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sharp sickle, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, (the revealed word, in its proper spiritual sense.) This work is divided into two parts, as the errors to be destroyed are divided into two classes : the first, is that which pertains to the principle upon which God is to be served; the last, that which belongs to a just view of the only propitiatory offering acceptable to a Being of infinite justice, and sovereign in the exercise of his mercy. The eradication of the first class of errors is illustrated by the harvest of a field equal to the whole earth, of which the yield is supposed to be a mixture of wheat and tares. The earth is said to be reaped; the result of this reaping is not stated. We are left to judge of it by inference ; comparing the performance of the operation with what was predicted of it, apparently, by the Son of man himself when manifest in the flesh, (Matt. xiii. 37–42.) The result of the vintage, however, which was not there alluded to, is here given. In the errors of the earthly system on the subject of the atonement, there does not appear to be even a mixture of good with the bad ; the whole vine is cut up, and, with all its clusters and branches, is subjected to the judicial action of the wine-press of wrath.
Such seems at least to be the heavenly scheme of the revelation about to be pursued ; the announcement of these six heralds or messengers being somewhat in the nature of a prologue, bearing, to the remainder of the Apocalypse, the relation of that portion of a dramatic composition to the subsequent representation.*
$ 347. The worshipper of the beast, the deluded subject of the false prophet's influence, if permitted to contemplate the developments of this chapter in their spiritual sense, may exclaim, at the conclusion, with the prophet of Israel—“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, even the vintage is gathered, and we are not saved.” The earthly system has exhib
* The everlasting gospel in possession of the first angel, is not directly preached. The glad tidings are not sully made known till we reach the last iwo chapters of the Apocalypse, where they are set forth under the figures of the Lamb's wife, and of the new Jerusalem. The particulars of the fall of Babylon are not given till we reach the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters, where this mercenary system is set forth under the figures of an abandoned harlot, and of a great commercial city; and the relation of the final destruction of the power of the beast and the influence of the false prophet, is delayed till the close of the nineteenth chapter. The proclamations of the three first angels may be considered therefore as so many predictions, of the fulfilment of which, the subsequent narratives surnish an account. The purification of the temple service, shadowed forth in the latter part of this chapter, appears to be represented more particularly in the figure of the operation of the seven vials of wrath-the account of which we are to commence upon in the next chapter—the order of the fulfilment of these angelic predictions being thus exactly inverted: the relation corresponding with the first action is given last, and that corresponding with the action of the three last angels is given first.
ited all that it is capable of performing, and has been manifested to be entirely insufficient.
An operation analogous to these agricultural processes may be said to take place in the mind of every disciple of Christ, in proportion as he is brought to the knowledge of the truth : convinced of the exceeding sinfulness of his sins, of his own entire destitution of righteousness, and of the certainty of condemnation in the sight of God, he sees the whole products of his pretended merits cut up, as by the sharp sickle of the Holy Spirit. The harvest indeed is gathered; but it proves to be a harvest of tares—a crop of thorns and thistles, (Gen. ii. 18.)
So with respect to the vintage, when the eyes of the convinced sinner are once opened to the insufficiency of any efforts of his own in providing an atonement, his grapes, like those of the vineyard described by the prophet, (Is. v. 2-7,) appear, even in his own estimation, to be wild grapeswithout avail in satisfying the requisitions of the wine-press of infinite justice: his only hope is now in the work of him who has trodden the winepress alone, (Is. lxiii. 3.)
As it is said in the prophets, in allusion apparently to the same process of conviction—the same manifestation of truth" I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen. And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field ; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses ; I have made their vintage-shouting to cease.” (Is. xvi. 9, 10.) "Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the Rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips : in the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.” (Is. xvii. 10, 11.) “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.” “The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merry-hearted do sigh.” “They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. The city of confusion [Babylon) is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in. There is a crying for wine in the streets ; [the vintage having failed ;] all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. In the city is lest desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction :”—Is. xxiv. 4, 7, 9–12. “For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, [the elements of vindictive justice,] whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth (the grinders] of a great lion. He hath laid my vine waste,
and barked my fig-tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away ; the branches thereof are made white.” *
* " The vine is dried up, the fig-tree languisheth; the pomegranate-tree, the palm-tree also, and the apple-tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered : because joy is withered away from the sons of men,” Joel i. 6, 7, 12.
The opposite of this picture of desolation and despair, resulting from a position of self-dependence, is to be found in that faith of the disciple who, trusting in the justifying righteousness of a divine Redeemer, (the finest of the wheat, Ps. lxxxi. 16,) and the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God, (the wine of Lebanon, Hosea xiv. 7,) is able to exclaim with the prophet, even under the conviction of his own infinite unworthiness, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation," Hab. iii. 17, 18.
V. 1. And I saw another sign in heaven, Και είδον άλλο σημείον εν τω ουρανό great and marvellous, seven angels hav- μέγα και θαυμαστών, αγγέλους επτά έχονing the seven last plagues; for in them is
τας πληγάς επτά τάς εσχάτας, ότι εν αυταίς filled up the wrath of God.
ετελέσθη ο θυμός του θεού. .
$ 347. “And I saw another sign in heaven,' &c.—There are three signs (onusta) in heaven, mentioned in this book of Revelation, of which that now before us is the last :—first, the great sign of the woman bringing forth the man-child ; second, the sign of the great red dragon ; and third, the great and wonderful sign of these seven angels having the seven last plagues.
The scene is still laid in heaven, and what we behold is to be considered something occurring in the counsels of the Most High; the results of which on earth we are subsequently to be made acquainted with. There is some change, however, in the scenery presented. In place of the winepress
of the wrath of God, we have seven angels or messengers commissioned, as we shall see, to administer this wrath by seven different exhibitions; the pouring out of the vials of wrath, about to be described, being equivalent to the operations of the harvest and vintage, with the spectacle of which we were presented at the close of the preceding chapter ; as, in a dream or vision of the night, one image unaccountably merges itself into another, and yet not without some traces of connection in the chain of ideas. This sign is denominated great and marvellous, as if to afford us the assurance that if the power at work on the side of falsehood, (the great red dragon,) were a sign of something of extraordinary import, the exhibition of the powers in operation on the side of truth—the truth of salvation by grace—is something still more worthy of our astonishment.
• Seven angels having the seven last plagues ; for,' &c. ;-or, according to the order of the Greek, with a little difference in the punctuation, Seven angels having seven plagues, the last, because in them, or by them, is completed or brought to an end (ételéoin) the vehemence of divine indignation. That is, in accordance with our general rule of interpretation, these plagues are called the last, because they are the last illustrations afforded by this book of the wrath or vehemence in contemplation; not that the action of the wine-press is the visitation of one wrath, or of one degree of wrath, and that of the seven angels of another, or of seven others; but they are all different modes of exhibiting the same truth. So the fearful picture presented at the close of the sixth chapter, is not that of a prior visitation of the wrath of God; for it is there said that the great day of his wrath is come. We apprehend the commotions there described correspond as illustrations with the actions of the harvest, wine-press, and these seven plagues. *
V. 2. And I saw as it were a sea of Και είδον ως θάλασσαν υαλίνην μεμιγ- . glass mingled with fire: and them that μένην πυρί, και τους νικώντας εκ του θηhad gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image and over his mark, (and) ρίου και εκ της εικόνος αυτού και εκ του over the number of his name, stand on the αριθμού του ονόματος αυτού, εστώτας επί sea of glass, having the harps of God.
την θάλασσαν την υαλίνην, έχοντας κιθάρας
του θεού. . $ 348. “And I saw,' &c.—Here again we have a scene similar to that of the intervention of a dramatic chorus ; an exhibition furnishing a most striking contrast with those immediately preceding and succeeding it. As if to remind us that amidst all this awful display of divine indignation (judicial wrath) there is a class of objects which, like the family of the patriarch, and all that were with him in the ark, are preserved in perfect peace and security amidst the tumultuous and destructive elements around them; preserved too, essentially, not by any worthiness of their own, the position in which they are placed ; as the believer, adopted in Christ, preserved by the covenant of grace, contemplates without alarm the denunciations of the law ; exemplifying in his faith a fulfilment of the promise, (Is. xxvi. 3,) “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
· As it were a sea of glass mingled with fire ;'-or, rather, a sea of crystal. We associate with glass the idea of something brittle, fragile, not to be depended upon ; but a sea of crystal, with all the smoothness and transparency of glass, has also in its solidity the essential quality of a rock : the sea of crystal here representing apparently a foundation, a basis of faith, corresponding with that before exhibited as the Mount Sion. As the sea, which never rests, became calm at the command of Jesus, so the element of divine wrath, terrible as it is to the sinner, becomes, through the propitiatory intervention of the Lamb of God, to the disciple not only a ground of hope
* The word translated plagues, implies something of the character of wounds or bruises, as by the stroke or blow of a stick or cudgel: ninyin, from ahnoow, to strike, wound, or hit; Adryavov, a stick or cudgel.-(Donnegan.)