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rowed from things with which they had some acquaintance, and between which, and the things they wished to express, they discovered (or imagined they discovered) a similarity. Figures thus adopted soon became familiar, and were received as the names of the things thus expressed. From this beginning, men proceeded to compound and improve their figures, as they wished to denote additional qualities or circumstances; and hence, in time, arose the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and probably the characters used by the Chinese.

This kind of language had a natural and simple origin, like the following: A child sees and desires an object, but knows not the name of it. He reaches out his hand for it, and, if he can say any thing, he calls it by the name of something which he knows, and between which and this thing he imagines he perceives a resemblance. And, till he is better informed, he will, probably, continue to call it by this name. In such kind of

simplicity did figurative language originate. And it was not discontinued after the invention and improvement of letters. It then became more definite, as literal definitions could be given of it, and as language improved.

The ancient Egyptians took pleasure in expressing and recording their mental conceptions in figures, which were at once curious, and mysterious. And they retained and refined this use of figures, after they made improvement in literature; as did also the other nations of the East. What was at first adopted from necessity, was afterward retained and refined, to embellish their language. Men of the first eminence delighted in this use of their figures; and they often exercised their own and each other's invention with questions involved in this kind of mystery. Hence originated riddles, designed both to please and to instruct. The Greeks, and then the Romans, caught this manner of imbodying their ideas in the language of figures.

It might then have been expected that Israel, after having resided four hundred years in Egypt, in the dawn of their national existence, would adopt a liberal use of this kind of language; and that the style of their prophets, especially, would abound with it. For, although

the prophets wrote by inspiration, yet they were led to record their inspired conceptions in the language with which they were familiar. Their prophecies especially might be expected to abound in this kind of language; for they were designed to be vailed in various degrees of mystery, at least for a time. And they were designed to be such as to require the devout and patient investigations of men versed in the language and analogies of prophecy. Hence the passage is appropriate-“ I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old."

This kind of language is capable of being much more. easily understood than many imagine. Literal language is unintelligible till rendered familiar by improvement and use; and even then it is imperfect. The same word often imports different things and actions; and the true sense in any given place must be learned from the object of the writer, the exegesis of the discourse; and, with this consideration, added to due attention to figurative language, it may be rendered familiar. And it is so, even among people uncultivated. The natives of our continent abound in this kind of diction, of which they form the most ready and perfect conceptions. And we easily understand their figurative communications, in their various talks to our people; and not only so, but we are arrested with the strength and beauty of their communications, much more than we should be with the literal and simple expressions of their ideas.

Figures known in the sacred writings, are derived from the following sources.-The visible heavens, with the planetary system. The regions of the air, where winds, storms, lightnings, and thunder are generated. The earth, water, fires, earthquakes, minerals, metals, stones. The vegetable world; trees, grain, plants.— The sea, with its waves, billows, and depths.-Cities in peace, and in arms.—Wars, leaders, armies, battles, conquests, and captivities.-Houses, with their furniture ; temples, prisons, courts, judicial proceedings.-Roads, highways, mountains, deserts, rivers, brooks, springs of water. The human body; its sustenance, ornaments, clothing; its diseases; its senses, of seeing, hearing,

smelling, tasting, and feeling.-Domestic relations, and blessings.-Utensils of life-actions of men-times and seasons. The animal creation; and the feathered tribes. -Reptiles, and insects.-Monsters of the earth; and fishes, and monsters of the sea.-Also assumed forms from the invisible world.

Figures from these sources, with various combinations of properties, natural and unnatural, occasionally superadded, abound in the word of God; and more especially in the prophecies.


The same figure sometimes relates to secular, and sometimes to ecclesiastical things. When the former is the case, the heavens (for instance) mean the system of an empire. "The heavens departed as a scroll!” or, an empire was subverted. The powers of the heavens shall be shaken!" or, the political world shall be rent. The sun, in that case, denotes the highest government of a nation. Its being turned to darkness, denotes the ruin, or deep perplexity of the supreme civil authority. The stars then denote the subordinate rulers of a nation. Their falling from heaven, means their fall in some revolution. And the moon being turned to blood, denotes tremendous slaughters.

When ecclesiastical things are the object; the heavens (meaning the visible heavens) denote the visible church on earth. The sun then is God, or Christ the Sun of Righteousness. The moon then denotes the elements of this world. "The moon was under her feet." The stars then denote the ministers of Christ; the morning star, Christ himself. "I am the bright and morning star." A falling star is an apostate teacher. Light is holiness; and darkness sin. Dews, showers, and rain are the kind influences of the Spirit of God. And God's raining upon the wicked snares, means his providentially confounding them in their wickedness.

Another thing is to be remembered,—that while the language of prophecy is figurative, the figures are continually interspersed with language that is literal. As the particles and conjunctions in the sentence are literal, various things predicated of the figurative subjects that are presented are no less literal. For instance; it does not

follow, that because "the rivers and fountains of water," in the third vial, are not literally so-but are nations; therefore the blood into which they are said to be turned, in that vial, is not real blood, but something else denoted by blood. The blood does there mean real blood, into which those nations are, in a measure, turned in wars! as the angel of the waters exclaims, "They have shed the blood of saints-and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy." Wisdom here is profitable to direct, and will direct the candid improved mind.

A few instances of Bible figures shall here be added. A beast is a figure of an empire that is hostile to the church. And as there can be but one supreme power in that empire or region at the same time; so there can be but one beast in the same region at the same time. Let this be well remembered. A horn of that beast is a

figure either of its strength, or of some leader in it, as Alexander was the notable horn of the he-goat from the west; or a horn is an emblem of some branch of that power. Add to such a beast an unnatural number of horns or heads, or accommodate him with wings, and you have a compound figure. And unnatural properties may be added to any amount, to denote additional properties in the power denoted. The Babylonish empire was denoted by a lion, as in Dan. vii. ; and eagles' wings are added, to denote the velocity of its conquests. The Grecian empire was a leopard, with four wings, to denote still greater velocity in its conquests;—and four heads, to denote four parts, into which the empire was divided. The terrible beast from the sea, with great iron teeth, was the secular Roman empire, as will be


This may suffice for this part of the subject, as light will arise upon it throughout the following pages.

The divisions of the Revelation should be noted. These will be found to be seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials, as will be shown in their place. But the Savior gives to John a division of this book thus: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." The first here noted was the vision and scene of the

first chapter. The second was the seven epistles to the seven churches then in Asia Minor. The third ("the things which shall be hereafter") it is of importance to ascertain. The words of the Savior give us latitude among all events then future, in which the church should have an interest, and which can be shown fitly to accord with the figures of the prophecy.

No one can claim a right to select several only of the great events then future, to the exclusion of other events of equal or greater magnitude. A man who will do this, must surely give others equal latitude, unless he would set himself up as an oracle. "The things that shall be hereafter," we should surely think must include all the most capital events in the church, or contiguous to her, in which she would have a deep interest, and which might well accord with the figure predicting them.

Could, then," the things which should be hereafter," when John had this vision, be likely to be restricted to several events only, or several kinds of events, as some have imagined? Would they be restricted to the overturning of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of paganism in the Roman empire? Must the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials, be construed as all alluding only to those events of early times? And may one decide that little or no notice is, in the Revelations, taken of the rise, progress, and destruction of popery, and of Mohammedanism, those prime and vast pillars of Satan's kingdom? no notice taken of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, that plunging of the dragon from his papal heaven? no notice taken of his subsequent persecutions of the Protestants, when hundreds of thousands were destroyed by jesuitical influence? no notice taken of the flight of our pilgrim fathers to this new world, and planting here a cause of salvation which was to convert the world? no notice taken of the flight of the present missionary angel round the earth to preach the gospel to all nations? none, of the terrors of the French revolutions of 1789, and its twentyfive years of most terrific wars, and the subversion of the predominant power of the papal see! no notice taken

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