The universal resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment with Gehenna follow the thousand years of the kingdom and the condemnation of Satan, c. xx. from verse 11 to the end.
Paradise follows the description of New Jerusalem, through which runs a river like Eden, winds about here and there, having in the midst
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be extracted, compared, and demonstrated, with the supposition and assistance of any given interpretation.
2. Then, besides, as it is the custom in historical works, that many different transactions which took place together and at the same time, with many other transactions, cannot, notwithstanding, be related together, but separately and in succession; so likewise it is usual, in the case of those prophecies and visions of things performed, (but displayed in the most commodious and wisest order,) that they would be altogether in the wrong who would proceed to interpret the Apocalypse in such a manner, as if the events succeeded each other always in the same order and series as the visions.
3. By successfully examining the meaning of the Apocalyptical visions, the series and connexion in the chief of them among each other, according to the events, being investigated by remarkable characters and marks, and demonstrated by internal arguments, is to be constituted as the basis and foundation of all solid and legitimate interpretation. For the order itself is to be confirmed, not according to the will of the interpreter, (as we see unadvisedly done by many,) on account of some congruity of the interpretation, but every interpretation is to be tried by the characters of the synchronisms, according to the already constructed idea of this chronic order, as by a rule and standard. For without a foundation of this kind, it is scarcely possible that you should extract any thing from the Apocalypse which can solidly give an assurance of its interpretation and application, and which may rely on Divine authority, and not on assumed principles and mere conjectures. But, on the contrary, if this foundation be admitted, since even the bounds of time and order will not permit the application to wander at licence and at will, you will be surprised, out of so many varying and even contending interpretations, how many are almost entirely removed, few doubtful places, upon the whole, being left, and those generally of small consequence, in which the intention yet remains doubtful, at least as to its general application; so that from this book henceforth, as well as from the other books of the New Testament, arguments may be obtained, even on the subject of prophecy, secure of interpretation, and on which reliance may be placed as on the oracles of the Holy Spirit, and not merely on the inventions of the human understanding.
5. Now, O Reader, such an Apocalyptical Key, or Compass, (if you prefer calling it so,) according to the measure of intelligence with which a good and beneficent God has favoured me, an unworthy sinner, in the investigation of these mysteries, I demonstrate to the best of my power in the above synchronisms, and propose to your view in the accompanying scheme, as in a brief and easy compendium; in which, (that you may not be ignorant of its use,) if you have once made up your mind about the sense of some principal prophecy, and of the times in which it was fulfilled, you will then have a method pointed out, from which, by the clew of the synchronisms, and the order of the whole, you will be able to investigate, nay, even to demonstrate, the meaning of the other visions; since those other prophecies which are contemporary with that known prophecy of yours, are without doubt to be applied to the same times; but those which precede are only to be interpreted of preceding, those which succeed in like manner, only of subsequent events.
6. And lest you should be inclined to doubt whether there is any one of all the visions in the Apocalypse to be found on which you can safely fix your foot, in the manner I have pointed out, and from thence, as from some station or watch-tower, measure the rest of the Apocalypse, lo! on this very point a discovery has been made by the Holy Spirit, in that illustrious vision of the great harlot; in truth, the only one of all the visions which the angel, contrary to custom, explains to John. But for what purpose? unless that by it an approach may be opened to the rest, which would be otherwise inaccessible?
What would you wish for more? Here then, having invoked the Father of Lights, enter; and having entered, apply the key to unlock the remainder. Make a trial; and when you have tried, you will confess that this prophecy is most admirable, and that when the subject is thoroughly investigated, there is none of the Old Testament, not even that of Daniel, (so it becomes the Gospel,) which can be compared with it for certainty, either in the singular contrivance of its manifestation, or in the mode and manner of discovering its interpretation.
Lastly, I will intreat of you, O Reader, who may meet with this work, that if you shall perceive any thing perchance to have been revealed to me, while an attentive observer, which may be of service to yourself or others, in the understanding of these mysteries, you would refer it wholly to the mercy of God, bestowed upon me; to whom I likewise shall never cease to return my grateful thanks for the slenderest raylet of His wisdom; but whatever may be erroneous, that I beseech you to impute to myself alone, a man of very little ability, and by no means fitted of myself (of which I am fully conscious) to such an undertaking.
Blessing, and honour, and glory be unto Him that sitteth on the Throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever!