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heard from the altar, saying-virtually, a message from the altar. As the principle of atonement, (the angel of the waters,) called for the destruction of the errors in the earthly system pertaining to that portion of the mystery of salvation ; so the principle of sacrifice, (the voice from the altar,) calls for the same destruction of error, or pronounces it to be just and right. Christ is represented by the altar, as well as by the temple, by the sacrifice, and by the priest or sacrificator. In Christ, any offering of the disciple is sanctified, set apart, and made holy and acceptable to God; and it may be said that Christ himself requires the destruction of errors opposed to the true principle upon which alone sacrifices are to be offered to the Most High. We suppose this voice or message from the altar also to be
for something in the nature of the case. Every sacrifice, it is said, must be salted with salt, (Lev. ii. 13; Mark ix. 49 ;) that is, every sacrifice, to be acceptable to God, must possess a preservative principle. He that offers his own merits to God, offers a corrupt thing. The merits of man have no preserving principle in them. He who offers to God the merits of Christ, or who pleads the merits of Christ as an offering in his behalf, offers an incorruptible sacrifice. Such we suppose to be the requisition of the altar service. This service calls for the destruction of all errors of doctrine incompatible with this principle of sacrifice; consequently, it virtually lauds that divine justice which, by a due exhibition of its wrath, destroys all pretensions of man to an atonement of his own making. We admit our analysis of this passage to be very imperfect, but we think the general purport of these exclamations corresponds with the ideas here suggested.
Vs. 8, 9. And the fourth angel poured Και ο τέταρτος εξέχεε την φιάλην αυτού out his vial upon the sun; and power was επί τον ήλιο και εδόθη αυτώ καυματίσαι given unto him to scorch men with fire. τους ανθρώπους εν πυρί. Και εκαυματίσAnd men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which ruv oi üv9ponoi xuqua péya, rui fag- , hail power over tliese plagues : and they φήμησαν το όνομα του θεού του έχοντος repented not to give him glory:
εξουσίαν επί τας πληγάς ταύτας, και οι
μετενόησαν δούναι αυτώ δόξαν. . § 361. “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun ;'—or, concerning or about the sun. The general direction was to pour the seven vials upon the earth, as our translators have it ; but the Greek preposition employed on this occasion and in relating the pouring out of the three first vials is eis, with an accusative, signifying unto rather than upon; corresponding with our idea of applying a chemical test to the object to be tried. On the other hand, in relating the pouring out of the four last vials, the Greek preposition is inì, which primarily signifies upon ; but which, as we have seen, ($ 234,) is frequently used to express about, concerning. We are
inclined to think the term upon carries with it too literal an association of ideas in the first case, and in the last it does not comport with the sense of the text. The fourth vial was poured out about the sun ; that is, figuratively, upon the medium of vision through which the sun is perceived: the sun itself may be supposed to be unchanged or unaffected, but its action after the pouring out of the vial is very different, or appears very differently from what it was before ; the development is therefore something about, or concerning, the sun.
We do not suppose the erroneous system spoken of as the earth to be a heathen, a pagan, or infidel system ; we take it to be something in the visible church of Christ-professedly a Christian system--and as such, possessing features corresponding apparently or nominally with certain prominent features of the gospel plan of salvation. The earthly system, indeed, is formed from a certain construction of scriptural revelation ; it is not a scheme of what is commonly called natural religion; we must expect therefore to find in it characteristics resembling those of revelation. It has its supposed position of safety, the land ; it has its element of apprehension, the sea ; it has its means or supposed means of atonement, its rivers and fountains ; and it has also, as we now find, its sun of righteousness, or rather its mistaken view of the Sun of righteousness.
· And power was given to him to scorch,' &c.—We have supposed, at the pouring of the last, or third vial, the inhabiters of the earth to have been trusting to their means of atonement, such as the earth afforded; these means proving to be those of blood, we contemplate these inhabitants as still trusting to some other earthly resources, one of which we may imagine to be their sun of righteousness; or what they suppose to be the action of such a sun. The development of truth, or a just exposition of the wrath of God, is now brought to bear upon the erroneous views heretofore prevailing upon this subject. Men have supposed this action to consist in its communicating to them an intrinsic goodness or righteousness ; making them literally as righteous, or morally perfect, as the source whence that righteousness or perfection is imparted. In forming this crroneous conception, they have deluded themselves by their estimate of the sun, in the same manner as they have done in their estimate of the sea. In order to cope with the element of divine justice, they have brought down their views of that justice to their own standard of imperfect obedience; so, in order to countenance their misapprehended intrinsic participation in the perfection of the Sun of righteousness, they have brought down that perfection in an equal degree to the standard of their own imperfect moral attainments. The test being administered, the truth is exhibited, that this righteousness of the spiritual Sun is a perfect righteousness, that there is nothing in human attainments at all corresponding with it. The murky exhalations from the earth are chased away ; the infinite difference between the righteousness required and the imperfect righteousness of man is exhibited. Human pretensions to perfection, like plants without root, are scorched and withered away.
The Sun of righteousness, (the Lord our righteousness,) rises with healing in his wings, to the humble disciple looking to the protection of that imputed righteousness, which, like the wings of the parent bird, are as a shield and buckler to those trusting under their shadow. But to those trusting in a righteousness of their own, although they may esteem or term it an imparted righteousness, the manifestation of the character of this Sun must be as the coming of the day which shall burn as an oven, when all these pretensions of human pride and self-dependence shall be as stubble; for the day that cometh shall burn them up, leaving them neither root nor branch, (Mal. iv. 1.) Corresponding with this imagery, both of the prophet and of the apostle, we suppose the administration of the fourth test 10 be the means of dissipating this fourth error pervading the earthly system. As the preceding delusion was one concerning the doctrine of the atonement, so the present may be said to be one concerning the doctrine of justification.
$362. “And men were scorched,' &c.-We are to bear in mind that this term men is to be considered throughout the Apocalypse as a figurative appellation of doctrinal principles, dependent upon the earthly system.These principles are described as exposed to a trial corresponding with that of the fire spoken of by Paul, 1 Cor. iii. 13, which is to try every man's work. The subject of the Apocalypse is a development of truths to be made manisest in this life—something distinct from the particulars of a future state of rewards and punishments, which are to be made known only in another state of existence. We cannot suppose it to be the intention of this book to show that these rewards and punishments are to be administered in this life ; which would be the case if we were to understand the action of these vials in a literal sense, and the men spoken of as literally human beings.
And blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues.'—Blasphemy against God we have already noticed as a pretension tending to place one's self upon an equality with God, ($ 303.) This trial by heat, or this action of the sun, causes the blasphemous character of the pretensions in contemplation to appear—the blasphemy being a consequence of the scorching. The tendency of any doctrinal principle to rob God's ame of the glory due in the work of salvation, may be considered blasphe
To maintain the doctrine that the disciple, by a certain infusion of righteousness, or perfection, becomes righteous or perfect as God is righteous or perfect, is something of this blasphemous tendency. A just exhibition of the action of the Sun of righteousness in justifying the sinner by imputed rightpousness (not by imparted or infused righteousness,) while it scorches or dries P the false pretensions adverted to, tends to show also their real character.
The name of God, we suppose to have particular reference to his great, his mystic name—Jehovah our righteousness, or the Lord our righteous
The blasphemy of this name must consist in something opposed to its exaltation above every other name that is named-something, in fine, showing the righteousness of the creature to be equal with that of the Creator, and consequently denying this name of God (the Lord our righteousness) to be of the glorious and sovereign character represented in the Scriptures. Here we may say the manifestation of the Sun of righteousness, in his unclouded majesty, has the power of exhibiting the folly and wickedness of the earthly pretensions designated as the men.
Which hath power over these plagues; '—according to the Greek the men spoken of blasphemed the name of the God having power over these plagues. The plagues are tests calculated to detect the falsehood and wickedness of the pretensions to which they are applied ;—God has power to withhold these tests, and to delay their application ; but, what is more, he has power, in the exercise of his grace as a sovereign, to forgive and to purge away even the iniquity of these false pretensions. These men, in the hardness of their hearts, instead of humbling themselves before him who has this power over the instrument, appear to be excited only to blasphemy by the tortures they undergo ;—as if the sinner, when convinced of his transgressions, and awakened to a view of the coming wrath, should blaspheme the God he had offended, instead of seeking to obtain his mercy
· And repented not to give him glory.'—The word translated repented, peterónour, is applicable to a change of mind, or a change of views, and, especially in Scripture, to that mental change which constitutes a conviction of sin, of unworthiness, and of the need of mercy. This figure, with the preceding, appropriately exhibits the unchangeableness of the false principles in contemplation ; especially in respect to the glory to be ascribed to God as the God of salvation. It is not in the nature, we may say, of the elements of self-righteousness, to change in this respect; their tendency is to ascribe that glory to the redeemed which belongs solely to the Redeemer. *
* The action of this fourth vial corresponds with that of the fourth trumpet, the development being the same in kind, but differing in degree. Darkness was then the result; the plague was negative; the rays of the sun were not then perceived: here on the contrary they are perceived, and act in a destructive manner upon the objects against which they are directed. So at the opening of the sixth seal, the sun became black as sackcloth of hair ; its light was not exhibited—its plague was negative only. To the convinced sinner, ignorant of the gospel plan, the Sun of righteousness affords no ray of light; but to the self-righteous, who rejects the offer of salvation by imputed righteousness, who goes about to establish a righteousness of his own, the same Sun may be said to be manifested as a fire that is to try his every work.
Vs. 10,11. And the fifth angel poured out Και ο πέμπτος εξέχεε την φιάλην αυτού his vial upon the seat of the beast ; and επί των θρόνον του θηρίου και εγένετο η his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues Tor pain, and βασιλεία αυτού εσκοτωμένη, και έμασσωντο blasphemed the God of heaven, because tis yavisous ujtùy év toŬ nóvov, zui 83of their pains and their sores, and repent- λασφήμησαν τον θεόν του ουρανού εκ των ed not of their deeds.
πόνων αυτών και εκ των ελκών αυτών, και
ου μετενόησαν εκ των έργων αυτών. § 363. “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat (throne) of the beast.–Our common version renders the word pórov bere, by a word which does not give a full idea of the meaning. The beast, as appears from the account before given of him, assumes all the attributes of sovereignty ;-with these he has a throne, and this throne is that given him by the dragon, or accuser, (Rev. xiii. 2.) The throne is that which exhibits the individual occupying it as a sovereign. As such, we suppose throne of the beast to be that principle which places self in the light of a sovereign. The test, the vial of wrath, being brought to act upon this principle, shows the kingdom peculiar to such a principle of sovereign power to be a kingdom of darkness.
The beast derives his pretensions to sovereignty from the accuser, and the accuser's power depends upon the false assumption, that the law still remains to be fulfilled by the disciple, (s 297.) This false assumption, therefore, we may consider the principle of sovereignty in question—the throne of the beast-for if man be not amenable to the law the power of the accuser ceases, and the beast no longer enjoys the possession of a throne ;—so the claims of the self-righteous errorist to the glory of his own salvation, can be sustained only upon this supposition of the continuance of the legal economy.
God's throne is a throne of grace, Heb. iv. 16; and grace is the opposite of works—so the throne of the beast, as the opposite of that of God, may be denominated a throne of works. The principle upon which God exhibits his sovereignty, is that of giving freely-giving where there is no claim of merit. The principle of the beast's claim to sovereignty, on the contrary, is that of enjoying even eternal life as a right-a reward of merita matter of wages. Against this principle a true and just exhibition of the wrath of God is brought to bear ;-love to God, as the motive of every action, is shown to be an indispensable requisite of the law; and the absence of this motive is proved to be an overt transgression of the law. The subject of the law is thus demonstrated in all things to have come short of his duty. The existence of the element of righteousness, or merit, is proved to be wholly incompatible with the reign of the beast, (self,) and consequently