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having breast-plates of fire, and hyacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses are as the heads of lions, and out of their mouths go fire, and smoke, and brimstone.
18 By these three plagues were the third part of men killed, by the fire, and the smoke, and the brimstone, which went
19 out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads, and with them they do hurt.
20 And the rest of the men, who were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hand, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood, which can neither
21 see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
same colour with the fire, and smoke, and brimstone, which go out of the mouths of their horses, and the heads of their horses are as the heads of lions—That is, fierce and terrible, and out of their mouth goeth fire, and smoke, and brimstone —This figurative expression may denote, the consuming, blinding, all piercing rage, fierceness, and force of these horsemen.
V. 18. By these three—which were inseparably joined, were the third part of men, in the countries they over-ran, killed—Dinar alone in eleven years and a half took thirty-six thousand cities or forts. How many men must be killed therein?
V. 19. For the power of these horses is in their mouths and in their tails—Their riders fight retreating as well as advancing: so that their rear is as terrible as their front: for their tails are like serpents having heads—Not like the tails of serpents only. They may be fitly compared to the amphisbena, a kind of serpent, which has a short tail, not unlike a head; from which it throws oat its poison, as if it had two heads.
V. 28 And the rest of the men who were not killed—Whom the Saracens did not destroy. It is observable, the countries they over-ran, were mostly those where the gospel had been planted: By these plagues—Here the description of the second wo ends, yet repented not, though they were called Christians, of the works of their hands—Presently specified, that they should not worship devils— The invocation of departed saints, whether true, or false, or doubtful, or forged, crept early into the Christian church, and was carried farther and farther: and who knows, how many who are invoked as saints, are among evil, not good angels: or how far devils have mingled with such blind worship, and with the wonders wrought on such occasions? And idols— About the year 590 men began to venerate images: and though upright men zealously opposed it, yet by little and little, images grew into manifest idols. For after much contention, both in the East and West, in the year 787, the worship of images was established by the second council of Nice. Yet was image worship sharply opposed some time after, by the emperor Theophilus. But when he died, in 842, his widow Theodora established it again; as did the council at Constantinople in the year 863, and again in 871.
V. 21. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries—Whoever reads the histories of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, will find numberless instances of all these in every part of the Christian world. But tho' God cut off so many of these scandals to the Christian name, yet the rest went on in the same course. Some of them, however, might repent under the plagues which follow.
CHAP. X. 1. And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow upon his head, and his face as the sun, and his feet as
2 pillars of fire. And he had in his hand a little book opened, and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his
3 left upon the earth. And he cried with a loud voice, as a lion roareth; and while he cried, seven thunders uttered
4 their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven
CHAP. X. From the first verse of this chapter to chap. xi. 13, preparation is made for the important trumpet of the seventh angel. It consists of two parts, which run parallel to each other: the former reaches from the first to the seventh verse of this chapter; the latter from the eighth of this, to the thirteenth verse of the eleventh chapter: whence also the sixth verse of this chapter is parallel to the eleventh verse. The period to which both these refer begins during the second wo, (as appears, ch. xi. 14.) But being once begun, it extends in a continued course far into the trumpet of the seventh angel. Hence many things are represented here, which are not fulfilled till long after. So the joyful consummation of the mystery of God is spoken of in the seventh verse of this chapter, which yet is not till after the consummation •f the wrath of God, ch. xv. l. So the ascent of the beast out of the bottomless pit, is mentioned ch. xi. 7, which nevertheless is still to come, ch.xvii. 8. And so the earthquake by which a tenth part of the great city falls, and the rest are converted, ch. xi. 13, is really later than that by which the same city is split into three parts, ch. xvi. 19. This is a most necessary observation, whereby we may escape many and great mistakes.
Ver. 1. And I saw another mighty angel—Another different from that mighty angel mentioned ch. v. 2, yet he was a created angel; for he did not swear by himself, ver. 6, clothed with a cloud —In token of his high dignity, and a rainiow upon his head—A lovely token of the divine favour. And yet it is not too glorious for a creature: the woman, ch. xii. 1, is described more glorious still: And his face as the sun—Nor is this too much for a creature: for all the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, Matt. xiii. 43, and his feet as pillars of fire—Bright as flame.
V. 2. And he had in his hand—His left hand; he swore with his right. He stood with his right foot on the sea, toward the west; his left on the land, toward the east; so that he looked southward. And so St. John (as Patmos lies near Asia) could conveniently take the book out of his left hand. This sealed book was first in the right hand of him that sat on the throne. Thence the Lamb took it and opened the seals. And now this little book containing the remainder of Ge other, is given opened as it was to St. John. From this place the Revelation speaks more clearly and less figuratively than before. And he set his right foot upon the sea—Out of which the first beast was to come, and his left foot upon the earth—Out of which was to come the second. The tea may betoken Europe; the earth, Asia; the chief theatres of these things.
V. s. And he cried—Uttering the words set down, ver. 6, and while he cried —Or was crying, at the same instant, seven thunders uttered their voices—In distinct words, each after the other. Those who spoke these words, were glo.rious, heavenly powers, whose voice was as the loudest thunder.
V. 4. And I heard a voice from heaven—Doubtless from him who had at first commanded him to write, and who presently commands him to take the book, namely, Jesus Christ. Seal up the things which the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not—These are the only things of all which he heard, that he is commanded to keep secret. So some things peculiarly secret were
5 thunders have uttered, and write them not. And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth,
6 lifted up his right hand toward heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that
7 are therein, There shall be no more a time. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, while he shall
revealed to the beloved John, beside all the secrets written in this book. At the same time we are prevented from inquiring, what it was which these thunders uttered. Suffice that we may know all the contents of the opened book, and of the oath of the angel.
V. 5. And the angel—This manifestation of things to come under the trumpet of the seventh angel, hath a two-fold introduction. First, the angel speaks for God, ver. 7. Then Christ speaks for himself, ch. xi. 3. The angel appeals to the prophets of former times; Christ to his own two witnesses: Whom I saw standing upon the earth and upon the sea, lifted up his right hand toward heaven—'As yet the dragon was in heaven. When he is cast thence, he brings the third and most dreadful wo on the earth and the sea: so that it seems as if there would be no end of calamities. Therefore the angel comprises in his posture and in his oath, both heaven, sea, and earth, and makes on the part of the eternal God and Almighty Creator, a solemn protestation, that he will assert his kingly authority against all his enemies. He lifted up his right hand toward heaven—The angel in Daniel, ch. xii. 7, (not improbably the same angel,) lifted up both his hands
V. 6. And sware—The six preceding trumpets pass without any such solemnity. It is the trumpet of the seventh angel alone, which is confirmed by so high an oath, by him that liveth for ever and ever—Before whom a thousand years are but a day, who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the things that are therein—And consequently has the sovereign power over all: therefore all his enemies, though they rage a while in heaven, on the sea, and on the earth, yet must give place to him: that there shall be no more a time, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled— That is, a time, a chronos shall not expire, before that mystery is fo I filled A chronos(l Ill years) will nearly pass before then, but not quite. The period then which we may term a non-chronos, (not a whole time) must be a little and not much shorter than this. The non-chronos here mentioned seems to begin in the year 800, (when Charles the Great instituted in the west a new line of emperors, or of many kings,) to end in the year 1836: and to contain, among other things, the short time of the third wo, the three times and a half of the woman in the wilderness, and the duration of the beast.
V. 7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel—Who sounded not only at the beginning of those days, but from the beginning to the end, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled—It is said, ch. xvii. 17, The word of God shall be fulfilled. The word of God is fulfilled by the destruction of the'beast, the mystery by the removal of the dragon. But these great events are so near together, that they are here mentioned as one. The beginning of them is in heaven, as soon as the seventh trumpet sounds: the end is on the earth and the sea. So long as the third wo remains on the earth and the sea, the mystery of God is not fulfilled. And the angel's swearing is peculiarly for the comfort of holy men, who are afflicted under that wo. Indeed the wrath of God must be first fulfilled, by the pouring out of the phials: and then comes the joyful fulfilling of the mystery of God. As he hath declared to his servants the prophets—The accomplishment exactly answering the prediction. The ancient prophecies relate partly to that grand period, from the birth of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem j partly to the time of the seventh sound, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake with me again, and said, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel, who standeth on the sea and on the
9 earth. And I went to the angel, saying to him, Give me the book. And he saith to me, Take and eat it up, and it will make thy belly bitter, but it will be sweet as honey
10 in thy mouth. And I took the book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, but when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he saith to me, Thou must prophesy again concerning people, and nations, and tongues, and many kings.
XI. And there was given me a reed, like a measuring rod; and he said, Arise, and measure the temple of God, and
angel, wherein they will be fully accomplished. To the seventh trumpet belongs all that occurs from ch. xi. 15, to ch. xxii. 5. And the third wo, which takes place under the same, properly stands, ch. xii. 12, ch. xiii. l—18.
V. 8. And—What follows from this verse to ch. xi. 18, runs parallel with the oath of the angel, and with the fulfilling of the mystery of God, as it follows under the trumpet of the seventh angel. What is said ver. 11, concern-' ing St. John's prophesying again, is unfolded immediately after: what is said ver. 7, concerning the fulfilling of the mystery of God, is unfolded ch. xi. 15—19, and in the following chapters.
V. 9. Eat it up—The like was commanded to Ezekiel. This was an emblem of thoroughly considering and digesting it. And it will make thy belly bitter, but it will be sweet as honey in thy mouth—The sweetness betokens the many good thiugs which follow, ch. xi. 1, 15, &c. the bitterness, the evils which succeed under the third wo.
V. 11. Thou must prophesy again—Of the mystery of God; of which the ancient prophets had prophesied before. And he did prophesy, by measuring the temple, ch. xi. 1, as a prophecy may be delivered either by words or actions: Concerning people, and nations, and tongues, and many kings—The people, nations, and tongues, are cotemporary; but the kings, being many, succeed one another. These kings are not mentioned for their own sake, but with a view to the holy city, ch. xi. 2. Here is a reference to the great kingdoms in Spain, England, Italy, &c. which arose from the eighth century; or at least underwent a considerable change, as France and Germany in particular: to the Christian, afterward Turkish empire in the East; and especially to the various potentates who have successively reigned at or over Jerusalem, and do now, at least titularly, reign over it.
CHAP. XI. In this chapter is shewn, how it will fare with the holy city, till the mystery of God is fulfilled: in the twelfth, what will befal the woman, who is delivered of the man-child: in the thirteenth, how it will be with the kingdom of Christ, while the two beasts are in the heighth of their power. And there was given me—By Christ, as appears from the third verse: and he said, Arise—Prohably he was sitting to write, and measure the temple of God —At Jerusalem, where he was placed in the vision. Of this we have a large description by Ezekiel, ch. xl.—xlviii. concerning which we may observe,
1. Ezekiel's prophecy was not fulfilled at the return of the Babylonish captivity.
2. Yet it does not refer to the New Jerusalem, which is far more gloriously described.
2 the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple, cast out, and measure it not: for it is given to the Gentiles, and they shall tread the
3 holy city forty-two months. And I will give to my two witnesses to prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days,
4 clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth.
5 And if any one would hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies: and if any
6 would kill them, he must thus be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesying, and have power over the waters, to turn
3. It must infallibly be fulfilled even then when they are ashamed of all that they have done, ch. xliii. 11.
4 Ezekiel speaks of the same temple, which is treated of here.
5. As all things there are so largely described, St. John is shorter and refers thereto.
V. 2. But the court which it without the temple—The old temple had a court in the open air, for the heathens who worshipped the God of Israel: cast out —Of thy account, and measure it not—As not being holy iu so high a degree: and they shall tread—inhabit the holy city, Jerusalem, Matt. iv. s. So ther began to do, before St. John wrote. And it has been trodden almost ever since, by the Romans, Persians, Saracens, and Turks. But that severe kind of treading which is here peculiarly spoken of, will not be till under the trumpet of the seventh angel, and toward the end of the troublous times. This will continue but forty-two common months, or twelve hundred and sixty common days; being but a small part of the non-chronos.
V. 3. And I—Christ, will give to my two witnesses—These seem to be two prophets, two select, eminent instruments. Some have supposed, (though without foundation,) that they are Moses and Elijah, whom they resemble in several respects; to prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days—Common days, that is, a hundred and eighty weeks. So long will they prophesy, (even while that last and sharp treading of the holy city continues,) both by word and deed, witnesseng that Jesus is the Son of God, the Heir of all things, and exhorting all men to repent, and fear, and glorify God; clothed in sackcloth —The habit of the deepest mourners, out of sorrow and concern for the people.
V. 4. These are the two olive-trees—That is, as Zerubhabel and Joshua, the two olive-trees spoken of by Zechariah, ch. iii. Q, ch. iv. in, were then the two chosen instruments in God's hand, even so shall these be in their season. Being themselves full of the unction of the Holy One, they shall continually transmit the same to others also, and the two candlesticks—Burning and shining lights, standing before the Lord of the earth—Always waiting on God, without the help of man, and asserting his right over the earth and all things therein.
V. 5. If any would kill them—As the Israelites would have done Moses and Aaron, Numb. xvi. 41, he must be killed thus—By that devouring fire.
V. 6. These have power—And they use that power, (see ver. 10,) to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesying—During those twelve hundred and sixty days; and have power over the waters—In and near Jerusalem, to turn them into blood—As Moses did those in Egypt; and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will—This is not said of Moses or Elijah, or any mere man besides. And how is it possible to understand this otherwise, than of two individual persons?