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in the Mofaical service, denotes prayer, or mental adoration [b] to tread a wine-press, from their custom of presfing grapes, fignifies destruction, attended with great Naughter [c)- to give water in the wilderness, in allusion to the miraculous supply of that element, during the passage of the Israelites through the wilderness to the holy land, is the emblem of unexpe&ted relief in diftress [d]; — and, to mention no more, a forest, such as Lebanon, abounding in lofty cedars, represents a great city, with its flourishing ranks of inbabitants [e]; just as, a mountain, from the fituation of the Jewish temple on mount Moria, is made to stand for the Christian Church [f].

Now, though the symbols of this clafs be occasionally dispersed through the old prophets, yet they are more frequent, and much thicker fown, in the Revelations : so that to a reader, not well versed in the

[6] Mal. i. 11.
[d] Isaiah xl. 20.
[f] Isaiah ii. 2.

c) Lament. i. 15.
[e] Ezek. XX. 47

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Jewish story and customs, this difference may add something to the obscurity of the book.

If you ask the reason of this difference, it is plainly this. The scene of the apocalyptic visions is laid, not only in Judæa, but in the temple at Jerusalem; whence the imagery is, of course, taken. It was natural for the writer to draw his allusions from Jewish objects, and especially from the ceremonial of the temple-service. Besides, the declared scope of the prophecy being to predict the fortunes of the Christian church, what so proper as to do this under the cover of Jewish ideas; the law itself, as we have before seen, and as St. Paul expressly tells us, having been so contrived, as to present the shadow of that future difpensation ?

This then (and for the reason alligned) is one distinguishing character of the Apocalyptic style. But the difficulty of interpretation, arising from it, cannot be con* fiderable ; or, if it be, may be overcome by

an obvious method, by a careful study of the Jewish history and law. 2. The OTHER

mark of distinction, which I observed in the style of this book, is the continuity of the symbolic manner. Parables are frequent, indeed, in the old prophets, but interfperfed with many passages of history, and have very often their explanation annexed.

This

great parable of St. John is, throughout, carried on in its own proper form, without any such interruption, and, except in one instance (8), without any express interpretation of the parabolic terms.

Now, the prophecy, no doubt, must be considerably obscured by this circumstance. But then let it be considered, that we have proportionable means of understanding it. For, if the symbols be continued, they are Itill but the fame [b], as had been before in

[g] Chap xvii.6] The learned Bishop Andrews says expressly " You shall scarce find a phrase in the Revelations of St. John that is not taken out of Daniel, or some other prophet.” Vix reperias apud Johannem phrafin aliquam,

use

use with the elder prophets; whose writ. , ings, therefore, are the proper and the cer. tain key of the Revelations.

From these distinctive characters, then, of the Apocalyptic style [i], nothing more can be inferred, than the necessity of studying the Law, and the Prophets, in order to understand the language of this last and most mysterious revelation. And what is more natural, nay what can be thought more divine, than that, in a system, composed of two dependent dispensations, the ftudy of the former should be made necefsary to the comprehension of the latter ; and

nih vel ex Daniel, vel ex aliquo prophetâ defumptam. Resp. ad Bellarm. Apol. p. 234.

[i] An eminent writer gives an exact idea of it, in these words --" The style (of the Revelations) is very “ prophetical, as to the things spoken: And very he4 braizing, as to the fpeaking of them. Exceeding « much of the old prophets language and matter ad66 duced to intimate new stories : And exceeding much

of the Jews language and allusion to their customs “ and opinions, thereby to speak the things more fa“ miliarly to be understood.” Dr. LIGHTFOOT, Harm. of the N. T. p. 154, London, 1655. I 3

that

that the very uniformity of style and colouring, in the two sets of prophecies, should admonish us of the intimate connection, which each has with the other, to the end that we might the better conceive the meaning, and fathom the depth, of the divine councils in both ?

But, without speculating further on the final purposes of this Judaical and Symbolical character, so strongly impressed on the Apocalypse, it must evidently appear that the difficulties of interpretation, occasioned by it, are not invincible ; nay, that, to an attentive and rightly prepared interpreter, they will scarce be any difficulties at all [k].

[k] I have heared it affirmed, on good grounds, that the late Dr. Samuel Clarke, being asked in conversation by a friend, whether, as he had taken much pains to interpret the other books of Scripture, he had never attempted any thing on the Revelations, replied, He bad not; but that, notwithstanding, he thought he underpood every word of it: Not meaning, we may be sure, that he knew how to apply every part of that prophecy, but that he understood the phraseology, in which it was written : which a inan, so converfant as he was in the style of fcripture, might very well do.-Calvin;

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