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THE FIRST GENERAL DESCRIPTION CONCLUDED: OR THE SOUNDING
OF THE SEVENTH ANGEL.
Chap. xi. 14-19
The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15 And the seventh angel sounded: and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the king doms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets; and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great, and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
After the great earthquake, we hear, as it were, the cry of the Watchmen, telling us the hour of the night-" The second woe is
past, and behold the third woe cometh quickly!" When the first woe was past, the second and third woes were to come hereafter; but between the last two there would be but a short space. As things should approach to a crisis, events would occur in more rapid succession.
The second woe, as it introduced the Turkish horsemen, (Chap. ix. 13-19.) must have commenced about 1281, and, (if the falling of a tentu part of the city has been rightly interpreted,) ended about 1791. Its having commenced with the introduction of the Turks does not prove that it comprehended them only, nor that it must needs end with the passing away of their empire. On the contrary, the accomplishment of their overthrow seems to be reserved for the sixth vial of the third woe-trumpet, which will be poured upon the Euphrates, near the times of the Millennium.
But it may be asked, How is it that the sounding of the trumpets should be introduced in this place? If this and the three following chapters contain general descriptions of the papal apostasy, including the times of various trumpets, but not divided by them, how is it that in the midst of one of these descriptions mention should be made of the second woe ending, and of the third woe coming quickly? I answer, Though these general descriptions are not divided by trumpets, yet as they comprehend the times of the trumpets, each of them might have been so, and for our information one of them actually is so. And as the termination of the sixth, and the sounding of the seventh trumpets forms an era in the church of Christ, it is here marked with peculiar emphasis. It is from this era, as we shall find, that after these three general descriptions are given, the series of the prophecy is resumed, and the vials are introduced.
But if the sounding of the seventh angel form an era in the Christian church, it requires that we pause, and pay particular attention to it.
The events of this trumpet were anticipated by the angel, at the distance probably of more than a thousand years, when he forbad the seven thunders to be written-" The days of the voice of the
seventh angel, when he should begin to sound,” are marked as the period when the great designs of heaven, foretold in prophecy, should be accomplished. Chap. x.
The contents of this trumpet are of deeper interest than any that have preceded it, both to the enemies of the church and to the church itself. It wears a two-fold aspect. Towards the enemies of the church it is a woe-trumpet, and a signal of mighty vengeance: towards the church itself it is a harbinger of joy, a kind of jubilee-trumpet, announcing the year of enlargement; for when the "seventh angel sounded, there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever!" Under the first of these aspects it includes the last seven plagues, which are but so many subdivisions of it, and which are, I conceive, the execution of the seven thunders in Chap. x. These thunders, it is observable, are not only referred to "the days of the voice of the seventh angel," but to those in which he should begin to sound," that is, to the early part of them. Under the last aspect, it comprehends all the success of the gospel previous to, and during the Millennium, with all the glorious results of it as described in the remainder of the prophecy. We are not to consider it, however, under either of these aspects as being more than a signal of things which are to follow. As the vengeance will not all be poured forth at once, so neither will the kingdoms of this world at once become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: but from the sounding of this trumpet both shall have a commencement, and both be singularly progressive under it.
With respect to the time, if the application of the "earthquake and the falling of a tenth part of the city" to events which have occured within the last twenty years, be just, there can be little if doubt of the seventh angel's having sounded his trumany pet within that period, and of the whole of these verses containing a general view of the state of things from our times to the commencement of the Millennium.
On this occasion the heavenly chorus strikes up. The four and twenty elders who sit before God on their seats, fall upon their
faces and worship God. This heavenly chorus is not introduced on ordinary occasions. Things must therefore be pending of deep interest to the church of God. By the matter of the song we may learn something of what they are. Corresponding with the twofold aspect of the seventh trumpet, those who have destroyed the earth are to be destroyed, and those who have suffered for Christ are to be rewarded.
The character under which the Most High is praised, “ The Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come," seems to imply that he could have suppressed the power of his enemies at any time; that though for wise reasons he had not for ages past exerted his strength, yet now he was about to "take unto him his great power, and to reign;" and that all this is the result of his immutable counsels.
The "anger" of the nations had been great both against God and his servants, opposing him, and persecuting them with unrelenting cruelty but now his wrath is come; now the blood of the martyrs of past ages shall be avenged; now their labours and sufferings shall produce their effects; from the seed which had been sown during a succession of centuries in tears and blood, a harvest of joy will spring up; finally, those who by persecutions, corruptions, and unjust wars, have destroyed the earth, shall now be themselves destroyed.
Under the image of opening the heavenly temple, seems to be set forth the glorious state of the church when these judgments shall be executed upon her enemies. As the temple was polluted and shut up under certain idolatrous reigns, and opened in times of reformation, so the gospel temple has been treated under the reign of antichrist, and so it shall be restored at or towards the end of the 1260 years. "The ark of the testament being seen,' implies the removal of the vail; and as it was not to be seen in the second temple, but only in the first, its being seen here would seem to denote the restoration of pure primitive Christianity, as
*Chap. xviii. 20.
it was taught, believed, and practised, when the gospel temple was first erected. "The lightning, voices, thunderings, earthquake, and hail," are the same things which are described under the seventh vial. Chap. xvi. 18-21. Both refer to the same events; only this is general, and that more particular: and as there the language seems to refer to the efficacy of the gospel, and of the spiritual judgments on those who reject it, purifying the moral atmosphere of the world, such appears to be its meaning here.