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is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” In fact it is scarcely possible to read this passage without 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 emparon, 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
| 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 (e&opavon); 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. 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,
thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."
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 3 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. 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 of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the carth 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 tlie government shall be on his shoulder :" &c.
at first attached to the world's potentates, now transferred in the figuration to their rightful owner. - As to the Angel's cry to him from out the sanctuary of the divine presence, declaring the time of the harvest-judgment to have fully come, it well illustrates another of Christ's sayings, in his prophecy of the judgments attendant on the second advent. “ Of that day and hour knoweth no one ; no not the angels that are in heaven, nor the Son :" (i. e. not in his human character, as a Son of Man :) " but the Father only.” (Mark xiii. 32.)
So He that sat on the cloud cast down his sharp sickle upon the earth ; and the earth was reaped.
4thly,- and finally, as depicted (if my view be correct) on the outside of the Apocalyptic scroll,—there followed a vision of the earth's vintage and winepress-treading: 3 in figuration of judgment unto blood, as all allow, very dreadful; the last judgment visible upon this earthly scene (as the vintage was the last natural gathering) against apostate Christendom.
The vine to be gathered was called “the vine of the earth,” and designated, I imagine, first and chiefly, the
See Vol. i. p. 106. So too in the other prophetic series, to be considered in the next Section of this Chapter.
? The circumstance of the harvest of wickedness having grown more than ripe, as the word empaven seems to indicate, marks the prolonged forbearance of God.
3 17. “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over the fire: and cried with a loud voice to him that had the sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth ; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20. And the wine-press was trodden without the city; and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horses' bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”
4 With these two great judgments of the consummation,—that of the harvest and that of the vintage, against apostate Christendom, we may compare the two consummatory acts of judgment against the Jews, whereby their total subversion as a nation was effected : viz. Ist, the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; 2nd, the tremendous slaughter of their armies and people, fifty years after, by Hadrian. In which latter, after the battle of Bittera, the Magistri in the Coder Tuanith of the Jerusalem Targum, adopting, very remarkably, the Apocalyptic language here used, say that blood flowed up to the horses' noses for 1600 stadia." Vitringa, p. 902, quotes this from Lightfoot,
Ecclesiastical Body and Church of Anti-Christendom inclusive, however, of its chief secular supporters also. Like as of ancient Judah, so of Christendom it might have been said, “ I planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed; how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?”? For too soon, notwithstanding all its privileges, the Christian Church and people apostatized ; “ their vine degenerating into the vine of Sodom, their grapes becoming grapes of gall, their clusters bitter, and their wine the poison of dragons. ."3 For a greatly-protracted period the long-suffering of God was foreshown as bearing with it. But now that period was over : its clusters were more than ripe ; and its fated time of punishment, like that of the Jewish vine long before it,4 fully come. —The agent in the preliminary act of gathering the vine's clusters, appeared in the vision to be an Angel with a sharp sickle or pruninghook in hand, issuing forth from the inner temple in heaven. By his egress thence the divine origin of the coming judgment was intimated, just as in the previous cases of the judgments under the Trumpets and the Vials ;5 by the sharpness of the sickle, the severity of the judgment intended.6— As to the Angel that had to announce to the one just mentioned the precise moment for his putting in the sickle of execution, (such is the division of offices among the angelic hosts in God's providential government,) his description is remarkable both
1 So the Jewish vine signified, I conceive, the Jewish nation as a church, and with church privileges. See the figure in Isa. y.
* Jer. ii. 21.- Just before, Judah had been represented by the prophet as an unfaithful wife. So that there is a similar variety of images to figure Judah's apostacy there, with what we find to figure Christendom's apostacy here ;-in one place as a harlot, in another as a corrupt vine.
3 Deut. xxxii. 32.—Compare one of the Apocalyptic designations of Antichristendom as "the great city which is spiritually called Sodom ;" Apoc. xi. 8. Another represented it as the nominal but apostate Israel; Apoc. vii.-See too A. Clarke on Isa. v. 2.
Isa. v. 5, 6.-In Matt. xxi. 33 the figure is varied. 5 Apoc. viii. 2, xv. 6. 6 See what I have said on the reaper's sharp sickle just before.—The word Speravor is used in ancient authors as well for the instrument of pruning or cutting shrubs, as for reaping. See Daubuz ad loc. p. 652; who quotes Aristides Quintilianus saying, ως κλημα δρεπανω τεμεν. Also Virgil Bucol. iv. rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem :" and Horace, Od. i. 31, Premam Calenâ falce quibus dedit Fortuna vitem :" &c. VOL. IV.
as being the one "that had authority over the fire,”\(that is, the altar-fire,) and as appearing to come forth “ from out of the altar."? He answered evidently in the heavenly temple of vision to those Levitical priests of the Jewish earthly temple, whose office it was to keep the sacred fire ever burning on the altar, in order to the consumption of the daily holocausts and of the voluntary burntofferings and peace-offerings; as well as also to look to the ashes left from the burning, and take charge of them as sacred things. Thus his bearing part in the prefigured judgment might seem to indicate two things respecting it. 1st. It indicated that it was as a sacrifice to the divine justice that the vine was to be gathered, and its clusters trod in the wine-press; (very much as in a famous, and I believe not uncorrespondent prophecy of Ezekiel,4 as well as in that of Apoc. xix. 17, and others also :5)—the heaven-derived altar-fire 6 being the perpe-tual visible symbol among the Jews of God's justice ; and of its preparedness to consume all except those that might have made a covenant with Him in his own appointed way by sacrifice, and, through faith in the substituted offering of the Lamb of God, saved themselves. 2. It pointed to one special cause of God's wrath against the earth's inhabitants,-namely, their slaughter of the
εχων εξουσιαν επι του πυρος. .
εξηλθεν εκ του θυσιαςηριου, Observe εκ, not απο. * Lev. vi. 9-13.-With regard to the altar-fire, he had to supply it with wood every morning. With regard to the ashes, consumed with the burnt. offering, it was his direction first, and while in his linen garments, to put them beside the altar; then in other garments to carry them away to a clean place without the camp.—This was quite a different office from that alluded to in Apoc. viii. 3 (I beg attention to this point) of receiving and offering incense.
4 Ezek. xxxix. 17. 5 E. g. Isa. xxxiv. 6. In Apoc. xix. 17, the image is that of a supper. But the banquet and the sacrifice were, as is well known, continually united; both under the Jewish religion, and under those too of the heathen.—Daubuz observes on the frequent application of sacrificial words, such as ouw, macto, &c, to the slaughter of enemies : e. g. by Virgil, “ Pallas te hoc vulnere, Pallas immolat :” also how in some cases, as that of the slaughter of the Midianite by Phinehas (Numb. xxv. 13), it was accepted as a propitiatory offering.
Let me add in illustration, Jer. xxv. 30, where after notice of the wine-cup of God's fury being given to the nations, it is said, “The Lord shall roar for his holy habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” 6 See my observations, including Note 3, at p. 179 of my 3rd Volume.
7 Psalm 1. 5.