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[angel descends. with a cloud and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it
AND I saw another mighty angel were the sun, and his feet as pillars of
come down from heaven, clothed fire:
EXPOSITION-Chap. IX. Continued.
Empire. "Amurath II. broke into Peloponesus, and took several strong places by the means of his artillery. But his son Mohammed, at the siege of Constantinople, employed such great guns as were never made before [and the description of which is almost incredible]. For forty days the wall was battered by these guns, and so many breaches were made, that the city was taken by assault, and an end put to the Grecian empire." This symbol, of fire issuing out of their mouths, is, according to Mr. Fuller, “ expressive of what a body of horsemen, fighting with fire-arms, would appear to a distant spectator, who had never before seen or heard of any thing of the kind."
Now, as it is said of the locusts under the preceding trumpet, that they had "stings in their tails;" so it is said "their tails were like serpents, and had heads," which is generally supposed to allude to the serpents with two heads, of which the old naturalists speak; which would render them terrible, both in their advance and in their retreat. So it is said of an army of locusts-" A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness." (Joel ii. 3.) Most expositors, however, explain this, in reference to the poisonous doctrines which these Mahometans diffused around them, which were utterly subversive of Christianity, and the rights of conscience.
Some infidel writers have compared Mahometanism with Christianity, and given it the preference, both in respect of its doctrines, and their success; but there is this difference to be observed in them: The doctrines of Christ were opposed to all the prejudices and corrupt passions of mankind; on the contrary, those of Mahomet, except in the article of the unity of God, coincided with them. He made religion to consist in outward ceremonies, and allowed those to be meritorious. He tolerated polygamy, concubinage, revenge, and the most licentious pleasures. His religion swam with the stream-Christianity against it. His religion was propagated with the sword, ours by evidence and persuasion. The success of the one is therefore easily to be accounted for-the
other, only on the principle of a divine influence and support.
The religion of Mahomet, separate from his imposture, may be considered as a sy tem of natural religion, for most of the pe culiar truths of divine revelation he has discarded, only he acknowledged the & vine mission of Jesus, and so far may be considered as a witness for Christianity Bishop Sherlock, who has drawn a compsrison between natural and revealed religion, has the following interesting passage reference to Mahomet :-" Go to your Notural Religion; lay before her Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armour in blood, riding in triumph over the spot of thousands and ten thousands, who fell his victorious sword. Show her the cit which he set in flames, the countries which he ravaged and destroyed, and the misenble distress of all the inhabitants of the earth. When she has viewed him in this scene, carry her into his retirements; shot her the prophet's chamber, his concubice and wives, and let her see his adulteries. and hear him allege revelation, and ba divine commission, to justify his lusts and his oppressious. When she is tired with this prospect, then show her the blessed Jesus, humble and meek, doing good w all the sous of men, patiently instructing the ignorant and the perverse. Let her see him in his most retired privacies; let her follow him to the mount, and hear his devotions and supplications to God. Carry her to his table, to view his poor fare, and hear his heavenly discourse. Let her see him injured, but not provoked. Let her attend him to the tribunal, and consider the patience with which he endured the scoffs and reproaches of his enemies. Lead her to his cross, and let her view him in the agonies of death, and hear his last prayer for his persecutors, Father, for give them, for they know not what they do! When Natural Religion has viewed them both, ask which is the Prophet of God? But her answer we have already had, when she saw part of this scene through the eyes of the Centurion who at tended him at the cross; by him she said, Truly this was the Son of God.""
But to return to the scenes before us: it is most melancholy, that those only who suffered were affected by them; the sur
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,
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.
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 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 :
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.
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:
vivors repented not. "The rest of the men, that is (says Mr. Fuller), of the men who had not the seal of God in their forehead, who were not killed by these plagues, repented not. As those that were killed were the Eastern Roman Empire, with the Greek church, as connected with it; so those that were not killed were the Western Roman Empire, with the Latin church. These two churches were as Aholah and Aholibah. (Ezek. xxiii.) The fall of the one, ought to have been a warning to the other; but it was not. They per
sisted in their image-worship, which was only the old idolatry of the Pagans under a new form nor were they behind them in their murderous persecutions, their foul impostures, their filthy intrigues, and their fraudulent impositions. And though soon after the overthrow of the Greek Church the Reformation began, yet they reformed not. The Council of Trent, which was called on this occasion, sat eighteen years, and at last left things as it found them. Babylon was not to be healed!"
CHAP. X. Ver. 1. His feet-i. e. his legs and feet, like pillars and pedestals of burning flame. Ver. 3. Seven thunders uttered their voices.— "Seven" being the number of completion, it may seem to imply, a tremendous thunder-storm, attended by voices from heaven.
Ver. 5. Lifted up his hand.-See Gen. xiv. 22; Deut. xxxi. 40; Ezek. xx. 5. Sir W. Jones, at a period of mature judgment (says his biographer), considered [this passage] as equal in sublimity to any in the inspired writings, and far superior to any that could be produced from mere human compo
Ver. 6. That there should be time no longer-i. e. no longer delay, as Doddr. and Gill explain it; or as Daubuz, Lowman, and Bishop Newton, explain it, "the time (of those judgments) shall not be yet." The word rendered "time" (Gr. chronos), we are assured, sometimes signifies delay; which gives a variety in rendering, though, as observed in our
Exposition, with no great difference in the general
Ver. 7. When he shall begin to sound.-Woodh. "when he is about to sound." Doddr." who was about quickly to sound." The seventh angel, we must remember, was to announce the Millennium, in which the mystery of God should be completed. Ver. 9. Make thy belly bitter.-Woodh. "embitter thy stomach:" so in next verse-" my stomach was embittered."
Ver. 10. And ate it up.-This language is not peculiar to St. John; it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, particularly in Ezek. iii. 1-3, which is doubtless here alluded to. It also appears common among the Eastern nations. So the Turks say of the Tartars, that other nations had their learning in their books; but the Tartars had eaten their books, and had their wisdom in their breasts, from whence they could easily draw it out as they had occasion."
John eats] and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou
[the little book
must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (R)
(R) Ver. 1-11. A mighty angel with a little book, which, at his command, the prophet eats.-This chapter seems plainly introductory to a new series of prophecies, relative to the Western Church; the chapters immediately preceding having described the judgments of God upon the Eastern Church, in subjecting it to the Turks. The scene of this introductory vision is upon earth, and the principal personage in it is "a mighty angel." As in chap. v. 2, a strong or mighty angel proclaims a challenge to any one in heaven or earth, to open the book of seven seals; so here another mighty angel appears with "a little book," and takes a solemn oath. Sir Is. Newton remarks, that the form in which he appears, much resembles the description given of Christ himself in chap. i.: his countenance shone as the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He was also clothed with a cloud, and had a rainbow round about his head-symbols very appropriate to Deity. These particulars have induced many divines (among whom are Doddridge and Fuller) to appropriate this description to the Son of God himself; yet, on the other hand, there are several circumstances which render it at least doubtful. Though a mighty angel," it was only "another mighty angel," putting him on a level with other angels; and, as Mr. Wesley observes, he sware not by himself, but by him that sat upon the throne: and though his face was as the sun, so chap. xii. 1, the church is represented as "a woman clothed with the sun, and crowned with stars," which is a figure still more sublime, and leaves us room to think, with Mr. Wesley and Dr. Woodhouse, that this might be, or, indeed, must be, only 66 a created angel.".
This angel appears to have been of extraordinary magnitude, for he set one foot upon the sea, and the other upon the earth. His voice also was proportioned to his figure, for it was "as when a lion
roareth." And when he had cried, "seve thunders uttered their voices;" not merely inarticulate sounds, because John wai about to write them, till he was forbidden; but as he was ordered to seal up, or sup press them, it would be both vain and presumptuous for us to guess at them, as some have done. “Secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed unto us and to our children." (Deut. xxix. 29.)
But our most important inquiry her regards the purport of this mighty angel's oath, which has been variously understood the original being equivocal. The following are, as we conceive, the most prebable meanings, and all come nearly the same issue:-1. If we adhere to the common translation, "there shall be time no longer," we must carefully connect with the following verse, and then sense will be, not that the end of all thing is now fully come, but that the time a finishing "the mystery of God” shall be fulfilled under the seventh trumpet, which will usher in the Millennium. Or, 2. If we read, "the time shall not be get," the meaning is, not till the seventh trump shall begin to sound, and then the mystery shall be fulfilled. Or, 3d, If we read "delay shall be no longer," it still amouns to the same thing, meaning, not beyond the sounding of the seventh trumpet. In either case, the seventh trumpet will introduce that grand dispensation of the Millennian, in which all the mystery of God, as re spects the present life, shall be fulfilled.
This angel had in his hand a little book open, which Bishop Newton considers as a kind of codici or appendix to the book which had been unsealed. But Mr. Leman is of opinion, that this was not a other, but à remainder of the same book, or roll, which the Lamb had received and opened. To us it appears altogether a new book, and of a much smaller size, be cause John was ordered to eat it; that is, to conceal within himself the prophecies
NOTES-Chap. X. Con.
Ver. 11. Thou must prophesy again before-(Gr. epi)--Doddr. " to." Blackwall, "concerning." Mr. Mede here infers," that the apostle is about to go over the same period of time he had before been
discoursing of, giving an account of the state of the church, as he had just done of the empire." It certain he here goes back to the commencement of Popery.
The temple measured.]
CHAP. XI. [The two witnesses described.
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.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees,
and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
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.
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.
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. (S)
now revealed to him, and to arrange and digest them in such manner as might be useful in future generations. Mr. Fuller remarks-"The same desire of understanding the future state of the church, which made him (John) weep, when no one was found worthy to open the sealed book (chap. v. 4), must make him rejoice, when an open book was put into his hand, with a direction to eat it: but when he came to digest it, and to perceive the corruptions and persecutions that should prevail, and for so long a period retard the progress of the gospel, it would be grievous to him." It was sweet in his mouth,"
but" in his belly bitter." He is warned, however, that his task was not yet accomplished; he must again prophecy before (or perhaps concerning) many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
(S) Ver. 1-7. The temple of God measured. The two witnesses prophecy.-We have above seen, that Christianity obtained first a legal establishment and support in the reign of Constantine; the natural consequence of which was, that many Gentiles flocked into the outward Court of Christianity, who had not the seal of God either
CHAP. XI. Ver. 1. A reed (or cane) like unto a Tod.-i. e. a measuring rod. Worship therein.— Gr." in it."
Ver. 2. The court which is without-That is, the outer court; see Ezek. xlii. 14, 20.-Leave out.Marg. "cast out."
Ver. 3. I will give power unto my two witnesses. -Margin," I will give unto my two witnesses, that they may prophecy."A thousand two hundred and threescore days.-See Numb. xiv. 33, 34"Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years...... after the number of days in which ye searched the land (even), forty days (each day for a year) shall ye bear your iniquities, (even) forty years." So in Ezek. iv. 5, 6, the Lord says, "three hundred and ninety days, and forty days," each typical of so many years-" each day for a year. "Thus also in Daniel, the prophecy of seventy weeks is almost universally understood to mean weeks of years, chap. ix. 25, 27; and again in chap. xii. 11, 12, days also are used for years; see also Isa. xx. 3. So Mr. Faber assumes, that Daniel's prophecy of seventy weeks, having proved by the event to be weeks-not of days, but of years, with the other passages above referred to, are suflicient
to warrant the like explication of the days before us; and we confess that we think Mr. Maitland's late attempt to restrain those days to a literal interpretation, is very forced and unnatural, and contrary to historical facts. These mystical numbers seem also to correspond with Daniel's "time, (two) times, and the dividing of time-i. e. half a time.
Ibid. Clothed in sackcloth.-This was the established costume of mourning and distress; 2 Sam. iii. 31; 1 Kings xx. 31; xxi. 27; Job xvi. 15; P's. Xxx. 11, &c.
Ver. 5. Fire proceedeth out of their mouth.Compare Jer. v. 14. See also Isa. x. 16, 17.-He must in this manner be killed.-Woodh. "Thus must he be slain."
Ver. 6. To shut heaven, &c.-Judge Hale seems to think, that this implies that the witnesses should have in them the spirit of Moses and Elijah. So John the Baptist is called by our Lord Elias, Matt. xi. 14.
Ver. 7. When they shall have finished.-Woodh. "When they shall be finishing" Mr. Lowman says, "The original may mean the time of their testimony, as well as the end of it." See Matt. x. 19. The beast, &c.-See chap, xiii. 1, &c.
The witnesses slain,]
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.
9 And they of the people and kin
[but not buried. dreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the
EXPOSITION-Chap. XI, Continued.
in their hearts or in their foreheads; many who were not converts in heart, neither did their outward conversation correspond with their profession. To show, therefore, that the Almighty makes a distinction between these and his faithful and true worshippers, he orders his apostle John, as it were in the character of a surveyor, faithfully and carefully to measure, that is, to describe, the inner temple of God, and its true worshippers, which is done in this and the three following chapters. These we do not consider as successive prophecies, but as contemporary or synchronical (as some express it), and are all comprised within the period of "forty-two months;" or, which is the same thing (the months of the ancients comprising thirty days each), 1260 prophetic days or years-days being often thus used for years in the prophetic Scriptures, as may be seen in our Note on verse 3.
But, who are these witnesses?-when they commenced prophecying-how long they shall continue-and, finally, what is meant by their death and resurrection? are severally questions of great importance, and must now come successively under our consideration.
1. Who are the witnesses here intended? Certainly no two individuals, if we take the 1260 days for years; nor are we aware that they are so applied by any respectable expositor. Some have supposed two churches to be intended; and the late Mr. Reader, of Taunton, referred this to the Protestant and Greek churches; but, we conceive, the latter fall very short of the character here given, being, in general, nearly as depraved as the Roman church itself. Mr. R. states the tribute which they pay the Turkish government to have their worship tolerated; but though this may be a witnessing against the Turks, it does not appear to us witnessing on the behalf of God and his truth, nor does it at all as
similate their characters to those of Moses and Elijah.
Some modern commentators (among whom are Dr. Park and Mr. Croty) have explained these witnesses to be the Old and New Testaments; but these we consider to be but one witness, as forming but one hook; if, therefore, we were as such to receive it, we should be disposed, with "the word written," to associate "the word preached;" these, indeed, bear an harmonious testimony to divine truth, and are by Providence commonly associated in the great work of man's salvation; and thus they become equally obnoxious to the Papal beast and his supporters.
But the more general, and, we incline to think, the more correct interpretation, is thus expressed by Mr. Fuller :-" The import of these verses is, that during the long period of Papal corruption and persecution, God would have his faithful witnesses, who should bear testimony against it, though it were in sackcloth. As, in the language of prophecy, a king denotes, not an indi vidual monarch, but a succession of kings, or a kingdom; so by two witnesses we are doubtless to understand, not two individual witnesses, but a competent succession of them. This is manifest from their continuing through the long period of 1260 years, which can only be true of a suc cession of men. Some have supposed them to be the Old and New Testaments; others, the Old and New Testament churches: but I see no reason why they should not be understood of the faithful servants of Christ, who, during this period, would bear witness for the truth." Bishop Newton has taken pains to show that, even through the darkest ages of Christianity, there have constantly been some enlightened individuals, who have borne witness against the church of Rome; and had we as many records of humble piety, as of distinguished learning, there is no doubt but the faithful
NOTES-Chap. XI. Con.
Ver. 8. The great city-i, e. Rome; "not in respect of its buildings, or its inhabitants, but as the head of the Antichristian community." Fuller.
·Spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.This shows that these expressions are not to be taken literally, but figuratively. The inhabitants
of this city shall be as vile as Sodom for unclean. ness, or Egypt for idolatry, or Jerusalem, when they crucified the Lord.
Ver. 9. Shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. In this respect, they are used more cruelly than their Master.