Изображения страниц

d not say the same thing , & have not the fame

object. For the first little book that appea

reth sealed with seven seals, principally cm respects the affairs & the adventures of the De first Period of the fourth Monarchy, viz. the

temporal Roman Empire. And the second
book contains the destinies of the Church"
corrupted during the same ages, & the same
duration of time; this is what we call the
Spiritual Roman Empire. I say, that the first
book contains properly the deftinies of the
Empire ; not but that those of the Church
are included in it too. For that which God
foretold should befall the Roman Empire',
was always with respect to the Church, to
ïts Persecutions, & the great Changes that
befall it. So that to speak properly, the whole
work respects the Church. But the second
little book, which reaches from the solb. Chap-
ter to the end, respects the Church, & what
was to befall it , much more particularly,
yea & more clearly.
'The first thing that appears in the book & When
of the Revelation is the seven Epistles to se. revea***
ven principal Churches of Afia , contained Epifles

are Pro.
in the three first Chapters. Tis very much phetical g
question'd whether these Epistles are Prophe
tical or not. Some maintain that they are
with a great deal of heat , & others deny it.
As for me, I have nothing certain to say
upon it. So that I would not raise a preju.
dice against any person or any opinion by
my own; tho I am much more enclined to
believe that there is nothing of prophecy in

B 2


them, but that all that is faid in these Epift.
les , 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 St. John here to have done. The Apost-
les were wont in their Epistles to rank in :
the first place what they had which was dog-
matical & Prophetical to write of ; & after.
ward 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 vifions
which God had given him. Therefore he dif:
patcheth 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. Why the I see but one thing that seems mightily to wrote but Tavour thic Opuno11 OI !

favour the opinion of those that believe that to seven the seven Epistles are Prophetical. 'Tis the Chcs. number of seven. Why did the H. Spirit write

to no more than seven Churches Were there not many more in Afia? Were these the only ones in which there was any thing to be reproved, or to whom the H. Spirit had something to say?


[ocr errors]

. 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 wh:t is said to these seven Chur

ches doth not at all agree with the events, in what manner foever the times be divided. So that this only thing that the H. Spiritmakech 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 Afia , and if any will have it so, all those that were at that time in the world. And he chose among these seven the names of the principal ones, intending that the other lefser Churches should reckon that as spoken concerning their prefent estate, which is spoken to the seven principal ones among them,

B 3. .: 2dly,

2 dly, Who knows whether there were at that time more than seven considerable Churches in Afia? The other were' so very much below these, for Dignity, Grandure & Excellency, that the H. Spirit judged it not proper to make any account of them, the AdVertisements that he gives to these seven Churches being sufficient for the Disorders which might be in all the others, which Disorders were apparently the same. For 'tis usü. all enough for little flocks to follow the examples of the greater ones.

Lastly, it doth not appear that the holy Spirit, in what follows, hath divided the du. ration of the Church lince J. Christ's time to the end of the world, or to the coming of Jesus Christ's Kingdom into seven Periods, For the seven seals, the seven Trumpets, the seven Vialls, do not each of them take up all time. They succeed one another. The seventh . seal brings forth seven Trumpets, & the fixth Trumpet is subdivided into seven Vi. alls. It had been very methodical in a Reve. lation, after having obscurely mark'd out the seven Periods of the Church by the seven Epistles, to describe the same times by fe. ven other Characters more observable & more distinct. This is indeed what some modern writers do believe that God hath done; pretending that the seven seals & the seven Trum. pets are co•temporary, & divide the duration of the Christian Church into seven Periods, as the seven Epistles to the seven Churches do.But this opinion will not appear probable to those


er having the Che Famet

Min lee it, topirit faith my resemb which are

have noh: How with

that study the Prophecies & the events with
any application of mind.

I look on that as nothing that is said to
support the mystery of the Seven Churches,
viz. that we do not see that such things hap.
pened in the seven Churches of Asia, which are
there namned, as have any resemblance with
what the H. Spirit saith to them. How should
we see it, seeing we have not the particular
History of those Churches in that time ? Be.
sides, tho we do not know the particulars of
those events, yet there is nothing in the se-
ven Epistles which doth not very well agree
with the Estate of the Church that then was;
without any necessity to seek out events my-
stically meant in future ages. .

The principal thing that hinders me from Theapclosing with the opinion of the Prophetical plications

* that are sense of the Epistles , is that I do not find that made of the applications which are made of them to the seven

Epistles the Ages that have past since the Apostles , rothe ledo answer expectation. 'Tis true, there are some ve

ods are places where the applications are not unhap. noc tiappy. But seeing this is not to be met with py. every where , I believe that they have hit luckily by chance. Otherwise the Prophecy should every where agree with the events. To the end one may better judge of the force of this last reason, I shall set down two or three of the mystical interpretations that are given to these Epistles. This will please those who cannot or will not go to seek them in their Springs. Į begin with that of Patrick Forbes. a Scotch

B 4 : Diving

doanswehere the applia not to be


or three of reason, the judge of the events.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »