<1r>

Having searched after knowledge in the prophetique scriptures, I have thought my self bound to communicate it for the benefit of others, remembring the judgment of him who hid his talent in a napkin. For I am perswaded that this will prove of great benefit to those who think it not enough for a sincere Christian to sit down contented with the principles of the doctrin of Christ such as the Apostel accounts the doctrin of Baptisms & of laying on of hands & of the resurrection of the dead & of eternall judgment, but leaving these & the like principles desire to go on unto perfection until they become of full age & by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good & evil. Hebr 5.12

I would not have any discouraged by the difficulty & ill success that men have hitherto met with in these attempts. This is nothing but what ought to have been. ffor it was revealed to Daniel that the prophesies concerning the last times should be closed up & sealed untill the time of the end: but then the wise should understand, & knowledg should be increased. Dan 12.4, 9, 10. And therefore the longer they have continued in obscurity, the more hopes there is that the time is at hand in which they are to be made manifest. If they are never to be understood, to what end did God reveale them? Certainly he did it for the edification of the church; & if so, then it is as certain that the church shall at length attain to the understanding thereof. I mean not all that call themselves Christians, but a remnant, a few scattered persons which God hath chosen, such as without being led by interest, education, or humane authorities, can set themselves sincerely & earnestly to search after truth. For as Daniel hath said that the wise shall understand, so he hath said also that none of the wicked shall understand.

Let me therefore beg of thee not to trust to the opinion of any man concerning these things, for so it is great odds but thou shalt be deceived. Much less oughtest thou to rely upon <2r> the judgment of the multitude, for so thou shalt certainly be deceived. But search the scriptures thy self & that by frequent reading & constant meditation upon what thou readest, & earnest prayer to God to enlighten thine understanding if thou desirest to find the truth. Which if thou shalt at length attain thou wilt value above all other treasures in the world by reason of the assurance and vigour it will add to thy faith, and steddy satisfaction to thy mind which he onely can know how to estimate who shall experience it.

That the benefit which may accrew by understanding the sacred Prophesies & the danger by neglecting them is very great & that the obligation to study them is as great may appear by considering the like case of the Iews at the coming of Christ. For the rules whereby they were to know their Messiah were the prophesies of the old Testament. And these our Saviour recommended to their consideration in the very beginning of his preaching Luke 4.21: And afterward commanded the study of them for that end saying, Search the scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternall life, and these are they which testify of me: & at another time severely reproved their ignorance herein, saying to them when they required a sign, Ye Hypocrites ye can discern the face of the sky but can ye not discern the signes of the times And after his resurrection he reproved also this ignorance in his disciples, saying unto them, O fools & slow of heart to beleive all that the Prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, & to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses & all the Prophets he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Thus also the Apostles & those who in the first ages propagated the gospel urged chiefly these Prophesies and exhorted their hearers to search & see whether all things concerning our saviour ought not to have been as they fell out. And in a word it was the ignorance of the Iews in these Prophesies which caused them to reject their Messiah & by consequence to be not onely captivated by the Romans but to incur eternall damnation. Luke 19.42, 44.

If then the Prophesies which concerned the Apostolique age were given for the conversion of the men of that age to the truth & for the establishment of their faith, & if it was their duty to search diligently into those Prophesies: why should we not think that the Prophesies which concern the latter times into which we <3r> are fallen were in like manner intended for our use that in the midst of Apostacies we might be able to discern the truth & be established in the faith thereof, & consequently that it is also our duty to search with all diligence into these Prophesies. And If God was so angry with the Iews for not searching more diligently into the Prophesies which he had given them to know Christ by: why should we think he will excuse us for not searching into the Prophesies which he hath given us to know Antichrist by? For certainly it must be as dangerous & as easy an error for Christians to adhere to Antichrist as it was for the Iews to reject Christ. And therefore it is as much our duty to indeavour to be able to know him that we may avoyd him, as it was theirs to know Christ that they might follow him.

Thou seest therefore that this is no idle speculation, no matters of indifferency but a duty of the greatest moment. Wherefore it concerns thee to look about thee narrowly least thou shouldest in so degenerate an age be dangerously seduced & not know it. Antichrist was to seduce the whole Christian world and therefore he may easily seduce thee if thou beest not well prepared to discern him. But if he should not be yet come into the world yet amidst so many religions of which there can be but one true & perhaps none of those that thou art acquainted with it is great odds but thou mayst be deceived & therefore it concerns thee to be very circumspect.

* < insertion from f 2v > * Consider how our Saviour taught the Iews in Parables that in hearing they might hear & not understand & in seeing they might see & not perceive. And as these Parables were spoken to try the Iews so the mysticall scriptures were written to try us. Therefore beware that thou be not found wanting in this tryall. For if thou beest, the obscurity of these scriptures will as little excuse thee as the obscurity of our Saviours Parables excused the Iews. < text from f 3r resumes > Consider also the instructions of our Saviour concerning these latter times by the Parable of the Fig-tree. Now learn a parable of the Figtree, saith he: When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that Summer is nigh. So likewise ye when ye see these things know that it is near even at the doors. — Watch therefore for ye know not what hower your Lord doth come. Wherefore it is <4r> thy duty to learn the signes of the times that thou mayst know how to watch, & be able to discern what times are coming on the earth by the things that are already past. If thou doest watch thou mayst know when it is at the door as a man knows by the leaves of a figtree that Somer is nigh. But if through ignorance of the signes thou shalt say in thine heart My Lord delayeth his coming; And shalt begin to smite thy fellow servants & to eat & drink with the drunken: Thy Lord will come in a day when thou lookest not for him & in an hower that thou art not aware of, and cut thee asunder and appoint thy portion with the Hypocrites, There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt 24. If thou doest not watch, how canst thou escape more then other men, For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. Luke 21.

** < insertion from f 3v > ** Consider that the same Prophets who foretold our saviours first coming foretold also his second coming; & if it was the main & indispensable duty of the Church before the first coming of Christ to have searched into & understood those prophesies aforehand, why should it not be as much the duty of the Church before his second coming to understand the same prophesies aforehand so far as they are yet to be fulfilled? Or how knowest thou that the christian church if they continue to neglect, shall not be punished even in this world as severely as ever were the Iews? Yea will not the Iews rise up in judgment against us? For they had some regard to these prophesies insomuch as to be in generall expectation of our Saviour about that time when he came, onely they were not aware of the manner of his two comings; they understood the description of his second coming, & onely were mistaken in applying that to the time of his first coming. Consider therefore, if the description of his second coming was so much more plain & perspicuous then that of the first, that the Iews who could not so much as perceive any thing of the first could yet understand the second, how shall we escape who understand nothing of the second but have turned the whole description of it into Allegories. And if the Iews were so severely punished for not understanding the more difficult Prophesy, what can we plead who know nothing of the more perspicuous; & yet have this advantage above them that the first which is a key to the second & was hidden from them is made manifest to us, and that we have the second also much further explained in the new Testament. < text from f 4r resumes > Again consider how the Apostels instructed the Churches of the first age in the knowledg of these latter times 2 Thes 2.5. And if it was the duty of those Christians to understand them which were not to live in them, shall we think that the knowledg thereof is of no concernment to us.

Consider also the designe of the Apocalyps. Was it not given for the use of the Church to guide & direct her in the right way, And is not this the end of all prophetick Scripture? If there was no need of it, or if it cannot be understood, then why did God give it? Does he trifle? But if it was necessary for the Church then why doest thou neglect it, or how knowest thou that thou art in the right way, and yet doest not understand it? * < insertion from f 3v >

< text from f 4r resumes >

Lastly consider the Blessing which is promised to them that read & study & keep the things which are written in <5r> this Prophesy. Blessed is he that readeth & they that hear the words of this Prophesy & keep the things which are written therein, for the time is at hand, Rev. 1.3. And again to reinforce the invitation to take these things into consideration, the same Blessing is repeated in Ch 22.7 And does God ever annex his blessings to trifles or things of indifferency? Wherefore be not overwise in thine own conceipt, but as thou desirest to inherit this blessing consider & search into these Scriptures which God hath given to be a guide in these latter times, & be not discouraged by the gainsaying which these things will meet with in the world.

[They will call thee it may be a a Bigot, a Fanatique, a Heretique &c: And tell thee of the uncertainty of these interpretations, & vanity of attending to them: Not considering that the prophesies concerning our Saviour's first coming were of more difficult interpretation, and yet God rejected the Iews for not attending better to them. And whither they will beleive it or not, there are greater judgments hang over the Christians for their remisness then ever the Iews yet felt. But the world loves to be deceived, they will not understand, they never consider equally, but are wholly led by prejudice, interest, the prais of men, and authority of the Church they live in: as is plain becaus all parties keep close to the Religion they have been brought up in, & yet in all parties there are wise & learned as well as fools & ignorant. There are but few that seek to understand the religion they profess, & those that study for understanding therein, do it rather for worldly ends, or that they may defend it, then to examin whither it be true with a resolution to chose & profess that religion which in their judgment appears the truest. And as is their faith so is their <6r> practise. ffor where are the men that do never yeild to anger nor seek revenge, nor disobey governours, nor censure & speak evil of them, nor cheat, nor lye, nor swear, nor use God's name idly in their common talk, nor are proud nor ambitious nor covetous, nor unchast, nor drink immoderately? Where are they that live like the primitive Christians, that love God with all their hearts & with all their soules & with all their might, and their neighbour as their selves; & that in what they do well are not rather led by fashions and principles of Gentility then religion, & where those disagree do not account it rudeness to depart from the former? I feare there are but very few whose righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes & Pharisees.

This is the guise of the world, and therefore trust it not, nor value their censures & contempt. But rather consider that it is the wisdom of God that his Church should appear despicable to the world to try the faithfull. For this end he made it a curs under Law to hang upon a tree that the scandal of the Cross might be a tryall to the Iews; & for the like tryall of the Christians he hath suffered the Apostacy of the latter times, as is declared in calling it the hower of temptation which should come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth Rev 3.10. Be not therefore scandalised at the reproaches of the world but rather looke upon them as a mark of the true church.

And when thou art convinced be not ashamed to profess the truth. ffor otherwise thou mayst become a stumbling block to others, & inherit the lot of those Rulers of the Iews who beleived in Christ but yet were afraid to confess him least they should be put out of the Synagogue.[1] Wherefore when thou art convinced be not ashamed of the truth but profess it openly & indeavour to convince thy Brother also that thou mayst inherit at the resurrection the promis made in Daniel 12.3, that they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the starrs for ever & ever. And rejoyce if thou art counted worthy to suffer in thy reputation or any other way for the sake <7r> of the Gospel, for then great is thy reward.

But yet I would not have thee too forward in becoming a teacher, like those men who catch at a few similitudes & scripture phrases, & for want of further knowledg make use of them to censure & reproach superiours & rail at all things that displeas them. Be not heady like them, but first be throughly instructed thy self & that not onely in the prophetique Scriptures but more especially in the plain doctrines delivered therein so as to put them in practise & make them familiar & habituall to thy self. And when thou hast thus pulled out the beam out of thine own eye then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote out of thy Brothers eye. Otherwise how wilt thou say to thy Brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye & behold a beam is in thine own eye.

Some I know will be offended that I propound these things so earnestly to all men as if they were fit onely for the contemplation of the learned. But they should consider that God who best knows the capacities of men does hide his mysteries from the wise & prudent of this world and reveal them unto babes. They were not the Scribes & Pharisees but the inferiour people who beleived on Christ & apprehended the true meaning of his Parables & of the Prophesies in the old Testament concerning him. The wise men of the world are often too much prepossest with their own imaginations & too much intangled in designes for this life. One has bought a piece of ground, another has bought five yoke of Oxen, a third has Married a wife, & therefore since they are for the most part otherwise ingaged it was fit that the poor and the maimed & the halt & the blind & those that are in the high ways & hedges should be also invited. God who intended this Prophesy chiefly for their sakes is able to fit their understandings to it. And it is the gift of God & not of human wisdom so to understand it as to beleive it.

Tis true that without a guide it would be very difficult not onely for them but even for the most learned to understand it right But if the interpretation be done to their hands, I know not why by the help of such a guide they may not by attentive & often reading <8r> be capable of understanding & judging of it as well as men of greater education. And such a guide I hope this Book will prove: especially if the judgment of the Reader be prepared by considering well the following Rules for inabling him to know when an interpretation is genuine & of two interpretations which is the best.

It was the judiciously learned & conscientious Mr Mede who first made way into these interpretations, & him I have for the most part followed. ffor what I found true in him it was not lawful for me to recede from, & I rather wonder that he erred so little then that he erred in some things. His mistakes were chiefly in his Clavis, & had that been perfect, the rest would have fallen in naturally. Whence may be guessed the great uncertainty of others who without any such previous methodising of the Apocalyps have immediately fallen upon giving interpretations. ffor so by taking the liberty to twist the parts of the Prophesy out of their natural order according to their pleasure without having regard to the internall characters whereby they were first to be connected, it might be no very difficult matter amongst the great variety of things in the world to apply them more ways then one to such as should have some show of an interpretation. And yet all that I have seen besides the labours of Mr Mede have been so botched & framed without any due proportion, that I fear some of those Authors did not so much as beleive their own interpretations, which makes me wish that they had been moved to more caution by considering the curs that is annexed to the end of this Prophesy.

I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the Prophesy of this book; If any man shall add unto these things God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from <9r> the words of the book of this Prophesy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, & out of the holy city & from the things which are written in this book.

For to frame fals interpretations is to prejudice men & divert them from the right understanding of this book And this is a corruption equipollent to the adding or taking from it, since it equally deprives men of the use & benefit thereof. But yet I hope they did it neither out of the vanity of appearing somebody in the world, nor out of designe to promote the externall splendor & felicity of Churches rather then the internall purity which is of infinitely more value, nor out of any other temporal ends, but with an upright heart that God may not lay it to their charge

Yet I could wish that those who make all to be long since past, even in the Apostels age, had considered that when according to them this Prophesy should have been usefull to the Church, their interpretations were not so much as thought upon. All sacred Prophesies are given for the use of the Church, & therefore they are all to be understood by the Church in those ages for whose use God intended them. But these prophesies were never understood by the Church in the former ages: They did not so much as pretend to understand them, nor thought that they concerned their times, but with one universall consent delivered down to posterity the famous Tradition of the Antichrist described therein to come in the latter ages. And therefore since they were never yet understood, & God cannot be disappointed, we must acknowledg that they were written & shall prove for the benefit of the present & future ages, & so are not yet fulfilled. Wherefore let men be carefull how they indeavour to divert or hinder the use of these scriptures, least they be found to fight against God.

Considering therefore the great concernment of these scriptures & danger of erring in their interpretation, <10r> it concerns us to proceed with all circumspection. And for that end I shall make use of this Method.

First I shall lay down certain general Rules of Interpretation, the consideration of which may prepare the judgment of the Reader & inable him to know when an interpretation is genuine & of two interpretations which is the best.

Secondly, To prepare the Reader also for understanding the Prophetique language I shall lay down a short description thereof, showing how it is borrowed from comparing a kingdom either to the Vnivers or to a Beast: So that by the resemblance of their parts the signification of the figurative words & expressions in these Prophesies may be apprehended at one view & limited from the grownd thereof. By which means the Language of the Prophets will become certain & the liberty of wresting it to private imaginations be cut of. The heads to which I reduce these words I call Definitions.

Thirdly, These things being premised, I compare the parts of the Apocalyps one with another & digest them into order by those internal characters which the Holy-ghost hath for this end imprest upon them. And this I do by drawing up the substance of the Prophesy into Propositions, & subjoyning the reasons for the truth of every Proposition.

And here I cannot but loudly proclaim the admirable & more then humane wisdom that shines in the contexture of this Prophesy & its accurate consent with all other prophesies of the old & new Testament.

Fourthly,

<12r>

Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture.

1. To observe diligently the consent of Scriptures & analogy of the prophetique stile, and to reject those interpretations where this is not duely observed. Thus if any man interpret a Beast to signify some great vice, this is to be rejected as his private imagination becaus according to the stile and tenour of the Apocalyps & of all other Prophetique scriptures a Beast signifies a body politique & sometimes a single person which heads that body, & there is no ground in scripture for any other interpretation, < insertion from the right margin > 2. To assigne but one meaning to one place of scripture; unles it be by way of conjecture < insertion from f 12v > unless it be perhaps by way of conjecture, or where the literal sense is designed to hide the more noble mystical sense as a shell the kernel from being tasted either by unworthy persons, or untill such time as God shall think fit. In this case there may be for a blind, a true literal sense, even such as in its way may be beneficial to the church. But when we have the principal meaning: If it be mystical we can insist on a true literal sense no farther then by history or arguments drawn from circumstances it appears to be true: if literal, though there may be also a by mystical sense yet we can scarce be sure there is one without some further arguments for it then a bare analogy. Much more are we to be cautious in giving a double mystical sense. There may be a double one, as where the heads of the Beast signify both mountains & Kings Apoc 17.9, 10. But without divine authority or at least some further argument then the analogy and resemblance & similitude of things, we cannot be sure that the Prophesy looks more ways then one. Too much liberty in this kind savours of a luxuriant ungovernable fansy and borders on enthusiasm. < text from the right margin resumes >

< text from f 12r resumes >

3. To keep as close as may be to the same sense of words, especially in the same vision, & < insertion from f 12v > 3. To keep as close as may be to the same sense of words especially in the same Vision and to prefer those interpretations where this is most observed unles any circumstance plainly require a different signification. < text from f 12r resumes > to prefer those interpretations where this is best observed. Thus if a man interpret the Beast to signify a kingdom in one sentence & a vice in another when there is nothing in the text that does argue any change of , sense, this is to be rejected as no genuine interpretation. So if a man in the same or contemporary visions where the earth & sea or the earth & waters stand related to one another shall interpret the earth to signify sometimes the dition of a Kingdom as in the first Trumpet in chap 12 where the Dragon came down to the inhabitants of the earth & sea, , sometimes Councils as where the Earth helped the woman, & sometimes onely a low estate as where the Dragon was cast into the earth or the two hornd Beast rose out of the earth this wavering is not readily to be acquiesced in but such an interpretation to be indeavoured after as retains the same signification of Earth in all cases. vers. pag. < insertion from f 12v > pag So in the vision of the whore chap 17 & 18, to take the Kings of the earth over which the woman or great city reigned chap 17.18 for any other then the kings of the earth which committed fornication with her ch 17.2 & 18.3, 9 and lamented her fall ch 18.9, 10 that is for any other then the 10 Kings or horns of the Beast she reigned over, is not congruous. < text from f 12r resumes > So in the vision of the whore chap. 17 & 18 to take Kings of the Earth in one sence chap 17.2 and ch 18.3, 9 & in another ch 17.18 is not harmonious.

4. To chose those interpretations which are most according to the litterall meaning of the scriptures unles where the tenour & circumstances of the place plainly require an Allegory. Thus if the wound by a sword should be interpreted of a spirituall wound, or if the battel at the seventh Trumpet & vial exprest by the concours of Armies, & by a hail-storm with other meteors should be in interpreted of a spiritual Battel; since there is nothing in the text to countenance such an interpretation, it ought to be rejected as a phantasy, Where note that the usuall signification of a prophetic figure is in the application of this Rule to be accounted equipollent to the literall meaning of < insertion from f 12v > a word when ever it appears that the Prophets speak in their figurative language. As if they describe the overthrow of nations by a tempest of Hail, thunder, lightning and shaking of the world, the usuall signification of this figure is to be esteemed the proper & direct sense of the place as much as if it had been the litterall meaning, this being a language as common amongst them as any national language is amongst the people of that nation.

< text from f 12r resumes >

5. To acquiesce in that sense of any portion of Scripture <13r> as the true one which results most freely & naturally from the use & propriety of the Language & tenor of the context in that & all other places of Scripture to that sense. For if this be not the true sense, then is the true sense uncertain, & no man can attain to any certainty in the knowledg of it. Which is to make the scriptures no certain rule of faith, & so to reflect upon the spirit of God who dictated it.

He that without better grounds then his private opinion or the opinion of any human authority whatsoever shall turn scripture from the plain meaning to an Allegory or to any other less naturall sense declares thereby that he reposes more trust in his own imaginations or in that human authority then in the Scripture . And therefore the opinion of such men how numerous soever they be, is not to be regarded. Hence it is & not from any reall uncertainty in the Scripture that Commentators have so distorted it; And this hath been the door through which all Heresies have crept in & turned out the ancient faith.

Rules for methodising |  construing the Apocalyps.

< insertion from f 12v >

Rule 5B. To prefer those interpretations which, cæteris paribus, are of the most considerable things. ffor it was Gods designe in these prophesies to typify & describe not trifles but the most considerable things in the world during the time of the Prophesies. Thus were the question put whether the three froggs, the head or horn of any Beast, the <13v> whore of Babylon, the woman Iezabel, the ffals Prophet, the Prophet Balaam, the King Balac, the martyr Antipas, the two witnesses, the woman cloathed with the Sun the Manchild her Son, the Eagle proclaiming Wo & the like were to be interpreted of single persons or of kingdoms Churches & other great bodies of men: I should by this Rule prefer the latter, unless perhaps in any case the single person propounded might be of more note & moment then the whole body of men he stands in competition with, or some other material circumstance might make more for a single person then a multitude.

< text from f 13r resumes >

6. To make the parts of a vision succeed one another according to the order of the narration without any breach or interfering unless when there are manifest indications of such a breach or interfering. For if the order of its parts might be varied or interrupted at pleasure, it would be of no certain interpretation, which is to elude it and make it no prophesie but an ambiguitie like those of the heathen Oracles.

7. In collaterall visions to adjust the most notable parts & periods to one another: And if they be not throughout collaterall, to make the beginning or end of one vision fall in with some notable period of the other. For the visions are duely proportioned to the actions & changes of the times which they respect by the following Rule and therefore they are duely proportioned to one another. (2) But yet this Rule is not over strictly to be adhered to when the visions respect divers kingdoms or one vision respects the Church & another the state . (1) An instance of this you have in suiting the Dragon to all the seals the Beast to all the Trumpets and the Whore to the Wo Trumpets.

8. To choose those constructions which without straining reduce contemporary visions to the greatest harmony of their parts. I mean not onely in their proportions as in the precedent rule, but also in their other qualities, principally so as to make them respect the same actions For the design of collaterall visions is to be a key to one another & therefore the way to unlock them without straining must be fitting one to the other with all diligence & curiosity. {This} is true {opening} scripture by scripture. An instance of this you have in the comparison of the Dragon's history with the seales & Trumpets in Prop    , & of the Trumpets with the Vials, in Prop     &c

<14r>

9. To choose those constructions which without straining reduce things to the greatest simplicity. The reason of this is manifest by the precedent Rule. Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, & not in the multiplicity & confusion of things. As the world, which to the naked eye exhibits the greatest variety of objects, appears very simple in its internall constitution when surveyed by a philosophic understanding, & so much the simpler by how much the better it is understood, so it is in these visions. It is the perfection of God's works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order & not of confusion. And therefore as they that would understand the frame of the world must indeavour to reduce their knowledg to all possible simplicity, so it must be in seeking to understand these visions. And they that shall do otherwise do not onely make sure never to understand them, but derogate from the perfection of the prophesy; & make it suspicious also that their designe is not to understand it but to shuffle it of & confound the understandings of men by making it intricate & confused.

10. In construing the Apocalyps to have little or no regard to arguments drawn from events of things; becaus there can scarce be any certainty in historicall interpretations unless the construction be first determined.

11. To acquiesce in that construction of the Apocalyps as the true one which results most naturally & freely from the characters imprinted by the holy ghost on the severall parts thereof for insinuating their connexion, & from the observation of the precedent rules. The reason of this is the same with that of the fift rule.

Hence if any man shall contend that my Construction of the Apocalyps is uncertain, upon pretence that it may be possible to find out other ways, he is not to be regarded unless he shall show wherein what I have done may be mended. If the ways <15r> which he contends for be less natural or grounded upon weaker reasons, that very thing is demonstration enough that they are fals, & that he seeks not truth but the interest of a party. And if the way which I have followed be according to the nature & genius of the Prophesy there needs no other demonstration to convince it. For as of an Engin made by an excellent Artificer a man readily beleives that the parts are right set together when he sees them joyn truly with one another notwithstanding that they may be strained into another posture; & as a man acquiesces in the meaning of an Author how intricate so ever when he sees the words construed or set in order according to the laws of Grammar, notwithstanding that there may be a possibility of forceing the words to some other harsher construction: so a man ought with equal reason to acquiesce in the construction of these Prophesies when he sees their parts set in order according to their suitableness & the characters imprinted in them for that purpose

Tis true that an Artificer may make an Engin capable of being with equal congruity set together more ways then one, & that a sentence may be ambiguous: but this Objection can have no place in the Apocalyps, becaus God who knew how to frame it without ambiguity intended it for a rule of faith.

But it is needless to urge with this general reasoning the Construction which I have composed, since the reasons wherewith I have there proved every particular are of that evidence that they cannot but move the assent of any humble and indifferent person that shall with sufficient attention peruse them & cordially beleives the scriptures. Yet I would not have this so understood as to hinder the further search of other persons. I suspect there are still more mysteries to be discovered. And as Mr Mede layed the foundation & I have built upon it: so I hope others will proceed higher untill the work be finished.

Rules for interpreting the Apocalyps.

12. The Construction of the Apocalyps after it is once deter <16r> mined must be made the rule of interpretations; And all interpretations rejected which agree not with it. That must not be strained to fit history but such things chosen out of history as are most suitable to that.

13. To interpret sacred Prophecies of the most considerable things & actions of those times to which they are applied. For if it would be weakness in an Historian whilst he writes of obscurer actions to let slip the greater, much less ought this to be supposed in the holy Prophesies which are no other then histories of things to come.

14. To proportion the most notable parts of Prophesy to the most notable parts of history, & the breaches made in a continued series of Prophesy to the changes made in history And to reject those interpretations where the parts and breaches of Prophesy do not thus bear a due proportion to the parts & changes in History. For if Historians divide their histories into Sections Chapters & Books at such periods of time where the less, greater & greatest revolutions begin or end; & to do otherwise would be improper: much more ought we to suppose that the holy Ghost observes this rule accurately in his prophetick dictates, since they are no other then histories of things to come. Thus by the great breaches made between the sixt & seventh seal by interposing the vision of the sealed saints, & between the sixt & seventh Trumpet by interposing the vision of the little book, that prophesy is divided into three cardinal parts, & the middle part subdivided by the little breach between the fourth & fift Trumpet made by interposition of the Angel crying Wo, & all the other seals & trumpets are as it were less sections. And therefore to these breaches & sections, according to the rule, must be adapted periods of time which intercede & disterminate proportional revolutions of history. Again if a Historian should use no proportion in his descriptions but magnify a less thing above a greater or attribute the more courage to the softer of two persons &c.: we <17r> should count it an argument of his unskilfulness. And therefore since the dictates of the Holy-Ghost are histories of things to come, such disproportions are not to be allowed in them. Thus in Daniel's vision of the four Beasts, it would be grosly absurd to interpret, as some Polititians of late have done, the fourth Beast of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors; since that is described to be the most terrible, dreadfull, strong, & warlike Beast of all the four, & the Prophet dwels far longer upon the description of that then of all the others put together: whereas the kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors was both less & weaker & less warlike then any of the three before him.

15. To chose those interpretations which without straining do most respect the church & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of God for preserving her in the truth. As he that would interpret the letters or actions of a very wise states man, so as thence to know the council wherewith they are guided & the designes he is driving on, must consider the main end to which they are directed & suppose they are such as most conduce to that end & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of the States-man in ordering them: so it is in these Prophesies. They are the counsels of God & so the most wise, & fittest for the end to which they are designed: And that end is the benefit of the Church to guide her & preserve her in the truth. For to this end are all the sacred prophesies in both the old and new Testament directed, as they that will consider them may easily perceive. Hence may appear the oversight of some interpreters whose interpretations if they were true would make the Apocalyps of little or no concernment to the Church. Perhaps what follows may be better inserted in the preface.

Yet I meane not that these Prophesies were intended to convert the whole world to the truth. For God is just as well as merciful, & punishes wickednes by hardening the wicked & <18r> visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children. But the designe of them is to try men & convert the best, so that the church may be purer & less mixed with Hypocrites & luke-warm persons. And for this end it is that they are wrapt up in obscurity, & so framed by the wisdom of God that the inconsiderate, the proud, the self-conceited, the presumptuous, the scholist, the sceptic, they whose judgments are ruled by their lusts, their interest, the fashions of the world, their esteem of men, the outward shew of thing or other prejudices, & all they who, of how pregnant natural parts soever they be, yet cannot discern the wisdom of God in the contrivance of the creation: that these men whose hearts are thus hardned in seeing should see & not perceive & in hearing should heare & not understand. For God has declared his intention in these prophesies to be as well that none of the wicked should understand as that the wise should understand, Dan: 12.

And hence I cannot but on this occasion reprove the blindness of a sort of men who although they have neither better nor other grounds for their faith then the Scribes & Pharisees had for their Traditions, yet are so pervers as to call upon other men for such a demonstration of the certainty of faith in the scriptures that a meer naturall man, how wicked soever, who will but read it, may judg of it & perceive the strength of it with as much perspicuity & certainty as he can a demonstration in Euclide. Are not these men like the Scribes & Pharisees who would not attend to the law & the Prophets but required a signe of Christ? Wherefore if Christ thought it just to deny a signe to that wicked & adulterate generation notwithstanding that they were God's own people, & the Catholique Church; much more may God think it just that this generation <19r> should be permitted to dy in their sins, who do not onely like the Scribes neglect but trample upon the law and the Prophets, & endeavour by all possible means to destroy the faith which men have in them, & to make them disregarded. I could wish they would consider how contrary it is to God's purpose that the truth of his religion should be as obvious & perspicuous to all men as a mathematical demonstration. Tis enough that it is able to move the assent of those which he hath chosen; & for the rest who are so incredulous, it is just that they should be permitted to dy in their sins. Here then is the wisdom of God, that he hath so framed the Scriptures as to discern between the good and the bad, that they should be demonstration to the one & foolishness to the other.

And from this consideration may also appear the vanity of those men who regard the splendor of churches & measure them by the external form & constitution. Whereas it is more agreable to God's designe that his church appear contemptible & scandalous to the world to try men. For this end doubtles he suffered the many revoltings of the Iewish Church under the Law, & for the same end was the grand Apostacy to happen under the gospel. Rev     . If thou relyest upon the externall form of churches, the Learning of Scholars, the wisdom of statemen or of other men of Education; consider with thy self whither thou wouldest not have adhered to the scribes & Pharisees hadst thou lived in their days, & if this be thy case, then is it no better then theirs, & God may judg thee accordingly, unless thou chance to be on the right side, which as tis great odds may prove otherwise so if it should happen yet it would scarce excuse thy folly although it might something mitigate it.

[1] see Ezek. 3.18

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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