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$ 352. 'For thy judgments are made manisest.'—The word Sizalofuata, translated judgments in this place, is rendered, Rom. ii. 26, by righteousness, although, being in the plural, it should be rendered by righteousnesses ; the righteousnesses of the law, in this chapter of Romans, being contrasted with what is said of the righteousness of God without the law in the next chapter. The same term precisely is rendered by the word righteousnesses, in speaking of that which constitutes the fine linen of the saints, Rev. xix. 8. The term in the singular is rendered also by righteousness, Rom. v. 18, and viïi. 4. Rom. v. 16, it is translated justification ; Rom. i. 32, it is rendered by judgment; Luke i. 6, by commandment ; and Heb. ix. 1 and 10, by ordinances. There is a similar diversity in the Latin versions of Leusden and Beza, the same Greek noun being variously rendered by jus, justitia, and justificatio. In the present case, therefore, we are to select such rendering as appears most in conformity with the whole
passage. The beast system was a system of self-justification, or of self-righteous
This system having been overthrown, it is natural to suppose this song of the victors to apply to the opposite system of justification by God's righteousness: accordingly, the better rendering here apparently would be, “ For thy justifications (thy righteousnesses) are made manifest.” The plural Szalayara is used by Heliodorus, (according to Donnegan,) to express means of defence, pleadings, justificatory documents. Something like this, we suppose to be the idea in contemplation. The elements contending with the beast have overcome in the legal contest, and they owe their victory to the prevalence of the means of defence found in the justifying power of God's righteousness imputed to the disciple. This power
is now manifest by the result of the contest : God is praised, not merely because he is just in punishing the delinquent, but because his power of justification is made apparent in the salvation of the sinner.
Here are three reasons given for fearing God and glorifying his name: first, because he is the only Being intrinsically holy ; second, because all things, (nations,) principles, &c., are to be manifestly subordinate to him ; and thirdly, because his means of justification are proven to predominate over every opposing element.
9, 10, the decree is published, apparently, that all these nations shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and be tormented for ever; and yet we find in this passage, (Rev. xv. 4,) “ that all nations (norta tà forn) shall come and worship before God." This appears to presuppose a change in these elements, termed the nations ; as if we were to say, No sooner is the element of self, or the principle of self-service, removed from the human heart, (by the victory over the beast,) than the same services or works, proceeding from a different motive, will become acts of worship towards God, and strictly elements of his service. Principles thus changed, however, may be the nations of the new earth, spoken of Rev. xxi. 24.
Vs. 5, 6. And after that I looked, and Και μετά ταύτα είδον, και ήνοιχη ο ναός behold, the temple of the tabernacle of της σκηνής του μαρτυρίου εν τω ουρανό, the testimony in heaven was opened: and και εξήλθον οι επτά άγγελοι οι έχοντες τας having the seven plagues, clothed in pure επτά πληγάς εκ του ναού, ενδεδεμένοι λίνον and white linen, and having their breasts καθαρόν λαμπρόν και περιεζωσμένοι περί girded with golden girdles.
τα στήθη ζώνας χρυσάς. . $ 353. “And after that,' &c.—The action of the chorus has closed. The ode of Moses and the ode of the Lamb, sung by those having obtained the victory over the beast, seems intended to show us the nature of this victory as a triumph of doctrinal truth over error ; at the same time indicating the subject of the narrative in the subsequent part of the narration to be something already determined upon in heaven ;-the singing of these odes being equivalent to the narrations of the Old and New Testaments; as it was a custom of ancient times to hand down historical traditions from age to age by songs or odes.
There is now an additional object presented in the scenery ; or, at least, the object appears now first to attract the attention of the apostle. The first verse of the chapter seems to have been an anticipation of what is said in this and the subsequent verses. The apostle began with speaking of a great sign that he saw in heaven, --seven angels having, &c. His narrative was here interrupted by the song of the chorus, and he now goes back to describe the manner in which these seven angels made their appearance, and the source whence the seven plagues was derived.
. And lo, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.'*_This is no doubt the temple of God described as opened, Rev. xi. 19. The consequence of the opening of this temple then was an exhibition of the woman—the covenant of redemption—and her child; and also the appearance of the adversary of both woman and child—(the dragon or accuser.)
The consequence of the opening of the temple at this time is the ap
* The temple may be considered as forming part of the scenery throughout; but what particularly attracts the spectator's attention at this time is, that the temple is opened. It was opened on a former occasion, but it may be considered as having been shut during the reign of the beast, and the possession of its outer court by the Gentiles. It is now reopened, and the consequence of its reopening is the going forth of the elements calculated to destroy the errors prevailing in the worship of God. So Christ is the spiritual temple, and as he reveals or unveils his true character and offices, this spiritual temple is opened ; while the truths, emanating from this development, become the means of destroying the errors of self-righteoueness, self-justification, self-dependence, &c.
pearance of the seven angels with the wrath of God. The temple we suppose to be put for that arrangement of principles upon which the worshipper is enabled to come to God in an acceptable manner; the tabernacle is the shelter provided for the disciple in Christ, and the testimony must be the witness borne by the revealed word to these particulars. Christ is the minister of the true tabernacle: he is the tabernacle itself, asfording the shelter of righteousness with which the disciple is clothed upon, as with a house from heaven. He is also the temple ; in him alone the worshipper having “access as by one Spirit unto the Father,” (Eph. ii. 18.) To behold the temple opened, is therefore especially to perceive a development of the mystery of this access unto God.
. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues.'— As the temple represents especially the access to God provided in Christ, we may suppose the exhibition about to be made to pertain especially to the worship of God; the plagues of the angels being elements of correction, by which errors on the subject of this worship are to be removed, that the disciple may be enabled to worship (serve) his God in spirit and in truth. The angel calling for the harvest came out of the temple ; the angel having the sharp sickle also came from the temple, and the angel calling for the exercise of the sharp sickle upon the vine of the earth must have come from the temple, as he is said to come out from the altar, and the altar was in a court of the temple. These seven angels are therefore, like the last three of the preceding chapters, messengers especially from the temple, and their commissions pertain especially to the temple service.
• Clothed in pure and white linen,' &c.—Fine linen is declared to be the righteousness of the saints, and we suppose this pure and white linen to be of the same texture. These messengers from the temple appear arrayed in the imputed righteousness of Jesus—they wear his livery—they are the ministers of this righteousness, holding it forth as the only means of justification in the sight of God. This raiment of divine purity is also girt about them by the girdle of truth,—the exhibition of the righteousness of Christ, as the only garment of salvation, depending for its support upon the truth of revelation. The difference between a girdle about the breasts, and a girdle about the loins, we have already noticed, ($ 29.)
Vs. 7, 8. And one of the four beasts Και εν εκ των τεσσάρων ζώων έδωκε τοϊς gave unto the seven angels seven golden επτά αγγέλοις επτά φιάλας χρυσάς, γεμούvials full of the wrath of God, who liveih
σας του θυμού του θεού του ζώντος εις for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, τους αιώνας των αιώνων. Και εγεμίσθη και and from his power; and no nman was ναός καπνού εκ της δόξης του θεού και εκ able to enter into the temple, till the seven της δυνάμεως αυτού και οι δείς ήδύνατο plagues of the seven angels were ful- ειςελθείν εις τον ναόν, άχρι τελεσθώσιν αι filled.
επτά πληγαι των επτά αγγέλων. .
$ 354. • And one of the four living creatures,' &c.—The apostle now goes back to relate how the seven plagues were obtained by the angels.They were first described to be seen having the plagues; next, seen coming out of the temple having the plagues ; and lastly, seen coming out of the temple after having received from one of the four beasts the vials containing the plagues. The order of development is thus an inversion of the natural order of narrative; for in the natural order the apostle would have commenced by stating in the first place that he saw the plagues given to the angels prior to their coming out, or at the time of their coming out of the temple. This inversed order, however, may be termed the natural order of revelation, because in the revelation of a mystery the most minute particulars are the last to be given.
The numeral one, (iv,) as we have before had occasion to remark, ($ 145,) is sometimes employed in the Greek for an ordinal.* So applying it here, the rendering would be, “ And the first of the four living creatures gave," &c. This we think the correct reading, as the action corresponds with the lion-like attribute of the first living creature, (Rev. iv. 7,)—the attribute, as we have supposed, of divine justice ; the seven exhibitions of wrath now about to be made being the last illustrations of the action of divine justice upon the elements of the system of self-righteousness: for we suppose the action of the last or seventh vial to cover the subsequent revelation as far as the close of the twentieth chapter, if not as far as the eighth verse of the twenty-first chapter inclusive.
"Seven golden vials,' &c.—The word properly signifies a vessel with a broad bottom, or bowl, (Donnegan)—a drinking cup. These seven cups probably constituting seven illustrations of the cup (goblet) of indignation, spoken of Rev. xiv. 9, 10, to be participated in by the worshippers of the beast.
These cups or bowls are golden, being developments of truth—their composition, their material, is truth ;—the pouring out of these golden vessels representing the action of certain portions of revealed truth upon certain erroneous principles, elements of a system of error; the wrath, fury, or vehemence (Ivuós) in contemplation, being a fury against principles opposed in effect to the salvation of man, and not against men themselves.
Such at least we suppose to be the apocalyptic meaning of this wrath.
$ 355. And the temple was filled with smoke,' &c.—Smoke is of course an indication of fire. Fire we take to be uniformly the figure of the revealed word of God, as the instrument of testing and trying the character of all doctrines and principles—truth, like pure gold, being alone
Ας Gen. i. 5, και εγένετο εσπέρα και εγένετο πρωί ημέρα μία, (Sept.,) And the morning and the evening became the first day.
capable of abiding such a test. The idea to be associated with this smoke seems to be that of the operation of something like a great process by fire, the result of which is to be the detection and destruction of error, and the development of truth.
· From sout of, fx] the glory of God, and from sout of] his power,' or strength.-The glory and power of God are the two elements by which the instrument of trial is put into operation : two final causes, from which the revealed word draws, as by inference, the truth of salvation by grace; these two final causes evolving this truth, through the instrumentality of the revealed word ;-showing that, without a salvation of this kind, God cannot be glorified, nor his redeeming power manifested ;—the glory of God requiring the salvation of the sinner to be a matter of sovereign grace, as distinguished from a matter of human works or merits ; and the manifestation of God's strength, as a Saviour, requiring an exhibition of the same truth.
“And no man [no one) was able to enter the temple,' &c.—The development of these two elements may be said to be in operation in that arrangement of principles which enables the worshipper to come to God, giving him access in Christ to the throne of grace. At the same time we may consider the deductions from these two elements as constituting the ingredients of the cup of wrath ; that is, constituting the means by which the erroneous principles, the objects of this wrath, are to be destroyed. This operation is gradual; the eradication of errors and the development of truths, are gradually effected. During the process, the disciple sees through a glass darkly; he is unable to discern his true position in the temple. The smoke of Sinai occupies the attention of those who are yet under the influence of the beast and false prophet, and on account of this smoke they are unable to discern the light of the blessed gospel of peace. The combustion in the temple, which causes the smoke, is the necessary process for filling the vials or golden vessels ; and it is not till this work is accomplished that the temple position can be discerned.
The whole figure is apparently taken from the operations of alchemists in ancient times, whose great object was to search for gold, and if possible, as they supposed it to be possible, by a transmutation of metals, to make it. The Greek term xanvós, (smoke,) is said (Jones's Lex.) to be compounded of the words xalo avon, signifying the breath of fire, reminding us of what is said of the destruction of the man of sin, 2 Thes. ii. 8, “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth ;" indicating a parity of action between these seven vials and of that power of truth described by Paul ; the destruction of the man of sin, and the victory over the beast being, as we apprehend, equivalent figures.