« AnteriorContinuar »
is it that the Lamb has to contend ? What is it that the Lamb overcomes ? The allusion is indisputably to Christ in his propitiatory character, as “ The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John i. 29.) The war or contest must be between the power of propitiation on the one side, and the power or requisitions of the law on the other. The ten horns, or ten kings, represent the exactions of the law, which, so far as the inner is concerned, are requisitions of vindictive justice, calling for the condemnation and punishment of the offender. The law, in the first instance, exacts perfect obedience; this exaction not having been complied with, the legal call is for vengeance upon every soul of man that doeth evil. Here the mercy of God is exhibited, not in changing the nature of the law, or in relaxing the claims of divine justice, but in providing an adequate satisfaction for these claims-fulblling the commandments of the law by substitution; a vicarious fulfilment equal to an atonement for the past, and a provision for the future. The propitiatory and justificatory elements of the plan of redemption being all represented in the person of the Lamb of God, as the opposite legal elements are represented in the persons of the ten kings, or in the combined power of the ten horns of the beast.
Here then we have, in the exhibition of a contest on earth, a figure parallel with that before represented as a war in heaven-Michael and his angels fighting against the accuser and his angels, (3 279.) The field of battle, in which these ten kings ventured to meet the Lamb, is the wilderness; an earthly field ; an exhibition of transactions on the earth, while the other was a representation of something going on in heaven, equivalent to a delineation of the operations of the divine mind, in that process in which mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness (justice) and peace are reconciled. The contest on earth represents the gradual development of the same issue between the same conflicting elements, and the same final result. These are not two wars, but two representations of the same war; the question at issue being not merely whether man shall be saved or lost, but also whether, if saved, the glory shall redound to God, the deliverer, or to the redeemed sinner, the helpless object of divine mercy. Christ and his forces (the principle of divine propitiation and the elements of evangelical truth) contend for the glory of GOD, and the exaltation of his name alone; the principles of legality warring on behalf of self, as the horns of the beast aim only at promoting the glory and exalting the name of man.
· The Lamb shall overcome them,' &c.—As Michael, the representative of the gracious power of divine Sovereignty, overcame the dragon, (the representative of the condemning power of legal accusation,) so the element of propitiation, the offspring of that divine Sovereignty, overcomes the condemning power of those legal elements upon the action of which the beast
(self,) depends for his claim to sovereignty, and for the blasphemous promotion of his glory.
The Lamb overcame these ten kings when He who knew no sin became, as the apostle says, (2 Cor. iii. 9,) sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. As Jesus himself said to his disciples, (John xvi. 33,) “In the world (in your position by nature under the law and dependent upon your own merits) ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” To which we may add, as an explanation, the language of Paul, Rom. vi. 14, “ Ye are no longer under the law, but under grace.” So when the same apostle, labouring under a deep sense of humiliation, apparently occasioned by some besetting sin, earnestly prayed for deliverance, the answer he received was not a removal of this thorn in the flesh, but the assurance of a counteracting remedy: “My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Cor. xi. 9;) the greatness of the power of Christ to save being manifested by the weakness of the sinner, in whose behalf that power is exercised, as sovereign grace alone is sufficient to counteract the liability to condemnation to which the transgressor is subjected. “The law entered that the offence might abound, (that sin might be manifested to be exceeding sinful ;) but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom. v. 20, 21.) Such is the nature of the contest between the Lamb and the ten kings, and such the manner in which they are overcome.
$395. “For he is Lord of lords and King of kings.'—He, the Lamb, (God, once manifest in the flesh,) is supreme; as in fact nothing but sovereign supremacy can control and overcome the requisitions of sovereign justice. Christ overcomes even the power of the divine law, because it is God himself who performs the wondrous work, (2 Cor. v. 19.)
· He is King of kings,' &c., or Chief of chiefs—not merely supreme over temporal dignitaries or political chiefs, but over all principles or elements, whether in a spiritual or temporal sense. The righteousness of Christ is sufficient to fulfil the law in behalf of man, because it is the righteousness of God himself; wherefore it is said, he shall be called Jehovah our righteousness. The vicarious arrangement above contemplated is effectual, because it is the arrangement of the Sovereign Ruler, who virtually takes upon himself the penal consequences of the redeemed sinner's guilt, that He may impart to that sinner the merit of his own righteousness; the revelation of the mystery being adapted to the comprehension of the feeble intellect of man by the work of Christ on earth—the work of him who was the express image of the Father, and the brightness of his glory.
To assert the supremacy of the Lamb (God manifest in the flesh) over the kings of the earth, in the ordinary sense, would appear the proposition of a mere truism. We cannot suppose this to be the design of a mystic revelation like that under consideration ; but when we apply this supremacy of Christ to legal and even to moral principles, as we have done, then indeed we perceive something like the development of a mystery-a bidden mystery.
A case in point may illustrate the nature of the supremacy we have in view. The law required the strict observance of the Sabbath ; so strict as not even to allow the gathering of manna on that day ; so strict as to call for the death of him who was found gathering sticks on that day : yet Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck the ears of wheat on the Sabbath, and to prepare the grain for eating, by rubbing it in their hands. The disciples were accused of doing that which was not lawful. This point was not controverted by Jesus. He took higher ground: "The Son of man,” said he, “is Lord (master) of the Sabbath,” Luke vi. 1-5. God instituted the Sabbath, and God alone can be said to be Lord or master of it. Jesus, therefore, as God manifest in the flesh, here asserted his prerogative. As he made the law originally, so he was master of it, to modify or even to dispense with it. In like manner, he is Chief of chiess and Master of masters of the elements of law, as well as of all the elements of nature ; and it is for this reason that his propitiatory satisfaction of the law is adequate to the requisition.
* And they that are with him (are) called, and chosen, and faithful.”—The verb are is supplied in our common version, and the Latin version of G. and L. supplies the pronoun qui, (who.) We might perhaps with equal propriety supply both, and read the clause, For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and those with him, who are called both chosen and faithful_alluding to the true sayings of God, Rev. xix. 9, and xxii. 6; and to the true and faithful words (oi 2.6you noroi xai ianOwoi) spoken of Rev. xxi. 5. The terms translated called and chosen, occur nowhere else in the Apocalypse. We suppose all these epithets to apply to elements of the plan of salvation by grace_elements of Gospel truth—probably the same as the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed ones seen with the Lamb on the Mourt Zion, and supposed to accompany him throughout the circumstances here narrated; the element of propitiation (the Lamb,) together with all the other elements of the divine plan of salvation, maintaining a predominance over the legal principles represented by these ten kings. Christ has laboured, and his ransomed followers enter into his labours. His disciples are the beneficiaries for whom the battle has been fought; they have not been sharers in the contest, nor can they claim any part of the glory or sovereignty resulting from the victory, except it be by imputation. All the elements of divine goodness, led on by the chief element, (a divine atonement,) have been engaged in manifesting the work of man's redemption-man bimself is but the sinner saved.
V. 15. And he saith unto me, The wa- Και λέγει μοι· τα υδατα και είδες, ού η ters which thou sawest, where the whore πόρνη κάθηται, λαοί και όχλοι εισί και sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
έθνη και γλώσσαι. . $ 396. “And he saith unto me,' &c.—In making the explanatory relation occupying the last five verses, the angel appears as if led away from his original design of showing the mystery of the woman, and he now goes back to resume the thread of his narration where he left it, in the ninth verse. The harlot was then spoken of as sitting upon seven mountains, and now the reader or the apostle is reminded that this site is identic with that of the many waters upon wbich she was said to sit at the commencement of the chapter.
We have already spoken of these waters as symbolic of professed means of atonement peculiar to the earthly system ; these professed means, when classed under seven heads, appearing as seven foundations, (mountains,) upon which a mixed system of salvation may be supposed to rest, and the same means figuratively spoken of as waters of the earth, in allusion to the rivers of the ancient empire of Babylon, being equally symbolized by peoples, multitudes, &c., as pseudo powers of salvation belonging to the earthly system; these last appellations (peoples, nations, &c.) being as much terms of vision and as figurative as the waters, horns, mountains, or kings. The sitting of the harlot upon these peoples, nations, &c., may represent the support furnished to the mixed system by these false foundations, and the reciprocal influence of this mixed system upon the earthly principles sustaining it. an influence already alluded to as producing the insanity by which all participants of the cup of Babylon are characterized. These nations, however, as well as the kings just noticed, are to be overcome by him who is Lord of lords, who is to rule them as with a rod of iron. So, likewise, the time also is to come when the mountain of the Lord's house is to be established on the tops of the mountains, when these seven foundations upon which the woman sitteth will appear in their proper subordinate light, or, like the old earth, will have passed away.
This variety of illustration we do not suppose to be unnecessary or merely ornamental: no doubt each of the figures afford illustrations peculiar 10 themselves, none of them being so redundant as to be spared without prejudice to the completeness of the revelation.
Vs. 16, 17. And the ten horns which Και τα δέκα κέρατα, και είδες, και το θηthou sawest upon the beast, these shall giov, oŭrol uigi Covoi tiv nógrov, xai non
hate the whore, and shall make her des0- μωμένην ποιήσουσιν αυτήν και γυμνήν, και late and naked, and shall eat her fesh, τας σάρκας αυτής φάγονται, και αυτήν καand burn her with fire. For God hath taxatoovoiy év nupi. ʻO yug frós idm) XEV put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and το agree, and give their kingdom unto the εις τας καρδίας αυτών, ποιήσαι την γνώμην beast, until the words of God shall be ful- αυτού, και ποιήσαι γνώμην μίαν, και δούναι filled.
την βασιλείαν αυτών τω θηρίω, άχρι τελεσ
θήσονται οι λόγοι του θεού. . $397. “And the ten horns,' &c.—These horns or powers are those just now declared to be ten kings, but the figure is again changed or brought back to its original character, to adapt it to the particular illustration about to be made. Not only so, with the license of vision these horns are represented as themselves carnivorous animals, and also as animals or persons capable of the passion of hatred, as well as of exercising a certain degree of reason and intelligence.
· These shall hate,' &c.—The verb is the same as that employed in speaking of the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, (Rev. ii. 6.) We suppose the hatred to be of a like character in both cases : the first indeed is spoken of as the hatred of God, and the last as that of the ten horns; but then the reason assigned for this hatred of the horns is, that God has put it into their hearts to do bis will. The horns hate because God hath caused them to hate. We have supposed the Nicolaitan system to be a mixture of pretended faith in Christ, and of real dependence upon one's own righteousness; and the system of the harlot to be the same species of mixture. The ten horns represent the law: the law is as much opposed to a mixed system as the element of sovereign grace is opposed to it. The tendency of the law (unlawfully used) is to establish the dominion of self; the law recognizes no middle course: whoever fulfils the law, must do it altogether for himself. If a man fulfil the law entirely for himself, the glory is entirely his, and he is independent of God. Thus, the requisitions of the law, if limited in their action to man's fulólment, act on the side of self. Self, in pursuit of vainglory, in its efforts to maintain the independence of man, may give birth to a mixed system, originate and sustain such a system, but the law in the nature of the case is opposed to every modified plan of this kind ;—every one of its requisitions must be obeyed, and this exactly. The law hates the harlot system, because, on the principle of law, there can be no division of glory. God hates the harlot system, or the Nicolaitan system, because, on the principle of grace, He will not divide his glory with another. Thus the principles of the law and the gospel are equally opposed to a plan of salvation of the character of an amalgamation.
* And shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.' -Here are four several illustrations of the action of these horns, all of them resulting as we apprehend in the one action of the law