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V.1. And I saw another sign in heaven, Και είδον άλλο σημείον εν τω ουρανό great and marvellous, seven angels hav- μέγα και θαυμαστόν, αγγέλους επτά έχονing the seven last plagues; for in them is
τας πληγάς επτά τάς εσχάτας, ότι εν αυταίς filled up the wrath of God.
ετελέσθη ο θυμός του θεού.
$ 347. “And I saw another sign in heaven,' &c.—There are three signs (oruɛic) in heaven, mentioned in this book of Revelation, of which that now before us is the last :—first, the great sign of the woman bringing forth the man-child ; second, the sign of the great red dragon ; and third, the great and wonderful sign of these seven angels having the seven last plagues.
The scene is still laid in heaven, and what we behold is to be considered something occurring in the counsels of the Most High ; the results of which on earth we are subsequently to be made acquainted with. There is some change, however, in the scenery presented. In place of the winepress
of the wrath of God, we have seven angels or messengers commissioned, as we shall see, to administer this wrath by seven different exhibitions ; the pouring out of the vials of wrath, about to be described, being equivalent to the operations of the harvest and vintage, with the spectacle of which we were presented at the close of the preceding chapter; as, in a dream or vision of the night, one image unaccountably merges itself into another, and yet not without some traces of connection in the chain of ideas. This sign is denominated great and marvellous, as if to afford us the assurance that if the power at work on the side of falsehood, (the great red dragon,) were a sign of something of extraordinary import, the exhibition of the powers in operation on the side of truth—the truth of salvation by grace—is something still more worthy of our astonishment.
"Seven angels having the seven last plagues ; for,' &c. ;—or, according to the order of the Greek, with a little difference in the punctuation, Seven angels having seven plagues, the last, because in them, or by them, is completed or brought to an end (ételéoon) the vehemence of divine indignation. That is, in accordance with our general rule of interpretation, these plagues are called the last, because they are the last illustrations afforded by this book of the wrath or vehemence in contemplation ; not that the action of the wine-press is the visitation of one wrath, or of one degree of wrath, and that of the seven angels of another, or of seven others; but they are all different modes of exhibiting the same truth. So the fearful picture presented at the close of the sixth chapter, is not that of a prior visitation of the wrath of God; for it is there said that the great day of his wrath is come. We apprehend the commotions there described correspond as illustrations with the actions of the harvest, wine-press, and these seven plagues.* V. 2. And I saw as it were a sea of
Και είδον ως θάλασσαν υαλίνην μεμιγglass mingled with fire: and them that μένην πυρί, και τους νικώντας εκ του θηhad gotten the victory over the beast, and ρίου και εκ της εικόνος αυτού και εκ του over the number of his name, stand on the αριθμού του ονόματος αυτού, εστωτας επί sea of glass, having the harps of God.
την θάλασσαν την υαλίνην, έχοντας κιθάρας
του θεού. . $ 348. ' And I saw,' &c.—Here again we have a scene similar to that of the intervention of a dramatic chorus ; an exhibition furnishing a most striking contrast with those immediately preceding and succeeding it. As if to remind us that amidst all this awful display of divine indignation (judicial wrath) there is a class of objects which, like the family of the patriarch, and all that were with him in the ark, are preserved in perfect peace and security amidst the tumultuous and destructive elements around them; preserved too, essentially, not by any worthiness of their own, but by the position in which they are placed ; as the believer, adopted in Christ, preserved by the covenant of grace, contemplates without alarm the denunciations of the law; exemplifying in his faith a fulfilment of the promise, (Is. xxvi. 3,) “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”
As it were a sea of glass mingled with fire ;'-or, rather, a sea of crystal. We associate with glass the idea of something brittle, fragile, not to be depended upon ; but a sea of crystal, with all the smoothness and transparency of glass, has also in its solidity the essential quality of a rock: the sea of crystal here representing apparently a foundation, a basis of faith, corresponding with that before exhibited as the Mount Sion. As the sea, which never rests, became calm at the command of Jesus, so the element of divine wrath, terrible as it is to the sinner, becomes, through the propitiatory intervention of the Lamb of God, to the disciple not only a ground of hope
* The word translated plagues, implies something of the character of wounds or bruises, as by the stroke or blow of a stick or cudgel: annyn, from ahnoow, to strike, wound, or hit; ahnyavov, a stick or cudgel.-(Donnegan.)
and an instrument of peace, but also a foundation for ascriptions of praise and thanksgiving.
Besides its other qualities, however, this sea was mingled with fire. As we suppose fire (the revealed word of God) to be the element of trying the character of doctrines submitted to its test, so we may suppose
this crystal sea, mingled with fire, to represent the doctrine of atonement, either as having undergone this test, or as co-operating with the revealed word, in furnishing the basis of praise and thanksgiving alluded to. We are inclined to adopt the latter interpretation. The sea with its waves roaring, is changed by the power of the sin-atoning Lamb to a body of crystal. This body thus changed, in unison with the action of the revealed word, constitutes the basis upon which, as we shall see, the overcomers of the beast offer these songs of praise.
And them that had gotten the victory over the beast,' &c.—To obtain the victory over the beast, is something which might be understood in a temporal or literal sense ; but to obtain the victory over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, can be conceived of in no other than a spiritual and doctrinal sense.
Doctrinal errors may be supposed to possess characteristics equivalent to these marks. These errors are overcome by the power of countervailing truths: these truths are gathered from the joint and interchangeable action of the Old and New Testament revelations ; for which reason they are represented by the one hundred and forty-four thousand elements, bearing the seal of the living God;—the same elements having been described in the last chapter, as standing with the Lamb upon Mount Sion—a position, as we have just now remarked, equivalent to that of standing upon a sea of crystal. We are still unable to point out definitively what is to be understood by the beast and his various characteristics; but we may form some idea of them, by knowing more of those which have obtained the victory over them. As yet, however, it has only been intimated to us that such a victory has been obtained. We have not had the particulars of it. It is something already past in the divine counsels; but it remains yet to be exhibited to the sight of mortals ;—the account of the battle and the victors being deferred for the present, (vid. Rev. xix. 19, 20.)
Our last account from the earth (Rev. xiii.) left the beast in full power: a power to continue forty and two months, the term assigned for the reign of the beast; this exhibition of the chorus in heaven leaving us to take it for granted that the time has elapsed, and that the reign of the beast has ceased.
The earthly account, which gives us the particulars of these things, being resumed in the sixteenth and following chapters, we must here consider ourselves as having advanced beyond the period of the great battle ; enjoying in prophetic anticipation a view of the rejoicing of the victors.
These victors are represented as having “ the harps of God,” (not the harps of man.) As the harp was the instrument amongst the Hebrews especially for singing the praises of God, we suppose these harps of God to be elements of divine truth pertaining especially to his praise, as the God of our salvation—truths virtually resulting from the action of the doctrinal elements represented by the one hundred and forty-four thousand; for we assume these victors to be identic with the chosen number, bearing the Father's name in their foreheads.
Vs. 3, 4. And they sing the song of Και άδoυσι την ωδήν Μωυσέως του δούMoses the servant of God, and the song λου του θεού και την ωδήν τού αρνίου, of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelIous (are) thy works, Lord God Almighty, λέγοντες· μεγάλα και θαυμαστά τα έργα just and true (are) thy ways, thou King σου, κύριε ο θεός και παντοκράτωρ δίκαιαι of saints. Who shall not fear thee, Ο και αληθιναι αι οδοί σου, ο βασιλεύς των Lord, and glorify thy name ? for (thou) Irūv • tis où un 90399;, zugle
, xoi došúonly (art) holy: for all nations shall come
το όνομά σου ; and worship before thee; for thy judg- πάντα τα έθνη ήξoυσι και προσκυνήσουσιν
ότι μόνος όσιος ότι ments are made manifest.
ενώπιόν σου· ότι τα δικαιώματά σου έφα. νερώθησαν. .
$ 349. And they sing the song of Moses,' &c.—Here there is a marked distinction between Moses and the Lamb—the servant as in contradistinction to the Son : as it is said, John viïi. 35, 36, “ The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed ;" —corresponding with the difference between the temporary character of the Mosaical dispensation, and the permanent and enduring character of that of the gospel.
These are also two different songs; although they are both sung by the same elements of truth, accompanied with the same instruments of praise. There are two songs of Moses particularly mentioned in the Old Testament: the song of praise for deliverance from Egyptian bondage, Ex. xv. 1–19; and the song of remembrance, contrasting the mercies of God with the hardness of the hearts of the people, Deut. xxxii. 1-43. The songs of Moses were songs of judgment as well as of deliverance, setting forth, as they did, the dealings of divine justice in the first instance with Pharaoh, and subsequently with the children of Israel. The song of the Lamb, we may presume to be the new song referred to Rev. v. 9, showing the worthiness of the Lamb to develope the mystery of salvation, (the sealed book,) especially on account of the redemption wrought out by his atoning blood. This new song, then, sung by the living creatures and the elders, being perhaps in substance the same song as that afterwards said to be sung by the one hundred and forty-four thousand upon the mount; the latter being so much a new version of what was before termed a new song, that it appeared to be entirely new, and is therefore styled, as it were a new song, (ás obdiv xaurin,) Rev. xiv. 3 ;—this latter version being also of that character that it can be learnt or sung only by the conjoint action of the Old and New Testament revelations.
These elements are here represented as singing both of these songs ; the sum of both consisting in an ascription of praise to the Lord God Almighty; setting forth the greatness of his works, the justice and truth of his
ways, and his sovereignty as King of saints, (or, as our edition of the Greek has it, King of nations ;) showing Him also to be the only object of fear, the only holy Being, (uóvos ő0105,) and the Being to whom all nations are to be manifested as in subjection ; and this because his judgments (8ızciouora, justifications, or righteousnesses) are manifested ; that is, are made manifest by the victory represented as just now gained over the beast. Not that God would not be holy and powerful, if the manifestation were not made, but that He is now manifested to be so.
$ 350. “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ;'-or, as the Greek might be rendered, O Lord, the Almighty God. The allusion is here, in the first place, to the power of God; especially, we think, with reference to his power as a Saviour. When we speak of the works of God we are apt to associate with this term ideas only of his works of creation and providence; but it is undeniable that the work of redemption is as much the work of God as those of the creation and preservation of the world in which we dwell. Taking into view the whole tenor and subject of the Apocalypse, we think the purpose of this portion of the song or songs is, to ascribe to God the glory of all of his works, including particularly that of salvation by grace; or rather, taking into view what we believe to be the case, that this world was created to be redeemed, the works of creation and of providence are included as parts of the great and marvellous work of salvation. In heaven, that period is now reached when the Son gives up the kingdom unto the Father, and God is all in all ; corresponding with a similar stage of Joctrinal development, which according to Paul is to take place on earth, (1 Cor. xv. 28;) the elements of both the Old and New Testament revelations tending to this end,—that of showing all saving, as well as all creating and preserving power, to be in God alone.
• Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints;'—or rather, according to most Greek editions, thou King of nations ; which we are inclined to think correct, as it corresponds with what is afterwards said of the coming of all nations to worship, and with the prediction of the power of him who is to rule all nations as with a rod of iron, to whom all things are to be made subject, for the purpose of his transferring this subjection to the Father. Besides, the term nations is more comprehensive than the other; as nations may include saints, although saints would not include nations. God is the