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long ere this have become acquainted with, and judged respecting my own view of it, as signifying the General Councils of Papal Christendom, very chiefly the Council of Trent. Should this (or any other) impress itself on the mind of the Christian public as clearly true, and, together therewith, a sense of the imminent danger of deferring to Pope or Councils, as authorities co-ordinate with God's own written word, such as to force a loud and general outcry of warning against it, then we may consider the fulfilment of the vision begun. - I suspect that a chronological parallelism will prove in the event to exist between this vision and the conclusion of that of the three frogs in the other series. It is in the Councils especially that the living antitype to the Apocalyptic False Prophet (the third of those three unclean spirits) seeks its countervail to the authority of the word of God. After then that this spirit has come in like a flood, may we not expect that a standard of opposing truth, perhaps drawn in part from the very prophecy before us, will be raised against it, so that all that will see shall see.
2. After this a voice from heaven was heard by St. John to follow, saying, " Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth ;' &c. In which voice the words from henceforth blessed, or, as they may be rendered, from time near at hand, referred to, I conceive, and indicated the near approach of the grand epoch of blessedness predicated in Scripture of departed saints: I mean the blessedness of their reward and joy at Christ's coming. For it is the imminent nearness of a judgment according to works (in this case of reward) that Apocalyptic analogy suggests as the in
[Since the publication of my first edition I believe that my interpretation of the Beast's Image has made decisive progress. I have received strong testimonies respecting it; and, so far as I know, no argument of any weight has been brought against it. The futility of Mr. Arnold's attack on it may be mentioned in proof. 2nd Edit. Oct. 1845.]
? So Mede: comparing Matt. xxiii. 39; · From henceforth (ar' aptı) ye shall not see me,” &c: i. e. not from the precise moment of his speaking, but from a time near it. There is, however, a certain difference in the senses of atapti. Compare Matt. xxvi. 29, 64, John i. 51, xiii. 19, xiv. 7.
tent of the accompanying phrase, “ Their works follow them:’l-even though the “rest” spoken of be construed to mean that of the grave or the separate state; and not (as it too might be) that which at present remains for the people of God, and which they are to enter on not until Christ's “revelation in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God." 3 On which cheering truth the injunction, Write this, implies 4 that there will be some deep and stirring impression in the true Church of Christ, at the time answering to the vision.-Such I believe with Mede to be the sense of the vision ; a belief grounded on its own evidence, and confirmed by that of the context immediately following. It cannot surely figure a revelation of the peaceful rest of Christ's saints from immediately after death, in opposition to the Romish purgatorial doctrine, so as some have explained it. In that case the phrase would rather have been from after death, so as to include all the dead saints; not from henceforth, so as only to apply to those whose death was yet future. Nor can it well mean simply that persecution would be at the time figured so severe, or coming judgments so fearful, as to make death a happy refuge from them. Where then the distinctiveness of the vision ? For, although doubtless another notice, just previously given, did intimate that it is to be eminently an æra of trial both to the faith and the patience of Christ's true saints : and one to show very notably whether they will keep, as their one rule of action, “the commands of God," and of doctrine, “the faith of Jesus,” yet many such times of trial had been
So in the case of Babylon, xviii. 5, it is said, “Her sins (mkodovono av) have followed up to heaven," at an epoch when her destruction was imminent. Compare too Acts x. 4. “ Thy prayers and alms have come up as a memorial before God;" said of Cornelius at the time when the answer of blessing was immediately about to be given.
2 Heb. iv. 9, &c: where the word oablatiuos is used, as one parallel to katatavois used ib. iv. 1, 3, &c.
3 2 Thess. i. 7; “ To you that are troubled rest (averi) with us when,” &c. ^ See Apoc. x. 4, and my comment. 6 Newton, Scott, &c. See Brooks, page 64.
6 So Vitringa, comparing Jer. xxii. 10; “ Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep sore for him that goeth away; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.”
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
? 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.”
? 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 rintage 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.
4 E. g. Mede, Vitringa, Bishop Newton: and long before them Victorinus ; who construes it, as well as the vintage, “de gentibus perituris in adventu
• duolov viw avbpwrov' without the article. So in all the manuscripts. + sεφανον χρυσουν.
Teuyov literally send. efnparon, dried. 11 Or, threw his sickle ; eßalev.
indeterminate. In our Lord's notable parable,—which ends with the explanatory statement,
The harvest is the end of the world (awvos, 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
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.
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. 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 empar on 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.
2 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 παραδώ ο καρπος, , i. e. when the fruit hath put itself forth, as come to maturity. See Schleusner on papadidwu..—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 aristà :" 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 Enpaivw.
5 E. g. Isa. xvii. 5, 11, (cited by Mede) spoken of a harvest of sorrow.