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EXTRACTS FROM COMMENTATORS, WHO HAVE THOUGHT A R
VOLUTION IN FRANCE TO BE PREDICTED BY ST. JOHN.
THE object which I have now in view, is to shew, what commentators have applied to France, the prediction of the figurative Earthquake, occurring in ch. xi. though, in their time, to human discernment there was not the remotest probability of an Insurrection and a Revolution in that kingdom: and I am also to give a detail of their arguments.
The expectation of A REVOLUTION IN FRANCE, Dr. Gill derived from this passage ; but he shall not here be cited ; because incidental mention will be made of his sentiments on this subject in the chapter next succeeding. If this figurative Earthquake' be regarded as affecting the Tenth Part of the Roman Catholic countries, Mr. WAPLE says, the kingdom of France may most peculiarly be denoted ; which was the Tenth Part of the City ; that is, the last of those Ten Kingdoms, which arose out of the ruins of the Roman empire, and gave their power to the Beast ; as may be seen in the catalogue of them, given by the judicious and learned author of the book De Excidio Antichristi.' After observing that this prophecy has been applied to the kingdom of France,' Mr. LOWMAN declares, that it may be understood very properly of some considerable part of the Empire,' meaning the papal, and that it may signify the downfal of some considerable sup. porters of the Beast's persecuting power.' That it most probably referred to France was the opinion of a divine of
1 By the Great Earthquake here mentioned, ' we understand,' cays Dur. KAM, “the great commotions which usually accompany REFORMATION whereby kingdoms are put in an uproar.'
Scotland, Mr. LAUCHLAN TAYLOR?; an opinion which was also approved by another Scotch minister of the name of WILLISON, who thus expresses himself. · Before Antichrist's Fall one of the Ten Kingdoms, which supported the Beast, shall undergo A MARVELLOUS REVOLUTION, Rev. xi. 13.
• The same hour there was a Great Earthquake, and the Tenth Part of the City fell. By which Tenth Part is to be understood one of the Ten Kingdoms into which the Great City, Romish Babylon, was divided. This MANY take to be the Kingdom of FRANCE, it being the Tenth and last of the Kingdoms as to the time of its rise, and that which gave Rome the denomination of the Beast with Ten Horns.-However unlikely, this and other prophecied events may appear at the time, yet the Almighty hand of the only wise God can soon bring them about, when least expected3.'
Near the beginning of the present century, sentiments of a similar cast were advanced by Mr. WHISTON. There was a Great Earthquake, and the Tenth Part of the City fell και το δεκαλον της πολεως επεσε, the Tenth or last of the kingdoms into which the Roman empire was originally divided, and which arose the Tenth in order of time. But was the Gallic monarchy the latest in its formation? In proof of this, Mr. Whiston appeals to historic documents*; and, after the allegation of them, adds : ' so this kingdom of the Franks is the last, the To‘Afxctor, the Tenth kingdom in the order of rising; and in our age, has arrived also at that greatness, as to be at least a to dexatoy a Tenth Part of the European share of the old Roman empire.' Elsewhere also he observes, that as the kingdom of the Franks is distinguished above all the rest,' from being · last in the order of its rise, it therefore denominated the Beast, a
2 Sce his Ess. on Some Important Parts of the Rev. p. 142. It was printed as late as 1770.
3 Twelve Sermons by John Willison, M. A. Min. of Dundee. Lond. printed, Glasgow reprinted in 1745, p. 147.
4 He quotes in particular Baronius and the learned Dr. Howel.
Beast with Ten Hornss. That the Tenth Part of the City denoted France was the opinion of Cocceius, as may be seen in the commentary of that celebrated German. An apocalyptical writer of the last century, whose signature was S. E. as quoted by Dr. More, says, verse 13 of ch. xi. seems to aim at some GREAT REVOLUTION, to the subverting of the antichristian state of affairs in one of the Ten Kingdoms the empire was divided into, and so introducing such a settlement as to be a prelude and pattern to what is to succeed in other dominions.
These writers may soon be dismissed. But there are others to whom ampler room must be allotted. On this prophecy Dr. Thomas Goodwin, Jurieu, and an anonymous French commentator, though they wrote more than a century ago, all speak a language more distinct and more remarkable.
Dr. THOMAS GOODWIN?, head of Magdalen College, Oxford, who wrote his Exposition on the Apocalypse in 16398, says, “By the Tenth Part of the city, I understand, as Mr. Brightman before me, some one Tenth part of Europe ;-city being put here, as it often is in this book, for the extent of the jurisdiction of the city of Rome.--This Tenth Part of it is so shaken, that it falls : that is, ceaseth to be a part of the city, or to belong unto its jurisdiction any longer : or (which is all one) falls of (as we say) from being of the number of those that give their power to the BEAST.-And as earthquakes are from inward mo.
5 See p. 90, 227, and 235.
7 The early part of his life was spent in the university of Cambridge, at Christ College and at Catharine Hall. Dissatisfied, however, with the terms of conformity, he relinquished that preferment which he had already obtained ; and some years afterwards, to avoid the increasing heat of persecution, passed over into Holland, where he became pastor of the English church at Arnheim. It was not till ten years afterwards, in 1649, that he became president of Magdalen college. See his Life prefixed to the last volume of his works, which are five volumes in folio.
8 See Pref, to vol. II. of his works.
tions in the bowels of the earth, so this here may seem to arise from within that kingdom itself. He thinks it probable, that FRANCE may be this country : and that in this Revolution men will be deprived' of their NAMES and Titles, which are to be rooted out for ever, and condemned to perpetual forgetfulness ;' and that the Titles and Dignities thus abolished will be extremely numerous. Of FRANGE he also supposes, that it may ' have the honor to have the last great stroke in the ruining of Rome:' and he apprehends' that this figurative earthquake, though happening only in one country, may extend its effects to others, so that a great shaking of States, as well political, as ecclesiastical, may be intended".
The words of our translation are: And the same hour was there a Great Earthquake, and the Tenth Part of the City fell, and in the Earthquake were slain of men seven thousand. Some of my readers will probably ask with surprise, is it from such a passage as this, which appears to be completely silent on the question, that Dr. Goodwin derives the abolition of titles? Let them, however, more narrowly inspect the prediction of St. John, and perhaps they will rather be disposed to wonder, that it should not have been oftener viewed in the same light. The fact is, that commentators have been accustomed to view it through a false medium. The original of the latter clause is : και απεκίανθησαν εν τω σεισμω ονοματα ανθρωπων χιλιαδες επτα.
This might with propriety be rendered : and in this commotion the names or titles of men" being many in number were destroyed"?, or, to use a more appropriate word, were abolished.
9 'THIS INSURRECTION, OR RISING OF THE PEOPLE, in the Tenth Part of the City,' he elsewhere observes (p. 172), 'ends in the ruin of Rome.
10 Goodwin's Works, 1683, vol. II. p. 173---178.
11 The prophetic descriptions are sometimes literal, even when they appear most figurative.' Hurd, vol. II. p. 102.
12 For a translation, thus widely differing from the common one, substantial reasons ought to be alleged. Of every word, which admits of any degree of doubt, a separate notice shall thcrefore be taken.
But it was not to be expected, that an event, altogether so unlooked for, so improbable, and so alarming to many, . as the abolition of titles, although it were predicted with all possible clearness, should be rightly understood by the
I scarcely need observe, that emerlan Ancay is a 1st aorist, from an ox7elvw; and that aproxlero is translated in the lexicons not only by occido, but by aboleo to abolish, and by perimo, the proper meaning of which is to take away wholly or to destroy. It has exactly this sense in ch. ix. v. 5. St. John speaking of the Saracens or symbolic locusts, says, and to them it was given, ovce Mein atox?EtYWGI AUT85, that they should not destroy them. This • is to be explained,' says Daubuz, • according to the nature of the sub. ject.---It signifies not that individuals shall not be slain ; for as these locusts are armies of men, it cannot be imagined that armies can come into other countries to plunder, without shedding of blood. Nay, their torment implies a great slaughter ; but the exception of not killing must be understood to imply, that the locusts are not quite to make an end of these men.' With respect to the number 7000, Goodwin, Vitringa, and many other writers justly observe, that it is an indefinite number, ' put for many ;' and the former of these commentators adds, that this mode of joining names and men together is not to be found in the whole book of God. In Mede (Commentationes Apocalypticæ, lib. III.) a similar observation occurs, Not to mention that none of the Greek M. S. omit orop.cle, and that Joseph Mede (lib. III. of the Latin work just mentioned) has accordingly translated it by nomina, I have consulted the version called the Vulgate and that of Erasmus, and they both agree in giving the words nomina hominum septem millia : and I may be permitted to observe, that, in determining the readings of the Sacred Text, the Vulgate, in the opinion of Mill, of Simon, of Bengelius, and of other distinguished critics (see Michaelis's Lect. Lond. 1761, sect. Ixvii.) is of such antiquity as to carry with it an unri. valled authority. Our old English bibles speak a similar language. The same expression, the names of men, was not only preserved in the obsolete translation of Wickliffe, but in that of a subsequent date, which was pub. Lished by national authority. Whence then, it may be asked, were the revisers of our English version induced to hazard so important an omission! This I will endeavor to explain. They were leci to innovate by their misconception of the passage, and by the manifest absurdity of the existing translation. In our older testaments it stood thus: and in the earthquakes were slaine names of men seven tħousande. To speak of names being slain was felt to be language grossly inadmissible ; but our scriptura) emendators knew not how to reconcile the two ideas, and they therefore cut away the difficulty at once, by expelling one of the words. They ventured not, however, on this step, without some shew of caution. Whilst the present translation was introduced by them into the text, the excluded word was sometimes suffered to take refuge in the margin.