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his as having iron teeth. Daniel, chap. ii. 40, speaking of the fourth empire, describes it as being strong as iron ; and, as iron breaketh all things, so shall it subdue those which preceded it. Again, in chap. vii. 19, the beast which represented this state, is said to have teeth of iron, and nails of brass; and that it should break to pieces, and stamp the residue with his feet. Again, in chap. viii. 23, it is said, that when transgressors shall have come to the full, a king of fierce countenance shall stand up; his power shall be mighty; he shall DESTROY wonderfully, (be an Abaddon, A pollyon, Destroyer,) and shall prosper and practise, and shall DESTROY* the mighty and the holy people. Then we have an allusion to the vision of the evening and morning, already noticed more than once. Again, chap. ix. 26, the desolation is described as coming on like a flood.
This power, then, which the Scripture itself has determined to be the Roman, it is said, shall plague men for five months, i.e. for a certain indefinite period. In Dan. vii. 25, it is said, “ they, i. e. the saints of the Most High shall be given into his hand until a time,” &c. ; i. e. until another prophetical period shall commence. The vision of the evening and the morning, mentioned Dan. viii. 26, certainly relates to this period of doubt and uncertainty. Again, chap. ix. 26, after threescore and two weeks, the people of the prince are to come and to destroy; after this the end is to be. . See also Dan. xi. 30-39. Then at ver. 40, the end is to come. In ver. 12, a part of these visitations is pronounced to be the course of one woe.
13—21. The sixth angel sounds; after which, four angels which had been bound in the great river Euphrates, are set at liberty. His command is, “ Loose the four angels,” &c. Our first question here will be, Where are we to look for these four angels, &c. ? My answer is, in Daniel, chap. vii. 2, &c. unless I am much mistaken. The four winds, as here mentioned by our authorised version, may, as already remarked, be translated by the four spirits, &c.; but, in any case, the ministers of God may thus be depicted in symbolical language. Our version has here, strove upon the great
* It is true the Hebrew root 72» (ábad), is not here used; but of this I make no account; my question is about things, not words.
sea ; but this, I think, is incorrect. The Chaldee would be more literally rendered by, were rushing out, with regard to the great sea : i.e. were rushing out of the great sea, or were set at liberty, &c.; the particulars follow in the subsequent context. Some interpreters, with the Septuagint at their head, take this passage rather to mean, that these winds rushed into the great sea. I prefer the version already given, because the Chaldee verb here used, never means, as far as I know, to rush into any thing, but to rush out. If so, the angel's setting these ministers at liberty in the Revelation, is nothing more or less than an interpretation of the original prediction in Daniel. The last beast, however, mentioned by Daniel (ver. 7), is that principally had in view in the Revelation. An interpretation of this prediction is given to Daniel, in ver. 17, 18, &c.; and at ver. 19, the particulars respecting this fourth beast are stated, where his teeth of iron, as already remarked, are noticed. At ver. 21, he makes war upon the saints; at ver. 25, his antichristian character is stated; and at ver. 26 we have his fall. This is again the Roman power, beyond all doubt.
15. These four angels are commissioned to act for an indefinite time; and a third part of men is to be destroyed by them; they are not yet to make an end, because the period is not yet arrived, and because a remnant of all shall be sa ved.
17. We have a description similar to the foregoing; and it appears very probable, that this relates to the same power, rendered, as it should seem, still more furious. See 1 Chron. xii. 8; Is. v. 28–30, for similar phraseology. From the conclusion of this chapter, it should seem, that these visitations still fail of producing repentance.
Ver. 1. The angel here described seems to be the person of our Lord.
See Rev. i. 16; Ezek. i. 28; Matt. xvii. 2. 2-3. He has in his hand a little book; that of this prophecy or revelation probably.* See also Is. xlii. 13—17; Jer. xxv. 30–33; Hos. xi. 10; Joel, iii. 16, with the context, which can refer to none but these times.
*“ Liber apertus Apocalypsis est quem Johannis vidit.- Victorinus.
4. “Seal up those things,” &c. Place them among those so sealed by Daniel; or, refer believers to those for the more minute particulars relating to these times.
5, 6. An oath is made, that time shall no longer last;* i. e. that dispensation which was temporal shall now come to a final close. See Deut. xxxii. 40–43. 7. This mystery shall come to its due termination, as foretold by God's servants the prophets, as soon as the seventh angel shall begin to sound his trumpet. Dan. xii. 5—7, which can relate to no other period than that already alluded to.
8, 9. John is commanded to take and to eat the book ; which should be sweet, it is said, in his mouth, but bitter in his belly; i.e. it shall give pleasure, peace, and blessedness, to the believer in its declarations; but, as to his trials, it foretells them as bitter things indeed: many of them shall be slain, and otherwise tried. See Jer. xv. 16-18; Ezek. ij. 8-10; iii. 1-3, 14.
10, 11. The book is so eaten, and so found to the taste, &c.; the prophet is then commissioned again to prophesy in the face of, or against, many peoples, nations, and kings: not the Jews only, but the whole infidel world.
This captivity of the true Church or Zion, seems constantly in this book to be compared with the Babylonian; and hence it is, that the great heathen state carrying on this warfare is termed Babylon; and that John is, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, furnished, like Ezekiel, with a book, (ver. 1, 2), and sent to prophesy; and that here we find him measuring the temple, just as stated by that prophet, chap. xl. 3, &c.; (see also Zech. ii. 1,) where a man is seen measuring the temple. It is only the true temple here, however, which appears to be thus signalised; the outer court, with Jerusalem itself, is left out of the account, and given up to be trampled down by the Gentiles for a season (three and a half symbolical years). On this expression, see the concluding remarks.
* Arethas seems to say on this passage, as the increase of light shall be so great and constant, that there shall be no night, so there can be no measure of time; alluding perhaps to chap. xxi. 25, which see.
3. God's two witnesses have power given them to prophesy, i. e, to preach, during 1260 days (about three years and a half) clothed in sackcloth.*
4. They are said to be the two olive-trees (see Zech. iv. 3—11, 14), and also the two candlesticks which stand before God. From the description following, as well as the places in Scripture which appear to be referred to, these seem to represent the Law and the Gospel. +
7. When they shall have given their testimony completely, i.e. shall have called in the remnant of Israel and vast numbers from among the heathen, the beast # (Roman power) shall attack them, prevail, and cast them out for a time; and during this (three days and a half) they shall be considered as dead in Jerusalem; nevertheless, they shall not be buried. This is, perhaps, Zechariah's (ch, xiv.) time of doubtful light. Their heathenish enemies shall now exult, believing the victory to be complete ; || but upon the expiration of this period, God shall again inspire them with life; they shall stand erect; they shall be lodged in heaven, the Zion of God; and this their enemies shall witness. At this time (ver. 13) comes on a great earthquake; the far greater part of the city falls, and the remnant which fears, ascribes glory to the God of heaven. After this, ver. 15—18, the seventh angel sounds his trunipet, and the victory is proclaimed by the redeemed and triumphant Church, that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of Christ. See the parallel passages. . Here this second Vision appears to end. Ver. 19 commences the following one, containing the third woe, or third Vision, contained in this book.
* It is curious enough to remark, that the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus refers this, which it has evidently cited from the Revelation, to Enoch and Elijah, who, as it states, were immediately after the crucifixion to be sent to Jerusalem to fight with Antichrist, and to be slain by him. This is no doubt erroneous. I notice the place merely to shew what opinions were held in those days as to the times of Antichrist. See Jones on the Canon, vol. ii. pp. 316–320. Hippolytus the martyr also makes them Enoch and Elijah, and speaks of their preaching as taking place during the first half of Daniel's last prophetic week, and before the abomination of desolation should be set up. (Dan. secund. Sept. pp. 110–118.) The two persons, however, who stand on both sides of the river (Dan. xii. 5), he makes the Law and the Prophets.
+ The Law and the Prophets, however, might here be meant. Arethas first gives the Evangelists, and then the common opinion that they were Enoch and Elias. Victorinus, however, declares that these cannot be meant, and proposes the word of God.
The Roman power, as alluded to by St. Paul (2 Thess. ii. 4, &c.), according to Victorinus.
It “This persecution,” say the authors of the Universal History, vol. xv. edit, 1748, p. 502, note, “ which was the tenth and last general one, broke out on the 23d of February (A.D. 303), and raged ten whole years with a fury hardly to be expressed. ... Such numbers of Christians suffered death in all the provinces, that the tyrants imagining they had compassed their wicked intent, and entirely abolished Christianity, told the world in a pompous, but lying inscription, that they had extinguished the Christian name and superstition, and every where restored the worship of the gods to its former purity und lustre. But the Church triumphed," &c. The lying inscription alluded 5. The child born is a man child; and, from his office described, which is to rule the nations with a rod of iron, we can have no doubt that the Messiah is meant. See Ps. ii.
19. And the temple of God was opened, &c.
Here commences another exhibition of the difficulties, warfare, judgments, &c. attendant on the propagation of the Gospel.
CHAP. XII. Verse 1-4. And there appeared a great wonder ....a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, &c.; and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, &c. A great red dragon invested with immense earthly power, and who could command even a considerable part of the host of heaven or professing Church, stood before her ready to devour her child.
to is probably one of those preserved by Gruterus, p. cclxxx. (Græv. vol.i.) which are as follow : “ DIOCLETIANUS. JOVIUS. ET MAXIMIAN. HERCULEUS CAES. AUG. AMPLIFICATO. PER. ORIENTEM. ET. OCCIDENTEN IMP. ROM. ET NOMINE. CHRISTIANORUM DELETO.QUI.REMP. EVERTEBANT."-- DIOCLETIAN. CAES. AUG, GALERIO. IN. ORIENTE. A DOPT. SUPERSTITIONE. CHRI3T. UBIQ. DELETA. ET. CULTU. DEOR. PROPAGATO." An edict of Maximin to the same effect is to be found in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, lib. ix. cap. 8. How, I say, the Christians of those times must have been struck when they compared these events with the prophecies of this book !