the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Clarke's Commentary Clarke Commentary
by Adam Clarke
Among the interpreters of the Apocalypse, both in ancient and modern times, we find a vast diversity of opinions, but they may be all reduced to four principal hypotheses, or modes of interpretation: -
1. The Apocalypse contains a prophetical description of the destruction of Jerusalem, of the Jewish war, and the civil wars of the Romans.
2. It contains predictions of the persecutions of the Christians under the heathen emperors of Rome, and of the happy days of the Church under the Christian emperors, from Constantine downwards.
3. It contains prophecies concerning the tyrannical and oppressive conduct of the Roman pontiffs, the true antichrist; and foretells the final destruction of popery.
4. It is a prophetic declaration of the schism and heresies of Martin Luther, those called Reformers, and their successors; and the final destruction of the Protestant religion.
The first opinion has been defended by Professor Wetstein, and other learned men on the continent.
The second is the opinion of the primitive fathers in general, both Greek and Latin.
The third was first broached by the Abb Joachim, who flourished in the thirteenth century, was espoused by most of the Franciscans; and has been and still is the general opinion of the Protestants.
The fourth seems to have been invented by popish writers, merely by way of retaliation; and has been illustrated and defended at large by a Mr. Walmsley, (I believe), titular dean of Wells, in a work called the History of the Church, under the feigned name of Signior Pastorini.
In this work he endeavors to turn every thing against Luther and the Protestants, which they interpreted of the pope and popery; and attempts to show, from a computation of the Apocalyptical numbers, that the total destruction of Protestantism in the world will take place in 1825! But this is not the first prophecy that has been invented for the sake of an event, the accomplishment of which was earnestly desired; and as a stimulus to excite general attention, and promote united exertion, when the time of the pretended prophecy was fulfilled. But 1825 is past by, and 1832 is come, and the Protestant Church is still in full vigor, while the Romish Church is fast declining.
The full title of the book which I quote is the following: -
"The General History of the Christian Church, from her birth to her final triumphant state in Heaven, chiefly deduced from the Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle. By Sig. Pastorini.
'Blessed is he that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy.' - Apocalypse, Revelation 1:3.
Printed in the year M.DCC.LXXI." 8vo. No place nor printer's name mentioned.
The place where he foretells the final destruction of Protestantism is in pp. 249 and 262.
The Catholic college of Maynooth, in Ireland, have lately published a new edition of this work! in which the author kindly predicts the approaching overthrow of the whole Protestant system, both in Church and state; and in the meantime gives them, most condescendingly, Abaddon or the devil for their king!
Who the writer of the Apocalypse was, learned men are not agreed. This was a question, as well in ancient as in modern times. We have already seen that many have attributed it to the Apostle John; others, to a person called John the presbyter, who they say was an Ephesian, and totally different from John the apostle. And lastly, some have attributed it to Cerinthus, a contemporary of John the apostle. This hypothesis, however, seems utterly unsupportable; as there is no probability that the Christian Church would have so generally received a work which came from the hands of a man at all times reputed a very dangerous heretic; nor can the doctrines it contains ever comport with a Cerinthian creed.
Whether it was written by John the apostle, John the presbyter, or some other person, is of little importance if the question of its inspiration be fully established. If written by an apostle it is canonical; and should be received, without hesitation, as a work Divinely inspired. Every apostle acted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. John was an apostle, and consequently inspired; therefore, whatever he wrote was written by Divine inspiration. If, therefore, the authenticity of the work be established, i.e., that it was written by John the apostle, all the rest necessarily follow.
As I have scarcely any opinion to give concerning this book on which I could wish any of my readers to rely, I shall not enter into any discussion relative to the author, or the meaning of his several visions and prophecies; but for general information refer to Dr. Lardner, Michaelis, and others.
Various attempts have been made by learned men to fix the plan of this work; but even in this few agree. I shall produce some of the chief of these: and first, that of Wetstein, which is the most singular of the whole.
He supposes the book of the Apocalypse to have been written a considerable time before the destruction of Jerusalem. The events described from the fourth chapter to the end he supposes to refer to the Jewish war, and to the civil commotions which took place in Italy while Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian were contending for the empire. These contentions and destructive wars occupied the space of about three years and a half, during which Professor Wetstein thinks the principal events took place which are recorded in this book. On these subjects he speaks particularly in his notes, at the end of which he subjoins what he calls his Ανακεφαλαιωσις, or synopsis of the whole work, which I proceed now to lay before the reader.
"This prophecy, which predicts the calamities which God should send on the enemies of the Gospel, is divided into two parts. The first is contained in the closed book; the second, in the open book.
I. The first concerns the earth and the third part, i.e., Judea and the Jewish nation,
II. The second concerns many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings, Revelation 10:11, i.e., the Roman empire.
1. The book written within and without, and sealed with seven seals, Revelation 5:1, is the bill of divorce sent from God to the Jewish nation.
2. The crowned conqueror on the white horse armed with a bow, Revelation 6:2, is Artabanus, king of the Parthians, who slaughtered multitudes of the Jews in Babylon.
3. The red horse, Revelation 6:4. The Sicarii and robbers in Judea, in the time of the Proconsuls Felix and Festus.
4. The black horse, Revelation 6:5. The famine under Claudius.
5. The pale horse, Revelation 6:8. The plague which followed the robberies and the famine.
6. The souls of those who were slain, Revelation 6:9. The Christians in Judea, who were persecuted, and were now about to be avenged.
7. The great earthquake, Revelation 6:12. The commotions which preceded the Jewish rebellion.
8. The servants of God from every tribe, sealed in their foreheads, Revelation 7:3. The Christians taken under the protection of God, and warned by the prophets to flee immediately from the land.
9. The silence for half an hour, Revelation 8:1. The short truce granted at the solicitation of King Agrippa. Then follows the rebellion itself.
1. The trees are burnt, Revelation 8:7. The fields and villages, and unfortified places of Judea, which first felt the bad effects of the sedition.
2. The burning mountain cast into the sea which in consequence became blood, Revelation 8:8; and,
3. The burning star falling into the rivers, and making the waters bitter, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 8:11. The slaughter of the Jews at Caesarea and Scythopolis.
4. The eclipsing of the sun, moon, and stars, Revelation 8:12. The anarchy of the Jewish commonwealth.
5. The locusts like scorpions hurting men, Revelation 9:3. The expedition of Cestius Gallus, prefect of Syria.
6. The army with arms of divers colors, Revelation 9:16, Revelation 9:17. The armies under Vespasian in Judea. About this time Nero and Galba died; after which followed the civil war, signified by the sounding of the seventh trumpet, Revelation 10:7, Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:15.
1. The two prophetic witnesses, two olive trees, two candlesticks, Revelation 11:3, Revelation 11:4. Teachers in the Church, predicting the destruction of the Jewish temple and commonwealth.
2. The death of the witnesses, Revelation 11:7. Their flight, and the flight of the Church of Jerusalem, to Pella, in Arabia.
3. The resurrection of the witnesses, after three days and a half, Revelation 11:11. The predictions began to be fulfilled at a time in which their accomplishment was deemed impossible; and the doctrine of Christ begins to prevail over Judea, and over the whole earth.
4. The tenth part of the city fell in the same hour, and seven thousand names of men slain, Revelation 11:13. Jerusalem seized by the Idumeans; and many of the priests and nobles, with Annas, the high priest, signified by names of men, i.e. men of name, slain by the Zealots.
5. The woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, Revelation 12:1. The Christian Church.
6. The great red dragon seen in heaven, with seven heads, seven diadems, and ten horns, Revelation 12:3. The six first Caesars, who were all made princes at Rome, governing the armies and the Roman people with great authority; especially Nero, the last of them, who, having killed his mother, cruelly vexed the Christians, and afterwards turned his wrath against the rebellious Jews.
7. The seven-headed beast from the sea, having ten horns surrounded with diadems, Revelation 13:1. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, who were shortly to reign, and who were proclaimed emperors by the army.
8. This beast, having a mouth like a lion, the body like a leopard, the feet like a bear, Revelation 13:2. Avaricious Galba; rash, unchaste, and inconstant Otho; Vitellius, cruel and sluggish, with the German any.
9. One head, i.e., the seventh, cut off, Revelation 13:3. Galba.
10. He who leadeth into captivity shall be led into captivity; he who killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword, Revelation 13:10. Otho, who subdued the murderers of Galba, and slew himself with a dagger, Vitellius, who bound Sabinus with chains and was himself afterwards bound.
11. Another beast rising out of the earth, with two horns, Revelation 13:11. Vespasian and his two and, Titus and Domitian, elected emperors at the same time in Judea.
12. The number of the wild beast, 666, the number of a man, Teitan, Titan or Titus: T, 300. E, 5. I, 10. T, 300. A, 1. N. 50, making in the whole 666. [But some very respectable MSS. have 616 for the number; if the N be taken away from Teitan, then the letters in Teita make exactly the sum 616].
13. A man sitting upon a cloud, unity a crown of gold upon his head, and a sickle in his hand, Revelation 14:14. Otho and his army, about to prevent supplies for the army of Vitellius.
14. An angel of fire commanding another angel to gather the vintage; the winepress trodden whence the blood flows out 1600 furlongs. The followers of Vitellius laying all waste with fire; and the Bebriaci conquering the followers of Otho with great slaughter.
Then follow the seven plagues: -
1. The grievous sore, Revelation 16:2. The diseases of the soldiers of Vitellius through intemperance.
2. The sea turned into blood, Revelation 16:3. The fleet of Vitellius beaten, and the maritime towns taken from them by the Flavii.
3. The rivers turned into blood, Revelation 16:4. The slaughter of the adherents of Vitellius, at Cremona and elsewhere, near rivers.
4. The scorching of the sun, Revelation 16:8. The diseases of the Vitellii increasing, and their exhausted bodies impatient of the heat.
5. The seat of the beast darkened, Revelation 16:10. All Rome in commotion through the torpor of Vitellius.
6. Euphrates dried up, and a way made for the kings of the east; and the three unclean spirits like frogs. The Flavii besieging Rome with a treble army; one part of which was by the bank of the Tiber.
The shame of him who is found asleep and naked. Vitellius, Revelation 16:15. Armageddon, Revelation 16:16. The praetorian camps.
7. The fall of Babylon, Revelation 16:19. The sacking of Rome.
1. The whore, Revelation 17:1. Rome.
2. The seven kings, Revelation 17:10. Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Galba.
3. The eighth, which is of the seven, Revelation 17:11. Otho, destined by adoption to be the son and successor of Galba.
4. The ten horns, Revelation 17:12-16. The leaders of the Flavian factions.
5. The merchants of the earth, Revelation 18:11; i.e., of Rome, which was then the emporium of the whole world.
6. The beast and the false prophet, Revelation 19:20. Vespasian and his family, contrary to all expectation, becoming extinct in Domitian, as the first family of the Caesars, and of the three princes, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.
7. The millennium, or a thousand years, Revelation 20:2. Taken from Psalms 90:4, a time appointed by God, including the space of forty years, from the death of Domitian to the Jewish war under Adrian.
8. Gog and Magog, going out over the earth, Revelation 20:8. Barchochebas, the false Messiah, with an immense army of the Jews, coming forth suddenly from their caves and dens, tormenting the Christians, and carrying on a destructive war with the Romans.
9. The New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:2. The Jews being brought so low as to be capable of injuring no longer; the whole world resting after being expiated by wars; and the doctrine of Christ propagated and prevailing everywhere with incredible celerity.
Wetstein contends (and he is supported by very great men among the ancients and moderns) that "the book of the Revelation was written before the Jewish war, and the civil wars in Italy; that the important events which took place at that time, the greatest that ever happened since the foundation of the world, were worth enough of the Divine notice, as the affairs of his Church were so intimately connected with them; that his method of exposition proves the whole book to be a well-connected, certain series of events; but the common method of interpretation, founded on the hypothesis that the book was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, is utterly destitute of certainty, and leaves every commentator to the luxuriance of his own fancy, as is sufficiently evident from what has been done already on this book; some interpreters leading the reader now to Thebes, now to Athens, and finding in the words of the sacred penman Constantine the Great; Arius, Luther, Calvin; the Jesuits; the Albigenses; the Bohemians; Chemnitius; Elizabeth, queen of England; Cecil, her treasurer; and who not?" - See Wetstein's Gr. Test., vol. ii. p. 889.
Those who consider the Apocalypse as a prophecy and scenical exhibition of what shall happen to the Christian Church to the end of the world, lay this down as a proposition, which comprises the subject of the whole book: The contest of Christ with his enemies; and his final victory and triumph over them. See 1 Corinthians 15:25; Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-38. But what is but briefly hinted in the above scriptures, is detailed at large in the Apocalypse, and represented by various images nearly in the following order: -
1. The decrees of the Divine providence, concerning what is to come, are declared to John.
2. The manner in which these decrees shall be executed is painted in the most vivid colors.
3. Then follow thanksgivings to God, the ruler and governor of all things, for these manifestations of his power, wisdom and goodness.
After the exordium, and the seven epistles to the seven Churches of Asia Minor, to whose angels or bishops the book seems to be dedicated, (Revelation 1:1-22), the scene of the visions is opened in heaven, full of majesty; and John receives a promise of a revelation relative to the future state of the Church, Revelation 4:1-14.
The enemies of the Church of Christ which the Christians had then most to fear were the Jews, the heathens, and the false teachers. All these are overcome by Christ, and over them he triumphs gloriously. First of all, punishments are threatened to the enemies of the kingdom of Christ, and the preservation of his own followers in their greatest trials determined; and these determinations are accompanied with the praises and thanksgivings of all the heavenly inhabitants, and of all good men, Revelation 6:1-11.
The transactions of the Christian religion are next recorded, Revelation 11:1-5. The Christians are persecuted: -
1. By the Jews; but they were not only preserved, but they increase and prosper.
2. By the heathens; but in vain do these strive to overthrow the kingdom of Christ, which is no longer confined within the limits of Judea, but spreads among the Gentiles, and diffuses itself over the whole Roman empire, destroying idolatry, and rooting out superstition, in every quarter, Revelation 12:1-10.
3. False teachers and impostors of various kinds, under the name of Christians, but enemies of the cross of Christ, more intent on promoting the interests of idolatry or false worship than the cause of true religion, Revelation 13:11-18, exert their influence to corrupt and destroy the Church; but, notwithstanding, Christianity becomes more extended, and true believers more confirmed in their holy faith, Revelation 14:1-5. Then new punishments are decreed against the enemies of Christ, both Jews and heathens: the calamities coming upon the Jewish nation before its final overthrow are pointed out, Revelation 14:1-8. Next follows a prediction of the calamities which shall take place during the Jewish war; and the civil wars of the Romans during the contentions of Otho and Vitellius, Revelation 16:1-16, who are to suffer most grievous punishments for their cruelties against the Christians, Revelation 17:1-18. The Jewish state being now finally overthrown, Revelation 18:1-24, the heavenly inhabitants give praise to God for his justice and goodness; Christ is congratulated for his victory over his enemies, and the more extensive progress of his religion, Revelation 19:1-10.
Opposition is, however, not yet totally ended: idolatry again lifts up its head, and new errors are propagated; but over these also Christ shows himself to be conqueror, Revelation 19:11-21. Finally, Satan, who had long reigned by the worship of false gods, errors, superstitions, and wickedness, is deprived of all power and influence; and the concerns of Christianity go on gloriously, Revelation 20:1-6. But towards the end of the world new enemies arise, and threaten destruction to the followers of Christ; but in vain is their rage, God appears in behalf of his servants, and inflicts the most grievous punishments upon their adversaries, Revelation 20:6-10. The last judgment ensues, Revelation 20:11-15, all the wicked are punished, and the enemies of the truth are chained, so as to be able to injure the godly no more; the genuine Christians, who had persevered unto death, are brought to eternal glory; and, freed from all adversities, spend a life that shall never end, in blessedness that knows no bounds, Revelation 21:1-21. See Rosenmuller.
Eichhorn takes a different view of the plan of this book; though in substance not differing much from that above. According to this writer the whole is represented in the form of a drama, the parts of which are the following:
I. The title, Revelation 1:1-3.
II. The prologue, Revelation 1:4-22; in which it is stated that the argument of the drama refers to the Christians; epistles being sent to the Churches, which, in the symbolic style, are represented by the number seven.
Next follows the drama itself, the parts of which are: -
The prolusio, or prelude, Revelation 4:1-5; in which the scenery is prepared and adorned.
Act the first, Revelation 8:6-17. Jerusalem is taken, and Judaism vanquished by Christianity.
Act the second, Revelation 13:1-10. Rome is conquered, and heathenism destroyed by the Christian religion.
Act the third, Revelation 20:11-5. The New Jerusalem descends from heaven; or the happiness of the life to come, and which is to endure for ever, is particularly described, Revelation 22:6-11. Taken in this sense, Eichhorn supposes the work to be most exquisitely finished, and its author to have had a truly poetic mind, polished by the highest cultivation; to have been accurately acquainted with the history of all times and nations, and to have enriched himself with their choicest spoils.
My readers will naturally expect that I should either give a decided preference to some one of the opinions stated above, or produce one of my own; I can do neither, nor can I pretend to explain the book: I do not understand it; and in the things which concern so sublime and awful a subject, I dare not, as my predecessors, indulge in conjectures. I have read elaborate works on the subject, and each seemed right till another was examined. I am satisfied that no certain mode of interpreting the prophecies of this book has yet been found out, and I will not add another monument to the littleness or folly of the human mind by endeavoring to strike out a new course. I repeat it, I do not understand the book; and I am satisfied that not one who has written on the subject knows any thing more of it than myself. I should, perhaps, except J. E. Clarke, who has written on the number of the beast. His interpretation amounts nearly to demonstration; but that is but a small part of the difficulties of the Apocalypse: that interpretation, as the most probable ever yet offered to the public, shall be inserted in its proper place; as also his illustration of the xiith, xiiith, and xviith chapters. As to other matters, I must leave them to God, or to those events which shall point out the prophecy; and then, and probably not till then, will the sense of these visions be explained.
A conjecture concerning the design of the book may be safely indulged; thus then it has struck me, that the book of the Apocalypse may be considered as a Prophet continued in the Church of God, uttering predictions relative to all times, which have their successive fulfillment as ages roll on; and thus it stands in the Christian Church in the place of the Succession of Prophets in the Jewish Church; and by this especial economy Prophecy is Still Continued, is Always Speaking; and yet a succession of prophets rendered unnecessary. If this be so, we cannot too much admire the wisdom of the contrivance which still continues the voice and testimony of prophecy, by means of a very short book, without the assistance of any extraordinary messenger, or any succession of such messengers, whose testimony would at all times be liable to suspicion, and be the subject of infidel and malevolent criticism, howsoever unexceptionable to ingenuous minds the credentials of such might appear.
On this ground it is reasonable to suppose that several prophecies contained in this book have been already fulfilled, and that therefore it is the business of the commentator to point such out. It may be so; but as it is impossible for me to prove that my conjecture is right, I dare not enter into proceedings upon it, and must refer to Bishop Newton, and such writers as have made this their particular study.
After having lived in one of the most eventful eras of the world; after having seen a number of able pens employed in the illustration of this and other prophecies; after having carefully attended to those facts which were supposed to be the incontestable proofs of the fulfillment of such and such visions, seals, trumpets, thunders, and vials of the Apocalypse; after seeing the issue of that most terrible struggle which the French nation, the French republic, the French consulate, and the French empire, have made to regain and preserve their liberties, which, like arguing in a circle, have terminated where they began, without one political or religious advantage to them or to mankind; and after viewing how the prophecies of this book were supposed to apply almost exclusively to these events, the writers and explainers of these prophecies keeping pace in their publications with the rapid succession of military operations, and confidently promising the most glorious issue, in the final destruction of superstition, despotism, arbitrary power, and tyranny of all kinds, nothing of which has been realized; I say, viewing all these things, I feel myself at perfect liberty to state that, to my apprehension, all these prophecies have been misapplied and misapprehended; and that the Key to them is not yet intrusted to the sons of men. My readers will therefore excuse me from any exposure of my ignorance or folly by attempting to do what many, with much more wisdom and learning, have attempted, and what every man to the present day has failed in, who has preceded me in expositions of this book. I have no other mountain to heap on those already piled up; and if I had, I have not strength to lift it: those who have courage may again make the trial; already we have had a sufficiency of vain efforts.
Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam
Scilicet, atque Ossae frondosum involvere Olympum:
Ter Pater extructos disjecit fulmine montes.
Virg., G. i. 281.
With mountains piled on mountains thrice they strove
To scale the steepy battlements of Jove;
And thrice his lightning and red thunder play'd,
And their demolish'd works in ruin laid.
I had resolved, for a considerable time, not to meddle with this book, because I foresaw that I could produce nothing satisfactory on it: but when I reflected that the literal sense and phraseology might be made much plainer by the addition of philological and critical notes; and that, as the diction appeared in many places to be purely rabbinical, (a circumstance to which few of its expositors have attended), it might be rendered plainer by examples from the ancient Jewish writers; and that several parts of it spoke directly of the work of God in the soul of man, and of the conflicts and consolations of the followers of Christ, particularly in the beginning of the book, I changed my resolution, and have added short notes, principally philological, where I thought I understood the meaning.
I had once thought of giving a catalogue of the writers and commentators on this book, and had begun a collection of this kind; but the question of Cui bono? What good end is this likely to serve? not meeting with a satisfactory answer in my own mind, caused me to throw this collection aside. I shall notice two only.
1. The curious and learned work entitled, "A plaine Discovery of the whole Revelation of St. John," written by Sir John Napier, inventor of the logarithms, I have particularly described in the general preface to the Holy Scriptures, prefixed to the Book of Genesis, to which the reader is requested to refer.
2. Another work, not less singular, and very rare, entitled, "The Image of both Churches, after the most wonderful and heavenly Revelation of Sainct John the Evangelist, containing a very fruitfull exposition or paraphrase upon the same: wherein it is conferred with the other scriptures, and most auctorised histories Compyled by John Bale, an exyle also in thys lyfe for the faithful testimony of Jesu." Printed at London by Thomas East, 18mo., without date.
The author was at first a Carmelite, but was afterwards converted to the Protestant religion. He has turned the whole of the Apocalypse against the Romish Church; and it is truly astonishing to see with what address he directs every image, metaphor, and description, contained in this book, against the corruptions of this Church. He was made bishop of Ossory, in Ireland; but was so persecuted by the papists that he narrowly escaped with his life, five of his domestics being murdered by them. On the accession of Mary he was obliged to take refuge in the Low Countries, where it appears he compiled this work. As he was bred up a papist, and was also a priest, he possessed many advantages in attacking the strongest holds of his adversaries. He knew all their secrets, and he uncovered the whole; he was acquainted with all their rites, ceremonies, and superstitions, and finds all distinctly marked in the Apocalypse, which he believes was written to point out the abominations, and to foretell the final destruction of this corrupt and intolerant Church. I shall make a few references to his work in the course of the following notes. In Revelation 17:1, the author shows his opinion, and speaks something of himself: Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great whore, etc. "Come hither, friende John, I will show thee in secretnesse the tirrible judgement of the great whore, or counterfaite Church of hypocrites. Needs must this whore be Rome, for that she is the great citie which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Evident it is both by Scriptures and Cronicles that in John's dayes Rome had dominion over all the whole world: and being infected with the abominations of all landes, rightly is shee called Babylon. or Citie of Confusion. And like as in the Scriptures ofte tymes under the name of Jerusalem is ment the whole kingdom of Juda, so under the name of Rome here may be understanded the unyversall worlde, with all their abominations and divilleshnesses, their idolatryes, witchcraftes, sectes, superstitions, papacyes, priesthoodes, relygions, shavings, anointings, blessings, sensings, processions, and the divil of all such beggeryes. For all the people since Christes assencion, hath this Rome infected with hir pestilent poisons gathered from all idolatrous nations, such time as she held over them the monarchial suppremit. At the wryting of this prophecy felt John of their cruiltie, being exiled into Pathmos for the faithfull testimony of Jesu. And so did I, poore creature, with my poore wife and children, at the gatheringe of this present commentary, flying into Germanye for the same," etc.
Shall I have the reader's pardon if I say that it is my firm opinion that the expositions of this book have done great disservice to religion: almost every commentator has become a prophet; for as soon as he began to explain he began also to prophesy. And what has been the issue? Disappointment laughed at hope's career, and superficial thinkers have been led to despise and reject prophecy itself. I shall sum up all that I wish to say farther in the words of Graserus: Mihi tota Apocalypsis valde obscura videtur; et talis, cujus explicatio citra periculum vix queat tentari. Fateor me hactenus in nullius Scripti Biblici lectione minus vroficere, quam in hoc obscurissimo Vaticinio.