as well as judgment; then a new and prosperous ministry will arise in the Church, and her borders will be widely extended.
The death of the martyrs under imperial Rome has been considered as fully avenged at the overthrow of that form of
government, when, by terrible dispensations of Providence, the persecutors were exterminated.
Whatever may be determined upon that difficult question, it is certain, that the debt contracted under Rome papal has never yet been
discharged. As the closing period of the Old Testament was the time of reckoning for all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,
under that dispensation; so the close of antichrist's reign will, probably according to the analogy of the divine proceedings, be the set
time when the precious blood of the saints, shed by antichrist, will be disclosed and avenged.
Omnis enim persecutio et afflictio ecclesiae verae ac confessorum verae religionis caussa fidei instituta hacipsa persecutione et
afflictione (Maccabaica nempe) epiphanica involuta fuit. - Vidit ecclesia Deum variis casibus et temporibus e loco suo prodeuntem,
et caussam ecclesiae suae sanguinemque servorum suorum, injustissime mactatorum vindicantem. - Neque enim tot
confessorum et martyrum proximorum duorum saeculorum occidiones injustissimae et sanguis justorum in lanienis Albigensibus Merindoliana et Caprariensi, Parisiensi,
Hibernica, horrendo ac detestando exemplo, profunsus, a terra et aqua absorptus hactenus expiatae sunt, nec eorum nomine divinae
justitiae pro merito caussae et scelerum iniquitate ac gravilitatum videtur. Veniet tempus judicii perfecti, quo caussa religionis
et confessorum ejus, mactatorum propter testimonium Jesu, in publicam
protrahetur lucem; sangris justorum clamans vindictam retegetur, et desensores horum atrocium scelerum, qui ea orationibus aut scriptis tegere, excusare,
aut pallaire studuerunt, prudesient. - VITRINGA in loc.
See commentators upon Rev. vi. See also LACTANTIUS De Mortibus Perfecutorum.
THE APOCALYPSE at first view appears dark and unintelligible. Many who receive it as a precious Portion of the sacred
volume suppose this book, with some parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zachariah, to be intended solely for the use of the Church
at the close of the New Testament dispensation. The discordant sentiments, and different explications of learned and pious commenators,
who profess to have studied it with attention,
seem also to discourage any further attempts to discover its
meaning. But, let it be remembered, that this is not a closed book. Some parts, at least, are easily comprehended. Our blessed Jesus,
who opened the seals, has given it to his people for their immediate instruction; and upon those who faithfully read and improve it, has pronounced
his blessing. As the season approaches in which the Lord is about to fulfil his promises, he will no doubt, direct the attention of believers to this
sure word of prophecy, which is as a light shining in a dark place, that they may know what he is performing, what they have to expect,
and for what they are especially to pray.
It is the character of all prophecies to be in some measure obscure. Many reasons are obvious why they ought to be so.
Nor can this detract from the wisdom and authority of the divine oracles. When the subject, the language, and the order,
adopted in the Apocalypse are understood, it becomes sufficiently accessible, and will be found a source of delightful and edifying study.
The SUBJECT is introduced in the first chapter, and comprehends the things which were, respected the state of the Church
and religion at that present time, of which the seven Churches in Lesser Asia exhibited a specimen. The things which were to be, comprise
the whole future dispensation of the New Testament, until the mystery of Redemption be finished. These future events are divided into two great periods.
The first relates to the adverse state of the Church during the protracted interval of her sufferings, when oppressed with errors and
persecutions, she would gradually retire from public view, and after a long concealment,
again, by gradual steps, be brought forward, and, finally, triumph over all her enemies. These changes, including only so much of the history of
the world as is immediately connected with the fate of the Church, are introduced in the beginning of the fourth chapter, and extend to the close
of the nineteenth. They are depicted by seals, trumpets, and vials, which open the different scenes, and exhibit the succession of those
momentous events. Various hieroglyphics and visions, interspersed with literal explanations, and frequent episodes of the most sublime devotion, enliven and
elevate the interesting predictions. The last period respects that prosperous state of the Church, when the whole world shall know the Lord,
and serve him in spirit and in truth. This is described in the twentieth and two following chapters, which delineate what is commonly called the
The Church was never so completely hidden as to be wholly invisible. In her most obscure state, the enemy always knew where to find her.