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Our English term there fell seems to imply that the sore came from above, or from some external source. The expression in the original, however, is there was, or there was generated ;—the same Greek term, &yérezo, being rendered in the next two verses by the word became,—that is, so soon as the vial was poured upon the earth, the sore made its appearance. As soon as the self-righteous disciple is so far brought to the knowledge of the truth as to be convinced of sin, and of the sinfulness of sin, and of the foolishness of his own pretensions, he perceives himself to be but a leper in the sight of his God. He is no more unclean now than he was before, but the sore of his leprosy now shows itself. Analogous with this we suppose to be the operation of the pouring out of the first vial upon the earth-an exhibition of the wrath of God against every element inconsistent with his glory, and with the manifestation of his saving power, being brought home as a test to the earthly and self-righteous system, exhibits the elements of that system in the light of lepers, covered with their ulcerous and putrefying sores.
The angel pouring forth the vial comes from the temple. It is from that view of the economy of redemption in which Christ is contemplated as the temple, that the proof is produced, showing the impurity of a system, the principles of which are, in effect, so many motives of selfishness, wholly inconsistent with the true worship of God—a selfishness like the leprosy of old, spreading itself over the whole surface, contaminating every action, work or doctrine with which it comes in contact: a little leaven of this selfishness leavening the whole lump—characterizing the whole conduct of the individual. The mark of the beast itself, we may say, becomes in the nature of the case, when its true tendency is exhibited, a noisome and grievous sore.
A period is spoken of, 2 Tim. iii. 2, as the last days, “when men shall be lovers of their own selves,” (qil.avrol.) Literally speaking we do not know a period when men have not been lovers of their own selves; nor do we know a time when men have not professed to love themselves, or have not been known to love themselves, in the ordinary sense of the expression. The peculiarity in the apostle's contemplation appears to be this: that a time is coming when men shall be manifested, in matters of religion, (doctrines,) to be lovers of their own selves, as distinguished from being lovers of God.Their motives of conduct, (not merely the motives of those who are without, but also of those that are within,) will be manifested to be selfish. Disciples will be manifested to be influenced by the desire of serving themselves, rather than of serving God-professing, perhaps, to be actuated by love to God, as they profess indeed to keep the first and great commandment; but in reality having no motive of conduct other than that of regard to their own interests, and a desire to promote their own glory. The fact has been always the same, but the exhibition of this fact may be reserved for the period denominated the last days,—“the perilous times;” more properly perhaps difficult, trying times, zoipoi yadenoi, when the true character of actions and motives will be tested.*
The self-righteous disciple, depending upon the merit of his works, upon his zeal in the performance of his duties, leans especially upon what he terms his worship of God—his acts, particularly, of religious service; but it is as one, who “ leans against a wall and a serpent bit him,” (Amos v. 19.) The trying time comes—the test is administered—the first and great commandment is brought to bear upon the motive of his conduct. He is actuated wholly by the love of self; he has not the love of God in him; the mercenary nature of his service is exhibited—the unclean ulcer appears; and like the servant of the prophet, he goes out, even in his own estimation, a leper white as snow.” The temple service requires a worship dictated by the pure motive of the love of God, and zeal for His glory alone. As it is with the individual, so we suppose it to be with the principle of doctrine: the one serving as an illustration of the other.
V. 3. And the second angel poured out Και ο δεύτερος άγγελος εξέχεε την φιάhis vial upon the sea; and it became as λην αυτού εις την θάλασσαν· και εγένετο the blood of a dead (man ;) and every αίμα ως νεκρού, και πάσα ψυχή ζωής απέliving soul died in the sea.
θανεν εν τη θαλάσση.
$358. “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea.'— The earth, as a whole, is something upon which all of the seven vials are to be poured out.
But in this sense the earth has its parts, each of which is subject to the action of a separate vial.—One of these parts (the land) we have just noticed. The sea is another part. So in the earthly system, as a whole, there are certain parts—the land represents not only the basis of works, the supposed means of eternal life, but also a supposed position of safety—an element the opposite of the sea : the sea being a figure of that legal view of the action of divine justice peculiar to the earthly system. It is admitted to be a learful element, but its action is supposed to be restrained within certain limits as if the wrath of divine justice could not overcome the boundary of man's fancied security upon the position of his own works; or as if the merit of man's works opposed a suflicient obstacle to the incursion of retributive justice.
The earthly system has its legal element of wrath, but of such a character as that human means are supposed to be susficient to cope with it. It offers a view of the retributive action of divine justice, no more to be compared to the reality than an inland lake is to the universal deluge. The
* Xaleros Difficilis, qui magno cum labore fit.-(Suiceri Lex.)
element appears to be comparatively harmless, and even itself the means of eternal life; as when the deluded disciple goes about to meet the requisites of divine justice by means of his own providing. “There go the ships,” Ps. civ. 20.—Through the instrumentality of human works, it is supposed to become, like the sea, the instrument of enriching those depending upon its resources.
The test, however, of the second vial is applied to it. The real character of judicial wrath is exhibited-every soul of man that doeth evil is seen to be subject to its action. Obedience to the whole law is required; the neglect of one commandment is a breach of the whole : the want of a love of God, is a breach of the first and great commandment. Self-examination opens the eyes to the character of this exhibition, and the sea now becomes a sea of blood ; or, according to the Greek, blood is generated. Without shedding of blood, or loss of life, there is no remission of sin: the transgressions of the sinner legally call for the loss of his eternal life.
· And it became as the blood of a dead body,' (carcase.)— The blood of a living animal is the element of life; but that there may be no misapprehension in this respect, this blood of the sea is represented as that of a dead body-blood in which putrefaction is just about commencing.
And every living soul died in the sea ;' or rather, all soul of life.'The deadly, putrefying quality of this sea of blood, is communicated to every thing in it, or dependent upon it. So a just development of divine truth applied to the element of judicial wrath, in the earthly system, shows it to be not only incapable of giving eternal life, but to be actually such, in its own nature, as to destroy all tendency to life in every principle connected with it.
We have thus, in the exhibition of the effusion of these two vials, on the one hand an illustration of the noisome, unclean and offensive character of all pretensions of man to a righteousness of his own; and on the other hand an illustration of the unremitting character of judicial wrath. The disciple, in the first picture, sees the folly of his dependence upon his own merits ; and in the other he sees, even upon his own legal principles, the necessity of looking for some means of escape from impending danger. In this extremity he falls, as we shall perceive, into another error, the subject of correction by the test next administered.
Vs. 4-7. And the third angel poured Και ο τρίτος εξέχεε την φιάλην αυτού out his vial upon the rivers and fountains εις τους ποταμούς και εις τας πηγάς των of waters: and they became blood. And εδάτων και εγένετο αίμα. Και ήκουσα I heard the angel of the waters say,
Thou art righteous, ο Lord, which art, and του αγγέλου των υδάτων λέγοντος· δίκαιος wast, and shalt be, because thou hast εί, ο ών και ο ήν όσιος, ότι ταύτα έκρινας. judged thus. For they have slied the ότι αίμα αγίων και προφητών εξέχεαν, και blood of Saints and prophets, and thoυ αίμα αυτούς έδωκας πιείν: άξιοί είσι και last given therm blood to drinis ; for tlley ήκουσα του θυσιαστηρίου λέγοντος· ναι,
. the altar say, Even so, Lord God Al- zúple ó Teos ó tartozpúroig, él.nIvoi xui mighty, true and rigliteous (are) thy Sizuwi ui xpiozis gov. judgments.
$ 359. “And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers,' &c.The disciple, convinced of his defilement in the sight of God, as illustrated by the ulcerous sore produced by the first vial, and having his eyes opened to the impending danger, figured by the sea of blood, seeks some means of cleansing himself from the guilt of sin, by atoning sacrifices of his own providing. With the more ignorant part of mankind, these means of ablution are supposed to consist in corporeal sufferings and privations. With the more intellectual portion they consist in mental sufferings, or mental acts of humiliation and penitence. In all they constitute what we suppose to be represented by the rivers and fountains of the earth, as in contradistinction to the one means of atonement: the pure river of the water of life, Rev. xxii. 1, and the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, Zech. xiji. 1.
We have had something like this under contemplation before, Rev. viji. 11, when the third part of the rivers and fountains became wormwood, ($ 200.) The present picture appears to be a further development of the same truth : showing that any atonement of man's providing, equal to his guilt in the sight of God, must involve the loss of eternal life—not only being incapable of giving life, (as bitter water, or sea water, is unfit for the purposes of natural life, but still more, absolutely demanding the eternal death of the sinner. The pouring out of the third vial appears to be figurative of the exhibition of the nature of divine wrath. As a test trying the validity of these human means of purification—this third element of the earthly system—and showing the entire inconsistency of such pretended provisions of self-redemption with the salvation of the sinner.
* And they became blood.'— A principle of doctrine exacting from the sinner himself an expiatory suffering equal to his guilt, must be in effect a principle denouncing vengeance, instead of proclaiming pardon ; no one being able, by supererogatory performances to atone for actual omissions of duty. As it is not possible to atone for a past transgression by the subsequent performance of that which it is only one's duty to perform, and which would be a duty to perform if there had been no previous transgression. Nor can we suppose it possible to expiate a neglect of duty by the performance of something which is not a duty. Even if this were possible, the penalty of sin being equal to its guilt, and this guilt being infinite, the proposed atonement must result in the loss of eternal life. Whether the blood of these rivers be, like that of the sea, the blood as of a dead body or otherwise, the element is equally inconsistent with the salvation of the soul.
§ 360. · And I heard the angel of the waters say,' &c.—The ministering spirit of the element of propitiation, is here represented as speaking ; figure equivalent to the expression, that such is the nature of the case. The nature of perfect justice is exemplified in the peculiarities just now set forth; any earthly means of atonement, as soon as the truth is exhibited, being manifestly means of vengeance.
· For they have shed,' &c., or, they have poured out.—The verb translated shed is the same as that rendered poured out when applied to the action of the vials, indicating an exactness in the correspondence of retribution. They have poured out the blood of the saints and prophets, therefore thou hast justly poured out blood to them to drink. As it might be said of one who, rejecting the blood of the covenant, preferred trusting to an atonement of his own working out. Upon his own principles it is but just for him to suffer the loss of eternal life, since, as a matter of faith, he receives thereby the fruit of his own doings. Apocalyptically, however, we suppose elements of doctrine to be referred to here, as elsewhere. The inhabiters of the earth are those making use of the fountains and rivers of the earth : these are said to have poured out the blood of the saints and prophets ;—and, comparing this passage with Rev. vi. 9-11, we find the time now to have come for executing the vengeance there alluded to, upon those that dwell on the earth. We accordingly suppose these prophets and saints, like the souls under the altar, to represent elements of truth, (SS 161, 162 ;) elements of the testimony furnished both by the Old and New Testaments, of which the spiritual sense is now to be vindicated; these elements being figuratively spoken of as human beings, (martyrs :) as other elements are spoken of as rivers, fountains, blood, &c. In a literal sense, it was only the inhabitants of Palestine and its vicinity that had ever been favoured with the presence of the prophets; and even the martyrs of Jesus, in the apostle's time, had suffered persecution only in a small part, conparatively, of the Roman empire. Blood representing life, and life being put for spirit, the earthly elements are said to have shed blood, &c., because the earthly system is sustained by depriving the elements of Seripture testimony of their proper spiritual sense. The earthly system of doctrine is built
upon the letter of revelation; this privation, therefore, falls back eventually upon the elements of the earth, showing their inconsistency with God's plan of salvation, and their incompatibility with his way of eternal life. The letter killeth-the earthly system adopts the letter—abides the results of the literal interpretation ; and thus, when the truth is manisested, shows itself to be a ministration of death unto death; a ministration of condemnation, as the opposite of that of justification, (2 Cor. iij. 9.)
"And I heard another out of,' &c., (inlov ix toī.)—These words are not in all editions of the Greek. The passage might be rendered, And I