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before.— I cannot but add that the intimation seems to me to imply a settlement of the great premillennial question. For how could the saints' blessedness and reward be viewed as imminent, if a millennium of the spiritual evangelization of the world were expected to precede it ?
3. Next appeared a symbolization of what is called the harvest of the earth: a harvest followed immediately by what is designated as its vintage. So the type of things natural is here used, as often elsewhere also, in the figuration of things spiritual :—the same succession and order characterizing these providential ingatherings of the mystical earth's fruits, which characterized the natural ingatherings in the land of Israel.
But what the nature of the harvest figured ? Was it one of mercy, or of judgment ? of the good, or of the bad ? On this point commentators differ : the majority of the best-known living expositors taking it, I believe, in the former view,' the majority of their predecessors in the latter. The symbol, we must observe, is of itself indeterminate. In our Lord's notable parable,—which ends with the explanatory statement, “The harvest is the end of the world (alwyos, age), the reapers are the angels,”—there is described a two-fold produce, of wheat and of tares, as alike grown up in the harvest-field ; and a two-fold reaping correspondent, of judgment and of reward,—the former, it seems, to precede the latter : “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." Similarly St. Paul speaks of men reaping at the last what they sow, in two different kinds of harvest : “ He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap destruction ; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."? Thus the circumstance of our Lord's having on one occasion spoken, in altogether a good sense, of “the fields being white unto harvest,” 3_with reference, however, not to men's preparedness for gathering into his heavenly kingdom, but only into the kingdom of grace in its preparatory earthly state,---and again in St. Mark having said of the good seed of the kingdom, “When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come, cannot decide the present question. In these two passages it is the context which determines the nature of the seed, and of the harvest. And it is similarly from the context of the present passage that we must decide the nature of the harvest here intended.
· The passage is as follows:
xiv. 14. “And I looked, and behold a white cloud: and upon the cloud one sate like unto a son of man ;* having on his head a golden crown,t and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sate on the cloud, Thrust int thy sickle, and reap : for the time is come for thee to reap: for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16. And he that sate on the cloud thrust in || his sickle on the earth : and the earth was reaped.”
2 The barley harvest was finished at the Passover, when the sanctifying homer was presented; the wheat harvest at the Pentecost, when the first-fruits were offered; the vintage not until the Feast of Tabernacles, at the end of the ecclesiastical year, and of the crops.
3 E. g. Mr. Cuninghame and Mr. Bickersteth. The former considers it as the gathering of such of his saints to Christ, on his coming in the air, as answer to the palm-bearers of chap. vii : for, if I rightly understand him, he has adopted the singular theory of two distinct translations of the saints alive at his advent. See his Work, pp. 322, 323. The latter (on Prophecy, p. 363) calls it, “ The harvest of mercy,” in contradistinction to "the vintage of wrath.” Mr. Cuninghame refers to Sir I. Newton and Bishop Horsley as agreeing in this view. Bishop Jebb too adopts it. On verses 15 to 18, he says : Put in thy sickle to the corn of the just, and the vine of the unjust.” And so again Mr. Brooks.Mr. Faber is an exception.
* E. g. Mede, Vitringa, Bishop Newton : and long before them Victorinus ; who construes it, as well as the vintage, “de gentibus perituris in adventu
Ouolov viw av@pwarov' without the article. So in all the manuscripts. + sεφανον χρυσουν. #heuyov literally send. şefnpavon, dried.
ll Or, threw his sickle ; eBadev.
And, after considering this, I find myself forced to view the harvest as one of judgment. 1st. The circumstance of its being called the harvest of the earth strikingly points to this conclusion : the term earth being always, as Jerome observes, used in the Apocalypse in a bad sense ; and the saints noted in it as not of an earthly citizenship, but heavenly.”—2. To the same effect is the designation of the reaping sickle as a sharp one. For the
Domini.” Daubuz advances the singular theory of the symbol signifying the separation of the good (i. e. good in profession) from the bad, at the Reformation. i Matt. xiii. 39. 2 Gal. vi. 8.
3 John iv. 35.
4 Mark iv, 29. 5 ο θερισμος της γης. 6 See my Note 3 at p. 390 of Vol. i.
7 So Apoc. xiii. 6, &c.-Compare Phil. iii. 20.
Apocalypse is a book peculiarly select in its epithets : and surely this would be a strange epithet to designate a gathering painless and most blessed, such as Enoch's and Elijah's, of the then living saints to their heavenly home. ' 3. The dried state of the produce at the time when the sickle is put in to cut it, “ Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is dried up,” (so it is in the original,) 2—forbids the idea of its being a harvest of wheat, or other good produce. Does the agriculturist wait his corn being dried up before reaping it? Alike Scripture and profane writers, the ancient and the modern husbandry, rule the thing otherwise. Thus the lexicographer infers from the simple word empayon that a harvest of judgment is here intended.4—4. Nor is such a use of the harvest-emblem unknown in other prophecies. Especially in the only parallel one where the symbols of harvest and vintage are conjointly used, in symbolization of the events of the great consummation, viz. in Joel iii. 13, there cannot be a doubt, I conceive, as to the one, as well as the other, being symbols of judgment. " Let the heathen be awakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe : come, get you down, for the press
To the same effect the epithet sharp is applied to the instrument used presently after in the vintage, as a sickle of judgment. Daubuz (p. 646) allows that this its designation implies something violent and painful in the act done by it ; and so explains it of the wars of the Reformation.
εξηρανθη. . 3 The Scriptural view of the time for cutting the corn, is given in two passages a little while since referred to :-the one, John iv. 35, where the fields are said to have been "white unto the harvest;" the other, Mark iv. 29, where the harvest-time is said to have come, and the sickle to be immediately put in, drav Tapa w d Kaptos, i. e. when the fruit hath put itself forth, as come to maturity. See Schleusner on tapadidwul.- Compare what is said of the dried state of a plant as dead, Matt. xiii. 6, James i. 11, 1 Peter i. 24.
Of classic writers I shall quote with Daubuz from Virgil and Columella. The former (Eclog. iv) notes the time to be when “ Molli paulatim flavescet campus aristâ :" where mark the molli, as well as the flavescet. The latter writes ; “Æqualiter flavescentibus jam satis, antequam ex toto grana indurescant, cùm rubicundum colorem traxerint, messis facienda est.”—And Pliny, “ Oraculum biduo celerius messem facere, potius quàm biduo serius.” Nat. Hist. xviii. 30.
4 " Ex multorum interpretum sententiâ per metaphoram innuitur ad pænam maturuisse adversarios religionis Christianæ, mensurà peccatorum impleta : quod magis verisimile est," &c. Schleusner on Enpalvw.
* E. g. Isa. xvii. 5, 11, (cited by Mede) spoken of a harvest of sorrow,
is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great." In fact it is scarcely possible to read this an impression of its being the actual original of the Apocalyptic imagery of the harvest and the vintage; relating to the same events, and marking their character.
Thus, on the whole, we may, I think, confidently conclude on the harvest of the earth here figured depicting the first grand act of the judgments of the consummation on Antichristendom; as the vintage was meant to signify the second. And, judging from what we find stated in the other series of Apocalyptic prophecy, and its two-fold distinction of the judgments of the consummation into one by fire on Babylon, and a second by fire and the sword on the Beast and his fol. lowers, I can scarcely hesitate at identifying this harvest of the earth with the first-mentioned judgment of burning. I am confirmed in this by the empayon, the dried up state of the figured harvest. For the dry and noxious weed is fit only for burning. So Tichonius, “ Aruit messis terræ, id est ad combustionem parata est.”3 Let me add a very unintended comment from the cyclical Letter of a Roman Pope ; where he speaks of the harvest-field of Christendom appearing, like a field grown over with weeds, “ rather dried up in preparation for burning, than white in preparation for harvest.” 4— If the earth itself have to suffer, as in the time of Noah, with its evil produce; what wonder ? " The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing ; whose end is to be burned.",
· Such is very much the view of Mede and Vitringa. ? Compare the Jewish proverb, “ If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?” Luke xxiii. 31: also John xv. 6, " It is cast forth as a branch, and is withered (eenpavon); and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Compare too the burning of "all that grew on the ground," in the case of Sodom. Gen. xix. 25. 3 Hom, xii. ad fin.
4 “Agerque potius arescere videatur ad ignem, quàm albescere inveniatur ad messem.” Pope Gregory X's Letter. Hard. vii. 669.
So too, I see, Bernard, in his Letter to Pope Eugenius, ii. 6, De Consideratione ; " Leva oculos, et vide regiones, si non sunt magis siccæ ad ignem, quàm albæ ad messem.”—And somewhat similarly also Hermas, of old, in his 3rd and 4th Similitudes.
This main point of the vision settled, we need not to be long detained by its details.—It was one like a son of man, sitting on a white cloud, that appeared holding the sharp sickle of execution, and to whom the charge was transmitted from the inner temple, “ Thrust in thy sickle, for the harvest is ripe.” And both his likeness to a son of man,' and the white lightning-cloud : his chariot,' concurred to point out the God-man, Christ Jesus, as the person intended.—Yet not so as to indicate this being the occasion of his great predicted second advent with the clouds of heaven, when every eye shall see him. We must remember that the visibility of Christ to the Evangelist here in vision, no more shows that he would be personally visible at the time and in the events so foreshown, than his appearance in an earlier part of the Apocalyptic visions robed in a cloud, and with his face shining as the sun ; 5 which, we saw reason to believe, symbolized the spiritual discovery of his gospel-grace and salvation at the Reformation. I conceive it was intended to designate Christ as the great initiator of the final judgments, just as the subsequent notice of his treading the wine-press 6 marked him out as their completor : agreeably with his declaration ; “ The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." 7—The golden crown that he wore, implied his having come forth in the character of a conquering warrior over his enemies : 8/so is each symbol of power,
1 Heb. vi. 7, 8. ? Compare John v. 27, Apoc. i. 13, where the article before son is also wanting.
3 λευκη νεφελη. Compare the λευκος εξαρραπτων of Luke ix. 29. 4 “He maketh the clouds his chariot.” Psalm civ. 3. Vitringa compares Isa. xix. 1, where the Lord is said to ride on a swift cloud to execute judgment on Egypt.-See too Vol. ii. p. 40, Note : • Apoc. x. 1. 6 Apoc. xix. 15.
7 John v. 22. It is possible that this vision may also have allusion to Christ's statement, in his memorable prophecy of the end of the world, Matt. xxiv. 30, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son man in heaven ; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn :"-i.e. if, as some think, the sign of his coming be something distinct from, and the immediate precursor of, his coming itself.
& Compare Isa. ix. 5; "For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, &c. And the government shall be on his shoulder :" &c.