« AnteriorContinuar »
* And the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk,' &c.—The inhabitants, οι κατοικούντες την γην–those against whom the three woes were denounced, (Rev. viji. 13 ;) the dwellers upon the earth, whose names are not written in the book of life, as explained in the eighth verse of this chapter; those that are to be tried in the hour of trial, mentioned Rev. iii. 10; those upon whom the blood of the souls under the altar was to be avenged, (Rev. vi. 10 ;) those that were tormented by the two witnesses or prophets, and rejoiced over their dead bodies, (Rev. xi. 10;) those against whom the accuser came down, (Rev. xii. 12 ;) those that worshipped the beast, and that were deluded by the false prophet into making an image to the beast, (Rev. xiii. 12 and 14 ;) those concerning whom the everlasting gospel was to be preached, (Rev. xiv. 6 ;) and finally, those constituting the host of the defeated armies whose flesh was given to the fowls, (Rev. xix. 21.) These apocalyptic inhabitants of the earth, we suppose, like the kings reigning over them, to be principles or elements of the earthly system; all destined to destruction either prior to, or simultaneously with, the passing away of the first earth. We suppose, also, these inhabitants of the earth to be identic with the men not having the seal of God in their foreheads, (Rev. ix. 4, 10 ;) the men sealed representing elements taken out of the mass of earthly principles. So when it is said, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them,” we are to notice that this, as in the case of the kings, is subsequent to the passing away of the old earth. These men are the men of the new earth, or the sealed ones of the old earth transferred to a true position ; corresponding with the change experienced by those who came out of great tribulation;" and of whom it is said, he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them, (Rev. vii. 14, 15.)
The term inhabiters of the earth, or dwellers upon the earth, or they that dwell upon the earth, does not occur in the Apocalypse subsequent to the close of this chapter ; which confirms us in the supposition that this class of elements is supposed to be involved in the destruction of Babylon, or in that of the great battle before alluded to. The sealed ones taken from among men, are not termed dwellers upon or inhabiters of the earth, because they are in the light of those who have here no continuing city: they are strangers and pilgrims ; they may be men, but they do not depend upon the earth for a dwelling or a tabernacle, or a shelter from the wrath to come.
These inhabitants of the earth are spoken of as having been made drunk with the wine of the harlot; or rather, as it should be expressed, having become drunken, (inebriati sunt, Leusden and Beza.) The term does not necessarily imply a state of insensibility ; it signifies either extreme satiety, or that state of intoxication which may be said to be akin to insanity. The intoxicated individual, unable to distinguish between a friend or foe, attacks with equal hostility every object coming in his way; so these principles of the earthly system, under the influence of the wine of the harlot, become elements of destruction or perversion to all connected with them.
The wine possessing this intoxicating quality, we have already supposed to be the opposite of the wine of the marriage seast, ($ 332)—the good wine reserved for the last manifestation—the new wine to be participated in by the followers of Jesus in his Father's kingdom ; not new as compared with old, which is said to be better, (Luke v. 39,) but wine of a new kind — the water of purification (the atonement of Jesus) becoming the element of eternal enjoyment, making glad the heart of man throughout eternity, (Ps. civ. 15.) The wine of the harlot's fornication, on the contrary, we suppose to represent a false means of atonement; a mixture, a propitiation, partly of the atonement of Christ, and partly of some supposed propitiatory acts or qualities of the disciple. The elements of the earthly system, influenced by these mixed views in relation to the doctrine of atonement, are like men berest of reason ; or, if we confine our notion of this drunkenness to extreme satiety, we may say these elements are so overcharged with the false views of atonement in contemplation, that it is not possible for them to admit any portion of the peculiar truths pertaining to this subject.
Drunkenness deludes the unhappy victim into a persuasion that he is pursuing a course of enjoyment, when he is actually destroying himself; so the false economy of salvation proffers a pretended means of atonement, promising eternal happiness, by which those adopting them fall into the dangerous error thus depicted ; as it is said, Is. xxviii. 7, “But they also have erred through wine and strong drink ; they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” A similar allusion may be contemplated in what is said of the drunkards of Ephraim, Is. xxviii. 1-4, and other like passages of the prophets.
V. 3. So he carried me away in the Και απήνεγκε με εις έρημον εν πνεύματι spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a και είδον γυναίκα καθημένην επί θηρίον woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast,
κόκκινον, γέμoν ονομάτων βλασφημίας, έχον full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
κεφαλάς επτα και κέρατα δέκα. . $ 383. “So he carried me away in the spirit ;' or, according to the Greek, in spirit; enabling the apostle to see the thing represented in its proper spiritual sense, (§ 24.)
• Into the wilderness.'— The apostle was not literally taken into a wilderness, but in a spiritual sense he occupied a position analogous to that of being in a wilderness. It is only in such a spiritual wilderness that the system represented by the harlot can be seen or can appear in its full power.
A wilderness is the opposite of a city; it is a place without enclosures,
without walls or defences, without dwelling-places or shelters, and where there is at least a sparsity of the means of subsistence. A desert of this kind represents a position devoid of any means of salvation. To be out of Christ, is to be in a wilderness; but all who are out of Christ do not perceive themselves to be in this position. The subjects of the harlot are not supposed to be aware that they are in a wilderness; they fancy themselves in a position of security, abundantly provided even for eternity. The eyes of the apostle were opened; he perceived the real character of the position into which as a spectator he was introduced.
And I saw a woman.'—This is the first distinct mention we have of a woman of a different character, and in different circumstances from those of the woman seen in heaven, (Rev. xii. 1,) unless we go back to what is said of Jezebel, Rev. ii. 20. The position of this woman in a wilderness is certainly an opposite to that of the woman in heaven ; and if we suppose this woman to represent a pseudo-covenant, or a dispensation the opposite of the economy of grace, we may consider her also in the light of a false prophetess, or a false interpretation of the divine will, ($ 69,) nearly identic with that woman Jezebel.
• Sitting upon a scarlet-coloured beast.'— This also may be contemplated as the opposite of “a woman clothed with the sun,” or having a position in the sun, resplendent with the rays of that dispenser of light. The colour of this beast we may take to represent that of blood : it is not the fiery red of the accuser, indicative of his trying as well as of his vindictive qualities, but it is the colour of the element representing the penalty of sin, and symbolizing a power derived from the continued action of the law. There is nothing said here of the spotted appearance of the leopard, or of the mouth of the lion, or of the feet of the bear; but as this beast is represented to be full of the names of blasphemy, and to have seven heads and ten horns, like the beast seen rising from the sea, we suppose the two animals to be identic ; certain characteristics only appearing more prominently on one occasion than on the other. The scarlet colour of the beast here, however, may be a figure equivalent to that of his appearing to rise from the sea, (the element of wrath,) when before seen ;-so, full of the names of blasphemy, cannot be otherwise than equivalent to having the name of blasphemy upon his seven heads. Being the same beast, we are of course to understand that he possesses the power, seat, and great authority of the dragon or accuser; the power of the beast depending upon that of the accuser, and the weapons of both consisting in the requisitions of the law, (their ten horns,) or rather in the power of the law as a whole ; corresponding with the analysis we have already suggested of these heads and horns, ($ 294.)
The position of the woman sitting on the beast, we suppose to be figurative of the dependence of the false economy, of which she is a figure, upon
the blasphemous element of self, with its peculiar attributes. The woman depending upon the beast, and not the beast upon the woman, as in the order of the Apocalypse, we find her the first to be destroyed.
We have already ($ 277) noticed the peculiarity, that the woman bearing the man-child fled to the wilderness where the harlot was in full power, and have adverted to the difference in the circumstances of these symbolical females: the one being in the wilderness in a state of seclusion; the other in the pride of her vainglory, arrayed in all the trappings of royalty, and sustained by the imposing appearance of an extraordinary power.
It is in a wilderness that the authority of the accuser may be said to be undisputed, as it was in a wilderness that Sinai might be said to have reigned alone. It is in the wilderness that a semi-legal system of selfrighteousness appears to be the great power of God. At the same time, it is in a spiritual wilderness that the disciple, when his eyes are opened to a view of his state of destitution by nature, is led to feel his need of divine mercy, and is constrained to accept the gracious provision offered him by the gospel. So it was in the wilderness that even the wayward children of Israel were constrained to cry unto the Lord for the supplies indispensable to the preservation of life. It was in the desert in their distress that he gave them water from the rock, and the bread of heaven; and this even when their own grovelling inclinations prompted them to prefer the flesh-pots of Egypt. It was in the wilderness that fiery serpents had power to torture and to destroy them; but it was also in the same wilderness that the healing power—the symbol of the Saviour—was lifted up, that all who looked to it might be saved. The same wilderness, therefore, in which the power of the accuser appears undisputed, in which the unclean element of self may for a time appear exalted, and in which the false covenant or economy appears to be sustained by all the power of the law, is eventually the means of bringing the disciple to a knowledge of the rich inheritance provided in the merits of Christ. So the barren desert of Sinai was to the Israelite the way to the land of promise.
Vs. 4, 5. And the woman was arrayed Και η γυνή ήν περιβεβλημένη πορφυρούν in purple and scarlet-colour, and decked και κόκκινον και κεχρισμένη κρισία και with old and precious stones and rearls, λίθω τιμίω και μαργαρίταις, έχουσα ποτήhaving in abominations and filthiness of her forni- ριον χρισούν εν τη χειρί αυτής γέμoν βδεcation: and upon her forehead (wns) a λυγμάτων, και τα ακάθαρτα της πορνείας name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON αιτης, και επί το μέτωπον αυτής όνομα THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS γεγραμμένον· μυστήριον: Βαβυλών ή με
γάλη, ή μήτηρ των πορνών και των βδελυγOF THE EARTH.
μάτων της γης. .
$384. “And the woman was arrayed,' &c.—Purple has been almost in all ages a colour peculiarly appropriate to the exhibition of regal or imperial power. The kings of Midian in the time of Gideon wore a raiment of purple, (Judges viii. 26.)-Jesus was clothed in a purple robe, in mockery of what was supposed to be his pretensions to an earthly sovereignty; and to take the purple has been in later times a common expression for the assumption of supreme political power. The scarlet colour of this woman's array (criinson, xóuxıxos) is the same as the colour of the beast ; its figurative indication being probably also the same. The despotic as well as the sanguinary character of the system represented by the woman are thus symbolized by these elements of her dress—a dress furnishing a striking contrast to the fine linen, clean and white, of the wife of the Lamb, (Rev. xix. 8,) and directing our attention to the opposite means of salvation, or to the opposite righteousnesses of the two economies thus illustrated. It is also worthy of remark that the colours of this woman's dress very nearly correspond with those of the ten curtains of the tabernacle in the wilderness, (Ex. xxvi. 1,) blue and purple and scarlet; all of them corresponding with different appearances of the blood, as it shows itself in the veins and arteries of the living human subject; indicating that, as under the legal dispensation there was no purification without blood, so the shelter or tabernacle of the first covenant was one in its nature exacting something equal to the forfeiture of the eternal life of the transgressor. This seems sufficient to point out the legal tendency of the system of Babylon; although, it is true, a clothing of purple and scarlet may be taken merely as a figure of earthly wealth, or of the ostentatious display of self-dependence; as it was said of certain idols, Jer. x. 9, “ blue and purple is their clothing," or of the rich man, whose position furnishes so striking a contrast to that of the beggar laid at his gate, that he “was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.”
· And decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.'—It is said immediately in connection with the predicted destruction of the earthly system, Is. xii. 12, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold ; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” In allusion to which, it is also said of Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 7, “ To you therefore that believe, he is precious.” To be in Christ, enjoying the attribute of his righteousness, is to be in the truth, (John xvii. 23 ;) and thus to be in him is to be decked indeed with fine and pure gold. This gold of the harlot, however, is of a different material : it is what she claims to be her gold—it is neither pure, nor fine, nor tried in the fire. It is like the metallic representative of wealth of the rich men spoken of by the apostle James, which he denominates their gold and their silver. So we may say of these precious stones and pearls of the harlot, they are her gems and her pearls : far different in their real value from the one stone spoken of as elect, precious, 1 Pet. ii. 6, and the pearl of great price—the true ransom of the soul, (the atonement of Jesus,) for which the disciple is ready to give up every claim of merit of his own.