VISION OF THE AGES;
OR
Lectures on The Apocalypse.
A COMPLETE VIEW OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION.

BY B. W. JOHNSON.

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine
in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light
thereof.”

FOURTH EDITION

CHRISTIAN PUBLISING CO.,
ST. LOUIS, MO.
[VOTA 1]
COPYRIGHT BY
CENTRAL BOOK CONCERN,
1881.
PREFACE.


When I began the study of Revelation no thought of the present work had entered my mind. The splendor of the imagery and the sublimity of its descriptions had always attracted me, but I had read as one who walks through an unknown and mysterious country.
 Like many others, I believed that the book could not be understood, and was ready to pronounce the man a visionary who sought to interpret John’s visions. Several years have passed since I entered seriously upon the study of the book.
I was led to do so by the reflection that the Word of the Lord was not composed of enigmas and dark sayings which no man could understand; that it was all written “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” and hence, must be written in such a way that it could be understood; that a special blessing was pronounced upon those who hear and keep the words of the prophecy, which would certainly never have been done if it was impossible for men to fathom its meaning; lastly, that a great part of the prophetic portion must have been fulfilled before this last quarter of the nineteenth century, and therefore be explained by the corresponding events of history.
In my studies I ever kept in mind that the book is a series of symbolical pictures; a panorama of great events until the end of time; and by a careful [3] comparison of the pictures, in their order, with history, beginning at the date of John’s exile to Patmos, I have been enabled to evolve what is to me a satisfactory view of the whole scope of Revelation.
The prophecies are so wonderful, their fulfillment so striking, and there is such an exact correspondence between the prediction and the events of history, that it seems impossible for a candid student to doubt that the prophet of Patmos was filled with the Spirit of God.
It is with the hope that its publication will not only increase the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, but will serve to confirm the faith of saints and to convince the skeptical, that I have consented to add another to the vast number of books flung out in this book-making age.
 I think the reader will, at least, find that there is a wonderful correspondence between the symbols and historical events, and that this continues in such invariable order as to leave no doubt concerning the meaning of the prophecy.
It will be found that a complete system reaches from the opening of the First Seal, until the Seventh Trumpet blows the signal for the coming of the Lord.
An eminent writer has recently said: “There is great need of a clearer apprehension of the natural, simple, rational, self-consistent principles for the interpretation of Scripture prophecy.” I would fain indulge in the hope that the verdict of the reader will concede the employment of such principles in the present work.
A somewhat extended examination of books on Revelation has aroused unmixed astonishment over the wild dreams, vagaries, and meaningless speculations which have been presented as interpretations of prophecy.
The principal effect of most of these works is only to conf use the mind of the reader and to involve him in an endless labyrinth of obscurity. It is not wonderful that a public, having access to these books, should reach the conclusion that Revelation cannot be understood.
It is with pleasure that I acknowledge my indebtedness to two or three authors who are honorable exceptions to the mass of rubbish which the discussion of Revelation has evolved. I have derived substantial aid from the Horæ Apocalypticæ of E. B. Elliott, The Critical English Testament, and Barnes’ Notes on Revelation.
 In many respects these coincide in their views, and, in the interpretation of the first Five Seals, I have found that some of them had anticipated my line of explanation. On the meaning of the Sixth Seal I believe that they have all made a mistake, as well as concerning the entire chapter following.
While gratefully acknowledging my indebtedness, the reader who makes comparison will find that at various points the present work proposes interpretations never before published, and it is hoped that these will be found rational and harmonious.
I take occasion here to mention that the view of chap. V:9-10, on page 49, is confirmed by the revised translation of the New Testament issued since that portion was written. This is the more satisfactory from the fact, that the views there expressed of the Four Beasts and The Elders have been considered somewhat revolutionary.
 I will further add, that in deference to those who have passed middle life, a class to whom the sunset of life gives a keener relish for the study of prophecy, I have chosen a bold type that Shall be easily read by every age. I trust that all who are waiting for the [5] “consolation of Israel,” by the triumph of the Saviour’s kingdom and his blessed appearing, will find comfort in these pages.
John wrote in order that the saints, when the dark waves of persecution and sorrow and trial rolled over them, might be enabled to look beyond and see the brightness of the coming morning. If this work shall be the means of cheering, comforting and encouraging my weary fellow-travelers to that “city which hath foundations,” I shall feel that I have not written in vain. [6]
[VOTA 3-6]
CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
When Written.–In the Reign of Domitian.–The character of Domitian.–Patmos.–The
Circumstances.–Can the Book be Understood?–Reason for Blunders.–The Object and
Scope of the Book. 15.
CHAPTER II.
THE SEVEN CHURCHES.
The Lordsday.–The Three Parts of Revelation.–The Seven Angels.–The Letters to the
Churches.–Why Seven Churches? Their Character.–Their Subsequent History. 31.
CHAPTER III.
VISION OF HEAVEN.
The Open Door of Heaven.–The Glory of God.–The Throne.–The Four Beasts.–The Four
and Twenty Elders.–The [7] Sealed Book.–Its Significance.–The Weeping Prophet.–
The Lamb.–The Doxologies.–The Atonement. 42.
 
 
CHAPTER IV.
THE FIRST SEAL OPENED.
The White Horse.–The Crowned Warrior.–An Epoch of Triumphant War.–Is Christ Meant?–
Why Not.–The Era of Trajan.–The Greatness of the Empire; its Conquests and
Prosperity.–The Significance of the Bow. 62.
 
 
CHAPTER V.
THE SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH SEALS.
The Vision of the Second Seal.–The Red Horse; Peace Taken Away.–The Era of Civil
Discord.–Commotion for Ninety-two Years.–The Gift of the Great Sword.–The Third
Seal.–The Black Horse.–The Balances.–The Seal of Want.–The Fourth Seal.–The
Pale Horse.–Death and Hades.–The Era of Death from War, Famine, Pestilence and
Wild Beasts.–Gibbon’s Striking Testimony. 76.
CHAPTER VI.
THE SEAL OF PERSECUTION.
The Fifth Seal Opened.–The Symbolism Changed.–The Horse Seen no More.–The Change of
Symbols Indicates a Change of Theme.–Souls under the Altar.–The Cry of Martyrs.–An
Era of Persecution–The Attempt of Diocletian to Abolish the Christian Name.–The White
Robes.–Appendix on the State of the Church from the Time of Nero to that of Diocletian.
94.
CHAPTER VII.
THE ERA OF REVOLUTION.
The Sixth Seal Opened.–The Startling Phenomena in Earth and Sky.–The Meaning of the
Symbols.–A Period of Revolution.–The Political and Religious Agitation of the Reign [8]
of Constantine.–Paganism Destroyed.–A New Civilization.–The Mightiest Change
Known to History.–Rome no Longer Capital of the World.–The Four Winds Held.–The
Sealing.–The Song of Salvation.–The Triumph of the Church over Paganism. 109.
CHAPTER VIII.
THE FOUR WINDS LET LOOSE.
The Silence in Heaven.–The Prayers of the Saints.–The Western Roman Empire, the Theatre of
the Four Angels.–The Rush of the Goths upon Rome.–The Land Scourged, Red with
Blood and Blackened with Fire.–The Term Third Part Discussed.–The Second Angel
and the Scourge of the Sea.–The Vandals.–The Romans Swept from the Seas.–The
City Pillaged–Wormwood.–Attila, the Hun; Buried under the Danube.–The Fourth
Angel.–Rome Overwhelmed.–The Sun, Moon and Stars of a Third Part of the Earth
Smitten.–The Dark Ages. 130.
CHAPTER IX.
THE ARABIAN LOCUSTS.
The State of Christianity.–The Dying World.–The Eastern Symbols–The Fallen Star.–The Key
of the Caaba.–The Locusts.–The Scourge of the World.–The Duration of the Scourge.
150.
CHAPTER X.
THE EUPHRATEAN HORSEMEN.
The Sixth Trumpet.–The Angels of the Euphrates.–The Turks.–The Myriads of Horsemen.–
Gunpowder.–The Power of the Tails.–The Rest Who Repented Not.–Catholic
Sorceries, Murders and Thefts. 172.
CHAPTER XI.
THE OPEN BOOK.
The Radiant Angel.–The Open Book.–The Seven Thunders– [9] The Book Eaten.–The
Reed.–The Standard of Measure for the Church.–The Two Witnesses.–Prophesying in
Sackcloth.–Forty-two Months.–The Slaying of the Witnesses.–Their Resurrection and
Exaltation.–The Great City.–The Earthquake.–The Seventh Trumpet.–The Reign of
Christ. 192.
 
 
CHAPTER XII.
THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS.
The Open Temple.–The New Vision.–The Crowned Woman.–The Red Dragon.–The Man
Child.–The War in Heaven.–The Flight into the Wilderness.–The Sea Monster.–The
Seven Heads.–The Deadly Wound Healed.–The Forty-two Months. 231.
 
 
CHAPTER XIII.
THE FALL OF BABYLON.
 
 
The Revival of Religion.–The Gospel Angel.–Mystic Babylon.–The Earth Reaped.–The Wine

Press of Wrath.–The Open Tabernacle.–The Seven Plagues.–The Vial Poured on the
Earth.–The Vial on the Seas.–The Vial on the Rivers.–The Scorching Sun.–The Martyrs
Avenged.–The Vial on the Throne of the Beast.–The Euphratean Power
Overthrown.–The Battle of Armageddon.–The Seventh Vial. 274.

CHAPTER XIV.
THE MILLENNIUM AND THE NEW JERUSALEM.
The Word of God.–The Great Triumph.–The Fate of the Beast and the False Prophet.–The
Lake of Fire.–The Millennium.–Satan Chained.–The First Resurrection.–The Golden
Age.–The World’s Last Battle.–The Judgment Day.–The Glorious City.–The Tree and
River of Life.–The Eternal Glory. 331.
[VOTA 7-10]
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