« AnteriorContinuar »
the spiritual understanding to the letter of revelation is the instrument of liberating that revelation from the misconstruction represented by the treading of the outer court, &c.; liberating also the exhibition of the economy of redemption from the characteristic of bondage incident to a legal construction.
And great fear fell upon them that saw them.'-Fear, including the idea of amazement or astonishment, (Rob. Lex. 807;) as on the occasion of the restoration of speech to Zacharias, it is said great fear fell on all that dwelt round about them; so Daniel was astonied for one hour, (Daniel iv. 19,) after hearing the recital of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. An expression probably not to be taken strictly, but intended to give intensity to the impression created by the extraordinary character of the revelation made. So the great fear, here spoken of, is intended to place the extraordinary nature of the change in contemplation in a prominent point of view; calling attention to the importance of the difference between the bodies without the spirit of life, and the bodies with that spirit: accordingly we do not find the witnesses after their resuscitation again prophesying in sackcloth; on the contrary, their ascension appears to be almost simultaneous with their restoration to life.
And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying,' &c.-This great voice we suppose to be something in the nature of the revelation made of the true character of the witnesses, causing them to appear in a new light, and placing their testimony beyond dispute.
Come up hither.'-That is, exhibit your truly spiritual character, something equivalent to the change in the state of mind, or views, experienced by the apostle when called up into heaven, (§ 117.) The change however in the circumstances of these witnesses, consists in the manifestation of the proper spiritual sense of their testimony.
And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them.'-That is, they were manifested amidst the clouds of types and symbols of revelation, (§ 18,) to be witnesses of Christ in a spiritual sense, and so manifested as to terminate all opposition to them, or to their testimony. "They stood upon their feet," they were manifested to possess the spirit of life: "They ascended up into heaven,"—they were manifested to be elements of the heavenly scheme; or of the heavenly exhibition of the scheme of sovereign grace. They did not continue to prophesy on earth-there was no need of it—they had prophesied, they had finished their testimony. It is now shown that this testimony is of a spiritual character, and to be taken in a spiritual sense. With this key, we go back to the testimony already given, and by a spiritual construction ascertain its true meaning, which is all that is required. The witnesses now testify in heaven,―their testimony is the same as that before given on earth, except that it is now disencum
bered of its earthly garb. "Their enemies beheld them,"-the effect of this sight upon the minds of the enemies is not stated; the inference is, that this exhibition was enough to render the testimony of the witnesses indisputable. The manifestation that truth is truth, being equally a manifestation that error is error. The great voice, the invitation to come up, and the ascension, we may consider three several evidences in favour of the testimony of these witnesses.
V. 13. And the same hour was there
a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the
remnant were aftrighted, and gave glory
to the God of heaven.
Καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐγένετο σεισμὸς μέγας, καὶ τὸ δέκατον τῆς πόλεως ἔπεσε, καὶ ἀπεκτάνθησαν ἐν τῷ σεισμῷ ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων χιλιάδες ἑπτά, καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ ἐμφοβοι ἐγένοντο καὶ ἔδωκαν δόξαν τῷ θεῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.
§ 254. And the same hour,' &c.,-or, according to the Greek, in that very hour; that is, precisely at the moment. So John iv. 53, "The father knew therefore that it was in that very hour (ir iztiry tog, precisely at the moment) when Jesus said, Thy son liveth, the fever left him."
'There was a great earthquake,' commotion, or shaking, (§ 164.) A commotion resulting no doubt from the testimony in favour of the witnesses, afforded by the exhibition of their ascension; as if it were said that the manifestation of the spiritual sense and meaning of the two covenants as revealed in the Scriptures gives a shock, as it were of an earthquake, to the earthly system of literal interpretation; and this simultaneously, or nearly so, as the action of cause and effect one thing growing out of the other, or one change of views involving another.
And the tenth part of the city fell.'-The word part is not in the original, and is better omitted, as it tends unnecessarily to materialize our association of ideas. The ascension of the witnesses occasions a shock, felt apparently by the whole city, but only a tenth or tithe of it is overturned or destroyed. The tenth or tithe under the Levitical dispensation was the portion of the produce of the land appropriated especially to the temple service. The city must be that spoken of in the eighth verse-the great city-the anti-evangelical scheme of salvation, the opposite of the scheme represented by the heavenly Jerusalem. Of course the tithe of the city we suppose to be that portion of this false system, the principles of which pertain especially to the worship of God. It is not said that this great city had a temple. The temple of God in Babylon is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures. But we may imagine a country where the system of tithing is carried to its fullest extent, under the pretext of providing for the worship of God, when in fact the avails of the system are applied exclusively to the service and glorification of man; where, although there is a tenth thus set
apart, there is strictly no temple of God. Such a country would be a type or symbol of the self-righteous system represented by the city. The system has amidst its elements certain principles of divine worship-principles purporting a zeal for the honour and glory of God; although, in effect, on these principles the disciple is as far out of the position requisite for the worship of the true God, as was the deluded Babylonian when sacrificing in the temple of Belus. So we find apparently most zeal displayed for the temple service at Jerusalem, when the house of God was made a house of merchandise.
The exhibition of the spiritual sense of revelation, accompanied with indisputable evidence of its correctness, must be followed, in the nature of the case, by a demolition of the false views of divine service, forming the temple portion of the anti-evangelical system, or great city. The demolition of this portion of the city we suppose to be represented by the falling of its tenth-its hypocritical tenth-just that part of the system most the subject of divine abhorrence, and therefore the first to be overthrown ; mercenary, self-righteous, and vainglorious principles of worship or service, being farthest from those in which the Deity delights. As it is said, Is. lxvi. 3, "He that killed an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb as if he cut off a dog's neck;" and Is. i. 11-13, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me, saith the Lord?" . . . Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomination unto me; the newmoons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; (it is) iniquity, even the solemn meeting."
§ 255. And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand,'or verbatim, according to the Greek, and were killed * in the shaking names of men thousands seven. This introduction of the word names is sometimes supposed to be merely a periphrasis for the persons, &c.; and is said to be also common in the Hebrew, (Rob. Lex. 505.) Here, however, we apprehend it has a peculiar signification. A man's name is that upon which he values himself-his reputation, his glory-as the builders of the tower of Babel went about to procure for themselves a name; so we suppose these names to represent certain vainglorious principles: perhaps those peculiar to the temple system, or rather the tithing system of the great city. As in the time of the prophet Elijah (1 Kings xix. 18) God had reserved to himself seven thousand men which had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal, so these seven thousand names of men killed represent something of an opposite character; as of those which had devoted themselves in the great city to Baal service. We do not suppose seven thousand here in
*We adopt the word killed instead of slain, because the Greek term expressing it is not that elsewhere employed to express slaying or slaughtering, as of a victim to be sacrificed.
tended to indicate an exact number; decimals representing an indefinite multitude in proportion to the subject under consideration, as thousands, hundreds, tens, &c.; and the number seven representing the totality of a select class. As, in one case, seven thousand were selected to be saved; so, in the other, the like number are selected to be destroyed; that is, all the false principles peculiar to the false and pretended system of worship of the great city.
'The remainder were affrighted,' &c.—It was a common effect of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ, that the spectators marvelled, or were astonished, and glorified God. So on occasion of raising the widow's son, "there came," it is said, "great fear on all; and they glorified God;" but it does not appear that they were converted to the faith in Christ by this emotion. When the lame man was healed at the gate of the temple, through the instrumentality of Peter and John, as they openly declared, by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, all the people glorified God for that which was done. When Jesus gave sight to him that was born blind, the Pharisees, no longer able to dispute the fact, urged that the praise of the cure should be given to God, (John ix. 24.) To glorify, or ascribe praise to God, is thus set forth in Scripture as something distinct from belief in Christ. The Pharisees could not be brought to glorify God in Christ. So we suppose these affrighted remaining ones (oi hoinoi) to represent principles capable of an ascription of glory to God, or professedly adoring Him, but affecting to do this irrespective of his manifestation of himself in Christ.
When, on account of their iniquities and idolatries, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were given into the power of the enemy, 2 Kings xxiv. 16, and the king of Babylon carried away all the men of might, (seven thousand,) the remainder no doubt were affrighted, but they were not converted; on the contrary, those left (oi 2ozoi) merged themselves so much further into idolatry, that they could scarcely be recognized as the same people at the time of the restoration. They acknowledged a Supreme Being, but they amalgamated with this acknowledgment a superstitious veneration for all the objects of worship of the heathen around them. So we may suppose those remaining in the apocalyptic great city, after the killing of the seven thousand, to represent principles ostensibly ascribing glory to God, but withholding, by a certain amalgamation of truth with error, the glory due to God, as in Christ reconciling the world to himself.*
* These remaining ones of the city probably correspond with those of Rev. ix. 20, rendered the rest of men; perhaps the same too as those slain with the sword, Rev. xix. 21, and those termed "the rest of the dead," Rev. xx. 5; opposites of the remaining ones of the woman's seed, Rev. xii. 17. The Greek appellation, of ¿ozof, being the same in all these passages.
V. 14. The second wo is past; (and) behold, the third wo cometh quickly.
̔Η οὐαὶ ἡ δευτέρα ἀπῆλθεν· ἰδού, ὁ οἰαὶ ἡ τρίτη ἔρχεται ταχύ.
$256. The second wo is past.' This verse would be a proper ending of the chapter, as it appears intended to prepare the mind of the reader for something of extraordinary importance yet to come, while it affords an opportunity of reviewing the past, in order that we may form some definite idea of the nature of these woes, and in what they consist.
As we have remarked at the close of section 226, the account given of the Euphratean horsemen compasses the whole action of the Second Wothe prophesying of the witnesses, &c., being not an additional part of the wo, but a different figure or series of figures of the same wo.
All three of these woes we must recollect are pronounced against the dwellers upon the earth; a figure the opposite of that represented by the saints, (holy ones,) and by the souls under the altar; and a figure apparently of certain elements amidst which the sealed ones are exceptions. These inhabitants of the earth we suppose to be principles of the earthly system, (vid. § 252, note,) subjected by the woes to peculiar trials or tests, calculated to exhibit their fallacy and inconsistency with God's plan of salvation.
The war of the scorpio-locusts was a contest, according to our views, not between infidels and Christians, nor between wicked men and pious men; but between the principles of the abyss, or bottomless pit system, and the fallacious principles of what we term the earthly system; these latter being designated as the men not having the seal of God in their foreheads, Rev. ix. 4. These principles are tortured-put to the rack-showing their subjection to the power of the elements of the abyss. This ordeal of the first wo exhibits the insufficiency of the earthly system to cope with one of its own necessary effects or results. An idea illustrated by the emanation of a cloud of insects naturally destructive to vegetation, but otherwise harmless, rising from an immense shaft, as of a well without a bottom sunk in the earth to these insects a sting being given which under the direction of the Destroyer contrary to their nature turns their hostile action against the human species. The tormentors come from the earth, or earthly system. The sting (the sting of death, sin) is subsequently given; and the subjects upon which they act are dwellers on the earth, or dependents upon the earthly system.
This abyss system supposes man to stand upon his own merits; it does not even contemplate the necessity of a propitiation. . Its principles at first, like smoke, act only in keeping out of sight the light, (divine right