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instrument of the never-ending torture of those that worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in the forehead or in the hand; and with this preparation we may identify the lake here spoken of. We have already defined our idea of the action of fire, in the apocalyptic sense, in trying the truth or falsehood of elements of doctrine ; and have given our reasons for supposing brimstone or sulphur, when spoken of in connection with fire, to indicate the eternal and perpetual action of this trial. On the present occasion, immediately upon the signal defeat of a great army, a lake of fire and brimstone is more in keeping with the whole figure than a furnace would be, and it may be for this reason that the term lake is here adopted. A lake or pond signifying a large stagnant body of liquid, such a body of fire and sulphur is equivalent as a figure to an immense furnace of unquenchable fire—a refiner's fire unceasingly and eternally in action ;a fire representing, we apprehend, the continual test of the revealed word of God (the law and the testimony) rightly understood. To such a test the errors represented by the beast and false prophet are to be perpetually exposed, after having been once detected and overcome, through the instrumentality of the revelation implied in this action of the sword proceeding out of the mouth of the Word of God. In fine, we suppose the “lake of fire and brimstone” to be identic with the fire which is to try every man's work ; a figure to which we have repeatedly had occasion to advert. Whatever this lake be, it must be something into which the element represented by the beast with seven heads and ten horns, and that represented by the false prophet or beast with two horns, as well as death and hell, (Rev. xx. 14,) are capable of being cast : of course, we cannot but suppose it to be something else than that which is ordinarily understood as the place of future punishment in the usual sense of the term.
$ 441. “And the remnant were slain [killed) with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which (sword) proceeded out of his mouth.'—There is a peculiar exactness of expression here, as if intended to guard against the possibility of misconception. The instrument of destruction is particularly designated as the sword, which came out of the mouth, in 2.3o1on ix ton oróucros. Had this not been specified, it might have been surmised that the conqueror had some other sword besides the one thus mentioned. A sword in his hand might have implied a different kind of destruction from that here in contemplation ; but we are now expressly restricted in our ideas of this sword to the action of an oral weapon ; that is, to the effect of a divine revelation-a peculiar exhibition of truth. This remnant, therefore, whatever it be, must be something destructible by such a weapon ; it must also consist, of course, of the kings of the earth and their armies, their captains and their mighty men, with all their forces, from the highest officer to the meanest camp follower. There seems to be no exception; all are destroyed, not by the sword of man, or by a weapon wielded by human power or might, but by an emanation of divine wisdom -a manifestation of the word or purpose of God, bearing with it the evidence of the work of propitiation and justification of Him who has trodden alone the wine-press of divine wrath ; and who, even in doing so, has manifested himself to be King of kings and Lord of lords—Jehovah our righteousness ;—the element of perfect infinite sovereignty, and the source of sovereign grace.
And all the fowls were filled with their flesh ;' or, with their feshes.The term translated filled is one applicable to the feeding or foddering of cattle; it does not necessarily imply satiety. These pretended righteousnesses or means of justification, are not to be presumed to be enough, and more than enough to satisfy the legal elements; on the contrary, the birds here alluded to may be considered still the same ravenous animals as before their feast. Something like this seems to be in contemplation in the prophecy of Ezekiel, of which this battle of Armageddon may be a fulfilment : “ And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God, Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves and come, gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice, that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And
ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God," Ezek. xxxix. 17-20.
The feathered fowl, or rather, the winged or flying fowl of Ezekiel, as distinguished from domestic birds, may be presumed to represent the same legal elements as those symbolized by the birds flying in the mid-heaven of the Apocalypse. The only sacrifice, strictly speaking, adequate to the satisfaction of these legal elements, is the great sacrifice offered once for all in Christ Jesus. There may be some question whether the prophet alludes to the evidence of the sufficiency of this great sacrifice; or to what we may term the preliminary evidence of the insufficiency of all human means of propitiation. It would not be here the place for a discussion of this point ; but there can be no hesitation in ascribing to the flesh and blood alluded to in the prophecy, the same symbolical character as that imputed to the flesh of the armies of the kings of the earth ; the doubt being only whether Ezekiel refers to real or to pretended merits.*
* There is a similar use of the figure (flesh) ultimately in view, we apprehend, in the propher's vision of dry bones, Ezek. xxxvii. 1-9. When we look at man in his position under the law, entirely without a merit of his own, the question unavoidably We are thus brought to a conclusion of the bistory of the beast and of the false prophet, with their forces; but some further details of the result of this great contest are to be found in the three first verses of the next chapter ; on which account, the division of the chapters in this place appears to have been injudicious. The allied forces just defeated, were called together by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The final destruction of the two last we have learned: they are cast alive into a lake of unquenchable fire. As alive, the evil disposition and tendency of these two elements may remain for ever in action ; but being cast alive unto a lake or furnace of sulphureous flames, ($ 440,) the fiery trial to which they are exposed must be equally eternal. These errors may be said to remain in existence, but they are so under the continual and perpetual counteracting influence of the trying element destined for ever to manifest their fallacy. The subordinate auxiliary principles of error can hardly be said to remain ; their
pretensions are entirely consumed ; and if there be any evidence of their former existence, it is only such as is afforded by the whitened bones of slaughtered armies which have been bleaching for ages on the field, once the scene of bloody contention. We naturally ask, however, what becomes of the third party to this unholy conspiracy, and for a reply to our inquiries, are obliged to wait the developments of another chapter.
$442. The first part of this chapter should have been set off separately, as describing a choral scene having both a retrospective and a prospective allusion. Retrospective, as regards the destruction of the harlot city or system ; and prospective, as relates to the result of the important conflicts detailed in the subsequent narrative : results presumed to have been contemplated by the chorus, especially in the ascriptions of praise to Jehovah, on account of his sovereignty; for this sovereignty could hardly be said to be manifested while two rebellious armies remained unconquered. Time, however, is not to be taken into consideration ; and accordingly, the events
occurs, Can these dry bones live? Can one so utterly destitute of merit or righteousness have any hope of eternal life?
When we contemplate the same being adopted of God, and clothed with the imputed merits of the Son of God, or, which is the same thing, with the imputed righteousness of God himself, we discern the possibility of giving life (eternal life) to that which was entirely dead by nature. The sinner being raised to a new position of life by an operation of sovereign grace, bone comes to its bone, the strength of divine merit is substituted for the weakness of the man; and the covering of divine imputed perfection substituted for man's unworthiness, in like manner clothes these dry bones with Alesh.
hereafter detailed are to be viewed as occurring simultaneously with the destruction of Babylon.
The order of development may require an exhibition of the fallacy of the system of error before its opposite truth can be unfolded. For this reason, 'perhaps, no hint is given in the Apocalypse of the existence of the bride or Lamb's wife, until the final destruction of the harlot has been announced ; as if this event were a necessary prelude to the manifestation of the union of the Lamb with his betrothed. It may, indeed, be considered an essential part of the preparation for the appearance of the bride, as at a marriage feast.
Having been brought to this point, (the preparation for the bridal feast,) the thread of the narrative is broken off as far as it pertains to this figure, and we are taken back to that portion of the narration in which an account is given of the counter-preparations made by the beast and kings of the earth to oppose the will of the Most High, in this same manifestation of truth. Here we have the opportunity of knowing more of the character of these hostile powers, and of the nature of their opposition, by the description given of the champion destined to overcome them.
There can be no doubt of the identity of the Lamb of God with the Word of God, but there appears to be a peculiar meaning in the manner in which the same divine power is spoken of under different appellations, according as it is brought to act against different objects. The Lamb is represented to be the antagonist of the ten horns, (legal elements ;) while the Word is the opponent of the beast, (the spirit of error,) with his auxiliaries. The chief weapon of the Word, (the interpreter of his will,) is the sharp sword out of his mouth—the sword of the Spirit; the chief agent of the beast is the false prophet, (the two-horned beast like a lamb ;)—the difference between these two instruments corresponding with that between a spiritual or true construction of divine revelation, and a carnal or false interpretation of it. The Word of God exhibits his vesture dipped in blood, and appeals to the work of atonement to which his garments bear testimony; the beast may be supposed to appeal to the image of himself, (self-righteousness,) fabricated at the instance of the false prophet. The Word displays his multitude of diadems, and urges the claims of divine sovereignty ; the beast relies upon the power of his ten horns, and points to the diadems with which they are crowned, as the argument for their supremacy. The Word is sustained by the white horse, (his own perfect righteousness ;) the beast has no support but his vain pretensions, his leopard skin, his bear's feet, and his lion's mouth. The Word, in its manifestation, is attended by an exhibition of the elements of divine perfection; the beast summons to his aid all that earth can furnish of pretended human merit. The Word bears upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, the all-powerful name of King of
kings, Jehovah of hosts; the beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, and against his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell therein. The result of the collision is known ; the beast and the false prophet are taken and cast alive into the lake of unquenchable fire.
It is plain that this contest between the Word of God and the beast must be something different from that necessarily taking place between the elements of the law (divine justice) on the one side, and the element of propitiation (the Lamb, or divine mercy) on the other The last pertains to the work of Christ itself; the other to the manifestation of that work—the placing of that work in its true light, and destroying the errors opposed to a right understanding of it.
We are still at a loss for a better appellation of the beast than that already given him, (self;) but we feel no hesitation in affirming, that man, when relying upon his own merit, and when asserting his own sufficiency to secure bis eternal salvation, places himself in the position of this blasphemous animal. He is virtually guilty of all that is described in the conduct of the beast. So, that construction of the written word of divine revelation which induces the assumption of this attitude on the part of the creature, (man,) must richly deserve the appellation of a false prophet—a false interpreter of the will of the Most High. The fallacious character of such an interpretation must be the more obvious in proportion as it induces the formation in the mind of man of an imaginary goodness or merit, to which he may impute, as to an efficient cause, even his eternal happiness, and which, consequently, becomes in his mind an object of worship ; the subject of this error, who would start perhaps with abhorrence at the idea of a worship of himself, being actually deluded into a practical worship of his own fancied merit or righteousness.
We can imagine no cure for this delusion, no remedy for the error, but that of a perfect development of the revealed word of God in its true spiritual sense, and the constant, perpetual, never-ending application of it; such a test alone being capable of purifying every element of doctrine submitted to its action, like a refiner's fire, and like the fire wliich is to burn as an oven, (furnace.) To a test of this character, we have seen the element represented by the beast finally subjected ; and in this result we may be said to behold the fulfilment of the prediction of the fate attending the eighth king, (Rev. xvii. 11:) “And the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” The beast taken in this conflict with the Word, must be the same beast as that spoken of in the seventeenth chapter of the book ; and the being cast alive into the lake burning with fire and brimstone, must certainly be equivalent to going into perdition.
The whole of this illustration is probably applicable to some general