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1 AND after these things I saw four angels standing on the four parts of the earth, restraining the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, 2 nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to 3 hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, "Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their 4 foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the 5 tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve 6 thousand. Of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe, of Naphtali were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe 7 of Manasseh were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed 8 twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zebulon
God, the great changes which would occur in the civil affairs of the nations, when the highest powers would be subverted and destroyed. Daubuz and others have justly observed, that the civil and political world is represented by the natural, the suu meaning the imperial power, the moon and stars inferior officers, see Is. xiii. 10.; xxxiv. 4. Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8. Joel ii. 10, &c.Kings of the earth, &c. These awful judgments and changes shall affect all ranks and conditions of men; and so terrified shall they be as to seek to hide themselves, and so alarmed with apprehensions of having deserved the wrath of the Lamb, that they will desire in any way to escape it. This seal is generally and justly applied to the wars and changes effected by Constantine, called the Great, who first favouring, and then openly espousing the cause of Christ, destroyed the persecuting heathen power, put down all the Pagan priests, displaced the Pagan military and civil officers, and appointed christians to fill their places. This deliverance from persecution was granted to the church, and was a proof that faith and patience will prevail.
CHAP. VII. 1. The four winds, &c. These angels appeared to stand opposite to each other in the four quarters whence the winds blow; and the winds which are the causes of storms are the emblems of commotions and wars. These were to be restrained, to show that the church would enjoy peace and prosperity for a season. ·
2. From the east. Some tell us that omens from the east were esteemed favourable. This is thought to be an emblem of our Lord, the angel of the
Their countless number.
were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
After these things I looked, and behold, a 9 great multitude, which no one could number, of all nations, and tribes, and people, and languages, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm-branches in their hands; And they 10 cry with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation be ascribed to our God who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb." And all the angels stood II round about the throne, and about the elders, and about the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, "Amen: Blessing, and 12 glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
And one of the elders spoke, saying to me, 13 "Who are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" And I said 14 to him, "Sir, thou knowest." And he said to me, "These are they who came out of great affliction, and have washed their robes, and made them white, in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, 15 and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne will dwell
covenant: for who else could have the seal of the living God, even the Holy Spirit, by which his servants are sealed to the day of redemption? By his gospel he came from the east, and diffused his heavenly light among the wes tern and European parts of the empire. Many in these parts were called and sealed with the Spirit as the servants of God. During the reign of Constantine, great numbers embraced the faith, and though many did it to court favour, yet doubtless there were numbers of sincere converts.
3. Sealed the servants, &c. These are sealed to denote their belonging to God, and the assured protection which he would afford to them, from those calamities of which the four winds were symbols. See Ezek. ix.4.
4-8. The number, &c. This definite number signifies the christian church, now become the true Israel of God. Ephraim and Dan are not mentioned, perhaps on account of their total defection to idolatry.
9-12. After these things, &c. After having seen this prosperous state of the church on earth, and the servants of God sealed, I saw in vision the church in heaven joining in a solemn act of praise to him that sat on the throne and to the Lamb. And this was composed of an innumerable company out of all nations; and they wore white robes, and had palm-branches in their bands, in token of their final victory and triumph. While they ascribed their salvation to God, the angels joined them in an act of solemn worship and praise. If the number then saved could not be counted, how unable will any be to sum up the total of the redeemed at the last day!
Happiness of saints.
16 among them. They shall hunger no more, nor thirst any more: nor shall the sun strike 17 on them, or any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
A. D. 96. The seventh seal opened, and seven angels with each a trumpet sounds, and thunderings, and lightnings, and
appear; four of them sound and great plagues follow, &c.
Their prayers accepted.
golden censer; and there was given to him
13-17. Who are these, &c. This question was not asked for want of knowledge, but to excite attention-Came out of great, &c. They were on earth tried and tempted, and many suffered even to blood; but now they enjoy all the blessings acquired by the blood of Christ, and are holy and happy, being ever before the throne, and exempt from all kinds of want and sorrow; yea, enjoying all that they can enjoy.
CHAP. VIII. 1-5. Silence in heaven, &c. There are no events proper to the opening of the seventh seal, but it is introductory to the events denoted by the seven trumpets. The silence was a solemn and awful circumstance, and seemed to intimate some great events were to follow. Most think there is an allusion to the silence allowed for secret prayer among the people while jucense was offered in the temple. Luke i. 10- ·Seven trumpets, &c. The
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER VII. 1. When the violence of human passions, pride, lust, avarice, and ambition are considered, it is more wonderful that there should be intervals of peace, than that war should rage and make its dreadful ravages among mankind. This is owing to the restraining providence of God. And it is a remarkable instance of his favour, when he raises up powerful protectors of his church and people, and gives them rest from their enemies round about; and even still more so, when he excites the zeal of his ministers to spread his cause, and seals his servants by the gifts and graces of his Spirit. And though in such seasons of tranquility, the gospel-net may inclose the bad as well as the good, and many formal and hypocritical professors may creep into the church; yet the Lord knoweth them that are his, and will preserve them from the spirit and practice of such false professors of his name. With what pleasure will every spiritual Israelite reflect on the thousands of God's sealed ones; and how ardently will he desire, that their numbers may be increased. The seal is to be on their foreheads, visible to all who converse with them; teaching us that the work of the Holy Spirit, makes such a change in the temper, heart, and life, that God's servants may be known and distinguished from others.
2 "Are there few that will be saved?" was a question asked living waters. O may our future state be like theirs.
And the seven angels who had the seven 6 trumpets, prepared themselves to sound them. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there 7 followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and the third part of the earth was burnt up ;" and the third
7. • Griesb.
our blessed Lord, to which, he did not deem it proper to give a direct answer; but exhorted his followers to strive to enter in at the strait gate. This is unquestionably the duty of every man, to seek his own salvation. Judging from scripture, and from what we see in the world, the sincere, humble disciples o Christ are but a little flock, compared with the multitude of the wicked; yet when assembled in their Father's house above, they will be found a great multitude which no one can number. And how instructing is it, to be informed how they obtained their purity, conquered, and entered into the joy of their Lord. Not by works of righteousness which they had done, were they justified; nor did the tears of their repentance wash out the stains of guilt and depravity, nor the giving up their own life in the cause of Christ procure heaven for them. They were washed in the fountain opened for sin and pollution; they were clothed with the Redeemer's righteousness and sanctified by his Spirit; and by faith in their blessed Lord they obtained their victories, and entered heaven. Hence they ascribe their salvation to God and the Lamb. And what glory and happiness do they enjoy! They serve God day and night, without weariness! They hunger and thirst no more, nor do they suffer persecution; but the Lamb feeds them and leads them to the fountain of
seals foretold the state of the Roman empire, and the church within it, while it continued heathen; and the trumpets foretel the state of it, and of the church after it became professedly christian.—Another angel. The appearance of a Lamb was the symbol of Christ sacrificed for us; and this angel represented him, as a priest standing before the altar of incense, presenting the prayers of his people, and making intercession for them. Much incense, &c. From this we learn that the saints are men of devotion and prayer, and that their prayers are acceptable to God.The fire of the altar. Having consumed the incense, the angel took the burning coals from the altar, and cast them on the earth, as an emblem that great calamities were about to befal the empire, and this was shown by what followed, sounds, &c.
6, 7. Hail and fire, &c. A desolating thunder-storm very forcibly re
part of trees was burnt up, and every green herb was burnt up.
8. And the second angel sounded his trumpet, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part 9 of the sea became blood: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10 And the third angel sounded his trumpet, sounded his trumpet, and a great star, burning like a lamp, fell from heaven; and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the springs of 11 waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became bitter as wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER VIII. Who can think on the slaughters and devastation predicted, and which actually occurred, without mingled feelings of pity, humility, and gratitude; pity for the many innocent sufferers of this calamitous period, humility at the recollection of human crimes and barbarities, and gratitude that we live in times of peace, of security, and freedom. Dreadful as these scenes of blood, and desolation are, there is one thing to alleviate them and inspire hope and excite pleasure in the devout mind—the view given us of our exalted Redeemer, as the High-priest of our profession, standing before the altar, and rendering the prayers of his saints acceptable. In the most calamitous times his faithful, believing children, can find consolation in him; and when called to suffer in his righteous cause they are assured of gracious support, and final triumph
presents the direful effects of war. See Is. xxviii. 2.; xxix. 6. Ezek. xiii. 13. On the death of Constantine his three sons reigned in different parts of the empire; and though they adhered to christianity, as established by their father, as the religion of the empire, yet they dishonoured it by their crimes; and many gross corruptions prevailed in the church. They soon quarrelled and contended with each other, so that a destructive civil war raged for many years; while various parts of the empire were invaded and desolated by various hordes of German and other barbarians. The trees, the great men perished, so that in twenty-seven years, not one of the large family of Constantine was left. See Eutropius and Clodian.
and miseries foretold.
And the fourth angel sounded his trumpet, 12 and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so that the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night in like manner.
And I looked, and heard an angel flying 13 through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Wo, wo, wo, to the inhabiters of the earth because of the other blasts of the trumpet of the three angels, which are about
8, 9. A great mountain, &c. The period of the first trumpet endured from the death of Constantine to the death of Theodosius, A. D. 395, when this second was sounded. A mountain signifies a kingdom, in the style of prophecy, or the strength of it, its metropolis. See Jerem. ii. 25. The sea denotes, or is a symbol of people, Rev. xvii. 15.; and a burning mountain cast into it, strongly represents the dreadful effects of an invading conquering army, burning the habitations, and seizing or destroying all before them. Now what is here predicted occurred. The year 400, Sigonius says, was the most calamitous that had ever befallen the empire. Alaric, at the head of the Goths, like a burning mountain, entered Greece, slew all the men, and gave the women and the children, with all the spoil of the country, to his troops. Five years after other fierce hordes entered Italy, and occasioned great slaugh
and happiness. Such revolutions and wars, slaughters and devastations, are under his guidance and control, and are intended to show his wrath against the nations that possess and abuse his truth, and to be an awful warning to future times. And what are these temporal plagues inflicted on the unbelieving, and disobedient, but awful preludes of the wrath to come. O let sinners take warning, and flee from the wrath to come, to Jesus as the only safe refuge, and secure hiding-place. Then when the hail and fire are poured down, and burning mountains are cast into the sea, and the rivers and springs of water are dried up; and when the sun and moon are darkened, and gloom and horror prevail, will the believing soul find peace, and enjoy an assured hope of deliverance and salvation; yea in such seasons he will be happily exempt from fear.
ter; and the next year many of the provinces were invaded, and the maritime power of Rome greatly weakened. In 409 Alaric invaded Italy, and took Rome. See Sigonius.
10, 11. A great star, &c. This image is nearly similar to the former; and its effects are similar. After Rome had been once taken, many of the provinces were torn from it, and began to form independent states. In the year 427 Genseric invaded Africa, and founded a new kingdom there; and Italy and other parts were ravaged by Alita and the Huus. In 455 Genseric passed over from Africa, took Rome and plundered it; and in 476 Odoacer put an end to the Roman power in Italy, and the Gothic kingdom was founded. How many perished by these wars, and died of these bitter waters!
12. The sun, &c. Lowman applies this to the final removal of all government from Rome, when it was made subject to the Exarchate of Ravenna, when she that had been mistress of the nations was degraded, her sun, moon, and stars being covered with darkness. This occurred about 566. An angel excites attention, by calling the next, Wo trumpets. Gibbon, though hostile to revolution, has, in his decline and fall of the Roman empire, unintentionally contributed to illustrate and confirm the truth of these prophesies. See his history, and the concluding Reflections of the 38th Chapter.
CHAP. IX. 1, 2. A star fall. An angel came down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, or hell, and he opened, whence seemed to issue such a smoke as darkened the whole bemisphere, to denote that
Mahomet and his imposture
and to him was given the key of the bottomless 2 pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and a smoke arose out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the 3 pit. And out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth; and to them was given power, as 4 the scorpions of the earth have power. And !. it was commanded them that they should not hurt the herb of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree; but only those men that had not 5 the seal of God on their foreheads. And to the locusts it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he stingeth a man. 6 And in those days will men seek death, and will not find it; and shall desire to die, and death 7 shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like to horses prepared for war; and on their heads were as if golden crowns, 8 and their faces were as the faces of men. And
God in righteous judgment was about to permit Satan and his instruments to inflict judgments, and propagate the most destructive errors in the world. That these verses announce the rise and progress of the Mahometan imposfure is generally admitted. Early in the seventh century, about 606–608, Mahomet pretended to extraordinary intercourse with God, declaring that he had been in heaven, and had there learned a new religion, which he was to propagate in the world, and assumed to himself the character of a prophet, and formed a system, partly from Judaism and christianity, and adapted to the genius of the people, among whom he began to spread it. The key given him to open the bottomless pit, was' a fit emblem of the power God was pleased to permit him to acquire, for the spreading of his delusions, as if hell itself had been opened. By degrees he united many in his cause, and became not only their religious teacher, but their leader and commander in the wars, which he undertook to propagate his errors. He had never been a minister of the gospel; and hence some think that the star which had fallen from heaven, denotes corrupt and wicked christian teachers of the gospel, who gave occasion to his imposture, and to the success of it.
and ravages foretold. they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they 9: had breast-plates, as breast-plates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots with many horses rushing to battle. And they had tails like scorpions, and stings 10 were in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over 11 them, the angel of the bottomless pit; whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue he hath the name Appollyon. [THE DESTROYER.] One wo is past; 12 behold, two woes more come hereafter.
And the sixth angel sounded his trumpet, 13 and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God, Saying to 14 the sixth angel who had the trumpet," Loose the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." And the four angels were 15 loosed, who were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. And the number of the 16 1
́3. Locusts, &c. To intimate their number and ravages, and as being a proper emblem of the Arabs, among whom locusts abound.- As scorpions. Whose sting produces inflammation and great torment.
4-6. Hurt the herb, &c. These locusts were to act contrary to the natural ones; and one of the laws of Mahomet was, "that his followers should sparé fruit-trees and the produce of the ground, when they invaded a country." These locusts were only to hurt and torment those corrupt and wicked men, whom God had given up to their power; and though many perished in the wars of the Saracens, yet their conduct towards those they conquered, fulfilled what is here said. They reduced them to captivity, or exacted the heaviest tribute, profaned churches, made proselytes, and treated women with a brutality worse than death. Lowman and Newton have collected sufficient || evidence of these things." 4441
7-12. Like to horses. The head of the natural locust is like that of the horse; and these seemed to carry men wearing crowns. The Arabs had a formidable cavalry, and wore turbans. – ·They had hair, &c. This also deVOL. II. PART XXV. 3 P
scribes that people, as they suffered their hair to grow; and had teeth like lions, were strong to devour.And stings were, &c. See verse 5. They spread the poison of their error wherever they came. Five months As locusts appear during five months, from April to August, so the expeditions of the Arabs usually lasted about that period.A king, &c. Mahomet and the Caliphs, his successors, both in power and in imposture, justly called "the destroyer," both as to this and another state. This wo commenced with the rise of the Mahometan imposture, about 606, and extended to 675, in which period they subdued all Arabia, Egypt, and other parts of Africa, Judea, Syria, Chaldea, and Persia.
13, 14. From the golden alta The altar of incense, in the most Holy place; and this seemed strongly to express that no intercession should prevail to prevent the execution of the following wo. -The four angels, &c. Mede, who applies what follows to the rise of the Turkish empire, supposes that the four angels were emblems of the four governments of the Turks in Asia; but Lowman, after Daubuz, considers that the number expresses universality. Thus the four corners of the earth mean all the parts of the earth, Is. xi. 12. ;, and the four winds, all the winds., Jerem. xlix. 36. By quarrels and feuds about the succession to the Caliphate, or throne, on the death of Othman, 655, the Saracen power was checked, and the family of Mahomet was destroyed., Furious battles were fought near the Euphrates; and so much was the Mahometan power weakened, that several Caliphs paid tribute to the Greek emperors. This continued for about fifty years, when the Caliph Wallid having, united the empire, passed into Europe, and such was his success as to threaten the extinction of the christian name. They entered Spain with an army of one hundred thousand men, and destroyed the kingdom of the Goths. The devastations and sufferings of the people were carried to the utmost extreme, They passed into France, where they were met by the celebrated Charles, Martel, at the head of a valiant army, who obtained one of the most decisive victories, and in which three hundred thousand Mahometans and their General were slain. This victory saved Europe from their hateful dominion; and they were gradually expelled from Spain. See Mariana. 15, 16. For an hour, a day, &c.
The time they are permitted to afflict, 481
Great numbers destroyed,
yet the rest do not repent. army of the horsemen was two myriads of my- | power of the horses" was in their mouth, and 17 riads: for I heard the number of them. And in their tails: for their tails were like serpents, afterward I saw the horses in the vision, and and had heads, and with them they do hurt. those that sat on them, having breast-plates And the rest of the men who were not killed 20 of fire, and of jacinth, and of brimstone: and by these plagues, repented not of the works the heads of the horses were as the heads of of their hands, that they should not worship lions: and out of their mouths issued fire, and demons, and idols of gold, and of silver, and 18 smoke, and brimstone. By these three scourg- of brass, and of stone, and of wood: which can es," the third part of men was killed, by the neither see, nor hear, nor walk: Nor repented 21 fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, 19 which issued out of their mouths. For the nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
CHAP. IX. 18. Griesb.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER IX. 1. It is a righteous pro cedure in the divine dispensations, to leave men to become the victims of error and of judgment, who have enjoyed the light of truth, but hated it, because their deeds were evil. How often has God given such up to a reprobate mind, to work all iniquity with greediness. He has suffered some apostates from the truth, to invent and propagate the most palpable absurdities; and yet corrupt and depraved christians have been ready to embrace them, in preference to his own holy word. Thus he gives up men who have no pleasure in the truth, to believe a lie; and such characters combined spread around them desolation and ruin. They resemble him whose children they are; and like him are the true adversaries of God and all good men; and are indeed Apollyon's, destroyers. What efforts has the devil made to extinguish the light of the glorious gospel, at one time by exciting his instruments to persecute and destroy its professors; and at another, by false teachers, and bold daring imposters. And what a proof is it of man's depravity, that when men come in their own name, without any divine credentials, so many are ready to receive them! So it was when the Arabian imposter arose, and so it is yet. He founded his empire in blood, and it has been perpetuated in the same manner; and slavery. and misery, have been the portion of those under it. What a state for men to long for death, and yet not be able to find it! This is the
men is accurately determined; and they were ready at any period to accomplish this event; and the numbers of this people were incredible, even myriads of myriads. Those who apply this part of the prophecy to the Turks, take the "hour, day, month, and year," to include a period of three hundred and ninety-one years, in which they were chiefly successful, and extended their empire, and possessed large provinces both in Asia and Europe.
17-19. In the vision. Both the horses and their riders appeared very terrible, having breast-plates red as fire, mingled with the blue of the jacinth, and the yellow of sulphur; and from the mouths of their horses issued fire and smoke and brimstone, to denote how formidable and dreadful they were when marching on to battle. And the destruction they made was according to their appearance; for by these scourges a third part of men, very many, were killed, where ever they came.The power of the horses, &c. Mede and others, who apply this to the Turks, explain the fire and brimstone to mean the use of gunpowder, and of heavy artillery, which they used at the siege of Constantinople; but Lowman observes, that the emblem of the breast-plates and horses, whence issued fire, &c. agrees well with the terror they inspired, and the destruction they occasioned. They had heads on their tails, most pro
19. a Griesb.
emblem of hell; for there will the victims of justice long for death, for the utter extinction of being, but will not find it.
2. We may rejoice that the Lord hath a hook in the nose, and a bridle in the mouth of every boasting enemy, by whatever method he threatens to subvert his cause. He gives deceivers or destroyers power, till his own purposes of judgment or correction are accomplished; and then he cuts them off, or lays them aside at his pleasure. Thus one woe comes on after another, on hypocrites and corrupt churches; but they who have the seal of God on their foreheads, cannot be hurt. The attentive reader of scripture and history, may find his faith and hope increased by those events, which fill his heart with horror and anguish; while he observes on the one hand men's ingenuity, and indefatigable industry, and perseverance in the work of destruction; and whi on the other, he reads and hears, that the rest of men, who escape, repent not of their evil works, but go on in their idolatry, inpiety, infidelity, oppression, and sensuality, until wrath come upon them to the uttermost. When God's judgments are in the earth men will not see or acknowledge his hand, so as to humble themselves, seek his mercy, and bow to his will; and assuredly he will at last dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel, Nor let any presume, because judgment is not executed speedily against an evil work; for the longer it is delayed the heavier it will fall.
bably to denote, as before, the hurt they did by the poison of their false doctrines.
20, 21. Worship demons. The spirits of men departed, and especially those called saints; and idols or images of gold, silver, brass, and stone, as their representatives, to whom they weakly and wickedly offered up their prayers and praises.- -Murders, &c. Of those who opposed their corrup tions.Sorceries. Or poisonings, which have been very common in Italy; but some think charms, exorcisms, and lying miracles, to be meant. And yet they continued to practise the grossest impurities, allowing stews and brothels publicly, and robbing men by unjust exactions, &c. Lowman remarks that christians were reproached for their worshipping images by the Mahometans, and that about this time the Emperor ordered all images to be removed from churches; but Gregory II. the Pope, opposed his order, and even had the boldness to excommunicate him, and to forbid the people of Italy to pay taxes to him. Indeed the priesthood defended the worship of images with such obstinacy, that it was established by the authority of councils, both in the east and west. So far were corrupt christians from repenting, that they persisted in their idolatry and sins.