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things which must be hereafter:" for it is in reference to this precept
that he immediately adds, "I was in the spirit." The scenes there
presented to his view, are, indeed, unearthly and divine; and his
description of them is transcendently animating and transporting.

A celestial throne of high state is erected, and the Father Almighty
is seated in it. Earth's brightest and most radiant gems lend their
most brilliant rays of beauty and glory to adumbrate the splendors
of His Majesty. The jasper and the sardius, with an emerald rainbow,
mingling every color that adorns earth or heaven, conspire with all
their powers to set forth his peerless eminence. Four and twenty infe-
rior thrones, at proper distance, encircle the awful throne of the
Eternal, pouring forth its floods of light and glory upon them all.
These, after reflecting upon each other their respective glories, send
back again to their unwasting fountain all that beauty and grandeur
which they have received from it. On these four and twenty thrones
sat the grand peers of heaven in senatorial majesty, adorned in the
snow-white raiment of absolute purity, each having his majestic brow
encircled with a crown of gold. From the central throne perpetually
issued coruscations of the most vivid lightnings, accompanied with
mighty thunderings and overwhelming voices. Seven lamps of celes-
tial brilliancy flamed before the throne, symbols of the seven spirits
of God, and shed their holy light upon a sea of glass, of more than
crystal brightness, spreading its unmeasured waves of glory far beyond
the horizon of angelic vision. In the circular interval between the
four and twenty senatorial thrones stood at proper intervals corre-
sponding with our cardinal points, four living seraphim, creatures of
no earthly resemblance, having each six wings, and covered within and


without with eyes of soul-piercing brightness. These four combined
the courage of the lion, the patience of the ox, the sagacity of man,
and the towering fleetness and lofty genius of the eagle. These were
all engaged in a rapture of worship at the moment John in spirit drew
near. The seraphim sang. "Holy, holy, holy Lord fiod Almighty, who
wast, and art, and who art yet to cornel" The four and twenty elders
fall prostrate before the throne, and cast their crowns at his feet,
exclaiming, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor,
and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they
are and were created." Such are the solemn and sublime preparations
antecedent to the opening of the Christian Church and its mighty

The fifth chapter opens with a view of the eternal God, holding in
his right hand a roll of parchment, written on both sides, seven times
encompassing a roller, and sealed as often with a seal on one of its
ends. A mighty angel, herald of that day, standing before him, chal-
lenges the whole created universe td present some one capable of break-
ing the seven seals and reading the seven rolls of that most mysterious
parchment inscribed with the entire annals of the Christian Church
and the human race. But no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither
under the earth, "was able to break the seal," unrol the parchment,
and read its awful lines replete with the fortunes of the world. So
en rapt was John and so eager to know, that, on hearing no one speak,
and on seeing no one advance of all created intellects, celestial, terres-
trial, or infernal, he burst into a flood of tears. But while in this
mournful agony, a celestial senator stooping from 'his throne, said,
"Wekp not; Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,
has prevailed" to open the rolls of time and read its wondrous devel-
opments. Then appeared the Lamb, bearing the scars of death upon
his person, yet living and having seven horns and seven eyes — perfect
power and perfect knowledge of all things, past, and to come. Majesti-
cally advancing towards the central throne of the universe, he stretches
forth his hand and receives the mystic volume. No sooner is he seen
turning round to open the first seal, than all the celestial ranks and
orders — angels, principalities, and powers — prostrate themselves before
the Lamb: "And they sang a new song, saying. Thou art worthy to
take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and
hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue,
and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and
priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard
the voice of many angels round al)out the throne, and the living crea-
tures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times
ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and


"Wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every
creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the
sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying. Blessing, and honor, and
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto
the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said. So
LET IT BE. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped
him that liveth for ever and ever."

Thus have we seen (thanks to the Father Almighty!) the volumes
of providence and of moral government, replete with the church's des-
tiny, committed to Jesus Christ. This verifies the title of the book —
"A Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show unto
Ms servants things which must shortly come to pass." The Lord has
the rolls of time in his hand; for he alone could open them. His is
the power and the intelligence, and he alone can reveal the future.
"All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in him." To his
throne of Grace and to his Apocalypse, let us look for all we desire to
know, that we ought to know, of the things that are, and of the things
which are yet to come to pass.

We shall now read and examine the sixth chapter, having for the
present disposed of the first five. In this no less than six seals are
opened. The Lamb stands between the four seraphim and the throne
of God. He is above them all. He takes into his right hand the roll.
He holds it up before the universe. Then breaks the first seal, and
unrolls one fold of the curious volume. At that instant stands forth
one of the seraphim, and with a loud voice summonses the attention
of the universe to the mysterious inscription, saying, "Come and see."'
What is it? A milk-white horse, whose puissant rider is the Messiah
himself, goes forth with his faithful followers to subdue the nations
with the sceptre of his grace, or the rod of his anger. He has one
crown upon his head, a bow in his hand, and a quiver full of arrows by
his side, and his course is onward, "conquering and to conquer." That
we have not mistaken the first seal, we shall now prove by a develop-
ment that comes out of the last, or seventh seal, when the eventful
campaign ia coming to a close. It is found in chap, xix., verses 11-16,
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat
upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth
judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head
were many crowns: and he had a name written that no man knew, but
he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and
his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in
heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white
and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he
should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:
and he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty


God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,

He is in the field from the first to the end of the seventh seal. If
he does not appear in them all, he is at work in them all, fighting
by the sharp two-edged sword with which he smites the nations, against
those who will not have him to rule over them, and still extending the
victories of his love. All the symbols of this passage show that the
Messiah is the person who mounted the white horse, having then but
one crown, now returning covered with the blood of his enemies, and
wearing the trophies of a thousand battles. Well did Isaiah say of
him, chap. Ixiii. 1-6, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed
garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling
in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness
mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy
garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the
wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will
tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their
blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my
raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my
redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and 1
wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm
brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will
tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my
fur>', and I will bring down their strength to the earth."

The first act of the first seal and the last act of the seventh seal are
most unquestionably applicable to the Messiah, and to him only; and
indicate, very clearly, what is intended in the Apocalypse, and there-
fore impart great assurance to those who view the treatise as indic-
ative of the conflicts between King Jesus and Tiberias Cesar in some
one of his Pagan or Papal successors, and of the various mutations
and fortunes of a two thousand years' war between Christ and Belial
— between his kingdom and the world.

I need not go into a prosing detail of the particular calamities to
which the Christian Church was subjected down to the time of Con-
Btantine, set forth under the figures of the three next seals. I need
not give the history of the red or war-horse of the Cesars. They soon
drew the sword. They called for the blood of Christians. That oracle
Ol the Messiah was fully verified in them. They unsheathed the sword,
and they perished with the sword. Our Captain commences his pacific
and conciliatory career mounted on a milk-white steed. The Cesars
mounted first the red horse of war; then the black horse of famine;
and finally the paJe horso of death. TYhe> ton, more or less, Pagan
persecutions of the Christians, are most clearly and strikingly set forth
under these appropriate and intelligible symbols. Any one who makes


himself well acquainted with, the history of the first centuries of Chris-
tianity, and carefully reads Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire," will feel the most satisfactory evidence that the Pagan per-
secutions are here set forth with an especial reference to the sufferings
of the Christians and of the world under that idolatrous and wicked
government. Each of the four seraphim attends in succession on the
opening of the four seals, three of which develop the general character
of the cruelties of the opposition.

The fifth seal represents the souls of slaughtered myriads of Chris-
tians as congregated under the celestial altar, invoking vengeance on
their enemies, and imploring mercy upon the earth, with the answers
given them from their Chief.

The sixth seal presents great commotions in the Roman heavens
and earth. The sun of the Cesars is covered with sackcloth, and their
moon is baptized in blood. Their stars fall from their firmament, and
the earth reels to and fro like a drunken man. Their political heavens
are rolled up like a scroll, and the mountains and islands are moved
out of their places. The whole population is in terror and alarm. The
government is changed. Swarms of Barbarians for a series of years
spread ruin and desolation over all their realms. Kings and princes,
the rich and the noble, with the poor and the ignoble, the bond and
the free, are overwhelmed in trouble and dismay — the consequences
of their former tyranny and their hostility to the name of the Mes-
siah. Pagan Rome is in name, in form, and profession, no more.
Christianity, in name at least, triumphs over avowed Paganism, and
thenceforth the character and position of the parties lately engaged
in hostile array are changed.

The seventh chapter continues the developments of the sixth seal.
The four angels, ministers that command the forces of earth, that
are ultimately to sweep from the earth with the besom of destruction
those that oppressed the Christians, are for some time to hold the
tempests of wrath in their hands till the saints are all sealed, that
they may escape the impending evils about to overwhelm the world.
Of the twelve tribes (a definite number put for an indefinite), soma
one hundred and forty-four thousand are sealed for deliverance. An
innumerable host of saints of all nations are now seen standing be-
fore the throne, uniting with all the celestial hosts in an ecstacy
of admiration and worship — giving glory to God for their salvation
and deliverance from their enemies, and for the triumphs of justice
and truth over unrighteousness and falsehood.

The six seals, then, cover the whole period of the church's trials
under the tyranny of those spirits and principles that first opposed
the Messiah and his Apostles. Still there are yet in store for the
Roman Empire innumerable woes to be developed under the seventh


seal. That power yet exists in new forms and combinations, waiting
for a day of complete and perpetual desolation.

The period of the six seals numbers the days of Pagan Rome so
far as she opposed the rising empire of the King Messiah. Tho
church, and not the Roman Empire, is the special object of the
calamities inflicted during the first three centuries of the Christian
era. The seventh seal is comprehensive of all the fortunes of th»i
world and the church to the end of the awful career of Papal Rome.
It reaches to the second coming of the Messiah. Indeed, it embraces
the sequel of human history under the remedial system. The devel-
opments of the seventh seal constitute the main burthea of the rev-
elation of Jesus Christ It grasps the annals of almost seventeen
centuries, and therefore it includes the fortunes of the Roman Em-
pire from the days of Constantine till the fall of Babylon, or the
utter ruin of Papal Rome.

The dismemberment of that empire because of its assaults upon
the Christian church, and the calamities consequent thereupon,
occupy six of the seven "trumpets." The gradual fall of the empire
by the terrific irruptions of the Goths, the Vandals, the Huns, and
the Lombards, during a period of something less than one hundred
and fifty years, and extending to the overthrow of the last of the
emperors by Odoacer, A. D. 476, engross the first four trumpets. There
are not wanting some of the most learned and gifted interpreters of
prophecy, most conversant, too, with both political and ecclesiastic
history, who assign the first trumpet to Alaric the Goth, A. D. 400;
the second to Genseric the Vandal, the maritime depredator, A. D.
420; the third to Ati'.a the Hun, that fiercest scourge of Heaven on
Pagan Rome, A. D. 450; the fourth to Odoacer the king of the Heruli,
A. D. 476. Still no prudent and learned expositor of the symbols
would confine these trumpets exclusively to the doings of any four
ii'dividual depredators. Hordes after hordes of these northern thun-
derbolts of war made irruptions upon the ill-fated empire of Rome,
and wave after wave of indignation passed over it, until the empire
was overwhelmed with floods of Goths and Vandals, of Huns and
Lombards, that left behind them a fearful desolation.

.\fter these accumulated woes, those of the Saracens and Turks
ensued, and with a mighty sweep of wrath reached from A. D. 612 to
the overthrow of Constantinople, A. D. 1453, which entirely destroyed
the eastern section of the Roman Empire. Some of our contempo-
raries assign to tho Saracen invasion a period of one hundred and
fifty years, from 612 to 762. and give the prophecy cf the hour, the
day, the month, and the year — a period of three hundred and seventy-
six years and one hundred and six days, to the Turks — from the
ascendency of Togrul Beg, head of the Mahometan realm, to the fall


of the city of Constantine, A. D. 1453. Although I gave substantially
these views of the Apocalypse in a course of lectures delivered to
the church in Wellsburg, some twenty years ago, and have since that
time seen them several times advanced by very eminent expositors,
both in Europe and America, I should not lay much stress upon the
exact assignment of particular persons to particular events, or of
particular events to particular persons. Nor is the evidence of the
special details of each seal or of each trumpet so satisfactorily clear
and demonstrative as to leave no shadow of doubt of the exact har-
mony of the symbol or prophecy and the event. We therefore prefer
to assign to a period — a well-marked and definite period, all that
belongs to the seals, the trumpets, the vials, etc., rather than to find
for each seal and for each trumpet a precise accomplishment in well
ascertained historic facts and documents.

When, however, we remember that the blast of a trumpet was the
well known and clearly established symbol of the proclamation of
war, and of victory in war, we can not doubt that while the seven
seals include all the secrets in the book, and that six of the seven
indicate the fortunes of the church under Pagan Rome, and the
calamities accruing in consequence to the empire — the trumpets inti-
mate the progressive destruction of the Pagan form of imperial Rome,
to make way for the rise and development of the Man of Sin, whose
full growth was hindered while yet Pagan idolatry was the religion
of the empire.

A sort of interlude in this splendid poem or picturesque represen-
tation of the mysterious future occupies the seventh chapter. The
eighth opens to us a new scene. Portentous of the sublime and aw-
ful developments of the seventh seal, there was a profound silence
in heaven for half an hour. Divine worship was performed at the
golden altar of incense, when an angel cast down upon the earth a
censer full of flaming incense, which was followed by voices, thunder-
in gs, lightnings, and an earthquake. Then commence the seven blasts
of the trumpet-bearing angels.

These seven angels belong to the seventh seal, but by no means
exhaust its developments. Six of the seven depict the crash of Pagan
Rome, as before intimated — interrupted, however, by other scenes
afterwards developed by special symbols. While, then, the first six
seals display the sufferings of the church under the Roman perse-
cutors, the first six trumpets represent the sufferings of these Roman
enemies of the church, by the desolating hordes of the North, who
distributed the empire among themselves in the form of ten kingdoms
— fragments of the Roman Empire.

The seventh angel, like the seventh seal, is the most comprehensive
of them all. During the awful blasts of his indignation seven vials


full of wrath are poured out upon a monster that sprung up out of the
wreck of Pagan Rome, an amalgamation of Judaism, Paganism, and
Christianity. This new mont-ter — this anomalous compound of idola-
try, law, and gospel, reduced to a system, though the most conflicting
and jarring elements, has been most singularly compacted, main-
tained, and controlled by one mystic person called the beast — the
Pope, or universal sire of a multitudinous brood — a mongrel progeny,
neither Jews nor Christians, neither Pagans nor Turks; but a com-
bination of all creeds, traditions, opinions, and rites, more character-
istically called "papists" than anything else.

The Papal institution of Catholic errors has spread clouds of dark-
ness and error over the whole face of Christendom, and has left
unscathed no form of religion to which the cognomen Christian has
been affixed. So that Protestantism itself, in its most prominent and
by law established branches, is, in fact, but reformed Popery, though
avowing principles which, if carried out, would revolutionize and
convert the world. This monster of iniquity occupies considerable
space in the Apocalypse. His rise, progress, and ruin, are the subjects
of several special symbols. Indeed, his mystic Holiness is himself
with his worshippers, a main actor in the drama, and a main subject
of prophecy.

The seventh angel, however, announces the catastrophe, and intl
mates the subordination of all the nations of the earth to the sceptre
of the Messiah. This is done in the eleventh chapter of the Apoca-
lypse, after sundry episodes have been introduced, and after several
subordinate symbols have been developed; amongst which are the

NESSES. But the full import of this trumpet reaches to the end of the
volume. The prophet arranges his communications under the three
leading classes of seven seals, seven trumpets and seven vials; often,
however, interrupted with matters somewhat foreign, yet still con-
nected with these leading visions. A very characteristic feature of
the plan of the Apocalypse is its assortment of events more with
regard to the class of symbols employed than to the chronological
order of the events themselves. For example, seven seals contain all
the revelation given to the church. Six of these are opened in imme-
diate sequence, and the remainder of the book belongs to the seventh.
Under the seventh seal first come the seven trumpets. Six of these
sound in rapid succession, and occupy, with some episodes, only a
part of three short chapters. Under the seventh trumpet "the mysterv
of Cod is finished;" or to quote the whole sentence, "And the angel
which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth, lifted up his
hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who
created heaven and the things therein, the earth and the things


therein, the sea and the things therein, that there should be time
no longer" — or, should be no longer delay; — "but in the days of the
voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the mystery
of God should be finished as he has declared to his servants the
prophets" (x. 5-7). While the sixth angel was sounding another angel
came down from heaven, of surpassing glory, standing both on the
sea and on the earth, and cried with a tremendous voice; at the close
of which seven mysterious thunders uttered their voices. This is that
angel who sware that while the seventh angel sounded, the secrets of
divine government and providence concerning the church should be
fully developed.

The remaining future of the church's destiny is therefore all hid
in the seventh trumpet. Under the seventh trumpet stand forth seven
other angels, having each a golden vial filled with indignation, about
to be poured upon the apostate church. These seven vials extend to
the fall of Babylon. After which but one other angel appears in the
drama of the church's destiny. He has the key of the bottomless
pit in one hand, and a mighty chain in the other. He seizes the
dragon, that old serpent, the devil and Satan, and binds him a thou-
sand years, and seals him up in that bottomless gulf. Then comes
the first resurrection and the triumph of the saints. What follows
are but details of the church's history and glory — the laS't conflict
of Satan, and the final judgment.

The seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, the seventh vial, in their
respective classes, are those of superlative interest to the church.
The seventh seal contains seven trumpets and seven vials, with all
that is subsequent to the desolations of the mystery of iniquity and
the first resurrection.

Various digressions or episodes occur in these developments.
These give special views of peculiar mystic personages and events
necessary to a clear intelligence of what is detailed under the three
great classes of seals, trumpets, and vials. Of these special mystic
personages we may hereafter speak. A. o.



Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 70)