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harpers upon their harps; the same voice being the utterance of awful denunciation to the followers of the beast, and of praise and rejoicing to the followers of the Lamb. The voice of the God of Israel is said to be like the voice of many waters, Ezek. xliii. 2; and thunder is spoken of in Scripture (Job xl. 9) as the voice of God. We
suppose both the voice and the music of the harpers to have a prospective aspect, indicative of the nature of the revelation about being made : something of the character of a grand overture, or musical prelude, in a dramatic exhibition-something indicating a pause, and marking a distinction between the representations already made and those immediately succeeding.
· And they sung a new song,' &c.;—or, they chanted a new ode. It is not said what were the words of this song, but we may suppose it to comprehend in substance the glad tidings of redemption ;—perhaps the song of the Lamb, as distinguished from the song of Moses spoken of in the next chapter ; or perhaps these two constitute the same song. This song, however, was sung before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and before the twenty-four elders only. It is something taking place in the divine councils, but not yet supposed to be revealed on earth ;-something in accordance with the element of divine sovereignty, with the divine attributes symbolized by the four living creatures, and with the elements of the Old Testament dispensation, represented by the twenty-four elders. In effect, it may be what we commonly understand by the gospel itself, as revealed in the New Testament.
* And no man,' or rather no one, oudɛls, could learn that song ;' neither man nor angel-no created being except the one hundred and fortyfour thousand; that is, no one could learn the ode so as to sing it: all who heard it might understand it, but only a certain class could sing it. Virtually, the song of redemption through the vicarious offering of the Lamb, can be sung only by the elements of revelation found in the Old and New Testaments, (the one hundred and forty-four thousand,) spiritually understood ; principles of the economy of redemption drawn from the sacred Scriptures, diffused as they may be amongst the mass of earthly elements, or found in a variety of human systems, but at last redeemed, brought out, and distinguished by their seal or characteristic feature. As with disciples none can feel the gratitude due to God for redemption but those who are sensible that this redemption is entirely of sovereign grace, so no principle of doctrine can contribute to the praise and glory of God, as the only Saviour, but such as is entirely unmixed with any principle of self-righteousness. These principles of doctrine are to be gathered only from the combination of Old and New Testament truths.
Vs. 4, 5. These are they which were Ούτοι εισιν, οι μετά γυναικών ουκ εμο. not defiled with women ; for they are vir- λύνθησαν· παρθένοι γάρ εισιν ουτοί είσιν gins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These
ακολουθούντες το αρνίω όπου αν υπάγη. were redeemed from among men, (being) ούτοι ήγοράσθησαν από των ανθρώπων the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb. απαρχή τω θεώ και το αρνίω, και εν τω And in their mouth was found no guile: στόματι αυτών ουχ ευρέθη ψεύδος· άμωμοι for they are without fault before the throne yáo cioi. of God.
$328. “These are they which were not defiled,' contaminated, &c.The word rendered defiled carries with it the idea of something spotted ; from uolúva, to stain, or mark a white substance with another colour, (Donegan.) This appears to be a strong figurative expression of the perfect singleness and unmixed character of the principles represented by the one hundred and forty-four thousand ;-their perfect freedom from amalgamation, not being mixed even with principles otherwise harmless. These elements are entirely pure, not admitting of any motive of service, other than that of gratitude for a free salvation. The figure is very much of the same character as that employed Rev. iii. 4: “ Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy,” ($ 86.)
• These are they which follow the Lamb,' &c.—The Lamb is the element of propitiation : the way in which the Lamb goes is the way of salvation—the way of a free salvation. The principles represented by the one hundred and forty-four thousand follow in the same path; they are all consistent with the leading principle, and all, as it were, walk in his steps—all conform to the same rule, and confine themselves to the same track. A characteristic peculiar to sheep, and to which there may be some allusion in the figure here adopted: as doctrines expressing and admitting nothing, having a tendency inconsistent with the element of propitiation, the leading principle of the economy of salvation.
These were redeemed from among men ;'-men being a figurative expression for the whole mass of principles in the earthly system, or in all human systems. Out of this mass these one hundred and forty-four thousand truths are redeemed-brought out and manifested to belong to the heavenly system.
· The first-fruits,' &c., specimens ; also the first of the harvest. As principles of gratitude for unmerited favour may be considered the first-fruits of salvation by grace, so these elements of gospel truths are specimens as well as first-fruits of all truths peculiar to God's plan of redemption; all having the same tendency to lay a foundation of love and gratitude towards the divine Benefactor and Giver of every good and perfect gift. As it is said, Rom. xi. 16, “ For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy," so it may be said of the disciple's faith, if its first fruits be gratitude and love to God, his whole subsequent conduct, springing from the same motive, will be of the same character.
* And in their mouth was found no guile.'-It was said of Nathanael, (John i. 47,) that he was “an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile;” while the Pharisees were charged with being hypocrites, because they justified themselves before men, (Luke xvi. 15.) Nathanael, as well as his fellow-countrymen, were sinners; the difference between them consisted in the effort of the Pharisees to obtain a reptutation for righteousness to which they were not entitled. So the disciple without guile must be one admitting, feeling, and confessing his sinfulness—making no pretensions to a righteousness of his own. Corresponding with this distinction, we may suppose the principles or elements of doctrine, personified by the one hundred and forty-four thousand, to be free from any tendency of the kind illustrated by this self-justification of the Pharisee. They are principles in which the total unworthiness of the subjects of redemption are admitted, and they are thus spoken of as without guile; or, as it is expressed in the Greek, in their mouth was found no falsehood ;-nothing in their utterance countenancing a pretension on the part of man to any righteousness of his
In this respect these elements may be considered opposites of the twohorned beast. He, as a false prophet, misinterprets the language of revelation, so as to establish a kingdom, system, or mystery of self-righteousness ; they, as elements of truth, sustain only the interpretation consistent with the kingdom, system, or mystery of God-salvation by grace.
• For they are without fault before the throne of God.'-Of created things, nothing can be said to be perfectly pure before God, or in the sight of God;—even the heavens, it is said, are unclean in his sight, and he chargeth his angels (his own messengers) with folly. These elements owe their purity to the all-cleansing principle of propitiation. From this principle, as we have seen, the motive of gratitude originates; and these elements of truth, like the multitude clothed in white, (Rev. vii. 14,) may be said to be thus pure and without fault, because they have been washed and cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. Change this arrangement, and no motive of action can be pure in the sight of God; the system of redemption by grace, through Jesus Christ, being as indispensable for the production of purity of motives of conduct, as for the salvation of man.
Vs. 6. 7. And I saw another angel fly Και είδον άλλον άγγελον πετόμενον εν in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach onto them that μεσουρανήματι, έχοντα ευαγγέλιον αιώνιον
, dwell on the earth, and to every nation, ευαγγελίσαι επί τους κατοικούντας επί της and kindred, and tongue, and people, say- rīs nav éri Tūv štvoş xai quanv xal zhvg. ing with a loud voice, Fear God, and give σαν και λαόν, λέγων έν φωνή μεγάλη • φοβglors to him ; for the hour of his judg- ήθητε τον θεόν και δότε αυτώ δόξαν, ότι ment is come: and worship him that made ήλθεν η ώρα της κρίσεως αυτού, και προςheaven, and earth, and the sea, and the xurídate um novouvii tòy ovqavov xui founiains of waters.
την γήν και θάλασσας και πηγές υδάτων. .
$ 329. And I saw another angel fly (flying) in the midst of heaven,' or, rather, in the mid-heaven, ($ 205.)—Not merely another angel, for there is none mentioned immediately in connection with this, but another midheaven messenger; the term another directing our attention to the angel described Rev. viii. 13, the messenger of the three woes to the dwellers upon the earth: thus contrasting these two annunciations, the first of wo, the second of glad tidings.
The scene is here changed, a new object being contemplated by the apostle; and comparing the first part of the chapter with the fourteenth verse, we may suppose the vision of the Lamb on Mount Sion to be superseded by that of the Son of man upon the white cloud. We find in this chapter an account of six several angels or messengers: three, besides a voice from heaven, preceding, and three succeeding the appearance of the Son of inan. The action of these messengers appears to correspond with that sometimes assigned to the chorus in the Greek drama, or with that of the herald, or of heralds, in the interval of a tournament, preceding a new series of extraordinary representations.
Having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth ;' —or, as our edition of the Greek has it, to preach upon, or concerning (éri) those dwelling upon the earth, and concerning all nations. We are inclined to prefer this last expression, because it accords with the commission spoken of as to be given to the apostle, Rev. x. 11; where, as we have before remarked, éni conveys a similar meaning of about, or concerning, ($ 234.) According to either form of expression, the action of this angel amounts to a declaration that the gospel is now to be considered as being preached. The gospel is universally admitted to signify something of the character of glad tidings ; and the main question is, whether that which is being declared is glad tidings to the dwellers or inhabiters of the earth, for these appellations are expressed by the same term in the Greek ; or whether, if glad tidings to some other class, it may be so connected with an account of the fate of the dwellers upon the earth as to be termed something concerning them.
It is said in the preceding chapter (v. 4) that all the earth wondered after the beast, and worshipped the dragon and the beast ; and, verse 8, all that dwell upon the earth, whose names are not in the book of life, shall worship him; and, verse 12, the false prophet causeth the earth, and them which dwell therein, to worship the first beast; and also (v. 15) he causeth those who would not worship the beast to be killed; and finally, (v. 16 and 17,) he causeth all, of every class, to receive in some shape the mark of the beast. Thus all the dwellers upon the earth are worshippers of the beast, and bearers of his mark, consequently they are all obnoxious to the wrath set forth by the third angel in the present chapter, (v. 9, 10;) they are all to be tormented or tortured with fire and brimstone, and to be without rest day and night. This certainly cannot be called glad tidings to the dwellers upon the earth, whatever they may be ; but if we consider these dwellers on the earth, as we have done, principles or elements of an erroneous system tending to the establishment of an idolatrous worship in the heart, then this assurance of their destruction must be glad tidings to the opposite elements of truth, and this gospel, although not a gospel to them (the dwellers upon the earth) may be denominated a gospel or glad tidings CONCERNING them ; as the account of the defeat and destruction of the besiegers of a city would be considered glad tidings concerning this hostile force, by all who felt an interest in the welfare of the city. As the woes threatened in the seventh chapter were woes only to one class of objects, so the message of this angel is a gospel only to another class. The action of these two mid-heaven messengers is also to be considered, not successive but contemporaneous; these gospel messengers being opposites of the beast and false prophet, and their messages being intended to counteract the mischievous influence of the two beasts from the beginning to the end of their course.
$ 330. “Saying with a loud voice,' &c.—It is not said that the angel flying in the mid-heaven actually preaches the gospel at the time he is seen ;-he has it to preach, and preparatory to his annunciation of it he utters the requisite admonition.
· Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.'— This is not the language of the gospel of peace, but it is the admonition of a preliminary qualification for hearing and receiving the gospel. “ Come, (and) hear, all ye that fear God,” says David, “and I will declare what he hath done for my soul,” (Ps. Isvi. 16.) He does not call upon those who have no fear of God, either because they esteem themselves sufficiently righteous to have nothing to fear, or because they do not believe in the existence of God, or in the certainty of a future state of rewards and punishments. It would be useless to set before these persons a way of salvation, of which they neither see the necessity nor the desirableness: to preach the glad tidings of redemption to such as these, would be casting pearls before swine, Matt. vii. 6. It is only to those fearing the justly merited vengeance of Him who has declared that he will by no means clear the guilty, that the revelation of what has been done for their souls is a message of glad tidings; it is not till the disciple experiences this fear, that he is prepared to receive this truth in the love of it. The worshipper of the beast, of course, so long as he is such, cannot have this fear, for his self-righteousness is, as he ima