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Prophecies in the Bible Books
of Daniel and Revelation

Table of Contents
PAGE
CHAPTER
Part A
Prophecies of Daniel
Part B
Prophecies of Daniel
Part C
Prophecies of Revelation
PAGE
CHAPTER
349 Introduction
351 I -- The Opening Vision
373 II -- The Seven Churches
392 III -- The Seven Churches - Continued
413 IV -- New Vision. - The Heavenly Sanctuary
420 V -- The Heavenly Sanctuary - Continued
431 VI -- The Seven Seals
458 VII -- The Sealing
475 VIII -- The Seven Trumpets
495 IX -- The Seven Trumpets - Continued
518 X -- Proclamation of the Advent
529 XI -- The Two Witnesses
543 XII -- The Gospel Church
Part D
Prophecies of Revelation

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Table of Illustrations
p 16-18

PAGE
CHAPTER
 Part A
Prophecies of Daniel
Front-
ispiece
PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR
25 SIEGE OF JERUSALEM BY NEBUCHADNEZZAR
36 DANIEL AND HIS FELLOWS ARE SOUGHT TO BE SLAIN
48 A BABYLONIAN PALACE
52 BABYLON TAKEN BY THE MEDO-PERSIANS
55 ALEXANDER REMOVING THE RUINS AT BABYLON
60 ALEXANDER COMMANDING THE CONFLAGRATION OF PERSEPOLIS
71 MAP SHOWING TERRITORY COVERED BY THE FOUR UNIVERSAL KINGDOMS
84 THE THREE HEBREWS REFUSING TO BOW TO THE IMAGE
88 THE THREE HEBREWS IN THE FIERY FURNACE
96 THE HUMILIATION OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR
105 BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST
118 DANIEL IN THE DEN OF LIONS
124

THE LION-SYMBOL OF BABYLON

126 THE BEAR-SYMBOL OF MEDO-PERSIA
129 THE LEOPARD -SYMBOL OF GRECIA
130 THE FOURTH BEAST - SYMBOL OF ROME
133 THE LITTLE HORN - SYMBOL OF THE PAPACY
140 WALDENSES FLEEING FROM PAPAL PERSECUTION
143 THE LAW AS CHANGED BY THE PAPACY
152 BELISARIUS ENTERING ROME
156 PROMINENT MARTYRS
Part B
Prophecies of Daniel
164 THE RAM - SYMBOL OF MEDO-PERSTA
167 THE HE-GOAT-SYMBOL OF GRECIA
169 ALEXANDER VIEWING THE BODY OF DARIUS
173 THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL VIII
187 THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM IN THE TIME OF CHRIST
210 THE ANGEL GABRIEL SENT TO INSTRUCT DANIEL
214 DIAGRAM OF THE 70 WEEKS AND 2300 DAYS
221 REBUILDING THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
228 THE CRUCIFIXION
263 THE ALEXANDRIAN LIBRARY
272 THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM: FULFILLING DAN. 11:25
277 A ROMAN TRIUMPH
291 IMPRISONMENT OF HUSS
296 STORMING OF THE TUILLERIES
312 PETER THE GREAT
317 OPENING OF THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT
317 BATTALION OF TURKISH TROOPS AT JERUSALEM
334, 335 "MANY SHALL RUN TO AND FRO, AND KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED"
Part C
Prophecies of Revelation
348 JOHN WRITING THE REVELATION
365 THE ISLE OF PATMOS
382 CHRISTIAN MARTYRS IN ARENA
435 ARCH OF CONSTANTINE
446 THE LISBON EARTHQUAKE
452 METEORIC SHOWER, OR FALLING STARS, OF Nov. 13, 1833
483 THE VANDALS INVADING AFRICA
486 ATTILA, KING OF THE HUNS
491 SURRENDER OF WESTERN ROME TO ODOACER
494 "WOE, WOE, WOE, TO THE INHABITERS OF THE EARTH!"
499 MOHAMMED AND MOHAMMED II
503 SARACEN WARRIOR
511 TURKISH WARRIOR
513 ENTRY OF MOHAMMED II INTO CONSTANTINOPLE
519 THE ANGEL ON SEA AND LAND
522 PREACHING THE ADVENT MESSAGE IN NORWAY
534 FUGITIVE HUGUENOTS
540 THE BERLIN INSURRECTION OF 1848
544 THE GOSPEL CHURCH
547 PAGAN AND PAPAL ROME
554 BURNING THE PAPAL BULL
556 EMINENT REFORMERS
Part D
Prophecies of Revelation
566 SYMBOL OF THE UNITED STATES IN PROPHECY
575 LANDING OF THE PILGRIMS
578 MAP SHOWING THE TERRITORIAL GROWTH OF THE UNITED STATES
590 FEDERAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN SESSION
632 THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL
648 THE THREE MESSAGES OF REVELATION 14
687 THE SEVEN ANGELS POURING OUT THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES
697 THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE
708 THE MESSAGE OF REV. 18:1
722 BABYLON FALLS, LIKE A MILLSTONE THROWN INTO THE SEA
743 THE INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT
752 THE ANGEL SHOWING JOHN THE HOLY CITY
765 BANYAN TREE ILLUSTRATING THE TREE OF LIFE
772 "VISIONS OF BEAUTY ARE THERE, FIELDS OF LIVING GREEN"
Plates in Color - OPP. PAGE
42 THE GREAT WORLD-KINGDOM IMAGE, DAN. 2:31-34
143 THE LAW OF GOD
315 MAP ILLUSTRATING THE EASTERN QUESTION
759 FOUNDATION WALLS OF THE NEW JERUSALEM

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DANIEL

and the REVELATION

 

by Uriah Smith - 1897

 

Part C
Start the Book of Revelation

p 346 -- Blank

p 347 --

Response of History to the Revelation

p 348 --


John Writing the Revelation "What thou seest, write in a book" Rev. 1:11 TOP

Introduction

p 349 -- The Revelation, usually termed "The Apocalypse," from its Greek name, 'ApokaluyiV, meaning "a disclosure, a revelation," has been described to be "a panorama of the glory of Christ." In the Evangelists we have the record of his humiliation, his condescension, his toil and sufferings, his patience, his mockings and scourgings by those who should have done him reverence, and finally his death upon the shameful cross, - a death esteemed in that age to be the most ignominious that men could inflict. In the Revelation we have the gospel of his enthronement in glory, his association with the Father upon the throne of universal dominion, his overruling providence among the nations of the earth, and his coming again, not a homeless stranger, but in power and great glory, to punish his enemies and reward his followers. "A voice has cried in the wilderness, 'Behold the Lamb of God; ' a voice will soon proclaim from heaven, ' Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah!'"

Scenes of glory surpassing fable are unvailed before us in this book. Appeals of unwonted power bear down upon the impenitent from its sacred pages in threatenings of judgment that have no parallel in any other portion of the book of God. Consolation which no language can describe is here given to the humble followers of Christ in this lower world, in glorious views of Him upon whom help for them has been laid, - Him who has the key of David, who holds his ministers in his own right hand, who, though he was once dead, is now alive forevermore, and assures us that he is the triumphant possessor of the keys of death and of the grave, and who has given to every overcomer the multiplied promise of walking with him

p 350 -- in white, having a crown of life, partaking of the fruit of the tree of life which grows in the midst of the paradise of God, and being raised up to sit with him upon his own glorious throne. No other book takes us at once, and so irresistibly, into another sphere. Long vistas are here opened before us, which are bounded by no terrestrial objects, but carry us forward into other worlds. And if ever themes of thrilling and impressive interest, and grand and lofty imagery, and sublime and magnificent description, can invite the attention of mankind, then the Revelation invites us to a careful study of its pages, which urge upon our notice the realities of a momentous future and an unseen world. TOP

 

The Opening Vision
CHAPTER I

p 351 -- The book of the Revelation opens with the announcement of its title, and with a benediction on those who shall give diligent heed to its solemn prophetic utterances, as follows:

VERSE 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:    2.     Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.   3.    Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

The Title. - The translators of our common version of the Bible have given this book the title of "The Revelation of St. John the Divine." In this they contradict the very first words of the book itself, which declare it to be "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is the Revelator, not John. John is but the penman employed by Christ to write out this Revelation for the benefit of his church. There is no doubt that the John here mentioned is the person of that name who was the beloved and highly favored one among the twelve apostles. He was evangelist and apostle, and the writer of the Gospel and epistles which bear his name. (See Clarke, Barnes, Kitto, Pond, and others.) To his previous titles he now adds that of prophet; for the Revelation is a prophecy. But the matter

p 352 -- of this book is traced back to a still higher source. It is not only the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but it is the Revelation which God gave unto him. It comes, then, first, from the great Fountain of all wisdom and truth, God the Father; by him it was communicated to Jesus Christ, the Son; and Christ sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John.

The Character of the Book. - This is expressed in one word, "Revelation." A revelation is something revealed, something clearly made known, not something hidden and concealed. Moses, in Deut. 29:29, tells us that "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever." The very title of the book, then, is a sufficient refutation of the popular opinion of to-day, that this book is among the hidden mysteries of God, and cannot be understood. Were this the case, it should bear some such title as "The Mystery" or "The Hidden Book;" certainly not that of "The Revelation."

Its Object. - "To show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass." His servants - who are they? Is there any limit? For whose benefit was the Revelation given? Was it given for any specified persons? for any particular churches? for any special period of time? - No; it is for all the church in all time, so long as any of the events therein predicted remain to be accomplished. It is for all those who can claim the appellation of "his servants," wherever or whenever they may live.

But this language brings up again the common view that the Revelation is not to be understood. God says that it was given to show something to his servants; and yet many of the expounders of his word tell us that it does not show anything, because no man can understand it! as though God would undertake to make known to mankind some important truths, and yet fall into the worse than earthly folly of clothing them in language or in figures which human minds could not comprehend! as though he would command a person to behold some distant object, and then erect an impenetrable barrier between him and the object specified! or as though he would

p 353 -- give his servants a light to guide them through the gloom of night, and yet throw over that light a pall so thick and heavy that not a ray of its brightness could penetrate the obscuring folds! How do they dishonor God who thus trifle with his word! No; the Revelation will accomplish the object for which it was given, and "his servants" will learn therefrom "the things which must shortly come to pass," and which concern their eternal salvation.

His Angel. - Christ sent and made known the Revelation to John by "his angel." A particular angel seems here to be brought to view. What angel could appropriately be called Christ's angel? May we not find an answer to this question in a significant passage in the prophecy of Daniel? In Dan. 10:21, an angel, which was doubtless Gabriel (see Daniel, chapters 9, 10, and 11:1), in making known some important truths to Daniel, said, "There is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince." Who Michael is we easily learn. Jude (verse 9) calls him the "archangel." And Paul tells us that when the Lord descends from heaven, and the dead in Christ are raised, the voice of the archangel shall be heard. I Thess. 4:16. And whose voice will be heard at that amazing hour when the dead are called to life? The Lord himself replies, "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice" (John 5:28); and the previous verse shows that the one here referred to, whose voice will then be heard, is the Son of man, or Christ. It is the voice of Christ, then, that calls the dead from their graves. That voice, Paul declares, is the voice of the archangel; and Jude says that the archangel is called Michael, the very personage mentioned in Daniel, and all referring to Christ. The statement in Daniel, then, is, that the truths to be revealed to Daniel were committed to Christ, and confined exclusively to him, and to an angel whose name was Gabriel. Similar to the work of communicating important truth to the "beloved prophet" is the work of Christ in the Revelation of communicating important truth to the "beloved disciple;" and who, in this work, can be his angel but he who was engaged with him in the former work, that is, the angel

p 354 -- Gabriel? This fact will throw light on some points in this book, while it would also seem most appropriate that the same being who was employed to carry messages to the "beloved" prophet of the former dispensation, should perform the same office for him who corresponds to that prophet in the gospel age. (See on chapter 19:10.)

The Benediction. - "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy." Is there so direct and formal a blessing pronounced upon the reading and observance of any other portion of the word of God? What encouragement, then, have we for its study! And shall we say that it cannot be understood? Is a blessing offered for the study of a book which it can do us no good to study? Men may assert, with more pertness than piety, that "every age of declension is marked by an increase of commentaries on the Apocalypse," or that "the study of the Revelation either finds or leaves a man mad;" but God has pronounced his blessing upon it, he has set the seal of his approbation to an earnest study of its marvelous pages; and with such encouragement from such a source, the child of God will be unmoved by a thousand feeble counterblasts from men.

Every fulfilment of prophecy brings its duties; hence there are things in the Revelation to be kept, or performed; practical duties to be entered upon as the result of the accomplishment of the prophecy. A notable instance of this kind may be seen in chapter 14:12, where it is said, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."

But says John, "The time is at hand," - another motive offered for the study of this book. It becomes more and more important, as we draw near the great consummation. On this point we offer the impressive thoughts of another:       "The importance of studying the Apocalypse increases with the lapse of time. Here are ' things which must shortly come to pass.' Even when John bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw, the long period within which those successive scenes were to be realized was at hand. If proximity then constituted a motive for heeding those contents, how much more does it now! TOP

p 355 -- Every revolving century, every closing year, adds to the urgency with which attention is challenged to the concluding portion of Holy Writ. And does not that intensity of devotion to the present, which characterizes our times and our country, enhance the reasonableness of this claim? Never, surely, was there a period when some mighty counteracting power was more needed. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, duly studied, supplies an appropriate corrective influence. Would that all Christians might, in fullest measure, receive the blessing of 'them that hear the words of this prophecy, and that keep the things which are written therein; for the time is at hand."' - Thompson's Patmos, pp. 28, 29.

The Dedication. - Following the benediction, we have the dedication, in these words:

VERSE 4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia; Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne;    5.     And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,    6.    And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen

The Churches in Asia. - There were more churches in Asia than seven. We may confine ourselves to that western fraction of Asia known as Asia Minor, or we may include still less territory than that; for in even that small portion of Asia Minor where were situated the seven churches which are mentioned, and right in their very midst, there were other important churches. Colosse, to the Christians of which place Paul addressed his epistle to the Colossians, was but a slight distance from Laodicea. Miletus was nearer than any of the seven to Patmos, where John had his vision; and it was an important station for the church, as we may judge from the fact that Paul, during one of his stays there, sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him at that place. Acts 20:17-38. At the same place he also left, in good Christian hands no doubt, Trophimus, his disciple, sick. 2 Tim. 4:20. And Troas, where Paul spent a season with the disciples, and whence, having waited till the Sabbath was past, he started off

p 356 -- upon his journey, was not far removed from Pergamos, named among the seven. It becomes, therefore, an interesting question to determine why seven of the churches of Asia Minor were selected as the ones to which the Revelation should be dedicated. Does what is said of the seven churches in chapter 1, and to them in chapters 2 and 3, have reference solely to the seven literal churches named, describing things only as they then and there existed, and portraying what was before them alone? We cannot so conclude, for the following reasons: -

1.    The entire book of Revelation (see chapter 1:3, 11, 19; 22:18, 19) was dedicated to the seven churches.   Verse 11.   But the book was no more applicable to them than to other Christians in Asia Minor, - those, for instance, who dwelt in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, addressed in I Peter 1:1; or the Christians of Colosse, Troas, and Miletus, in the very midst of the churches named.

2.    Only a small portion of the book could have personally concerned the seven churches, or any of the Christians of John's day; for the events it brings to view were mostly so far in the future as to lie beyond the lifetime of the generation then living, or even the time during which those churches would continue; and consequently they could have no personal connection with them. TOP

3.    The seven stars which the Son of man held in his right hand (verse 20), are declared to be the angels of the seven churches. The angels of the churches, doubtless all will agree, are the ministers of the churches. Their being held in the right hand of the Son of man denotes the upholding power, guidance, and protection vouchsafed to them. But there were only seven of them in his right hand. And are there only seven thus cared for by the great Master of assemblies? May not, rather, all the true ministers of the whole gospel age derive from this representation the consolation of knowing that they are upheld and guided by the right hand of the great Head of the church? Such would seem to be the only consistent conclusion.

4.     Again, John, looking into the Christian dispensation,

p 357 -- saw only seven candlesticks, representing seven churches, in the midst of which stood the Son of man. The position of the Son of man in their midst must denote his presence with them, his watchcare over them, and his searching scrutiny of all their works. But does he thus take cognizance of only seven individual churches in this dispensation? May we not rather conclude that this scene represents his position in reference to all his churches during the gospel age? Then why were only seven mentioned? Seven, as used in the Scriptures, is a number denoting fulness and completeness, being, doubtless, a kind of memorial of the great facts of the first seven days of time, which gave the world the still used weekly cycle. Like the seven stars, the seven candlesticks must denote the whole of the things which they represent. The whole gospel church in seven divisions, or periods, must be symbolized by them; and hence the seven churches must be applied in the same manner.

5.    Why, then, were the seven particular churches chosen that are mentioned? For the reason, doubtless, that in the names of these churches, according to the definitions of the words, are brought out the religious features of those periods of the gospel age which they respectively were to represent.

For these reasons, "the seven churches" are doubtless to be understood to mean not merely the seven literal churches of Asia which went by the names mentioned, but seven periods of the Christian church, from the days of the apostles to the close of probation. (See on chapter 2, verse 1.)

The Source of Blessing. - "From him which is, and which was, and which is to come," or is to be, - an expression which signifies complete eternity, past and future, and can be applicable to God the Father only. This language, we believe, is never applied to Christ. He is spoken of as another person, in distinction from the being thus described.

The Seven Spirits. - This expression probably has no reference to angels, but to the Spirit of God. It is one of the sources from which grace and peace are invoked for the church. On the interesting subject of the seven spirits, Thompson remarks:    "That is, from the Holy Spirit, denominated 'the seven spirits,' because seven is a sacred and perfect number;

p 358 -- not thus named as denoting interior plurality, but the fulness and perfection of his gifts and operations."    Barnes says,    "The number seven, therefore, may have been given by the Holy Spirit with reference to the diversity or the fulness of his operations on the souls of men, and to his manifold agency in the affairs of the world, as further developed in this book."    Bloomfield gives this as the general interpretation. TOP

His Throne. - The throne of God the Father; for Christ has not yet taken his own throne. The seven spirits being before the throne" may be intended to designate the fact that the Divine Spirit is ever ready to be sent forth, in accordance with a common representation in the Scriptures, to accomplish important purposes in human affairs."

And from Jesus Christ. - Then Christ is not the person who, in the verse before us, is designated as "him which is, and which was, and which is to come." Some of the chief characteristics which pertain to Christ are here mentioned. He is, -

The Faithful Witness. - Whatever he bears witness to is true. Whatever he promises, he will surely fulfil.

The First Begotten of the Dead. - This expression is parallel to 1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:29; and Col. 1:15, 18, where we find such expressions applied to Christ as "the first-fruits of them that slept,"  "the first-born among many brethren,"  "the first-born of every creature,"  and  "the first-born from the dead."  But these expressions do not necessarily denote that he was the first in point of time to be raised from the dead; for others were raised before him. That would be a very unimportant point; but, he was the chief and central figure of all who have come up from the grave; for it was by virtue of Christ's coming, work, and resurrection, that any were raised before his time. In the purpose of God, he was the first in point of time as well as in importance; for it was not till after the purpose of Christ's triumph over the grave was formed in the mind of God, who calleth those things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4 :17), that any were released front the power of death, by virtue of that great fact which was in due time to be accomplished. Christ is therefore called the "first-begotten of the dead" (chapter 1:5), the "first-fruits

p 359 -- of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20), the "first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29), and "the first-born from the dead." Col. 1:18. In Acts 26:23 he is spoken of as "the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people," or the first who by rising from the dead should show light unto the people. (See the Greek of this passage, and Bloomfield's note thereon; also "Here and Hereafter," chapter 17.)

The Prince of the Kings of the Earth. - Christ is Prince of earthly kings in a certain sense now. Paul informs us, in Eph. 1:20, 21, that he has been set at the right hand of God in the heavenly places, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." The highest names named in this world are the princes, kings, emperors, and potentates of earth. But Christ is placed far above them. He is seated with his Father upon the throne of universal dominion (chapter 3:21), and ranks equally with him in the overruling and controlling of the affairs of all the nations of the earth.

In a more particular sense, Christ is to be Prince of the kings of the earth when he takes his own throne, and the kingdoms of this world become the "kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ," when they are given by the Father into his hands, and he comes forth bearing upon his vesture the title of "King of kings and Lord of lords," to dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Chapter 19:16; 2:27; Ps. 2:8, 9. TOP

Unto Him that Loved Us. - We have thought that earthly friends loved us, - a father, a mother, brothers and sisters, or bosom friends, - but we see that no love is worthy of the name compared with the love of Christ for us. And the following sentence adds intensity of meaning to the previous words:   "And washed us from our sins in his own blood."   What love is this! "Greater love," says the apostle, "hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But Christ has commended his love for us, in that he died for us "while we were yet sinners." But more than this - "Hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father." From

p 360 -- being leprous with sin, we are made clean in his sight; from being enemies, we are not only made friends, but raised to positions of honor and dignity. This cleansing, and this kingly and priestly exaltation - to what state do they pertain? to the present or the future? - Chiefly to the future; for it is then only that we shall enjoy these blessings in the highest degree. Then, after the atonement has been accomplished, we are absolutely free from our sins; before that time they are pardoned only on condition, and blotted out only by anticipation. But when the saints are permitted to sit with Christ on his throne, according to the promise to the victorious Laodiceans, when they take the kingdom under the whole heaven and reign forever and ever, they will be kings in a sense that they never can be in this present state. Yet enough is true of our present condition to make this cheering language appropriate in the Christian's present song of joy; for here we are permitted to say that we have redemption through his blood, though that redemption is not yet given, and that we have eternal life, though that life is still in the hands of the Son, to be brought unto us at his appearing; and it is still true, as it was in the days of John and Peter, that God designs his people in this world to be unto him a chosen generation, a royal (kingly) priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. 1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 3:21; Dan. 7:18, 27. No wonder the loving and beloved disciple ascribed to this Being who has done so much for us, glory and dominion, forever and ever. And let all the church join in this most fitting ascription to their greatest benefactor and dearest friend.

VERSE 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

He Cometh With Clouds. - Here John carries us forward to the second advent of Christ in glory, the climax and crowning event of his intervention in behalf of this fallen world. Once he came in weakness, now he comes in power; once in humility, now in glory. He comes in clouds, in like manner as he ascended. Acts 1:9, 11.

p 361 -- His Coming Visible. - "Every eye shall see him;" that is, all who are alive at the time of his coming. We know of no personal coming of Christ that shall be as the stillness of mid-night, or take place only in the desert or the secret chamber. He comes not as a thief in the sense of stealing in stealthily and quietly upon the world, and purloining goods to which he has no right. But he comes to take to himself his dearest treasure, his sleeping and living saints, whom he has purchased with his own precious blood; whom he has wrested from the power of death in fair and open conflict; and for whom his coming will be no less open and triumphant, too. It will be with the brilliancy and splendor of the lightning as it shines from the east to the west. Matt. 24:27. It will be with a sound of a trumpet that shall pierce to earth's lowest depths, and with a mighty voice that shall wake the sainted sleepers from their dusty beds. Matt. 24:31, margin; I Thess. 4:16. He will come upon the wicked as a thief, only because they persistently shut their eyes to the tokens of his approach, and will not believe the declarations of his word that he is at the door. To represent two comings, a private and a public one, in connection with the second advent, as some do, is wholly unwarranted in the Scriptures. TOP

And They Also Which Pierced Him. - They also (in addition to the "every eye," before mentioned) who were chiefly concerned in the tragedy of his death; they shall behold him returning to earth in triumph and glory. But how is this? They are not now living, and how, then, shall they behold him when he comes?   Answer:   By a resurrection from the dead; for this is the only possible avenue to life to those who have once been laid in the grave. But how is it that these wicked persons come up at this time? for the general resurrection of the wicked does not take place till a thousand years after the second advent. Chapter 20:1-6. On this point Daniel informs us. He says (chapter 12:1, 2): -

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be

p 362 -- delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Here a partial resurrection is brought to view, or a resurrection of a certain class of each, righteous and wicked, before the general resurrection of either class. Many, not all, that sleep shall awake. Some of the righteous, not all of them, to everlasting life, and some of the wicked, not all of them, to shame and everlasting contempt. And this resurrection transpires in connection with the great time of trouble such as never was, which just precedes the coming of the Lord. May not "they also which pierced him" be among those who then come up to shame and everlasting contempt? What could be more appropriate, so far as human minds can judge, than that those who took part in the scene of our Lord's greatest humiliation, and other special leaders in crime against him, should be raised to behold his terrible majesty, as he comes triumphantly, in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not his gospel? (See Dan. 12:2.)

The Church's Response. - "Even so, Amen." Though this coming of Christ is to the wicked a scene of terror and destruction, it is to the righteous a scene of joy and triumph. "When the world's distress comes, then the saints' rest comes." That coming which is with flaming fire, and for the purpose of taking vengeance on the wicked, is to recompense rest to all them that believe. 2 Thess. 1:6-10. Every friend and lover of Christ will hail every declaration and every token of his return as glad tidings of great joy.

VERSE 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Here another speaker is introduced. Previous to this, John has been the speaker. But this verse has no connection with what precedes nor with what follows. Who it is who here speaks must be determined, therefore, by the terms used. Here we again have the expression, "Which is, and which was, and

p 363 -- which is to come," which has already been noticed as referring exclusively to God. But it may be asked, Does not the word Lord denote that it was Christ? On this point Barnes has the following note:    "Many MSS. instead of  'Lord,' kuJioV, read  'God,' qeoV, and this reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, and Hahn, and is now regarded as the correct reading." Bloomfield supplies the word God, and marks the words "the beginning and the ending" as an interpolation. Thus appropriately closes the first principal division of this chapter, with a revelation of himself by the great God as being of an eternity of existence, past and future, and of almighty power, and hence able to perform all his threatenings and his promises, which he has given us in this book. TOP

VERSE 9. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The subject here changes, John introducing the place and the circumstances under which the Revelation was given. He first sets himself forth as a brother of the universal church, and their companion in the tribulations incident to the Christian profession in this life.

And in the Kingdom. - These words have been the occasion of no little controversy. Does John really mean to say that Christians in the present state are in the kingdom of Christ, or in other words, that in his day Christ's kingdom had already been set up? If this language has any reference to the present state, it must be in a very limited and accommodated sense. Those who take the ground that it has its application here, usually refer to 1 Peter 2:9 to prove the existence of a kingdom in the present state, and to show its nature. But, as was remarked on verse 6, the literal reign of the saints is yet future. It is through much tribulation that we are to enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22. But when the kingdom is entered, the tribulation is done. The tribulation and the kingdom do not exist contemporaneously. Murdock's translation of the Syriac of this verse

p 364 -- omits the word kingdom, and reads as follows:    "I John, your brother, and partaker with you in the affliction and suffering that are in Jesus the Messiah." Wakefield translates:    "I John, your brother, and sharer with you in enduring the affliction of the kingdom of Jesus Christ."    Bloomfield says that by the words tribulation and patience "are denoted afflictions and troubles to be endured for the sake, and in the cause of Christ and basileia [kingdom] intimates that he is to be partaker with them in the kingdom prepared for them." He says that "the best comment on this passage is 2 Tim. 2:12," which reads:    "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."    From all which we may safely conclude that though there is a kingdom of grace in the present state, the kingdom to which John alluded is the future kingdom of glory, and the suffering and patience are preparatory to its enjoyment.

The Place. - The isle that is called Patmos, - a small, barren island off the west coast of Asia Minor, between the island of Icaria and the promontory of Miletus, where in John's day was located the nearest Christian church. It is about eight miles in length, one in breadth, and eighteen in circumference. Its present name is Patino or Patmosa. The coast is high, and consists of a succession of capes, which form many ports. The only one now in use is a deep bay sheltered by high mountains on every side but one, where it is protected by a projecting cape. The town attached to this port is situated upon a high, rocky mountain rising immediately from the sea, and is the only inhabited site of the island. About half way up the mountain on which this town is built, there is shown a natural grotto in the rock, where tradition will have it that John had his vision and wrote the Revelation. On account of the stern and desolate character of this island, it was used, under the Roman empire, as a place of banishment, which accounts for the exile of John thither. The banishment of the apostle took place about the year A. D. 94, as is generally supposed, under the emperor Domitian; and from this fact the date assigned to the writing of the Revelation is A. D. 95 or 96.

The Cause of Banishment. - "For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."    This was John's high

p 365 --


( The Isle of Patmos)
TOP

p 366 -- crime and misdemeanor. The tyrant Domitian, who was then invested with the imperial purple of Rome, more eminent for his vices than even for his civil position, quailed before this aged but dauntless apostle. He dared not permit the promulgation of his pure gospel within the bounds of his kingdom. He exiled him to lonely Patmos, where, if anywhere this side of death, he might be said to be out of the world. Having confined him to that barren spot, and to the cruel labor of the mines, the emperor doubtless thought that this preacher of righteousness was finally disposed of, and that the world would hear no more of him. So, doubtless, thought the persecutors of John Bunyan when they had shut him up in Bedford jail. But when man thinks he has buried the truth in eternal oblivion, the Lord gives it a resurrection in tenfold glory and power. From Bunyan's dark and narrow cell there blazed forth a spiritual light, which, next to the Bible itself, has built up the interests of the gospel; and from the barren Isle of Patmos, where Domitian thought he had forever extinguished at least one torch of truth, there arose the most magnificent revelation of all the sacred canon, to shed its divine luster over the whole Christian world till the end of time. And how many will revere the name of the beloved disciple, and hang with delight upon his enraptured visions of heavenly glory, who will never learn the name of the monster who caused his banishment. Verily, those words of the Scriptures are sometimes applicable, even to the present life, which declare that "the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance," but "the name of the wicked shall rot."

VERSE 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

In the Spirit. - Exiled though John was from all of like faith, and almost from the world, he was not exiled from God, nor from Christ, nor from the Holy Spirit, nor from angels. He still had communion with his divine Lord. And the expression "in the Spirit" seems to denote the highest state of spiritual elevation into which a person can be brought by the Spirit of God. It marked the commencement of his vision.

p 367 -- On the Lord's Day. - What day is intended by this designation? On this question four different positions are taken by different classes.    1.    One class hold that the expression "the Lord's day" covers the whole gospel dispensation, and does not mean any particular twenty-four-hour day.    2.    Another class hold that the Lord's day is the day of judgment, the future "day of the Lord," so often brought to view in the Scriptures.    3.    The third view, and the one perhaps the most prevalent, is that the expression refers to the first day of the week.    4.    Still another class hold that it means the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord.

1.     To the first of these positions it is sufficient to reply that the book of Revelation is dated by the writer, John, in the Isle of Patmos, and upon the Lord's day. The writer, the place where it was written, and the day upon which it was dated, have each a real existence, and not merely a symbolical or mystical one. But if we say that the day means the gospel dispensation, we give it a symbolical or mystical meaning, which is not admissible. Besides, this position involves the absurdity of making John say, sixty-five years after the death of Christ, that the vision which he records was seen by him in the gospel dispensation, as if any Christian could possibly be ignorant of that fact!

2.    The second position, that it is the day of judgment, cannot be correct; for while John might have had a vision concerning the day of judgment, he could not have had one on that day when it is yet future. The word translated on is en (en), and is defined by Robinson when relating to time, as follows:    "Time when; a definite point or period, in, during, on, at, which anything takes place."    It never means about or concerning. Hence they who refer it to the judgment day either contradict the language used, making it mean concerning instead of on, or they make John state a strange falsehood, by saying that he had a vision upon the Isle of Patmos, nearly eighteen hundred years ago, on the day of judgment which is yet future! TOP

3.     The third view is that by "Lord's day" is meant the first day of the week, a view by far the most generally entertained.

p 368 -- On this we inquire for the proof. What evidence have we for this assertion? The text itself does not define the term Lord's day; hence if it means the first day of the week, we must look elsewhere in the Bible for the proof that that day of the week is ever so designated. The only other inspired writers who speak of the first day at all, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul; and they speak of it simply as "the first day of the week." They never speak of it in a manner to distinguish it above any other of the six working days. And this is the more remarkable, viewed from the popular standpoint, as three of them speak of it at the very time when it is said to have become the Lord's day by the resurrection of the Lord upon it, and two of them mention it some thirty years after that event.

If it is said that the term "Lord's day" was the usual term for the first day of the week in John's day, we ask, Where is the proof of this? It, cannot be found. But we have proof of just the contrary.  (See "History of the Sabbath," by J. N. Andrews, for sale by the Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tenn.) If this was the universal designation of the first day of the week at the time the Revelation was written, the same writer would most assuredly call it so in all his subsequent writings. But John wrote the Gospel after he wrote the Revelation, and yet in that Gospel he calls the first day of the week, not Lord's day, but simply "the first day of the week." For proof that the Gospel was written at a period subsequent to the Revelation, the reader is referred to such standard authorities as the Religious Encyclopedia, Barnes's Notes (Gospels), Bible Dictionaries, Cottage Bible, Domestic Bible, Mine Explored, Union Bible Dictionary, Comprehensive Bible, Paragraph Bible, Bloomfield, Dr. Hales, Horne, Nevins, and Olshausen.

And what still further disproves the claim here set up in behalf of the first day, is the fact that neither the Father nor the Son has ever claimed the first day as his own in any higher sense than he has each or any of the other laboring days. Neither of them has ever placed any blessing upon it, or

p 369 -- attached any sanctity to it. If it was to be called the Lord's day from the fact of Christ's resurrection upon it, Inspiration would doubtless have somewhere so informed us. But there are other events equally essential to the plan of salvation, as, for instance, the crucifixion and the ascension; and in the absence of all instruction upon the point, why not call the day upon which either of these occurred, the Lord's day, as well as the day upon which he rose from the dead?

4.     The three positions already examined having been disproved, the fourth  -  that by Lord's day is meant the Sabbath of the Lord  -  now demands attention. And this of itself is susceptible of the clearest proof.    1.    When God gave to man in the beginning six days of the week for labor, he expressly reserved the seventh day to himself, placed his blessing upon it, and claimed it as his holy day.    2.    Moses told Israel in the wilderness of Sin on the sixth day of the week, "To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord." We come to Sinai, where the great Lawgiver proclaimed his moral precepts in awful grandeur; and in that supreme code he thus lays
claim to his hallowed day:   "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." By the prophet Isaiah, about eight hundred years later, God spoke as follows:   "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on MY HOLY DAY, ... then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," etc. Isa. 58:13. We come down to New-Testament times, and He who is one with the Father declares expressly, "The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." Can any man deny that that day is the Lord's day, of which he has emphatically declared that he is the Lord? Thus we see that whether it be the Father or the Son whose title is involved, no other day can be called the Lord's day but the Sabbath of the great Creator.
TOP

One more thought, and we leave this point. There is in this dispensation one day distinguished above the other days of the week as the Lord's day. How completely does this great

p 370 -- fact disprove the claim put forth by some that there is no Sabbath in this dispensation, but that all days are alike. And by calling it the Lord's day, the apostle has given us, near the close of the first century, apostolic sanction for the observance of the only day which can be called the Lord's day, which is the seventh day of the week. (See notes at close of chapter.)

VERSE 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

On this verse Dr. A. Clarke remarks that the clause "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, is wanting in some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text." He also states that the phrase "in Asia" is wanting in the principal MSS. and versions, and that Griesbach omits this too from the text. Bloomfield also marks the clause, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and"- as without doubt an interpolation, and also the words "in Asia." It would then read, "saying, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches; unto Ephesus," etc. (See translations of Whiting, Wesley, American Bible Union, and others. Compare remarks on verse 4.)

VERSE 12.  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;    13.    And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.    14.    His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;    15.    And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.    16.    And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.    17.    And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:    18.    I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

I turned to see the voice; that is, the person from whom the voice came.

p 371 --   Seven Golden Candlesticks. - These cannot be the antitype of the golden candlestick of the ancient typical temple service; for that was but one candlestick with seven branches. That is ever spoken of in the singular number. But here are seven; and these are more properly "lamp-stands" than simply candlesticks, stands upon which lamps are set to give light in the room. And they bear no resemblance to the ancient candlestick; on the contrary, the stands are so distinct, and so far separated one from another, that the Son of man is seen walking about in the midst of them. TOP

The Son of Man. - The central and all-attractive figure of the scene now opened before John's vision is the majestic form of one like the Son of man, representing Christ. The description here given of him, with his flowing robe, his hair white, not with age, but with the brightness of heavenly glory, his flaming eyes, his feet glowing like molten brass, and his voice as the sound of many waters, cannot be excelled for grandeur and sublimity. Overcome by the presence of this august Being, and perhaps under a keen sense of all human unworthiness, John fell at his feet as dead; but a comforting hand is laid upon him, and a voice of sweet assurance tells him to fear not. It is equally the privilege of Christians today to feel the same hand laid upon them to strengthen and comfort them in hours of trial and affliction, and to hear the same voice saying unto them, "Fear not."

But the most cheering assurance in all these words of consolation is the declaration of this exalted one who is alive forevermore, that he is the arbiter of death and the grave. "I have," he says, "the keys of hell [adhV, the grave] and of death." Death is a conquered tyrant. He may ply his gloomy labors age after age, gathering to the grave the precious of the earth, and gloat for a season over his apparent triumph; but he is performing a fruitless task; for the key to his dark prison-house has been wrenched from his grasp, and is now held in the hands of a mightier than he. He is compelled to deposit his trophies in a region over which another has absolute control; and this one is the unchanging Friend and the pledged Redeemer of his people. Then grieve not for the righteous

p 372 -- dead; they are in safe keeping. An enemy for a while takes them away; but a friend holds the key to the place of their temporary confinement.

VERSE 19.  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.

A more definite command is given in this verse to John to write the entire Revelation, which would relate chiefly to things which were then in the future. In some few instances, events then in the past or then transpiring were referred to; but these references were simply for the purpose of introducing events to be fulfilled after that time, and so that no link in the chain might be lacking.

VERSE 20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

To represent the Son of man as holding in his hand only the ministers of seven literal churches in Asia Minor, and walking in the midst of only those seven churches, would be to reduce the sublime representations and declarations of this and following chapters to comparative insignificance. The providential care and presence of the Lord are with, not a specified number of churches only, but all his people; not in the days of John merely, but through all time. "Lo! I am with you alway," said he to his disciples, "even unto the end of the world." (See remarks on verse 4.)

NOTE . - An additional thought may be added to what is said about the claim that the first day of the week is meant by the term "Lord's day" in verse 10. If, when Christ said, "The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day " (Matt. 12:8), he had said instead, "The Son of man is Lord of the first day of the week," would not that now be set forth as conclusive proof that Sunday is the Lord's day?  -  Certainly, and with good reason. Then it ought to be allowed to have the same weight for the seventh day, in reference to which it was spoken. TOP

 

The Seven Churches
CHAPTER II

p 373 -- Having, in the first chapter, mapped out the subject by a general reference to the seven churches, represented by the seven candlesticks, and to the ministry of the churches, represented by the seven stars, John now takes up each church particularly, and writes the message designed for it, addressing the epistle in every case to the angel, or pastors, of the church.

VERSE 1.  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;    2.    I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:    3.    And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.    4.    Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.    5.    Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.    6.    But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.   7.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The Church of Ephesus. - Some reasons why the seven churches, or more properly the messages to them, should be regarded as prophetic, having their application to seven distinct periods covering the Christian age, have been given in the remarks on chapter 1:4. It may here be added that this view is neither new nor local. Benson quotes Bishop Newton

p 374 -- as saying, "Many contend, and among them such learned men as More and Vitringa, that the seven epistles are prophetical of so many successive periods, or states, of the church, from the beginning to the conclusion of all."

Scott says:       "Many expositors have imagined that these epistles to the seven churches were mystical prophecies of seven distinct periods, into which the whole term, from the apostles' days to the end of the world, would be divided."

Although Newton and Scott do not themselves hold this view, their testimony is good as showing that such has been the view of many expositors. Matthew Henry says:      "An opinion has been held by some commentators of note, which may be given in the words of Vitringa:  'That under this emblematical representation of the seven churches of Asia, the Holy Spirit has delineated seven different states of the Christian church, which would appear in succession, extending to the coming of our Lord and the consummation of all things; that this is given in descriptions taken from the names, states, and conditions of these churches, so that they might behold themselves, and learn both their good qualities and their defects, and what admonitions and exhortations were suitable for them.'  Vitringa has given a summary of the arguments which may be alleged in favor of this interpretation. Some of them are ingenious, but they are not now considered sufficient to support such a theory. Gill is one of the principal of the English commentators who adopt this view, that  'they are prophetical of the churches of Christ in the several periods of time until he appears again.'" TOP

It appears from the authors above cited, that what has led commentators of more modern times to discard the view of the prophetical nature of the messages to the seven churches, is the comparatively recent and unscriptural doctrine of the temporal millennium. The last stage of the church, as described in chapter 3:15-17, was deemed to be incompatible with the glorious state of things which would exist here on this earth for a thousand years, with all the world converted to God. Hence in this case, as in many others, the more Scriptural view is made to yield to the more pleasing. The hearts of

p 375 -- men, as in ancient times, still love smooth things, and their ears are ever favorably open to those who will prophesy peace.

The first church named is Ephesus. According to the application here made, this would cover the first, or apostolic age of the church. The definition of the word Ephesus is desirable, which may well be taken as a good descriptive term of the character and condition of the church in its first state. Those early Christians had received the doctrine of Christ in its purity. They enjoyed the benefits and blessings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were noted for works, labor, and patience. In faithfulness to the pure principles taught by Christ, they could not bear those that were evil, and they tried false apostles, searched out their true characters, and found them liars. That this work was specially done by the literal and particular church at Ephesus more than by other churches of that time, we have no evidence; there is nothing said about it by Paul in the epistle he wrote to that church; but it was done by the Christian church as a whole, in that age, and was a most appropriate work at that time. (See Acts 15; 2 Cor. 11:13.)

The Angel of the Church. - The angel of a church must denote a messenger, or minister of that church; and as these churches each cover a period of time, the angel of each church must denote the ministry, or all the true ministers of Christ during the period covered by that church. The different messages, though addressed to the ministers, cannot be understood to be applicable to them alone; but they are appropriately addressed to the church through them.

The Cause of Complaint. - "I have somewhat against thee," says Christ, "because thou hast left thy first love."      "Not less worthy of warning than departure from fundamental doctrine or from Scriptural morality, is the leaving of first love. The charge here is not that of falling from grace, nor that love is extinguished, but diminished. No zeal, no suffering, can atone for the want of first love." - Thompson.       The time never should come in a Christian's experience, when, if he were asked to mention the period of his greatest love to Christ, he would not say, The present moment. But if such

p 376 -- a time does come, then should he remember from whence he is fallen, meditate upon it, take time for it, carefully call up the state of his former acceptance with God, and then hasten to repent, and retrace his steps to that desirable position. Love, like faith, is manifested by works; and first love, when it is attained, will always bring first works.

The Threatening. - "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." The coming here mentioned must be a figurative coming, signifying a visitation of judgment, inasmuch as it is conditional. The removing of the candlestick would denote the taking away from them of the light and privileges of the gospel, and committing them to other hands, unless they should better fulfil the responsibilities of the trust committed to them. But it may be asked on the view that these messages are prophetic, if the candlestick would not be removed anyway, whether they repented or not, as that church was succeeded by the next, to occupy the next period, and if this is not an objection against regarding these churches as prophetic. Answer:   The expiration of the period covered by any church is not the removal of the candlestick of that church. The removal of their candlestick would be taking away from them privileges which they might and should longer enjoy. It would be the rejection of them on the part of Christ as his representatives, to bear the light of his truth and gospel before the world. And this threatening would be just as applicable to individuals as to the church as a body. How many who professed Christianity during that period thus came short and were rejected, we know not; doubtless many. And thus things would go on, some remaining steadfast, some backsliding and becoming no longer light-bearers in the world, new converts meanwhile filling up the vacancies made by death and apostasy, until the church reached a new era in her experience, marked off as another period in her history, and covered by another message. TOP

The Nicolaitanes. - How ready is Christ to commend his people for whatever good qualities they may possess! If there is anything of which he approves, he mentions that first. And

p 377 -- in this message to the church of Ephesus, having first mentioned their commendable traits and then their failures, as if unwilling to pass by any of their good qualities he mentions this, that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which he also hated. In verse 15 the doctrines of the same characters are condemned. It appears that they were a class of persons whose deeds and doctrines were alike abominable in the sight of Heaven. Their origin is involved in some doubt. Some say that they sprang from Nicholas of Antioch, one of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5); some, that they only attribute their origin to him to gain the prestige of his name; and others, that the sect took its name from one Nicholas of later date, which is probably the nearest correct. Concerning their doctrines and practices, there seems to be a general agreement that they held to a community of wives, regarding adultery and fornication as things indifferent, and permitted the eating of things offered to idols. (See Religious Encyclopedia, Clarke, Kitto, and other authorities.)

The Summons to Attention. - "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." A solemn manner of calling universal attention to that which is of general and most momentous importance. The same language is used to each of the seven churches. Christ, when upon earth, made use of the same form of speech in calling the attention of the people to the most important of his teachings. He used it in reference to the mission of John (Matt. 11:15), the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:9), and the parable of the tares, setting forth the end of the world. Verse 43. It is also used in relation to an important prophetic fulfilment in Rev. 13:9.

The Promise to the Victor. - To the overcomer it is promised that he shall eat of the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise, or garden, of God. Where is this paradise? Answer:   In the third heaven. Paul writes, in 2 Cor. 12:2, that he knew a man (referring to himself) caught up to the third heaven. In verse 4 he calls the same place "paradise," leaving only one conclusion to be drawn, which is that paradise is in the third heaven. In this paradise, it seems, is the tree of life. There is but one tree of life brought to view in

p 378 -- the Bible. It is mentioned six times, three times in Genesis, and three times in the Revelation; but it is used every time with the definite article the. It is the tree of life in the first book of the Bible, the tree of life in the last; the tree of life in the "paradise" (Septuagint) in Eden at the beginning, and the tree of life in the paradise of which John now speaks, in heaven above. But if there is but one tree, and that was at first upon earth, it may be asked how it has now come to be in heaven. And the answer would be that it must have been taken up, or translated, to the paradise above. There is no possible way that the same identical body which is situated in one place can be located in another, but by being transported bodily thither. And that the tree of life and paradise have been removed from earth to heaven, besides the necessary inference from this argument, there is very good reason to believe.

In 2 Esdras 7:26 occurs this language:   "Behold, the time shall come, that these tokens which I have told thee shall come to pass, and the bride shall appear, and she coming forth shall be seen that now is withdrawn from the earth."   There is an evident allusion here to the "bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev. 21:9), which is the "holy city, New Jerusalem" (verse 10; Gal. 4:26), in which is the tree of life (Rev. 22:2), which is now "withdrawn from the earth," but which will in due time appear, and be located among men. Rev. 21:2, 3. TOP

The following paragraph on this point we quote from Kurtz's "Sacred History," p. 50:      "The act of God in appointing the cherubim 'to keep the way of the tree of life' (Gen. 3:24), in the garden of Eden, likewise appears not only in an aspect indicating judicial severity, but also in one which conveys a promise full of consolation. The blessed abode from which man is expelled, is neither annihilated nor even abandoned to desolation and ruin, but withdrawn from the earth and from man, and consigned to the care of the most perfect creatures of God, in order that it may be ultimately restored to man when he is redeemed. Rev. 22:2. The garden, as it existed before God 'planted,' or adorned it, came under the curse, like the remainder of the

p 379 -- earth, but the celestial and paradisiacal addition was exempted, and entrusted to the cherubim. The true paradise is now translated to the invisible world. At least a symbolical copy of it, established in the holy of holies in the tabernacle, was granted to the people of Israel after the pattern which Moses saw in the mount (Ex. 25:9, 40); and the original itself, as the renewed habitation of redeemed man, will hereafter descend to the earth. Rev. 21:10."

To the overcomer, then, is promised a restoration to more than Adam lost; not to the overcomers of that state of the church merely, but to all overcomers of every age; for in the great rewards of Heaven there are no restrictions. Reader, strive to be an overcomer; for he who gains access to the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, shall die no more.

The time covered by this first church may be considered the period from the resurrection of Christ to the close of the first century, or to the death of the last of the apostles.

VERSE 8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive;    9.    I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.    10.    Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.    11.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

It will be noticed that the Lord introduces himself to each church by mentioning some of his characteristics which show him to be peculiarly fitted to bear to them the testimony which he utters. To the Smyrnian church, about to pass through the fiery ordeal of persecution, he reveals himself as one who was dead, but is now alive. If they should be called to seal their testimony with their blood, they were to remember that the eyes of One were upon them who had shared the same fate, but had triumphed over death, and was able to bring them up again from a martyr's grave. TOP

p 380 -- Poverty and Riches. - "I know thy poverty," says Christ to them, "but thou art rich." Strange paradox this may seem at first. But who are the truly rich in this world? - Those who are "rich in faith" and "heirs of the kingdom." The wealth of this world, for which men so eagerly strive, and so often barter away present happiness and future endless life, is "coin not current in heaven." A certain writer has forcibly remarked, "There is many a rich poor man, and many a poor rich man."

Say They are Jews, and Are Not. - That the term Jew is not here used in a literal sense, is very evident. It denotes some character which was approved by the gospel standard. Paul's language will make this point plain. He says (Rom. 2:28, 29):   "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew [in the true Christian sense] which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God."   Again he says (chapter 9:6, 7) :   "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children."   In Gal. 3:28, 29, Paul further tells us that in Christ there are no such outward distinctions as Jew or Greek; but if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed (in the true sense), and heirs according to the promise. To say, as some do, that the term Jew is never applied to Christians, is to contradict all these inspired declarations of Paul's, and the testimony of the faithful and true Witness to the Smyrnian church. Some were hypocritically pretending to be Jews in this Christian sense, when they possessed nothing of the requisite character. Such were of the synagogue of Satan.

Tribulation Ten Days. - As this message is prophetic, the time mentioned in it must also be regarded as prophetic, and would denote ten years. And it is a noticeable fact that the last and most bloody of the ten persecutions continued just ten years, beginning under Diocletian, from A. D. 303 to A. D. 313. It would be difficult to make an application of this language on the ground that these messages are not prophetic; for in

p 381 -- that case only ten literal days could be meant; and it would not seem probable that a persecution of only ten days, or only a single church, would be made a matter of prophecy; and no mention of any such case of limited persecution can be found. Again, apply this persecution to any of the notable, persecutions of that period, and how could it be spoken of as the fate of one church alone? All the churches suffered in them; and where, then, would be the propriety of singling out one, to the exclusion of the rest, as alone involved in such a calamity?

Faithful Unto Death. - Some have endeavored to base a criticism on the use of the word unto, instead of until, as though the idea of time was not involved. But the original word, acri, rendered unto, signifies, primarily, until. No argument, however, can be drawn from this for consciousness in death. The vital point for such an argument is still lacking; for it is not affirmed that the crown of life is bestowed immediately at death. We must consequently look to other scriptures to learn when the crown of life is given; and other scriptures very fully inform us. Paul declares that this crown is to be given at the day of Christ's appearing (2 Tim. 4:8); at the last trump (1 Cor. 15:51-54); when the Lord shall himself descend from heaven (1 Thess. 4:16, 17); when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, says Peter (1 Peter 5:4); at the resurrection of the just, says Christ (Luke 14:14); and when he shall return to take his people to the mansions prepared for them, that they may ever be with him. John 14:3. "Be thou faithful until death; " and having been thus faithful, when the time comes that the saints of God are rewarded, you shall receive a crown of life.

The Overcomer's Reward. - "He shall not be hurt of the second death." Is not the language Christ here uses a good comment upon what he taught his disciples, when he said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell"? Matt. 10:28. The Smyrnians might be put to death here; but the future life, which was to be given them, man could not take away, and God would not;

p 382 --


(Christian Martyrs In Arena)
TOP

p 383 -- hence they were to fear not those who could kill the body, - to "fear none of the things which they should suffer;" for their eternal existence was sure.

Smyrna signifies myrrh, fit appellation for the church of God while passing through the fiery furnace of persecution, and proving herself a "sweet-smelling savor" unto him. But we soon reach the days of Constantine, when the church presents a new phase, rendering a far different name and another message applicable to her history.

According to the foregoing application, the date of the Smyrnian church would be A. D. 100-323.

VERSE 12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges:    13.    I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is; and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.    14.    But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.    15.    So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.    16.    Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.    17.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Against the church of Smyrna, which has just been considered, there was no word of condemnation uttered. Persecution is ever calculated to keep the church pure, and incite its members to piety and godliness. But we now reach a period when influences began to work through which errors and evils were likely to creep into the church.

The word Pergamos, signifies height, elevation. The period covered by this church may be located from the days of Constantine, or perhaps, rather, from his professed conversion to Christianity, A. D. 323, to the establishment of the papacy A. D. 538. It was a period in which the true servants of God had to struggle against a spirit of worldly policy, pride, and popularity among the professed followers of Christ, and

p 384 -- against the virulent workings of the mystery of iniquity, which finally resulted in the full development of the papal man of sin.

Where Satan's Seat Is. - Christ takes cognizance of the unfavorable situation of his people during this period. The language is not probably designed to denote locality. As to place, Satan works wherever Christians dwell. But surely there are times and seasons when he works with special power; and the period covered by the church of Pergamos was one of these. During this period, the doctrine of Christ was being corrupted, the mystery of iniquity was working, and Satan was laying the very foundation of that most stupendous system of wickedness, the papacy. Here was the falling away foretold by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3. TOP

Antipas. - That a class of persons is referred to by this name, and not an individual, there is good reason to believe; for no authentic information respecting such an individual is now to be found. On this point William Miller says:  -    "It is supposed that Antipas was not an individual, but a class of men who opposed the power of the bishops, or popes, in that day, being a combination of two words, anti, opposed, and papas, father, or pope; and at that time many of them suffered martyrdom in Constantinople and Rome, where the bishops and popes began to exercise the power which soon after brought into subjection the kings of the earth, and trampled on the rights of the church of Christ. And for myself, I see no reason to reject this explanation of this word Antipas in this text, as the history of those times is perfectly silent respecting such an individual as is here named." - Miller's Lectures, pp. 138, 139.

Watson says, "Ancient ecclesiastical history furnishes no account of this Antipas." Dr. Clarke mentions a work as extant called the "Acts of Antipas," but gives us to understand that it is entitled to no credit.

The Cause of Censure. - Disadvantages in situation are no excuse for wrongs in the church. Although this church lived at a time when Satan was especially at work, it was their duty to keep themselves pure from the leaven of his

p 385 -- evil doctrines. Hence they were censured for harboring among them those who held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes.  (See remarks on the Nicolaitanes, verse 6.)  What the doctrine of Balaam was, is here partially revealed. He taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel.  (See a full account of his work and its results in Numbers, chapters 22-25 and 31:13-16.)  It appears that Balaam desired to curse Israel for the sake of the rich reward which Balak offered him for so doing. But not being permitted by the Lord to curse them, he resolved to accomplish essentially the same thing, though in a different way. He therefore counseled Balak to seduce them, by means of the females of Moab, to participate in the celebration of the rites of idolatry, and all its licentious accompaniments. The plan succeeded. The abominations of idolatry spread through the camp of Israel, the curse of God was called down upon them by their sins, and there fell by the plague twenty-four thousand persons.

The doctrines complained of in the church of Pergamos were of course similar in their tendency, leading to spiritual idolatry, and an unlawful connection between the church and the world. Out of this spirit was finally produced the union of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, which culminated in the formation of the papacy.

Repent. - By disciplining or expelling those who hold these pernicious doctrines Christ declared that if they did not do this, he would take the matter into his own hands, and come unto them (in judgment), and fight against them (those who held these evil doctrines); and the whole church would be held responsible for the wrongs of those heretical ones whom they harbored in their midst.

The Promise. - To the overcomer it is promised that he shall eat of the hidden manna, and receive from his approving Lord a white stone, with a new and precious name engraved thereon. Concerning manna that is "hidden," and a new name that no one is to know but he that receives it, not much in the way of exposition should be required. But there has been much conjecture upon these points, and an allusion to

p 386 -- them may be expected. Most commentators apply the manna, white stone, and new name, to spiritual blessings to be enjoyed in this life; but like all the other promises to the overcomer, this one doubtless refers wholly to the future, and is to be given when the time comes that the saints are to be rewarded. Perhaps the following from the late H. Blunt is as satisfactory as anything that has ever been written upon these several particulars:      "It is generally thought by commentators that this refers to an ancient judicial custom of dropping a black stone into an urn when it is intended to condemn, and a white stone when the prisoner is to be acquitted; but this is an act so distinct from that described, 'I will give thee a white stone,' that we are disposed to agree with those who think it refers rather to a custom of a very different kind, and not unknown to the classical reader, according with beautiful propriety to the case before us. In primitive times, when traveling was rendered difficult from want of places of public entertainment, hospitality was exercised by private individuals to a very great extent, of which, indeed, we find frequent traces in all history, and in none more than the Old Testament. Persons who partook of this hospitality, and those who practiced it, frequently contracted habits of friendship and regard for each other, and it became a well-established custom among the Greeks and Romans to provide their guests with some particular mark, which was handed down from father to son, and insured hospitality and kind treatment whenever it was presented. This mark was usually a small stone or pebble, cut in half, upon the halves of which the host and guest mutually inscribed their names, and then interchanged with each other. The production of this tessera was quite sufficient to insure friendship for themselves or descendants whenever they traveled again in the same direction, while it is evident that these stones required to be privately kept, and the names written upon them carefully concealed, lest others should obtain the privileges instead of the persons for whom they were intended. TOP

"How natural, then, the allusion to this custom in the words of the text, 'I will give him to eat of the hidden

p 387 -- manna!' and having done this, having made him partake of my hospitality, having recognized him as my guest and friend, I will present him with the white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save he who receiveth it. I will give him a pledge of my friendship, sacred and inviolable, known only to himself."

On the new name, Wesley very appropriately says:  -    "Jacob, after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Wouldst thou know what thy new name will be? The way to this is plain - overcome. Till then, all thy inquiries are vain. Thou wilt then read it on the white stone."

VERSE 18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write:  These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;    19.    I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.    20.    Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.     21.    And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.    22.    Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.    23.    And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.    24.    But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.    25.    But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.    26.    And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations   27.    And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.    28.    And I will give him the morning star.    29.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If the period covered by the Pergamos church has been correctly located, terminating with the setting up of the papacy, A. D. 538, the most natural division to be assigned to the church of Thyatira would be the time of the continuance of this blasphemous power through the 1260 years of its supremacy, or from A. D. 538 to A. D. 1798.

Thyatira signifies "sweet savor of labor," or "sacrifice of contrition." This would well describe the state of the church

p 388 -- of Jesus Christ during the long period of papal triumph and persecution. This age of such dreadful tribulation upon the church as never was (Matt. 24:21), improved the religious condition of believers. Hence they receive for their works, charity, service, faith, and patience, the commendation of Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire. And works are then again mentioned, as if worthy of double commendation. And the last were more than the first. There had been an improvement in their condition, a growth of grace, an increase in all these elements of Christianity. This church is the only one that is commended for an improvement in spiritual things. But as in the church of Pergamos unfavorable circumstances were no apology for false doctrines in the church, so in this church, no amount of labor, charity, service, faith, or patience could compensate for a like sin. A rebuke is therefore given them for suffering in their midst -

That Woman Jezebel. - As in the preceding church Antipas denoted, not an individual, but a class of persons, so, doubtless, Jezebel is here to be understood in the same sense. Watson's Bible Dictionary says, "The name of Jezebel is used proverbially. Rev. 2:20." William Miller, Lectures, p. 142, speaks as follows:      "Jezebel is a figurative name, alluding to Ahab's wife, who slew the prophets of the Lord, led her husband into idolatry, and fed the prophets of Baal at her own table. A more striking figure could not have been used to denote the papal abominations. (See I Kings, chapters 18, 19, and 21). It is very evident from history, as well as from this verse, that the church of Christ did suffer some of the papal monks to preach and teach among them. (See the History of the Waldenses.')" TOP

The Comprehensive Commentary has the following remark upon verse 23:       "Children are spoken of, which confirms the idea that a sect and its proselytes are meant."   The judgments here threatened against this woman are in harmony with the threatenings in other parts of this book against the Romish Church under the symbol of a corrupt woman, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. (See chapters 17-19.)

p 389 -- The death which is threatened is doubtless the second death, at the end of the one thousand years of Revelation 20, when the righteous retribution from the Searcher of "the reins and hearts" of all men will be given. And further, the declaration, "I will give unto every one of you according to your works," is proof that the address to this church looks forward prophetically to the final reward or punishment of all accountable beings.

And All the Churches Shall Know. - It has been argued from this expression that these churches could not denote seven successive periods of the gospel age, but must exist contemporaneously, as otherwise all the churches could not know that Christ was the searcher of the reins and hearts from seeing his judgments upon Jezebel and her children. But when is it that all the churches are to know this?  -  It is when these children are punished with death. And if this is at the time when the second death is inflicted upon all the wicked, then indeed will "all the churches," as they behold the infliction of the judgment, know that no secret thing, no evil thought or purpose of the heart, has escaped the knowledge of Him, who, with eyes like flames of fire, searches the hearts and reins of men.

I Will Lay Upon You None Other Burden. - A respite promised the church, if we rightly apprehend, from the burden, so long her portion, -  the weight of papal oppression. It cannot be applied to the reception of new truths; for truth is not a burden to any accountable being. But the days of tribulation that came upon that church were to be shortened for the elect's sake. Matt. 24:22. "They shall be holpen," says the prophet, "with a little help." Dan. 11:34. "And the earth helped the woman," says John. Rev. 12:16.

Hold Fast Till I Come. - These are the words of the "Son of God," and bring to our view an unconditional coming. To the churches of Ephesus and Pergamos, certain comings were threatened on conditions:   "Repent, or else I will come unto thee," etc., implying visitations of judgment. But here a coming of a different nature altogether is brought to view. It is not a threatening of punishment. It is suspended upon no

p 390 -- conditions. It is set before the believer as a matter of hope, and can refer to no other event but the future second advent of the Lord in glory, when the Christian's trials will cease, and his efforts in the race for life, and his warfare for a crown of righteousness, will be rewarded with everlasting success.

This church brings us down to the time when the more immediate signs of the soon-coming advent began to be fulfilled. In 1780, eighteen years before the close of this period, the predicted signs in the sun and moon were fulfilled. (See chapter 6:12.) And in reference to these signs the Saviour said:   "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."   In the history of this church we reach a point when the end is drawing so near that the attention of the people could properly be called more particularly to that event. All along Christ has said to his followers, "Occupy till I come." Luke 19:13. Now he says, "Hold fast till I come." TOP

Till the End.- The end of the Christian age. "He that shall endure unto the end," says Christ, "the same shall be saved." Matt. 24:13. Is not here a like promise to those who keep Christ's works, do the things he has enjoined, keep the faith of Jesus? Chapter 14:12.

Power Over the Nations. - In this world the wicked bear rule, and the servants of Christ are of no esteem. But the time is coming when righteousness will be in the ascendency; when all ungodliness will be seen in its true light, and be at a heavy discount; and when the scepter of power will be in the hands of the people of God. This promise will be explained by the following facts and scriptures:    (1)    The nations are to be given by the Father into the hands of Christ, to be ruled with a rod of iron, and dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel (Ps. 2:8, 9);    (2)    Associated with Christ when he thus enters upon his own work of power and judgment, are to be his saints (Rev. 3:21);    (3)    They are to reign with him in this capacity for one thousand years (chapter 20:4);    (4)    During this period, the degree of judgment upon wicked men and evil angels is determined (1 Cor. 6:2, 3);    (5)    At the end of the one

p 391 -- thousand years, they have the honor of sharing with Christ in the execution of the sentence written. (Ps. 149: 9).

The Morning Star. -  Christ says, in chapter 22:16, that he is himself the morning star. The morning star is the immediate forerunner of the day. What is here called the morning star, is called the day star in 2 Peter 1:19, where it is associated with the dawn of the day:   "Until the day dawn, and the day star arise."   During the saints' weary night of watching, they have the word of God to shed its needful light upon their path. But when the day star shall arise in their hearts, or the morning star be given to the overcomers, they will be taken into so close a relationship to Christ that their hearts will be fully illuminated with his Spirit, and they will walk in his light. Then they will no longer need the sure word of prophecy, which now shines as a light in a dark place. Hasten on, O glorious hour, when the light of heaven's bright day shall rise upon the pathway of the little flock, and beams of glory from the eternal world shall gild their banners!    TOP

The Seven Churches Continued
CHAPTER -- III

p 392 -- VERSE 1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.    2.    Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.    3.    Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.    4.    Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.    5.    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.    6.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If the dates of the preceding churches have been correctly fixed, the period covered by the church of Sardis must commence about the year 1798. Sardis signifies "prince or song of joy," or "that which remains." We then have before us, as constituting this church, the reformed churches, from the date above named to the great movement which marked another era in the history of the people of God.

The great fault found with this church is that it has a name to live, but is dead. And what a high position, in a worldly point of view, has the nominal church occupied during this period! Look at her high-sounding titles, and her favor with the world. But how have pride and popularity grown apace, until spirituality is destroyed, the line of distinction between the church and the world is obliterated, and these different

p 393 -- popular bodies are churches of Christ only in name!

This church was to hear the proclamation of the doctrine of the second advent, as we learn from verse 3:    "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief."   This implies that the doctrine of the advent would be proclaimed, and the duty of watching be enjoined upon the church. The coming spoken of is unconditional; the manner only in which it would come upon them is conditional. Their not watching would not prevent the coming of the Lord; but by watching they could avoid being overtaken as by a thief. It is only to those who are in this condition that the day of the Lord comes unawares. "Ye, brethren," says Paul, "are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."  I Thess. 5:4.

A Few Names Even In Sardis. - This language would seem to imply a period of unparalleled worldliness in the church. But even in this state of things, there are some whose garments are not defiled,  -  some who have kept themselves free from this contaminating influence. James says, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27.

Shall Walk With Me In White. - The Lord does not overlook his people in any place, however few their numbers. Lonely Christian, with none of like precious faith with whom to commune, do you ever feel as if the hosts of the unbelievers would swallow you up? You are not unnoticed or forgotten by your Lord. The multitude of the wicked around you cannot be so great as to hide you from his view; and if you keep yourself unspotted from surrounding evil, the promise is sure to you. You shall be clothed in white,  -  the white raiment of the overcomer,  -  and walk with your Lord in glory. See chapter 7:17:   "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." TOP

White Raiment. - Being clothed with white raiment is explained in other scriptures to be a symbol of exchanging iniquity for righteousness. (See Zech. 3:4, 5.) "Take

p 394 -- away the filthy garments from him," is explained by the language that follows, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee."    "The fine linen," or the white raiment, "is the righteousness of saints." Rev. 19:8.

The Book of Life. -  Object of thrilling interest! Vast and ponderous volume, in which are enrolled the names of all the candidates for everlasting life! And is there danger, after our names have once been entered in that heavenly journal, that they may be blotted out? - Yes; or this warning would never have been penned. Paul, even, feared that he himself might become a castaway. 1 Cor. 9:27. It is only by being overcomers at last that our names can be retained in that book. But all will not overcome. Their names, of course, will be blotted out. And reference is made to some definite point of time in the future for this work. "I will not," says Christ (in the future), blot out the names of the overcomers, which is also saying, by implication, that at the same time he will blot out the names of those who do not overcome. Is not this the same time mentioned by Peter in Acts 3:19? "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." To say to the overcomer that his name shall not be blotted out of the book of life, is to say also that his sins shall be blotted out of the book wherein they are recorded, to be remembered against him no more forever. Heb. 8:12. And this is to be when the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord; may we not also add, in that other language of Peter, When the day star shall arise in our hearts, or the morning star be given to the church, just previous to the advent of the Lord to usher in the glorious day? 2 Peter 1:19; Rev. 2:28. And when that hour of decision shall come, which can not now be a great way in the future, how, reader, will it be with you? Will your sins be blotted out, and your name be retained in the book of life? or will your name be blotted out of the book of life, and your sins be left to bear their fearful record against you?

p 395 -- The Presentation In Glory. - "I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." Christ taught here upon earth, that as men confessed or denied, despised or honored him here, they would be confessed or denied by him before his Father in heaven and the holy angels. Matt. 10:32, 33; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:8, 9. And who can fathom the honor of being approved before the heavenly hosts! Who can conceive the bliss of that moment when we shall be owned by the Lord of life before his Father as those who have done his will, fought the good fight, run the race, honored him before men, overcome, and whose names are worthy, through his merits, of standing upon the imperishable record of the book of life forever and ever!

VERSE 7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth;    8.    I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.    9.    Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.    10.     Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.    11.    Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.    12.    Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.    13.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. TOP

The word Philadelphia signifies brotherly love, and expresses the position and spirit of those who received the Advent message up to the autumn of 1844. As they came out of the sectarian churches, they left party names and party feelings behind; and every heart beat in union, as they gave the alarm to the churches and to the world, and pointed to the coming of the Son of man as the believer's true hope. Selfishness and covetousness were laid aside, and a spirit of consecration and sacrifice was cherished. The Spirit of God was with every

p 396 -- true believer, and his praise upon every tongue. Those who were not in that movement know nothing of the deep searching of heart, consecration of all to God, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, and pure, fervent love for one another, which true believers then enjoyed. Those who were in that movement are aware that language would fail to describe that holy, happy state.

The Key of David. - A key is a symbol of power. The Son of God is the rightful heir to David's throne; and he is about to take to himself his great power, and to reign; hence he is represented as having the key of David. The throne of David, or of Christ, on which he is to reign, is included in the capital of his kingdom, the New Jerusalem, now above, but which is to be located on this earth, where he is to reign forever and ever. Rev. 21:1-5; Luke 1:32, 33.

He That Openeth, and No Man Shutteth, etc. - To understand this language, it is necessary to look at Christ's position and work as connected with his ministry in the sanctuary, or true tabernacle above. Heb. 8:2. A figure, or pattern, of this heavenly sanctuary once existed here upon earth in the sanctuary built by Moses. Ex. 25:8, 9; Acts 7:44; Heb. 9:1, 21, 23, 24. The earthly building had two apartments,  -  the holy place and the most holy place. Ex. 26:33, 34. In the first apartment were the candlestick, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense. In the second were the ark, which contained the tables of the covenant, or ten commandments, and the cherubim. Heb. 9:1-5. In like manner the sanctuary in which Christ ministers in heaven has two apartments. Heb. 9:24. (See also verses 8 and 12 and chapter 10:19, in each of which texts the words rendered holiest and holy place are plural in the original, and should be rendered holy places.) And as all things were made after their pattern, the heavenly sanctuary has also furniture similar to that of the worldly. For the antitype of the golden candlestick and altar of incense, in the first apartment, see Rev. 4:5; 8:3; and for the antitype of the ark of the covenant, with its ten commandments, see Rev. 11:19. In the worldly sanctuary the priests ministered. Ex. 28:41, 43;

p 397 -- Heb. 9:6, 7; 13:11; etc. The ministry of these priests was a shadow of the ministry of Christ in the sanctuary in heaven. Heb. 8:4, 5. A complete round of service was performed in the earthly tabernacle once every year. Heb. 9:7. But in the tabernacle above the service is performed once for all. Heb. 7:27; 9:12. At the close of the yearly typical service, the high priest entered the second apartment, the most holy place of the sanctuary, to make an atonement; and this work is called the cleansing of the sanctuary. Lev. 16:20, 30, 33; Eze. 45:18. When the ministry in the most holy place commenced, that in the holy place ceased; and no service was performed there so long as the priest was engaged in the most holy place. Lev. 16:17. A similar opening and shutting, or change of ministration, must be accomplished by Christ when the time comes for the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. And the time did come for this service to commence at the close of the 2300 days, in 1844. To this event the opening and shutting mentioned in the text under consideration can appropriately apply, the opening being the opening of his ministration in the most holy place, and the shutting, its cessation in the first apartment, or holy place. (See exposition of the subject of the sanctuary and its cleansing, under Dan. 8:14.)

Verse 9 probably applies to those who do not keep pace with the advancing light of truth, and who oppose those that do. Such shall yet be made to feel and confess that God loves those who, not rejecting the past fulfilments of his word, nor stereotyping themselves in a creed, continue to advance in the knowledge of his truth. TOP

The Word of My Patience. - Says John, in Rev. 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Those who now live in patient, faithful obedience to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will be kept in the hour of temptation and peril just before us. (See chapter 13:13-17.)

Behold, I Come Quickly. - The second coming of Christ is here again brought to view, and with more startling emphasis

p 398 -- than in any of the preceding messages. The nearness of that event is here urged upon the attention of believers. The message applies to a period when that great event is impending; and in this we have most indubitable evidence of the prophetic nature of these messages. What is said of the first three churches contains no allusion to the second coming of Christ, from the fact that they do not cover a period during which that event could be Scripturally expected. But we come down to the Thyatiran church, beyond which only three comparatively brief stages of the church appear before the end, and, as if then the time had come when this great hope was just beginning to dawn upon the church, the mind is carried forward to it by a single allusion: "Hold fast till I come." We come down to the next state of the church, the Sardis, the church which occupies a position still nearer that event, and the great proclamation is brought to view which was to herald it, and the duty of watching enjoined upon the church: "If thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief." We reach the Philadelphian church, still further down in the stream of time, and the nearness of the same great event then leads Him who "is holy and true" to utter the stirring declaration, "Behold, I come quickly." How evident it is from all this that these churches occupy positions successively nearer the great day of the Lord, as in each succeeding one, and in a continually increasing ratio, this great event is made more and more prominent, and is more definitely and impressively urged upon the attention of the church. Here they see indeed the day approaching. Heb. 10:25.

Faithfulness Enjoined. - "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Not that by our faithfulness we are depriving any one else of a crown; but the verb rendered to take has a number of definitions, one of which is "to take away, snatch from, deprive of." Hold fast that thou hast, that no man deprive thee of the crown of life. Let no one, and no thing, induce you to yield up the truth, or pervert you from the right ways of the Lord; for by so doing they will cause you to lose the reward.

p 399 -- A Pillar In the Temple. - The overcomer in this address has the promise of being made a pillar in the temple of God, and going no more out. The temple here must denote the church; and the promise of being made a pillar therein is the strongest promise that could be given of a place of honor, permanence, and safety in the church, under the figure of a heavenly building. And when the time comes that this part of the promise is fulfilled, probation with the overcomer is past; he is fully established in the truth, and sealed. "He shall go no more out;" that is, there is no more danger of his falling away; he is the Lord's forever; his salvation is sure.

But they are to have more than this. From the moment they overcome, and are sealed for heaven, they are labeled, if we may so express it, as belonging to God and Christ, and addressed to their destination, the New Jerusalem. They are to have written upon them the name of God, whose property they are, the name of the New Jerusalem, to which place they are going, not old Jerusalem, where some are vainly looking; and they have upon them the new name of Christ, by whose authority they are to receive everlasting life, and enter into the kingdom. Thus sealed and labeled, the saints of God are safe. No enemy will be able to prevent their reaching their destination, their glorious haven of rest, Jerusalem above. TOP

VERSE 14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God;    15.    I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.    16.    So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.    17.    Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:    18.    I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.    19.    As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.    20.    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.    21.    To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.    22.    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

p 400 -- Laodicea signifies the judging of the people, or, according to Cruden, a just people. The message to this church brings to view the closing scenes of probation. It reveals a period of judgment. It is the last stage of the church. It consequently applies to believers under the third message, the last message of mercy before the coming of Christ (see chapter 14:9-14), while the great day of atonement is transpiring, and the investigative Judgment is going forward upon the house of God, - a period during which the just and holy law of God is taken by the waiting church as their rule of life.

These Things Saith the Amen. - This is, then, the final message to the churches ere the close of probation. And though the description of their condition which he gives to the indifferent Laodiceans is fearful and startling, nevertheless it cannot be denied; for the Witness is "faithful and true." Moreover, he is "the beginning of the creation of God." Some attempt by this language to uphold the error that Christ was a created being, dating his existence anterior to that of any other created being or thing, next to the self-existent and eternal God. But the language does not necessarily imply that he was created; for the words, "the beginning of the creation," may simply signify that the work of creation, strictly speaking, was begun by him. "Without him was not anything made." Others, however, and more properly we think, take the word arch to mean the "agent" or "efficient cause," which is one of the definitions of the word, understanding that Christ is the agent through whom God has created all things, but that the Son came into existence in a different manner, as he is called "the only begotten" of the Father. It would seem utterly inappropriate to apply this expression to any being created in the ordinary sense of that term.

The charge he brings against the Laodiceans is that they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. They lack that religious fervency, zeal, and devotion which their position in the world's closing history, with the light of prophecy beaming upon their pathway, demands that they should manifest; and this lukewarmness is shown by a lack of good works; for it

p 401 -- is from a knowledge of their works that the faithful and true Witness brings this fearful charge against them. TOP

I Would Thou Wert Cold or Hot. - Three states are brought to view in this message, - the cold, the lukewarm, and the hot. It is important to determine what condition they each denote, in order to guard against wrong conclusions. Three conditions of spiritual life which pertain to the church, not to the world, are to be considered. What the term hot means it is not difficult to conceive. The mind at once calls up a state of intense fervency and zeal, when all the affections, raised to the highest pitch, are drawn out for God and his cause, and manifest themselves in corresponding works. To be lukewarm is to lack this zeal, to be in a state in which heart and earnestness are wanting; in which there is no self-denial that costs anything, no cross-bearing that is felt, no determined witnessing for Christ, and no valiant aggression that keeps sinews strained and armor bright; and, worst of all, it implies entire satisfaction with that condition. But to be cold  -  what is that? Does it denote a state of corruption, wickedness, and sin, such as characterizes the world of unbelievers? We cannot so regard it, for the following reasons: -

1.   It would seem harsh and repulsive to represent Christ as wishing, under any circumstances, that persons should be in such a condition; but he says, "I would thou wert cold or hot."

2.   No state can be more offensive to Christ than that of the sinner in open rebellion, and his heart filled with every evil. It would therefore be incorrect to represent him as preferring that state to any position which his people can occupy while they are still retained as his.

3.   The threat of rejection in verse 16 is because they are neither cold nor hot. As much as to say that if they were either cold or hot, they would not be rejected. But if by cold is meant a state of open worldly wickedness, they would be rejected therefore very speedily. Hence such cannot be its meaning.

We are consequently forced to the conclusion that by this language our Lord has no reference whatever to those outside

p 402 -- of his church, but that he refers to three degrees of spiritual affections, two of which are more acceptable to him than the third. Heat and cold are preferable to lukewarmness But what kind of spiritual state is denoted by the term cold? We may remark first that it is a state of feeling. In this respect it is superior to lukewarmness, which is a state of comparative insensibility, indifference, and supreme self-satisfaction. To be hot is also to be in a state of feeling. And as hot denotes joyous fervency, and a lively exercise of all the affections, with a heart buoyant with the sensible presence and love of God, so by cold would seem to be denoted a spiritual condition characterized by a destitution of these traits, yet one in which the individual feels such destitution, and longs to recover his lost treasures. This state is well expressed by the language of Job, "O that I knew where I might find him!" Job 23:3. In this state there is not indifference, nor is there content; but there is a sense of coldness, unfitness, and discomfort, and a groping and seeking after something better. There is hope of a person in this condition. What a man feels that he lacks and wants, he will earnestly strive to obtain. The most discouraging feature of the lukewarm is that they are conscious of no lack, and feel that they have need of nothing. Hence it is easy to see why our Lord should prefer to behold his church in a state of comfortless coldness, rather than in a state of comfortable, easy, indifferent lukewarmness. Cold, a person will not long remain. His efforts will soon lead him to the fervid state. But lukewarm, there is danger of his remaining till the faithful and true Witness is obliged to reject him as a nauseous and loathsome thing.

I Will Spue Thee Out of My Mouth. - Here the figure is still further carried out, and the rejection of the lukewarm expressed by the nauseating effects of tepid water. And this denotes a final rejection, an utter separation from his church.

Rich, and Increased With Goods. - Such the Laodiceans think is their condition. They are not hypocrites, because they "know not" that they are poor, miserable, blind, and naked. TOP

p 403 -- The Counsel Given Them. - Buy of me, says the true Witness, gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. This shows at once to the deceived Laodiceans the objects they lack, and the extent of their destitution. It shows, too, where they can obtain those things in which they are so fearfully poor; it brings before them the necessity of speedily obtaining them. The case is so urgent that our great Advocate in the court above sends us special counsel on the point; and the fact that he who has condescended to point out our lack, and counsel us to buy, is the one who has these things to bestow, and invites us to come to him for them, is the best possible guarantee that our application will be respected, and our requests granted.

But by what means can we buy these things? -  Just as we buy all other gospel graces. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isa. 55:1. We thus buy by the asking; buy by throwing away the worthless baubles of earth, and receiving priceless treasures in their stead; buy by simply coming and receiving; buy, giving nothing in return. And what do we buy on these gracious terms? -  Bread that perishes not, spotless raiment that soils not, riches that corrupt not, and an inheritance that fadeth not. Strange traffic, this! yet thus the Lord condescends to deal with his people. He might compel us to come in the manner and with the mien of beggars; but instead of this he gives us the treasures of his grace, and in return receives our worthlessness, that we may take the blessings he has to bestow, not as pittances dealt out to mendicants, but as the legitimate possessions of honorable purchase.

The things to be obtained demand especial notice. They are enumerated as follows: -

1.   Gold Tried in the Fire. - Gold, literally considered, is the comprehensive name for all worldly wealth and riches. Figuratively, it must denote that which constitutes spiritual riches. What grace, then, is represented by the gold, or, rather,

p 404 -- what graces? for doubtless no one single grace can be said to answer to the full import of that term. The Lord said to the church of Smyrna that he knew their poverty, but they were rich; and the testimony shows that their riches consisted of that which was finally to put them in possession of a crown of life. Says James, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" "Faith," says Paul, "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." To be "rich toward God," - rich in the spiritual sense, - is to have a clear title to the promises, - to be an heir of that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29. And how do we obtain this heirship? - In the same way that Abraham obtained the promise; that is, through faith. Rom. 4:13, 14. No wonder, then, that Paul should devote an entire chapter in Hebrews (chapter 11) to this important subject, setting forth the mighty achievements that have been accomplished, and the precious promises that have been obtained, through faith; and that he should, in the first verse of the next chapter, as the grand conclusion to his argument, exhort Christians to lay aside every weight, and the sin (of unbelief) that so easily besets them. Nothing will sooner dry up the springs of spirituality, and sink us into utter poverty in reference to the things of the kingdom of God, than to let faith go out and unbelief come in. For faith must enter into every action that is pleasing in his sight; and in coming to him, the first thing is to believe that he is; and it is through faith, as the chief agent under the grace which is the gift of God, that we are to be saved. Heb. 11:6; Eph. 2:8.

From this it would seem that faith is a principal element of spiritual wealth. But if, as already remarked, no one grace can answer to the full import of the term gold, so, doubtless, other things are included with faith. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for," says Paul. Hence hope is an inseparable accompaniment of faith. - Heb. 11:1; Rom. 8:24, 25.

p 405 -- And again Paul tells us that faith works by love, and speaks in another place of being "rich in good works." Gal. 5:6; 1 Tim. 6:18. Hence love cannot be separated from faith. We then have before us the three objects associated together by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13,  -  faith, hope, and charity, or love; and the greatest of these is charity. Such is the gold tried by fire which we are counseled to buy. TOP

2.  White Raiment. - On this point there would not seem to be much room for controversy. A few texts will furnish a key to the understanding of this expression. Says the prophet, Isa. 64:6, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." We are counseled to buy the opposite of filthy rags, which would be complete and spotless raiment. The same figure is used in Zech. 3:3, 4. And John, in the 19th chapter of the Revelation, verse 8, says plainly that "the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."

3.   The Eye-salve. - On this there is as little room for a diversity of opinion as upon the white raiment. The anointing of the eyes is certainly not to be taken in a literal sense; and, reference being made to spiritual things, the eye-salve must denote that by which our spiritual discernment is quickened. There is but one agent revealed to us in the word of God by which this is accomplished, and that is the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:38 we read that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost." And the same writer through whom came this Revelation from Jesus Christ, wrote to the church in his first epistle (chapter 2:20) as follows: "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." In verse 27 he enlarges upon this point thus: "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." By referring to his Gospel, it is found that the work which he here sets forth as accomplished by the anointing is exactly the same that he there attributes to the Holy Spirit. John 14:26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things

p 406 -- to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (See also John 16:13.)

Thus in a formal and solemn manner are we counseled by the faithful and true Witness, under the figures of gold, white raiment, and eye-salve, to seek from him, speedily and earnestly, an increase of the heavenly graces of faith, hope, charity, that righteousness which he alone can furnish, and an unction from the Holy Spirit. But how is it possible that a people lacking these things should think themselves rich and increased with goods? A plausible inference may here be drawn, which is perhaps also a necessary one, as there is room for no other. It will be observed that no fault is found with the Laodiceans on account of the doctrines they hold. They are not accused of harboring any Jezebel in their midst, or of countenancing the doctrines of Balaam or the Nicolaitanes. So far as we can learn from the address to them, their belief is correct, and their theory sound. The inference therefore is that having a correct theory, therewith they are content. They are satisfied with a correct form of doctrine without its power. Having received light concerning the closing events of this dispensation, and having a correct theoretical knowledge of the truths that pertain to the last generation of men, they are inclined to rest in this to the neglect of the spiritual part of religion. It is by their actions, doubtless, not by their words, that they say they are rich, and increased with goods. Having so much light and so much truth, what can they want besides? And if, with a commendable tenacity, they defend the theory, and in the letter, so far as their outward life is concerned, conform to the increasing light upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, is not their righteousness complete? Rich, and increased with goods, and needing nothing! Here is their failure. Their whole being should cry out for the spirit, the zeal, the fervency, the life, the power, of a living Christianity, and their righteousness should consist in a swallowing up of self and all its works in the merits of their Redeemer.

The Token of Love. - This, strange as it may seem, is chastisement. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." If we are without chastisement, we are not sons. Hebrews 12. TOP

p 407 -- "A general law," says Thompson, "of his gracious economy is here set forth. As all need chastisement in some measure, they in some measure receive it, and thus have proof of the Saviour's attachment. This is a hard lesson to learn, and believers are dull scholars; yet here and throughout God's word and providence it stands, that trials are his benedictions, and that no child escapes the rod. The incorrigibly misshapen and coarse-grained blocks are rejected, while those chosen for the glorious structure are subjected to the chisel and the hammer. There is no cluster on the true vine but must pass through the winepress. 'For myself,' said an old divine under affliction, 'for myself, I bless God I have observed and felt so much mercy in this angry dispensation of God that I am almost transported. I am, surely, highly pleased with thinking how infinitely sweet his mercies are, when his judgments are so gracious.' In view, then, of the origin and design of the chastisements you receive, 'Be zealous and repent.' Lose no time; lose not a blow of the rod, but repent at once. Be fervent in spirit. Such is the first appliance of encouragement."

Be Zealous and Repent. - Although, as we have seen, the state represented by coldness is preferable to one of lukewarmness, yet that is not a state in which our Lord ever desires to find us. We are never exhorted to seek that state. There is a far better one which we are counseled to attain; and that is to be zealous, to be fervent, and to have our hearts all aglow in the service of our Master.

Christ Knocking At the Door. - Let us listen again to the author above quoted:       "Here is the heart of hearts. Notwithstanding their offensive attitude, their unlovely character, such is his love to their souls that be humbles himself to solicit the privilege of making them blessed. 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.' Why does he? Not because he is without home elsewhere. Among the mansions in his Father's house there is not one entrance closed to him. He is the life of every heart, the light in every eye, the song on every tongue, in glory. But be goes round from door to door in Laodicea. He stands at each, and knocks, because he came to seek and to save that which is lost, because he cannot give up the purpose

p 408 -- of communicating eternal life to as many as the Father has given him, and because be cannot become known to the inmate unless the door be opened and a welcome given him. Have you bought a piece of ground? have you bought five yoke of oxen? is your hat in your hand, and do you pray to be excused? He knocks and knocks. But you cannot receive company at present; you are worn out with labor; you have wheeled round the sofa; you are making yourself comfortable, and send word that you are engaged. He knocks and knocks. ... It is the hour for church prayer-meeting or for monthly concert; there is opportunity to pay a Christian visit to an individual or a family; but you move not. ... Oh, nauseous lukewarmness! Oh, fatal worldliness! The Lord of glory comes all the way from his celestial palace - comes in poverty, in sweat, in blood - comes to the door of a professed friend, who owes all to him, and cannot get in! - comes to rescue a man whose house is on fire, and he will not admit him! Oh, the height, the depth, of Jesus Christ's forbearance! Even the heathen Publius received Paul, and lodged him three days courteously. Shall nominal Christians tell the Lord of apostles that they have no room for him?" TOP

If Any Man Hear My Voice. - The Lord entreats, then, as well as knocks. And the word if implies that some will not hear. Though he stands and knocks and entreats till his locks are wet with the dews of night, yet some will close their ears to his tender entreaties. But it is not enough simply to hear. We must hear, and open the door. And many who at first hear the voice, and for a time feel inclined to heed, will doubtless, alas! fail in the end to do that which is necessary to secure to themselves the communion of the heavenly Guest. Reader, are your ears open to the entreaties which the Saviour directs to you? Is the sound of his voice a welcome sound? Will you heed it? Will you open the door and let him in? Or is the door of your heart held fast by heaps of this world's rubbish, which you are unwilling to remove? Remember that the Lord of life never forces an entrance. He condescends to come and knock, and seek admittance; but he takes up his

p 409 -- abode in those hearts only where he is then a welcome and invited guest.

And then the promise! "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." How forcible and touching the figure! Friend with friend, partaking of the cheerful and social meal! Mind with mind, holding free and intimate converse! And what a festal scene must that be where the King of glory is a guest! No common degree of union, no ordinary blessing, no usual privilege, is denoted by this language. Who, under such tender entreaty and so gracious a promise, can remain indifferent? Nor are we required to furnish the table for this exalted Guest. This he does himself, not with the gross nutriment of earth, but with viands from his own heavenly storehouse. Here he sets before us foretastes of the glory soon to be revealed. Here he gives us earnests of our future inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. Verily, when we shall comply with the conditions, and receive this promise, we shall experience the rising of the day star in our hearts, and behold the dawn of a glorious morning for the church of God.

The Final Promise. - The promise of supping with his disciples is made by the Lord before the final promise to the overcomer is given. This shows that the blessings included in that promise are to be enjoyed in this probationary state. And now, superadded to all these, is the promise to the overcomer:  "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Here the promises of the Lord culminate. From being at first rebellious, and then fallen, degraded, and polluted, man is brought by the work of the Redeemer back into reconciliation with God, cleansed from his pollutions, redeemed from the fall, made immortal, and finally raised to a seat upon the very throne of his Saviour. Honor and exaltation could go no farther. Human minds cannot conceive that state, human language cannot describe it. We can only labor on till, if overcomers at last, we shall "know what it is to be there."

In this verse there is not only a glorious promise, but there

p 410 -- is also an important doctrine. We learn by this that Christ reigns consecutively upon two thrones. One is the throne of his Father, the other is his own throne. He declares in this verse that he has overcome, and is now set down with his Father in his throne. He is now associated with the Father in the throne of universal dominion, placed at his right hand, far above all principality, power, might, and dominion. Eph. 1:20-22, etc. While in this position, he is a priest-king. He is a priest, "a minister of the sanctuary;" but at the same time he is "on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." Heb. 8:1, 2. This position and work of our Lord was thus predicted by the prophet Zechariah:   "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts [God], saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch [Christ]; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. ... And he [Christ] shall sit and rule upon his [God's] throne; and he [Christ] shall be a priest upon his [God's] throne; and the counsel of peace [in the sacrifice and priestly work of Christ in behalf of repenting man] shall be between them both." Zech. 6:12-13. But the time is coming when he is to change his position, and, leaving the throne of his Father, take his own throne; and this must be when the time comes for the reward of the overcomers; for when they enter upon their reward, they are to sit with Christ on his throne, as he has overcome, and is now seated with the Father upon his throne. This change in the position of Christ is set forth by Paul in. 1 Cor. 15:24-28, as follows: -        "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when be shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." TOP

p 411 -- The truths taught in this portion of Scripture may perhaps be most briefly expressed by a slight paraphrase, and by giving, in every instance, instead of the pronouns, the nouns to which they respectively refer. Thus: -      "Then cometh the end  (of the present dispensation),  when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom  (which he now holds conjointly with the Father)  to God, even the Father; when God shall have put down all rule and all authority and power  (that is opposed to the work of the Son).  For Christ must reign  (on the throne of his Father)  till the Father hath put all enemies under Christ's feet. [See. Ps. 110:1.] The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For God  (then)  hath put all things under Christ's feet. But when God saith, All things are put under Christ  (and he commences his reign upon his own throne),  it is manifest that God is excepted, who did put all things under Christ. And when all things shall be subdued unto Christ, then shall Christ also himself be subject unto God that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."

That this is a correct version of this scripture may be easily verified. The only question that can be raised is concerning the persons to whom the pronouns refer; and any attempt to make the pronouns refer to Christ which in the foregoing paraphrase are referred to God, will be found, when traced through the quotation, to make poor sense of Paul's language.

From this it will be seen that the kingdom which Christ delivers up to the Father is that which he holds at the present time upon his Father's throne, where he tells us he is now seated. He delivers up this kingdom at the end of this dispensation, when the time comes for him to take his own throne. After this he reigns on the throne of his father David, and is subject only to God, who still retains his position upon the throne of universal dominion. In this reign of Christ the saints participate. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." "And they lived," says John, dating from the first resurrection (chapter 20:4), "and reigned with Christ a thousand years." This we understand to be a special reign, or for a special purpose, as will be noticed

p 412 -- in that chapter; for the actual reign of the saints is to be "forever and ever." Dan. 7:18, 27. How can any earthly object divert our gaze from this durable and heavenly prospect?

Thus close the messages to the seven churches. How pointed and searching their testimony! What lessons do they contain for all Christians in all ages! It is as true with the last church as with the first, that all their works are known to Him who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. From his scrutinizing gaze nothing can be hidden. And while his threatenings to the hypocrites and evil workers, as in justice they may be, are awful, how ample, how comforting, how gracious, how glorious, his promises to those who love and follow him with singleness of heart!

Gracious words of counsel, messages of love,
Sent to all his children from the Lord on high:
Precious are these warnings from the throne above
As the world's last crisis swiftly draweth nigh.

Weak and all unworthy we, his children, are -
Pure and perfect must be ere we see his face;
Now for us the Saviour shows his tender care,
Offering for our purchase every heavenly grace.

Let each boundless promise every bosom thrill,
Bear us through sad ills this world has ever known,
Till we reach the mansions on God's holy hill,
Till we sit with Jesus on his glorious throne.
TOP

 

A New Vision - The Heavenly Sanctuary
CHAPTER IV

p 413 -- VERSE 1.   After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.

In the first three chapters, John presents the vision he had of the Son of man, comprising a description of his majestic person, and a record of the words which, with a voice as the sound of many waters, he was heard to utter. A new scene and a new vision now open before us; and the expression "after this" does not denote that what is recorded in chapter 4 and onward was to take place after the fulfilment of everything recorded in the three preceding chapters, but only that after he had seen and heard what is there recorded, he had the new view which he now introduces.

A Door Was Opened In Heaven. - Let it be noticed that John says, "A door was opened in heaven," not into heaven. It was not an opening of heaven itself before the mind of John, as in the case of Stephen (Acts 7:56); but some place, or apartment, in heaven was opened before him, and he was permitted to behold what was transpiring within. That this apartment which John saw open was the heavenly sanctuary, will plainly appear from other portions of the book.

p 414 -- Things Which Must Be Hereafter. - Compare with this chapter 1:1. The great object of the Revelation seems to be the presentation of future events, for the purpose of informing, edifying, and comforting the church.

VERSE 2. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.    3.    And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.    4.    And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.    5.    And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

In the Spirit. - Once before in this book we have had this expression; namely, in chapter 1:10, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," where it was taken to express the fact that John had a vision upon the Sabbath, or Lord's day. If it there expressed the state of being in vision, it would denote the same thing here; and consequently the first vision ended with chapter 3, and a new one is here introduced. Nor is it any objection to this view that John, previous to this, as is learned from the first verse of this chapter, was in such a spiritual state as to be able to look up and see a door opened in heaven, and to hear a voice, like the mighty sound of a trumpet, calling him up to a nearer prospect of heavenly things. It is evident that there may be such states of ecstasy independent of vision, just as Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, could look up and see the heavens opened, and the Son of man on the right hand of God. To be in the Spirit denotes a still higher state of spiritual elevation. On what day this vision was given, we are not informed.

Being again fully wrapped in heavenly vision, the first object which he beholds is a throne set in heaven, and the Divine Being seated thereon. The description of the appearance of this personage, clothed in the mingled colors of the jasper, frequently a purple, and the blood-red sardine stone, is such as at once to suggest to the mind a monarch vested with his royal robes. And round about the throne there was a rainbow,

p 415 -- both adding to the grandeur of the scene, and reminding us that though he who sits upon the throne is an almighty and absolute ruler, he is nevertheless the covenant-keeping God. TOP

The Four and Twenty Elders. - The question once proposed to John concerning a certain company, has frequently arisen concerning these four and twenty elders:   "Who are these? and whence came they?"   It will be observed that they are clothed in white raiment, and have on their heads crowns of gold, which are tokens both of a conflict completed and a victory gained. From this we conclude that they were once participants in the Christian warfare, once trod, in common with all saints, this earthly pilgrimage, but have overcome; and for some good purpose, in advance of the great multitude of the redeemed, are wearing their victor crowns in the heavenly world. Indeed, they plainly tell us as much as this in the song of praise which they, in connection with the four living beings, ascribe to the Lamb, in the 9th verse of the following chapter:   "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."   This song is sung before any of the events in the prophecy of the seven seals transpire; for it is sung to set forth the worthiness of the Lamb to take the book and to open the seals, on the ground of what he had already accomplished, which was their redemption. It is not, therefore, thrown in here by anticipation, having its application in the future; but it expresses an absolute and finished fact in the history of those who sang it. These, then, were a class of redeemed persons, - redeemed from this earth, redeemed as all others must be redeemed, by the precious blood of Christ.

Do we in any other place read of such a class of redeemed ones? - We think Paul refers to the same company when he writes to the Ephesians thus:  "Wherefore he saith, When he [Christ] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."  The marginal reading is, he led a "multitude of captives." Eph. 4:8. Going back to the events that occurred in connection with the crucifixion and

p 416 -- resurrection of Christ, we read: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Matt. 27:52, 53. Thus the answer to our question comes back, gathered unmistakably from the sacred page. These are some of those who came out of their graves at the resurrection of Christ, and who were numbered with the illustrious multitude which he led up from the captivity of Death's dark domain when he ascended in triumph on high. Matthew records their resurrection, Paul their ascension, and John beholds them in heaven, performing the sacred duties which they were raised up to accomplish.

In this view we are not alone. Wesley speaks as follows concerning the four and twenty elders:    "'Clothed in white raiment.' This, and their golden crowns, show that they had already finished their course, and taken their places among the citizens of heaven. They are never termed souls, and hence it is probable that they had glorified bodies already. Compare Matt. 27:52."

The particular attention of the reader is asked to the fact that the four and twenty elders are said to be seated on thrones. Our translation, it is true, reads "seats;" but the Greek is qronoi, "thrones;" and so the Revised Version reads: "And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones, and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting." This passage, consequently, throws light on the expression found in Dan. 7: 9, " I beheld till the thrones were cast down." These are the same thrones; and, as has been shown in comments upon that passage, the meaning is not that the thrones were overturned, or cast down, in the ordinary sense of that expression, but placed, or established; and the figure is taken from the Eastern custom of casting down, or placing, mats or divans for distinguished guests to sit upon. These four and twenty elders (see on chapter 5) are supposed to be assistants of Christ in his mediatorial work in the sanctuary on high; and when the judgment scene described in Dan. 7: 9 commenced in the

p 417 -- most holy place, their seats, or thrones, would be set, or placed, there, according to the testimony of that passage.

The Seven Lamps of Fire. - In these lamps of fire we have an appropriate antitype of the golden candlestick of the typical sanctuary, with its seven ever-burning lamps. This candlestick was placed, by divine direction, in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary. Ex. 25:31, 32, 37; 26:35; 27:20; etc. And now when John tells us that a door was opened in heaven, and in the apartment thus disclosed to view he sees the antitype of the candlestick of the earthly sanctuary, it is good proof that he is looking into the first apartment of the sanctuary above. TOP

VERSE 6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.    7.    And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle,    8.    And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.    9.    And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever,    10.    The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,    11.    Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

The Sea of Glass. - Not composed of glass, but a broad expanse resembling glass; that is, says Greenfield, transparent, brilliant. This idea is further carried out by its being likened to crystal, which is defined to mean "anything concrete and pellucid, like ice or glass." The position of this sea is such as to show that it bears no analogy to the laver of the ancient typical service.

It may extend under, and be the foundation of, the throne, and even further, of the city itself. It is again brought to view in chapter 15:2, as the place where the overcomers, in the ecstatic joy of final victory, will soon stand.

The Four Beasts. - It is a very unhappy translation which has given us the word beasts in this verse. The Greek word

p 418 -- zwon denotes properly a living creature. Bloomfield says, "'Four living creatures' (not beasts). So Heinr renders it. ... The propriety of this correction is now, I believe, generally agreed upon by commentators. The word is very different from qhrion, used to designate the prophetic beasts in the 13th and following chapters. (Scholefield.) It may be added that Bulkeley adduces several examples of zwon to denote, not only creature, but even a human being, especially one from Origen, who uses it of our Lord Jesus."

Similar imagery is used in the first chapter of Ezekiel. The qualities which would seem to be signified by the emblems are strength, perseverance, reason, and swiftness, - strength of affection, perseverance in carrying out the requirements of duty, reason in comprehending the divine will, and swiftness in obeying. These living beings are even more intimately connected with the throne than are the four and twenty elders, being represented as in the midst of it, and round about it. Like the elders, these, in their song to the Lamb, ascribe to him praise for having redeemed them from the earth. They therefore belong to the same company, and represent a part of the great multitude, who, as already described (see remarks on verse 4), have been led up on high from the captivity of death. Concerning the object of their redemption, see remarks on chapter 5:8.

They Rest Not. - "Oh! happy unrest!" beautifully exclaims John Wesley; and the theme of their constant worship is, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." No sublimer strain ever issued from created lips. And they repeat it "day and night," or continually, these terms only denoting the manner in which time is reckoned here; for there can be no night where the throne of God is.

We mortals are apt to tire of the repetition of the simple testimony we bear here to the goodness and mercy of God; and we are sometimes tempted to say nothing, because we cannot continually say something new. But may we not learn a profitable lesson from the course of these holy beings above, who never grow weary of the ceaseless repetition of these

p 419 -- words, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty;" and to whom these words never grow old, because their hearts ever glow with a sense of his holiness, goodness, and love? Praise does not become to them monotonous; for with every utterance they gain a new view of the attributes of the Almighty; they reach a greater height of comprehension in their vision of his perfeetions; the horizon expands before them; their hearts enlarge; and the new emotions of adoration, from their new standpoint, draw from them a fresh utterance of their holy salutation, new even to themselves, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!"

So, even with us here, though remarks are often repeated in reference to the goodness, the mercy, and the love of God, the value of his truth, and the attractions of the world to come, these should not grow stale upon the ear; for we should all our lives be rising to new conceptions of the blessings embraced in these glorious themes.

Concerning the expression, "which was, and is, and is to come," see remarks on chapter 1:4.

"Thou art worthy,O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power." How worthy, we never shall be able to realize till, like the holy beings who utter this language, changed to immortality, we are presented faultless before the presence of his glory. Jude 24.

Thou Hast Created All Things. - The works of creation furnish the foundation for the honor, glory, and power ascribed to God. "And for thy pleasure," or through thy will, dia to qelhma sou, they are, and were created. God willed, and all things came into existence; and by the same power they are preserved and sustained.   TOP

 

The Heavenly Sanctuary Continued
CHAPTER V

p 420 -- VERSE 1. And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

A new chapter here opens, but not a new scene. The same view is still before the mind of the apostle. By the words "him that sat on the throne," is evidently meant the Father, as the Son is subsequently introduced as "a Lamb as it had been slain." The book which John here saw, contained a revelation of scenes that were to transpire in the history of the church to the end of time. Its being held in the right hand of him that sat on the throne may signify that a knowledge of the future rests with God alone, except so far as he sees fit to reveal it to others.

The Book. - The books in use at the time the Revelation was given were not in the form of books as now made. They did not consist of a series of leaves bound together, but were composed of strips of parchment or other material, longer or shorter, one or more, and rolled up. On this point Wesley remarks:      "The usual books of the ancients were not like ours, but were volumes, or long pieces of parchment, rolled upon a long stick, as we frequently roll silks. Such was this represented, which was sealed with seven seals. Not as if the apostle saw

p 421 -- all the seals at once for there were seven volumes wrapped up one within another, each of which was sealed; so that upon opening and unrolling the first, the second appeared to be sealed up till that was opened, and so on to the seventh."

On the same point Scott remarks:       "It appeared as a roll consisting of several parchments, according to the custom of those times; and though it was supposed to be written within, yet nothing could be read till the seals were loosed. It was afterward found to contain seven parchments, or small volumes, each of which was separately sealed; but if all the seals had been on the outside, nothing could have been read till they had all been loosed; whereas the loosing of each seal was followed by some discovery of the contents of the roll. Yet the appearance on the outside seems to have indicated that it consisted of seven, or at least of several parts."

Bloornfield says:        "The long rolls of parchment used by the ancients, which we call books, were seldom written but on one side; namely, that which was in rolling turned inward."    So, doubtless, this book was not written within and on the backside, as the punctuation of our common version makes it read.       "Grotius, Lowman, Fuller, etc.,"       says the Cottage Bible,       "remove the comma, thus: 'Written within, and on the back (or outside) sealed,' etc."       How these seals were placed, is sufficiently explained in the notes from Wesley and Scott, given above.

VERSE 2. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?    3.   And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.    4.    And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. TOP

The Challenge. - God, as it were, holds forth this book to the view of the universe, and a strong angel, one doubtless of great eminence and power, comes forth as a crier, and with a mighty voice challenges all creatures in the universe to try the strength of their wisdom in opening the counsels of God. Who can be found worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? A pause ensues. In silence the universe owns

p 422 -- its inability and unworthiness to enter into the counsels of the Creator. "And no man in heaven," oudeiV not merely no man, but no one, no being, in heaven. Is not here proof that the faculties of angels are limited, like those of man, in respect to penetrating the future and disclosing what is to come? And when the apostle saw that no one came forward to open the book, he greatly feared that the counsels of God which it contained in reference to his people, would never be disclosed; and in the natural tenderness of his feelings, and his concern for the church, he wept much.       "How far are they,"      says Wesley,         "from the temper of St. John, who inquire after anything rather than the contents of this book!"

Upon the phrase,  "I wept much," Benson offers the following beautiful remarks:       "Being greatly affected with the thought that no being whatever was to be found able to understand, reveal, and accomplish the divine counsels, fearing they would still remain concealed from the church. This weeping of the apostle sprang from greatness of mind. The tenderness of heart which be always had, appeared more clearly now he was out of his own power. The Revelation was not written without tears, neither without tears will it be understood."

VERSE 5. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.    6.    And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.    7.    And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

Not long is John permitted to weep. God is not willing that any knowledge which can benefit his people shall be withheld. Provision is made for the opening of the book. Hence, one of the elders says to him, "Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Why one of the elders should impart this information to John in preference to some other being, does not appear, unless it is that having been redeemed, they would be especially interested

p 423 -- in all that pertained to the welfare of the church on earth. Christ is here called the "Lion of the tribe of Judah." Why called a lion? and why of the tribe of Judah? - As to the first, it is probably to denote his strength. As the lion is the king of beasts, the monarch of the forest, he thus becomes a fit emblem of kingly authority and power. "Of the tribe of Judah." Doubtless he receives this appellation from the prophecy in Gen. 49:9, 10.

The Root of David. - The source and sustainer of David as to his position and power. That David's position was specially ordained of Christ, and that he was specially sustained by him, there can be no doubt. David was the type, Christ the antitype. David's throne and reign over Israel was a type of Christ's reign over his people. He shall reign upon the throne of his father David. Luke 1:32, 33. As Christ appeared in the line of David's descendants when he took upon himself our nature, he is also called the offspring of David, and a root out of the stem of Jesse. Isa. 11:1, 10; Rev. 22:16. His connection with the throne of David being thus set forth, and his right thus shown to rule over the people of God, there was a propriety in intrusting to him the opening of the seals.

Hath Prevailed. - These words indicate that the right to open the book was acquired by a victory gained in some previous conflict; and so we find it set forth in subsequent portions of this chapter. The very next scene introduces us to the great work of Christ as the Redeemer of the world, and the shedding of his blood for the remission of sin and the salvation of man. In this work he was subjected to the fiercest assaults of Satan. But he endured his temptations, bore the agonies of the cross, rose a victor over death and the grave, made the way of redemption sure - triumphed! Hence the four living beings and the four and twenty elders sing, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." TOP

John looks to see the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and beholds a Lamb in the midst of the throne and of the four living beings and the elders, as it had been slain.

p 424 -- In the Midst of the Throne. - Doddridge translates thus:       "And I beheld in the middle space between the throne and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders there stood a Lamb,"       etc. In the center of the scene was the throne of the Father, and standing in the open space which surrounded it was the Son, set forth under the symbol of a slain lamb. Around these there stood those saints who had been redeemed: first, those represented by the four living creatures, then the elders forming the second circle, and the angels (verse 11) forming a third circle. The worthiness of Christ, as he thus stands forth under the figure of a slain lamb, is the admiration of all the holy throng.

As It Had Been Slain. - Woodhouse, as quoted in the Comprehensive Commentary, says:      "The Greek implies that the Lamb appeared with a wounded neck and throat, as if smitten at the altar as a victim." On this phrase, Clarke says:       "As if now in the act of being offered. This is very remarkable. So important is the sacrificial offering of Christ in the sight of God, that he is still represented as being in the very act of pouring out his blood for the offences of man. This gives great advantage to faith; when any soul comes to the throne of grace, he finds a sacrifice there provided for him to offer to God."

Seven Horns and Seven Eyes. - Horns are symbols of power, eyes of wisdom; and seven is a number denoting completeness, or perfection. We are thus taught that perfect power and perfect wisdom in here in the Lamb, through the operation of the Spirit of God, called the seven Spirits of God, to denote the fulness and perfection of its operation.

He Came and Took the Book. - Commentators have found an incongruity in the idea that the book was taken by a lamb, and have had recourse to several expedients to avoid the difficulty. But is it not a well-established principle that any action may be attributed to a symbol which could be appropriately performed by the person or being represented by the symbol? And is not this all the explanation that the passage needs? The Lamb, we know, is a symbol of Christ. We know there is nothing incongruous in Christ's taking a book; and when

p 425 -- we read that the book was taken, we think of the action, not as performed by the lamb, but by the one of whom the lamb is a symbol.

VERSE 8. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.    9.    And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;    10.    And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Vials Full of Odors. - From this expression we form an idea of the employment of those redeemed ones represented by the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders. They have golden vials, or vessels, full of odors - or, as the margin reads, incense - which are the prayers of saints. This is a work of ministry such as pertains to priests. TOP

Scott says:     "It is indisputably manifest that the four living creatures join in, or rather lead, the worship of the Lamb as having redeemed them to God; and this proves beyond controversy that part of the redeemed church is meant by this emblem, and not angels, whose worship is next described, but in language entirely different."

A. Barnes, in his notes on this passage, remarks:       "The idea here is, therefore, that the representatives of the church in heaven, the elders, spoken of as 'priests,' are described as officiating in the temple above in behalf of the church still below, and as offering incense while the church is engaged in prayer."

The reader will remember that in the ancient typical service the high priest had many assistants; and when we consider that we are now looking into the sanctuary in heaven, the conclusion at once follows that these redeemed ones are the assistants of our great High Priest above. For this purpose they were doubtless redeemed. And what could be more appropriate than that our Lord, in his priestly work for the human race, should be assisted by noble members of that race, whose holiness of life, and purity of character, had fitted

p 426 -- them to be raised up for that purpose? ( See remarks on chapter 4:4.)

We are aware that many entertain a great aversion to the idea of there being anything real and tangible in heaven; and we can easily anticipate that the views here presented will be altogether too literal for such. To sustain themselves in their position, they dwell much on the fact that the language is highly figurative, and that we cannot suppose there are or were any such things in heaven as John describes. We reply that, though the Revelation deals largely in figures, it does not deal in fictions. There is reality in all the things described; and we gain an understanding of the reality when we get a correct interpretation of the figures. Thus, in this vision we know that the One upon the throne is God. He is really there. We know the Lamb symbolizes Christ. He too is really there. He ascended with a literal, tangible body; and who can say that he does not still retain it? If, then, our great High Priest is a literal being, he must have a literal place in which to minister. And if the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders represent those whom Christ led up from the captivity of death at the time of his resurrection and ascension, why are they not just as literal beings while there in heaven as they were when they ascended?

The Song. - It is called "a new song," new, probably, in respect to the occasion and the composition. They were the first that could sing it, being the first that were redeemed. They call themselves kings and priests. In what sense they are priests has already been noticed, they being the assistants of Christ in his priestly work. In the same sense, doubtless, they are also kings; for Christ is set down with his Father on his throne, and doubtless these, as ministers of his, have some part to act in connection with the government of heaven in reference to this world.

The Anticipation. - "We shall reign on the earth." Thus, notwithstanding they are redeemed, and surround the throne of God, and are in the presence of the Lamb that redeemed them, and are surrounded with the angelic hosts of heaven, where all is glory ineffable, their song contemplates a still

p 427 -- higher state, when the great work of redemption shall be completed, and they, with the whole redeemed family of God, of every age, shall reign on the earth, which is the promised inheritance, and is to be the final and eternal residence of the saints.  Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:29; Ps. 37:11; Matt. 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 65:17-25; Rev. 21:1-5. TOP

VERSE 11. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of' thousands;    12.    Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.

The Heavenly Sanctuary. - How little conception have we of the magnitude and glory of the heavenly temple! Into that temple John was introduced, at the opening of chapter 4, by the door which was opened in heaven. Into the same temple, be it remembered, he is still looking in verses 11 and 12. And now he beholds the heavenly hosts.    (1)    Round about the throne are those represented by the four living creatures.    (2)    Next come the four and twenty elders.    (3)    Then John views, surrounding the whole, a multitude of the heavenly angels. How many? How many would we suppose could convene within the heavenly temple? "Ten thousand times ten thousand!" exclaims the seer. In this expression alone we have one hundred million! And then, as if no numerical expression was adequate to embrace the countless throng, he further adds, "And thousands of thousands!" Well might Paul call this, in Heb. 12:22, "an innumerable company of angels." And these were in the sanctuary above. Such was the company that John saw assembled at the place where the worship of a universe centers, and where the wondrous plan of human redemption is going forward to completion. And the central object in this innumerable and holy throng was the Lamb of God; and the central act of his life, which claimed their admiration, was the shedding of his blood for the salvation of fallen man; for every voice in all that heavenly host joined in the ascription which was raised, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and

p 428 -- strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Fitting assemblage for such a place! Fitting song of adoration to be raised to Him who by the shedding of his blood became a ransom for many, and who, as our great High Priest, still pleads its merits in the sanctuary above in our behalf. And here, before such an august assemblage, must our characters soon come up in final review. What shall fit us for the searching ordeal? What shall enable us to rise and stand at last with the sinless throng above? O, infinite merit of the blood of Christ! which can cleanse us from all our pollutions, and make us meet to tread the holy hill of Zion! O, infinite grace of God! which can prepare us to endure the glory, and give us boldness to enter into his presence, even with exceeding joy!

VERSE 13. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.    14.    And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped him that liveth forever and ever.

A Clean Universe. - In verse 13 we have an instance of what very frequently occurs in the Scriptures; namely, a declaration thrown in out of its chronological order for the purpose of following out to its completion some previous statement or allusion. In this instance the time is anticipated when redemption is finished. In verse 10 the four living creatures and four and twenty elders had declared, "We shall reign on the earth." Now the prophet's mind is carried forward to that time. The greatest act of Christ's intervention for man - the shedding of his blood - having been introduced, nothing could be more natural than that the vision should, for a moment, look over to the time when the grand result of the work then inaugurated should be accomplished, the number of the redeemed be made up, the universe be freed from sin and sinners, and a universal song of adoration go up to God and the Lamb. TOP

It is futile to attempt to apply this to the church in its present state, as most commentators do, or to any time in the

p 429 -- past since sin entered the world, or even since Satan fell from his high position as an angel of light and love in heaven. For at the time of which John speaks, every creature in heaven and on earth, without any exception, was sending up its anthem of blessings to God. But to speak only of this world since the fall, cursings instead of blessings have been breathed out against God and his throne from the great majority of our apostate race. And so it will ever be while sin reigns.

We find, then, no place for this scene which John describes, unless we go forward, according to the position above taken, to the time when the whole scheme of redemption is completed, and the saints enter upon their promised reign on the earth, to which the living creatures and elders looked forward in their song in verse 10. With this view, all is harmonious and plain. That reign on the earth commences after the second resurrection. Dan. 7:27; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1. At that resurrection, which takes place a thousand years subsequently to the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4, 5), occurs the perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:7. Then fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them (Rev. 20:9); and this fire that causes the perdition of ungodly men is the fire that melts and purifies the earth, as we learn from 2 Peter 3:7-13. Then sin and sinners are destroyed, the earth is purified, the curse with all its ills is forever wiped away, the righteous "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," and from a clean universe an anthem of praise and thanksgiving ascends to God. In all the fair domain of the great Creator, there is then no room for a vast receptacle of fire and brimstone, where myriads, preserved by the direct power of a God of mercy, shall burn and writhe in unspeakable and eternal torment. In this glad anthem of jubilee there is no room for the discordant and hopeless wailings of the damned, and the curses and blasphemies of those who are sinning and suffering beyond the pale of hope. Every rebel voice has been hushed in death. They have been burned up root and branch, - Satan and all his followers, deceiver and deceived. Mal. 4:1; Heb. 2:14. Into smoke have they consumed away. Ps. 37:20. Like the perishable chaff have they vanished in the flames.

p 430 -- Matt. 3:12. They have been annihilated, not as matter, but as conscious and intelligent beings; for they have become as though they had not been. Obadiah 16.

To the Lamb, equally with the Father who sits upon the throne, praise is ascribed in this song of adoration. Commentators, with great unanimity, have seized upon this as proof that Christ must be coeval with the Father; for otherwise, say they, here would be worship paid to the creature which belongs only to the Creator. But this does not seem to be a necessary conclusion. The Scriptures nowhere speak of Christ as a created being, but on the contrary plainly state that be was begotten of the Father. (See remarks on Rev. 3:14, where it is shown that Christ is not a created being.) But while as the Son he does not possess a coeternity of past existence with the Father, the beginning of his existence, as the begotten of the Father, antedates the entire work of creation, in relation to which he stands as joint creator with God. John 1:3; Heb. 1:2. Could not the Father ordain that to such a being worship should be rendered equally with himself, without its being idolatry on the part of the worshiper? He has raised him to positions which make it proper that he should be worshiped, and has even commanded that worship should be rendered him, which would not have been necessary had he been equal with the Father in eternity of existence. Christ himself declares that "as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." John 5:26. The Father has "highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." Phil. 2:9. And the Father himself says, "Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. 1:6. These testimonies show that Christ is now an object of worship equally with the Father; but they do not prove that with him he holds an eternity of past existence. TOP

Coming back from the glorious scene anticipated in verse 13 to events transpiring in the heavenly sanctuary before him, the prophet hears the four living creatures exclaim, Amen.   TOP

Webmaster note: With regard to the above thoughts on Christ as a created Being. The following are excerpts from a study done by the Bible Research Institute entitled "The Doctrine of God" which is a study on the term Trinity.

The doctrine of God that teaches the "Blessed Trinity" is a Roman Catholic teaching. "The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church." (Handbook for Today's Catholic, p. 12) What is this doctrine of Catholicism simply stated? In a recognized catechism, the question is asked, "What do we mean by the Blessed Trinity?" The answer is given - "By the Blessed Trinity we mean one and the same God in three divine Persons." (New Baltimore Catechism, NO. 3, Rev. Ed., 1949, p. 20) However, "not until the council of Constantinople (381) was the formula of one God existing in three co-equal Persons formally ratified." (Early Christian Doctrines, p. 88) ...

Our Bibles open with the words, "In the beginning God."The word, God, is in the plural form, Elohim. The use of the plural in referring to God is called by Hebrew linguists - "a plural of majesty," or "the majestic plural." This is taken by some to mean that the word, Elohim, when used of God is not intended as a true plural. The fact is noted that this plural noun is consistently used with singular verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular. However, this hardly holds for the use of Elohim in the rest of Genesis 1 "where... the necessity of a term conveying both the unity of the one God and yet allowing for a plurality of persons is found." (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1, p. 44) When the design for man was revealed, it was the Elohim who said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (1:26) Further, the plural form, Elohim, occurs only in Hebrew, and in no other Semitic language which languages express Pagan cultures. (ibid.) This makes the revelation of God in Genesis unique.

Of interest is the fact that one man represented the "image" and "likeness" of the Elohim. Again, when sin entered, the text reads - "And said Jehovah God (Elohim), Behold the man has become as one of us." (3:22)

The Shema of Israel reads - "Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." (Deut. 6:4-5) A translation designating the singular and plural would read - "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah (singular), our Gods (plural) [is] One Jehovah (singular). You shall love Jehovah (singular) your God (plural) with all your heart." What is the force of ONE (echad) Jehovah? When a strictly singular sense is emphasized, the word is yachid as in Genesis 22:2 - "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac." Echad on the other hand as used in Genesis 2:24 - "and they shall be one flesh" - conveys the sense of oneness in duality. TOP

In Isaiah, we read:    Thus saith the Lord the king of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts, I am the first, and the last, and beside me there is no God (Elohim) (44:6)

This duality is carried forward into the New Testament. In the book of Revelation, this concept found in Isaiah is attributed to both the Almighty and Jesus Christ. (1:8; 22:13)

Zechariah in his Messianic description of "The BRANCH" quotes "the Lord of hosts" as saying that "the counsel of peace" was between "the Two of Them." (6:13, Heb) This raises the question as to the relationship existing between the Elohim.

In the announcement of the birth of Jesus, it was stated by the angel Gabriel that "God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David." (Luke 1:32) David was promised that to his son who was to build the temple, God would be "his father" and that he would be his "son." (II Sam. 7:14) Likewise, "the Man whose name is The BRANCH," who was to build "the temple of the Lord," and who was to "be a priest upon His throne" (Zech. 6:12-13), that Man whom "the Lord of hosts" designates as "my fellow" (13:7) is the One to whom God said, "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee;" and "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son." (Heb. 1:5-6) This was by decree. (Ps. 2:7)

In the Messianic promise which declares that "unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given," is defined the eternal association of the Two between Whom was the "counsel of peace." The Child, the Son, was "the Father of eternity" ('abi-'ad) Isa. 9:6. Jesus in His conflict with the Jews defined Himself as the I AM - the self-existent One, I am; the ever existent One, I AM. (John 8:58).

In our two previous studies of the Doctrine of God, we observed that the Old Testament presented two Co-Eternal, Self-Existent Beings, as composing the Elohim. The New Testament introduces a third Being, most commonly called the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the disciples that He would "send... from the Father,... the Spirit of truth." This Spirit of truth "proceedeth from the Father." (John 15:26) Just prior to this announcement, Jesus had indicated that the "Father" would "send in [Jesus'] name the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26)

The first problem is that in the Greek language, the word for "spirit" is a neuter noun. But the name by which the Holy Spirit could be designated is "Comforter," the Paracletos, a Greek masculine noun. The Greek text of John 14:26 supports this designation. It reads literally - "But the Paracletos, the Holy Spirit, the One the Father shall send in my name, that One shall teach you all things." In both the use of the article in "the One" being sent, and the pronoun, "that One," the masculine form is used. This removes some of the vagueness from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also refers to the Spirit of truth as "another Comforter." (John 14:16) The word used for "another" is allos in contrast to Heteros, another Greek word for "another." Heteros means one distinct from, but of unequal quality or rank. This word is used in Luke 23:32 to distinguish the two malefactors from Jesus. But where allos is used, it also means two distinct entities, but of equal character or essence. This is why Peter could say to Ananias that in lying to the Holy Spirit, he had lied to God. (Acts 5:3-4) TOP

One very interesting verse picturing the work of the Holy Spirit is found in II Corinthians 3:18, which reads that "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Lord the Spirit." (Gr.)

The close relationship existing between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can be seen in various verses of Scripture:

1)   The symbolism of Revelation pictures Jesus as "the Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." (5:6)

2)   The messages to the Seven Churches of Revelation begin with a message from Jesus Christ, and close with the words, "Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (See Rev. 2:8, 11 as illustration)

3)   Jesus presented the relationship between Himself and the Holy Spirit as so close that when He spoke of the coming of "another Comforter" - One distinct from, but equal to Himself - He said, "I will not leave you orphans, I will come unto you." (John 14:18, margin)

4)   In the first letter of John, Jesus is pictured as a Paracletos. John wrote "If any man sin, we have an advocate (paracletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (2:1)

So close is the relationship portrayed in the Scriptures between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that one Commentary on the Greek New Testament text refers to the Holy Spirit as Christ's alter ego. (The Expository Greek New Testament, Vol. 5, p. 195)

The incarnation stands as the Great Divide both of time and eternity. It is at the Incarnation that the Holy Spirit is introduced. The angel Gabriel making the announcement that God was about to be revealed in flesh said to Mary - "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy [Spirit] which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) The word, "thing" as the KJV reads is a supplied word based upon the fact that the word, "holy" is hagion, a neuter adjective. ... END of Webmaster note. TOP

 

The Seven Seals
CHAPTER VI

p 431 -- VERSE 1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.    2.    And I saw, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

Having taken the book, the Lamb proceeds at once to open the seals; and the attention of the apostle is called to the scenes that transpire under each seal. The number seven has already been noticed as denoting in the Scriptures completeness and perfection. The seven seals therefore embrace the whole of a certain class of events, reaching down to the close of probationary time. Hence to say, as some do, that the seals denote a series of events reaching down perhaps to the time of Constantine, and the seven trumpets another series from that time farther on, cannot be correct. The trumpets denote a series of events which transpire contemporaneously with the events of the seals, but of an entirely different character. A trumpet is a symbol of war; hence the trumpets denote great political commotions to take place among the nations during the gospel age. The seals denote events of a religious character, and contain the history of the church from the opening of the Christian era to the coming of Christ.

Commentators have raised a question concerning the manner in which these scenes were represented before the apostle. Was it merely a written description of the events which was

p 432 -- read to him as each successive seal was opened? or was it a pictorial illustration of the events which the book contained, and which was presented before him as the seals were broken? or was it a scenic representation which passed before him, the different actors coming forth and performing their parts? Barnes decides in favor of calling them pictorial illustrations; for he thinks a merely written description would not answer to the language of the apostle setting forth what he saw, and a mere scenic representation could have no connection with the opening of the seals. But to the view held by Dr. Barnes there are two serious objections:    (1)    The book was said to contain only writing within, not pictorial illustrations; and    (2)    John saw the characters which made up the various scenes, not fixed and motionless upon canvass, but living and moving, and engaged actively in the parts assigned them. The view which to us seems most consistent is that the book contained a record of events which were to transpire; and when the seals were broken, and the record was brought to light, the scenes were presented before John, not by the reading of the description, but by a representation of what was described in the book being made to pass before his mind in living characters, in the place where the reality was to transpire; namely, on the earth.

The first symbol, a white horse, and the rider who bears a bow and to whom a crown is given, and who goes forth conquering and to conquer, is a fit emblem of the triumphs of the gospel in the first century of this dispensation. The whiteness of the horse denotes the purity of faith in that age; and the crown which was given to the rider, and his going forth conquering and to make still further conquests, the zeal and success with which the truth was promulgated by its earliest ministers. To this it is objected that the ministers of Christ and the progress of the gospel could not be properly represented by such warlike symbols. But we ask, By what symbols could the work of Christianity better be represented when it went forth as an aggressive principle against the huge systems of error with which it had at first to contend? The rider upon this horse went forth - where? His commission was unlimited. The gospel was to all the world. TOP

p 433 -- VERSE 3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.    4.    And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Perhaps the first noticeable feature in these symbols is the contrast in the color of the horses. This is doubtless designed to be significant. If the whiteness of the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel in the period which that symbol covers, the redness of the second horse would signify that in this period that original purity began to be corrupted. The mystery of iniquity already worked in Paul's day; and the professed church of Christ, it would seem, was now so far corrupted by it as to require this change in the color of the symbol. Errors began to arise. Worldliness came in. The ecclesiastical power sought the alliance of the secular. Troubles and commotions were the result. The spirit of this period perhaps reached its climax as we come down to the days of Constantine, the first so-called Christian emperor, whose conversion to Christianity is dated by Mosheim in A. D. 323. - Ecclesiastilcal Commentaries.

Of this period Dr. Rice remarks:       "It represents a secular period, or union of church and state. Constantine aided the clergy, and put them under obligations to him. He legislated for the church, called the Council of Nicaea, and was most prominent in that Council. Constantine, not the gospel, had the glory of tearing down the heathen temples. The state had the glory instead of the church. Constantine made decrees against some errors, and was praised, and suffered to go on and introduce many other errors, and oppose some important truths. Controversies arose; and when a new emperor took the throne, there was a rush of the clergy to get him on the side of their peculiar tenets. Mosheim says of this period, 'There was continual war and trouble.'"

This state of things answers well to the declaration of the prophet that power was given to him that sat on the horse "to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." The Christianity of that time had mounted the throne, and bore the emblem of the civil power.

p 434 -- VERSE 5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.   6.    And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

How rapidly the work of corruption progresses! What a contrast in color between this symbol and the first one: A black horse - the very opposite of white! A period of great darkness and moral corruption in the church must be denoted by this symbol. By the events of the second seal the way was fully opened for that state of things to be brought about which is here presented. The time that intervened between the reign of Constantine and the establishment of the papacy in A. D. 538 may be justly noted as the time when the darkest errors and grossest superstitions sprang up in the church. Of a period immediately succeeding the days of Constantine, Mosheim says:      "Those vain fictions, which an attachment to the Platonic philosophy and to popular opinions had engaged the greatest part of the Christian doctors to adopt before the time of Constantine, were now confirmed, enlarged, and embellished in various ways. Hence arose that extravagant veneration for departed saints, and those absurd notions of a certain fire destined to purify separate souls, that now prevailed, and of which the public marks were everywhere to be seen. Hence also the celibacy of priests, the worship of images and relics, which in process of time almost utterly destroyed the Christian religion, or at least eclipsed its Iuster, and corrupted its very essence in the most deplorable manner. An enormous train of superstitions was gradually substituted for true religion and genuine piety. This odious revolution proceeded from a variety of causes. A ridiculous precipitation in receiving new opinions, a preposterous desire of imitating the pagan rites, and of blending them with the Christian worship, and that idle propensity which the generality of mankind have toward a gaudy and ostentatious religion, all contributed to establish the reign of superstition upon the ruins of Christianity. Accordingly, frequent pilgrimages were undertaken to Palestine and to the

p 435 --


(Arch of Constantine)
TOP

p 436 -- tombs of the martyrs, as if there alone the sacred principles of virtue and the certain hope of salvation were to be acquired. The reins being once let loose to superstition, which knows no bounds, absurd notions and idle ceremonies multiplied almost every day. Quantities of dust and earth brought from Palestine, and other places remarkable for their supposed sanctity, were handed about as the most wonderful remedies against the violence of wicked spirits, and were sold and bought everywhere at enormous prices. The public processions and supplications by which the pagans endeavored to appease their gods, were now adopted into the Christian worship, and celebrated in many places with great pomp and magnificence. The virtues which had formerly been ascribed to the heathen temples, to their lustrations, to the statues of their gods and heroes, were now attributed to Christian churches, to water consecrated by certain forms of prayer, and to the images of holy men. And the same privileges that the former enjoyed under the darkness of paganism, were conferred upon the latter under the light of the gospel, or, rather, under that cloud of superstition which was obscuring its glory. It is true that, as yet, images were not very common, nor were there any statues at all. But it is at the same time as undoubtedly certain as it is extravagant and monstrous, that the worship of the martyrs was modeled, by degrees, according to the religious services that were paid to the gods before the coming of Christ.

"From these facts, which are but small specimens of the state of Christianity at this time, the discerning reader will easily perceive what detriment the church received from the peace and prosperity procured by Constantine, and from the imprudent methods employed to allure the different nations to embrace the gospel. The brevity we have proposed to observe in this history prevents our entering into an ample detail of the dismal effects that arose from the progress and the baneful influence of superstition, which had now become universal."

Again he says:      "A whole volume would be requisite to contain an enumeration of the various frauds which artful knaves practiced with success to delude the ignorant, when true religion was almost entirely superseded by horrid superstition."

p 437 -- - Ecclesiastical History, 4th cent., part 2, chap. 3.

This extract from Mosheim contains a description of the period covered by the black horse of the third seal that answers accurately to the prophecy. It is seen by this how paganism was incorporated into Christianity, and how, during this period, the false system which resulted in the establishment of the papacy, rapidly rounded out its full outlines, and ripened into all its deplorable perfection of strength and stature.

The Balances. - "The balances denoted that religion and civil power would be united in the person who would administer the executive power in the government, and that he would claim the judicial authority both in church and state. This was true among the Roman emperors from the days of Constantine until the reign of Justinian, when he gave the same judicial power to the bishop of Rome." - Miller's Lectures, p. 181.

The Wheat and Barley. - "The measures of wheat and barley for a penny denote that the members of the church would be eagerly engaged after worldly goods, and the love of money would be the prevailing spirit of the times; for they would dispose of anything for money." - Id. TOP

The Oil and Wine. - These "denote the graces of the Spirit, faith and love, and there was great danger of hurting these, under the influence of so much of a worldly spirit. And it is well attested by all historians that the prosperity of the church in this age produced the corruptions which finally terminated in the falling away, and the setting up of the anti-christian abominations." - Id.

It will be observed that the voice limiting the amount of wheat for a penny, and saying, "Hurt not the oil and the wine," is not spoken by any one on earth, but comes from the midst of the four living creatures; signifying that, though the under shepherds, the professed ministers of Christ on earth, had no care for the flock, yet the Lord was not unmindful of them in this period of darkness. A voice comes from heaven. He takes care that the spirit of worldliness does not prevail to such a degree that Christianity should be entirely lost, or

p 438 -- that the oil and the wine, the graces of genuine piety, should entirely perish from the earth.

VERSE 7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.  8.  And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto him over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

The color of this horse is remarkable. The colors of the white, red, and black horses mentioned in the preceding verses, are natural; but a pale color is unnatural. The original word denotes the "pale or yellowish color" that is seen in blighted or sickly plants. A strange state of things in the professed church must be denoted by this symbol. The rider on this horse is named Death and Hell (adhV, the grave) follows with him. The mortality is so great during this period that it would seem as if "the pale nations of the dead" had come upon earth, and were following in the wake of this desolating power. The period during which this seal applies can hardly be mistaken. It must refer to the time in which the papacy bore its unrebuked, unrestrained, and persecuting rule, commencing about A. D. 538, and extending to the time when the Reformers commenced their work of exposing the corruptions of the papal systems.

"And power was given unto them" - him, says the margin; that is, the power personified by Death on the pale horse; namely, the papacy. By the fourth part of the earth is doubtless meant the territory over which this power had jurisdiction; while the words sword, hunger, death (that is, some infliction which causes death, as exposure, torture, etc.), and beasts of the earth, are figures denoting the means by which it has put to death its martyrs, fifty millions of whom, according to the lowest estimate, call for vengeance from beneath its bloody altar.

VERSE 9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held:  10.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  11.  And white

p 439 -- robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. TOP

The events set forth as transpiring under the fifth seal are the crying of the martyrs for vengeance, and the giving to them of white robes. The questions that at once suggest themselves for solution are, Does this seal cover a period of time? and if so, what period? Where is the altar under which these souls were seen? What are these souls, and what is their condition? What is meant by their cry for vengeance? What is meant by white robes being given to them? When do they rest for a little season? and what is signified by their brethren being killed as they were? To all these questions we believe a satisfactory answer can be returned.

1. The Fifth Seal Covers a Period of Time. - It seems consistent that this seal, like all the others, should cover a period of time; and the date of its application cannot be mistaken, if the preceding seals have been rightly located. Following the period of the papal persecution, the time covered by this seal would commence when the Reformation began to undermine the antichristian papal fabric, and restrain the persecuting power of the Romish Church.

2. The Altar. - This cannot denote any altar in heaven, as it is evidently the place where these victims had been slain, - the altar of sacrifice. On this point, Dr. A. Clarke says:      "A symbolical vision was exhibited, in which he saw an altar. And under it the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God - martyred for their attachment to Christianity - are represented as being newly slain as victims to idolatry and superstition. The altar is upon earth, not in heaven."       A confirmation of this view is found in the fact that John is beholding scenes upon the earth. The souls are represented under the altar, just as victims slain upon it would pour out their blood beneath it, and fall by its side.

3. The Souls under the Altar. - This representation is popularly regarded as a strong proof of the doctrine of the disembodied and conscious state of the dead. Here, it is

p 440 -- claimed, are souls seen by John in a disembodied state; and they were conscious, and had knowledge of passing events; for they cried for vengeance on their persecutors. This view of the passages is inadmissible, for several reasons:  (1)  The popular view places these souls in heaven; but the altar of sacrifice on which they were slain, and beneath which they were seen, cannot be there. The only altar we read of in heaven is the altar of incense; but it would not be correct to represent victims just slain as under the altar of incense, as that altar was never devoted to such a use.  (2)  It would be repugnant to all our ideas of the heavenly state, to represent souls in heaven shut up under an altar.  (3)  Can we suppose that the idea of vengeance would reign so supreme in the minds of souls in heaven as to render them, despite the joy and glory of that ineffable state, dissatisfied and uneasy till vengeance was inflicted upon their enemies? Would they not rather rejoice that persecution raised its hand against them, and thus hastened them into the presence of their Redeemer, at whose right hand there is fulness of joy, and pleasures forevermore? But, further, the popular view which puts these souls in heaven, puts the wicked at the same time in the lake of fire, writhing in unutterable torment, and in full view of the heavenly host. This, it is claimed, is proved by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, as recorded in Luke 16. Now the souls brought to view under the fifth seal were those who had been slain under the preceding seal, scores of years, and most of them centuries, before. Beyond any question, their persecutors had all passed off the stage of action, and, according to the view under consideration, were suffering all the torments of hell right before their eyes.

Yet, as if not satisfied with this, they cry to God as though he were delaying vengeance on their murderers. What greater vengeance could they want? Or, if their persecutors were still on the earth, they must know that they would, in a few years at most, join the vast multitude daily pouring through the gate of death into the world of woe. Their amiability is put in no better light even by this supposition. One thing, at least, is evident: The popular theory concerning the condition of the

p 441 -- dead, righteous and wicked, cannot be correct; or the interpretation usually given to this passage is not correct; for they devour each other. TOP

But it is urged that these souls must be conscious; for they cry to God. This argument would be of weight, were there no such figure of speech as personification. But while there is, it will be proper, on certain conditions, to attribute life, action, and intelligence to inanimate objects. Thus the blood of Abel is said to have cried to God from the ground. Gen. 4: 9, 10. The stone cried out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber answered it. Hab. 2:11. The hire of the laborers kept back by fraud cried, and the cry entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. James 5:4. So the souls mentioned in our text could cry, and not thereby be proved to be conscious.

The incongruity of the popular view on this verse is so apparent that Albert Barnes makes the following concession:      "We are not to suppose that this literally occurred, and that John actually saw the souls of the martyrs beneath the altar, for the whole representation is symbolical; nor are we to suppose that the injured and the wronged in heaven actually pray for vengeance on those who wronged them, or that the redeemed in heaven will continue to pray with reference to things on earth; but it may be fairly inferred from this that there will be as real a remembrance of the wrongs of the persecuted, the injured, and the oppressed, as if such a prayer were offered there; and that the oppressor has as much to dread from the divine vengeance as if those whom he has injured should cry in heaven to the God who hears prayer, and who takes vengeance." - Notes on Revelation 6.

On such passages as this, the reader is misled by the popular definition of the word soul. From that definition, he is led to suppose that this text speaks of an immaterial, invisible, immortal essence in man, which soars into its coveted freedom on the death of its hindrance and clog, the mortal body. No instance of the occurrence of the word in the original Hebrew or Greek will sustain such a definition. It oftenest means life, and is not infrequently rendered person. It applies to the dead as well as to the living, as may be seen by reference

p 442 -- to Gen. 2:7, where the word living, need not have been expressed were life an inseparable attribute of the soul; and to Num. 19:13, where the Hebrew Concordance reads "dead soul." Moreover, these souls pray that their blood may be avenged, - an article which the immaterial soul, as popularly understood, is not supposed to possess. The word souls may be regarded as here meaning simply the martyrs, those who had been slain, the words souls of them being a periphrasis for the whole person. They were represented to John as having been slain upon the altar of papal sacrifice, on this earth, and lying dead beneath it. They certainly were not alive when John saw them under the fifth seal; for he again brings to view the same company, in almost the same language, and assures us that the first time they live after their martyrdom, is at the resurrection of the just. Rev. 20:4-6. Lying there, victims of papal bloodthirstiness and oppression, they cried to God for vengeance in the same manner that Abel's blood cried to him from the ground. Gen. 4:10.

4. The White Robes. - These were given as a partial answer to their cry, "How long, 0 Lord, ... dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?" How was it? - They had gone down to the grave in the most ignominious manner. Their lives had been misrepresented, their reputations tarnished, their names defamed, their motives maligned, and their graves covered with shame and reproach, as containing the dishonored dust of the most vile and despicable of characters. Thus the Church of Rome, which then molded the sentiment of the principal nations of the earth, spared no pains to make her victims an abhorring unto all flesh.

But the Reformation began its work. It began to be seen that the church was the corrupt and disreputable party, and those against whom it vented its rage were the good, the pure, and the true. The work went on among the most enlightened nations, the reputation of the church going down, and that of the martyrs coming up, until the corruptions of the papal abominations were fully exposed, and that huge system of iniquity stood forth before the world in all its naked deformity, while the martyrs were vindicated from all the aspersions under

p 443 -- which that antichristian church had sought to bury them. Then it was seen that they had suffered, not for being vile and criminal, but "for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held." Then their praises were sung, their virtues admired, their fortitude applauded, their names honored, and their memories cherished. White robes were thus given unto every one of them. TOP

5. The Little Season. - The cruel work of Romanism did not altogether cease, even after the work of the Reformation had become wide-spread and well established. Not a few terrible outbursts of Romish hate and persecution were yet to be felt by the church. Multitudes more were to be punished as heretics, and to join the great army of martyrs. The full vindication of their cause was to be delayed a little season. And during this time, Rome added hundreds of thousands to the vast throng of whose blood she had already become guilty. (See Buck's Theological Dictionary, art. Persecution.) But the spirit of persecution was finally restrained; the cause of the martyrs was vindicated; and the "little season" of the fifth seal came to a close.

VERSE 12. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;   13.    And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.   14.   And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.   15.   And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;   16.   And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:   17.   For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Such are the solemn and sublime scenes that transpire under the sixth seal. And a thought well calculated to awaken in every heart an intense interest in divine things, is the consideration that we are now living amid the momentous events of this seal, as will presently be proved.

Between the fifth and sixth seals there seems to be a sudden

p 444 -- and entire change in the language, from the highly figurative to the strictly literal. Whatever may be the cause of this change, the change itself cannot well be denied. By no principle of interpretation can the language of the preceding seals be made to be literal, nor can the language of this any more easily be made to be figurative. We must therefore accept the change, even though we should be unable to explain it. There is a great fact, however, to which we would here call attention. It was in the period covered by this seal that the prophetic portions of God's word were to be unsealed, and many run to and fro, or "give their sedulous attention to the understanding of these things," and thereby knowledge on this part of God's word was to be greatly increased. And we suggest that it may be for this reason that the change in the language here occurs, and that the events of this seal, transpiring at a time when these things were to be fully understood, are couched in no figures, but are laid before us in plain and unmistakable language.

The Great Earthquake. - The first event under this seal, perhaps the one which marks its opening, is a great earthquake. As the most probable fulfilment of this prediction, we refer to the great earthquake of Nov. 1, 1755, known as the earthquake of Lisbon. Of this earthquake, Sears, in his Wonders of the World, pp. 50, 58, 381, says: -      "The great earthquake of Nov. 1, 1755, extended over a tract of at least 4,000,000 square miles. Its effects were even extended to the waters in many places, where the shocks were not perceptible. It pervaded the greater portion of Europe, Africa, and America; but its extreme violence was exercised on the southwestern part of the former. In Africa, this earthquake was felt almost as severely as it had been in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed. Many houses were thrown down at Fez and Mequinez, and multitudes were buried beneath the ruins. Similar effects were realized at Morocco. Its effects were likewise left at Tangier, at Tetuan, at Funchal in the Island of Madeira. It is probable that all Africa was shaken. At the north, it extended to Norway and Sweden. Germany, Holland, France, Great Britain, and. Ireland were

p 445 -- all more or less agitated by the same great commotion of the elements. Lisbon (Portugal), previous to the earthquake in 1755, contained 150,000 inhabitants. Mr. Barretti says that 90,000 persons 'were lost on that fatal day.'" TOP

On page 200 of the same work, we again read:       "The terror of the people was beyond description. Nobody wept; it was beyond tears. They ran hither and thither, delirious with horror and astonishment, beating their faces and breasts, crying, 'Misericordia; the world's at an end!' Mothers forgot their children, and ran about loaded with crucifixed images. Unfortunately, many ran to the churches for protection; but in vain was the sacrament exposed; in vain did the poor creatures embrace the altars; images, priests, and people were buried in one common ruin."

The Encyclopedia Americana states that this earthquake extended also to Greenland, and of its effects upon the city of Lisbon further says:       "The city then contained about 150,000 inhabitants. The shock was instantly followed by the fall of every church and convent, almost all the large public buildings, and more than one fourth of the houses. In about two hours after the shock, fires broke out in different quarters, and raged with such violence for the space of nearly three days that the city was completely desolated. The earthquake happened on a holy day, when the churches and convents were full of people, very few of whom escaped."

Sir Charles Lyell gives the following graphic description of this remarkable phenomenon:     "In no part of the volcanic region of southern Europe has so tremendous an earthquake occurred in modern times as that which began on the 1st of November, 1755, at Lisbon. A sound of thunder was heard underground, and immediately afterward a violent shock threw down the greater part of that city. In the course of about six minutes, sixty thousand persons perished. The sea first retired, and laid the bar dry; it then rolled in, rising fifty feet above its ordinary level. The mountains of Arrabida, Estrella, Julio, Marvan, and Cintra, being some of the largest in Portugal, were impetuously shaken, as it were from their very foundations; and some of them

p 446 --


(The Lisbon Earthquake)

p 447 -- opened at their summits, which were split and rent in a wonderful manner, huge masses of them being thrown down into the adjacent valleys. Flames are related to have issued from these mountains, which are supposed to have been electric; they are also said to have smoked; but vast clouds of dust may have given rise to this appearance.

"The most extraordinary circumstance which occurred at Lisbon during the catastrophe, was the subsidence of the new quay, built entirely of marble, at an immense expense. A great concourse of people had collected there for safety, as a spot where they might be beyond the reach of falling ruins; but suddenly the quay sunk down with all the people on it, and not one of the dead bodies ever floated to the surface. A great number of boats and small vessels anchored near it, all full of people, were swallowed up as in a whirlpool. No fragments of these wrecks ever rose again to the surface, and the water in the place where the quay had stood is stated, in many accounts, to be unfathomable; but Whitehurst says he ascertained it to be one hundred fathoms.

"In this case we must either suppose that a certain tract sunk down into a subterranean hollow, which would cause a 'fault' in the strata to the depth of six hundred feet, or we may infer, as some have done, from the entire disappearance of the substances engulfed, that a chasm opened and closed again. Yet in adopting this latter hypothesis, we must suppose that the upper part of the chasm, to the depth of one hundred fathoms, remained open after the shock. According to the observations made at Lisbon in 1837 by Mr. Sharpe, the destroying effects of this earthquake were confined to the tertiary strata, and were most violent on the blue clay, on which the lower part of the city is constructed. Not a building, he says, on the secondary limestone or the basalt was injured. TOP

"The great area over which this Lisbon earthquake extended is very remarkable. The movement was most violent in Spain, Portugal, and the north of Africa; but nearly the whole of Europe, and even the West Indies, felt the shock on the same day. A seaport called St. Ubes, about twenty miles south of Lisbon, was engulfed. At Algiers and Fez in Africa,

p 448 -- the agitation of the earth was equally violent, and at the distance of eight leagues from Morocco, a village, with the inhabitants to the number of about eight or ten thousand persons, together with all their cattle, was swallowed up. Soon after, the earth closed again over them.

"The shock was felt at sea, on the deck of a ship to the west of Lisbon, and produced very much the same sensation as on dry land. Off St. Lucas, the captain of the ship 'Nancy' felt his vessel shaken so violently that he thought she had struck the ground, but, on heaving the lead, found a great depth of water. Captain Clark, from Denia, in latitude 36'' 24' N., between nine and ten in the morning, had his ship shaken and strained as if she had struck upon a rock. Another ship, forty leagues west of St. Vincent, experienced so violent a concussion that the men were thrown a foot and a half perpendicularly up from the deck. In Antigua and Barbadoes, as also in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Corsica, Switzerland, and Italy, tremors and slight oscillations of the ground were felt.

"The agitation of lakes, rivers, and springs in Great Britain was remarkable. At Loch Lomond, in Scotland, for example, the water, without the least apparent cause, rose against its banks, and then subsided below its usual level. The greatest perpendicular height of this swell was two feet four inches. It is said that the movement of this earthquake was undulatory, and that it traveled at the rate of twenty miles a minute. A great wave swept over the coast of Spain, and is said to have been sixty feet high at Cadiz. At Tangier, in Africa, it rose and fell eighteen times on the coast; at Funchal, in Maderia, it rose full fifteen feet perpendicular above high-water mark, although the tide, which ebbs and flows there seven feet, was then at half ebb. Besides entering the city and committing great havoc, it overflowed other seaports in the island. At Kinsale, in Ireland, a body of water rushed into the harbor, whirled round several vessels, and poured into the marketplace.

"It was before stated that the sea first retired at Lisbon; and this retreat of the ocean from the shore at the commencement

p 449 -- of an earthquake, and its subsequent return in a violent wave, is a common occurrence. In order to account for the phenomenon, Mitchell imagines a subsidence at the bottom of the sea from the giving way of the roof of some cavity, in consequence of a vacuum produced by the condensation of steam. Such condensation, he observes, might be the first effect of the introduction of a large body of water into fissures and cavities already filled with steam, before there had been sufficient time for the heat of the incandescent lava to turn so large a supply of water into steam, which, being soon accomplished, causes a greater explosion." - Library of Choice Literature, Vol. VII, pp. 162, 163. TOP

If the reader will look on his atlas at the countries above mentioned, he will see how large a portion of the earth's surface was agitated by this awful convulsion. Other earthquakes may have been as severe in particular localities, but no other one of which we have any record, combining so great an extent with such a degree of severity, has ever been felt on this earth. It certainly supplies all the conditions necessary to constitute it a fitting event to mark the opening of the seal.

The Darkening of the Sun. - Following the earthquake, it is announced that "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair." This portion of the prediction has also been fulfilled. Into a detailed account of the wonderful darkening of the sun, May 19,1780, we need not here enter. Most persons of general reading, it is presumed, have seen some account of it. The following detached declarations from different authorities will give an idea of its nature:  -   "The dark day of Northern America was one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which will always be read of with interest, but which philosophy is at a loss to explain." - Herschel.

"In the month of May,1780, there was a terrific dark day in New England, when 'all faces seemed to gather blackness,' and the people were filled with fear. There was great distress in the village where Edward Lee lived, 'men's hearts failing them for fear' that the Judgment-day was at hand; and the neighbors all flocked around the holy man,"   who

p 450 -- "spent the gloomy hours in earnest prayer for the distressed multitude." - Tract No. 379, American Tract Society; Life of Edward Lee.

"Candles were lighted in many houses. Birds were silent and disappeared. Fowls retired to roost. It was the general opinion that the day of Judgment was at hand." - President Dwight, in Connecticut Historical Collections.

"The darkness was such as to occasion farmers to leave their work in the field, and retire to their dwellings. Lights became necessary to the transaction of business within doors. The darkness continued through the day." - Gage's History of Rowley, Mass.

"The cocks crew as at daybreak, and everything bore the appearance and gloom of night. The alarm produced by this unusual aspect of the heavens was very great." - Portsmouth Journal, May 20,1843.

"It was midnight darkness at noonday.... Thousands of people who could not account for it from natural causes, were greatly terrified; and indeed, it cast a universal gloom on the earth. The frogs and night-hawks began their notes." - Dr. Adams.

"Similar days have occasionally been known, though inferior in the degree or extent of their darkness. The causes of these phenomena are unknown. They certainly were not the result of eclipses." - Sears's Guide to Knowledge.

"Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind in nature's diversified range of events, during the last century, stands the dark day of May 19th,1780, - a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England, - which brought intense alarm and distress to multitudes of minds, as well as dismay to the brute creation, the fowls fleeing, bewildered, to their roosts, and the birds to their nests, and the cattle returning to their stalls. Indeed, thousands of the good people of that day became fully convinced that the end of all things terrestrial had come.... The extent of this darkness was also very remarkable. It was observed at the most easterly regions of New England; westward to the

p 451 -- farthest parts of Connecticut, and at Albany; to the southward, it was observed all along the seacoast; and to the north, as far as the American settlements extended. It probably far exceeded these boundaries, but the exact limits were never positively known." - Our First Century, by R. M. Devens, pp. 89, 90. TOP

The poet Whittier thus speaks of this event: -

 

"'Twas on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the spring,
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell -
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater's sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barnyard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ
Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked
A loving guest at Bethany, but stern
As justice and inexorable law."

The Moon Became as Blood. - The darkness of the following night, May 19, 1780, was as unnatural as that of the day had been.

"The darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as has ever been observed since the Almighty fiat gave birth to light. I could not help conceiving at the time that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable darkness, or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete. A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes, was equally invisible with the blackest velvet." - Mr. Tenney, of Exeter, N. H.

Dr. Adams, already quoted, wrote concerning the night following the dark day:   -  "Almost every one who happened to be out in the evening got lost in going home. The darkness was as uncommon in

p 452 --


(Meteoric Shower, or Falling Stars, of Nov. 13, 1833)
TOP

p 453 -- the night as it was in the day, as the moon had fulled the day before."

This statement respecting the phase of the moon proves the impossibility of an eclipse of the sun at that time.

And whenever on this memorable night the moon did appear, as at certain times it did, it had, according to this prophecy, the appearance of blood.

And the Stars of Heaven Fell. - The voice of history still is, Fulfilled! Being a much later event than the darkening of the sun, there are multitudes in whose memories it is as fresh as if it were but yesterday. We refer to the great meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833. On this point a few extracts will suffice.      "At the cry, 'Look out of the window,' I sprang from a deep sleep, and with wonder saw the east lighted up with the dawn and meteors.... I called to my wife to behold; and while robing, she exclaimed, 'See how the stars fall! ' I replied, 'That is the wonder;' and we felt in our hearts that it was a sign of the last days. For truly 'the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.' Rev. 6:13. This language of the prophet has always been received as metaphorical. Yesterday it was literally fulfilled. The ancients understood by aster in Greek, and stella in Latin, the smaller lights of heaven. The refinement of modern astronomy has made distinctions between stars of heaven and meteors of heaven. Therefore the idea of the prophet, as it is expressed in the original Greek, was literally fulfilled in the phenomenon of yesterday, so as no man before yesterday had conceived to be possible that it should be fulfilled. The immense size and distance of the planets and fixed stars forbid the idea of their falling unto the earth. Larger bodies cannot fall in myriads unto a smaller body; and most of the planets and all the fixed stars are many times larger than our earth; but these fell toward the earth. And how did they fall? Neither myself nor one of the family heard any report; and were I to hunt through nature for a simile, I could not find one so apt, to illustrate the appearance of the heavens, as that which St. John uses

p 454 -- in the prophecy before quoted: 'The stars of heaven fell unto the earth.' They were not sheets, or flakes, or drops of fire; but they were what the world understands by falling stars; and one speaking to his fellow, in the midst of the scene, would say, 'See how the stars fall!' And he who heard would not stop to correct the astronomy of the speaker, any more than be would reply, 'The sun does not move,' to one who should tell him, 'The sun is rising.' The stars fell 'even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.' Here is the exactness of the prophet. The falling stars did not come as if from several trees shaken, but from one. Those which appeared in the east fell toward the east; those which appeared in the north fell toward the north; those which appeared in the west fell toward the west; and those which appeared in the south (for I went out of my residence into the park), fell toward the south. And they fell not as ripe fruit falls; far from it; but they flew, they were cast, like the unripe, which at first refuses to leave the branch, and when, under a violent pressure, it does break its hold, it flies swiftly, straight off, descending; and in the multitude falling, some cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less force, but each one falls on its own side of the tree." - New York Journal of Commerce, Nov. 14,1833. TOP

"Extensive and magnificent showers of shooting stars have been known to occur at various places in modern times; but the most universal and wonderful which has ever been recorded, is that of the 13th of November, 1833, the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion. No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.... During the three hours of its continuance, the day of judgment was believed to be only waiting for sunrise." - Our First Century, p. 329.

"Arago computes that not less than two hundred and forty thousand meteors were at the same time visible above the horizon

p 455 -- of Boston."    And of the display at Niagara it is said that    "no spectacle so terribly grand and sublime was ever before beheld by man as that of the firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark and roaring cataract." - Id., ib.

And the Heaven Departed as a Scroll. - In this event minds are turned to the future. From looking at the past, and beholding the word of God fulfilled, we are now called to look at events in the future, which are no less sure to come. Here is our position, unmistakably defined. We stand between the 13th and 14th verses of this chapter. We wait for the heavens to depart as a scroll when it is rolled together. And these are times of unparalleled solemnity and importance; for we know not how near we may be to the fulfilment of these things.

This departing of the heavens is included in what the evangelists call, in the same series of events, the shaking of the powers of the heavens. Other scriptures give us further particulars concerning this prediction. From Heb. 12:25-27; Joel 3:16; Jer. 25:30-33; Rev. 16:17, we learn that it is the voice of God, as he speaks in terrible majesty from his throne in heaven, that causes this fearful commotion in earth and sky. Once the Lord spoke, when with an audible voice he declared to his creatures the precepts of his eternal law, and the earth shook. He is to speak again, and not only the earth will shake, but the heavens also. Then will the earth "reel to and fro like a drunkard;" it will be "dissolved" and "utterly broken down" (Isaiah 24); mountains will move from their firm bases; islands will suddenly change their location in the midst of the sea; from the level plain will arise the precipitous mountain; rocks will thrust up their ragged forms from earth's broken surface; and while the voice of God is reverberating through the earth, the direst confusion will reign over the face of nature.

To show that this is no mere conception of the imagination, the reader is requested to mark the exact phraseology which some of the prophets have used in reference to this time. Isaiah (24:19, 20) says: "The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.

p 456 -- The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again." Jeremiah (4:23-27) in thrilling language describes the scene as follows:      "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills move lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.... For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate." (See also the scriptures referred to above.) TOP

Then will the world's dream of carnal security be effectually broken. Kings, who, intoxicated with their own earthly authority, have never dreamed of a higher power than themselves, now realize that there is One who reigns King of kings; and the great men behold the vanity of all earthly pomp, for there is a greatness above that of earth; and the rich men throw their silver and gold to the moles and bats, for it cannot save them in that day; and the chief captains forget their little brief authority, and the mighty men their might; and every bondman who is in the still worse bondage of sin, and every freeman, - all classes of the wicked, from the highest to the lowest, - join in the general wail of consternation and despair. They who never prayed to Him whose arm could bring salvation, now raise an agonizing prayer to rocks and mountains to bury them forever from the sight of Him whose presence brings to them destruction. Fain would they now avoid reaping what they have sown by a life of lust and sin. Fain would they now shun the fearful treasure of wrath which they have been heaping up for themselves against this day. Fain would they bury themselves and their catalogue of crimes in everlasting darkness. And so they fly to the rocks, caves, caverns, and fissures, which the broken surface of the earth now presents before them. But it is too late. They cannot conceal their guilt, nor escape the long-delayed vengeance.

p 457 --

 

"It will be in vain to call,
Rocks and mountains on us fall;
For His hand will find out all,
In that day."

The day which they thought never would come, has at last taken them as in a snare; and the involuntary language of their anguished hearts is, "The great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" Before it is called out by the fearful scenes of this time, we pray you, reader, give your most serious and candid attention to this subject.

Many now affect to despise the institution of prayer; but at one time or another all men will pray. Those who will not now pray to God in penitence, will then pray to the rocks and mountains in despair; and this will be the largest prayer-meeting ever held. As you read these lines, think whether you would like to have a part therein: -

Ah! better far
To cease the unequal war,
While pardon, hope, and peace may yet be found;
Nor longer rush upon the embossed shield
Of the Almighty, but repentant yield,
And all your weapons of rebellion ground.
Better pray now in love, than pray ere long in fear.
Call ye upon him, while he waits to hear;
So in the coming end,
When down the parted sky
The angelic hosts attend
The Lord of heaven, most high,
Before whose face the solid earth is rent,
You may behold him a friend omnipotent,
And safely rest beneath his sheltering wings,
Amid the ruin of all earthly things.
TOP

 

The Sealing
CHAPTER VII

p 458 -- VERSE 1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  2.    And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,   3.    Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The chronology of the work here introduced is established beyond mistake. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the seventh seal is not mentioned until we reach the opening of chapter 8. The whole of chapter is therefore thrown in here parenthetically. Why is it thus thrown in at this point? - Evidently for the purpose of stating additional particulars concerning the sixth seal. The expression, "after these things," does not mean after the fulfilment of all the events previously described; but after the prophet had been carried down in vision to the close of the sixth seal, in order not to break the consecutive order of events as given in chapter 6, his mind is called to what is mentioned in chapter 7, as further particulars to transpire in connection with that seal. Then we inquire, Between what events in that seal does this work come in? It must transpire before the departing of the heavens as a scroll; for after that event there is no place for such a work as this. And it must take place subsequently to the signs in the sun, moon, and stars; for

p 459 -- these signs have been fulfilled, and such a work has not yet been accomplished. It comes in, therefore, between the 13th and 14th verses of Revelation 6; but there, as already shown, is just where we now stand. Hence the first part of Revelation 7 relates to a work the accomplishment of which may be looked for at the present time.

Four Angels. - Angels are ever-present agents in the affairs of the earth; and why may not these be four of those heavenly beings into whose hands God has committed the work here described; namely, holding the winds while it is God's purpose that they should not blow, and hurting the earth with them when the time comes that they should be loosed? For it will be noticed (verse 3) that the "hurting" is a work committed to their hands equally with the "holding;" so that they do not merely let the winds go when they are to blow, but they cause them to blow; they impel forward the work of destruction with their own supernatural energy. But the hurting process here brought to view does not include the seven last plagues. That work is given into the hands of seven special angels; this, into the hands of four. Or, it may be that when the time comes for the pouring out of the plagues, the seven angels who have specific charge of these judgments, unite with the four whose mission it is to cause the winds to blow, and all together bring on that pre-eminent exhibition of divine vengeance against a generation which is preeminent in guilt.

Four Corners of the Earth. - An expression denoting the four quarters, or the four points of the compass, and signifying that these angels, in their particular sphere, had charge of the whole earth.

The Four Winds. - Winds, in the Bible, symbolize political commotion, strife, and war. Dan. 7:2; Jer. 25:32. The four winds, held by four angels standing in the four quarters of the earth, must denote all the elements of strife and commotion that exist in the world; and when they are all loosed, and all blow together, it will constitute the great whirlwind just referred to in the prophecy of Jeremiah. TOP

p 460 -- The Angel Ascending From the East. - Another literal angel, having charge of another specific work, is here introduced. Instead of the words "ascending from the east," some translations read, "Ascending from the sun rising," which is a more literal translation. The expression evidently refers to manner rather than locality; for as the sun arises with rays at first oblique and comparatively powerless, but increases in strength until it shines in all its meridian power and splendor, so the work of this angel commences in weakness, moves onward with ever-accumulating influence, and closes in strength and power.

The Seal of the Living God. - This is the distinguishing characteristic of the ascending angel; he bears with him the seal of the living God. From this fact, and the chronology of his work, we are to determine, if possible, what movement is symbolized by his mission. The nature of his work is evidently embraced in his having the seal of the living God; and to ascertain what his work is, the inquiry must be answered what this seal of the living God is, which he bears with him.

    1. The Term Seal Defined. - A seal is defined to be an instrument of sealing; that which "is used by individuals, corporate bodies, and states, for making impressions on wax, upon instruments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity." The original word in this passage is defined, "A seal, i. e., a signet ring; a mark, stamp, badge; a token, a pledge." Among the significations of the verb are the following: "To secure to any one, to make sure; to set a seal or mark upon anything in token of its being genuine or approved; to attest, to confirm, to establish, to distinguish by a mark." By a comparison of Gen. 17:11 with Rom. 4:11, and Rev. 7:3 with Eze. 9:4, in connection with the above definition, the reader will see that the words token, sign, seal, and mark are used in the Bible as synonymous terms. The seal of God, as brought to view in our text, is to be applied to the servants of God. We are not, of course, to suppose that in this case it is some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but that it is some institution or observance having special reference to God, which will serve

p 461 -- as a "mark of distinction" between the worshipers of God and those who are not in truth his servants, though they may profess to follow him.

   2. The Use of a Seal. - A seal is used to render valid or authentic any enactments, or laws, which a person or power may promulgate. Frequent instances of its use occur in the Scriptures. In 1 Kings 21:8, we read that Jezebel "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal." These letters then had all the authority of King Ahab. Again, in Esther 3:12: "In the name of King Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring." So also in chapter 8:8: "The writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."

   3. Where a Seal is Used. - Always in connection with some law or enactment that demands obedience, or upon documents that are to be made legal, or subject to the provisions of law. The idea of law is inseparable from a seal.

   4. As Applied to God. - We are not to suppose that to the enactments and laws of God binding upon men, there must be attached a literal seal, made with literal instruments; but from the definition of the term, and the purpose for which a seal is used, as shown above, we must understand a seal to be strictly that which gives validity and authenticity to enactments and laws. This is found, though a literal seal may not be used, in the name or signature of the law-making power, expressed in such terms as to show what the power is, and its right to make laws and demand obedience. Even with a literal seal, the name must always be used. (See the references above given.) An instance of the use of the name alone seems to occur in Dan. 6:8: "Now, 0 king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not;" that is, affix the signature of royalty, showing who it is that demands obedience, and his right to demand it. TOP

In a gospel prophecy found in Isaiah 8, we read: "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." This must refer to a work of reviving in the minds of the disciples some of the claims of the law which had been overlooked,

p 462 -- or perverted from their true meaning, and this, in the prophecy, is called sealing the law, or restoring to it its seal, which had been taken from it.

Again, the 144,000, who in the chapter before us are said to be sealed with the seal of God in their foreheads, are again brought to view in Rev. 14:1, where they are said to have the Father's name written in their foreheads.

From the foregoing reasoning, facts, and declarations of Scripture, two conclusions inevitably follow: -

1. The seal of God is found in connection with the law of God.

2. The seal of God is that part of his law which contains his name, or descriptive title, showing who he is, the extent of his dominion, and his right to rule.

The law of God is admitted by all the leading evangelical denominations to be summarily contained in the decalogue, or ten commandments. We have, then, but to examine these commandments to see which one it is that constitutes the seal of the law, or, in other words, makes known the true God, the lawmaking power. The first three commandments mention the word God; but we cannot tell from these who is meant, for there are multitudes of objects to which this name is applied. There are "gods many and lords many," as the apostle says. 1 Cor. 8:5. Passing over the fourth commandment for the time being, the fifth contains the words Lord and God, but does not define them; and the remaining five precepts do not contain the name of God at all. Now what shall be done? With that portion of the law which we have examined, it would be impossible to convict the grossest idolater of sin. The worshiper of images could say, This idol before me is my god; his name is god, and these are his precepts. The worshiper of the heavenly bodies could also say, The sun is my god, and I worship him according to this law. Thus, without the fourth commandment, the decalogue is null and void, so far as it pertains to enforcing the worship of the true God. But let us now add the fourth commandment, restore to the law this precept, which many are ready to contend has been expunged, and see how the case will then

p 463 -- stand. As we examine this commandment, which contains the declaration, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is," etc., we see at once that we are reading the requirements of Him who created all things. The sun, then, is not the God of the decalogue; the true God is he who made the sun. No object in heaven or earth is the being who here demands obedience; for the God of this law is the one who made all created things. Now we have a weapon against idolatry. Now this law can no longer be applied to false gods, who "have not made the heavens and the earth." Jer. 10:11. Now the author of this law has declared who he is, the extent of his dominion, and his right to rule; for every created intelligence must at once assent that He who is the Creator of all, has a right to demand obedience from all his creatures. Thus with the fourth commandment in its place, this wonderful document, the decalogue, the only document among men which God ever wrote with his own finger, has a signature; it has that which renders it intelligible and authentic; it has a seal. But without the fourth commandment, it lacks all these things.

From the foregoing reasoning, it is evident that the fourth commandment constitutes the seal of the law of God, or the seal of God. But the Scriptures do not leave us without direct testimony on this point.

We have seen above that in Scripture usage, sign, seal, token, and mark are synonymous terms. Now, the Lord expressly says that the Sabbath is a sign between him and his people. "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Ex. 31:13. The same fact is again stated by the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 20:12, 20. Here the Lord told his people that the very object of their keeping the Sabbath, that is, observing the fourth commandment, was that they might know that he was the true God. This is the same as if the Lord had said, "The Sabbath is a seal. On my part it is the seal of my authority, the sign that I have the right to command obedience; on your part it is a token that you take me to be your God." TOP

p 464 -- Should it be said that this principle can have no applicatian to Christians at the present time, as the Sabbath was a sign between God and the Jews only, it would be sufficient to reply that the terms Jew and Israel, in a true Scriptural sense, are not confined,to the literal seed of Abraham. Abraham was chosen at first because he was the friend of God while his fathers were idolaters; and his seed were chosen to be God's people, the guardians of his law and the depositaries of his truth, because all others had apostatized from him; and it is true that these words respecting the Sabbath were spoken to them while they enjoyed the honor of being thus set apart from all others. But when the middle wall of partition was broken down, and the Gentiles were called in to be partakers of the blessings of Abraham, all God's people, both Jews and Gentiles, were brought into a new and more intimate relation to God through his Son, and they are now called "Jews inwardly" and "Israelites indeed." And now the declaration applies to all such; for they have as much occasion to know the Lord as had his people of old.

Thus the fourth commandment, or the Sabbath, is taken by the Lord as a sign between him and his people, or the seal of his law in both dispensations; the people by that commandment signifying that they are the worshipers of the true God, and God, by the same commandment, making himself known as their rightful ruler, inasmuch as he is their Creator.

In harmony with this idea, the significant fact is to be noticed that whenever the sacred writers wish to point out the true God in distinction from false gods of every description, an appeal is made to the great facts of creation, upon which the fourth commandment is based. (See 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chron. 2:12; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 115:4-7,15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 146:6; Isa. 37:16; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; Job 9:8; Isa 51:13; Jer. 10:10-12; Ps. 96:5; Jer. 32:17; 51:15; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:23, 24, etc.)

We refer again to the fact that the same company who in Revelation 7 have the seal of the living God in their foreheads, are brought to view again in Rev. 14:1, having the Father's name in their foreheads. This is good proof that the "seal of

p 465 -- the living God" and the "Father's name" are used synonymously. The chain of evidence on this point is rendered complete, when it is ascertained that the fourth commandment, which has been shown to be the seal of the law, is spoken of by the Lord as that which contains his name. The proof of this will be seen by referring to Deut. 16:6:   "But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there shalt thou sacrifice the passover," etc. What was there where they sacrificed the Passover? - There was the sanctuary, having in its holiest apartment the ark with the ten commandments, the fourth of which declared the true God, and contained his name. Wherever this fourth commandment was, there God's name was placed; and this was the only object to which the language could be applied. (See Deut. 12:5, 11, 21; 14:23, 24, etc.)

Having now ascertained that the seal of God is his holy Sabbath, having his name, we are prepared to proceed with the application. By the scenes introduced in the verses before us, namely, the four winds apparently about to blow, bringing war and trouble upon the land, and this work restrained till the servants of God should be sealed, as though a preparatory work must be done for them to save them from this trouble, we are reminded of the houses of the Israelites marked with the blood of the paschal lamb, and spared as the destroying angel passed over to slay the first-born of the Egyptians (Exodus 12); also of the mark made by the man with a writer's ink-horn (Ezekiel 9) upon all those who were to be spared by the men with the slaughtering weapons who followed after; and we conclude that the seal of God, here placed upon his servants, is some distinguishing mark, or religious characteristic, through which they will be exempted from the judgments of God that fall on the wicked around them. TOP

As we have found the seal of God in the fourth commandment, the inquiry follows, Does the observance of that commandment involve any peculiarity in religious practice? - Yes, a very marked and striking one. It is one of the most singular facts to be met with in religious history that, in an age of such boasted gospel light as the present, when the influence of Christianity

p 466 -- is so powerful and wide-spread, one of the most striking peculiarities in practice which a person can adopt, and one of the greatest crosses he can take up, even in the most enlightened and Christian lands, is the simple observance of the law of God. For the fourth commandment requires the observance of the seventh day of each week as the Sabbath of the Lord; but almost all Christendom, through the combined influences of paganism and the papacy, have been beguiled into the keeping of the first day. A person has but to commence the observance of the day enjoined in the commandment and a mark of peculiarity is upon him at once. He is distinct alike from the professedly religious world and the unconverted world.

We conclude, then, that the angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God, is a divine messenger in charge of a work of reform to be carried on among men in reference to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. The agents of this work on the earth are of course ministers of Christ; for to men is given the commission of instructing their fellow men in Bible truth; but as there is order in the execution of all the divine counsels, it seems not improbable that a literal angel may have the charge and oversight of this work.

We have already noticed the chronology of this work as locating it in our own time. This is further evident from the the fact that, as the next event after the sealing of these servants of God, we behold them before the throne, with palms of victory in their hands. The sealing is therefore the last work to be accomplished for them prior to their redemption.

In Revelation 14 we find the same work again brought to view under the symbol of an angel flying in the midst of heaven with the most terrific warning that ever fell upon the ears of men. We shall speak of this more fully when we reach that chapter. We refer to it now, as it is the last work to be accomplished for the world before the coming of Christ, which is the next event in order in that prophecy, and hence must synchronize with the work here brought to view in Rev. 7:1-3. The angel with the seal of the living God, mentioned in chapter 7, is therefore the same as the third angel of chapter 14.

p 467 -- And this view strengthens the foregoing exposition of the seal. For while, as the result of the work in chapter 7, a certain company are sealed with the seal of the living God, as the result of the third message of chapter 14 a company are brought out rendering Scriptural obedience to all the "commandments of God." Verse 12. It is the fourth commandment of the decalogue and that alone which the Christian world is openly violating and teaching men to violate; and that this is the representative question in this message is evident from the fact that the keeping of the commandments, observing, with all the other moral precepts, the Lord's Sabbath, is what distinguishes the servants of God from those who worship the beast and receive his mark, which is, as will be hereafter shown, the observance of a counterfeit sabbath.

Having thus briefly noticed the main points of the subject, we now come to the most striking feature of all. In exact accordance with the foregoing chronological argument, we find this work already in process of fulfilment before our eyes. The third angel's message is going forth; the angel ascending from the east is on his mission; the reform on the Sabbath question has commenced; it is surely, though yet in comparative silence, working its way through the land; it is destined to agitate every country entitled to the light of the gospel; and it will result in bringing out a people prepared for the soon coming of the Saviour, and sealed for his everlasting kingdom. TOP

With one more question we leave these verses, upon which we have so lengthily dwelt. Have we seen among the nations any movements which would indicate that the cry of the ascending angel, "Hurt not," etc., by the blowing of the winds, "till we have sealed the servants of our God," has in any manner been answered? The time during which the winds are held could not, from the nature of the case, be a time of profound peace. This would not answer to the prophecy. For in order to make it manifest that the winds are being held, there must be disturbance, agitation, anger, and jealousy among the nations, with an occasional outburst of strife, like a fitful gust breaking away from the imprisoned and struggling tempest; and these outbursts must be suddenly and

p 468 -- unexpectedly checked. Then, but not otherwise, would it be evident to him who looked at events in the light of prophecy, that for some good purpose the restraining hand of Omnipotence was laid upon the surging elements of strife and war. And such has been the aspect of our times for nearly half a century. Commencing with the great revolution of 1848, when so many European thrones toppled into the dust, what a state of anger and political unrest has existed among all the nations of the earth! New and unlooked-for complications have suddenly sprung up, throwing matters into apparently inextricable confusion, and threatening immediate and direful war. And now and then the conflict has burst forth in fury, and a thousand voices have been raised to predict that the great crisis had come, that universal war must result, and the termination no man could foretell, when suddenly and unaccountably it has been extinguished, and all subsided into quiet again.

In our own land the terrible civil war of 1861 to 1865 is a notable instance. By the spring of the latter year, so great had become the pressure upon the nation for men and means to continue the war that it began seriously to impede the progress of the work symbolized by the ascending angel, even threatening to arrest it entirely. Those interested in these truths, believing that the time had come for the application of the prophecy, and that the words of the angel, "Hurt not," etc., indicated a movement on the part of the church, accordingly raised their petitions to the Ruler of nations to restrain the cruel work of tumult and war. Days of fasting and prayer were set apart for this purpose. The time at which this occurred was a dark and gloomy period of the war; and not a few high in political life predicted its indefinite continuance, and an appalling intensity of all its evils. But suddenly a change came; and not three months had elapsed from the time of which we speak, ere the last army of the Southern Confederacy had surrendered, and all its soldiers had laid down their arms. So sudden and entire was the collapse, and so grateful were all hearts for relief from the pressure of the terrible strife, that the nation broke forth into a song of jubilee,

p 469 -- and these words were conspicuously displayed at the national capital:  "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."    There are those who believe there was a definite cause for this sudden cessation of the strife, of which, of course, the world is but little aware. The sudden conclusion of the Franco-German war of 1870, of the war between Turkey and Russia in 1877-78, the Spanish-American war in 1896, and the recent war between Russia and Japan, may be cited as still later examples.

VERSE 4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.   5.    Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.   6.    Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.    7.    Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.   8.    Of the tribe of Zebulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. TOP

The number sealed is here stated to be one hundred and forty-four thousand; and from the fact that twelve thousand are sealed from each of the twelve tribes, many suppose that this work must have been accomplished as far back at least as about the beginning of the Christian era, when these tribes were literally in existence. They do not see how it can apply to our own time, when every trace of distinction between these tribes has been so long and so completely obliterated. We refer such persons to the opening language of the Epistle of James: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations," etc. Those whom James here addresses are   (1)   Christians; for they are his brethren;   (2)   They are not the converts to Christianity from the Jews, the twelve tribes of his own day; for he addresses them in view of the coming of the Lord. (See chapter 5.) He is thus addressing the last generation of Christians, the Christians of our own day,

p 470 -- and he calls them the twelve tribes scattered abroad. How can this be? Paul explains in Rom. 11:17-24. In the striking figure of grafting which he there introduces, the tame olive tree represents Israel. Some of the branches, the natural descendants of Abraham, were broken off because of unbelief (in Christ). Through faith in Christ the wild olive scions, the Gentiles, are grafted into the tame olive stock, and thus the twelve tribes are perpetuated. And here we find an explanation of the language of the same apostle:   "They are not all Israel which are of Israel," and "he is not a Jew which is one outwardly,... but he is a Jew which is one inwardly." Rom. 9:6-8; 2:28, 29. So we find on the gates of the New Jerusalem - which is a New Testament or Christian, not a Jewish, city - the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the foundations of this city are inscribed the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Rev. 21:12-14. If the twelve tribes belong exclusively to the former dispensation, the more natural order would have been to have their names on the foundations, and those of the twelve apostles on the gates; but no, the names of the twelve tribes are on the gates. And as through these gates, so inscribed, all the redeemed hosts will go in and out, so, as belonging to these twelve tribes, will all the redeemed be reckoned, whether on earth they were Jews or Gentiles. Of course we look in vain for any marks of distinction between the tribes here on earth; and since Christ has appeared in the flesh, the preservation of the genealogy of the tribes is not necessary. But in heaven, where the names of the church of the firstborn are being enrolled, we may be sure there is order, and that each name is enrolled in its own tribe. Heb. 12:23.

It will be observed that the enumeration of the tribes here differs from that given in other places. The twelve sons of Jacob, who became the heads of great families, called tribes, were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Joseph. But Jacob, on his dying bed, adopted the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh to constitute two of the tribes of Israel. Gen. 48:5.

p 471 -- This divided the tribe of Joseph, making thirteen tribes in all. Yet in the distribution of the land of Canaan by lot, they numbered but twelve tribes, and made but twelve lots; for the tribe of Levi was left out, being appointed to the service of the tabernacle, and having no inheritance. But in the passage before us, Ephraim and Dan are omitted, and Levi and Joseph put in their places. The omission of Dan is accounted for by commentators on the ground that that tribe was the one chiefly addicted to idolatry. (See Judges 18, etc.) The tribe of Levi here takes its place with the rest, as in the heavenly Canaan the reasons for their not having an inheritance will not exist, as in the earthly; and Joseph is probably put for Ephraim, it being a name which appears to have been applied to either the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh. Num. 13:11.

Twelve thousand were sealed "out of " each of the twelve tribes, showing that not all who in the records of heaven had a place among these tribes when this sealing work commenced, stood the test, and were overcomers at last; for the names of those already in the book of life will be blotted out, unless they overcome. Rev. 3:5.

VERSE 9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, 12. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.

The sealing having been accomplished, John beholds a countless multitude worshiping God in rapture before his throne. This vast throng are undoubtedly the saved out of every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue, raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ, showing that the sealing is the last work accomplished for the people of God prior to translation.

VERSE 13. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? TOP

p 472 -- 14.    And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  15.    Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.   16.    They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.   17.    For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The questions proposed by one of the elders to John, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" taken in connection with John's answer, "Sir, thou knowest," implying that John did not know, would seem to be devoid of all point, if they had reference to the whole of the great multitude now before him. For John did know who they were, and from whence they came; inasmuch as he had just said that they were people - redeemed of course - out of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues; and John could have answered, These are the redeemed ones from all the nations of the earth. But if a special company in this vast throng were referred to, distinguished by some special mark or position, then it might not be so evident who they were, and what had given them their peculiarity; and the questions, as applied to them, would be appropriate and pertinent. We therefore incline to the view that attention is called to a special company by the questions which were proposed by one of the elders; and no company is brought to view to which special allusion would more naturally be made than to the company spoken of in the first part of the chapter; namely, the 144,000. John had indeed seen this company in their mortal state, as they were receiving the seal of the living God amid the troublous scenes of the last days; but as they here stand among the redeemed throng, the transition is so great, and the condition in which they now appear so different, that he does not recognize them as the special company which he saw sealed upon the earth. And to this company, the specifications that follow seem to be specially applicable.

   1.  They Came Out of Great Tribulation. - While it is true in some degree of all Christians that they must "through much

p 473 -- tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," it is true in a very emphatic sense of the 144,000. They pass through the great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. Dan. 12:1. They experience the mental anguish of the time of Jacob's trouble. Jer. 30:4-7. They stand without a mediator through the terrific scenes of the seven last plagues, those exhibitions of God's unmingled wrath in the earth. Revelation, chapters 15, 16. They pass through the severest time of trouble the world has ever known, although they are delivered out of it.

   2. White Robes. - They wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. To the last generation the testimony is very emphatic on the subject of obtaining the white raiment. Rev. 3:5, 18. And though the 144,000 are accused of rejecting Christ, and trusting to their own works for salvation, because they refuse to violate the commandments of God (Rev. 14:1, 12), in the great day that calumny will be wiped off. It will be seen that they have rested their hope of life on the merits of the shed blood of their divine Redeemer, making him their source of righteousness. There is peculiar force in saying of these that they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

   3.  The First-fruits. - Verse 15 describes the post of honor they occupy in the kingdom, and their nearness to God. In another place they are called "the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb." Rev. 14:4.

   4.  They Shall Hunger No More. - In verse 16 it is said, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." This shows that they have once suffered hunger and thirst. To what can this refer? As it doubtless has reference to some special experience, may it not refer to their trials in the time of trouble, more especially during the last plagues? In this time the righteous will be reduced to bread and water; and though that "will be sure" (Isa. 33:16), enough for sustenance, yet may it not be that when the pastures, with all fruits and vegetation, are dried up (Joel 1:18-20), and the rivers and fountains are turned to blood (Rev. 16: 4-9), to reduce their connection with earth and earthly things to the lowest

p 474 -- limit, the saints who pass through that time will be brought occasionally to the extreme degrees of hunger and thirst? But the kingdom once gained, "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." And the prophet continues in reference to this company, "Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat." We remember that the 144,000 live through the time when power is given unto the sun "to scorch men with fire." Rev. 16:8, 9. And though they are shielded from the deadly effect which it has upon the wicked around them, we cannot suppose that their sensibilities will be so deadened that they will feel no unpleasant sensations from the terrific heat. No; as they enter the fields of the heavenly Canaan, they will be prepared to appreciate the divine assurance that the sun shall not light upon or injure them, nor any heat. TOP

   5.  And the Lamb Shall Lead Them. - Another testimony concerning the same company, and applying at the same time, says, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Rev. 14:4. Both expressions denote the state of intimate and divine companionship to which the blessed Redeemer admits them in reference to himself.

The psalmist, in the following beautiful passage, seems to allude to the same promise: "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." Ps. 36:8. The phraseology of this promise to the 144,000 is also partially found in the following glowing prophecy from the pen of Isaiah: "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it." Isa. 25:8.   TOP


The Seven Trumpets
CHAPTERVIII

p 475 --We name as the subject of this chapter the seven trumpets, as these constitute the main theme of the chapter, although there are other matters introduced before the opening of that series of events. The first verse of this chapter relates to the events of the preceding chapters, and therefore should not have been separated from them by the division of the chapter.

VERSE 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

The series of seven seals is here resumed and concluded. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the eighth commences with the opening of the seventh seal; hence the seventh chapter stands parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals, from which it appears that the sealing work of that chapter belongs to the sixth seal.

Silence in Heaven. - Concerning the cause of this silence, only conjecture can be offered, - a conjecture, however, which is supported by the events of the sixth seal. That seal does not bring us to the second advent, although it embraces events that transpire in close connection therewith. It introduces the fearful commotions of the elements, described as the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, caused by the voice of God, the breaking up of the surface of the earth, and the confession on the part of the wicked that the great day of God's wrath is come. They are doubtless in momentary expectation of seeing

p 476 -- the King appear in, to them, unendurable glory. But the seal stops just short of that event. The personal appearing of Christ must therefore be allotted to the next seal. But when the Lord appears, he comes with all the holy angels with him. Matt. 25:31. And when all the heavenly harpers leave the courts above to come down with their divine Lord, as he descends to gather the fruit of his redeeming work, will there not be silence in heaven?

The length of this period of silence, if we consider it prophetic time, would be about seven days.

VERSE 2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

This verse introduces a new and distinct series of events. In the seals we have had the history of the church during what is called the gospel dispensation. In the seven trumpets, now introduced, we have the principal political and warlike events which were to transpire during the same time.

VERSE 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.   4.    And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.   5.   And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. TOP

Having as it were, in verse 2, brought out the seven angels, and introduced them before us upon the stage of action, John, for a moment, in the three verses last quoted, directs attention to an entirely different scene. The angel which approaches the altar is not one of the seven trumpet angels. The altar is the altar of incense, which, in the earthly sanctuary, was placed in the first apartment. Here, then, is another proof that there exists in heaven a sanctuary with its corresponding vessels of service, of which the earthly was a figure, and that we are taken into that sanctuary by the visions of John. A work of ministration for all the saints in the sanctuary above is thus brought to view. Doubtless the entire work of mediation for the people of God during the gospel dispensation is here presented.

p 477 -- This is apparent from the fact that the angel offers his incense with the prayers of all saints. And that we are here carried forward to the end, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it unto the earth; for his work is then done; no more prayers are to be offered up mingled with incense; and this symbolic act can have its application only at the time when the ministration of Christ in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. And following the angel's act are voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake, - exactly such occurrences as we are elsewhere informed transpire at the close of human probation. (See Rev. 11:19; 16:17, 18.)

But why are these verses thus thrown in here?   Answer:   As a message of hope and comfort for the church. The seven angels with their warlike trumpets had been introduced; terrible scenes were to transpire under their sounding; but before they commence, the people of God are pointed to the work of mediation in their behalf above, and their source of help and strength during this time. Though they should be tossed like feathers upon the tumultuous waves of strife and war, they were to know that their great High Priest still ministered for them in the sanctuary in heaven, and that thither they could direct their prayers, and have them offered, with incense, to their Father in heaven. Thus could they gain strength and support in all their calamities.

VERSE 6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

The subject of the seven trumpets is here resumed, and occupies the remainder of this chapter and all of chapter 9. The seven angels prepare themselves to sound. Their sounding comes in as a complement to the prophecy of Daniel 2 and 7, commencing with the breaking up of the old Roman empire into its ten divisions, of which, in the first four trumpets, we have a description.

VERSE 7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

p 478 -- Mr. Keith has very justly remarked on the subject of this prophecy:      "None could elucidate the texts more clearly, or expound them more fully, than the task has been performed by Gibbon. The chapters of the skeptical philosopher that treat directly of the matter, need but a text to be prefixed, and a few unholy words to be blotted out, to form a series of expository lectures on the eighth and ninth chapters of Revelation."    "Little or nothing is left for the professed interpreter to do but to point to the pages of Gibbon."

The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on Western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Goths under Alaric, who opened the way for later inroads. The death of Theodosius, the Roman emperor, occurred in January, 395, and before the end of the winter the Goths under Alaric were in arms against the empire.

The first invasion under Alaric ravaged Thrace, Macedonia, Attica, and the Peloponnesus, but did not reach the city of Rome. On his second invasion, however, the Gothic chieftain crossed the Alps and the Apennines and appeared before the walls of the "eternal city," which soon fell a prey to the fury of the barbarians. TOP

"Hail and fire mingled with blood" were cast upon the earth. The terrible effects of this Gothic invasion are represented as "hail," from the fact of the northern origin of the invaders; "fire," from the destruction by flame of both city and country; and "blood," from the terrible slaughter of the citizens of the empire by the bold and intrepid warriors.

The blast of the first trumpet has its location about the close of the fourth century and onward, and refers to these desolating invasions of the Roman empire under the Goths.

I know not how the history of the sounding of the first trumpet can be more impressively set forth than by presenting the graphic rehearsal of the facts which are stated in Gibbon's History, by Mr. Keith, in his Signs of the Times, Vol. I, pp. 221-233:  -    "Large extracts show how amply and well Gibbon has expounded his text in the history of the first trumpet, the first

p 479 -- storm that pervaded the Roman earth, and the first fall of Rome. To use his words in more direct comment, we read thus the sum of the matter:   'The Gothic nation was in arms at the first sound of the trumpet, and in the uncommon severity of the winter, they rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the river. The fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were crowded with a deluge of barbarians; the males were massacred; the females and cattle of the flaming villages were driven away. The deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths could easily be discovered after several years. The whole territory of Attica was blasted by the baneful presence of Alaric. The most fortunate of the inhabitants of Corinth, Argos, and Sparta were saved by death from beholding the conflagration of their cities. In a season of such extreme heat that the beds of the rivers were dry, Alaric invaded the dominion of the West. A secluded "old man of Verona," the poet Claudian, pathetically lamented the fate of his contemporary trees, which must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country [note the words of the prophecy, - "The third part of the trees was burned up"]; and the emperor of the Romans fled before the king of the Goths.'

"A furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany, from the northern extremity of which the barbarians marched almost to the gates of Rome. They achieved the destruction of the West. The dark cloud which was collected along the coasts of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the upper Danube. The pastures of Gaul, in which flocks and herds grazed, and the banks of the Rhine, which were covered with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms, formed a scene of peace and plenty, which was suddenly changed into a desert, distinguished from the solitude of nature only by smoking ruins. Many cities were cruelly oppressed, or destroyed. Many thousands were inhumanly massacred; and the consuming flames of war spread over the greater part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.

"Alaric again stretched his ravages over Italy. During four years the Goths ravaged and reigned over it without control. And in the pillage and fire of Rome, the streets of the

p 480 -- city were filled with dead bodies; the flames consumed many public and private buildings; and the ruins of a palace remained (after a century and a half) a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration. TOP

"The concluding sentence of the thirty-third chapter of Gibbon's History is of itself a clear and comprehensive commentary; for in winding up his own description of this brief but most eventful period, be concentrates, as in a parallel reading, the sum of the history and the substance of the prediction. But the words which precede it are not without their meaning:   'The public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of' unknown barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.'

"The last word, Africa, is the signal for the sounding of the second trumpet. The scene changes from the shores of the Baltic to the southern coast of the Mediterranean, or from the frozen regions of the North to the borders of burning Africa; and instead of a storm of hail being cast upon the earth, a burning mountain was cast into the sea."

VERSE 8. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;   9.    And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

The Roman empire, after Constantine, was divided into three parts; and hence the frequent remark, "a third part of men," etc., in allusion to the third part of the empire which was under the scourge. This division of the Roman kingdom was made at the death of Constantine, among his three sons, Constantius, Constantine II, and Constans. Constantius possessed the East, and fixed his residence at Constantinople, the metropolis of the empire. Constantine the Second held Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Constans held Illyricum, Africa, and Italy. (See Sabine's Ecclesiastical History, p. 155.) Of this well-known

p 481 -- historical fact, Elliott, as quoted by Albert Barnes, in his notes on Rev. 12:4, says:       "Twice, at least, before the Roman empire became divided permanently into the two parts, the Eastern and the Western, there was a tripartite division of the empire. The first occurred A. D. 311, when it was divided between Constantine, Licinius, and Maximin; the other, A. D. 337, on the death of Constantine, when it was divided between his three sons, Constantine, Constans, and Constantius."

The history illustrative of the sounding of the second trumpet evidently relates to the invasion and conquest of Africa, and afterward of Italy, by the terrible Genseric. His conquests were for the most part NAVAL; and his triumphs were "as it were a great mountain burning with fire, cast into the sea." What figure would better, or even so well, illustrate the collision of navies, and the general havoc of war on the maritime coasts? In explaining this trumpet, we are to look for some events which will have a particular bearing on the commercial world. The symbol used naturally leads us to look for agitation and commotion. Nothing but a fierce maritime warfare would fulfil the prediction. If the sounding of the first four trumpets relates to four remarkable events which contributed to the downfall of the Roman empire, and the first trumpet refers to the ravages of the Goths under Alaric, in this we naturally look for the next succeeding act of invasion which shook the Roman power and conduced to its fall. The next great invasion was that of "the terrible Genseric," at the head of the Vandals. His career occurred during the years A. D. 428-468. This great Vandal chief had his headquarters in Africa. But as Gibbon states,       "The discovery and conquest of the black nations [in Africa], that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes TOWARD THE SEA; he resolved to create a naval power, and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance."       From the port of Carthage he repeatedly made piratical sallies, and preyed on the Roman commerce, and waged war with that empire. To cope with this sea monarch, the Roman emperor, Majorian, made extensive naval preparations. Three hundred

p 482 -- long galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, were collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Cartagena, in Spain. But Genseric was saved from impending and inevitable ruin by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious or apprehensive of their master's success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he surprised the unguarded fleet in the bay of Cartagena; many of the ships were sunk, taken, or burned, and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day. TOP

Italy continued to be long afflicted by the incessant depredations of the Vandal pirates. In the spring of each year they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage, and Genseric himself, though at a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions.

The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily.

The celerity of their motion enabled them, almost at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most distant objects which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner landed than they swept the dismayed country with a body of light cavalry.

A last and desperate attempt to dispossess Genseric of the sovereignty of the seas, was made in the year 468 by Leo, the emperor of the East. Gibbon bears witness to this as follows:      "The whole expense of the African campaign amounted to the sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of gold, - about five million two hundred thousand pounds sterling.... The fleet that sailed from Constantinople to Carthage consisted of eleven hundred and thirteen ships, and the number of soldiers and mariners exceeded one hundred thousand men ... The army of Heraclius and the fleet of Marcellinus either joined or seconded the imperial lieutenant.... The wind became favorable to the designs of Genseric. He manned his largest ships of war with the bravest of the Moors and Vandals, and they towed after them many large barks filled with combustible materials. In the obscurity of the night, these

p 483 --


(The Vandals Invading Africa)

p 484 -- destructive vessels were impelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting fleet of the Romans, who were awakened by a sense of their instant danger. Their close and crowded order assisted the progress of the fire, which was communicated with rapid and irresistible violence; and the noise of the wind, the crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey, increased the horror of the nocturnal tumult. While they labored to extricate themselves from the fire-ships, and to save at least a part of the navy, the galleys of Genseric assaulted them with temperate and disciplined valor; and many of the Romans who escaped the fury of the flames, were destroyed or taken by the victorious Vandals.... After the failure of this great expedition, Genseric again became the tyrant of the sea; the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Asia were again exposed to his revenge and avarice; Tripoli and Sardinia returned to his obedience; he added Sicily to the number of his provinces; and before he died, in the fulness of years and of glory, he beheld the FINAL EXTINCTION of the empire of the West."   Gibbon, Vol. III, pp. 495-498.

Concerning the important part which this bold corsair acted in the downfall of Rome, Mr. Gibbon uses this significant language:        "Genseric, a name which, in the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila." TOP

VERSE 10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.   11.   And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

In the interpretation and application of this passage, we are brought to the third important event which resulted in the subversion of the Roman empire. And in finding a historical fulfilment of this third trumpet, we shall be indebted to the Notes of Dr. Albert Barnes for a few extracts. In explaining this scripture, it is necessary, as this commentator says, -       "That there should be some chieftain or warrior who

p 485 -- might be compared to a blazing meteor; whose course would be singularly brilliant; who would appear suddenly LIKE a blazing star, and then disappear like a star whose light was quenched in the waters. That the desolating course of this meteor would be mainly on those portions of the world which abounded with springs of water and running streams; that an effect would be produced as if those streams and fountains were made bitter; that is, that many persons would perish, and that wide desolations would be caused in the vicinity of those rivers and streams, as if a bitter and baleful star should fall into the waters, and death should spread over lands adjacent to them, and watered by them." Notes on Revelation 8.

It is here premised that this trumpet has allusion to the desolating wars and furious invasions of Attila against the Roman power, which he carried on at the head of his hordes of Huns. Speaking of this warrior, particularly of his personal appearance, Mr. Barnes says: -    "In the manner of his appearance, he strongly resembled a brilliant meteor flashing in the sky. He came from the East gathering his Huns, and poured them down, as we shall see, with the rapidity of a flashing meteor, suddenly on the empire. He regarded himself also as devoted to Mars, the god of war, and was accustomed to array himself in a peculiarly brilliant manner, so that his appearance, in the language of his flatterers, was such as to dazzle the eyes of beholders."

In speaking of the locality of the events predicted by this trumpet, Mr. Barnes has this note:  -     "It is said particularly that the effect would be on 'the rivers' and on 'the fountains of waters.' If this has a literal application, or if, as was supposed in the case of the second trumpet, the language used was such as had reference to the portion of the empire that would be particularly affected by the hostile invasion, then we may suppose that this refers to those portions of the empire that abounded in rivers and streams, and more particularly those in which the rivers and streams had their origin; for the effect was permanently in the 'fountains of waters.' As a matter of fact, the principal operations of Attila were on the regions of the Alps, and on the portions

p 486 --


(Attila, King of the Huns)
TOP

p 487 -- of the empire whence the rivers flow down into Italy. The invasion of Attila is described by Mr. Gibbon in this general language:     'The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at once invaded, and occupied, and desolated, by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila led into the field.'"

"And the Name of the Star is Called Wormwood [denoting the bitter consequences]."       These words - which are more intimately connected with the preceding verse, as even the punctuation in our version denotes - recall us for a moment to the character of Attila, to the misery of which he was the author or the instrument, and to the terror that was inspired by his name.

"'Total extirpation and erasure,' are terms which best denote the calamities he inflicted." He styled himself, "The Scourge of God."

"One of his lieutenants chastised and almost exterminated the Burgundians of the Rhine. They traversed, both in their march and in their return, the territories of the Franks; and they massacred their hostages as well as their captives. Two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild horses, or were crushed under the weight of rolling wagons; and their unburied limbs were abandoned on public roads, as a prey to dogs and vultures.

"It was the boast of Attila that the grass never grew on the spot which his horse had trod. The Western emperor with the senate and people of Rome, humbly and fearfully depreciated the wrath of Attila. And the concluding paragraph of the chapters which record his history, is entitled, 'Symptoms of the Decay and Ruin of the Roman Government.' 'The name of the star is called Wormwood.'" - Keith.

VERSE 12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

We understand that this trumpet symbolizes the career of Odoacer, the barbarian monarch who was so intimately connected

p 488 -- with the downfall of Western Rome. The symbols sun, moon, and stars - for they are undoubtedly here used as symbols - evidently denote the great luminaries of the Roman government, - its emperors, senators, and consuls. Bishop Newton remarks that the last emperor of Western Rome was Romulus, who in derision was called Augustulus, or the "diminutive Augustus." Western Rome fell A. D. 476. Still, however, though the Roman sun was extinguished, its subordinate luminaries shone faintly while the senate and consuls continued. But after many civil reverses and changes of political fortune, at length, A. D. 566, the whole form of the ancient government was subverted, and Rome itself was reduced from being the empress of the world to a poor dukedom tributary to the Exarch of Ravenna.

Under the heading, "Extinction of the Western Empire, A. D. 476 or A. D. 479," Elder J. Litch (Prophetic Exposition, Vol. II, pp. 156-160) quotes from Mr. Keith as follows:  -    "The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace; and he signified his resignation to the senate; and that assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom and the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo, who had lately been restored, after a short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly 'disclaim the necessity or even the wish of continuing any longer the imperial succession in Italy; since in their opinion the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and to protect, at the same time, both the East and the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people, they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounce the right of choosing their master, the only vestige which yet remained of the authority which had given laws to the world.' TOP

"The power and glory of Rome as bearing rule over any nation, became extinct. The name alone remained to the queen of nations. Every token of royalty disappeared from the imperial city. She who had ruled over the nations sat in the

p 489 -- dust, like a second Babylon, and there was no throne where the Caesars had reigned. The last act of obedience to a Roman Prince which that once august assembly performed, was the acceptance of the resignation of the last emperor of the West, and the abolition of the imperial succession in Italy. The sun of Rome was smitten....

"A new conqueror of Italy, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, speedily arose, who unscrupulously assumed the purple, and reigned by right of conquest. 'The royalty of Theodoric was proclaimed by the Goths (March 5, A. D. 493), with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the East.' The imperial Roman power, of which either Rome or Constantinople had been jointly or singly the seat, whether in the West or the East, was no longer recognized in Italy, and the third part of the sun was smitten, till it emitted no longer the faintest rays. The power of the Caesars was unknown in Italy; and a Gothic king reigned over Rome.

"But though the third part of the sun was smitten, and the Roman imperial power was at an end in the city of the Caesars, yet the moon and the stars still shone, or glimmered, for a little longer in the Western empire, even in the midst of Gothic darkness. The consulship and the senate ["the moon and the stars"] were not abolished by Theodoric. 'A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all temporal power and greatness;' - as the moon reigns by night, after the setting of the sun. And instead of abolishing that office, Theodoric himself 'congratulates those annual favorites of fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendor of the throne.'

"But in their prophetic order, the consulship and the senate of Rome met their fate, though they fell not by the hands of Vandals or of Goths. The next revolution in Italy was in subjection to Belisarius, the general of Justinian, emperor of the East. He did not spare what barbarians had hallowed. 'The Roman Consulship Extinguished by Justinian, A. D. 541,' is the title of the last paragraph of the fortieth chapter of Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of Rome. 'The succession of the consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year

p 490 -- of Justinian, whose despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom.' The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. In the political firmament of the ancient world, while under the reign of imperial Rome, the emperorship, the consulate, and the senate shone like the sun, the moon, and the stars. The history of their decline and fall is brought down till the two former were 'extinguished,' in reference to Rome and Italy, which so long had ranked as the first of cities and of countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we see the 'extinction of that illustrious assembly,' the Roman senate. The city that had ruled the world, as if in mockery of human greatness, was conquered by the eunuch Narses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths (A. D. 552), achieved 'the conquest of Rome,' and the fate of the senate was sealed."

Elliott (Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. I, pp. 357-360) speaks of the fulfilment of this portion of the prophecy in the extinction of the Western empire, as follows: -           "Thus was the final catastrophe preparing, by which the Western emperors and empire were to become extinct. The glory of Rome had long departed; its provinces one after another had been rent from it; the territory still attached to it become like a desert; and its maritime possessions and its fleets and commerce been annihilated. Little remained to it but the vain titles and insignia of sovereignty. And now the time was come when these too were to be withdrawn. Some twenty years or more from the death of Attila, and much less from that of Genseric (who, ere his death, had indeed visited and ravaged the eternal city in one of his maritime marauding expeditions, and thus yet more prepared the coming consummation), about this time, I say, Odoacer, chief of the Heruli, - a barbarian remnant of the host of Attila, left on the Alpine frontiers of Italy, - interposed with his command that the name and the office of Roman emperor of the West, should be abolished. The authorities bowed in submission to him. The last phantom of an emperor - one whose name, Romulus Augustus, was singularly calculated to bring in contrast before the reflective

p 491 --


(Surrender of Western Rome to Odoacer)
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p 492 -- mind the past glories of Rome and its present degradation - abdicated; and the senate sent away the imperial insignia to Constantinople, professing to the emperor of the East that one emperor was sufficient for the whole of the empire. Thus of the Roman imperial sun, that third which appertained to the Western empire was eclipsed, and shone no more. I say, That third of its orb which appertained to the Western empire; for the Apocalyptic fraction is literally accurate. In the last arrangement between the two courts, the whole of the Illyrian third had been made over to the Eastern division. Thus in the West 'the extinction of the empire' had taken place; the night had fallen.

"Notwithstanding this, however, it must be borne in mind that the authority of the Roman name had not yet entirely ceased. The senate of Rome continued to assemble as usual. The consuls were appointed yearly, one by the Eastern emperor, one by Italy and Rome. Odoacer himself governed Italy under a title (that of patrician) conferred on him by the Eastern emperor. And as regarded the more distant Western provinces, or at least considerable districts in them, the tie which had united them to the Roman empire was not altogether severed. There was still a certain, though often faint, recognition of the
supreme imperial authority. The moon and the stars might seem still to shine on the West with a dim reflected light. In the course of the events, however, which rapidly followed one on the other in the next half century, these, too, were extinguished. Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, on destroying the Heruli and their kingdom at Rome and Ravenna, ruled in Italy from A. D. 493 to 526 as an independent sovereign; and on Belisarius's and Narses's conquest of Italy from the Ostrogoths (a conquest preceded by wars and desolations in which Italy, and above all its seven-hilled city, were for a time almost made desert), the Roman senate was dissolved, the consulship abrogated. Moreover, as regards the barbaric princes of the Western provinces, their independence of the Roman imperial power became now more distinctly averred and understood. After above a century and a half of calamities unexampled almost, as Dr. Robertson most truly represents it, in the history of nations,

p 493 -- the statement of Jerome, - a statement couched under the very Apocalyptic figure of the text, but prematurely pronounced on the first taking of Rome by Alaric, - might be considered as at length accomplished: 'Clarissimum terrarum lumen extinctum est,' The world's glorious sun has been extinguished;' and that, too, which our own poet has expressed, still under the same beautifully appropriate Apocalyptic imagery, -

'She saw her glories star by star expire,'

till not even a single star remained, to glimmer on the vacant and dark night." TOP

The fearful ravages of these barbarian hordes, who, under their bold but cruel and desperate leaders, devastated Rome, are vividly portrayed in the following spirited lines:        

"And then a deluge of wrath it came,
And the nations shook with dread;
And it swept the earth, till its fields were flame,
And piled with the mingled dead.
Kings were rolled in the wasteful flood,
With the low and crouching slave,
And together lay, in a shroud of blood,
The coward and the brave."

Fearful as were the calamities brought upon the empire by the first incursions of these barbarians, they were comparatively light as contrasted with the calamities which were to follow. They were but as the preliminary drops of a shower before the torrent which was soon to fall upon the Roman world. The three remaining trumpets are overshadowed with a cloud of woe, as set forth in the following verses.

VERSE 13. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.

This angel is not one of the series of the seven trumpet angels, but simply one who announces that the three remaining trumpets are woe trumpets, on account of the more terrible events to transpire under their sounding. Thus the next, or fifth trumpet, is the first woe; the sixth trumpet, the second woe; and the seventh, the last one in this series of seven trumpets, is the third woe.

p 494 --


("Woe, Woe, Woe, To the Inhabiters of the Earth!")   
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The Seven Trumpets Continued
CHAPTER IX

p 495 -- VERSE 1. And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

For an exposition of this trumpet, we shall again draw from the writings of Mr. Keith. This writer truthfully says:      There is scarcely so uniform an agreement among interpreters concerning any other part of the Apocalypse as respecting the application of the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woes, to the Saracens and Turks. It is so obvious that it can scarcely be misunderstood. Instead of a verse or two designating each, the whole of the ninth chapter of the Revelation, in equal portions, is occupied with a description of both.

"The Roman empire declined, as it arose, by conquest; but the Saracens and the Turks were the instruments by which a false religion became the scourge of an apostate church; and hence, instead of the fifth and sixth trumpets, like the former, being designated by that name alone, they are called woes.

"Constantinople was besieged, for the first time after the extinction of the Western empire, by Chosroes, the king of Persia."

"A star fell from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit."

"While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mohammed as the

p 496 -- apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. 'It is thus,' exclaimed the Arabian prophet, 'that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplication of Chosroes.' Placed on the verge of these two empires of the East, Mohammed observed with secret joy the progress of mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs he ventured to foretell, that, before many years should elapse, victory would again return to the banners of the Romans. 'At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment (!) since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire.'

"It was not, like that designative of Attila, on a single spot that the star fell, but UPON THE EARTH.

"Chosroes subjugated the Roman possessions in Asia and Africa. And 'the Roman empire,' at that period, 'was reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from Tyre to Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. The experience of six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute of the ransom of the Roman empire, - a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins. Heraclius subscribed to these ignominious terms. But the time and space which he obtained to collect those treasures from the poverty of the East, were industriously employed in the preparation of a bold and desperate attack.' TOP

"The king of Persia despised the obscure Saracen, and derided the message of the pretended prophet of Mecca. Even the overthrow of the Roman empire would not have opened a door for Mohammedanism, or for the progress of the Saracenic armed propagators of an imposture, though the monarch of the Persians and chagan of the Avars (the successor of Attila) had divided between them the remains of the kingdoms of the Caesars. Chosroes himself fell. The Persian and Roman monarchies exhausted each other's strength. And before a sword was put into the hands of the false prophet, it was

p 497 -- smitten from the hands of those who would have checked his career and crushed his power.

"'Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire. He explored his perilous way through the Black Sea and the mountains of Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, and recalled the armies of the great king to the defense of their bleeding country.'"

"In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards, besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. The cities and palaces of Assyria were opened for the first time to the Romans."

"The Roman emperor was not strengthened by the conquests which he achieved; and a way was prepared at the same time, and by the same means, for the multitudes of Saracens from Arabia, like locusts from the same region, who, propagating in their course the dark and delusive Mohammedan creed, speedily overspread both the Persian and the Roman empire.

"More complete illustration of this fact could not be desired than is supplied in the concluding words of the chapter from Gibbon, from which the preceding extracts are taken."   "Although a victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort seems to have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief, - an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mohammed; their frantic valor had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians."

"'The spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not

p 498 -- in the heavens,' was let loose on earth. The bottomless pit needed but a key to open it, and that key was the fall of Chosroes. He had contemptuously torn the letter of an obscure citizen of Mecca. But when from his 'blaze of glory' he sunk into the ' tower of darkness' which no eye could penetrate, the name of Chosroes was suddenly to pass into oblivion before that of Mohammed; and the crescent seemed but to wait its rising till the falling of the star. Chosroes, after his entire discomfiture and loss of empire, was murdered in the year 628; and the year 629 is marked by 'the conquest of Arabia,' and 'the first war of the Mohammedans against the Roman empire.'    'And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit.'  He fell unto the earth. When the strength of the Roman empire was exhausted, and the great king of the East lay dead in his tower of darkness, the pillage of an obscure town on the borders of Syria was 'the prelude of a mighty revolution.'   'The robbers were the apostles of Mohammed, and their frantic valor emerged from the desert.'"

The Bottomless Pit. - The meaning of this term may be learned from the Greek abussoV, which is defined "deep, bottomless, profound," and may refer to any waste, desolate, and uncultivated place. It is applied to the earth in its original state of chaos. Gen. 1:2. In this instance it may appropriately refer to the unknown wastes of the Arabian desert, from the borders of which issued the hordes of Saracens, like swarms of locusts. And the fall of Chosroes, the Persian king, may well be represented as the opening of the bottomless pit, inasmuch as it prepared the way for the followers of Mohammed to issue from their obscure country, and propagate their delusive doctrines with fire and sword, till they had spread their darkness over all the Eastern empire.

VERSE 2. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

"Like the noxious and even deadly vapors which the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse in Arabia, Mohammedanism

p 499 --


(Mohammed - Mohammed II )
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p 500 -- spread from thence its pestilential influence, - arose as suddenly and spread as widely as smoke arising out of the pit, the smoke of a great furnace. Such is a suitable symbol of the religion of Mohammed, of itself, or as compared with the pure light of the gospel of Jesus. It was not, like the latter, a light from heaven, but a smoke out of the bottomless pit."

VERSE 3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

"A false religion was set up, which, although the scourge of transgressions and idolatry, filled the world with darkness and delusion; and swarms of Saracens, like locusts, overspread the earth, and speedily extended their ravages over the Roman empire from east to west. The hail descended from the frozen shores of the Baltic; the burning mountain fell upon the sea from Africa; and the locusts (the fit symbol of the Arabs) issued from Arabia, their native region. They came as destroyers, propagating a new doctrine, and stirred up to rapine and violence by motives of interest and religion.

"A still more specific illustration may be given of the power like unto that of scorpions, which was given them. Not only was their attack speedy and vigorous, but 'the nice sensibility of honor, which weighs the insult rather than the injury, shed its deadly venom on the quarrels of the Arabs; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of revenge.'"

VERSE 4. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

After the death of Mohammed, he was succeeded in the command by Abubekr, A. D. 632, who, as soon as he had fairly established his authority and government, dispatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, from which the following is an extract: -     "'When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves

p 501 -- like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women and children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word. And as you go, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way; let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries. And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mohammedans or pay tribute.'

"It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the ferocious mandate; but it was so commanded them. And the preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, as given by Abubekr to the chiefs whose duty it was to issue the commands to all the Saracen hosts. The commands are alike discriminating with the prediction, as if the caliph himself had been acting in known as well as direct obedience to a higher mandate than that of mortal man; and in the very act of going forth to fight against the religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mohammedanism in its stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that he would say."

The Seal of God in Their Foreheads. - In remarks upon chapter 7:1-3, we have shown that the seal of God is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and history is not silent upon the fact that there have been observers of the true Sabbath all through the present dispensation. But the question has here arisen with many, Who were those men who at this time had the seal of God in their foreheads, and who thereby became exempt from Mohammedan oppression? Let the reader bear in mind the fact, already alluded to, that there have been those all through this dispensation who have had the seal of God in their foreheads, or have been intelligent observers of the true Sabbath; and let them consider further

p 502 -- that what the prophecy asserts is that the attacks of this desolating Turkish power are not directed against them, but against another class. The subject is thus freed from all difficulty; for this is all that the prophecy really asserts. Only, one class of persons is directly brought to view in the text; namely, those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads; and the preservation of those who have the seal of God is brought in only by implication. Accordingly, we do not learn from history that any of these were involved in any of the calamities inflicted by the Saracens upon the objects of their hate. They were commissioned against another class of men. And the destruction to come upon this class of men is not put in contrast with the preservation of other men, but only with that of the fruits and verdure of the earth; thus, Hurt not the grass, trees, nor any green thing, but only a certain class of men. And in fulfilment, we have the strange spectacle of an army of invaders sparing those things which such armies usually destroy, namely, the face and productions of nature; and, in pursuance of their permission to hurt those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, cleaving the skulls of a class of religionists with shaven crowns, who belonged to the synagogue of Satan.

These were doubtless a class of monks, or some other division of the Roman Catholic Church. Against these the arms of the Mohammedans were directed. And it seems to us that there is a peculiar fitness, if not design, in describing them as those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; inasmuch as that is the very church which has robbed the law of God of its seal, by tearing away the true Sabbath, and erecting a counterfeit in its place. And we do not understand, either from the prophecy or from history, that those persons whom Abubekr charged his followers not to molest were in possession of the seal of God, or necessarily constituted the people of God. Who they were, and for what reason they were spared, the meager testimony of Gibbon does not inform us, and we have no other means of knowing; but we have every reason to believe that none of those who had the seal of God were molested, while another class, who emphatically had it not, were

p 503 --


Saracen Warrior)
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p 504 -- put to the sword; and thus the specifications of the prophecy are amply met.

VERSE 5. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

"Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and frequent assaults on Constantinople itself, were an unceasing torment throughout the empire; and yet they were not able effectually to subdue it, notwithstanding the long period, afterward more directly alluded to, during which they continued, by unremitting attacks, grievously to afflict an idolatrous church, of which the pope was the head. Their charge was to torment, and then to hurt, but not to kill, or utterly destroy. The marvel was that they did not." ( In reference to the five months, see on verse 10.)

VERSE 6. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

"Men were weary of life, when life was spared only for a renewal of woe, and when all that they accounted sacred was violated, and all that they held dear constantly endangered, and the savage Saracens domineered over them, or left them only to a momentary repose, ever liable to be suddenly or violently interrupted, as if by the sting of a scorpion."

VERSE 7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

"The Arabian horse takes the lead throughout the world and skill in horsemanship is the art and science of Arabia. And the barbed Arabs, swift as locusts and armed like scorpions, ready to dart away in a moment, were ever prepared unto battle.

"'And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold.' When Mohammed entered Medina (A. D. 622), and was first received as its prince, 'a turban was ufurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard.' The turbans of the Saracens, like unto a coronet, were their ornament and their

p 505 -- boast. The rich booty abundantly supplied and frequently renewed them. To assume the turban is proverbially to turn Mussulman. And the Arabs were anciently distinguished by the miters which they wore.

"'And their faces were as the faces of men.'   'The gravity and firmness of the mind of the Arab is conspicuous in his outward demeanor; his only gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood.'  'The honor of their beards is most easily wounded.'"

VERSE 8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. TOP

"Long hair" is esteemed an ornament by women. The Arabs, unlike other men, had their hair as the hair of women, or uncut, as their practice is recorded by Pliny and others. But there was nothing effeminate in their character; for, as denoting their ferocity and strength to devour, their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

VERSE 9. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

The Breastplate. - "The cuirass (or breastplate) was in use among the Arabs in the days of Mohammed. In the battle of Ohud (the second which Mohammed fought) with the Koreish of Mecca (A. D. 624), 'seven hundred of them were armed with cuirasses.'"

The Sound of Their Wings. - "The charge of the Arabs was not, like that of the Greeks and Romans, the efforts of a firm and compact infantry; their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers. With a touch of the hand, the Arab horses darted away with the swiftness of the wind. "The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle." Their conquests were marvelous both in rapidity and extent, and their attack was instantaneous. Nor was it less successful against the Romans than the Persians."

VERSE 10. And thy had tails like unto scorpions, and there were strings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

p 506 -- 11.   And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

Thus far, Keith has furnished us with illustrations of the sounding of the first five trumpets. But we must now take leave of him, and proceed to the application of the new feature of the prophecy here introduced; namely, the prophetic periods.

Their Power Was to Hurt Men Five Months. - 1.   The question arises, What men were they to hurt five months? - Undoubtedly the same they were afterward to slay (see verse 15); "the third part of men," or third of the Roman empire, - the Greek division of it.

2.   When were they to begin their work of torment? The 11th verse answers the question.

   (1)   "They had a king over them." From the death of Mohammed until near the close of the thirteenth century, the Mohammedans were divided into various factions under several leaders, with no general civil government extending over them all. Near the close of the thirteenth century, Othman founded a government which has since been known as the Ottoman government, or empire, which grew until it extended over all the principal Mohammedan tribes, consolidating them into one grand monarchy.

   (2)   The character of the king. "Which is the angel of the bottomless pit." An angel signifies a messenger, a minister, either good or bad, and not always a spiritual being. "The angel of the bottomless pit," or chief minister of the religion which came from thence when it was opened. That religion is Mohammedanism, and the sultan is its chief minister. "The Sultan, or grand Seignior, as he is indifferently called, is also Supreme Caliph, or high priest, uniting in his person the highest spiritual dignity with the supreme secular authority." - World As It Is, p. 361. TOP

   (3)   His name. In Hebrew, "Abaddon," the destroyer; in Greek, "Apollyon," one that exterminates, or destroys. Having two different names in two languages, it is evident that the character, rather than the name of the power, is intended to be represented. If so, as expressed in both languages,

p 507 -- he is a destroyer. Such has always been the character of the Ottoman government.

But when did Othman make his first assault on the Greek empire? - According to Gibbon, Decline and Fall, etc., "Othman first entered the territory of Nicomedia on the 27th day of July, 1299."

The calculations of some writers have gone upon the supposition that the period should begin with the foundation of the Ottoman empire; but this is evidently an error; for they were not only to have a king over them, but were to torment men five months. But the period of torment could not begin before the first attack of the tormentors, which was, as above stated, July 27, 1299.

The calculation which follows, founded on this starting-point, was made and published in a work entitled, Christ's Second Coming, etc., by J. Litch, in 1838.

"And their power was to hurt men five months." Thus far their commission extended, to torment by constant depredations, but not politically to kill them. "Five months," thirty days to a month, give us one hundred and fifty days; and these days, being symbolic, signify one hundred and fifty years. Commencing July 27, 1299, the one hundred and fifty years reach to 1449. During that whole period the Turks were engaged in an almost perpetual warfare with the Greek empire, but yet without conquering it. They seized upon and held several of the Greek provinces, but still Greek independence was maintained in Constantinople. But in 1449, the termination of the one hundred and fifty years, a change came, the history of which will be found under the succeeding trumpet.

VERSE 12. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.   13.    And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,   14.    Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.   15.   And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

The first woe was to continue from the rise of Mohammedanism until the end of the five months. Then the first woe

p 508 -- was to end, and the second to begin. And when the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to take off the restraints which had been imposed on the nation, by which they were restricted to the work of tormenting men, and their commission was enlarged so as to permit them to slay the third part of men. This command came from the four horns of the golden altar. TOP

The Four Angels. - These were the four principal sultanies of which the Ottoman empire was composed, located in the country watered by the great river Euphrates. These sultanies were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Bagdad. Previously they had been restrained; but God commanded, and they were loosed.

In the year 1449, John Palaeologus, the Greek emperor, died, but left no children to inherit his throne, and Constantine, his brother, succeeded to it.   1   But he would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of Amurath, the Turkish sultan. He therefore sent ambassadors to ask his consent, and obtained it before he presumed to call himself sovereign.

Let this historical fact be carefully examined in connection with the prediction given above. This was not a violent assault made on the Greeks, by which their empire was overthrown and their independence taken away, but simply a voluntary surrender of that independence into the hands of' the Turks. The authority and supremacy of the Turkish power was acknowledged when Constantine virtually said, "I cannot reign unless you permit."

The four angels were loosed for an hour, a day, a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. This period, during which Ottoman supremacy was to exist, amounts to three hundred ninety-one years and fifteen days. Thus: A prophetic year is three hundred and sixty prophetic days, or three hundred and sixty literal years; a prophetic month, thirty prophetic days, is thirty literal years; one prophetic day is one

1-- Some historians have given this date as 1448, but the best authorities sustain the date here given, 1449. See Chamber's Encyclopedia, art., Palaeologus.

p 509 -- literal year; and an hour, or the twenty-fourth part of a prophetic day, would be a twenty-fourth part of a literal year, or fifteen days; the whole amounting to three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days.

But although the four angels were thus loosed by the voluntary submission of the Greeks, yet another doom awaited the seat of empire. Amurath, the sultan to whom the submission of Constantine XIII was made, and by whose permission he reigned in Constantinople, soon after died, and was succeeded in the empire, in 1451, by Mohammed II, who set his heart on securing Constantinople as the seat of his empire.

He accordingly made preparations for besieging and taking the city. The siege commenced on the 6th of April, 1453, and ended in the capture of the city, and the death of the last of the Constantines, on the 16th day of May following. And the eastern city of the Caesars became the seat of the Ottoman empire.

The arms and mode of warfare which were used in the siege in which Constantinople was to be overthrown and held in subjection were, as we shall see, distinctly noticed by the Revelator.

VERSE 16. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

Innumerable hordes of horses, and them that sat on them! Gibbon thus describes the first invasion of the Roman territories by the Turks:       "The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Taurus to Erzeroum; and the blood of 130,000 Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet."       Whether the language is designed to convey the idea of any definite number or not, the reader must judge. Some suppose 200,000 twice told is meant, and, following some historians, they find that number of Turkish warriors in the siege of Constantinople. Some think 200,000,000 to mean all the Turkish warriors during the three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days of their triumph over the Greeks. Nothing can be affirmed on the point. And it is nothing at all essential. TOP

p 510 -- VERSE 17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

The first part of this description may have reference to the appearance of these horsemen. Fire, representing a color, stands for red, "as red as fire" being a frequent term of expression; jacinth, or hyacinth, for blue; and brimstone, for yellow. And these colors greatly predominated in the dress of these warriors; so that the description, according to this view, would be accurately met in the Turkish uniform, which was composed largely of red, or scarlet, blue, and yellow. The heads of the horses were in appearance as the heads of lions, to denote their strength, courage, and fierceness; while the last part of the verse undoubtedly has reference to the use of gunpowder and firearms for purposes of war, which were then but recently introduced. As the Turks discharged their firearms on horseback, it would appear to the distant beholder that the fire, smoke, and brimstone issued out of the horses' mouths, as illustrated by the accompanying plate.   1

Respecting the use of firearms by the Turks in their campaign against Constantinople, Elliott (Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. I, pp. 482-484) thus speaks: -    "It was to 'the fire and the smoke and the sulpher,' to the artillery and firearms of Mahomet, that the killing of the third part of men, i. e., the capture of Constantinople, and by consequence the destruction of the Greek empire, was owing. Eleven hundred years, and more had now elapsed since her foundation by Constantine. In the course of them, Goths, Huns, Avars, Persians, Bulgarians, Saracens, Russians, and

1 -- Quite an agreement exists among commentators in applying the prophecy concerning the fire, smoke, and brimstone to the use of gunpowder by the Turks in their warfare against the Eastern empire. (See Clarke, Barnes, Elliott, Cottage Bible, etc.) But they generally allude simply to the heavy ordnance, the large cannon, employed by that power; whereas the prophecy mentions especially the "horses," and the fire "issuing from their mouths," as though smaller arms were used, and used on horseback. Barnes thinks this was the case; and a statement from Gibbon confirms this view. He says (IV, 343): "The incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon." Here is good historical evidence that muskets were used by the Turks; and, secondly, it is undisputed that in their general warfare they fought principally on horseback. The inference is therefore well supported that they used firearms on horseback, accurately fulfilling the prophecy, according to the illustration above referred to.

p 511 --


(Turkish Warrior)
TOP

p 512 -- indeed the Ottoman Turks themselves, had made their hostile assaults, or laid siege against it. But the fortifications were impregnable by them. Constantinople survived, and with it the Greek empire. Hence the anxiety of the Sultan Mahomet to find that which would remove the obstacle. 'Canst thou cast a cannon,' was his question to the founder of cannon that deserted to him, 'of size sufficient to batter down the wall of Constantinople?' Then the foundry was established at Adrianople, the cannon cast, the artillery prepared, and the siege began.

"It well deserves remark, how Gibbon, always the unconscious commentator on the Apocalyptic prophecy, puts this new instrumentality of war into the foreground of his picture, in his eloquent and striking narrative of the final catastrophe of the Greek empire. In preparation for it, he gives the history of the recent invention of gunpowder, 'that mixture of saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal,' tells of its earlier use by the Sultan Amurath, and also, as before said, of Mahomet's foundry of larger cannon at Adrianople; then, in the progress of the siege itself, describes how 'the volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of the musketry and cannon;' how 'the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls, fourteen batteries thundering at once on the most accessible places;' how 'the fortifications which had stood for ages against hostile violence were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon, many breaches opened, and near the gate of St. Romanus, four towers leveled with the ground:' how, as 'from the lines, the galleys, and the bridge, the Ottoman artillery thundered on all sides, the camp and city, the Greeks and the Turks, were involved in a cloud of smoke, which could only be dispelled by the final deliverance or destruction of the Roman empire:' how 'the double walls were reduced by the cannon to a heap of ruins:' and how the Turks at length 'rushing through the breaches,' 'Constantinople was subdued, her empire subverted, and her religion trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors.' I say it well deserves observation how markedly and strikingly Gibbon attributes the capture of the city, and

p 513 --


(Entry of Mohammed II, Into Constantinople)

p 514 -- so the destruction of the empire, to the Ottoman artillery. For what, is it but a comment on the words of our prophecy? 'By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the sulphur, which issued out of their mouths.'"

VERSE 18. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.   19.    For their power is in their month, and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

These verses express the deadly effect of the new mode of warfare introduced. It was by means of these agents, - gunpowder, firearms, and cannon, - that Constantinople was finally overcome, and given into the hands of the Turks.

In addition to the fire, smoke, and brimstone, which apparently issued out of their mouths, it is said that their power was also in their tails. It is a remarkable fact that the horse's tail is a well-known Turkish standard, a symbol of office and authority. The meaning of the expression appears to be that their tails were the symbol, or emblem of their authority. The image before the mind of John would seem to have been that he saw the horses belching out fire and smoke, and, what was equally strange, he saw that their power of spreading desolation was connected with the tails of the horses. Any one looking on a body of cavalry with such banners, or ensigns, would be struck with this unusual or remarkable appearance, and would speak of their banners as concentrating and directing their power. TOP

This supremacy of the Mohammedans over the Greeks was to continue, as already noticed, three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days. Commencing when the one hundred and fifty years ended, July 27, 1449, the period would end Aug. 11, 1840. Judging from the manner of the commencement of the Ottoman supremacy, that it was by a voluntary acknowledgment on the part of the Greek emperor that he reigned only by permission of the Turkish sultan, we should naturally conclude that the fall or departure of the Ottoman independence would be brought about in the same way; that at

p 515 -- the end of the specified period, that is, on the 11th of August, 1840, the sultan would voluntarily surrender his independence into the hands of the Christian powers, just as he had, three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days before, received it from the hands of the Christian emperor, Constantine XIII.

This conclusion was reached, and this application of the prophecy was made by Elder J. Litch in 1838, two years before the predicted event was to occur. It was then purely a matter of calculation on the prophetic periods of Scripture. Now, however, the time has passed by, and it is proper to inquire what the result has been - whether such events did transpire according to the previous calculation. The matter sums itself up in the following inquiry: -

When Did Mohammedan Independence in Constantinople Depart? - For several years previous to 1840, the sultan had been embroiled in war with Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt. In 1838 the trouble between the sultan and his Egyptian vassal was for the time being restrained by the influence of the foreign ambassadors. In 1839, however, hostilities were again commenced, and were prosecuted until, in a general battle between the armies of the sultan and Mehemet, the sultan's army was entirely cut up and destroyed, and his fleet taken by Mehemet and carried into Egypt. So completely had the sultan's fleet been reduced, that, when the war again commenced in August, he had only two first-rates and three frigates as the sad remains of the once powerful Turkish fleet. This fleet Mehemet positively refused to give up and return to the sultan, and declared that if the powers attempted to take it from him, he would burn it. In this posture affairs stood, when, in 1840, England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia interposed, and determined on a settlement of the difficulty; for it was evident that, if let alone, Mehemet would soon become master of the sultan's throne.

The sultan accepted this intervention of the great powers, and thus made a voluntary surrender of the question into their hands. A conference of these powers was held in London, the Sheik Effendi Bey Likgis being present as Ottoman plenipotentiary. An agreement was drawn up to be presented to

p 516 -- the pasha of Egypt, whereby the sultan was to offer him the hereditary government of Egypt, and all that part of Syria extending from the Gulf of Suez to the Lake of Tiberias, together with the province of Acre, for life; he on his part to evacuate all other parts of the sultan's dominions then occupied by him, and to return the Ottoman fleet. In case he refused this offer from the sultan, the four powers were to take the matter into their own hands, and use such other means to bring him to terms as they should see fit.

It is apparent that just as soon as this ultimatum should be put by the sultan into the hands of Mehemet Ali, the matter would be forever beyond the control of the former, and the disposal of his affairs would, from that moment, be in the hands of foreign powers. The sultan despatched Rifat Bey on a government steamer to Alexandria, to communicate the ultimatum to the pasha. It was put into his hands, and by him taken in charge, on the eleventh day of August, 1840! On the same day, a note was addressed by the sultan to the ambassadors of the four powers, inquiring what plan was to be adopted in case the pasha should refuse to comply with the terms of the ultimatum, to which they made answer that provision had been made, and there was no necessity of his alarming himself about any contingency that might arise. This day, the period of three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days, allotted to the continuance of the Ottoman power, ended; and where was the sultan's independence? - GONE! Who had the supremacy of the Ottoman empire in their hands? - The four great powers; and that empire has existed ever since only by the sufferance of these Christian powers. Thus was the prophecy fulfilled to the very letter.

From the first publication of the calculation of this matter in 1838, before referred to, the time set for the fulfilment of the prophecy - Aug. 11, 1840 - was watched by thousands with intense interest. And the exact accomplishment of the event predicted, showing, as it did, the right application of the prophecy, gave a mighty impetus to the great Advent movement then beginning to attract the attention of the world.

p 517 -- VERSE 20. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:   21.   Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

God designs that men shall make a note of his judgments, and receive the lessons he thereby designs to convey. But how slow are they to learn! and how blind to the indications of providence! The events that transpired under the sixth trumpet constituted the second woe; yet these judgments led to no improvement in the manners and morals of men. Those who escaped them learned nothing by their manifestation in the earth. The worship of devils (demons, dead men deified) and of idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, may find a fulfilment in the saint worship and image worship of the Roman Catholic Church; while of murders, sorceries, (pretended miracles through the agency of departed saints), fornications, and thefts in countries where the Roman religion has prevailed, there has been no lack.

The hordes of Saracens and Turks were let loose as a scourge and punishment upon apostate Christendom. Men suffered the punishment, but learned therefrom no lesson.  TOP

 

The Proclamation of the Advent
CHAPTER X

p 518 -- VERSE 1. And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.   2.    And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth.

In this scripture we have another instance in which the consecutive line of thought is for a time interrupted; and this chapter comes in as -

A Parenthetical Prophecy. - Chapter 9 closed with the events of the sixth trumpet. The sounding of the seventh trumpet is not introduced until we reach the 15th verse of chapter 11. The whole of chapter 10 and a portion of chapter 11, therefore, come in parenthetically between the sixth and seventh trumpets. That which is particularly connected with the sounding of the sixth trumpet is recorded in chapter 9. The prophet has other events to introduce before the opening of another trumpet, and takes occasion to do it in the scripture which intervenes to the 15th verse of chapter 11. Among these is the prophecy of chapter 10. Let us first look at the chronology of the message of this angel.

The Little Book. - "He had in his hand a little book open." There is a necessary inference to be drawn from this language, which is, that this book was at some time closed up. We read in Daniel of a book which was closed up and sealed to a certain time: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro,

p 519 --


(The Angel On Sea and Land - Rev 10:2)

p 520 -- and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12:4. Since this book was closed up only till the time of the end, it follows that at the time of the end the book would be opened; and as this closing was mentioned in prophecy, it would be but reasonable to expect that in the predictions of events to take place at the time of the end, the opening of this book would also be mentioned. There is no book spoken of as closed up and sealed except the book of Daniel's prophecy; and there is no account of the opening of that book, unless it be here in the 10th of Revelation. We see, furthermore, that in both places the contents ascribed to the book are the same. The book which Daniel had directions to close up and seal had reference to time: "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" And when the angel of this chapter comes down with the little book open, on which he bases his proclamation, he gives a message in relation to time: "Time shall be no longer." Nothing more could be required to show that both expressions refer to one book, and to prove that the little book which the angel had in his hand open, was the book of the prophecy of Daniel.

An important point is now determined toward settling the chronology of this angel; for we have seen that the prophecy, more particularly the prophetic periods of Daniel, were not to be opened till the time of the end; and if this is the book which the angel had in his hand open, it follows that he proclaims his message this side of the time when the book should be opened, or somewhere this side of the commencement of the time of the end. All that now remains on this point is to ascertain when the time of the end commenced; and the book of Daniel itself furnishes data from which this can be done. In Daniel 11, from verse 30, the papal power is brought to view. In verse 35 we read, "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and make them white, even to the time of the end." Here is brought to view the period of the supremacy of the little horn, during which time the saints, times, and laws were to be given into his hand, and from him suffer fearful persecutions. This is declared to reach to the time of the end. It ended A. D. 1798, where the

p 521 -- 1260 years of papal rule expired. There the time of the end commenced, and the book was opened. And since that time, many have run to and fro, and knowledge on these prophetic subjects has marvelously increased. TOP

The chronology of the events of Revelation 10 is further ascertained from the fact that this angel is identical with the first angel of Revelation 14. The points of identity between them are easily seen:    (1)   They both have a special message to proclaim;    (2)   they both utter their proclamation with a loud voice;    (3)   they both use similar language, referring to the great Creator as the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and the things that are therein; and    (4)    they both proclaim time, one swearing that time should be no more, and the other proclaiming that the hour of God's judgment has come. But the message of Rev. 14:6 is located this side of the commencement of the time of the end. It is a proclamation of the hour of God's judgment come, and hence must have its application in the last generation. Paul did not preach the hour of judgment come. Luther and his coadjutors did not preach it. Paul reasoned of a judgment to come, indefinitely future; and Luther placed it at least three hundred years off from his day. Moreover, Paul warns the church against any such preaching as that the hour of God's judgment has come, until a certain time. In 2 Thess. 2:1-3, he says: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition," etc. Here Paul introduces to our view the man of sin, the little horn, the papacy, and covers with a caution the whole period of his supremacy, which, as already noticed, continued 1260 years, ending in 1798. In 1798, therefore, the restriction against proclaiming the day of Christ at hand ceased; in 1798, the time of the end commenced, and the seal was taken from the little book. Since that period, therefore, the angel of Revelation 14 has gone

p 522 --


(Preaching the Advent Message in Norway)

p 523 -- forth proclaiming the hour of God's judgment come; and it is since that time, too, that the angel of chapter 10 has taken his stand on sea and land, and sworn that time shall be no more. Of their identity there can now be no question; and all the arguments which go to locate the one, are equally effective in the case of the other. We need not enter into any argument here to show that the present generation is witnessing the fulfilment of these two prophecies. In the preaching of the advent, more especially from 1840 to 1844, began their full and circumstantial accomplishment. The position of this angel, one foot upon the sea and the other on the land, denotes the wide extent of his proclamation by sea and by land. Had this message been designed for only one country, it would have been sufficient for the angel to take his position on the land only. But he has one foot upon the sea, from which we may infer that his message would cross the ocean, and extend to the various nations and divisions of the globe; and this inference is strengthened by the fact that the Advent proclamation, above referred to, did go to every missionary station in the world. More on this under chapter 14.

VERSE 3. And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.   4.   And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

The Seven Thunders. - It would be vain to speculate to any great length upon the seven thunders, in hope of gaining a definite knowledge of what they uttered. We must acquiesce in the directions given to John concerning them, and leave them where he left them, sealed up, unwritten, and consequently to us unknown. There is, however, a conjecture extant in relation to them, which may not inappropriately be mentioned here. It is that what the seven thunders uttered is the experience of the Adventists engaged in that movement, embracing their sore disappointment and trial. Something, evidently, was uttered which it would not be well for the church to know; and for God to have given an inspired record of the Advent movement in advance, would have been simply

p 524 -- to defeat that movement, which we verily believe was in all its particulars an accomplishment of his purposes, and according to his will. Why, then, any mention of the seven thunders at all? Following out the above noticed conjecture, the conclusion would be that we, having met in our history with sudden, mysterious, and unexpected events, as startling and strange as thunders from an unclouded sky, might not give up in utter perplexity, inferring, as we may, that all is in the order and providence of God, since something of this nature was sealed up, and hidden from the church. TOP

VERSE 5. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,   6.    And sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.

Time No Longer. - What is the meaning of this most solemn declaration? It cannot mean that with the message of this angel, time, as computed in this world, in comparison with eternity, should end; for the next verse speaks of the days of the voice of the seventh angel; and chapter 11:15-19 gives us some of the events to take place under this trumpet, which transpire in the present state. And it cannot mean probationary time; for that does not cease till Christ closes his work as priest, which is not till after the seventh angel has commenced to sound. Rev. 11:15, 19; 15:5-8. It must therefore mean prophetic time; for there is no other to which it can refer. Prophetic time shall be no more - not that time should never be used in a prophetic sense; for the "days of the voice of the seventh angel," spoken of immediately after, doubtless mean the years of the seventh angel; but no prophetic period should extend beyond this message; those that reach to the latest point would all close there. Arguments on the prophetic periods, showing that the longest ones did not extend beyond the autumn of 1844, will be found in remarks on Dan. 8:14.

VERSE 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

p 525 -- The Days of the Voice of the Seventh Angel. - This seventh trumpet is not that which is spoken of in 1 Cor. 15:52 as the last trump, which wakes the sleeping dead; but it is the seventh of the series of the seven trumpets, and like the others of this series, occupies days (years) in sounding. In the days when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished. Not in the day when he shall begin to sound, not in the very commencement of his sounding, but in the early years of his sounding, the mystery of God shall be finished.

Commencement of the Seventh Trumpet. - From the events to take place under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, its commencement may be located with sufficient definiteness at the close of the prophetic periods in 1844. Not many years from that date, then, the mystery of God is to be finished. The great event, whatever it is, is right upon us. Some closing and decisive work, with whatever of importance and solemnity it bears in its train, is near at hand. There is an importance connected with the finishing of any of the works of God. Such an act marks a solemn and important era. Our Saviour, when expiring upon the cross, cried, "It is finished" (John 19:30); and when the great work of mercy for fallen man is completed, it will be announced by a voice from the throne of God, proclaiming, in tones which roll like thunder through all the earth, the solemn sentence, "It is done!" Rev. 16:17. It is therefore no uncalled-for solicitude which prompts us to inquire what bearing such events have upon our eternal hopes and interests; and, when we read of the finishing of the mystery of God, to ask what that mystery is, and in what its finishing consists.

The Mystery of God. - A few direct testimonies from that Book which has been given as a lamp to our feet, will show what this mystery is. Eph. 1:9, 10: "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation or the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him." Here God's purpose to gather together all in Christ is called the "mystery" of his will. This is accomplished

p 526 -- through the gospel. Eph. 6:19 "And for me [Paul asks that prayers be made], that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." Here the gospel is declared plainly to be a mystery. It is called in Col. 4:3, the mystery of Christ. Eph. 3:3, 6: "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words)," etc., "that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." Paul here declares that the mystery was made known to him by revelation, as he had before written. In this he refers to his Epistle to the Galatians, where he recorded what had been given him "by revelation," in these words: "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal. 1:11, 12. Here Paul tells us plainly that what he received through revelation was the gospel. In Eph. 3:3, he calls it the mystery made known to him by revelation, as he had written before. The Epistle to the Galatians was written in A. D. 58, and that to the Ephesians in A. D. 64. TOP

In view of these testimonies, few will be disposed to deny that the mystery of God is the gospel. It is the same, then, as if the angel had declared, In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the gospel shall be finished. But what is the finishing of the gospel? Let us first inquire for what it was given. It was given to take out from the nations a people for God's name. Acts 15:14. Its finishing must, as a matter of course, be the close of this work. It will be finished when the number of God's people is made up, mercy ceases to be offered, and probation closes.

The subject is now before us in all its magnitude. Such is the momentous work to be accomplished in the early days of the voice of the seventh angel, whose trumpet notes have been reverberating through the world since the memorable epoch of 1844. God is not slack; his work is not uncertain; are we ready for the issue?

p 527 -- VERSE 8. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.   9.    And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.  10.  And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

In verse 8, John himself is brought in to act a part as a representative of the church, probably on acount of the succeeding peculiar experience of the church, which the Lord of the prophecy would cause to be put on record, but which could not well be presented under the symbol of an angel. When only a straightforward proclamation is brought to view, without including the peculiar experience which the church is to pass through in connection therewith, angels may be used as symbols to represent the religious teachers who proclaim that message, as in Revelation 14; but when some particular experience of the church is to be presented, the case is manifestly different. This could most appropriately be set forth in the person of some member of the human family; hence John is himself called upon to act a part in this symbolic representation. And this being the case, the angel who here appeared to John may represent that divine messenger, who, in the order which is observed in all the work of God, has charge of this message; or he may be introduced for the purpose of representing the nature of the message, and the source from which it comes.

There are not a few now living who have in their own experience met a striking fulfilment of these verses, in the joy with which they received the message of Christ's immediate second coming, the honey-like sweetness of the precious truths then brought out, and the sadness and pain that followed, when at the appointed time in 1844 the Lord did not come, but a great disappointment did. A mistake had been made which apparently involved the integrity of the little book they had been eating. What had been so like honey to their taste, suddenly became like wormwood and gall. But those who had patience

p 528 -- to endure, so to speak, the digesting process, soon learned that the mistake was only in the event, not in the time, and that what the angel had given them was not unto death, but to their nourishment and support. (See the same facts brought to view under a similar figure in Jer. 15:16-18.)

VERSE 11. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

John, standing as the representative of the church, here receives from the angel another commission. Another message is to go forth after the time when the first and second messages, as leading proclamations, ceased. In other words, we have here a prophecy of the third angel's message, now, as we believe, in process of fulfilment. Neither will this work be done in a corner; for it is to go before "many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." (See chapter 14.) TOP

 

The Two Witnesses
CHAPTER XI

p 529 -- VERSE 1. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.   2.    But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

We here have a continuation of the instruction which the angel commenced giving to John in the preceding chapter; hence these verses properly belong to that chapter, and should not be separated by the present division. In the last verse of chapter 10, the angel gave to John, as a representative of the church, a new commission. In other words, as already shown, we have in that verse a prophecy of the third angel's message. Now follows testimony showing what the nature of that message is to be. It is connected with the temple of God in heaven, and is designed to fit up a class of people as worshipers therein. The temple here cannot mean the church; for the church is brought to view in connection with this temple as "them that worship therein."

The temple is therefore the literal temple in heaven, and the worshipers the true church on earth. But of course these worshipers are not to be measured in the sense of ascertaining the height and circumference of each one in feet and inches; they are to be measured as worshipers; and character can be

p 530 -- measured only by some standard of right, namely, a law, or rule of action. We are thus brought to the conclusion that the ten commandments, the standard which God has given by which to measure "the whole duty of man," are embraced in the measuring rod put by the angel into the hands of John; and in the fulfilment of this prophecy, this very law has been put, under the third message, into the hands of the church. This is the standard by which the worshipers of God are now to be tested.

Having seen what it is to measure those who worship in the temple, we inquire further, What is meant by measuring the temple? To measure any object requires that we give especial attention to that object; so, doubtless, the call to rise and measure the temple of God is a prophetic command to the church to give the subject of the temple, or sanctuary, a special examination. But how is this to be done with a measuring rod given to the church? With the ten commandments alone we could not do it. When, however, we take the entire message, we find ourselves led by it to an examination of the sanctuary on high, with the commandments of God and the ministration of Christ connected therewith. Hence we conclude that the measuring rod, taken as a whole, is the special message now given to the church, which embraces the great truths peculiar to this time, including the ten commandments. By this message, our attention has been called to the temple above, and through it the light and truth on this subject has come out. Thus we measure the temple and the altar, or the ministration connected with the temple, the work and the position of our great High Priest; and we measure the worshipers with that portion of the rod which relates to character; namely, the ten commandments.

"But the court which is without the temple leave out." As much as to say, The attention of the church is now directed to the inner temple, and the service there. Matters pertaining to the court are of less consequence now. It is given to the Gentiles. That the court refers to this earth is proved thus: The court is the place where the victims were slain whose blood was to be ministered in the sanctuary. The antitypical victim

p 531 -- must die in the antitypical court, and he died on Calvary in Judea. Having thus introduced the Gentiles, the attention of the prophet is directed to the great feature of Gentile apostasy; namely, the treading down of the holy city forty and two months during the period of papal supremacy. He is then directed to the condition of the word of God, the truth, and the church during that time. Thus by an easy and natural transition, we are carried back into the past, and our attention is called to a new series of events. TOP

VERSE 3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

These days are the same as the forty-two months of the preceding verse, and refer to the period of papal triumph. During this time, the witnesses are in a state of sackcloth, or obscurity, and God gives them power to endure and maintain their testimony through that dark and dismal period. But who or what are these witnesses?

VERSE 4. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

Evident allusion is here made to Zech. 4:11-14, where it is explained that the two olive trees are taken to represent the word of God; and David testifies, "The entrance of thy words giveth light;" and, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Written testimony is stronger than oral. Jesus declared of the Old Testament Scriptures, "They are they which testify of me." In this dispensation, he says that his works bear witness of him. By what means do they bear witness of him? Ever since those disciples who were personally associated with him while on earth passed off the stage of life, his works have borne witness of him only through the medium of the New Testament, where alone we find them recorded. This gospel of the kingdom, it was once declared, shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, etc.

These declarations and considerations are sufficient to sustain the conclusion that the Old and New Testaments, one given

p 532 -- in one dispensation, and the other in the other, are Christ's two witnesses.

VERSE 5. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

To hurt the word of God is to oppose, corrupt, or pervert its testimony, and turn people away from it. Against those who do this work, fire proceedeth out of their mouth to devour them; that is, judgment of fire is denounced in that word against such. It declares that they will have their portion at last in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. Mal. 4:1; Rev. 20:15; 22:18, 19, etc.

VERSE 6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

In what sense have these witnesses power to shut heaven, turn waters to blood, and bring plagues on the earth? Elijah shut heaven that it rained not for three years and a half; but he did it by the word of the Lord. Moses, by the word of the Lord, turned the waters of Egypt to blood. And just as these judgments, recorded in their testimony, have been fulfilled, so will every threatening and judgment denounced by them against any people surely be accomplished. "As often as they will." As often as judgments are recorded on their pages to take place, so often they will come to pass. An instance of this the world is yet to experience in the infliction of the seven last plagues.

VERSE 7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.   8.   And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

"When they shall have finished their testimony," that is, "in sackcloth."The sackcloth state ended, or, as elsewhere expressed, the days of persecution were shortened (Matt. 24:22), before the period itself expired. A "beast" in prophecy, denotes a kingdom, or power. (See Dan. 7:17, 23.) The

p 533 -- question now arises, When did the 1260-year period of the witnesses close? and did such a kingdom as described make war on them at the time spoken of? If we are correct in fixing upon A. D. 538 as the time of the commencement of the papal supremacy, the forty-two months being 1260 prophetic days, or years, would bring us down to A. D. 1798. About this time, then, did such a kingdom as described appear, and make war on them, etc.? Mark! this beast, or kingdom, is out of the bottomless pit; it has no foundation, is an atheistical power, is "spiritually Egypt." (See Ex. 5:2: "And Pharoah said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.") Here is atheism. Did any kingdom, about 1798 manifest the same spirit? - Yes, France; in her national capacity she denied the being of God, and made war on the "Monarchy of heaven."

"Spiritually" this power "is called Sodom." What was the characteristic sin of Sodom? - Licentiousness. Did France have this character? - She did; fornication was established by law during the period spoken of. "Spiritually" the place was "where our Lord was crucified." Was this true in France? - It was, in more senses than one. A plot was laid in France to destroy all the pious Huguenots; and the awful St. Bartholomew massacre, with its seventy thousand victims, stands as an indelible blot upon the history of that country. Thus our Lord was "spiritually crucified" in his members. Again, the watchword and motto of the French infidels was, "CRUSH THE WRETCH," meaning Christ. Thus it may be truly said, "Where our Lord was crucified." The very spirit of the "bottomless pit" was poured out in that wicked nation.

But did France "make war" on the Bible? - She did; and in 1793 a decree passed the French Assembly forbidding the Bible; and under that decree, the Bibles were gathered and burned, every possible mark of contempt was heaped upon them, and all the institutions of the Bible were abolished; the weekly rest-day was blotted out, and every tenth day substituted for mirth and profanity. Baptism and the communion

p 534 --


(Fugitive Huguenots)
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p 535 -- were abolished. The being of God was denied, and death pronounced an eternal sleep. The Goddess of Reason, in the person of a vile woman, was set up, and publicly worshiped. Surely here is a power that exactly answers the prophecy. But let us examine this point still further.

VERSE 9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shalt not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

The language of this verse describes the feelings of other nations besides the one committing the outrage on the witnesses. They would see what war infidel France had made on the Bible, but would not be led nationally to engage in the wicked work, nor suffer the murdered witnesses to be buried, or put out of sight among themselves, though they lay dead three days and a half, that is, three years and a half, in France. No; this very attempt on the part of France served to arouse Christians everywhere to put forth new exertions in behalf of the Bible, as we shall presently see.

VERSE 10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

This denotes the joy those felt who hated the Bible, or were tormented by it. Great was the joy of infidels everywhere for awhile. But the "triumphing of the wicked is short;" so was it in France, for their war on the Bible and Christianity well-nigh swallowed them all up. They set out to destroy Christ's "two witnesses," but they filled France with blood and terror, so that they were horror-struck at the result of their own wicked deeds, and were soon glad to remove their impious hands from the Bible.

VERSE 11. And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

In 1793, a decree passed the French Assembly suppressing the Bible. Just three years after, a resolution was introduced into the Assembly superseding the decree, and giving toleration to the Scriptures. That resolution lay on the table six months,

p 536 -- when it was taken up, and passed without a dissenting vote. Thus, in just three years and a half, the witnesses "stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them." Nothing but the appalling results of the rejection of the Bible could have induced France to take her hands off these witnesses.

VERSE 12. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

"Ascended up to Heaven." - To understand this expression, see Dan. 4:22: "Thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven." Here we see that the expression signifies great exaltation. Have the Scriptures attained to such a state of exaltation as here indicated, since France made war upon them? - They have. Shortly after, the British Bible Society was organized (1804); then followed the American Bible Society (1817); and these, with their almost innumerable auxiliaries, are scattering the Bible everywhere. Since that period, the Bible has been translated into nearly two hundred different languages that it was never in before; and the improvements in paper-making and printing within the last seventy-five years have given an impetus to the work of scattering Bibles which is without a parallel. TOP

The Bible has been sent to the destitute, literally by ship-loads. One vessel carried out from England fifty-nine tons of Bibles for the emancipated slaves in the West Indies. The Bible has risen to be respected by almost every one, whether saint or sinner. Within the last century, translations of the Scriptures have increased fivefold, and the circulation of the Scriptures thirtyfold.  1   No other book approaches it in cheapness or number of copies sold. According to the Missionary Review of September, 1896, it has been translated into languages embracing nine tenths of the human race. And the American Bible Society, in its eightieth annual report, dated May, 1896, gives the number of Bibles and parts of Bibles issued by that society alone, as 61,705,841. Add the issues by the British Bible Society and other publishers,

1 -- Increase of Crime, by D. T. Taylor, p. 5.

p 537 -- and how vastly would the number be increased! What other book has the world ever seen which approaches the Bible in this respect? It is exalted as above all price, as, next to his Son, the most invaluable blessing of God to man, and as the glorious testimony concerning that Son. Yes; the Scriptures may truly be said to be exalted "to heaven in a cloud," a cloud being an emblem of heavenly elevation.

VERSE 13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

What city? (See chapter 17:18: "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings [kingdoms] of the earth.") That city is the papal Roman power. France is one of the "ten horns" that gave "their power and strength unto the [papal] beast;" or is one of the ten kingdoms that arose out of the Western Empire of Rome, as indicated by the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, the ten horns of Daniel's beast (Dan. 7:24), and John's dragon. Rev. 12:3. France, then, was "a tenth part of the city," and was one of the strongest ministers of papal vengeance; but in this revolution it "fell," and with it fell the last civil messenger of papal fury. "And in the earthquake were slain of men [margin, names of men, or TITLES of men] seven thousand." France made war, in her revolution of 1789-98 and onward, on all titles of nobility. It is said by those who have examined the French records, that just seven thousand titles of men were abolished in that revolution. "And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." Their God-dishonoring and Heaven-defying work filled France with such scenes of blood, carnage, and horror, as made even the infidels themselves tremble, and stand aghast; and the "remnant" that escaped the horrors of that hour "gave glory to God" - not willingly, but the God of heaven caused this "wrath of man to praise him," by causing all the world to see that those who make war on heaven make graves for themselves; thus glory redounded to God by the very means that wicked men employed to tarnish that glory.

p 538 -- For the statistics and many of the foregoing thoughts on the two witnesses, we are indebted to an exposition of the subject of The Two Witnesses, by the late George Storrs. TOP

VERSE 14. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The series of seven trumpets is here again resumed. The second woe ended with the sixth trumpet, Aug. 11, 1840; and the third woe occurs under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which commenced in 1844.

Then where are we? "Behold!" that is to say, mark it well, "the third woe cometh quickly." The fearful scenes of the second woe are past, and we are now under the sounding of the trumpet that brings the third and last woe. And shall we now look for peace and safety, a temporal millennium, a thousand years of righteousness and prosperity? Rather let us earnestly pray the Lord to awaken a slumbering world.

VERSE 15. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.   16.    And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God,    17.     Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

From the 15th verse to the end of the chapter, we seem to be carried over the ground, from the sounding of the seventh angel to the end, three distinct times. In the verses last quoted, the prophet glances forward to the full establishment of the kingdom of God. Although the seventh trumpet has begun to sound, it may not yet be a fact that the great voices in heaven have proclaimed that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, except it be in anticipation of the speedy accomplishment of this event; but the seventh trumpet, like the preceding six, covers a period of time: and the transfer of the kingdoms from earthly powers to Him whose right it is to reign, is the principal event to occur in the early years of its sounding; hence this event, to the exclusion of all else, here engages the

p 539 -- mind of the prophet. (See remarks on verse 19.) In the next verse John goes back and takes up intervening events as follows:

VERSE 18. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth.

"The Nations Were Angry." - Commencing with the wonderful revolution in Europe in 1848, that spontaneous outburst of violence among the nations, their anger toward one another, their jealousy and envy, have been constantly increasing. Almost every paper shows the fearful degree to which they are now excited, and how tense has become the strain on the relations between them.

"And Thy Wrath Is Come." - The wrath of God for the present generation is filled up in the seven last plagues (chapter 15:1), which consequently must here be referred to, and which are soon to be poured out upon the earth.

The Judgment of the Dead. - "And the time of the dead, that they should be judged." The great majority of the dead, that is, the wicked, are still in their graves after the visitation of the plagues, and the close of this dispensation. A work of judgment, of allotting to each one the punishment due to his sins, is carried on in reference to them by the saints, in conjunction with Christ, during the one thousand years following the first resurrection. I Cor. 6:2; Rev. 20:4. Inasmuch as this judgment of the dead follows the wrath of God, or the seven last plagues, it would seem necessary to refer it to the one thousand years of judgment upon the wicked, above mentioned; for the investigative judgment takes place before the plagues are poured out.

The Reward of the Righteous. - "And that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets." These will enter upon their reward at the coming of Christ, for he brings their reward with him. Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12. The full reward of the saints however is not reached till they enter upon the possession of the new earth. Matt. 25:34.

p 540 --


(The Berlin Insurrection of 1848)
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p 541 -- The Punishment of the Wicked. - "And shoudst destroy them which destroy the earth," referring to the time when all the wicked will be forever devoured by those purifying fires which come down from God out of heaven upon them, and which melt and renovate the earth. 2 Peter 3:7; Rev. 20:9. By this we learn that the seventh trumpet reaches over to the end of the one thousand years. Momentous, startling, but yet joyous thought! that the trumpet is now sounding which is to see the final destruction of the wicked, and to behold the saints, clothed in a glorious immortality, safely located on the earth made new.

Once more the prophet carries us back to the commencement of the trumpet, in the following language:

VERSE 19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Having introduced the seventh trumpet in verse 15, the first great event that strikes the mind of the seer is the transfer of the kingdom from earthly to heavenly rule. God takes to him his great power, and forever crushes the rebellion of this revolted earth, establishes Christ upon his own throne, and remains himself supreme over all. This picture being completed, we are pointed back, in verse 18, to the state of the nations, the judgment to fall upon them, and the final destiny of both saints and sinners. This field of vision having been scanned, we are taken back once more in the verse now under notice, and our attention is called to the close of the priesthood of Christ, the last scene in the work of mercy for a guilty world. The temple is opened; the second apartment of the sanctuary is entered. We know it is the holy of holies that is here opened, for the ark is seen; and in that apartment alone the ark was deposited. This took place at the end of the 2300 days, when the sanctuary was to be cleansed, the time when the prophetic periods expired, and the seventh angel commenced to sound. Since that time, the people of God have seen by faith the open door in heaven, and

p 542 -- the ark of God's testament there. They are endeavoring to keep every precept of the holy law written upon the tables therein deposited. And that the tables of the law are there, just as in the ark in the sanctuary erected by Moses, is evident from the terms which John uses in describing the ark. He calls it the "ark of his testament." The ark was called the ark of the covenant, or testament, because it was made for the express purpose of containing the tables of the testimony, or ten commandments. Ex. 25:16; 31:18; Deut. 10 2, 5. It was put to no other use, and owed its name solely to the fact that it contained the tables of the law. If the tables were not therein, it would not be the ark of his (God's) testament, and could not truthfully be so called. Yet John, beholding the ark in heaven under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, still calls it the "ark of his testament," affording unanswerable proof that the law is still there, unaltered in one jot or tittle from the copy which for a time was committed to the care of men in the typical ark of the tabernacle during the Mosaic dispensation.

The followers of the prophetic word have also received the reed, and are measuring the temple, the altar, and them that worship therein. Verse 1. They are uttering their last prophecy before nations, peoples, and tongues. Chapter 10:11. And the drama will soon close with the lightnings, thunderings, voices, the earthquake, and great hail, which will constitute nature's last convulsion before all things are made new at the close of the thousand years. Rev. 21:5. (See on chapter 16:17-21.)  TOP

The Gospel Church
CHAPTER XII

p 543 -- VERSE 1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:   2.   And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.  3.    And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

An elucidation of this portion of the chapter will involve little more than a mere definition of the symbols introduced. This may be given in few words, as follows: -

"A woman," the true church. A corrupt woman is used to represent an apostate or corrupt church. Eze. 23:2-4; Rev. 17:3-6, 15, 18. By parity of reasoning, a pure woman, as in this instance, would represent the true church.

"The sun," the light and glory of the gospel dispensation.

"The moon," the Mosaic dispensation. As the moon shines with a borrowed light derived from the sun, so the former dispensation shone with a light borrowed from the present. There they had the type and shadow; here we have the antitype and substance.

"A crown of twelve stars," the twelve apostles.

"'A great red dragon," pagan Rome. (See under verses 4 and 5.)

p 544 --


(The Gospel Church Rev. 12:1)

p 545 -- "Heaven," the space in which this representation was seen by the apostle. We are not to suppose that the scenes here represented to John took place in heaven where God resides; for they are events which transpired upon this earth, but this scenic representation which passed before the eye of the prophet, appeared as if in the region occupied by the sun, moon, and stars, which we speak of as heaven.

Verses 1 and 2 cover a period of time commencing just previous to the opening of the present dispensation, when the church was earnestly longing for and expecting the advent of the Messiah, and extending to the time of the full establishment of the gospel church with its crown of twelve apostles. Luke 2:25, 26, 38.

No symbols more fitting and impressive could be found than are here employed. The Mosaic dispensation shone with a light borrowed from the Christian dispensation, just as the moon shines with light borrowed from the sun. How appropriate, therefore, to represent the former by the moon, and the latter by the sun. The woman, the church, had the moon under her feet; that is, the Mosaic dispensation had just ended, and the woman was clothed with the light of the gospel sun, which had just risen. By the figure of prolepsis, the church is represented as fully organized, with its twelve apostles, before the man-child, Christ, appeared upon the scene. This is easily accounted for by the fact that it was to be thus constituted immediately after Christ should commence his ministry; and he is more especially connected with this church than with that of the former dispensation. There is no ground for any misunderstanding of the passage; and hence no violence is done to a correct system of interpretation by this representation. TOP

VERSE 4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth; and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.   5.    And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.   6.    And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

p 546 -- "The Third Part of the Stars of Heaven." - The dragon drew the third part of the stars from heaven. If the twelve stars with which the woman is crowned, here used symbolically, denote the twelve apostles, then the stars thrown down by the dragon before his attempt to destroy the man-child, or before the Christian era, may denote a portion of the rulers of the Jewish people. That the sun, moon, and stars are sometimes used in this symbolic sense, we have already had evidence in chapter 8:12. The dragon, being a symbol, could deal only with symbolic stars; and the chronology of the act here mentioned would confine it to the Jewish people. Judea became a Roman province sixty-three years before the birth of the Messiah. The Jews had three classes of rulers, - kings, priests, and the Sanhedrim. A third of these, the kings, were taken away by the Roman power. Philip Smith, History of the World, Vol. III, p. 181, after describing the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans and Herod, and its capitulation in the spring of B.C. 37, after an obstinate resistance of six months, says:       "Such was the end of the Asmonean dynasty, exactly 130 years after the first victories of Judas Maccabaeus, and in the seventieth year from the assumption of the diadem by Aristobulus I."

The dragon stood before the woman to devour her child. It now becomes necessary to identify the power symbolized by the dragon; and this can very easily be done. The testimony concerning the "man-child " which the dragon seeks to destroy, is applicable to only one being that has appeared in this world, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. No other one has been caught up to God and his throne; but he has been thus exalted. Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 8:1; Rev. 3:21. No other one has received from God the commission to rule all nations with a rod of iron; but he has been appointed to this work. Ps. 2:7-9.

There can certainly be no doubt that the man-child represents Jesus Christ. The time to which the prophecy refers is equally evident. It was the time when Christ appeared in this world, as a babe in Bethlehem.

Having now ascertained who the man-child was, namely,

p 547 --


(A. The Dragon - Pagan Rome Rev 12:3. B. The Leopard Beast - Papal Rome Rev 23:1, 2)

p 548 -- Christ; and having fixed the chronology of the prophecy at the time when he was born into this world, it will be easy to find the power symbolized by the dragon; for the dragon represents some power which did attempt to destroy him at his birth. Was any such attempt made? and who made it? No formal answer to this question need be given to any one who has read how Herod, in a fiendish effort to destroy the infant Jesus, sent forth and slew all the children in Bethlehem, from two years old and under. But who was Herod? - A Roman governor. From Rome Herod derived his power. Rome ruled at that time over all the world (Luke 2:1), and was therefore the responsible party in this transaction. Moreover, Rome was the only earthly government which at that time could be symbolized in prophecy, for this very reason that its dominion was universal. It is not, therefore, without the most conclusive reason that the Roman empire is considered by Protestant commentators generally to be the power indicated by the great red dragon. And it may be a fact worth mentioning that during the second, third, fourth, and fifth centuries of the Christian era, next to the eagle the dragon was the principal standard of the Roman legions; and that dragon was painted red, as though, in faithful response to the picture held up by the seer of Patmos, they would exclaim to the world, We are the nation which that picture represents. TOP

As we have said, Rome, in the person of Herod, attempted to destroy Jesus Christ, when he sent forth and destroyed all the children of Bethlehem from two years old and under. The child which was born to the expectant desires of a waiting and watching church, was our adorable Redeemer, who is soon to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Herod could not destroy him; the combined powers of earth and hell could not overcome him; and though held for a time under the dominion of the grave, he rent its cruel bands, opened a way of life for mankind, and was caught up to God and his throne. He ascended to heaven in the sight of his disciples, leaving to them and us the promise that he would come again.

And the church fled into the wilderness at the time the papacy was established, in 538, where it was nourished by the

p 549 -- word of God and the ministration of angels during the long, dark, and bloody rule of that power, 1260 years.

VERSE 7.    And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,    8.    And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.   9.    And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.   10.    And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.   11.    And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.   12.    Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

The first six verses of this chapter, as has been seen, take us down to the close of the 1260 years, which marked the end of the papal supremacy in 1798. In the 7th verse it is equally plain that we are carried back into previous ages. How far? - To the time first introduced in the chapter, - the days of the first advent. "And there was war in heaven," the same heaven where the woman and the dragon were seen at first; but they were actors in scenes that took place here upon the earth; hence we understand this war to be located in the same place. And to what point are we carried back? - Evidently to the commencement of Christ's ministry here upon earth. To prove that Michael is Christ, see Jude 9; 1 Thess. 4:16; John 5:28, 29; and that this was a special time of warfare between him and Satan need not be argued.

Another symbol is here introduced, and John hastens to tell us what this symbol represents. It is the devil and Satan. But this is not the same as the dragon of verses 3 and 4. That was a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. Though in a sense the dragon represents Satan, since he was the instigator of the work which this dragon did, it would be most grotesque to try to apply this symbol to Satan personally. Satan is not said anywhere in the Bible to be red, and he is not possessed of the

p 550 -- number of heads and horns there stated; and while he might, as the god of this world, have one crown, there would be no reason for his having seven. But all these features are very appropriate as applied to pagan Rome. TOP

When it is desired to set forth Satan by a symbol, no more appropriate one can be chosen than a great dragon, or serpent, unqualified. And why a similar symbol is also employed to represent Rome with some of its peculiar features, is evident. It was because Rome, as a universal empire, was then the only possible general agent to carry out Satan's will in the earth. But there is no occasion to confound the two symbols.

In reference to the war mentioned, Satan had looked forward to Christ's mission to this earth as his last chance of success in overthrowing the plan of salvation. He came to Christ with specious temptations, in hope of overcoming him; he tried in various ways to destroy him during his ministry; and when he had succeeded in laying him in the tomb, he endeavored, in malignant triumph, to hold him there. But in every encounter the Son of God came off triumphant; and he sends back this gracious promise to his faithful followers: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." This shows us that Jesus while on earth waged a warfare, and obtained the victory. Satan saw his last effort fail, his last scheme miscarry. He had boasted that he would overcome the Son of God in his mission to this world, and thus render the plan of salvation an ignominious failure; and well he knew that if he was foiled in this his last desperate effort to thwart the work of God, his last hope had perished, and all was lost.

But, in the language of verse 8, he "prevailed not;" and hence the song may well be sung, "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them."

It is held by some that this war took place when Satan, then an angel of light and glory, rebelled in heaven; and that the "casting out" of which John speaks, was his expulsion from heaven at that time. But we are unable to harmonize

p 551 -- this view with the testimony before us. Thus, in verse 13 we read: "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child." This shows that just as soon as the devil saw that he was cast out, he turned his wrath against the woman, the church, which, not far from that time, fled into the wilderness. When Satan therefore found himself thus overthrown, the man-child had already been brought forth, or, in other words, the first advent of Christ had taken place. Hence this war and defeat of Satan, taking place this side of the Christian era, and not a great length of time before the church went into the wilderness in 538, cannot be his fall from heaven before the creation of the world; though that was a war in heaven.

Again, there seem to be a number of instances in which Satan is spoken of as defeated, or cast down. One was his first rejection from heaven; another, when Christ overcame him at his first advent; and there will be another in the future, when he is cast into the bottomless pit, and shut up for a thousand years. And on each successive occasion, we behold a regularly increasing limitation of his power. He falls a degree lower in every succeeding combat. The first time, as we may plainly infer from certain scriptures, the contest was between him and God the Father (see 2 Peter 2:4); the second time between him and Christ the Son, as in the scripture before us; while the third time an angel suffices to accomplish the work of his humiliation. Rev. 20:1, 2. Since his first contest, be has not been permitted to rise to the dignity of contending with the Father; since the second, he has not had the privilege, if such it may be called, of a personal encounter with the Son. The war mentioned in the scripture now before us is between the devil and Michael, Christ. The great effort of the former against the latter, personally, was during his mission here on earth; and Christ's great personal victory over him was in that very contest. TOP

"Neither was their place found any more in heaven." Heaven, we have seen, does not mean, in this chapter, the place which is the abode of God and his celestial messengers.

p 552 -- It here doubtless denotes condition rather than place; and the expression would then signify that they were here humiliated, and never to regain their former position. They had suffered a terrible defeat, which Christ describes by saying, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." The hope which he had all along cherished, of overcoming the Son of man when he took upon himself our nature, had forever perished. His power was limited. He could no more aspire to a personal encounter with the Son of God, - a fact which hitherto had given, in a comparative degree, dignity and prestige to his position. Henceforth the church (the woman) is the object of his malice, and he resorts to all those nefarious means against her that would naturally characterize a baffled and hopeless rage.

But hereupon a song is sung in heaven, - "Now is come salvation," etc. How is this, if these scenes are in the past? Had salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ, then come? - Not at all; but this song was sung prospectively. Those things were made sure. The great victory had been won by Christ which put the question of their establishment forever at rest. Just as we read in other scriptures, "We have eternal life," "We have redemption through his blood," etc., as if we were now in actual possession of these blessings; whereas we only have them by faith, and the language is simply an assurance that they are forever sure to the final overcomers.

The prophet then glances rapidly over the working of Satan from that time to the end (verses 11, 12), during which time the faithful "brethren" overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony while his wrath increases as his time grows short. Though working through earthly powers, Satan, personally, is the chief agent from verses 9 to 17.

VERSE 13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-chiId.  14.   And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.  15.   And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood

p 553 -- after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.   16.    And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.   17.    And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

But little comment is necessary on the verses last introduced. Suffice it to say that here we are again carried back to the time when Satan became fully aware that he had utterly failed in all his attempts against the Lord of glory in his earthly mission; and seeing this, be turned with tenfold fury, as already noticed, upon the church which Christ had established. Then we have again brought to view the church going into that condition here denominated being "in the wilderness." This must denote a state of seclusion from the public gaze, and of concealment from her foes. That church which during all the dark ages trumpeted her lordly commands into the ears of listening Christendom, and flaunted her ostentatious banners before gaping crowds, was not the church of Christ; it was the body of the mystery of iniquity. The "mystery of godliness" was God manifested here as a man; the "mystery of iniquity" was a man pretending to be God. This was the great apostasy, the mongrel produced by the union of heathenism and Christianity. The true church was out of sight; in secret places they worshiped God; the caves and the hidden recesses of the valleys of the Piedmont may be taken as representative places, where the truth of the gospel was sacredly cherished from the rage of its foes. Here God watched over his church, and by his providence protected and nourished her. TOP

The eagles' wings given her appropriately signify the haste with which the true church was obliged to provide for her own safety when the man of sin was installed in power, together with the assistance God provided her to this end. The like figure is used to describe God's dealings with ancient Israel. By Moses he said to them: "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." Ex. 19:4.

p 554 --


(Burning the Papal Bull)

p 555 -- The mention of the period during which the woman is nourished in the wilderness as "a time and times and half a time," the exact phraseology used in Dan. 7:25, furnishes a key for the explanation of the latter passage; for the very same period is called in verse 6 of Revelation 12, "a thousand two hundred and threescore days." This shows that a "time" is one year, 360 days; two "times," two years, or 720 days; and "half a time," half a year, or 180 days, making in all 1260 days; and this being symbolic, signifies 1260 literal years.

The serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood to carry away the church. By its false doctrines the papacy had so corrupted all nations as to have control absolutely, for long centuries, of the civil power. Through it Satan could hurl a mighty flood of persecution against the church in every direction; and this he was not slow to do. (See reference to the terrible persecutions of the church in remarks on Dan. 7:25.) From fifty to one hundred million were carried away by the flood; but the church was not entirely swallowed up; the days were shortened for the elect's sake. Matt. 24:22.

"The earth helped the woman" by opening its mouth and swallowing up the flood. The reformation of the sixteenth century began its work. God raised up the noble Luther and his colaborers to expose the true character of the papacy, and break the power with which superstition had enslaved the minds of the people. Luther nailed his theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg; and the pen with which he wrote them, according to the symbolic dream of the good elector Frederick of Saxony, did indeed span the continent, and shake the triple crown on the pope's head. Princes began to espouse the cause of the Reformers. It was the dawning of religious light and liberty, and God would not suffer the darkness to swallow up its radiance. Tetzel, the indulgence-peddler, swelled and bellowed with wrath, and Pope Leo roared with rage; but all in vain. The spell was broken. Men found that the bulls and anathemas of the pope fell harmless at their feet, just as soon as they dared exercise their God-given right to regulate their consciences by his word alone. Defenders of the true

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(Eminent Reformers. Men who have been prominent in advancing the work of God. For biographical sketches, see Appendix. )

p 557 --  faith multiplied. And soon there was enough Protestant soil found in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, England, Norway and Sweden, to swallow up the flood of papal fury, and rob it of its power to harm the church. Thus the earth helped the woman, and has continued to help to the present day, as the spirit of the Reformation and religious liberty has been fostered by the leading nations of Christendom.

But the dragon is not yet through with his work. Verse 17 brings to view another and a final outburst of his wrath, this time against the last generation of Christians to live on the earth. We say the last generation; for the war of the dragon is directed against the remnant of the woman's seed; that is, the remnant of the seed, or individuals, that constitute the true church; and no generation but the last can truthfully be represented by the remnant. If the view is correct that we have already reached the generation which is to witness the closing up of earthly scenes, this warfare against the truth cannot be far in the future.

This remnant is characterized by the keeping of the commandments of God, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ. This points to a Sabbath reform to be accomplished in the last days; for on the Sabbath alone, as pertaining to the commandments, is there a difference of faith and practice among those who accept the decalogue as the moral law. This is more particularly brought to view in the message of Rev. 14:9-12.

It may be proper to notice that according to the testimony of this chapter, three powers are made use of by the devil to carry out his work, and hence all are spoken of as the dragon, he being the inspiring agent in them all. These are,  (1)   pagan Rome;  (2)   papal Rome;  (3)   the two-horned beast, our own government under the control of apostate Protestantism, which is the chief agent, as will hereafter appear, in making war upon those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.   

End of Part C. To continue your study: Part D -- Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation

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