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voices, thunderings, lightnings, and shakings, constituting the paraphernalia of Sinai, show us that the fire, which is to try every man's work, when applied to the earthly system, must necessarily prove the tendency of that system to condemnation, in respect to those dependent upon it; while, in its action upon the heavenly system, it opens the access by which alone the services of the sinful but redeemed creature may be accepted. The effect of the casting of this fire to the earth is that of showing the earthly system to be a legal system, and its dependents necessarily elements of self-righteousness; the exhibition of this twofold process of the altar-service being a prelude of the more extended illustrations about to be presented.
Vs. 6, 7. And the seven angels which had
the seven trumpets prepared themselves
to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with
blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Καὶ οἱ ἑπτὰ ἄγγελοι οἱ ἔχοντες τὰς ἑπτὰ σάλπιγγας ἡτοίμασιν ἑαυτούς, ἵνα σαλπί
Καὶ ὁ πρῶτος ἐσάλπισε, καὶ ἐγένετο χάλαζα καὶ πῦρ μεμιγμένα ἐν αἵματι, καὶ ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν γῆν· καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς γῆς κατεκάη, καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν δένδρων κατεκάη, καὶ πᾶς χόρτος χλωρὸς κατεκάη.
$ 189. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.'-An intimation of the simultaneous action of these trumpets. It is not said that the first angel prepared himself to sound, and afterwards, that the second angel did so, but they all prepared themselves together, and may be supposed to have sounded together, although the apostle could hear and describe but one at a time. The revelation of the events or things represented, we may suppose to be coincident, or synchronical, if indeed time is at all to be taken into consideration in respect to them. The action referred to by the several trumpets we do not suppose to be necessarily successive, unless we make an exception as to the three last, or woetrumpets; and here the separation may be rather in the sense than in the time, that is, time in a historical sense. We suppose the blasts of these several trumpets to be progressive developments of truth; by which especially the anti-Christian system, comprehending perhaps all false systems, is to be overthrown. The attack upon this system may have been prefigured in some degree by the storming of the city of Jericho, as already cited the sounding of the last angel's trumpet, corresponding with the last day's sounding of the priests, with their rams' horns, under the conduct of Joshua, (Jesus,) the type of Christ.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood.'-Hail and fire, in a natural or physical sense, are elements of the most opposite characters; but in a spiritual sense, as figuratively employed here, a like quality is attributed to both. Both are destructive instruments, and as such are repeatedly associated in Scripture exhibitions of the wrath of Almighty God; as it is said of Egypt-He gave them hail
for rain, and flaming fire in their land. And as, in a spiritual sense, fire is represented to be the instrument of trying every doctrine or work; so, in the same sense, hail is spoken of as the means of exposing the fallacy of every vain scheme of salvation: "Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with Hades, are we (or we are) at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves : therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness (justice) to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with Hades shall not stand," Is. xxviii. 15-18.
The same element of divine power which, when mercifully employed, falls like showers upon the mown grass, when sent judicially, is condensed (transformed) into a destructive agent. So, the same rays of the Sun of righteousness which, as messengers of mercy, appear to be instruments of consolation, when falling in judgment upon subjects of divine displeasure, are like the burning heat scorching the parched earth, and destroying vege,table as well as animal life.
$ 190 Mingled with blood.'-Blood is the life of the animal, and is accordingly a figure of the element of divine justice, demanding the life of the sinner. Like fire and water, however, blood has both its benign and its vindictive signification: the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin; the blood of man is the witness of his guilt, the evidence of his pollution, and, like the blood of Abel, calls from the earth for vengeance. The blood of Christ is represented by the purifying, vivifying element of water, when it is exhibited in showers, or fountains, or as a river of life; but if we suppose in the figure a shower of blood to be substituted for water, as was the case in Egypt, (Ex. vii. 1,) it is evident that the visitation is one of judgment, and not of mercy; an element of putrefaction and of death is substituted for one of life. Such we suppose to be the character of the exhibition elicited by the opening of the first seal. It is an exposure of the vindictive features of the judicial economy in their severest aspect.
'And they were cast upon the earth :'—or, according to the Latin of Leusden, missa sunt, they are sent to the earth.
The earth we suppose to be a false system, or a system of a legal character-false, so far as it professes to provide a means of salvation for a guilty world. Its elements for the most part are false in the same relation. There may be some exceptions, however; as the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed ones were exceptions, amongst the other inhabit
ants of the earth, (Rev. vii. 3.) The elements of judicial visitation represented by fire, hail, and blood, we may suppose to be brought to bear upon this legal or fallacious system, with its peculiar features. The system has already proved to be false, and is now about to be destroyed-judgment having been laid to the line, and justice to the plummet: as an architect, after having ascertained by the line and plummet the deviation of the wall of his building from the true line of gravity, determines upon its entire destruction.
§ 191. And the third part of the earth was burned up.'-This is not in our common English version, but it is found in the editions of the Greek generally supposed to be most correct, (vide Rob. ed. New Testament, New-York, 1842.)
'The third part,' zò roízov.—The word part, it is to be noticed, is supplied in our translation in this and in other like places where the term is used. In the original, the words the third are all that is expressed, leaving the reader to supply the term apparently the most appropriate. It is very evident that this term part, tò μégos, if admitted, is not to be construed literally; it must signify something else than a material part, and we have perhaps as good ground for supposing the word vonua to be understood, as the word μégos, or in English, the word sense, as part. The Greek words being of the same gender, and vóua being employed by ecclesiastical writers to express the spiritual sense, as opposed to the literal sense of the sacred writings-apud scriptores ecclesiast. vóqua notat sensum Scripturæ, et opponitur τοῦ γράμματι, (Suiceri Lex.) We suppose, then, by the third of the earth, or of the trees, or of any thing else, in apocalyptic language, the thing spoken of is to be understood in its third sense, and that this third sense is its spiritual sense: accordingly we say here, " And the earth in its third, or spiritual sense, was burned up." In the version of Cranmer, 1539, to avoid the difficulty, it is said, “And the thirde parte of the erth was set on fyre, and the thirde parte of trees was burnt," (Bagster's Hexapla,) but there is nothing to warrant this qualification in the original. The Greek term translated burnt, is the same as that employed by Peter in his prediction of the entire combustion and destruction of the earth, and of the things that are therein.
It is said, Zech. xiii. 8, 9, " And it shall come to pass in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; the third shall be left therein, and I will bring the third (part) through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried:" or, according to the Septuagint, and it shall be in all the earth, iv náoŋ rű yî, says the Lord, the two parts of it, (that is, of the earth and all that belongs to it,) shall be utterly destroyed, and come to an end; but the third shall remain, or survive in it; and I will bring the third through the fire, and I will submit them to the test of fire, as silver is submitted to the test, and I will try them as gold is tried.' All three parts are to be tried, but the third only is to survive the trial.
The words za dvó μion, the two parts, are here used, it is true, but the term
The third part, third time, third day, month, and year, and even the
We say, for example, that the earth, the trees, &c., are destroyed in their third sense; not that the sense is destroyed, but that the thing spoken of is destroyed, in this third, or spiritual sense.
192. The three senses we suppose to be the material, the metaphorical, and the spiritual. The sense in which any particular passage Scripture is to be understood is to be known by the context, and the circumstances under which the term is employed. When it is said of Saul, Acts ix. 4-8, that he fell to the earth, and rose from the earth, it is plain that the material or physical earth is spoken of. When it is said, 1 Kings x. 24, all the earth sought to Solomon, it is equally evident that the term is metaphorical-the earth being put for the inhabitants of the earth, and the term all expressing hyperbolically all the then known nations of the earth; but when it is said, Is. xiii. 13, The earth shall remove out of her place, and Rev. xx. 11, From whose face the earth fled away, it is certain that neither this material globe of earth nor the mass of its inhabitants is alluded to. The term cannot but be understood in a third sense, and this we call the spiritual or analogical sense. That is, as the earth in a physical or natural sense is that which affords to man the means of life, and upon which he depends, so, in a sense analogical to this, the spiritual earth of the Apocalypse is that legal system which supposes man to be dependent upon his own works or merits, and this spiritual sense we call the third of the earth, rò roízov vóŋua rīs ris So in the Scriptural uses of the term light, we take the first sense to be literally physical light, the second sense, metaphorically, intellectual light, and the third sense, spiritually, righteousness or the glory of moral perfection. So likewise the term heaven, or heavens,
*There is an apparent contradiction in these two passages; the third being in one case preserved, and in the other destroyed. We suppose, however, the prophet to refer to the mode of interpreting the figurative language of Revelation,― pointing out the sense which is to endure the predicted trial. The description of the Apocalypse, on the contrary, applies to the subject which in this enduring sense is to be destroyed; by a figure of speech the third of ships, trees, &c., being put for these things spoken of spiritually, that is, in this third or enduring sense.
in its physical sense expresses the atmosphere around the earth, with the stars, planets, &c., as they appear to the human eye in its metaphorical sense, all that we commonly understand by the revelation of heavenly things contained in the Scriptures, as ordinarily understood: in its third sense, an exhibition of the whole scheme of divine government, as contained in the Scriptures, spiritually understood; manifesting the glory of God, especially in the work of redemption, analogically with the display of his wondrous works in the material firmament around us. This spiritual heaven, or display of the divine economy, is apparently the third heaven or paradise spoken of by Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 2 and 4; Paul being caught up to this third heaven, in the same sense that John was in Spirit in heaven, immediately after seeing the door opened, and hearing the invitation, "Come up hither." The design, in both cases, was that of communicating certain special revelations to these two favoured individuals; the difference between the circumstances of the two apostles being principally this, that while one heard unspeakable words, which he was not permitted to repeat, the other received his revelation expressly for the purpose of transmitting it to his fellow-servants of every age and country.
§ 193. The later Jews, it is said, (Rob. Lex. 526, 527,) spoke of three heavens: the atmosphere immediately around the earth, the space above this atmosphere, in which the stars were supposed to be placed, and the ethereal space beyond, considered the peculiar residence of Deity. We cannot suppose Paul to have adopted this mistaken theory, intending to be understood as having been literally taken up three strata of atmosphere, especially when perhaps none more readily than Paul would admit that the Deity can enlighten the mind of man as much and as well in one material atmosphere as in another. "The sense," says Robinson, "is, that he had received the most intimate and perfect communication of the divine will;" and this we suppose to be equivalent to what we denominate the enjoyment of an exhibition of heaven, or of paradise, in its third or spiritual sense. Paul, however, may have drawn his figure for illustration from this Jewish notion. If we choose to spiritualize the three heavens of Paul, so that they may all bear an analogy to the three Jewish heavens, the result will be nearly the same. The view of divine things afforded by the prophecies, types, institutions, and shadows of the Old Testament, may constitute the first, appearing as these do through the murky atmosphere of a literal understanding. Such we may suppose to be the view enjoyed by the patriarchs of old, as it was gradually unfolded by a succession of these figures.
The second heaven we may say is that exhibition of the divine economy which we have in the literal or ordinary meaning of the New Testament, in which the material blood and body of the Lord Jesus are taken as the