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for he says, “ this was no better than a dream of theirs, for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans.”
I shall merely observe of the cry of terror which, under this seal, proceeds from these fugitives, where they are represented as saying to the mountains and rocks, “ Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,” that it is the very language which our Lord said would be used at that miserable time.
“ Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us; for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?” 1
To recapitulate. The seal discloses great and terrible phenomena. The sun black as sackcloth of hair, the moon as blood, the stars falling to earth, and the heaven departing as a scroll. If this be merely indicative of mighty revolution and change, the world has never known so wondrous a revolution as the change from Judaism to Christianity. If it be interpreted of calamnitous events, “ in those days was affliction such as was not from the beginning of the world, no, nor ever shall be.” If it be interpreted of supernatural appearances, the history of that time abounds with prodigy and miracle.
Under this reign of terror, the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people generally flee to hide themselves from the wrath to come. The strange coincidence is abundantly proved, that they did so hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and to complete the evidence, the very words which our Lord said they would use proceed from their trembling lips.
Such I conceive to be the fair and legitimate interpretation of this seal. I cannot see in it any traces whatever of the revolution which took place in the Roman empire after the persecutions of Diocletian. I cannot recognise the faintest allusion to the change from Paganism to Christianity in the days of Constantine. I cannot suppose that Maximin, or Galerius, or Diocletian are kings of the Jewish earth, or that they can, with any propriety of interpretation, be said to hide
themselves from the wrath of the Lamb. I do not conceive that the imagery of this seal is expressive of triumph and victory; and as for the date assigned to it, there is not the slightest proof beyond mere assumption. I can only wonder that such interpretations could have filled Exeter Hall with thousands of attentive listeners, and that persons possessing common sense should accede to statements which have no better foundation than indistinct, and too often, imagi. nary coincidence.
I commend the explanation now offered to your prayerful study and investigation, humbly beseeching God to pardon errors which are unintentional, and to establish us more and more in the truth of his Holy Word.
GOD'S SEALED ONES.
Rev. vii. 1–17. 1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God : and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed : and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
5. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
8. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worsbipped God.
12. Saying, Amen : Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple : and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
With a confessedly difficult subject before us, like that in which we are now engaged, I cannot think the system which we have adopted of briefly recapitulating the main points of the preceding Lecture will be altogether unacceptable. In this Lecture it will be all the more necessary, inasmuch as we are still engaged in the investigation of the subject of the Sixth Seal, the seal not being completed until the close of Chap. vii.
We began by proving that the allegorical language of the seal was identical with that used by our Lord, when describing his coming to destroy Jerusalem — that the great earthquake, the sun black as sackcloth of hair, the moon as blood, the stars falling to the earth, the heavens departing as a scroll, every mountain and island removed out of their places, the kings of the earth hiding themselves, and calling upon the mountains and rocks to cover them from the wrath of the Lamb, was only a fuller development of our Lord's predictions :-“ Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”1
We went on to show you that these passages could not refer to some day of judgment yet future, but to our Lord's immediate coming to destroy Jerusalem. Thrice is that parable repeated, by St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke“ Now learn a parable of the fig tree, when his branch is
| Matt. xxiv. 29, 30.
tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh, so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.1
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree: when her branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near; so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.” 2
“ And he spake to them a parable, behold the fig tree and all the trees, when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand, so likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”3
Thrice is the precise period defined as a period within the lifetime of the then existing generation.
Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled — heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”4
“ Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be done, heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
“Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled, heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
We then spoke of the signs which heralded in his coming - we explained the wonderful phenomena of the Sixth Seal, of those extraordinary prodigies which then took place. We proved from the only writers who have given a history of those eventful times, that at that period miraculous signs and wonders happened, such as had never happened before – the star resembling a sword which stood over the city — the comet which continued a whole year— the light at the ninth hour of the night shining about the holy house — the eastern gate of the temple opening of its own accord — the chariots and troops of heavenly combatants in the clouds—the quaking felt, and the voices heard in the temple. « These were the signs,” says the
i Matt. xxiv. 32, 33. 3 Luke, xxi. 29-31. 5 Mark, xiii, 30, 31.
2 Mark, xiii. 28, 29. 4 Matt. xxiv. 34, 35. 6 Luke, xxi. 31, 32.