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tinctly given in their own names; as are also the elders, and the four living creatures ; denoting the church on earth, and her ministers. But, distinct from all these, we find a company of the human race described as in glory; -a great multitude that no man could number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and holding palm-branches, as emblems of victory, in their hands.
This view of the redeemed in glory is most kindly given as an antidote to the church on earth against the terrors through which she would have to pass, in days of persecutions, and in all the trials of life. It was designed to operate as a needsul support and consolation to the people of God, from that time to the end of the world. This description was designed to excite their alacrity in obedience, and in sufferings for Christ's sake; and it should extinguish at once all the vain hopes of men who are not willing thus to endure tribulation for their Lord; but whose economy
it is to slide round every cross, and to make their way through life without having to endure any thing for him who died for them! Such fearful and selfpleasing souls are not in the way to be prepared to unite in the songs of those hosts in glory. It would seem rather, that should they be admitted among the ranks of those glorified ones, they would be ashamed of them. selves. Whatever descriptions of the glorified saints are found in the sacred oracles, they may be viewed as receiving their finishing touch in our text. We have here their perfect holiness, denoted by their white robes, and by their being washed in the blood of atonement ; and they are satisfied in God's likeness, in that perfect love which casteth out fear. Their victory is exhibited by their palm-branches in their hands; and they are presented before the throne, beholding God in Christ, and shouting their loud and united praises for redeeming love and salvation. Their perfect services have no interruption of night, nor any alloy in that temple of unfading glory. Hunger, thirst, and every calamity known on earth, are now for ever banished, while they enjoy the presence and fulness of God. Jesus Christ, in the midst of the throne, feeds them with his heavenly treasures ; leading them unto fountains of living waters; and wiping all tears from their eyes. In these figurative strokes,
every thing is included which heaven can afford :—things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath ever entered the conceptions of man.
Let the saints, in this world of trials, often turn to this description, and be exceedingly joyful in all their tribulations. May it set their souls on a holy fire, and lead the children of God to triumph over the world, over sin, and Satan, and every foe, while they most diligently pursue the path of duty. Let timorous souls gird up the loins of their minds, and be bold soldiers of the cross, for Christ and the great salvation! for in due time all shall reap who faint not.
Ver. 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
This seal was not, like its predecessors, to contain some precise event; but it was to contain all the trumpets, or seven successive judgments, which would occupy the time following the sixth seal; or from about the middle of the fourth century, to the battle of the great day, and the Millennium. The silence in heaven of half an hour
opening of this seal, may denote the awe and the suspense occasioned by the expectation of great things, but which were not yet discovered. Place yourself before a scene about to be opened, though now hid from your sight. Suppose your expectations to be highly raised relative to the things next to be exhibited. After a little waiting, the curtains are drawn aside ; but you at first perceive no definite object; yet are confident something will soon be presented. What would be your state? It would be a state of breathless silence! no motion, no whisper, no loud breathing! So it is in our text: and half a prophetic hour passes in this silent suspense without being able to learn what is to be exhibited. What is here implied ? that something great was soon to burst upon
their sight; also that it was soinething not to be soon finished,
as were the scenes of the antecedent seals; but should occupy a length of time. The distinct series of things of nearly 1600 years, was then about to commence; and no wonder that half an hour should be devoted to breathless silence, and anxious expectations, before any thing distinct should be presented.
Ver. 2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
This silent interval was succeeded by the coming forth of seven angels, to each of whom was given a trumpet, an emblem of the judgment which was to be by him executed. But, previously to the first of these angels commencing his work of judgment, a bright representation was to be given of the reality and the prevalence of the intercession of Christ for the saints; and of the acceptableness of their prayers thus performed, and their prevalence with God.
Ver. 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.
This figure alludes to what we have in the ceremonial law, Exod. xxx. 1-10, where God demanded an altar of incense to be made, like a table, twenty-two inches square, and forty-four inches high, of the most durable wood, such as composed the ark of the covenant, that type of Christ. This altar should be overlaid with pure gold ; and hence it is called in our text the golden altar, and it was placed " before the veil that was by the ark of the covenant in the holy place.” The priests of old were here to make
atonement once a year, by putting the blood of the sinoffering upon it; and he also should burn incense
it every morning and evening, at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. We find here prefigured both the necessity, and the acceptableness of the blood, and the intercession of our heavenly High Priest, who has entered for his people into heaven, there to intercede, having once shed his blood for them. Jesus Christ then, is this other angel in the text, who, in allusion to that ancient type, is noted as coming and standing by this golden altar, on which he offers much incense, with the prayers of the saints before the throne of God, where the perfume of the incense rises with these prayers to render them acceptable to God. This figure is full of salvation and joy to the true people of God, who are here assured of the
of access to him, and the acceptance with him of their prayers, and gracious services, through the blood and intercession of Christ. It is here implied, that the prayers and services of fallen man, performed without an entire reliance on Christ, must be of God rejected. Verily, that golden altar, with its services, was a rich shadow of good things to come-of the salvation in Christ for all the broken in heart. The penitent guilty soul may here venture, with humble boldness, to the throne of grace. A view of the prevalence of such prayers and intercessions follows—Christ casts to the earth, with his censer, coals from that golden altar where the prayers of the saints had thus been performed, and voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake follow! which scene denotes the judgments then about to commence under the trumpets, and more remotely, all the judgments with which God would vindicate his cause against his enemies; these would be in answer to the prayers of his people for the salvation of Zion. The following words of Christ illustrate this scene, “and shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry unto him day and night, though he bear long with them? I tell you, he will avenge them speedily.” What is said of the two witnesses also illustrates this scene: “ These have power to shut heaven that it rain not; and have power to smite the earth with all plagues as oft as
See also Psalm clx. 6-9; Rev. ii. 26, 27. This figure assures us of the prevalence with God of
Christian prayers, to protect against the enemies of our holy religion. And the way was now prepared to commence the judgments of the seven trumpets.
Ver. 6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
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 the trees was burnt
up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Most of the events which fulfil the trumpets, are secular events, or events political; but they will not be exhibited here merely as such, but as judgments of God, in fulfilment of his word, in the protection of Zion, and in the confusion of her enemies. As such, Christians should contemplate them, to increase their devotions, and their confidence in God; even as the historical national events of the Old Testament are to be contemplated.
The events of this trumpet are given under an assemblage of figures, such as are used in similar cases in the word of God, especially in the prophecies. The earth, which was the seat of those judgments, means the provinces of the Roman earth; as the earth often means a country then under consideration. The winds of judgments, which the four angels were, in chap. vii. 1, holding, that they should not for a time blow on the earth (the Roman empire), were now let loose, and began to scour the regions of their destination with vast ravages. The imagery in the text, to denote them, is both rich and scriptural. Storms of hail, with thunder and tornados, prostrate and destroy the blessings of life. They are here taken as fit emblems of wars, foreign invasions, and bloody scenes, which waste and destroy. The prophet Isaiah predicted the invasion of Israel by Salınanesar, king of Assyria, as follows: Isa. xxviii. 2; “ Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which is a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth.” And the invasion of Sennacherib is thus predicted Isa. xxix. 6; “Thou