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“ he was terrified both by sea and land, and could " hope for no refuge from the vexation and fear of 6 his mind, he flew to death, as to the cure of the "evils which God had brought upon his head.”, And so taking poison, he died in that miserable manner. Is not this to call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and to hide them from the face of him who fitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb ? Are not the kings of the earth affrighted and in despair ? Mofheim Hift Vol. i p. 170. “The joy with which * the Christians were elated on account of the fa66 vourable edicts of Constantine and Licinius, was "foon interrupted by the war which broke out “ between these two princes. Licinius being de“ feated in a pitched battle in the year 314, made " a treaty of peace with Constantine, and observed “ it during the space of nine years. But his turbu. “ leit fpirit rendered him an enemy to repose ; and “ his natural violence, seconded, and still further " incenfed, by the suggestions of the Heathen “ prieits, armed him against Constantine, in the “ year 324, for the second time. During this war, "he endeavoured to engage in his cause all those “ who remained attached to the ancient fuperfti. “ tion, that thus he might oppress his adversary “ with numbers; and, in order to this, he persecus6 ted the Christians in a cruel inanner, and put to “ death inany of their_bishops, after trying them
* with torments of the most barbarous nature.
CH A P. VII,
Verse if, AND after these things, I saw
n four angels standing 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
· The whole book was opened in the preceding chapter, except so much of it as was contained between the seventh seal and the end of it. A great part of the book is contained under the seventh seal, as shall appear, when the whole hieroglyphics contained under that seal fall to be explained.
As the state of the Roman empire, and of the Christian church, fhould be very different in the period of the seventh seal, from what it was in the period of the fix preceding seals, the vision contained in this seventh chapter, is thrown in between the end of the sixth and the opening of the seventh feal, as a kind of interlude, in order to give us a comprehensive view of the state of the Christian
church during the approaching period of the seventh seal, and to prepare Christians for the new kinds of trials to which they should be exposed in that period.
This vision John faw, “after these things.” This vision refers to events, which were to take place in regular succession after those predicted under the fix seals in the preceding chapter. And, consequently, the first of them was to commence immediately after the establishment of the Chriftian church in the Roman empire, at the revolution under Constantine the Great ,
John saw four angels, standing on the four cor. ners of the earth. An angel, as was formerly shewn, fignifies any messenger of God commission, ed to execute any of his purposes, in the government of the world, whether that messenger be one of the heavenly spirits, one of the sons of men, or a particular event in the course of divine providence. In this vision, they appear to be four men.
They stand on the four corners of the earth; that is, their influence shall extend over every corner of the Roman empire. And in particular, they shall hold the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. By this hieroglyphic, it is predicted, that these four men shall be the instruments, in the hand of God, for preserving an universal calm and peace over the whole empire.
As As the earth fignifies the Roman empire, fo the fea, in the symbolical language, fignifies a fluctuat: ing and diffolved fate of government. It fignifies a multitude of people like the drops of water, which make up the fea, but like these drops not connected together, but easily diffolved, fluctuato ing, and frequently changing their places. We meet with this symbol, chap. X. 2. and xiii. 1. In both which places, it fignifies a diffolved and fluca tuating state of civil government, as shall be shewn, in the commentary on them, particularly on the last of them This fymbol is used to signify the fame thing by Daniel, chap. vii. 2, 3. In this verse, it fignifies, that though the Roman empire seemed to be diffolved, as every government is, when a revolu. tion is taking place in it; these four men should be the instruments of bringing about and preserv. ing a profound peace and calm in the empire, not. withstanding the late diisolved state of governtent.
Trees are the produce of the earth, hence they fignify the temporal interests of the Roman einpire. The same symbol occurs, chap. ix. 14. and there has the same signification. This peace shall be fo great, chat none of the temporal interests of the empire shall be hurt during its continuance. This prediction was exactly fulfilled in that period of the history of the Roman empire, and of the Christian church, which immediately followed the