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By this means, the whole plan or method of the Apocalypse will be laid down. The several synchronical prophecies will thus fall into their proper places; and there will be no doubt of the relative situation, which each holds in the general system.
Thirdly, as we now see the true order of the prophecies (though for the wisest reasons, no doubt, the order, in which they are delivered, be sometimes different) so it is to be observed, that the knowledge of this order is a great restraint on the fancy of an expositor ; who is not now at liberty to apply the prophecies to events of any time, to which they appear to suit, but to events only falling within that time, to which they belong in the course of this pre-determined method. And if to this restriction, which of itself is considerable, we add another, which arises from the necessity applying, not one, but many prophecies (which are, thus shewn to synchronize with each other) to the same time, we can hardly conceive how an interpretation should keep clear of these impediments, and make its way through so many interfering checks, unless it be the true one. Just as when a lock (to take the author's allusion) is composed of many and intricate wards, the key, that turns easily within them, and opens the lock, can only be that which properly belongs to it.
After all, it may be difficult, I know, to convey a distinct idea of the uses, to which this synchronal method serves, to those who have not read, and even studied, Mr. Mede's work. But the sum of the matter is this, That the order of the events and of the visions is not the same that the true order of the events, is to be sought in certain characters, not fancied at pleasure, but inserted, in the visions themselves-and, lastly, that the whole book of the Revelations being thus resolvable into a particular determinate order, in which the several sets of synchronal prophecies regularly succeed to each other, no exposition of this book can be ad mitted, that does not refer every single prophecy to its true place in the system, and provide at the same time that no violence be done to any other prophecies, which synchronize with it.
And thus much concerning the TRUE ORDER of the Apocalypse ; deduced, you see, from no precarious hypothetic reasonings, but from notes and characters, inclosed in that book; that is, from intrinsic arguments, which have their evidence in themselves, and conclude alike on every supposition.
If we would know more distinctly what the EXTERIOR FORM of it is ; and how it comes to differ so widely from the plan of a chronological arrangement; here, too, our sagacious expositor
will give us satisfaction. For, in bringing together and comparing his synchronisms, he found (what had escaped the attention of all pthers) that the main body of the prophecy is made up of two* great parts; which are, also, synchronical; so that, setting out from the same goal, and measuring the same space, they both concur in the same end : but with this difference, that the former division more immediately regards the affairs of the empire; the latter, those of the church.
Still, this is not ail. Our attentive and penetrating commentator further discovered, That the two great component parts of this prophecy, though distinct, are very artificially connected, and shewn to harmonize throughout with each other, by making the same concluding event,t once told, the catastrophe of both. For the former part is purposely, and with express warning given, left unfinished, till a summary deduction of the latter part down to the same point of time, (by way of prelude to the more extended visions of this last part, which follow to the end of the book, and to signify, that both parts are contemporary) furnished the occasion of shutting up the two prophecies
* From ch. iv. to the end of ch. ix: And from ch. X. to the end.
# The sounding of the seventh trumpet.
$ Ch. xi: 15.
together in one common term: which, however, had the appearance of being misplaced, till the detection of this singular contrivance, by means of the synchronisms, pointed out the use and end of the present disposition.*
* The reader may form a distinct idea of the method, in which the whole book of the Apocalypse is disposed, by observing that it is resolvable into three great parts.
The FIRST part, is that of the EPISTLEs to the seven churches, contained in the three first chapters, and is not at all considered by Mr. Mede.
The second part (with which Mr. Mede begins his commentary) is that of the SEALED Book, from ch. iv. to ch. x; and contains the fates of the empire, or its civil revolutions, yet, with a reference, still, to the state and fortune of the Christian church.
The THIRD part, is that of the OPEN BOOK, with what follows to the end ; and exhibits, in a more minute aud extended view, the fates of the Christian church, especially during its apostacy, and after its recovery from it.
This THIRD division may, further, be considered as consisting of Two parts. The FIRST contains, in ch. xi, a summary view of what should befall the Christian church, contemporary with the events deduced in the second part concerning the empire ; and is given in this place, in order to connect the second and third parts, and to shew their correspondence and contemporaneity. See Mr. Mede's Clavis, p. 424 ; and Comment. Apocalypt. p. 476.
The second part of the last division, from ch. xii. to the end, gives a detailed account of what should befall the Christian church in distinct, and, several of them, synchronical visions.
It has been thought by some an objection to Mr. Mede's scheme, “ That the prophecy of the open book, (which contains, according to him, all the remaining visions to the end of the Revelations) is not only, for the subject, more considerable, but, for the size of the vol. ume, larger, than the prophecy of the sealed book ; whereas, the name given to it, Bilrepídiov, or little book, seems very clearly to express the contrary."
Another cause of the seeming perplexity in which this prophecy is involved, is, That, it being expedient to treat the same subject in different
If this objection be thought material (for I do not find that Mr. Mede condescends to take any notice of it) it might, perhaps, be obviated by supposing, That the little book contains the with chapter, only, being a compendium of the third division, and inserted in this place to shew the contemporaneity of the two last and principal parts ; and that all which follows to the end, is to be regarded as a sort of comment on the little book, or larger explication of its contents : As if the design had been to consult our weakness, in presenting us, first, with an abridged view of a great scheme, and, then, in drawing it out at large, for our more distinct information.
But the truer answer to the difficulty I take to be, That the sealed. book is represented under the idea of a book, properly so called, which, upon being opened, presents to the eye the several objects and schemes of the prophecy, distinctly delineated on the roll, or volume, when it comes to be unfolded, and which, therefore, must needs be considered as a large one. The open book, on the other hand, is to be regarded, not as a real, but metaphorical book ; and is not produced to be read or contemplated, after a gradual evolution of it, but to be eaten, at once, by the prophet; like that book, to which it alludes, and from which the imagery is taken, in the visions of Ezekiel [ii. 8. and ü. 1, 2, 3.]—to eat a book, being, in the hieroglyphics, to meditate upon, and to digest, its contents. So that this book, to distinguish it from the other, is named a little book : not, that the revelations, conveyed by it, are less considerable, or less numerous, than the other, but that the use, to which it is put, required only that it should be spoken of, as a book simply ; the diminutive form being here suggested in the term βιβλαρίδιον, , that the metaphor of eating it might seem the easier ; and (because the former sealed book was of an immense size) might, under this idea, present itself the more naturally, and give less offence, to the imagination.