches ? Were there not many more in Asia ? Were these the only ones in which there was any thing to be reproved, or to whom the H. Spirit had something to say?
It seems therefore that the seven Churches are the Universal Church of all Ages divided into seven Periods. But this reason doth not appear strong enough to me. First, because the number of seven is evidently consecrated in the Revelation. The holy Spirit userh it in counting up all things , the seven Spirits, seven Lamps, seven Angels, &c. Surely whatever we understand hereby, 'tis certain that the number of Spirits , of Lamps & of An. gells is not reduced to the number of seven. Not but that oftentimes the number of seven in the Revelation must be taken for a determinate number as in the seven Seals, in the seven Trumpets, & the seven Vialls; but that is when the division of time into Periods is treated of. Now this is that which is doubt. ful, that by these seven Churches are meant seven Periods. And we shall also see here. after that what is said to these seven Churches doth not at all agree with the events, in what manner foever the times be divided. So that this only thing that the H. Spirit maketh here seven Churches doth not prove that they are so many Period's of the duration of the Church. 'Tis probable that by these he means all the other Churches of Asia, and if any will have it so, all those that were at that time in the world. And he chose among these feven the names of the principal ones, intending that the other lesser Churches should reckon that as spoken concerning their prefent estate, which is spoken to the seven principal ones among them.