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said of the disciple's faith, if its first fruits be gratitude and love to God, his whole subsequent conduct, springing from the same motive, will be of the same character.
· And in their mouth was found no guile.'—It was said of Nathanael, (John i. 47,) that he was “an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile ;” while the Pharisees were charged with being hypocrites, because they justified themselves before men, (Luke xvi. 15.) Nathanael, as well as his fellow-countrymen, were sinners; the difference between them consisted in the effort of the Pharisees to obtain a reptutation for righteousness to which they were not entitled. So the disciple without guile must be one admitting, feeling, and confessing his. sinfulness—making no pretensions to a righteousness of his own. Corresponding with this distinction, we may suppose the principles or elements of doctrine, personified by the one hundred and forty-four thousand, to be free from any tendency of the kind illustrated by this self-justification of the Pharisee. They are principles in which the total unworthiness of the subjects of redemption are admitted, and they are thus spoken of as without guile ; or, as it is expressed in the Greek, in their mouth was found no falsehood ;—nothing in their utterance countenancing a pretension on the part of man to any righteousness of his
In this respect these elements may be considered opposites of the twohorned beast. He, as a false prophet, misinterprets the language of revelation, so as to establish a kingdom, system, or mystery of self-righteousness ; they, as elements of truth, sustain only the interpretation consistent with, the kingdom, system, or mystery of God—salvation by grace.
• For they are without fault before the throne of God.'-Of created things, nothing can be said to be perfectly pure before God, or in the sight of God;—even the heavens, it is said, are unclean in his sight, and he chargeth his angels (his own messengers) with folly. These elements owe their purity to the all-cleansing principle of propitiation. From this principle, as we have seen, the motive of gratitude originates; and these elements of truth, like the multitude clothed in white, (Rev. vii. 14,) may be said to be thus pure and without fault, because they have been washed and cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. Change this arrangement, and no motive of action can be pure in the sight of God; the system of redemption by grace, through Jesus Christ, being as indispensable for the production of purity of motives of conduct, as for the salvation of man.
Vs. 6. 7. And I saw another angel fly Και είδον άλλον άγγελον πετόμενον εν in the midst of heaven, having the ever- μεσουρανήματι, έχοντα ευαγγέλιον αιώνιον, lasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, είαγγελίσαι επί τους κατοικούντας επί της and kindred, and tongue, and people, say- vīs vai kai nav kovos xaù quhiy zuż zhvis ing with a loud voice, Fear God, and give σαν και λαόν, λέγων έν φωνή μεγάλη φοβ. glory to him; for the hour of his judg- ήθητε τον θεόν και δότε αυτώ δόξαν, ότι ment is come: and worship him that made ήλθεν η ώρα της κρίσεως αυτού, και προςheaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
κυνήσατε τω ποιήσαντι τον ουρανόν και την γήν και θάλασσας και πηγάς υδάτων. .
$ 329. ' And I saw another angel fly (flying) in the midst of heaven,' or, rather, in the mid-heaven, ($ 205.)—Not merely another angel, for there is none mentioned immediately in connection with this, but another midheaven messenger; the term another directing our attention to the angel described Rev. viii. 13, the messenger of the three woes to the dwellers upon the earth : thus contrasting these two annunciations, the first of wo, the second of glad tidings.
The scene is here changed, a new object being contemplated by the apostle; and comparing the first part of the chapter with the fourteenth verse, we may suppose the vision of the Lamb on Mount Sion to be superseded by that of the Son of man upon the white cloud. We find in this chapter an account of six several angels or messengers: three, besides a voice from heaven, preceding, and three succeeding the appearance of the Son of man. The action of these messengers appears to correspond with that sometimes assigned to the chorus in the Greek drama, or with that of the herald, or of heralds, in the interval of a tournament, preceding a new series of extraordinary representations.
Having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth ;'-or, as our edition of the Greek has it, to preach upon, or concerning (ini) those dwelling upon the earth, and concerning all nations. We are inclined to prefer this last expression, because it accords with the commission spoken of as to be given to the apostle, Rev. x. 11; where, as we have before remarked, éni conveys a similar meaning of about, or concerning, ($ 234.) According to either form of expression, the action of this angel amounts to a declaration that the gospel is now to be considered as being preached. The gospel is universally admitted to signify something of the character of glad tidings ; and the main question is, whether that which is being declared is glad tidings to the dwellers or inhabiters of the earth, for these appellations are expressed by the same term in the Greek; or whether, if glad tidings to some other class, it may be so connected with an account of the fate of the dwellers upon the earth as to be termed something concerning them.
It is said in the preceding chapter (v. 4) that all the earth wondered after the beast, and worshipped the dragon and the beast; and, verse 8, all that dwell
the earth, whose names are not in the book of life, shall worship him; and, verse 12, the false prophet causeth the earth, and them which dwell therein, to worship the first beast; and also (v. 15) he causeth those who would not worship the beast to be killed ; and finally, (v. 16 and 17,) he causeth all, of every class, to receive in some shape the mark of the beast. Thus all the dwellers upon the earth are worshippers of the beast, and bearers of his mark, consequently they are all obnoxious to the wrath set forth by the third angel in the present chapter, (v. 9, 10 ;) they are all to be tormented or tortured with fire and brimstone, and to be without rest day and night. This certainly cannot be called glad tidings to the dwellers upon the earth, whatever they may be ; but if we consider these dwellers on the earth, as we have done, principles or elements of an erroneous system tending to the establishment of an idolatrous worship in the heart, then this assurance of their destruction must be glad tidings to the opposite elements of truth, and this gospel, although not a gospel to them (the dwellers upon the earth) may be denominated a gospel or glad tidings CONCERNING them; as the account of the defeat and destruction of the besiegers of a city would be considered glad tidings concerning this hostile force, by all who felt an interest in the welfare of the city. As the woes threatened in the seventh chapter were woes only to one class of objects, so the message of this angel is a gospel only to another class. The action of these two mid-heaven messengers is also to be considered, not successive but contemporaneous; these gospel messengers being opposites of the beast and false prophet, and their messages being intended to counteract the mischievous influence of the two beasts from the beginning to the end of their course.
$ 330. 'Saying with a loud voice,' &c.—It is not said that the angel flying in the mid-heaven actually preaches the gospel at the time he is seen ;-he has it to preach, and preparatory to his annunciation of it he utters the requisite admonition.
· Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.'—This is not the language of the gospel of peace, but it is the admonition of a preliminary qualification for hearing and receiving the gospel. “ Come, (and) hear, all ye that fear God,” says David, “ and I will declare what he hath done for my soul,” (Ps. Ixvi. 16.) He does not call upon those who have no fear of God, either because they esteem themselves sufficiently righteous to have nothing to fear, or because they do not believe in the existence of God, or in the certainty of a future state of rewards and punishments. It would be useless to set before these persons a way of salvation, of which they neither see the necessity nor the desirableness: to preach the glad tidings of redemption to such as these, would be casting pearls before swine, Matt. vii. 6. It is only to those fearing the justly merited vengeance of Him who has declared that he will by no means clear the guilty, that the revelation of what has been done for their souls is a message of glad tidings; it is not till the disciple experiences this fear, that he is prepared to receive this truth in the love of it. The worshipper of the beast, of course, so long as he is such, cannot have this fear, for his self-righteousness is, as he imagines, his ample protection. So the elements or principles of the beast system of self-deification, are wholly inconsistent with this preliminary qualification required by the gospel plan.
· And give glory to him,'—that is, give glory to God, and fear him, as the opposite of fearing and giving glory to the beast: seek the glory of God, instead of seeking that of self. This also is a necessary preliminary for a reception of the gospel. There are two systems of salvation, we may say, presented to the mind of the sinner already convinced of sin. One way by which the glory of his salvation appears to redound to himself; in which he
may be contemplated literally as having worked out his own salvation, and must therefore be entitled to the glory of it. The other way is that in which God the Redeemer has wrought the work, and in which the glory must of necessity belong entirely to God. The disciple is not prepared to receive the gospel till he can deny himself in this particular; till he can place himself in his own mind in the position of the condemned malefactor ; not only, as it were, crucified with Christ,-being in the same condemnation,
- but feeling and consessing that he is so justly, as the reward of his own deeds; and such being the case, whatever glory may ensue from his deliverance, it cannot belong to himself. He can then feel no otherwise disposed than to give all glory to him to whom it belongs. When this is the case, he hears the gospel of salvation, through the merits of Christ, with joy ; rejoicing that the glory of the work is God's, and not his own. So, apocalyptically, every principle of doctrine belonging to the true plan of redemption must be manifested to be possessed of these characteristics : they must presuppose the fear of God, and premise that the glory of the sinner's deliverance belongs entirely to his divine Redeemer ; as also that every work, and every device of the creature, is to be performed from the motive of giving this glory to God alone.
• For the hour of his judgment is come.'-—The fear of God in the heart of man in its own nature depends upon the belief of a judgment to come ; where there is no such belief, there can be no such fear. It is the belief of this that prompts the sinner to fly for refuge, while there is yet time, to the hope set before him in the gospel; and which implants in his mind the sentiment of gratitude for his escape, in proportion to his faith and hope. Here, however, we suppose the reference of coming judgment to be more especially to the divine discrimination between true principles and false; between those principles upon which God is served, strictly speaking, in purpose and motive, and those in which self, or some other idol, is the real object of service. The time of manifestation is now at hand, when this discrimination will be made, or rather exhibited to have been always made, by Him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins. The difference between these two classes of motives (these different counsels of the heart) will then
be perceived by all ; as it is said, Mal. ïïi. 18, “ Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not."
· And worship him that made, &c.—As if it had been said, instead of worshipping an object of adoration, risen from the sea, worship him who made the sea itself. The sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land: consequently, whatever emanates from the sea, or land, or from any other portion of creation, is but the creature of his will, as he created, it is said, even the wicked for the day of evil. To worship or serve the beast, is directly worshipping and serving the creature, instead of the Creator. Instead of worshipping the beast, rising as he does from a vindictive element, affording no foundation for hope, worship him who is as able to save, as he has shown himself able to create.
Such we may suppose to be virtually the language of the gospel message during the whole period of the reign of the beast. We do not, however, confine this admonition to any particular place or time; but wherever and whenever the beast is worshipped, there, or then, this warning voice is intended to be heard. The action of the angel is something going on in the mid-heaven. The admonition may be supposed not yet to have reached the earth, or not to be found in any part of the earthly system. If we view the mid-heaven, or second heaven, however, as the Levitical economy, or revelation of the Jewish people, this admonition of the angel may be said to be all found in that dispensation expressed in the first and great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength,” &c., (Deut. vi. 5.) In this respect the old economy may be said, like this angel, to have the gospel to preach, at the proper period of its development; and in the meantime, to prepare the way for it by inculcating the disposition of mind necessary for its reception.
V. 8. And there followed another an- Και άλλος άγγελος δεύτερος ηκολούθησε gel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, déyov • ŠtedEv, čtece Basuv i uszúhn, tions drink of the wine of the wrath of her lu toù oivov toù Iruoù rīs togveiuz vú fornication.
της πεπότικε πάντα τα έθνη. . 8331. · And there followed another angel,' or, according to the Greek we copy, there followed another angel, a second.—This is probably the most correct, as the next heavenly message appears to be uniformly denominated the third. We may presume this angel followed in the track of the other; the element or medium of his revelation, like that of the other, being the midheaven. The revelation is not yet made on earth, neither is it something entirely confined to the highest heaven, as in the secret purpose of the Most High. It may be partially revealed in a series of symbols equivalent to the middle heaven.