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Ver. 1. Another sign in heaven—seven angels; &c.] The scene of the vision continues the same, heaven and earth in view, and the angels, who are the actors, passing between both. The present exhibition is preparatory. Such a general representation had preceded the seven Seals, and the seven Trumpets; this precedes the seven Vials. We are now in the midst of the warfare carried on by the Church of Christ, under his auspices, to resist the formidable efforts of the combined enemies. It is a silent warfare, operating chiefly in the human heart. But heaven is now seen interposing visibly to repress the pride and arrogance of the antichristian usurpers. And as seven angels, by sounding the alarm, had foreshewn the several shocks of battle, which the Church should sustain from her enemies: so seven angels, by pouring forth seven Vials, express the vengeance of the Almighty, poured out on the triumphant worldly powers, checking their career, imbittering their success, and finally overwhelming them in
destruction. - They are to be accounted, as the word wavyw
expresses, so many blows or strokes; visitations of Divine Providence on unrepentant sinners. Such fell on Pharaoh and the hardened Egyptians, who, persisting in their obstinate opposition, were overwhelmed in the Red Sea. The number seven implies a complete visitation”. “When I begin, I will also make an end, saith “ the Lord f.” So, with the last of these Vials, “the “wrath of God will be completed.” And it is in allusion to this completion, that they are called “the “ last plagues;” for they do not seem to extend to the very last times of final judgment, but to end with the beast and false prophet finally and completely subdued; with whose action therefore they seem cotemporary.
Note, ch. i. 4. * - + 1 Sam. iii. 12.
Ver. 2. A sea, glassy, mingled with fire; &c.] This glassy sea has been already displayed as standing before the throne of God", where it was seen to represent the purifying blood of the Redeemer; the price of human redemption, in which alone the vestments can be washed white; by which alone the Christian can be presented pure before God. But the Redeemer has two characters, conformably to the offices assigned him on earth; the one of meekness, in which he came to suffer; the other of exaltation, in which he returns to reign, and to pour out vengeance on his enemies. We are now arrived at that point of the prophetic history, in which this vengeance begins to be poured out. We therefore see the glassy sea mingled with fire; its waves flashing flame; symbolically expressive of anger and vengeance f. Here we see collected, as in an appropriate situation, those who, during the usurpation of Antichrist, had contended for the faith; and suffering, had gained that victory, which is only to be acquired “by the blood of the Lambt.” The purification of the priests for the service of the earthly temple was in the brazen sea; these, who are to minister before the God of heaven, are purified by the heavenly sea; by the blood of the Redeemer. And many of them, having poured out their own blood in his cause, and after his example, now begin to enjoy the triumph which was promised them under the fifth Seal S. They are now to be “avenged.”
Ib. Of the beast.] 34 r8 Swis, “not,” says Dr. S. Clarke, over the beast, but from out of the midst of the beast : for, by this expression is implied, not only their conquest, but the difficulty of it, by a few persons, ad
* Ch. iv. 6. + See note, ch. viii. 7. f Ch. xii. 11; vii. 13. 1 John v. 4, &c. § Ch. vi. 9–13; where see the note.
hering stedfastly to the true Religion, in the midst of idolatrous and corrupt nations.
Ver. 3. The Song of Moses.] These holy sufferers no
longer cry under the altar for the delayed vengeance of their just God". The promised time is comet. They now see, as they express in their song,-their triumphant song, like that of Moses after the destruction of Pharaoht,
the great and wonderful works of God, who has led them
to victory by sufferings; subduing the proud arm of flesh, and bringing all nations to an acknowledgment of his just and wonderful power §. The nations had been early invited to worship in the name of Christ; they had forsaken their ancient idolatry, and had come to his courts: but the Temple was shut; there was none to teach them the truth “as it is in Jesus.” A great part of the nations, who have been turned from their idols, through the operation either of the papal or mahometan religions, do not even now worship in truth. But when the final vengeance upon the beast and false prophet, which is here promised, shall be completed, the Temple will be opened, and the nations shall “worship in the beauty of holiness,” “with an holy wor“ship.” This seems to be the reason, why the nations are introduced in this song, (v. 4); and for this cause I prefer the reading #8way before that of aiwav in this verse. It seems supported also by the best authorities ||. Ver. 5. The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony.] The holy place, the local habitation of the Almighty, was thus called T. There the cloud and the
glory appeared, when the Lord was wroth with the
congregation **. Ver. 6. Clothed in pure resplendent linen.] “The “fine linen is the righteousness of the Saintstf.” The * ch. vi 9, &c. + Luke xviii. 8. ! Exod. xv.
external habit agrees with the internal purity; the angels have the same kind of raiment as their Lord". Ver. 7. One of the four living creatures.] See note, ch. iv. 6. The Vials of the wrath of God are given to the angels by one of those ministering spirits nearest the throne; by the cherubim; which implies, that they come immediately from the Divine presence. Ib. Pials.] The wrath of God is represented in Scripture as “poured out f.” Frequently the cup of God's wrath is mentioned;—the Qizon, vial, was a bowl, or cup, (for which see note, ch. v. 8.); and was used also to pour from, (see 1 Sam. x. 1). ' Ver. 8. The temple was filled with smoke.] The presence of God, especially when he is wroth, is commonly represented as such . And at the dedication of the first temple, when the presence of the Lord, “as a “cloud, had filled the house of God,” the priests could not stand to minister §.
* Ch. i. 14. ! Is. vi. 4.
t Is. xlii. 25; Ezek. vii. 8; and Psalms passin. Exod. xix. 13; &c. § 2 Chron. v. 13, 14.
P A R T VI.
The seven Vials.
cIIAP. xvi. v ER. 2—to the end.
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2 And the first went,
and poured out his
shipped his image.
2 And the first went, and
poured out his vial upon the earth: aud there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which wor3 shipped his image. And
And the second [angell poured out his Vial the sea: and
there came blood, as
of a dead carcase; and every living soul died the And the third poured out his Vial upon the rivers, and upon the
springs of waters: and
the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
4 And the third angel
poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel
of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus:
6 For they have shed the
bkod of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are
7 worthy. And I heard
another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judge
S ments. And the fourth
angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not 10 to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured