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ing spirits, for them who shall be heirs of salvation. Hebrews i. 14.
III. They should rest yet for a little season. The holy martyrs, who had been collected under the altar during the first nine general persecutions, expected (perhaps from some sign given in the world of spirits,) the judgments of God on Paganism, and the near approach of the kingdom of Christ. When therefore their number was so greatly enlarged, during the tenth persecution, they expressed their disappointment by a loud and pressing petition, for more light concerning the time of the suffering state of the Church. In this they were fully gratified ; but St. John was induced to express this period of time in an obscure manner by the word chronos, which signifies a space of time not determined by numbers, but by events. As for instance, the time of a dynasty of a reigning family in a kingdom, or the duration of a republic, or of a war, was by the Grecians called a chronios. Hence it follows, that all determinations concerning the length of a chronos, are only supposition, which nevertheless may rise to a great degree of probability. I have determined the chronos to be 1100 years. For Bengelius and others reject the word uirgov, little, in this place, which is received in our common version ; but if it even remains, it would not embarrass my system. For xeóvos uirceo's is an expression less indeterminable than even chronos, and may denote any time between 900 and 1000 years, though it cannot signify more, or less, without interfering with other numbers. The Revelation speaks of four bloody persecutions against the saints, three of which already stand recorded on the page of history. That of Pagan Rome during the first centuries--that by Papal Rome against the Waldenses and Albigenses A. D. 1208 and 1209 that against the Hussites in Bohemia, and the Protestants
he beast from the bottomless pit; which last is not here
considered, as it occurs during the time of the last judgments. If now we retain the reading: a little chronos : that is, less than a chronos, we have 906 years from the commencement of the tenth persecution A. D. 303, when those souls began their exclamation under the altar, to the time of the Papal crusades against the Waldenses A. D. 1209. But if we adopt the reading “ a chronos," and calculate from the end of the first persecution, 314, we have the commencement of the third A. D. 1414, when those eminent men of God, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, were burnt alive by the council of Constance, and all their followers persecuted with savage barbarity, by the emperor Sigismund and the Papal clergy, for many years. The text even seems to favour the opinion of an allusion to two periods of persecution, and denominates the martyrs of the first Waldenses and Albigenses, “ fellow servants" of the ancient martyrs, and those of the second period, since the time of John Huss, only “ brethren.” Now the time of the first persecution from A. D. 64-to the year 314, is 250 years. If we add these to 1414, we have 1664, precisely the time when the persecutions against the Protestants ceased, and the Evangelic doctrine was again legally established in Germany.
This seal does not discover any direct judgment on the Roman empire; but history informs us, what a great effect the blood and sufferings of the martyrs had on the Pagan spectators, and on Paganism, in facilitating their conver: sion. Yet the united voice of all the martyrs requiring vengeance, may well be considered as a powerful cause of the downfall, and utter ruin of Heathenism in the Roman dominions.
VI. SEAL ACCOMPLISHED FROM A. D. 322—TO 372.
Verse 12. 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 : 13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even
as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she
is shaken of a mighty wind : 14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is
rolled together; and every mountain and island
were moved out of their places : 15. 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; 16. 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: . 17. For the great day of his wrath is come; and
who shall be able to stand ? It is customary in prophetic writings, to announce the final doom of nations, of governments, and of religious communities by images and expressions, which in their literal sense can only take place on the last day of judgment, and at the destruction of the world. See Isa. xiii. 9. 10. 13. 17. 19. and xxxiv. 4. 5. Hagg. ii. 21. 22. Joel ii. 10. Ezek. xxxii. 7. 8. Math. xxiv. 7. 29. Luke xxi. 25. 26. Heb. xii. 26. 27. The reason is, because these nations, governments and communities, are then precisely found in that state of corruption, into which the whole world will be sunk at the last day of final retribution. The eternal mind is then thus disposed towards their existence, as He will be on the last day, in regard to the continuance of
mankind on this earth. When such a catastrophe takes place, the day of grace seems to be over for foolish virgins, and the door of heaven shut against the wicked. Rev. xxii. 11.
By this terribly majestic description, the Lord informs his Church of the total overthrow of Paganism in the Roman empire, both as to its religion and civil power; which : was begun during the period of this seal, by the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, and its final doom perfectly fixed in the year 372.
This earthquake signifies a great civil commotion in the Roman empire; heaven, Paganism; the sun, the Heathen?. ish doctrine of religion; the moon, their worship and idolatry; the stars, their priests; the earth, their civil polity; mountains and islands, the larger and inferior divisions of the empire; dens and rocks, those places, into wbich the gospel of Christ had not yet penetrated, and which served as places of refuge, concealment, and protection.
The sun and fountain-head of all their religious light and knowledge became black, which is a sign of mourning, perplexity, and consternation. Joel ii. 10. It darkened at the dawn of gospel day, and lost all power further to illuminate, even in the eyes of reason. Their idolatrous worship appeared an unreasonable fraud and deception, and the Heathens changed their assemblies, and festival days, into councils of blood and revenge against the Christians. Their priests, magicians, and vestals, lost all their. honour, excellence, and support, and sunk down to the common multitude. Chr. i 20, Dan. viii. 10. Paganism, which had been the universal religion of the empire, like the expanse or firmament, departed as a scroll when it is rolled together. For Constantine prohibited its worship, and turned the Heathen temples into Christian churches. The mountains and islands were moved; for the different emperors carried on great wars against one another, and made new divisions in the empire between themselves, and
in the provinces. All the supporters of Paganism, from the throne to the cottage, withdrew after that total over. throw of Licinius by Constantine, in which the first is said to have lost 100,000 men; and the idolaters began to dread the wrath of the worshippers of the Lamb, whom they had persecuted so cruelly. They were dismissed from the offices of the state, and in the Roman armies. Maxentius fled from Constantine, and perished in the-ri. ver Tiber; Dioclesian poisoned himself; Licinius was put to death, after having lurked about in fields and villages, under a sense of the wrath of the Lamb in his conscience, which was the case with many thousands in those days. The conversion of Constantine the Great, was undoubtedly the most fatal blow Paganism ever received, and the emperor Theodosius nearly affected its total abolition. From this period it gradually declined, and the Church of Christ rose, arrayed in heavenly splendour.
Historians testify, that on the day of the great victory of Constantine over Licinius, the sun was eclipsed, and the stars shone for four hours, and the moon appeared like blood. Thus the Lord intimated this great change on earth by signs in the firmament, in order to excite the attontion of men to his marvellous deeds.
It has been often remarked by able divines, who were critically acquainted with the Roman history during the period now upder consideration, that the defeat and ruir of Paganism was neither so rapid, nor so generally marked with such poignant and alarming sensations in the minds and conduct of the Heathens, as the strong and glaring images under this seal would lead us to suppose. In answer to this objection it has been observed, that these are figurative terms, customary in prophetic writings, which must not be taken in a literal sense, nor extended beyond the limits of what they usually signify in other parts of the Scriptures. But this solution is not fully satisfactory in this place. When I consider this seal in all its