網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

elements of his propitiatory sacrifice. A view to which, generally speaking, the faith of disciples has been hitherto for the most part confined. This is an atmosphere clearer than the last, but still it is physical, natural, material, and literal.

The third heaven we suppose to exhibit the same things or objects, but with their spiritual meaning; the atonement of Christ, or his substitution of himself, and God in him, in behalf of the sinner, and his righteousness imputed to the disciple, occupying the places of the material blood and body of Jesus. Such a view awaits the believer in the next state of existence; such a view we suppose to have been enjoyed by the apostles, Paul and John ; and such a view may be enjoyed, even in this life, whenever the eyes of the disciple's understanding are fully enlightened. Something like this, apparently, having been contemplated by the martyr Stephen, when filled with the Holy Spirit, he saw heaven opened, the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, Acts. vii. 56.

We have indulged the more freely in these suggestions as to the third part, because, as we shall find, the term repeatedly occurs, and appears to be susceptible of no other construction than that here put upon it.

The earth, then, in its third sense, was burned up. That is, the effect of the development resulting from the proclamation of this first trumpet was to destroy the earth, or legal system—the self-righteous platform of erroneous views, figuratively spoken of as the earth—the fire with the hail being the fire to try every man's work.

$ 194. “And the third ( part) of trees,' &c.—As the apostle Peter says, (2 Peter iii. 10,) the earth, with the works that are therein, shall be burned up, so it is said here that, with the third of the earth, the third also of the trees, and all green grass, or all kinds of herbage, were, in the same sense,

burnt up.

The word translated green is the same as that rendered pale when it is applied to the colour of a horse, (Rev. vi. 8;) and we might accordingly say here, and all pale grass ; but we have already shown that the word strictly signifies green, and nothing else, at least in the Apocalypse.

The word translated grass is said to apply especially to fodder for cattle ; green fodder must signify this herbage while attached to the earth, furnishing both food for animals, and clothing or covering for the earth; while fodder not green would apply only to the same herbage disconnected from the earth. Hay and stubble, it is true, would be judged by man most fit subjects for fire ; but what is here contemplated, we apprehend, is to show those things in which human pride is most prone to glory, to be those which God counts as worthless, and deals with only as chaff.

As we have supposed the earth to be the figure of a system, or economy of salvation, in which man finds, as he thinks, a place of security-a

rest, a foundation upon which to depend—so we suppose trees and green herbage to be appendages of the same system, so many principles emanating from and depending upon it. - Trees afford shade and shelter, protection and refuge to birds, and means of concealment and hiding places for man and other animals; they afford also, in a degree, shelter from the scorching rays of the sun. Adam and Eve, after their first act of disobedience, hid themselves, as they thought, in the trees of the garden. Trees, therefore, as figures, are equivalent to a certain class of refuges of lies—fallacious principles of doctrine, exhibiting supposed means of safety from the requisitions of divine justice. So green grass, as a clothing of the earth, as well as an element of food, may represent pretensions to righteousness formed from the vain estimate of human merits—like grass beautiful in appearance, but of short duration, withering and fading away as soon as tried by the fire of that ordeal, of which it is said, it shall burn as an oven.

Vs. 8, 9. And the second angel sound- Και ο δεύτερος άγγελος εσάλπισε, και ως ed, and as it were a great mountain burn- όρος μέγα πυρί καιόμενον εβλήθη εις την ing with fire was cast into the sea and θάλασσαν· και εγένετο το τρίτον της θαthe third (part) of the sea became blood; and the third (part) of the creatures which λάσσης αίμα, και απέθανε το τρίτον των were in the sea, and had life, died; and Xtloudtow Tây év t faldoon, čovta the third (part) of the ships were destroy: ψυχός, και το τρίτον των πλοίων διεφθάρed.

ησαν. .

$ 195. “And a great mountain,' &c.-Mountains, as already noticed, ($ 167,) are places of refuge in a time of invasion or in a time of inundaLion, and as such they represent means of salvation, real or supposed. It is said, Isaiah ii. 2, “ It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." There are other mountains, therefore, besides that of the Lord's house, which are to be manifested as being subordinate to that one mountain, the only true refuge; in allusion to which, apparently, it is said, Ps. xxxvi. 6, “God's righteousness is like the great mountains.” A stone is spoken of, Dan. i. 35 and 45, as cut out of a mountain without hands, which itself became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. The same mountain, no doubt, as that said to be exalted upon the tops of all other mountains and bills, for such would be a mountain filling the whole earth. The stone, too, is probably the same as that spoken of i Peter ïi. 7, “ The stone which the builders refused, and which became the chief stone of the corner," (the key-stone of the arch)-the chosen, precious key-stone--the rock upon which rests the whole economy of salvation, and all dependent upon that economy. The gracious provision of propitiation against which the elements of justice (the gates of Hades) can never prevail-a substratum of rock, of which it is said, 1 Cor. iii. 11, Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

This mountain, however, was not the great mountain, but only, as it were, a great mountain. It was not cast upon the land, or upon the hills, but into the sea, producing an effect corresponding in degree, though not in kind, with that which an immense body cast into the sea might be supposed to produce.

Burning with fire.'—Not the instrument of setting fire to other objects, but itself in a state of combustion—subject to the action of fire. We may suppose this mountain to represent a false system, the destructibility of which is being manifested. It is, however, no ordinary system, but one of great pretensions, reminding us of the declaration by the mouth of the prophet, Jeremiah li. 25, 26, “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. . And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations ; but thou shalt be desolate forever, saith the Lord.”

$ 196. “Was cast into the sea, and the third (part) of the sea became blood.'—The mountain, or system, while thus undergoing the trial by fire, comes in contact with the sea, or element of vindictive justice, such as we have supposed this figure to represent, ($ 124.) This contact being also equivalent to the administration of a test. The destruction of the false foundation, (the mountain,) showing the element of judicial vengeance connected with it to be an element of blood. The reputed agent of purification is now manifested to be, like the law itself, not only incapable of giving life, but actually demanding the life of the criminal. The nature of the sea is not changed, but its true character is exhibited. A like figure we may find in the Red Sea, or sea of Edom, (red,) through which the Israelites could pass only under the conduct of him who had brought them out of the state of Egyptian bondage; and who, on this account, is spoken of as a prophet like unto Christ, (Acts iji, 22.)

There are those, trusting in their own inherent or imparted ability to meet the requisitions of divine justice, who appear to think and even desire it to be their duty to brave this element of wrath themselves ; as the self-confident apostle seems to have supposed the evidence of his Master's power to consist in enabling the disciple to walk upon the stormy wave, Matt. xiv. 28. Others think to wash away their sins by inflicting penalties upon

themselves, or by doing for themselves some great thing; and, like the swine beset by a legion, Mark v. 9–13, become the immediate instruments of their own destruction. Some allusion may be made to this error, Heb. x. 22 where the figurative expression of pure water is employed apparently in con

tradistinction to sea-water, which is both foul and bitter—the " troubled sea casting up mire and dirt,” (Is. lvii. 20.) The apostle had just set before the Hebrews the new and living way of coming into the position of the holiest, by the blood and flesh of Jesus, which means of access he afterwards speaks of as a cleansing of the conscience, and a washing of the body in pure water ; an opposite of pretended propitiations, bearing the bloody character of the legal dispensation, (Ex. iv. 25, 26.)

The sea, in its third or spiritual sense, was manifested to be blood. In its first, or natural sense, the sea is a fearful and destructive element. In a metaphorical sense, it is said to represent a deluge, or multitude of enemies, (Cruden ;) but perhaps its second scriptural sense is that of the penal requisitions of the Mosaical economy, as commonly applied to the Jews; while the third sense represents the vindictive bearing of inflexible Justice, applicable throughout eternity to “every soul of man that doeth evil.”

$197. “And the third (part) of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.'—Were manifested to be without life. Things in the sea having life, we may suppose to signify things dependent upon the sea for life. The sea, having become blood, is no more capable of giving life to its dependents ; so when the legal or self-righteous element of purging away sin is manifestly destitute of the power of giving eternal life, every principle dependent upon it must be equally manifested to be destitute of a life-giving power. The penal observances of the Mosaical dispensation are now shown to be incapable of yielding life to the sinner; and so, in a spiritual sense, the efforts of man to atone for his own transgressions are manifested to be without efficacy in the work of salvation. As the sinner is dead under the law in trespasses and sins, so the principles of legality, when the truth is fully revealed, will appear equally lifeless.

Fish, it is true, furnish a common article of diet; but these are fish frequenting rivers, or the mouths of rivers, or feeding upon banks in the vicinity of shores. The fish of the ocean, it is notorious, are not suitable for the sustenance of man : besides, fish to be eaten must be taken alive from the waters. There is with all persons a natural abhorrence of fish supposed to be dead before it is taken ; and if the water of a lake or sea become so deleterious as to destroy the fish in it, it is very evident that these fish are no more fit for food,

It is a peculiarity worth noticing, that fish, although used for food, were not employed for sacrificial purposes, under the levitical arrangement; as if the element represented by the sea, could not furnish a suitable offering to the Lord. Even as an article of diet, fish seem to be mentioned, Numbers xi. 5, in contradistinction to heavenly food : “We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic, (vegetables peculiarly earthy.) But now our soul is dried away ; there is nothing, besides this manna, besore our eyes.” As some, in the pride of their hearts, call to mind the various theories of human invention upon which they had been encouraged to build the hope of a merit of their own. They repine over the gospel exhibition in its simplicity, because nothing, as a means of eternal life, but the imputed righteousness of a Divine Redeemer, is presented for their contemplation. They prefer the food of a state of bondage to the nourishment of a father's table.

$198. “And the third (part) of the ships were destroyed.'- Ships are human means of preservation and safe conduct. They represent another class of self-righteous principles, or refuges of lies, to which presumptuous man resorts, in view of the retributive action of divine justice. Trusting to ships, Ps. xlviii. 7, and trusting to horses, Is. xxx. 16, are both figures of misplaced confidence in vain and insufficient means of escape from the wrath to come. Ships are also the inventions of men for carrying on trade, and for acquiring wealth. Their employment represents the operation of a mercenary system, in the acquisition of that which is the opposite of the true riches. Ships are also a species of ark—as the ships of Tarshish, Is. ii. 16, appear to be figurative opposites of the ship or ark of Noah, a type of Christ : this ark being something of divine construction, built under divine direction, and by faith availed of, (Heb. xi. 7 ;) while self-righteous systems are ships of human construction. The insufficiency of ships or vessels to withstand a mighty tempest, is typical of the insufficiency of any merit or merits of man to meet the storm of divine wrath. To be in Christ, is to be in the only ark of safety.

The first sense of ships is sufficiently obvious. The second sense may be metaphorical merely as applicable to means of safety in general, or, more strictly, as applied to legal observances in a literal sense ; the third or last construction being the supposed means of salvation furnished by human efforts to supply a meritorious propitiation, in place of that to be found in the atonement of Christ.

The general destruction of earthly objects, manifested at the blowing of these trumpets, appears to be alluded to, Zeph. i. 2 and 3, under a figure somewhat different: “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fish of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks from the wicked.”

Vs. 10, 11. And the third angel sound- Και ο τρίτος άγγελος εσάλπισε, και έπεed, and there fell a great star from heaven, σεν εκ του ουρανού άστιο μέγας καιόμενος burning as it were a lamp, and it fell ως λαμπάς, και έπεσεν επί το τρίτων των upon the third (part) of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters ; and tlie name ποταμών και επί τας πηγάς των υδάτων.

« 上一頁繼續 »