« PreviousContinue »
ception they had seemed pleasant to the mouth. The gratification of curiosity is pleasant, the appointment to a prophetic character is honourable ; but to read in the womb of futurity grievous denunciations against our country and church, must bitterly afflict an honest and benevolent mind.
But why is this new commission to the prophet ? He was sent originally to the seven Churches in Asia : Wherefore this new designation ?
“ Thou must prophesy AGAIN before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings?” In answer to this it may be observed, that prior to the conquests of the Mahometan invaders, the seven Churches were situated near the centre of the Christian world. From that time they were no longer central in any sense : they lost their consequence, repented not of their idolatry and wickedness," and in succeeding irruptions they fell a prey to the victorious enemy. “ Their candlestick, or lamp-bearer, was removed,” according to the threatening of their Lord, (ch. ii. 5.) But as the Christian religion receded in the east, before the arms and doctrines of the Mahometans, it spread and enlarged in the west. A new scene and a new audience have now their commencement. The Gentile nations (the sea on which the angel places his principal foot) come into view; those ten kingdoms, into which the remains of the Roman empire were divided, are a principal part.
Upon the vision exhibited in this tenth chapter, the difference of interpretation, by the principal commentators, is not such as to require much remark. Whether the little book be the same as that opened by the Lamb, or a part of it, or a codicil added to it, is not very material to the explanation of its contents. All are agreed that it contains the
matter of the prophecy then coming forward, and by the complete possession of which St. John became the inspired and communicating prophet of that important period, already announced by the prophet Daniel in the same solemn manner as by the oath of the angel, to continue “ a time, times, and an half,” (Dan. xii. 7 ;) and this is the subject of a large remaining portion of the Apocalypse. It is likewise very generally accorded, that the Church of Christ, and more especially the great western branch of it, is the main object of this part of the prophecy; and, as the development of it discloses a series of its sufferings under the usurpation and abuses of the antichristian ministers of Satan; so a consolatory assurance, by the oath of a divine messenger, precedes the symbolical narrative of these evil days. The Church is assured, that though these afflictions must have their allotted period, their existence will altogether cease with the blast of the seventh trumpet. It is now also generally allowed, that the prophecies of the little book belong in a great measure to the sixth trumpet, which had been otherwise considered by Mede. The reader may see the opinion of this ingenious theorist candidly examined, and ably refuted, by Vitringa (in locum.)
The measuring of the Temple, and the Witnesses.
CI AP. xi. ver. 1–14. 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.
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 stand. ing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth ont 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.
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 kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
Ver. 1, 2. And there was given me a reed,' &c.] St. John now enters upon the prophetic office, asCH. xi. 1–14.] THE APOCALYPSE.
i It may be proper to observe, that the words “ And the angel stood,” Gr. kai ó Ayyeloc eltTNKel, are rejected from the text by the best authorities, as not to be found in the most authentic manu
signed to him in the last chapter. A measuring rod is placed in his hands, and the temple of God, the altar, and they who worship therein, are declared to be the objects of his mensuration.
The temple of God, after the coming of the Messiah and the rejection of the Jews, is the Christian Church, (1 Cor. iii. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 16; 1 Tim. iii. 15; Epist. to Heb. passim.) The altar represents the worship therein duly performed ; and, by those who dwell therein, we must understand the true and pure worshippers. And by comparing Ezek. xl. 3, 4, and Zech. ii. 145, with this passage, we may deduce, that by such appointed mensuration, the places measured are appropriated to the worship of God.
In this passage before us, no report is made of the number of worshippers, of those who were admitted to the interior courts and the altar; but in the times, which are generally supposed to be prefigured in this prophecy, few there were, very few, who “ worshipped in spirit and in truth.” But the outer court of the temple is particularly mentioned, and the divine command is, that it shall not be measuredεκβαλε εξω, , “ cast it out, measure it not.” The worshippers there are not admitted to the purer light of the divine presence. These are “ the people and nations and tongues and kings,” the Gentiles, before whom St. John was appointed specially to prophesy. They are, however, to possess and occupy the exterior court. Christian they are by name and profession, but not admitted to that nearer commu
scripts. This interpolation seems to have taken place, with a view to supply a nominative case to the participle deywv, but it is not wanted. We easily refer it, either to “the mighty angel” who gave to St. John the little book, or to," the voice from heaven," by which he had been called and directed in the last chapter.
nication with the Deity, which imparts the purer knowledge and worship. But though excluded from the interior of the temple and its sanctuaries, they are to possess “the holy city.” The holy city is that which contains the temple. Such was Jerusalem, (Matt. v. 35; xxvii. 53;) and after the rejection and destruction of this holy city, such was, and is, the Christian Church, which in its renovated state is denominated “the New Jerusalem,” (Gal. iv. 25, 26; Rev. iii. 12; xxi. 2, 10.)
This holy city, the Christian Church, they are to tread forty and two months. The received translation says, “ tread under foot;” and many of the commentators have therefore understood it to signify, that they shall trample upon, and tyrannize over the Church of Christ. This sense would be justly inferred, if the word in the Greek had been katamarησουσι, but it is simply πατησoυσι.
And the verb Tatew without a preposition prefixed, or following, signifies simply to tread or to go; and, in the Greek Septuagint, nateLV tnv av nv uov, is to tread and worship in the courts of the Lord's temple. (Compare Isa. i. 12, and xxv. 10, with Psa. Ixv. 4) and, conformably to this meaning, we learn from history, that the treading of the Gentiles in the Christian Church, though marked with ignorance and superstition, has not been vindictive or contemptuous.
The time appointed for the continued occupation of the outer court by the Gentiles is forty-two months. It is the very same period in length of duration as the twelve hundred and sixty days mentioned in the following verse; for it has been fully proved by the learned, that the month of the Hebrews, and of other nations in the east, contained regularly thirty days, which, multiplied by fortytwo, produces 1260 ; and since a day, in prophetical language, signifies a year, the whole period is