A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse
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A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse by Sylvester Bliss This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org/license Title: A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse Author: Sylvester Bliss Release Date: September 16, 2008 [Ebook 26639] Language: English ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE*** A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE By SYLVESTER BLISS, AUTHOR OF “ANALYSIS OF SACRED CHRONOLOGY,” ETC. SECOND EDITION BOSTON: PUBLISHED BY J. V. HIMES, No. 8 CHARDON STREET. 1853. Contents PREFACE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ELEMENTS OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION. EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE. . . . . . . Footnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 . 4 . 16 . 283 [005] PREFACE. The Apocalypse should be regarded as a peculiarly interesting portion of scripture: a blessing being promised those who read, hear, and keep the things which are written therein. It has been subjected to so many contradictory interpretations, that any attempt to comprehend its meaning is often regarded with distrust; and the impression has become very prevalent, that it is a “sealed book,”—that its meaning is so hidden in unintelligible symbols, that very little can be known respecting it; and that to attempt to unfold its meaning, is to tread presumptuously on forbidden ground. The attention of the Christian community has been called more of late to its study, by the publication of several elaborate Expositions. One in two large volumes, 8vo., by Prof. Stuart, was published at Andover, Mass., in 1845. A large 8vo. volume, by David N. Lord, was issued from the press of the Harpers, in New York, in 1847; and a smaller work, by Rev. Thomas Wickes, appeared in that city in 1851. These are the more important works on the subject which have been published in this country. In England, the “Horæ Apocalypticæ,” by the Rev. E. B. Elliott, A.M., late Vicar of Tuxford, and fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, has passed through several editions,—the fourth of which, in four large vols. 8vo., was published in London, in 1851. These works, with the writings of Habershon, Cunningham, Croly, Bickersteth, Birks, Brooks, Keith, and other distinguished English writers, have caused the study of the Apocalypse to be regarded with more favor of late than heretofore. The Expositions of MR. LORD have thrown much light on the nature and laws of symbols, by unfolding the principles in [006] PREFACE. 3 accordance with which they are used. The evolving of these has removed from many passages the obscurity which had before caused them to be regarded as enigmatical. There are, doubtless, many portions of the Apocalypse, the meaning of which is as yet only dimly perceived, and which will be more clearly unfolded by the transpiring of future events; and it would be arrogant to claim that its interpretation had been freed from all perplexities. But it is believed that it may be as profitably and as satisfactorily studied as other portions of Scripture; and that the reader may feel an assurance of approximating to a knowledge of the true meaning of its symbolic teachings. The Bible is its own interpreter; and when practicable, scripture should be explained by scripture. The meaning imputed to any passage must never contradict, but must harmonize with that of parallel texts. In illustrating the several references in the Apocalypse to the same events and epochs, a repetition of scripture is somewhat unavoidable. These pages have resulted from notes prepared in a familiar course of Bible-class instruction, where the study of brevity was necessary. Without designing to speak dogmatically, the didactic was found the more direct and simple mode of expression. In presenting this exposition, merely as the opinion of the writer, it is with the hope that it will give, in a small compass, a commonsense view of the intricacies of this book, and be acceptable to those interested in the study of prophecy. [007] ELEMENTS OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION. 1. THE GRAMMAR of any science is a development of the principles by which it is governed. As the science of interpretation must be founded on some fixed and uniform laws, the unfolding of these is the first step in the study of prophecy. 2. BIBLICAL EXEGESIS and SACRED HERMENEUTICS, are terms applied to the science of interpretation, or of learning the meaning of Biblical words and phrases. 3. THE USUS LOQUENDI, is the usual mode of speaking. When applied to the Scriptures, it denotes the general scriptural use of words. 4. To learn the meaning of scriptural terms, their general use must be ascertained, by comparing their contexts in the several places of their occurrence. 5. PROPHECY is the prediction of a future event. The term sometimes denotes a book of prophecies (Rev. 22:18); and sometimes a history.—2 Chron. 9:29. 6. CONSECUTIVE Prophecy gives the succession of future events in the order in which they will transpire. Examples.—See Dan. 2d, 7th, 8th, 11th, and Rev. 6th and 7th, 9th to the 11th; 12th and 15th, &c. 7. DISCURSIVE Prophecy presents future events, irrespective of the order of their occurrence. Examples.—ISAIAH and the minor prophets. 8. CONDITIONAL Prophecy is when the fulfilment is dependent on the compliance of those to whom the promise is made, with the conditions on which it is given. Examples.—“If ye walk in my statutes and keep my commandments, and do them: then I ELEMENTS OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION. 5 will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Lev. 26:3, 4. “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you, I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain; for your enemies shall eat it.” Ib. 14-16. “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day: that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” Deut. 28:1, 2. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day: that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee,” &c. Ib. 15. Predictions of mere national prosperity, or adversity, are usually conditional. When the condition is not expressed, it is implied. Example.—The Lord said unto Jonah, “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.... And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.... And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them: and he did it not.” For all cases of this kind, the Lord has given the following general RULE: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to [008] 6 A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse [009] destroy it: if that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Jer. 18:7-10. 9. UNCONDITIONAL Prophecy includes all predictions which are absolute in their nature. Examples.—“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Num. 14:21. “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.... For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.... Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” Isa. 60:2, 3, 12, 21. “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.” Micah 4:1. 10. A VISION is a revelation from GOD, supernaturally presented. Future events are made to pass before the mind of the seer, as if actually transpiring. Examples.—See the prophecies of ISAIAH, AMOS, OBADIAH, &c. 11. A SYMBOLIC VISION is where the future events, instead of being presented to the mind of the prophet, are represented by analogous objects. Examples.—The prophecies of EZEKIEL, DANIEL, ZECHARIAH, and JOHN, are of this kind. 12. A LITERAL Prophecy is where the prediction is given in words used according to their primary and natural import. Examples.—Num. 14:21-35; Jer. 25:1-33.