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§ 367. · Behold, I come as a thief.'—We should be at a loss to know who was the speaker here, if it were not for the connection of this verse with the preceding, and the correspondence of this declaration with the same words uttered on other occasions. We have just been informed that the battle for which such important preparations are made is to take place on the great day of the Lord ; and we are expressly told, 1 Thess. v. 2, and 2 Pet. iii. 10, that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. The declaration, then, is equivalent to an answer to the anticipated question, “When is this great day of God Almighty to come ?” It is to come as a thief;—that is, suddenly, when least expected ;-which also corresponds with the repeated declaration of Christ in this vision, and elsewhere, that he himself is to come quickly, suddenly, in a day and hour when he is not expected ; the coming of the day of the Lord, and the coming of the Lord, appearing to be uniformly equivalent expressions. Jesus Christ, therefore, is here himself the interlocutor, and the occasion of his being so is, that the coming of the great day, just mentioned, and his own coming, are identic. This last contest with the beast corresponds also, apparently, with the trial compared by the prophet to the action of a refiner's fire, and of fuller's soap.
• Blessed is he that watcheth,' &c.; or, Happy is he that watchethhappy, because he is always ready—he cannot be taken by surprise. The word puzdiglos, translated blessed, is applicable to the advantage enjoyed by those to whom it is applied : a meaning distinct from that of <ýhorròs, which our common version also renders by blessed, but which conveys essentially the idea of praise.
This admonitory address or declaration may be of the same character as that attributed to the general proposition, Rev. xiv. 13, “ Blessed (happy) are the dead who die in the Lord;” or, as that at the commencement of the book, Rev. i. 3, "Blessed is he that readeth.” It is not part of the narrative, but something addressed to the reader or hearer, suggested, as it were, to the mind of the narrator by this portion of the narrative. In the introductory addresses to the churches, the speaker, Jesus, had repeatedly forewarned them of his coming suddenly, and he now seems to have reached that portion of his unveiling of himself in which this coming suddenly is to be exemplified. As we have already remarked, in a literal sense the hour of death must be a sudden coming of the day of the Lord to every one; but we suppose the allusion here to be something in a spiritual sense, and that the coming in contemplation is something to be met with in this Apocalypse.
Watching is the opposite of lying down and sleeping, ($ 85 ;) and the main idea to be associated with it is that of continual readiness: “They that sleep, sleep in the night,” says Paul, “but let us who are of the day be sober.” To be in the night, is to be in darkness, the position peculiar to the kingdom of the beast: to be of the day, is to be in the light, a position of righteousness or of justification-clothed with the imputed perfection of the Sun of righteousness.
· And keepeth his garments.'- It is very evident that the garments spoken of here are garments of salvation. Happy is he who, in the exercise of his faith, always finds himself clothed in a garınent of salvation; and great is his advantage, who is in fact clothed with such a garment, although he may not be himself aware of it. This is an indisputable axiom. It would be indisputable if nothing more were revealed respecting it, and perhaps it is so to be considered here—the questions still remaining to be answered, What is this garment, and how is it to be procured? How can one be always in this state of watchfulness, or state of readiness ? or, How can one be always clothed with these garments of salvation ?
§ 368. The whole tenor of this Apocalypse shows us that the merits of man can afford no such garment or covering as is capable of hiding the guilt of sin in the sight of God. We have already learned enough from this revelation, to know that the robe of Christ's righteousness alone is sufficient for this purpose; and that the garments here spoken of must be the covering of his merits, and not that of the disciple's own pretended virtues; such pretended merits being all of the moth-eaten character of the garments of the rich, spoken of James v. 2, or of those of the rags described by the prophet, (Is. Ixiv. 6.) If, then, the only garment of salvation be that of the merits of Christ, how can it be called the disciple's garment ? or how, in keeping this covering about him, can he be said to keep his garments ? Evidently they can only be said to be his, because they have been freely given to him. Happy, therefore, it may be said, is he who has received such garments, and happy is he who keepeth them ; who appreciates the gist, values it, keeps it as he would a treasure or pearl of great priceprizes it, too, for the purpose for which it was intended : for no one can be said to appreciate a garment in which he is unwilling to appear, especially on an occasion for which it was intended that he should appear in it; the gist or present having been made him for this purpose.
It was formerly the custom of the Ottoman court to entertain the ministers or representatives of foreign powers with a magnificent feast. On these occasions both food and raiment were provided for the guests. The am bassador, with his retinue, marched in procession to the palace, and attendants were in waiting to offer to each guest, upon his entrance, a robe, without the covering of which he was deemed unqualified for admittance to the table of the sovereign. The Grand Seignor himself witnessed the seast from a secret recess provided for the purpose, without participating in the entertainment; while heralds proclaimed to the multitude that the nation or people thus represented, sensible of their dependence upon the benevolence of the Turkish ruler, had humbly sent to him to be fed and clothed at his expense. On these occasions, if a guest had refused the garment proffered him, or if, having received it, he had not kept it, and had attempted to sit at the imperial table without it, his conduct would have been deemed not merely an act of folly, but something equivalent to a rebellious contumacy. On the other hand, it might be said of those who were careful to conform to the requisitions of this extraordinary etiquette, Happy are those who not only receive these garments, but who keep them, and are thus at all times ready to attend the feast.
The Asiatic custom is, we believe, one of very ancient date, and was probably more familiarly known in the days of the apostles, than it has been n modern times. Allusion seems to have been made to a custom of this kind by our Saviour, in his parable of the Supper, in which an account is given of a guest gathered in, and even compelled to come in, from the highways and hedges, and afterwards cast out for want of a wedding garment,—a garment which apparently is supposed to have been proffered him, but which he did not keep. The allusion in this passage of the Apocalypse may have a similar bearing.
· Lest he walk naked,' &c.-The words translated garments, rè iueria, properly apply to upper or outer garments; and the term naked, in Scripture, does not necessarily involve the idea of nudity, in the ordinary sense. The custom of the ancients was, probably, very much the same as that of the Asiatics, and, indeed, of a large portion of mankind, especially of the pcorer classes, at the present day, viz., that of lying down to sleep in the same under garments as those which have been worn during the day. A person roused from sleep in this state, and obliged to sally out without having time to put on his upper garments, mantle, cloak, &c., would be deemed naked, according to the scriptural use of the term. So the nakedness of man in the sight of God consists perhaps as much in his pretensions to a covering of his own merits as in his overt acts of transgression. Without the upper garment of his Saviour's righteousness the disciple is found naked ; with it, although not unclothed, he is clothed upon, (2 Cor. v. 3, 4.) The shame of his nakedness consists as much in the filthy rags and moth-eaten under garments of his self-righteousness, as in what is commonly considered his positive sinfulness. His shame is exhibited not merely in being without garments, but in being without the garments of salvation. So the shame of the guest at the wedding-feast, was not in his absolute nakedness, but in his want of the robe or mantle requisite for the occasion.
There is a sudden change of figure here, similar to some that we have noticed in other passages. The battle of the great day of God Almighty is
equivalent to the coming of the Lord; the coming of the Lord is elsewhere spoken of as the sudden appearance of the bridegroom, or as a call to a marriage feast. The figure of the battle is thus dropped, and, instead of calling upon the disciple to put on the whole armour of faith, the idea of a sudden call to the celebration of a feast is apparently introduced, and the absolute necessity of preparation for it in respect to the proper apparel is held forth.
The admonition will apply either to principles personified, or to disciples ; those doctrinal principles only which are involved in the truth of salvation, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, being able to stand in the day of trial. So likewise with disciples, it is only those depending upon this spiritual clothing who can be prepared to meet the Lord at his coming. The believer, trusting in the Redeemer's righteousness, and in the washing of his atonement, is at all times ready : he is found watching, as one prepared, even with his upper garment, to go forth at the summons of his master.
V. 16. And he gathered them together Και συνήγαγεν αυτους εις τον τόπον τον into a place called in the Hebrew tongue xuloíuevov Espaiori dquareduir. Armageddon.
$369. • And he gathered,' &c.—This is to be read in connection with the 14th verse, the narrative being resumed ; as if the parenthetical admonition just commented upon had not intervened. The spirits unclean as frogs went forth to gather together the powers of the earth to the battle of the great day of God Almighty ; and He, that is, God Almighty, gathered them together, through this instrumentality, into a place called Armageddon ; the kings from the risings of the sun being also assembled, as we may suppose, on the same ground. The armies are thus seen to be prepared on both sides, and the narrative closes, for the present, as on the eve of a conAlict. The further particulars are to be learnt from the developments attending the pouring out of the seventh vial.
- Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon ;' or, according to the Greek, into the place, as if the place had been previously mentioned. We suppose the term place to be put here for a certain position of principles peculiarly adapted to a test of their correctness.
There seems to be no such place as Armageddon mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. Some have supposed the appellation to refer to Megiddo, a place remarkable for a double slaughter, Judges v. 19, and 2 Kings xxiii. 29, Rob. Lex. ; this double slaughter, if such be the allusion, being perhaps a type of the great contest between truth and error here contempla ted—the kings of Canaan and the king of Egypt representing the powers or principles symbolized in the Apocalypse by the kings of the earth. Armageddon, according to Leusden, signifies, among other meanings, the Mount
of the Gospel—(mons evangelii, vel evangelizationis aut mons pomorum, vel fructuum, sive electorum.) We may suppose it to be a figure of a certain manifestation of gospel truth of such a character as to be the means of the final destruction of all opposite errors. The mount of the gospel may be equivalent to the gospel itself, or to the gospel spiritually and properly understood,—understood in such a way as to perceive the conflict between truth and error in respect to the plan of salvation. So, as “a city set upon a hill cannot be hid,”la battle fought upon a mountain may be said to have taken place in a position peculiarly conspicuous. If we would look for an exhibition of the battle of this great day of the Lord, we must look for it in the gospel. As was said of the substitute ram provided for an offering in the place of the only child of the patriarch, “In the mount it will be seen," so, certainly, we may say of the great substitute provided in behalf of man, In the gospel it will be seen. In this sense we may render the passage here—And he gathered them together in a place called the Mount of the Gospel. The highly favored disciples, Peter, and James, and John, were taken into a high mountain apart, where they were permitted to witness Moses and Elias ministering to their Master in his glory; so, if we would behold the law and the prophets ministering to an exhibition of the glory of the Lord our righteousness, we must look for it in the GOSPEL.
V. 17. And the seventh angel poured Και ο έβδομος εξέχεε την φιάλην αυτού out his vial into the air; and there came επί τον αέρα και εξήλθε φωνή μεγάλη από a great voice out of the temple of heaven, Toù vuoi (Toù oiparoi], úzó toj 9pórol', from the throne, saying, It is done.
$ 370. “And the seventh angel poured out,' &c.—Here the preposition ini, instead of being rendered upon, is translated into. We are to bear in mind, however, that with an accusative, as here used, it may signify about or concerning. This seventh development of divine wrath is something about or concerning the air.
The air is mentioned in but one other place of the Apocalypse, Rev. ix. 2, in commenting upon which we have already noticed ($ 207) the distinction between air and ether.
The first, being applicable to the atmosphere immediately around this globe, rendered dense by earthly exhalations, we suppose to be put apocalyptically for the literal or carnal medium of construction, or interpretation, through which heavenly things (the doctrines of the gospel) are contemplated ; a medium of construction so loaded with earthly apprehensions that the spiritual meaning of revelation is not perceived. Paul speaks of the prince of the power of the air, (Eph.