Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ment must be eternal. This punishment is usually spoken of in Scripture as the loss of eternal life, and life in Scripture is spoken of as blood ; blood being termed the life of the animal. Divine Justice is thus represented as requiring the blood—the eternal life of the transgressor ; a shedding of blood, equal to the magnitude of the sins committed, (Heb. ix. 22.) The blood of the animal is also represented by wine, the blood of the grape ; and we may, accordingly, take the wine-press of divine wrath to be a figure of the power of the law in requiring satisfaction for the transgressions of the sinner, (a penalty equal to the crime.) The vine of the earth, on the other hand, may be supposed to represent the proposed means of atonement, peculiar to the earthly system. The clusters may be characterized by some variety, but they are all the growth of the same plant ; all proposed human means of atonement originating from the same self-dependent spirit of error. The moment of trial has now come : divine justice, with the law as its instrument, exacts the penalty of sin—the forfeiture of eternal life. The earthly system, on the other hand, offers all that it can produceevery device of earthly means of atonement entering into the heart of man. The whole of these are brought to the test : the wine-press of divine justice must be satisfied. To show that it requires all, and more than all, that the earth can furnish, not merely the clusters, but the whole Vine is cast into the press. But the wine-press still remains unsatisfied; it is as capable of exercising its power over another vine, or over any number of vines, of the same character, as it was before. The exaction of infinite justice is infinite.

The wine-press is sometimes supposed to be put for the vat or receptacle of the liquor. But we do not think this to be the figure here intended, as it would then seem that the vat or press was overflowed, and, of course, more than satisfied. We suppose the term press to be confined here strictly to the power by which the juice is expressed from the grape, and the whole country round to be contemplated as one vast receptable or vat for the product of the vine. As if it were said, So infinite is the penalty to be paid for the transgressions of a world of sinners, that the whole earth would scarcely be sufficient to receive the blood (life) exacted by the law.

"And the wine-press was trodden without the city.”—The city we suppose to be the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem ; for the vision is in heaven, or in the mid-heaven, where Babylon, that great city, is already contemplated as fallen. In the heavenly Jerusalem, or vision of peace, there is no winepress of wrath. This is not an element of the holy city; "her walls are salvation, and her gates are praise.” Within the city, that is, within the covenant of grace, all is peace and reconciliation : justice has there been satisfied. Out of it there is no peace,—and out of it, accordingly, the winepress of wrath is trodden.

$ 344. “And blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horses' bridles ;' —or, rather, unto the bits of the horses' bridles ; the term yadıvós signifying the mouth-piece, or that part of the bridle where the bit is placed, (Donnegan.) Wine-presses in Eastern countries were usually trodden by men; but as cattle and horses were also in those countries frequently employed in treading out the grain, it is easy to imagine, that in an immense wine-press, such as is here contemplated, horses rather than men would be employed : it is to the bits or mouth-pieces of these horses that the blood of the grape of this earthly vine is represented as reaching.

* By the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs ;'-about equal to two hundred English miles, if the furlong (orádios) be the Roman stadium : if it be the Greek, somewhat less. It is not said, whether the press be equal to an area of sixteen hundred square furlongs, or whether it be a square of sixteen hundred furlongs on each side. In either case, the extent is immense for a wine-press; and the whole description may be taken as hyperbolical, representing in fact the infinity of satisfaction required by the law as a propitiation for sin. A liquid like the juice of the grape, reaching to the mouths of the horses, and covering a space equal to two hundred square miles, or perhaps forty thousand square miles, capable of seeking everywhere its own level, can be considered only as a figure of some immense indefinite quantity, showing the immensity of the requisition which may be said to absorb it. Besides this, whatever the quantity be, the vine is still the vine of the earth ; its wine is not the good wine of a Saviour's atoning blood. On the other hand, we may notice that however immense the dimensions of this wine-press, they are but small in comparison with those of the heavenly city, as given at the close of this book, (Rev. xxi. 16,) covering an area of one hundred and forty-four millions of square furlongs, or two million two hundred and fifty thousand square miles. Besides which, the depth of the blood extorted by the wine-press of wrath, although reaching to the horses' bridles, is far exceeded by the altitude of the holy city—twelve thousand furlongs !—its height as well as its length and breadth being equal; affording the assurance that, whatever be the magnitude of the retribution demanded by the attribute of divine justice, the provision of infinite mercy in the covenant of grace, affording the means of propitiation, far exceeds it: the breadth and length, and depth and height of the love of Christ passing knowledge, (Eph. iii. 18, 19.)

Still we suppose there is some further significance to be attached to the numerical sign of sixteen hundred. There must be some reason why the initial number sixteen should be selected rather than any other. We do not find any thing of a typical or symbolic character to compare with it directly ; but if we suppose, as above, the area of the wine-press to be sixteen hundred square furlongs, and of a quadrangular figure, the sides of this

square must be equal to forty furlongs each ; the number sixteen hundred being the result of forty multiplied into forty, affording us a key to the allusion ; as we have, some time since, noticed the number one hundred and forty-four to be the product of twelve multiplied by twelve, indicating something resulting from the joint operation of the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles, or from the Old and New Testament revelations.

The most remarkable uses of the sign forty in the Scriptures, are associated with something of a penal import, although this cannot be said to be uniformly the case. Forty kine composed a part of the propitiatory offering selected by Jacob to appease bis justly offended brother, Gen. xxxii. 15; forty stripes constituted the punishment required by law, to be inflicted upon the man worthy to be beaten, Deut. xxv. 2, 3; Moses was forty years old before he was permitted to go to the deliverance of his brethren, Acts vii. 25; the Israelites bore their iniquities forty years in the wilderness, Num. xiv. 34. So the Israelites are said to have been afllicted in bondage four hundred years, Gen. xv. 13, and Acts vii. 6; and Esau came to be avenged of his brother Jacob with a force of four hundred men, Gen. xxxii. 6. So, apparently, there were with David four hundred men when the opportunity was offered him of taking vengeance upon Saul; but David, the type of him that was to come, withheld them. The deluge, the visitation of divine wrath, was brought upon the earth by a rain of forty days and forty nights' continuance, Gen. vii. 12. Moses was forty days and forty nights in the mount, on the occasion of receiving the legal code, the first tables of the legal covenants written on stone, Deut. ix. 9; and after the destruction of these first tables, he again fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, during which time he did neither eat nor drink, on account of the sins of the people, Deut. ix. 9, 18, 25. So we find in the New Testament that Jesus himself fasted forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, where he was with the wild beasts, and where he endured the temptation of Satan, before commencing his earthly ministry; and after his resurrection he was again forty days and forty nights with his disciples, prior to his ascension and glorification. We do not attach importance to these terms of time, merely as such, but we think there is peculiarity enough in this use of the numerical sign forty, and its cognate four hundred, to suppose it to be, wherever we find it mystically employed, (even as the root of its square,) indicative of something of a judicial character, directing our minds to the requisitions of the law; and thus, when applied to the dimensions of the wine-press, exhibiting this vintage process of the Apocalypse as a representation of the action of divine justice upon all the elements of human systems of propitiation ; showing the utter inadequacy of every earthly means of atonement, and pointing to the necessity of an infinite provision.

RETROSPECT.

$ 345. The whole of this chapter appears to be of an introductory character, affording us a view of what may be said to be seen and known in heaven, before it is seen to operate in the earth.

The Lamb on Mount Sion, with his hundred and forty and four thousand attendants, is the Lamb seen amidst the throne, (Rev. v. 6,) with his seven horns and seven eyes, undertaking the opening of the sealed book-an undertaking of which he alone was worthy. He has accomplished the work, the last seal having been opened when the seven angels received their seven trumpets, Rev. viii. 1, 2; and the last trumpet has already sounded, Rev. xi. 15. He may now be contemplated as receiving the glory, and exercising the power resulting from his own work.

The consequences we may say of the opening of the sealed book are, the exhibition of the character and power of the spirit of error pervading the earthly system on the one hand; and on the other, the manifestation of the true position, power, and glory of the Redeemer ; the Lamb, once seen as it had been slain, being now contemplated as on the Mount Zion, victorious in heaven, although this victory is not yet developed in the earthly view of the same mystery. The disciple, in the midst of the discouragements to which his faith may be subjected, while he witnesses the temporary triumph of the beast and the false prophet, with this portion of the Apocalypse before him, may say in the words of the patriarch, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth,” Mount Zion.

A consequence of the appearance of the Lamb upon Zion, is a conviction of the necessity of a preparation of mind for receiving the glad tidings of salvation. The time for developing the true means of safety has arrived. Now, therefore, is also the time for exercising that fear of God, and that disposition to ascribe all glory to him, which will prompt the sinner to fly to the stronghold provided ; and to receive with ready acquiescence, and with joy and gratitude, the word of truth ; that his hope and his refuge is in God alone, the Rock of his strength, and the God of his salvation. A consequence of these developments is the further manifestation that the reign of error is at an end. With the preparative fear of God in the heart, and the disposition to give to Him the glory of the work of redemption, (as of the Lamb now contemplated,) the influence of the mercenary system of selfrighteousness ceases : Babylon is fallen, and the iniquitous tendency of her principles is fully perceived. A consequence of all, thus far developed, must be the conviction that the elements of the kingdom of the beast, (the principles upon which his power is exercised, and by which it is sustained). must necessarily be exposed to an eternal trial in the presence of Him who searcheth the heart, and trieth the motives of action; and that they are, further, principles of servile labour wholly inconsistent with the element of rest : consequently, those who depend upon them, and act upon them, must be themselves without rest ; all their conduct, their inward thoughts, or their outward actions, being characterized by the slavish principle of fear.

Hence the inference, (in the nature of things,) pronounced as by the voice of God, the creator of all things, is, that the only true blessedness or happiness, for time and for eternity, consists in being found in Christ, (Phil. iii. 9,)—identified with him, partaking with him, by imputation, of the full satisfaction made to the law; with him, also, rising to a new position of being and of action—a position of active service, but the service of a grateful heart, as of the Lord's freedman.

$ 346. The developments of the last three angels or messengers may be said to be directed especially to matters concerning the welfare of the disciple,—demonstrating his only true ground of hope, by exhibiting the fallacy of expectations of an opposite character. His doctrinal views are now supposed to have reached the position of rest in Christa position in which he casts his care, even for eternity, upon Him who careth for him ; trusting for the bread—the means of eternal life—to him who supplieth the fowl of the air and the beast of the forest with food ; and looking for a robe of righteousness and a garment of salvation to Him who clotheth the lily of the valley and the grass of the earth with all their varieties of beauty. The believer is now supposed to have no interest of his own in contemplation, so far as pertains to anxiety for the future; but his views still need correction in respect to the mode in which he is to serve or worship his heavenly Benefactor. He has learned the true way of salvation ; he has now to learn the true way of worshipping God. For this end, the developments of the next three messengers are directed especially to an exhibition of the certain destruction awaiting the errors insinuating themselves into the earthly scheme of Christian doctrine upon the subject of this worship. The salvation of the sinner called for the previous revelations; the temple worship (the service of God) now calls for similar revelations.

The Lamb once slain now appears in a different character : instead of standing upon Mount Zion he reveals himself in, or upon, a white cloud from heaven. He is seen in all the glory of his own divine righteousness, white as the light; or, if we prefer it, sustained by the glory, or by the righteousness itself which constitutes this glory. He appears as a conqueror, and the first exercise of his power is to purify the temple service: to purge away, and to eradicate or destroy, the mercenary principles of the earthly system pretending to the worship of God, but really tending to the worship of the beast. For this work he appears armed with the

« AnteriorContinuar »