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and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly κατάφαγε αυτό και πικρατεί σου την κοιbitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet liar, aixếu tố gróuati cov čorai yauxù as honey. And I took the little book ουι ως μέλι. Και έλαβον το βιβλαρίδιον εκ της of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and χειρός τού αγγέλου, και κατέφαγον αυτό: as soon as I had eaten it my belly was και ήν εν τω στόματί μου ως μέλι γλυκύ· . bitter.
και ότε έφαγον αυτό, επικράνθη η κοιλία
μου. . $ 233. “And the voice which I heard from heaven,' &c.-Apparently the voice mentioned in the fourth verse of this chapter, as directing the apostle to seal the things spoken by the seven thunders, and not to write them. The same voice, probably, as that calling the apostle up into heaven, Rev. iv. 1. The voice from the heavenly economy checking the expression of judicial intimidation, while it favours the promulgation of gospel truth.
“Go and take the little book.”—The apostle is directed to procure the little book, no doubt for the purpose of qualifying himself for the duty he is afterwards to perform. The direction to go and take, &c., is given with the prescience that the book, when taken, is to be eaten or participated in.
And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up,' &c.—The figure is not so strange as it appears to be when first noticed. The Psalmist says of the law, commandments, testimony, precepts of God, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! (yea, sweeter) than honey to my mouth. Through thy precepts I get understanding : therefore I hate every false way,” Ps. cxix. 103, 104. Here is a supposed eating of the book; for if not eaten its sweetness could not be known. And the reason for this sweetness is at the same time made known, viz., that it gives understanding ; such an understanding of the truth as to excite a hatred of every thing false. So we may presume the cause of the sweetness of the little book, in the mouth of the apostle, to be in the understanding which it affords—the understanding of spiritual things. Where the book is understood it is sweet, where it is not understood it is bitter. “ And it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." “ And it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter.” This we may presume is not a vain repetition. The prediction on the part of him who gave the book, and the statement of the correctness of this prediction the part of the recipient, like the testimony of two witnesses, establishes the fact ; and this no doubt is done to show the peculiar importance of this fact, as something to be borne in mind throughout the narration.
The mouth, as the organ of the mind, and as a member of the headthe nobler part—we suppose to be a figure of the spiritual understanding ; the faculty of taking the language of revelation in its spiritual sense. The belly, on the contrary, as the organ merely of the physical appetites, and as constituting the ignobler portion of the body, we suppose to be put for the
literal understanding, or of the inferior faculty of the mind, capable only of receiving the word of revelation in its ordinary or literal sense.
The little book, when eaten, produced two different sensations; the cause of this difference being not in the book, but in the organs by which it was received. The same scroll was sweet to the mouth, but bitter to the belly. So to the literal understanding the revelation of the New Testament appears to be a refinement upon the law, pointing out a more perfect and exact method by which man is required to work out a righteousness of his.
To such, the new dispensation is even more bitter than the old. They see in it no provision of divine mercy. They admire its searching moral precepts, extending to the heart or mind, as well as to the outward conduct, which is all they understand by its spirituality ; but they groan under its requisitions, as under a burden which conscience, in proportion to their knowledge of themselves, teaches them they are unable to bear. The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The natural understanding sees in the letter of the Gospel only the sentence of condemnation. To the spiritual understanding, on the contrary, there is throughout the New Testament an exhibition of the plan of divine mercy. The rigid exactions of the law indeed are perceived, but they are recognized as conductors, leading the humbled, convinced sinner, to feel his need of a Redeemer. The more the spiritual mind perceives its inability to fulfil the law, the greater is its reliance upon the provision of divine mercy. Thus, to be literal, or to be carnally-minded, is death ; but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace : and thus the same word of revelation which to one recipient is as honey and the honey-comb, to another appears as the bitter of gall, and as the poison of asps.
When, by a spiritual understanding of the whole tenor of Scripture, we perceive our justification and salvation to be wrought out, through the imputed merits and sufferings of our Redeemer—when we see that, as Christ has suffered for us, we are not to suffer for ourselves—then the contents of the little book appear sweet, yea, as honey to the mouth; for we then enjoy an antepast of the blessedness of him whose iniquities are forgiven-of him to whom sin is not imputed. But when, by a literal construction of the language of revelation, we conceive ourselves called upon to propitiate divine justice by atoning for ourselves, then the sanie gospel loses all its sweetness ; like the afflicted Hezekiah, for peace we have great bitterness, (Is. xxxvii. 17.)
To the hungry soul (Prov. xxvii. 7) every bitter thing is sweet ; so those who feel their need of justification while ignorant of the gospel mode of providing for it, (as drowning men catch at straws,) eagerly rest their hopes upon some requisition of the law, which they think themselves able
to fulfil. Their hope, however fallacious, is sweet to them, for they know nothing better ; and in this ignorance of God's righteousness, while going about to establish their own righteousness, they put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, (Is. v. 20.)
V. 11. And he said unto me, Thou Και λέγει μοι· δεί σε πάλιν προφητεύσας must prophesy again before many peoples, επί λαοίς και έθνεσι και γλώσσαις και βασιand nations, and tongues, and kings.
λευσι πολλοίς. .
$ 234. 'Thou must prophesy again,'-—or, it behoveth thee to prophesy. This we may suppose to be assigned as a reason why the apostle was required to eat the little book, or scroll, viz., that by receiving this revelation in both senses, he might be qualified so to transmit it to others in the same manner. A case somewhat similar to this is described by one of the prophets, (Ezek. ii. 9, and iii. 1-4,) “ And when I looked, behold, a hand (was) sent unto me; and lo, a roll of a book (was) therein. * * Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest ; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.” So the apostle is made in this vision to eat of the little book or scroll, and to receive it in both senses, and to experience the difference alluded to in the two ways of receiving it, in order that he may speak with the words of Him from whom the revelation is received_transmitting it as he received it, and giving his own experience of the difference as stated, that others may compare this difference with their experience, and make the discrimination necessary to render the communication sweet-or to know the cause of its bitterness, if such should be its taste.
· Before many peoples,' &c.—The interpretation of Scripture, as of the divine will, is prophecy. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, Rev. xix. 10. All who bear testimony of the truth, as it is in Jesus, prophesy. The testimony itself prophesies. So John might be here addressed as the representative of all who succeed him in laying this portion of the word of God before the world. Indeed we may say of this apostle that, by his gospel, his epistles, and this book, he does prophesy, and has done so before many peoples and nations, &c.; but this may be equally said of other apostles, and we think the text implies something more.
The word éni, rendered here before, might be more properly translated upon, in the sense of about or concerning ; as to speak or write upon a subject, is to speak or write concerning it. So ini with a dative is used, it is said, instead of ini with the genitive, after verbs of speaking, signifying of, about, &c., as in this passage, npoontevou éri haois xai É Oveot, x.7.2., “ to utter predictions respecting,” &c. (Rob. Lex. 243.)* The word rádır, again, involves the idea of repetition, as does also its Latin equivalent iterum, from the verb itero, iterare, to do a thing the second time, to begin again, to begin afresh. (Ainsworth.)
It behoveth thee to prophesy over again, or anew—di nuovo, as we find it expressed in an Italian version of the Bible of 1716—to begin again, to prophesy a second time, concerning many people and nations, (Gentiles,) and tongues, and kings or kingdoms. The ground of the prophecy, we suppose to be the same as that already gone over, but the manner in which it is to be put forth is different—the same truths illustrated by different figures.
The apostle could not be said to have prophesied previously before many people, &c., but he had been prophesying concerning them, or concerning that which is represented by them; as Rev. v. 9, and vii. 9, where some are represented as rejoicing; and Rev. vi. 15, and ix. 6, where others are exhibited as suffering. He is now, therefore, to repeat, or to go over afresh, exhibitions of a similar character, and pertaining to the same subjects. For this end he is to be qualified by receiving the little book ; by having it as it were in him—being fully imbued with its contents, both in their spiritual and literal sense. Thus qualified, he is prepared to impart what he receives to others in the same twofold sense. This is not expressed, but it is implied, else what has the exhibition of this chapter to do either with the previous or subsequent matter of the book ?
$ 235. The scene presented by this chapter appears to be of the character of an interlude, not however to divert or distract attention, but to prepare the mind for a right understanding of the subsequent exhibition.
The mission of the mighty angel has a threefold object : to deliver the little book-to announce the cessation of time—and to make known the double sense of the revelation contained in the little book.
Connecting the account given of this extraordinary book with the declaration of the angel concerning the mystery to be finished in the sounding of the seventh trumpet, it appears reasonable to suppose that this book con
* 'En with the accusative has the same signification after verbs of speaking, (Rob. Lex. 245.) So apopýtevoox thì rà oorã taūra, (Ezek. xxxvii. 4, Sept.) should be rendered prophesy concerning these bones, instead of on these bones ; or such is the idea to be associated with the term on. See also Ezek. xxxiv. 2, where about may be substituted for against.
tains the mystery alluded to; as if it were in consequence of eating the book, that the apostle was enabled to contemplate and to record the mysteries of the seventh trumpet. Not that these mysteries are in the nature of addenda to the gospel, or that they have not been otherwise exhibited, but that this little book and the voice of the seventh trumpet contain a summary of the gospel revelation ; the revelation of the mystery of God, under the head of this seventh trumpet, being the last mode of illustration by which this mystery of the gospel is made known. For when it is said, that in the days of the voice of this trumpet the mystery of God shall be finished, it is very plain that the mystery is put for the exhibition of the mystery. The mystery itself, or purpose of the divine mind, has been complete from all eternity ; the making of it known only is the thing to be finished : as if it had been said, in the days of the voice of the seventh trumpet the development of the mystery of God shall be completed.
Preparatory to understanding this development, we are then to be taught that the terms of days, months, times, &c., occurring frequently in the voice of this trumpet, are not terms of time; that no chronological period literally is intended by them; and further, that whatever may be the description's and language of this vision, the whole of which may be represented by the little book, they are susceptible of being taken in two senses—the spiritual and literal—the first of which is as sweet as the other is bitter.
We do not suppose these peculiarities of the Apocalypse to commence in this place; we suppose them to belong to the former part of the narration as much as to the subsequent; but this is the stage of revelation in which it has become proper more especially to make these explanations. As it might be said that thus far there was scarcely a possibility of taking the matter revealed in a literal or temporal sense, but in the subsequent portion of the book there is much which might be so taken; so, in the former part, the notion of time is hardly hinted at; but in the part to come, chronological terms are so much employed, that it is now absolutely necessary to guard against their misconstruction.
It may be said that under the proposed construction of the term time no longer, we must set aside also the periods of time mentioned in the book of Daniel, and thus lose the support of so much prophecy in identifying the epoch of the coming of the Messiah. But, besides that in the book of Daniel there is no such angelic declaration as we have here, there is also this important difference between the two: Daniel assigns an era, a from and after (Dan. ix. 25, 26) whence to calculate his periods of time ; thus furnishing specific data by which we may ascertain whether the time of the advent in question corresponds with the prediction. But in the Apocalypse there is no from and after given : we do not know when the holy city begins to be trodden under foot, or when the woman begins her flight into the wilder