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the nature of my subject confines me to those parts of the Apocalypse which treat of the 1260 years of the great Apostacy, I shall pass over in silence the contents of the six first seals, and commence my observations from the last seal which comprehends all the seven trumpets.
I. “ And, when he had opened the seventh seal, “ there was silence in heaven about the space of
half an hour. And I saw the seven angels “ which stood before God; and to them were
given seven trumpets. And another angel came “ and stood at the altar, having a golden censer: ." and there was given unto him much incense, “ that he should offer it with the prayers of all
saints upon the golden altar which was before " the throne. And the smoke of the incense, " which came with the prayers of the saints, as
" cended up before God out of the angel's hand. " And the angel took the censer, and filled it with “ fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth : and " there were voices, and thunderings, and light
nings, and an earthquake.
The prophet had already, under the sixth seal, predicted the conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity in the days of Constantine, the downfall of paganism, and the tranquillity which the Church enjoyed for a season after her manifold troubles and persecutions *. The opening of the
* Rev. vi. 12-17. vii. 1-17. See Bp. Newton's Dissert. in loc. I cannot but think, however, that his Lordship extends the season of tranquillity, predicted in the seventh chapter, much too far, in supposing it to reach from the reign of Constantine to the death of Theodosius, when the first trumpet began to sound. Such an opinion neither accords with facts, nor with the tenor of the prophecy. If we advert to facts, we shall find, that the peace of the Church began to be disturbed even during the life of Constantine by the heresy of Arius, and afterwards by t'e Apostasy of Julian. If we advert to the prophecy, we shall find that the scheme in question makes the tranquillity of the sixth seal synchronize for the most part with the silence introduced by the opening of the seventh seal. Now, since the tranquillity is placed under the sixth seal, it is reasonable to suppose that it is considered as terminating, when the seventh seul is opened, which introduces no scenes of peace, but a mute and anxious expectation of the calamities soon about to fall upon the Roman empire under the trumpets. History shews, that this supposition is just; for we can scarcely consider that as a period of much tranquillity to the Church which was at once disturbed by the quarrels of the Consubstantialists and the Arians, the malignity of Julian, and the perpetual incursions of the Goths,
seventh seal is the prelude to the disturbing of that tranquillity, the harbinger of the downfall of the Western empire, the herald of the revealing of the man of sin. The year 313 was marked by the famous edict of Constantine in favour of Christianity: in this year therefore the tranquillity of the Church commenced. No great length of time however elapsed before the peace of the Empire began to be broken by the incursions of the northern barbarians about the years 321 and 323. At this period I conceive the seventh seal to have been opened, and the silence of half an hour or rather of half a season to have commenced *. As the seventh seal introduces those first incursions of the Goths that took place after the beginning of the Church's tranquillity, incursions which were easily repelled by the yet vigorous government of the Empire; so the silence seems to denote the state of mute and anxious expectation in which the Church anticipated, as it were, from various less important invasions, the grand irruption of the Gothic monarch Alaric and his associates under the first trumpet. "The period then of the half season describes the affairs of the Church and the Empire from about the year 323 to the year 395.
What the Church gained in outward splendor and prosperity under Constantine, she lost in purity of manners and doctrine. The holy simpli
* I shall take occasion hereafter to discuss the import of the word hour.