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as a reaper to the work. We suppose the allusion to be the same in both cases, although represented under different figures. The Son of man is the efficient power in this harvest, although he may act through the instrumentality of his angels or messengers. The manifestation of the truth, ast before remarked, wherever and whenever it takes place, must be the efficient cause of the destruction of opposite errors, (tares,) although a variety of instrumentalities must be engaged in operating the destruction.
The instrument (the sickle) shows the nature of the work for which it is to be employed. The sharpness of the sickle, like the sharpness of the sword out of the mouth of him who stood amidst the golden candlesticks, shows the material of the instrument to be the same; the sword of the Spirit, and the sickle of the Spirit, being alike the instruments of destroying error; the sickle of the Spirit having the further quality of reaping truth. The whole appears to be a figure of the action of the spiritual understanding of revelation, in discriminating between truth and error; this figure being equivalent to that of the trial by fire, by which the pure gold of truth is to be separated from the wood, hay, stubble, and dross of error.
One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We are not obliged to suppose the process of this harvest confined literally to a single day. As we suppose it to be effected by the application of the spiritual sense of the written word to every element of doctrine; so it may have been already in operation wherever the revealed word has been circulated, in proportion as that revealed word has been rightly understood.
V. 15, 16. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap ; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ, κράζων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τῆς νεφέλης· πέμψον τὸ δρέπανόν σου καὶ θέρισον, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα θερίσαι, ὅτι ἐξηράνθη ὁ θερισμὸς τῆς γῆς. Καὶ ἔβαλεν ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τὴν νεφέλην τὸ δρέπανον αὖτοῦ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐθερίσθη ἡ γῆ.
341. And another angel came out of the temple,' &c.-We have already contemplated the temple as that disposition or arrangement of the principles of religious truth, in which the worshipper is enabled to come to God; this temple arrangement affording a position in Christ in which, and in which only, God can be acceptably served ;-coming unto God in Christ, and coming unto God in his temple, being nearly equivalent terms. An angel or messenger coming out of this temple, as here described, may indicate a virtual call of this arrangement (a voice from the temple, Is. lxvi. 6) for a separation of truth from error; as if, in the language of the Psalmist, It is time for thee, O Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law, (Ps. cxix. 26.) The true worship of God renders the development about being made especially requisite; and the call for it is made upon Him (the Son of
man) who, while sojourning on the earth, declared the time to be coming when men should no more worship God in certain localities, or in certain. structures of man's erection, but in spirit and in truth; who also himself purged the earthly temple of those by whom it was occupied for mercenary Thrust in thy sickle,' or rather, send forth thy sickle, neμpor rò doéлavór δρέπανόν Gov;-sending forth the sickle being an equivalent for sending forth the reapers. Whatever the instrument, the occasion calls for immediate action. The outer court of the temple may be supposed to be at this time in possession of the Gentiles, as also the city; the beast and the false prophet are in full power; the fall of Babylon is determined upon in heaven, but on earth she is still, as represented in the first part of the seventeenth chapter, sustained by the ten-horned beast.
'The time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe ;** the tares of error, and the good wheat of truth, have reached their maturity. It is time to gather out of the kingdom of Christ "all things that offend,” or that cause to offend, (návra rà oxárdaλa, stumbling-blocks in the way of believers.) This call was made in vision eighteen hundred years ago, and would seem hardly yet to have been attended to, unless, as we apprehend, the process be continually in operation. With those who leave this world, the change wrought by the harvest no doubt is immediate and entire, as they enter a state of existence where they are to know as they are known, (1 Cor. xiii. 12;) but on earth the process is gradual. It began with the first preaching of the gospel, and the separation of the tares from the wheat has ever since been being made.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.'-The peculiar propriety of this figure of a harvest may be illustrated by considering that wheat is the principal material of bread, and that bread, as the chief aliment of life, is a symbol of the righteousness or merit necessary to secure the disciple's eternal life. The bread of life is the righteousnesss of Christ, and the spiritual wheat may be considered elements of truth, representing this righteousness of Christ to be, as it is, the bread of eternal life. The opposite of this is to be found in all those elements of false doctrine which represent the means of eternal life as consisting in some other merits than those of Christ. The manifestation of the Son of man as the Conqueror-the Overcomer-together with the spiritual sense of revelation acting as the sharp sickle, is in its nature the means of
* Dry ripe, fully ripe, nyáron. The erroneous system, represented by the earth, with all its variety of errors, has reached its utmost extreme of abomination: as it is said, (Jer. iii. 33,) "The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor; it is time to thresh her. Yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come."
exhibiting the folly of any dependence upon pretensions of human merit. Thus, by an exhibition of the truth as it is in Jesus, the sharp sickle of the Son of man is sent forth, and the earth is reaped. There is something instantaneous in the operation as here described, and so there is in effect; as God said, "Let there be light, and there was light:" no sooner is the truth fully manifested than the tares of error are reaped, and ready for destruction. Perhaps in this particular a peculiar stress may be laid upon the word thee, in the 15th verse-the time is come for thee (the Son of man) to reap-although this form of expression is not found in all editions of the Greek it appears however in keeping with the circumstance, that the Son of man, the Lamb on Mount Zion, has now manifested himself: it is for this reason that the time has come especially for him to reap.
Vs. 17, 18. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had
power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for
her grapes are fully ripe.
Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ἔχων καὶ αὐτὸς δρέπανον ὀξύ. καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου, ἔχων ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τοῦ πυρός, καὶ ἐφώνησε κραυγῇ μεγάλῃ τῷ ἔχοντι τὸ δρέπανον τὸ ὀξύ, λέγων· πέμψον σου τὸ δρέπανον τὸ ὀξὺ καὶ τρύγησον τοὺς βότρυας τῆς ἀμπέλου τῆς γῆς, ὅτι ἤκμασαν αἱ σταφυλαὶ αὐτῆς.
§ 342. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven,' &c. There seems to be here a distinction between this temple and that mentioned in the fifteenth verse; as if one were the temple on earth, and the other that in heaven. Perhaps we may say, that the first is in a state of duress; its angels or messengers cry, as it were, for help. The other is the heavenly temple, corresponding with the Jerusalem from heaven, and consequently is able to send aid, instead of asking for it. In any case, however, they are both temples in a spiritual sense, and as such they constitute something relating immediately to the worship of God.
The angel or messenger from the heavenly temple, we may presume to be charged with all that pertains particularly to this worship "in spirit and in truth." His weapon is also a sharp sickle; an instrument of the Spirit, or a spiritual interpretation.
And another angel came out from the altar.'-This altar apparently corresponds with the temple mentioned in the fifteenth verse, that of which the court is in possession of the Gentiles; like Jerusalem in bondage calling for deliverance.
Which had power over fire;' or, according to the Greek, had power over the fire, that is, over the fire of the altar;-fire being the instrument of trial, and the fire of the altar trying in effect every thing consumed upon the altar, as in the case of the burnt offerings under the law-the fire of the
altar being on this account especially under the care of Aaron and his sonsa perpetual fire, symbolic of the perpetual trial to which the services and the sacrifices of the worshipper are subjected. The functions of this angel may be supposed to consist in trying the propitiatory sacrifices; in other words, he is charged particularly with watching over the element of atonement. The loud cry of this angel may, accordingly, be considered as occasioned by the erroneous views which have crept into the earthly system on the subject of the atonement, or propitiation of Christ.
The worship of the temple may be divided into two parts: that which belongs to the actual service of God without reference to the past, typified perhaps by the daily sacrifice, and that which belongs to atoning for past transgressions; as under the Levitical arrangement the worshipper bringing his atoning offering had, besides, his daily sacrifice to attend to; and as he who attended to his daily sacrifice might still have neglected to bring his offering of atonement for some previous transgression.
The first of these, the actual service of God, is characterized by the motive; an act of worship arising from an impure motive, as of a desire to serve self, resembling the offering of an unclean animal—the cutting off a dog's neck, (Is. lxvi. 3.) Here the impure service, or abomination, corresponds with that self-righteousness which is the opposite of the true bread of life; accordingly, the angel having charge of this part of the temple service calls for the harvest of the earth-a harvest resulting in the destruction of these self-righteous elements.
The atoning sacrifice demands the offering of that which is prescribed, as the only acceptable propitiation. The Israelite was required to offer a male lamb, on certain occasions, as such a sacrifice. The propitiatory offering of the Christian is the Lamb of God; the blood of this Lamb, the atonement of Christ, being the only propitiation acceptable to God. He who professes to propitiate divine favour by any other atonement than this, is as if he offered swine's blood, (Is. lxvi. 3,)—the blood of Christ representing the true atonement, the blood of swine that of an entirely opposite character. Blood is typically represented by the juice, or blood, of the grape; and by metonymy, in the present passage the grape itself is put for
the juice of the grape. As wine, or the blood of the grape, represents the
element of atonement, the grapes of the vine of the earth are put for the atonement professed to be offered by the earthly system. The vine of the earth producing these grapes, or this earthly pretension of atonement, is thus an opposite of Christ, who declares himself to be the true vine. The earthly vine, with its grapes, like swine's blood, represents an element of propitiation, the opposite of that prescribed; it is abomination in the sight of God. In this respect it may be considered a symbol parallel with that of the beast, aiming as it does to occupy the place of the Saviour in a propi
tiatory system of redemption. This error on the subject of propitiation has now reached its extreme; this vine of the earth is fully ripe; and as it is the part of the angel having charge of the fire of the altar to attend to the purity of the sacrifice, (whether this sacrifice consists in the burnt offering, or the shedding of blood represented by juice of the grape,) so it is by this angel that the cry is made, as from the altar, for an immediate exercise of the sharp sickle in the hands of the angel issuing from the heavenly temple. The action of this last sickle corresponds in natural things with the process of the vintage, which is well known always to succeed the wheat harvest. Apparently, there is a similar order of succession in the growth and in the correction of errors upon the subject of divine worship: the self-righteous man first esteeming his daily ordinary performance of duty to his God perfect and acceptable; and next, when convinced of sin in this respect, supposing himself capable of working out an atonement for his past deficiency by some propitiation of his own. This last error is now also described as having reached its maturity: the grapes of the vine of the earth are fully ripe. Not that they are fit for use, for the vine of the earth is the vine of Sodom; its grapes are grapes of gall; its clusters are bitter ; its wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
Vs. 19, 20. And the angel thrust in his
sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast (it) into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine. press, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand (and) six hundred furlongs,
Καὶ ἔβαλεν ὁ ἄγγελος τὸ δρέπανον αὗτ τοῦ εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐτρύγησε τὴν ἄμπελον τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἔβαλεν εἰς τὴν ληνὸν τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν μέγαν. Καὶ ἐπατήθη ἡ ληνὸς ἔξωθεν τῆς πόλεως. καὶ ἐξῆλθεν αἷμα ἐκ τῆς ληνοῦ ἄχρι τῶν χαλινῶν τῶν ἵππων, ἀπὸ σταδίων χιλίων ἑξακοσίων,
§ 343. And the angel thrust in his sickle,' &c.-The call for the sharp sickle was to gather the clusters of grapes. Vintagers are careful, in gathering the grapes of a good vine, not to injure the plant itself. According to the law of Moses, even the clusters of grapes were not to be entirely stripped from the vine; some were to be left for the poor, the fatherless, and the widow. But here is a vine, the fruit of which is not fit to be given. away; a plant yielding such fruit that it is not to be suffered to grow again ; it is entirely cut up, root and branch, (Matt. iv. 1.) The whole vine is gathered and cast altogether into the great wine-press. The figure is a strong one, showing the entire destruction awaiting the fallacious system of propitiation, represented by this vine.
And cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.'-The wrath of God must be that element of divine justice which requires the infliction upon the offender of a punishment coextensive with the magnitude of the transgression. Transgression of the law of God is a crime of infinite magnitude; the retribution which it calls for, must be infinite-the punish