« PreviousContinue »
5 And I heard the angel of wast, and shalt be, because thou the waters say, Thou art right- has judged thus. eous, O Lord, which art, and 6 For they have shed the Austin in his first books, De Civitate Those who wish to look further at this Dei, written on purpose to defend the matter are referred to the paragraph Christian religion from that charge on the angelology of the Apocalypse, which was laid upon it, that it brought and the classification of the angels, down all judgments upon the empire. as given in the note under v. 2. Which being false, as it was urged by Thou art righteous, O Lord, &c., the heathens to the prejudice of Chris- because thou hast judged thus. - The tianity, viz., that the judgments came substance of this was sung by the for that sin of permitting Christianity Gentile Christians who stood on the in the empire, and contempt of their sea of glass : “Great and marvellous idol-worship; so was it most true, are thy works, Lord God Almighty ; that for the heathens standing out and just and true are thy ways, thou King persecuting the Christian faith, most of saints. Who shall not fear thee, heavy wasting judgments were come O Lord, and glorify thy name? For upon them.” So far Dr. Hammond; thou only art holy: for all nations shall and how signal a proof does he fur- come and worship before thee ; for thy nish that the Roman Empire was judgments are made manifest ;" XV. judged. The heathen writers them- 3, 4. God, whose existence filled the selves acknowledged it; but the wor- present, the past, and the future, was shippers of the beast, in their great just and righteous in the midst of his blindness, knew not that their own judgments. The persecutors had shed wickedness was the cause of these the blood of saints and prophets, and judgments, but attributed their trou. God had sent upon them sore judgbles to the existence of Christianity ments. in the empire, which had excited the 6. Shed the blood of saints and prophwrath of their deities against them. ets. — - This they were truly accused
Water became blood. — See what we of, as the reader will see, if he peruse have said on this subject under the xi. 7; xii. 17; xiii. 7, 15. The Jews preceding verse.
shed the blood of God's servants very 5. Angel of the waters. - This was freely; and the Romans did the same. one of the angels of the elements. The memory of Nero has been renThe Jews had a tradition that to the dered infamous throughout the world, different good angels were assigned for his murder of the innocent, unof. different stations, duties and charges. fending Christians. Having set fire, The language of the Apocalypse, in as it is said, to the city of Rome, he frequent cases, is based on these managed to throw the odium of that suppositions. Hence we read of the execrable action upon the Christians, four angels who had charge of the and thereby excited the public indigfour winds; vii. 1. Another had nation against them to the highest
power over fire;" xiv. 18; another degree. He gratified his own malice, presided over the altar ; xvi. 7; and and the malice of the populace which so the angel standing in the sun was he had himself inflamed, by putting the one who presided over the orb of the Christians to tortures and to death. day ; xix. 17. The imaginary being Some were covered with the skins of called “the angel of the waters," is wild beasts and worried to death by introduced, in order to bring out, in a dogs, and others were fastened to way corresponding to the style the crosses and wrapped up in combustible revelator employed, the solemn truths garments and set fire to, that the darkexpressed in the words he uttered. ness of the night might be no barrier blood of saints and prophets, to drink; for they are worthy. and thou hast given the blood 7 And I heard another out to the spectacle of their dreadful suf- sins require individual punishments. ferings. For such scenes as these, These judgments are sometimes Nero, it is said, lent his own gardens; dreadful, yet in all of them we are and exhibited at the same time the permitted to believe God has a kind public diversions of the circus, some and good end in view. He punishes times himself driving a chariot, and his creatures according to their de. sometimes standing as a spectator, serts. None are punished except while the groans of burning men and those who are worthy of punishment. women resounded in his ears. This “ Thou hast given them blood to drink, persecution abated, and the church for they are worthy.” They deserved had a respite for a short time, when it, and they were treated according to the wrath of the enemies or Christ their works. This is the principle on broke forth again under the reign of which the divine administration proDomitian. A third persecution began ceeds. See Psa. Ixii. 12; Matt. xvi. about A. D. 100, under Trajan; and 27; Rev. xx. 12; xxii. 12. other trials of the same kind under 7. Even so, Lord God Almighty. — his successors, so that before the con- The voice from the altar is represented version of Constantine, the first Ro- as acquiescing in the judgments. man emperor who embraced Christi- This voice is introduced in order to anity, ten general persecutions of the give the revelator occasion to say church have been enumerated. How what follows. | True and righteous true was it, then, that the Romans had are thy judgments. — One of the cardished the blood of saints and prophets. nal principles of all sound theology is, [ Given them blood to drink. - This that God is righteous in all his ways was a strong expression to show that - as righteous in his judgments as the judgments of God fell upon them in his mercies. He always has a for their cruelties.
- a hyperbole like good end in view. He never punishes that in xiv. 20 – “And blood came unnecessarily, nor more severely than out of the wine-press, even unto the is consistent with his character as the horse-bridles, by ihe space of a thou- Father of men. Every act is founded sand and six hundred furlongs.” God on the eternal principles of rectitude, promised to avenge the blood of his for he cannot do wrong. The prophservants upon the Jews; Matt. xxiii. ets were accustomed to speak of 34–36; so here he declares his judg- judgments as a bitter or disagreeable ments, in the same manner, upon the draught; and hence came the expres. Romans. See vi. 10, and compare sions, “the wine of the wrath of God;" with xviii. 24, and xix. 2. All this and “the cup of his indignation." was according to the ancient predic. In judgments of great severity, God tion, Gen. ix. 6: “Whoso sheddeth was said to feed men with their own man's blood, by man shall his blood flesh, and make them drunk with be shed." God employs men as their own blood. See Deut. xxxii. agents of his will. He punished the 42, 43; and Isa. xlix. 26. God judg. Romans by the troubles which came eth righteously ; Jer. xi. 20; Peter upon them in various parts of the ii. 23. From his very nature he canempire, especially by the wars and not do otherwise. All his judgments, bloodshed they had to encounter, and therefore, are true and righteous. The which they would in all probability sacred writers represent God as an have avoided, had they lived accord avenger; 1 Thess. iv. 6: he is terrible; ing to the requirements of justice and Psa. xlvii. 2: he is a God of judgbenevolence. National sins require ment; Isa. xxx. 18. His judgments national punishments, as individual' at times are indeed awful, inscrutable,
of the altar say, Even so, Lord |eous are thy judgments. God Almighty, true and right- 8 And the fourth angel poured and may well be called a great deep; forever, because he delighteth in merPsa. xxxvi. 6. But none of these cy. He will turn again, he will have descriptions are intended by the sacred compassion upon us; he will subdue writers to contradict the essential at- our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all tributes of the Deity. God's great their sins into the depths of the sea. and leading attribute is his goodness, Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, or rectitude. Again and again do the and the mercy to Abraham, which thou sacred writers declare that he is right hast sworn unto our fathers from the eous; and hence no description of his days of old;" vii. 18—20. 6 Whom judgments should lead us to attribute the Lord loveth he correcteth ;" Prov. anything unrighteous to him ; Exod. mi. 12. The title which is preëmi. ix. 27; 2 Chron. xii. 6; Psa. cxxix. 4; nently applied to God in the New cxlv. 17; Lam. i. 18; Dan. ix. 14. Testament is that of Father. « To The Lord is gracious; 1 Peter ii. 3. give our views of God in one word, He is good; Psalms xxxiv. 8; c. 5; we believe in his parental character. cxxxv. 3; cxlv. 9; Jer. xxxiii. 11; We ascribe to him not only the name Nah. i. 7. “He'is merciful and but the disposition and principles of gracious, slow to anger, and plen- a father – we believe that he has a teous in mercy. He will not always father's concern for his creatures; a chide; neither will he keep his anger father's desire for their improvement; forever. He hath not dealt with us a father's equity in proportioning his after our sins; nor rewarded us ac- commands to their powers; a father's cording to our iniquities. For as the joy in their progress; a father's readiheaven is high above the earth, so ness to receive the penitent; and a great is his mercy toward them that father's justice [ a father's justice) for fear him. As far as the east is from the incorrigible. We look upon this the west, so far hath he removed our world as a place of education, in transgressions from us. Like as a which he is training men by mercies father pitieth his children, so the Lord and sufferings; by aids and temptapitieth them that fear him;" Psa. ciii. tions; by means and opportunities of 8-13. He will never cast away various virtues ; by trials of principle; from his presence the mourning, peni- by the conflicts of reason and passion; tent soul, nor shut the door of mercy by a discipline suited to free and against the sinful, nor prevent them, moral beings; for union with himself, if they desire, from returning to him. and for a sublime and ever-growing "If his children forsake my law, and virtue in heaven."— (Dr. Channing's walk not in my judgments; if they Baltimore sermon.). God, then, is break my statutes, and keep not my truly merciful and gracious; Psa. cxi. commandments; then will I visit their 4; cxlv. 8; full of compassion, slow transgressions with the rod, and their to anger, and of great kindness; Eph. iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, ii. 4. He is long-suffering, very pitimy loving-kindness will I not utterly ful, and of tender mercy ; Numb. xiv. take from him, nor suffer my faithful- 18; Nah. i. 3; Jas. v. 11. He will ness to fail ;' Psa. lxxxix. 30–33. punish the wicked, all the wicked, Such is the government of our God - faithfully, adequately, but will not such is his tender mercy. How beauti- violate the principles of his nature, fully and forcibly does Micah say, which have now been described, and “ Who is a God like unto thee, that par- which are so frequently and earnestly doneth iniquity, and passeth by the recognized and asserted by the writers transgression of the remnant of his both of the Old and New Testaments. heritage ? he retaineth not his anger. Although in one sense his judgments
out his vial upon the sun; and the name of God, which hath power was given unto him to power over these plagues : and scorch men with fire.
they repented not to give him 9 And men were scorched glory. with great heat, and blasphemed 10 And the fifth angel poured are unsearchable; Rom. xi. 33; yet, upon the earth. The command to the we may be sure they are founded on seven angels was to pour out their the eternal principles of righteous- vials of wrath upon the earth. The ness; and we may praise God for effect of the fourth vial was felt nothem as being true and righteous where but on the earth, although it altogether; Psa. xix. 9; cxix. 7 ; Rev. was poured out upon the sun. Power xix. 2.
was given to the sun to scorch men 8. Upon the sun. — Changes in the [i. e., men on the earth] with fire. heavenly bodies denoted great politi- These plagues poured from the vials cal changes; but the intent here seems are all represented as being on the to be, that the sun's heat should be earth ; ver. 1. increased to that degree that men 9. Blasphemed the name of God. should be actually scorched with it. In consequence of their afflictions, The heat of the sun is sometimes ex- men blasphemed the name of God. ceedingly oppressive, and gives rise to They could endure with patience violent diseases, fevers, and especial- the plagues which were sent upon ly inflamation upon the brain. The them. They repented not to give most sickly portions of the globe are God glory. The Christians glorified those on which the sun has the most him, and said, “Great and marvellous power; and in other portions the most are thy works, Lord God Almighty; sickly seasons are those which are just and true are thy ways, thou King the warmest. The heat of the sun, of saints;" but the persecutors gloritherefore, being increased to such an fied him not. | And they repented not extraordinary degree as actually to to give him glory. They repented scorch men, denotes the severity of not. So it is said of the Jews, who the divine judgments, which came, fell under God's judgments: “The perhaps, in the form of pestilence. rest of the men which were not killed The blessings of the redeemed are by these plagues yet repented not of described in the following terms: the works of their hands;" ix. 20, 21.
They shall hunger no more, neither And because they repented not, they thirst any more; neither shall the sun were obliged to endure severer judglight on them, nor any heat;" Rev. ments still. They refused to glorify vii. 16. That figure was evidently God. The Christians, in the midst quoted from Isaiah xlix. 10 : “ They of their deepest tribulations, glorified shall not hunger nor thirst, neither him. Mystery Babylon glorified her. shall the heat nor sun smite them : self; xviii. 7; but the Christians said, for he that hath mercy on them shall “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, lead them, even by the springs of and glorify thy name?” xv. 4. God water shall he guide them.". It is a should be glorified in all things; similar metaphor when the blessings 1 Peter iv. 11. of the Messiah's kingdom are repre. 10. Upon the seat of the beast. - The sented as a grateful shade beneath a seat of the beast signifies the place of scorching sky; Isa. iv. 6; XXV. 4; his power. A more proper transla. xxxii. 2. Although the fourth vial tion would seem to be, the throne was poured out upon the sun, still we of the beast, not intending the very are to remember that no judgment is throne, the emperor's chair of state, intended except that which took place / but the place or city of his power, the
out his rial upon the seat of the and their sores, and repented beast; and his kingdom was not of their deeds. full of darkness; and they 12 And the sixth angel poured gnawed their tongues for pain, out his vial upon the great
11 And blasphemed the God river Euphrates; and the water of heaven, because of their pains thereof was dried up, that the central point of the empire. Where different the condition between the was the seat of the beast? or the place worshippers of the beast, and the ser. of his power? Was it not the imperial vants of Jesus. The former had no city ? || Full of darkness. The king- rest, day nor night; xiv. 11; they dom of the beast was full of dark- were maddened with pain; xvi. 10. ness, like the darkness of Egypt But the latter were blessed, while their that might be felt. | Gnawed their enemies were destroyed ; they rested tongues. The anguish of the wor- from their labors, and their works shippers of the beast is represented accompanied them wheresoever they as very great; they had no rest day went. nor night, as was foretold, xiv. 11. 12. Great river Euphrates. — EuThey gnawed their tongues for their phrates is called “the great river" pain. This is one of the most forci- in other parts of the Scriptures ; see ble figures to describe intense pain Gen. xv. 18; Deut. i. 7 ; Joshua i. 4. that the mind can conceive. In some It was the eastern boundary of the awful diseases, the sick man gnaws land given to the seed of Abraham ; his tongue. It is a horrid spectacle, see the texts already referred to, and and, thank God, is seen but seldom. Deut. xi. 24; 1 Chron. v. 9. When There have been cases, in which the the Israelites were conquered by the unhappy subject, suffering great pain, Romans, the Euphrates became the accompanied by delirium, has gnawed eastern boundary of the empire, and his tongue until it bore no resem- they never extended their conquests blance to what it was once. This beyond this. The sixth angel is repfigure is even more forcible, we think, resented, therefore, as pouring out than that of “gnashing the teeth,” his vial on that river, that the waters which occurs several times in the gos. thereof might be dried up, and that pels, though they are parallel expres- the way of the kings of the east might sions. The language is not to be con- be prepared, that is, that all hinstrued literally. It is clearly meta- drances to the approach of the opposphorical. If such were the conse- ing armies might be taken away, and quences attributable to the suffering that they might march on into Syria, of the wrath of God, — if men were and hasten the fall of the Roman made as it were mad, or delirious, by power. The revelator, perhaps, drew it, how properly was it represented in this figure from the early history of xiv. 10, by the wine of the wrath of his countrymen, for God divided the God, which inflames and intoxicates Red Sea for them to pass through. men, and drives their reason away. The Nile, also, is represented as being
11. Blasphemed the God of heaven. divided, that the Jews returning to So great was the pain represented their country might pass through dry to be, that the sufferers lost all pa- shod, Isa. xi. 15,-a figure like the tience, and broke out in blasphemy one occurring in the verse before us. against the Almighty; but they did the figure of the drying up of rivers not repent of their deeds. Their is sometimes used to represent great hearts, like Pharaoh's, were hardened. drought and want; in fact, we know They persisted in their wickedness. that the smaller rivers are sometimes See the remarks on ver. 9. How I totally dry in a time of great drought.