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LECTURES ON THE APOCALYPSE,
REVELATION, CHAP. X.
We have listened to the angels sounding the first six trumpets, and from history have traced the accomplishment of the predictions that were then uttered. We have beheld the dissolution of the Roman empire, the ravages of the Saracens, and the irruption of the Turks: but severe as were these calamities, they did not bring to repentance the corrupted and degenerate church. New woes were therefore announced under the seventh trumpet: this is represented as beginning to sound in the 14th verse of the next chapter, and the whole of the 10th, and the first thirteen verses of the 11th chapter, are a parenthesis introduced between the sixth and seventh trumpets. Our text is a solemn introduction to the important predictions that are uttered under the last wo-trumpet.
The apostle beheld a mighty angel descend from heaven, full of majesty and glory. From the description of him, and its correspondence with the representation of the Redeemer in the first chapter,
there can be no doubt that it was our blessed Saviour himself, the uncreated Angel of the covenant, the Angel of God's presence. "He was clothed with a cloud." In the pillar of cloud he had conducted the camp of Israel; in the cloud he had ascended to glory, after his resurrection; he will come in the clouds of heaven to judge the world; and he now appears clothed with a cloud, to restrain the full blaze of that lustre which could not have been supported even by John, accustomed as he was to heavenly visions. "A rainbow was upon his head." This, as you remember, was the token of God's covenant with Noah. In the 4th chapter of this book, and in the 1st chapter of Ezekiel, it is represented as encircling the throne of God; to remind us, that in the midst of his glory he is kind, and will ever remember the promise and oath of the covenant, which assure the happiness of his children. Here it surrounds that Redeemer who made peace between God and man, and in whom the new covenant is established. Days of suffering and trial for his church are about to be predicted. He therefore appears with this symbol, to teach us, that however violent may be the storms and tempests which shall assail this mystic ark, it shall still be preserved. "His face was as it were the sun :" bright with glory, but cheering and reviving to his children. "His feet were as pillars of fire;" showing what was the lustre concealed by the enveloping cloud, and representing the purity, beauty, and stability of all his dispensations.
"He had in his hand a little book open." He had before received the sealed book; and his authority and power as Mediator, to reveal and execute the purposes of God, had been gratefully celebrated by the church. Of that book, six of the seals had been
broken, and their contents displayed: the seventh is hereafter to be unfolded. Entirely distinct from this is the little book which the Saviour holds in his hand; it consists of the revelation made in this particular vision, and terminates in the 14th verse of the next chapter. It was necessary that this little book should here be introduced to render the seventh trumpet intelligible: this trumpet announces the destruction of the antichristian system; but this system has not hitherto been explained: the preceding prophecies of this book have referred to the state of the world as it affected the church; and it was therefore proper that a general view of this corruption of Christianity should here be given. We shall see, when we illustrate the next chapter, how accurate and extensive is this brief sketch. The little book was open: the sealed book foretold events that were future; that could be known only by revelation from Christ. In explaining it, we have been conducted by the sixth seal to the year 1672. After this the little book is introduced, and declared to be open; because at this period the corruptions and cruelties of Antichrist, to which it refers, had been exhibited to the world, and recorded in history.
The Saviour "set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth;" to show that his dominion is universal; that he has power over all the world; and that his majesty shall every where be displayed.
"He cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth.” Though he appeared on earth as the meek and gracious Saviour; though he was adored in heaven as the Lamb that was slain; yet he is also omnipotent; terrible to the unholy; and appearing in all the power of the Lion of the tribe of Judah."
Responsive to his, "seven thunders uttered their voice." On Sinai they attested the present God; here they show the majesty of Jesus, give new solemnity to this august scene, and command our attention. The voice of these thunders was articulate and intelligible. John was about to write down what they announced, when he was forbidden to do it, by a voice from heaven, and to seal them up in secresy. They were intended for the use and information of the apostle himself, and it is vain for us to inquire what was their nature.
The Angel of the covenant then "lifted up his hand to heaven," the ancient and solemn manner of appealing to God by an oath, "and sware by him that liveth for ever 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: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound," [or, as Doddridge translates it, who was about quickly to sound, ölav medan cadwiğe,]"the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." The general import of these words is this: When those events that were announced to John by the seven thunders shall have occurred; when those things predicted by the seventh trumpet, which was soon to sound, shall have been accomplished; then time itself shall cease, and be swallowed up in an unchanging eternity; and "the mystery of God," the darkness in which the dispensations of his providence, towards the church and individuals, are so often involved, while in the light of eternity we see that he has done all things well."
It would be useless to present you with the criticisms of some learned men on part of this oath.
From the ambiguity of the Greek word, χρονος, which signifies both time and delay, several have translated the clause, "there shall be time no longer," "there shall no longer be delay," that is, in executing judg ment upon the enemies of the Redeemer. But there is no necessity for this departure from our translation; and not only the awful solemnity with which the declaration is made, but also the fact, that the mystery of God will not be finished till the end of the world, concur in showing the propriety of our translation.
After this solemn oath, St. John was ordered to go and take the book from the hand of the angel and eat it: he obeyed the command, and found it at first sweet as honey, but afterwards bitter. There is a similarity between this command, and that given to Ezekiel, which he records in the 2d and 3d chapters of his prophecy. The general meaning is perfectly plain: to eat, when figuratively applied to any intellectual subjects, signifies to receive them deep. ly into our mind and heart. Thus Jeremiah says, (xv. 16.) "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Thus the apostle was to eat the little book; thoroughly to understand and digest it. This at first was a source of high delight: the acquisition of knowledge at all times is pleasant: to understand the designs of God towards his church, to receive those revelations that would be profitable to believers, was sweet. But our blessedness often results from being ignorant of the future; and when John thought of all the calamities that the church should endure, before, standing victorious on the fields she had won, she should shine in all the