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THE ANGEL AND THE LITTLE BOOK.
Rev. x. 1-11. And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud ; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as
pillars of fire : 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, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth : and when
he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 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 ut
tered, and write them not. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the
earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 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, the mystery of God should be finished, as he
hath declared to his servants the prophets. 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
the sea and earth. 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 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in
mouth sweet as honey : and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many
peoples, and nations, and tongues, and king's.
The numerous predictions between the fourth and tenth chapters of this book, are recorded in the same order in which the events to which they refer were to be realized in the course of Providence. Hence the closest connexion of matter, and the strictest chronological order, may be discerned among them. They are like a book of annals, or a regular and well-digested history, which contains a faithful record of the transactions of a long and interesting period, without any deviations to the affairs of other times, or the transactions that are foreign to the details of public life.' Accordingly, as the ninth chapter concluded with the prophecy of the sixth trumpet, it was natural to expect, that the one now before us would have contained the prophecy of the seventh. But we have no mention whatever of this trumpet, till we come forward to the middle of the following chapter ; and even there, it is only a general intimation that is given us respecting it. The full and detailed account is not presented till we come to the sixteenth chapter. It may, therefore, appear to be necessary, that we ascertain the place which the intermediate chapters occupy in the general series, before we enter upon the explanation of the verses presently read. But as there is no other method of determining this point, than by the strictest attention to the matter of these predictions, and the form in which they are presented to our notice, at present I shall only mention the opinion which is most generally embraced, and then proceed to a short explanation of the chapter, pointing out, as we go along, the principal arguments by which that opinion may be established.
These chapters, says an able writer on prophecy, ' arc de
signed as a supplement to the former, to complete what was deficient, to explain what was dubious, and to illustrate what was obscure; and as the former described more the destinies of the Roman empire, so this latter relates more to the fates of the Christian church. With the opinion of this writer we are perfectly agreed; but not to anticipate any thing that may be afterwards mentioned in support of it, we proceed to a short explanation of the verses before us.
The object which now attracted the notice of the prophet, he calls another mighty angel.—But the symbols of divinity with which he was attended, and the similarity of the description with the one recorded in chap. i., are sufficient to shew, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not any created angel, is intended. When John calls him another angel, it is to distinguish him from the ministers of Providence of whom he had lately been speaking, viz. the angels of the trumpets, and those that had been bound in the great river Euphrates. -Power is often ascribed to angels; all of them excel in strength. But the might of this angel must be far superior to theirs, as all the endowments of which they are possessed were received from him. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him ; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.' Col. i. 16, 17.
When John saw him, he was descending from heaven. Here the scene is changed. The former was laid in heaven; but the scene of this vision is laid on the earth. As John saw him come down from heaven, this necessarily supposes, that the prophet was on the earth at the time when he was favoured with the manifestation. Not that there had been any bodily motion or translation, either from earth to heaven, or from heaven back to this lower world ; all was done by way of ex
Newt. on Proph. v. III.
traordinary impression on his mind. This world was the theatre
which the scenes afterwards described were to be disclosed ; and that John might have the more distinct perceptions of them, according to the impression on his mind he was brought back to Patmos, or rather set down in one of the courts of the temple at Jerusalem ; and while he was looking up towards the place where he had lately been in vision, he saw this mighty angel coming down from heaven.
There was something peculiarly grand and godlike in his appearance. He was clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head.—His glorious marching through the wilderness was in the pillar of the cloud; and when any signal demonstration of his presence was given to Israel, a cloud was uniformly employed as the symbol, Exod. xix. 9.—Sometimes the clouds are represented as the chariot, sometimes as the dust of the feet of Jehovah, and sometimes as his robes of state. This Angel-Jehovah was clothed with a cloud. The other badge of distinction was no less remarkable ; he had a rainbow upon his head. One of the heathen gods was usually painted with the bow of an archer ; but none of them, so far as is recollected, had the rainbow as his symbol. This crest of divinity is peculiar to the God of Christians. The vanities of the Heathen could not cause so much as a single shower, nor could they bind up the clouds that they might not discharge their treasures
the earth. They were not therefore entitled to wear this badge of distinction.* As the bow in the clouds is the visible token of God's covenant with the church, in the management of her affairs her King and Saviour must have a continual respect to this covenant. It is impossible that at any time it can
The rainbow could not, consistently with the mythology of the Heathen, constitute a part of the regalia of any particular deity. They had such exalted notions of it, that they thought it was not properly a bow, but a goddess. The Greeks supposed Iris to be the daughter of Thaumas and Electra. The Romans considered her as a particular favourite of Juno. Among the Peruvians, the highest acts of worship were paid to the rainbow: in the celebrated temple of the sun at Cusco, an apartment was dedicated entirely to the worship of the rainbow, and an order of priests set apart to perform the customary services.
be out of his mind, as its established sign is perpetually surrounding his head and his throne.
A more particular description of his person and excellencies immediately follows: His face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. There is such a similarity between this part of the description and what we have stated in chap. i. 15, 16., (which was considered in your hearing,) it may suffice at present to remark, that both are intended to set forth the matchless glory and dignity of the person of the Mediator, and the incomparable excellencies of which he is possessed. In the kingdom of nature, there is not a more glorious object than the sun, when he shines in the full splendour of his meridian brightness : and there is not among the servants of God any that is so dignified, or clothed with such personal worth and excellency as the Mediator; nor any, the light of whose countenance can be so refreshing to the saints. But while his friends have cause of exultation at the displays of his glory, his incorrigible enemies have every reason to be afraid. How easy for him, whose feet are like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, to render them miserable beyond description.
While the displays of the glory of this angel were filling the prophet with admiration, his attention was attracted by the appearance of a little book which he held in his hand. He had in his hand a little book opened.—This book could not be a distinct or separate work from the one which John had formerly seen, because we hear of no other volume beside the book with seven seals which was received by the Lamb. It must have been either a part or the whole of that volume. It is unnatural to suppose that it comprised the whole work; because the different rolls were taken off and perused. It has therefore been considered as the remainder of the sealed book; and as the different seals were now opened, and the rolls or sheets to which they had been attached were laid aside, it is supposed that it might now be represented both as an open and a little book. But if it had contained all the subsequent prophecies