Page images

them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues

7 as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the wild beast that ascendefh out of the bottomless pit, shall make war with them, and conquer

8 them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

0 And some of the' people, and tribes* and tongues, and nations, behold their dead bodies three days and a half) and they shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in a Co grave. And they that dwell upon the earth rejoice over them, and they shall make merry, and send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them

11 that dwelt upon the earth. And after the three days and an half, the Spirit of life from God came into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them

12 that saw them. And I heard a great voice saying from heaven to them, Come up hither. And they went up to

13 heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And

V. 7. And when they shall have finished their testimony—-Till then they are invincible, the wild beast—Hereafter to be described, that ascendeth— First out Of the sea, ch. xiii. 1, and then out of the bottomless pit, ch. xvii: s, shall make ftar with them—it is at his last ascent, not out of the sea, but the bottomless pit, that the beast makes war upon the two witnesses. And even hereby itf fixed the <ime of tredding the holy city, arid of the two witnesses. That time ends after the ascent of the beast out of the abyss, and yet before the fulfilling of the mystery, and shall conquer them—The fire no longer proceeding out of their mouth when they have finished their work, and kill them—These' Will be among* the last martyrs, though not the last of alt.

V. 8. And their bodies shall be—Perhaps hanging on a cross, in the streets of the great city—Of Jerusalem, a far greater city than any other in those parts. This is described both spiritually and historically: spiritually, as it is called Sodom (Isa. T) and Egypt i on account of the same abominations abounding there at the time of the witnesses, as did once in Egypt and Sodom: historically; where also their Lord was crucified—This possibly refers to the very ground where his cross stood. Constantine the Great inclosed this within the walls of the city. Perhaps on that very spot will their bodies be exposed.

V. 9. Three days and a half— So exactly are the times set down in this prophecy. If we suppose this time began in the evening and ended in the morning, and inclnded (which is no way impossible) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the weekly festival of the Turkish people, the Jewish tribes, and the Christian tongues; then all these together, with the heathen nations, would have full leisure to gaze upon and rejoice over them.

V. 10. And they that dwell upon the earth—Perhaps this expression may peculiarly denote eartbly-minded men; shall make merry—As did the Philistines over Sampsony and Send gifts at one another—Both Turks, and Jews, and Heathens, and false Christians.

V. 11. And great fear fell upon them that saw them—And now knew that God was on their side.

V. T2. And I heard a great voice—Designed for all to hear. And they went up to heaven, and their enemies beheld them—Who had not taken notice of their rising again; by which some had been convinced before.

V. 1.3. And there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell—

VOL. II. C c

in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and there were slain in the earthquake seven thousand men, and the rest were terrified,

14 and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second wo is past: behold the third wo cometh quickly.

15 And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great

We have here an unanswerable proof that this city is not Babylon, nor Rome, but Jerusalem. For Babylon shall be wholly burnt before the fulfilling of the mystery of God. But this city is not burnt at all; on the contrary, at the fulfilling of that mystery, a tenth part of it is destroyed by an earthquake, and the other nine parts converted: And there was slain in the earthquake seven thousand men—Being a tenth part of the inhabitants, who therefore were seventy thousand in all; and the rest—The remaining sixty-three thousand were converted: a grand step toward the fulfilling of the mystery of God. Such a conversion we no where else read of. So there shall be a larger as well as holier church at Jerusalem, than ever was yet: were terrified—Blessed terror! And gave glory—The character of true conversion, Jer. xiii. 16, to the God of.heaven—He is styled the Lord of the earth, ver. 4, when he declares his right over the earth by the two witnesses: but the God of heaven, when he not only gives rain from heaven after the most afflicting drought, but also declares his majesty from heaven, by taking his witnesses up into it. When the whole multitnde gives glory to the God of heaven, then that treading the holy city ceases. This is the point so long aimed at, the desired fulfilling of the mys tery of God, when the divine promises are so richly fulfilled on those who have gone through so great afflictions. All this is here related together, that whereas the first and second wo went forth in the East, the rest of the eastern affairs being added at once, the description of the western might afterwards' remain unbroken.

It may be useful here, to see how the things here spoken of, and those here, after described, follow each other in their order.

1. The angel swears; the non-chronos begins; John eats the book; the many kings arise.

2. The non-chronos and the many kings being on the decline, that treading begins, and the two witnesses appear.

3. The beast (after he has with the ten kings destroyed Babylon) wars with them and kills them. After three days and a half they revive and ascend to heaven. There is a great earthquake in the holy city. Seven thousand perish, and the rest are converted. The treading of the city by the Gentiles ends.

4. The beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, are assembled to fight against the great King.

5. Multitudes of his enemies are killed, and the beast and the false prophet cast alive into the lake of fire.

6. While John measures the temple of God, and the altar with the worshippers, the true worship of God is set up. The nations who had trodden the holy city are converted. Hereby the mystery of God is fulfilled.

7. Satan is imprisoned. Being released for a time, he, with Gog and Magog, makes his last assault upon Jerusalem.'

V. 14. The second woe is past—The butchery made by the Saracens ceased' about the year 847, when their power was so broken by Charles the Great, that they never recovered it. Behold the third woe cometh quickly—Its pi elnde, came when the Roman See, took all opportunities of laying claim to its beloved universality, and enlarging its power and grandeur. And in the year 766 the: Bishop of Rome became a secular prince, by king Pepin's giving him the exarchate of Lombardy. The beginning of the third wo itself stands, ch. xii. 12.

V. IS. And the seventh angel sounded—This trumpet contains the mast voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he

16 shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell on their

17 faces and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who is, and who was, because

18 thou hast taken thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were wroth: and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they be judged, and to give a reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, small and great, and to destroy them that destroyed the earth. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of the covenant was seen in the temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.

important add joyful events, and renders all the former trumpets matter of joy to all the inhabitants of heaven. The allusion therefore in this and all the trumpets is to those used in festal solemnities. All these seven trumpets were heard in heaven ; perhaps the seventh shall once be heard on earth also, 1 Thess. iv. 16. And there were great voices—From the several citizens of heaven. At the opening of the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven; at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, great voices—This alone is sufficient to shew, that the seven seals and the seven trumpets do not run parallel to each other. As soon as the seventh angel sounds, the kingdom falls to God and his Christ. This immediately appears in heaven, and is there celebrated with joyful praise. But on earth several dreadful occurrences are to appear first. This trumpet comprises all that follows from these voices to ch. xxii. 5. The kingdom of the world—That is, the royal government over the whole world1 and all its kingdoms, Zech. xiv. 9; « become the kingdom of the Lord—This" province has been in the enemy's hands:- it now returns to its rightful Master. In the Old Testament, from Moses to Samuel, God himself was the King of his own people. And the same will be in the New Testament: he will hiitt•Wf reign over the Israel of God: and of his Christ—-This appellation is now first given him (since the introduction-of the book) on the mention of the kingdom devolving upon him, under1 the seventh trumpet. Prophets and priests were anointed; but more especially- kings: whence that term, The" anointed, is applied only to a king. Accordingly, whenever the Messiah is mentioned in Scripture, his kingdom is implied. Is become in reality all things(and so the kingdom of the world) are God-s in all ages. Yet Satan, and the present world- with its kings and lords, are risen against the Lord and against His Anointed. God now puts an end to this monstrous rebellion, and maintains his right ti) all things. And this appears in an entirely new manner, as soon as the seventh angel sounds.

V. 16. And the four and twenty elders—These shall reign over the earth; chap. v. 10, who sit before God on their thrones—Which we do not read of any angel.

V. 17. The Almighty—He who hath all things in his power, as the only Governor of them, who is, and teho was—God is frequently styled, He who is, antt who was, and who is to come. But now he is actually come, the words, v>Ko is to come, are, as it were, swallowed up. When it is said, We thank the* that thou hast taken thy great power, it is all one as We thank thee that thou art come. This whole thaaksgiving is partly an enlargement on the two great points, mentioned in-the fifteenth verse; partly a summary of what is hereafter more distinctly related. Here it is mentioned, how the kingdom is the Lord's ; afterwards, how it is the kingdom of his Christ. Thou hast taken thy great power—This is the beginning of what is done under the trumpet of the seventh angel. God has never ceased to use his power; but he has suffered his enemies to oppose it, which he will now suffer no more.

V. 18. And the heathen nations were wroth—At the breaking out of the power and kingdom of God. This wrath of the heathens now rises to the highest pitch; but it meets the wrath of the Almighty and melts away. In this verse is described both the going forth and the end of God's wrath, which together take up several ages. And the time of the dead is come—Both of the

GHAP. XII. 1. And a great sign was seen in heaven,

quick nml dead, of whom those already dead are far the more numerous part: that they-be jndged—This being infallibly certain, they speak of as already present; and to give a reward—At the coming of Christ, (ch. xxii. 12,) but of free grace, not of debt. 1. To his servants the prophets, 2. To his saints, to them who were eminently holy, 3. To them that fear his name. These are the lowest class. Those who do not even fear God, will have no reward from him: small and great—All universally, young and old, high and low, rich and poor: and to destroy them that destroyed the earth—The earth was destroyed by the great whore in particular, ch. xvii. 2, 5, xix. 2. But likewise in general by the open rage and hate of wicked men against all that is guod: by wars, and the various destruction and desolation naturally flowing therefrom; by such laws and constitutions as hinder much good, and occasion many offences and calamities, by public scandals, whereby a door is opened for all dissoluteness and uurighteousness; by abuse of secular and spiritual powers; by evil doctrines, maxims, and counsels; by open violence and persecution, and by sins crying to God to send plagues upon the earth.

This great work of God, destroying the destroyers, under the trumpet of the seventh angel, is not the third wo, but matter of joy, for which the elders tolemnly give thaaks. All the woes, and particularly the third, go forth over, those who dwell upon the earth, but this destruction, over those who destroy the earth, and were also instruments of that wo.

V. 19. And the temple of God—The inmost part of it, teas opened in heaven —And hereby is opened a new scene, of the most momentous things; that we may see how the contents of the seventh trumpet are executed, and notwithstanding the greatest opposition, particularly by the third wo, brought to a, glorious conclusion. And the ark of the covenant was seen in his temple—The ark of the covenant which was made by Moses, was not in the second temple,, being prohably burnt with the first temple by the Chaldeans. But here is the heavenly ark of the everlasting covenant, the shadow of which was under the Old Testament, Heb. ix. 4. The inhahitants of heaven saw the ark before. St. John also saw it now; for a testimony, that what God had promised, should be fulfilled to the uttermost. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail—The very same there are, and in the same order, when the seventh angel has poured out his phial, ch. xvi. 17. —21. One place answers the other. What the trumpet here denounces in heaven, is there executed by the phial upon earth.—First it is shewn, what will be done: and afterwards it is done.

CHAP. XII. The great vision of this book goes straight forward, from the fourth to the twenty-second chapter. Only the tenth, with part of the eleventh chapter, was a kind of introduction to the trumpet of the seventh angel: after which it is said, The second wo is past: behold the third wo cometh quickly. Immediately the seventh angel sounds, under whom the third wo goes forth. And to this trumpet belongs all that is related to the end of the book.

Tar. 1. And a great sign uas seen i* heaseu—Not only by St. John, but tnaay a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her

2 feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child she crieth, travailing in birth and pained to be

3 delivered. And another sign was seen in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten

4 horns, and seven diadems on his heads. And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and casteth them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered, that when she had

5 brought forth, he might devour the child. And she

heavenly spectators represented in the vision. A sign means something that has an uncommon appearance, and from which we infer, that some unusual thing will follow. A woman—The emblem of the church of Christ, as she is originally of Israel, though built and enlarged on all sides by the addition of heathen converts; and as she will hereafter appear when all her natural branches are again grafted in. She is at present on earth, and yet with regard to her union with Christ may be said to be in heaven, Eph. ii. 6. Accordingly she is described as both assaulted and defended in heaven, ver. 4, 7, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head d crown of twelve stars—These figurative expressions must be so interpreted, as to preserve a due proportion between them. So in Joseph's dream, the sun betokened his father, the moon his mother, the stars their children. There may be some such resemblance here. And as the prophecy points out the power over all nations, perhaps the sun may betoken the Christian world: the moon the Mahometans, (who also carry the moon in their ensigns,) and the crown of twelve stars, the twelve tribes of Israel; which are smaller than the sun and moon. The whole of this chapter answers the state of the church, from the ninth century to this time.

V. 2. And being with child, she crieth, travailing in birth— The very pain, without any outward opposition, would constrain a woman in travail to cry out. These cries, throes, and pains to be delivered, were the painful longings, the sighs and prayers of the saints, for the coming of the kingdom of God. The woman groaned andtravailed in spirit, that Christ might.appear, as the Shepherd and King of all nations.

V. 3. And behold a great red dragon—His fiery red colour denoting his disposition, having seven heads—Implying vast wisdom, and ten horns—Perhaps on the seventh head: emblems of mighty power and strength, which he still retained, and seven diadems on his heads—Not properly crowns, but costly bindings, such as kings anciently wore. For though fallen, he was a great potentate still, even the prince of this world.

V. 4. And his tail—His falsehood and subtlety, draweth—As a train—the third part, a very large number, of the stars of heaven—The Christians and their teachers, who before sat in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, and casteth them to the earth—Utterly deprives them of all those heavenly blessings. This is properly a part of the description of the dragon, who was not yet himself on earth but in heaven. Consequently this casting them down was between the beginning of the seventh trumpet, and the beginning of the third wo; or between the year 847 an0< the year 947; at which time pestilent doctrines, par ticularly that of the Manichees in the east, drew abundance of people from the truth. And the dragon stood before the woman, that, when she had brought forth, he might devour the child—That he might hinder the kingdom of Christ from spreading abroad, as it does under this trumpet.

V. 5. And she brought forth a man-child—Even Christ, considered not in his person, but in his kingdom. In the ninth age, many nations with their princes, were added to the Christian church, Who wot to rule all nations*

« PreviousContinue »