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have occurred previously, and there is no event recorded in history, to which it can with propriety be applied, but that brought about under Constantine by the revolution of the empire from paganism to christianity. We give the summary We give the summary interpretation of the first five verses, by a further justification of them in the Author's own words :
"In this passage we behold the prayers of all saints ascending up with acceptance before God; by which prayers may be signified the cries of the servants of God under the cruel and long continued persecutions of the heathen Roman empire. An answer to these prayers is sent. Fire, an emblem of the wrath of God, is cast upon that empire; and there follow political convulsions, voices, thunderings, and lightnings, and a revolution or earthquake whereby paganism is cast down to the ground, and christianity occupies its place as the religion of the government. The heathen persecutions are thus brought to a period.
The above interpretation is entirely new, as I have not met with it in any writer whom I have consulted on Apocalypse: I shall therefore offer another argument, which seems to me to strengthen it. The principle of homogeneity requires us to understand the symbol of an earthquake in the same sense, wherever it occurs in the prophecies of this book; and in considering the sixth seal, we have seen
that it signifies a revolution: indeed, it is generally admitted to bear that meaning. It must therefore be interpreted in the same manner here. But since the publication of the Apocalypse, only three revolutions have happened in the Roman empire. The first was in the time of Constantine; the second at the period of the Reformation; and the third is that awful revolution, which began by the overthrow of the French monarchy, and has since then never ceased to convulse the world.
The earthquake mentioned in the eighth chapter of the Apocalypse cannot, for chronological reasons, be referred to the second or third of these revolutions. It must therefore relate to the first," P. 56. P. 56. Before we pass on to the next incident of importance we must apprise the Reader, that the arrangement of the seals and trumpets is made one of the most important
features in controversial discussion and interpretation. Some writers charge Mr. Cuninghame's scheme (among them Mr. Faber) with excluding the seven trumpets from the seventh seal, as if they did not emanate from it, but that a silence of half an hour were the sole result of its opening. But this is a great misapprehension for though Mr. C. carries back the seal to a period prior to Constantine, yet does he decidedly consider the trumpets to be contained in that seal and to be consecutive on its opening. On the other hand Mr. Cuninghame charges the arrangement of Mr. Frere with professing to be a parallelism of the seals and trumpets, when it is not for he considers that because each seal and each trumpet are not exactly synchronous, the dates sometimes alternating and at others being only imperfect parallels,—therefore there In this instance is no parallel at all. however we differ from Mr. C. ;— for we conceive that the histories of two kingdoms may be said to flow parallel with each other down the stream of time, without its being necessary to prove that the reigns of the monarchs of each, or the principal events enacted in each, were likewise contemporaneous. We consider indeed the first six trumpets and seals in Mr. Cuninghame's system to run in parallel columns, thus approximating in some measure to the scheme of Mr. Frere and we rejoice that in these conflicting opinions in regard to particulars, there is so much substantial agreement as to generals.
We next present to the Reader the sum of Mr. Cuninghame's interpretation of the first four trumpets; Rev. viii, 7-13; in which he chiefly follows Mede and Bishop Newton.
"I conceive that the first trumpet sounded at the time of the Gothic erup
tion in the reign of Valens, A. D. 376. Its sounding was followed by hail and fire mingled with blood. Hail, in the prophetical style, is a symbol denoting war, and the ravages of hostile armies. fire and blood accompanying the hail of this trumpet, denote the dreadful and destructive nature of the wars which should
ensue. The effects of the descent of this hail upon the trees and the grass are agreeable to the analogy of the symbol, and denote the ruin which was brought by the Gothic irruption on the inhabitants of the empire." P. 60.
"The second period of the Gothic irruptions, which began in A. D. 395, seems to me to have been the fulfilment
of the second trumpet, on the sounding of which "a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea." A mountain, in the prophetical style, signifies a kingdom. It is well known that the irruption of the northern nations into the Roman empire was of this peculiar nature, that not bodies of armed men only, but whole nations of invaders, transported themselves, with their women and children, their goods and effects, into the territories of the empire. Such an invasion, by various tribes of fierce and impetuous barbarians, who carried fire and sword wherever they marched, seems to be fitly symbolized by a vast mountain, burning with fire, being cast into the sea." P. 63.
"The successive invasions of the empire by Attila were probably the accomplishment of the third trumpet, on the sounding of which "a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and 'fell upon the third part of the rivers and the fountains of waters." The
star seen by the apostle in this trumpet appears to have been a comet, which is a fit emblem of a mighty conqueror. Indeed, in the symbolical language, a star, when applied to temporal things, always means a king or a prince: this star, burning like a lamp, therefore denotes a prince armed with the fire of war. The wormwood into which the waters were converted by this star, seems emblematical of the bitter and dreadful sufferings inflicted on the empire by Attila and his Huns.
On the sounding of the fourth trumpet, the third part of the celestial luminaries were smitten and obscured. This, in the language of symbols, evidently refers to the extinction of the imperial government
of Rome within the limits of the western empire, which was effected between the years 455 and 476. In the first of these
years, Rome was taken and sacked by Genseric, king of the Vandals, who carried away with him immense spoil, and an innumerable multitude of captives; among whom were the Empress Eudoxia and her two daughters. Rome never recovered this stroke. In the year 476, the imperial government was subverted, and Augustulus, the last emperor of the west, was deposed and banished from Rome by Odoacer, the general of the Heruli, who was elected, and reigned, the first barbarian king of Italy." P. 65.
The preceding view is supported by striking historical facts: at the same time we cannot say that it produces full conviction in all the particulars. For example, we consider Alaric and the other barbarian leaders to have been equally stars with Attila ; and the Visigoths Vandals and Alani to have been burning mountains, just as much as the Huns. There wants therefore something more signally distinguishing between the historical facts applied to the different symbols. The same may be said of the bitterness of the waters, interpreted of the great sufferings which the inhabitants of the empire experienced; whereas those which were inflicted on the inhabitants of Gaul and Spain by the army of Radagaisus were equally remarkable.
A second difficulty with us is, that "a star falling from heaven” is commonly understood, when spoken of secular princes, to signify-not a career of victory and consequent increase of power, but their loss of authority and rank. Such appears to be the meaning of the symbol in Matthew xxiv, 29 and Rev. vi, 13; and thus the Author himself explains it in his interpretation of the fifth trumpet, and also at page 232.
We are in some measure prevented from making another objection-not to the general interpretation, but to its want of completeness-by a recollection of
the 4th rule by which the Author is guided in his exposition.
"I do not attempt to explain every minute part of a symbol, but content myself with endeavouring to seize its great outlines. This rule is well known, and carefully observed by all judicious expositors of the scriptural parables.Now I consider the symbols of the Apocalypse in the light of prophetical parables."
As this involves some important considerations, we shall venture an observation or two. We coincide in the above rule as a general principle; but think it wants definition. That a distinction is to be made in the mode of interpreting and applying parables, is clear from the precedents afforded by our Lord himself. For example, in the parable of" the good Samaritan," though the particulars introduced are very circumstantial, they are nevertheless only applied in their general scope, as exhibiting the extent of commiseration and generosity of the Samaritan towards a miserable stranger. The brief exposition which our Lord first draws from the Lawyer, and the equally sentitious application which he himself makes-" Go and do thou likewise"-evince the absurdity of the followers of Origen; who have found in the Samaritan the divine nature of Christ, in the ass his human nature, in the inn the Church, in the host the Minister, in the two pence the Bible and Testament, &c. ! We believe that nothing has more misled preachers than the applause which such interpretations have drawn forth from weak persons. The talent of thus allegorizing Scripture, whilst its plain and evident scope are either entirely neglected or but slightly touched upon, is deemed by many to be the mark of a spiritual mind; (though we have known very carnal minds excel in it;) and incited by the desire of
distinction in this respect, too many have departed from the plain, literal, and really sober track of Scripture exposition.
Thus far we go with Mr. Cuninghame: but on the other hand, our Lord's interpretation of the parable of “ the tares" shews, that there are occasions when the circumstances are to be applied; and when therefore every object introduced must have its precise signification. Thus, were our Author's rule to be adopted in its present vagueness, by expositors not restrained by the same cautious spirit which generally influences Mr. Cuninghame, it would open a door to the wildest vagaries of the imagination. Men would no longer be controlled by the necessity of making the interpretation consistent with the particular symbols introduced into a vision; but would feel at liberty to neglect such minutiæ, when to explain them might embarrass their own system.
Now in regard to parables, whether the particulars are to be each expounded, or the meaning judged of from the entire scope, may be generally determined from the context; but this cannot be so easily done in regard to symbolical prophecies, because it is needful first to translate the language in which they are conveyed, before we can understand the imagery, or properly judge of the context: for they are not only prophetical parables, but hieroglyphical parables. And it must be borne in mind by the Reader, that it is not the symbols which constitute the parabolical character, but the narrative action described by means of those symbols; and as the symbols must be known before an adequate notion can be formed of the imagery and incidents; (quite independent of the subsequent application of the pro
phecy to historical events;) so we consider that every object in the scenery described in these visions has a precise and definite signification.
In regard to the interpretation of the specific symbols themselves we likewise observe some little discrepancy. We understand the the
Author to mean, that the trees and grass, injured at the blast of the first trumpet, represent the inhabitants of the empire: at page 84 however he seems to consider the command given to the locusts of the fifth trumpet, not to hurt the grass and trees, as having been literally fulfilled—the Saracen army having been enjoined not to destroy palm trees nor burn corn fields, &c. Yet in the next paragraph (if we understand the Author, for it is obscurely intimated,) he considers, that as the locust army were to torment those only who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, the grass and trees and green things to be spared may be symbolical of those parts where religion remained most pure, (as Savoy, Piedmont, &c.) to which places, when the Saracen army approached, it was defeated. We only observe, if this be the meaning, that as grass and trees denote in this instance a class of men, who, on account of their testimony to the truth, were saved from the scourge; the first trumpet must signify a judgement specially directed against the righteous, "beginning first at the house of God.”
There is another important circumstance in the descriptive part of these trumpets which it is proper to notice as we pass on; and that is, that a third part only of the earth, sea, &c., is said to be affected by the judgements. Sir Isaac Newton says, The whole scene of prophe
Now Mr. Cuninghame, in the remarks by which he supports his view of the first four trumpets, very justly observes, that they all belong to one subject, viz. a symbolical universe; which is particularly important, as shewing their mutual connexion with each other. But then he does not consider, that when particular mention is made of the earth, trees, grass, sea, rivers, fountains, &c., which constitute this universe, they are applicable to distinct and specific portions of the empire which they symbolize. If the dry land only, or the sea only were destroyed, he conceives it would imply that a part only of the empire was affected; but as all the chief objects of the terrestrial universe are instanced, he concludes that they are intended to signify universality of desolation. Now had the effects of the whole four trumpets been described in the way of summary, as extending to the third part of the earth, sea, rivers, &c. we should have been more disposed to concur in this observation; but when each separate trumpet is directed to some distinct and specific objects, we rather think that definiteness is intended: the same as in the instance of the seven vials; in regard to which our Author admits, that they are referable to par-cy is composed of three principal
defeated. all the chief
parts the region beyond Euphra
tes, represented by the first two
beasts of Daniel; the empire of
the Greeks on this side of Euphra'tes, represented by the leopard
* It is remarkable that, in the enumeration of the symbols which are said to constitute the terrestrial universe, the generality of expositors omit to notice the ships, mentioned at verse 9; which cannot be called in strictness a portion of the universe; but may nevertheless symbolize the cities, towns, temples, mansions, and other structures erected in the earth by the art of man.
and he-goat; and the empire of the Latins, on this side Greece, represented by the beast with ten horns. And to these three parts the phrases of the third part of earth, sea, &c. relate." (P. 276.) But Sir Isaac does not say, whether the expression third part signifies only a third portion of this territory, or is to be understood of the whole three parts, and therefore his explanation is in this respect unsatisfactory. Others have interpreted 'the third part' to relate to the third beast only, and thereby to sig nify the eastern empire; which is somewhat supported by the circumstance, that in another part of this prophecy (vi, 8) power is given to Death and Hades over "the fourth part of the earth," which would then distinguish the Western Empire, or territorial seat of the fourth beast. Mr. Cuninghame modestly observes,—“ If I be asked, why the proportion of one third, and neither more nor less, of the symbolical universe, is the limit which has been fixed to these events? I confess I can only answer the question by saying, that it has 'seemed good to the Spirit of God to select that proportion, and if any other integral part had been used for the same purpose, (viz. to imply universal subversion and desolation,) it is quite evident that a similar question might have been put.” (P. 73.) Perhaps a careful consideration of Ezekiel v, 2, 12 and Zechariah xiii, 8, 9, might throw light on this expression; and it may be well to notice, that in regard to the fall of the tenth part of the city, (Rev. xi, 13,) that most, if not all, expositors understand it definitely of a tenth portion.
The concluding verse of this chapter Mr. Cuninghame considers as containing a chronological mark, to shew that the three trumpets
following are actually posterior in order of time, and that they belong to a new series of events. These are commonly called the woe trumpets.
The falling star, to whom is given the key of the bottomless pit, which is presented to view at the sounding of the fifth angel, is supposed by our Author to mean the apostacy of the Roman Bishop or Pope; and the black smoke which arises from the pit, the corruptions in doctrines and image worship which overspread the Church during the fifth and sixth centuries, and obscured the Sun of righteousness." For the sun, when it relates to spiritual things, he interprets of our Lord; when it belongs to political events, of the supreme authority in the state.
There is a pretty general agreement among interpreters, that the army of locusts which follows signifies an army of invaders: the king over them is referred by Mr. C. to Mahomet, and the locusts to his Arabian followers. But there is something still unsatisfactory to our own mind in the usual interpretations of the descriptive particulars, which are made partly literal, partly figurative, quite out of all proportion and harmony with the rules of symbolical interpretation usually acknowledged. Mr. Cuninghame does not in our judgement entirely keep clear from this defect the locusts having faces as the faces of men and hair as the hair of women" he explains of the Arabians wearing beards or mustachoes as men, whilst the hair of their heads was flowing or plaited hair like women's. This is as nearly literal as may be. The crowns on their heads like gold he thinks is probably an allusion to the turbans worn by the Arabians.-But Mr. Cuninghame himself contends that a symbol, however dignified, must be inferior to the thing symbolized: how then can so trumpery