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bearings to the whole prophecy, it appears to me, that those eminent men have not formed to themselves a competent conception of the majesty and vast import of this book, which certainly comprehends both the visible and invisible world, and many of its prophecies reach from one into the other, just as the events are produced by invisible first causes. Paganism in the Roman empire under this catastrophe, is an emblem of the infernal regions; and the hieroglyphics under this seal, express a final doom, begun on earth in an empire, which for many years had been the throne and residence of Satan, and ended by such an actual representation of the last day of judgment among the damned in hell. The learned and pious Bengelius.is of this opinion, as also Dr. Yung; and the context strongly
requires such an explanation. For the fifth seal opens a .. scene in the invisible world, where we behold the state of
the holy martyrs; and in the following chapter, we are shown a great multitude of saints and angels in heaven. If, therefore, the unhappy dead are not also intended in this place, they would not be mentioned at all. And yet it is acknowledged, that the seven seals comprise the whole creation. The holy martyrs were promoted to a higher state of felicity, and no doubt, the unhappy dead have been hereby placed into a more painful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Heb. x. 27. 31. ix. 27. Math. viii. 29.
Thus the great mystery was solved, and the Christians now knew, which of the two principal religions in the Roman empire would at last prevail. The Lion of Juda had overcome Judaism, and now by a second victory laid even the throne and residence of Satan under his feet.
TWO VISIONS AS PREPARATORY TO THE SEVENTH SEAL.
This chapter contains two visions, expressive of the se.. curity of saints in all ages; which should both be considered as preparatory to the opening of the seventh seal, or to its contents under the sound of the seven trumpets. First, four angels make their appearance, as instruments of God's wrath against the vices and corruptions in Christendom, which, since the emperor Constantine had given the Church peace, tranquility, riches and honour, soon rose to such a daring height, as to eclipse the spirit and lustre of genuine Christianity. Against these dangerous innovations, and succeeding judgments, the people of God were sealed to the number of 144,000. After which the holy apostle had another vision of a numberless multitude, of saints, and of an innumerable company of angels, worshipping before the throne of God and the Lamb, in profound submission and reverence. Verse 1. And after these things I saw four angels stand.
ing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on
any tree. 2. And I saw another angel ascending from the
east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to
whom it was given to hurt the earth and the
3. Saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor
the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our
God in their foreheads. I have remarked in my preliminary observations, that the language of St. John in this book of prophecy is not Athenian, but in a great measure only the vehicle of oriental ideas. Here, perhaps, is a most suitable place, to produce a strong proof in favour of that assertion. - i
So obvious is this truth in the hieroglyphic language of Daniel and the Apocalypse, that our would-be philosophers, and modern infidels have united to assert, that our Scripture doctrine concerning angels was originally derived from Chaldea. These gentlenien have often told falsehoods, sometimes from ignorance, and more frequently against their better knowledge, in order to undermine the word of life, in favour of their own vicious desires. But in this instance, the resemblance of Scripture emblems to the religious tenets of the Chaldeans, has in justice struck them with conviction, though their conclusion is fallacious and only true in part. It is true that both the Chaldean and Persian Magi taught a doctrine concerning good and bad angels, as a part of their wisdom, similar to our Scrirture doctrine, even as early as the days of Daniel, of which the numerous litanies of the Zend Avesta, or Persian Bible, contain ample testimony. And it is also true, that the inspired penmen in their style of writing, have adopted those commonly received and understood opinions in their days, as emblems, to express the profound and hidden mysteries of God to man. But will it follow from hence, that because this doctrine has been believed among the ancients, and corrupted by the Persian Magi, that it is, therefore false, and the philosophic dreams of moderns true? The ancient reformers of philosophy, religion, and politics, have been men of great minds, who have even
erred with honour; which is by no means the case with modern infidels.
No doubt, our first parents were acquainted with the existence of angels, from whom they received many useful lessons, and much necessary information while yet in paradise. And I also know no reason, why these heavenly. messengers should not have had as much intercourse with the holy patriarchs before the flood, as we surely know, they have had with the men of God after the deluge, although it is not expressly mentioned in Scripture. These traditions, accompanied at times by actual experience, are no doubt the fountain-head of all the Heathen mythologies, and demonologies, in which they now appear so much distorted, and garhed in vile superstition, and gross ignorance. Chaldea seems to have been the mother of Sabi. ism, h. e. the worship of the host of heaven, and the tutoress of this gross idolatry among other nations. They imagined the sun to be the visible body of the Deity, and maintained that the moon, the planets, and the fixed stars, were animated and governed by angels, or superior intelli. gences, as the body of man by a living soul. The Sabian Magi appear to have had few conceptions of an intellectual world, beyond these heavenly luminaries, when Zoroaster arose in Urmi, and reformed Sabiism among the Medes and Persians, by his religious philosophy of light and fire. He taught them, that the host of heaven were only emblems of the Deity and his angels, over which they presided as governors, and opened a view before them into an invisible world, where all these intelligent beings appeared in their primeval excellence and glory. However, according to his tenets, they also had many employments on earth, where they superintend the four elements, and seasons, empires, kingdoms, nations, oceans, rivers, men, and the affairs of men. In the exercise of these offices they were often opposed by the dews and daroudjs, i. e. demons, who, accord. ing to his philosophy, had been the first inhabitants of this
earth, and whom God conquered by the stars and angels in a general deluge, because they polluted the elements. These evil spirits inhabit darkness, the atmosphere, and solitary places, from whence they oppose all the benevolent designs of good angels towards men, whom they hate and seek to destroy. Zend Avesta T. iii. p. 358. 359. Also see Herder's Erlauterungen zum N. T.
Verse 1. Four angels, holding the four winds of the earth. These are evil angels, for they hurt with injustice, as the original adinerv, verse 2. signifies. They are instruments of God's wrath under the four first trumpets in the next chapter. And as the subordinate agents under the three last trumpets are evil angels, viz. the angel of the bottomless pit, the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates, and the great red dragon himself at last, we cannot but consider these in the same light, since they execute judgments of the same nature, and to the identical purposes with the three last. I will not undertake to determine, in how far these angels should be considered symbolical, or to what extent beings from the invisible world may have been employed in the execution of the divine decrees, to bring about such extraordinary phenomena, as those alluded to in this place. There is at least nothing improbable in the opinion, that the Lord may actually per. mit evil spirits to engage in such dreadful enterprises, so far as they may accord with his wise and providential measures of government, his eternal designs. These angels seem to have held this office as an appointed employment for many years. Jer. xlix. 36. 37. Dan. vii. 2.
The earth, on the four corners of which these angels stood, here signifies the continent of the Roman empire; and the sea, the sea coast of the Mediterranean: and the trees, the princes and principal personages; which will more evidently appear by the explanation of the trumpets. This empire is here considered a plane square, in regard to the four points of heaven, east, west, north and south,