« AnteriorContinuar »
the proof of faith alluded to by the apostle, James ii. 18:“Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." Such we suppose to be the operation of faith with enlightened followers of Christ; and, apocalyptically, we take the elements of doctrine opposed to those of the beast's kingdom to be of a corresponding character.
V. 14. And I looked, and behold, a Και είδον, και ιδού νεφέλη λευκή, και επί white cloud, and upon the cloud (one) sat την νεφέλην καθήμενον όμοιον υιό ανθρώlike unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a
που, έχων επί της κεφαλής αυτού στέφανον sharp sickle.
χρυσούν και εν τη χειρί αυτού δρέπανον οξύ. . $ 339. “And I looked, and behold;' or, I saw, and lo!—This turn of expression is the same as that used at the commencment of the chapter; it appears to indicate a new scene, or a certain change of scene. The apostle had been contemplating the action, and had heard the messages of three angels or heralds, uttering their respective annunciations,—the approaching development of the gospel mystery, the fall of Babylon, and the final trial of the worshippers and servants of the beast. That vision had closed with a didactic enunciation of a general proposition, an inference from what had just before been revealed; something in the manner of an epilogue or com mentary—the moral of the narratives and descriptions just finished. In which view, perhaps, it may be taken out of the general rule as applicable to principles, so as to apply it directly to the circumstances of disciples ; as if it were said, “ Hear the sum of the whole matter : Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, &c." A new spectacle now presents itself.
'A white cloud.'-A very different exhibition from that which engaged the apostle's attention, when he stood upon the sand of the sea. Clouds we have supposed to be symbolic of the figurative language and illustrations of Scripture revelation, ($ 18.) Dark clouds are such as scarcely indicate the Saviour ; the rays of the Sun of righteousness being hardly perceptible in the picture presented. The legal dispensation itself may
be considered a cloud of this description. A bright cloud, however, we may consider such a symbolical exhibition as admits of strong indications of the light of divine righteousness ; indications of the approaching manifestation of him who is a sun and shield. The gospel, so far as it is expressed in figurative language, may be considered a bright cloud. This Apocalypse,
, misunderstood, or but imperfectly understood, may appear a dark cloud; whereas, whenever it is properly and spiritually understood, it will appear indeed a white cloud. • And upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man.'
appearing in the form of a man; as he who, although so identic with God that he thought it not robbery to profess himself equal with the Father, took upon himself the form of a servant, and became in fashion as a man, (Phil. ii. 8.)
The same form was seen, Rev. i. 13, in the midst of the golden candlesticks. It was seen too in the fiery furnace by the king of Babylon, Dan. iii. 25. The same form was also seen by Daniel in the night visions ; one like the Son of man, to whom was given dominion and glory, and a kingdoman everlasting dominion not to pass away, and a kingdom never to be destroyed, Dan. vii. 13 and 14. This form also was seen by the prophet to come with the clouds of heaven. Of the same it is said, Rev. i. 7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him : and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” So Jesus himself speaks of his own coming, Matt. xxiv. 30: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven : and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;" and Luke xxi. 27, * And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.” So it was said of the same Son of man, Acts i. 11, when a cloud received him out of the sight of his apostles, “ This same Jesus, which taken
you into heaven, shall so come in like manner (that is, in a cloud) as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Perhaps we may say, as in a natural sense he was taken up from his followers in a material cloud, so in a spiritual sense he is to manisest himself in the cloud of symbolic revelation : being manisest the second time to the eye of faith without sin unto salvation, as the Lord our righteousness, the overcoming principle—the principle of sovereign grace. The apostle may be said to have seen in vision this second coming of the Son of man, as he unveils himself in effect in this Apocalypse from amidst a cloud of figurative representation.
$ 340. “Having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.'—This crown, it will be observed, is of the kind allotted to conquerors at the games, as a token of victory. The crown is of gold, as the composition of the spiritual crown is of truth. The truth, as it is in Jesus, wherever it is seen, manifests him to be the victor, having led captivity captive, Eph. iv. 8; as in the great contest between Michael and the dragon, or between the element of propitiation and that of accusation. That contest in heaven has terminated, but the corresponding contest on earth, between the elements of truth and falsehood, remains to be brought to a close. The termination of this latter contest is now about to be exhibited under the figure of a harvest and vintage; the destruction of the kingdom of the beast, the fall of Babylon, and this harvest and vintage, being figures nearly equivalent in their results.
The portion of the vision in this and the subsequent verses of this chapter, appears to correspond with the description given of the end of the world, Matt. xii. 37–43, except that, in that account, the Son of man is said to send forth his angels to reap; while here, he is exhibited as coming himself
as a reaper to the work. We suppose the allusion to be the same in both cases, although represented under different figures. The Son of man is the efficient power in this harvest, although he may act through the instrumentality of his angels or messengers. The manifestation of the truth, as before remarked, wherever and whenever it takes place, must be the efficient cause of the destruction of opposite errors, (tares,) although a variety of instrumentalities must be engaged in operating the destruction.
The instrument (the sickle) shows the nature of the work for which it is to be employed. The sharpness of the sickle, like the sharpness of the sword out of the mouth of him who stood amidst the golden candlesticks, shows the material of the instrument to be the same; the sword of the Spirit, and the sickle of the Spirit, being alike the instruments of destroying error ; the sickle of the Spirit having the further quality of reaping truth. The whole appears to be a figure of the action of the spiritual understanding of revelation, in discriminating between truth and error ; this figure being equivalent to that of the trial by fire, by which the pure gold of truth is to be separated from the wood, hay, stubble, and dross of error.
One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We are not obliged to suppose the process of this harvest confined literally to a single day. As we suppose it to be effected by the application of the spiritual sense of the written word to every element of doctrine; so it may have been already in operation wherever the revealed word has been circulated, in proportion as that revealed word has been rightly understood.
V. 15, 16. And another angel came out Και άλλος άγγελος εξήλθεν εκ του ναού,
, of the temple, crying with a loud voice to κράζων εν φωνή μεγάλη των καθημένω επι kim that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for this repohns• pršuyov to 8peturóv gov xai thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth θέρισον, ότι ήλθεν η ώρα θερίσαι, ότι εξηis ripe. And he that sat on the cloud pávin ó Isplopos tis yrs. Kui ? Buhar thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the καθήμενος επί την νεφέλην το δρέπανον αυearth was reaped.
του επί την γην, και εθερίσθη η χή.
$ 341. 'And another angel came out of the temple,' &c.—We have already contemplated the temple as that disposition or arrangement of the principles of religious truth, in which the worshipper is enabled to come to God; this temple arrangement affording a position in Christ in which, and in which only, God can be acceptably served ;-coming unto God in Christ, and coming unto God in his temple, being nearly equivalent terms. An angel or messenger coming out of this temple, as here described, may indicate a virtual call of this arrangement (a voice from the temple, Is. Ixvi. 6) for a separation of truth from error ; as if, in the language of the Psalmist, It is time for thee, O Lord, to work ; for they have made void thy law, (Ps.cxx. 26.) The true worship of God renders the development about being made especially requisite; and the call for it is made upon Him (the Son of man) who, while sojourning on the earth, declared the time to be coming when men should no more worship God in certain localities, or in certain structures of man's erection, but in spirit and in truth; who also himself purged the earthly temple of those by whom it was occupied for mercenary purposes.
• Thrust in thy sickle,' or rather, send forth thy sickle, neupov rò &pénavór gov ;—sending forth the sickle being an equivalent for sending forth the reapers. Whatever the instrument, the occasion calls for immediate action. The outer court of the temple may be supposed to be at this time in possession of the Gentiles, as also the city ; the beast and the false prophet are in full power ; the fall of Babylon is determined upon in heaven, but on earth she is still, as represented in the first part of the seventeenth chapter, sustained by the ten-horned beast.
· The time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe ;'* the tares of error, and the good wheat of truth, have reached their maturity. It is time to gather out of the kingdom of Christ “all things that offend, or that cause to offend, (návra rů ozdv8anc, stumbling-blocks in the way of believers.) This call was made in vision eighteen hundred years ago, and would seem hardly yet to have been attended to, unless, as we apprehend, the process be continually in operation. With those who leave this world, the change wrought by the harvest no doubt is immediate and entire, as they enter a state of existence where they are to know as they are known, (1 Cor. xiii. 12;) but on earth the process is gradual. It began with the first preaching of the gospel, and the separation of the tares from the wheat has ever since been being made.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.'—The peculiar propriety of this figure of a harvest may be illustrated by considering that wheat is the principal material of bread, and that bread, as the chief aliment of life, is a symbol of the righteousness or merit necessary to secure the disciple's eternal life. The bread of life is the righteousnesss of Christ, and the spiritual wheat may be considered elements of truth, representing this righteousness of Christ to be, as it is, the bread of eternal life. The opposite of this is to be found in all those elements of false doctrine which represent the means of eternal life as consisting in some other merits than those of Christ. The manifestation of the Son of man as the Conqueror—the Overcomer—together with the spiritual sense of revelation acting as the sharp sickle, is in its nature the means of
* Dry ripe, fully ripe, lengdrin. The erroneous system, represented by the earth, with all its variety of errors, has reached its utmost extreme of abomination: as it is said, (Jer. iii. 33,) “The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing foor; it is time to thresh her. Yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come."
exhibiting the folly of any dependence upon pretensions of human merit. Thus, by an exhibition of the truth as it is in Jesus, the sharp sickle of the Son of man is sent forth, and the earth is reaped. There is something instantaneous in the operation as here described, and so there is in effect; as God said, “Let there be light, and there was light:" no sooner is the truth fully manifested than the tares of error are reaped, and ready for destruction. Perhaps in this particular a peculiar stress may be laid upon the word thee, in the 15th verse—the time is come for thee (the Son of man) to reap—although this form of expression is not found in all editions of the Greek : it appears however in keeping with the circumstance, that the Son of man, the Lamb on Mount Zion, has now manifested himself: it is for this reason that the time has come especially for him to reap.
Vs. 17, 18. And another angel came Και άλλος άγγελος εξήλθεν εκ του ναού out of the temple which is in heaven, he του εν τω ουρανό, έχων και αυτός δρέπανον also having a sliarp sickle. And another οξύ. Και άλλος άγγελος εξήλθεν εκ του angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud θυσιαστηρίου, έχων εξουσίαν επί του πυρός, cry to hirm that had the sharp sickle, say- και εφώνησε κραυγή μεγάλη τα έχοντι το ing, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather δρέπανον το οξύ, λέγων· πέμψον σου το the clusters of the vine of the eartli ; for δρετανον το οξύ και τρύγησον τους βότher grapes are fully ripe.
ριας της αμπέλου της γης, ότι ήκμασαν αι σταφυλαι αυτής.
$ 342. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven,' &c.—There seems to be here a distinction between this temple and that mentioned in the fifteenth verse; as if one were the temple on earth, and the other that in heaven. Perhaps we may say, that the first is in a state of duress; its angels or messengers cry, as it were, for help. The other is the heavenly temple, corresponding with the Jerusalem from heaven, and sequently is able to send aid, instead of asking for it. In any case, however, they are both temples in a spiritual sense, and as such they constitute something relating immediately to the worship of God.
The angel or messenger from the heavenly temple, we may presume to be charged with all that pertains particularly to this worship “in spirit and in truth.” His weapon is also a sharp sickle; an instrument of the Spirit, or a spiritual interpretation.
· And another angel came out from the altar.'—This altar apparently corresponds with the temple mentioned in the fifteenth verse, that of which the court is in possession of the Gentiles; like Jerusalem in bondage calling for deliverance.
• Which had power over fire ;' or, according to the Greek, had power over the fire, that is, over the fire of the altar ;—fire being the instrument of trial, and the fire of the altar trying in effect every thing consumed upon the altar, as in the case of the burnt offerings under the law :-the fire of the