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of the star is called Wormwood: and the third (part) of the waters became worm

wood; and many men died of the waters,

because they were made bitter.

Καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ ἀστέρος λέγεται ὁ ἄψινἄψινθον, καὶ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀπέθα· θος. καὶ γίνεται τὸ τρίτον τῶν ὑδάτων εἰς νον ἐκ τῶν ὑδάτων, ὅτι ἐπικράνθησαν.


§ 199. And there fell a great star,' &c.—It is said, Is. Ixii. 1, " For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth ;" and Ps. cxix. 105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my paths."

The star here described is not, like the mountain, itself in a state of combustion, as about being consumed; but it is burning like a lamp, to give light; and is for this reason compared to an immense lamp, throwing forth, as we may suppose, its light upon all around it. It resembles a lamp in its burning for the purpose of giving light.

The word translated fell is used in Scripture in a variety of senses. There appears to be no necessity for taking it here in the sense of an ejectment from heaven, and consequent degradation. As the manna fell from heaven, as the seed sown fell on the ground, and as the Holy Spirit fell upon the converts in the times of the apostles, so this star we may suppose to come from heaven to earth as a communication of light, to give light wherever it is needed.

It was a great star-an immense lighted lamp-a powerful instrument of developing truth, and of detecting falsehood, or of exhibiting errors of doctrine in their true character: the apocalyptic heaven we take to be an exhibition of the economy of salvation, such as it is in truth. This star from heaven is accordingly some important portion of truth emanating from the heavenly display.

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$ 200. And it fell upon the third of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.'-Rivers and fountains furnish means of ablution and of sustenance; but these rivers are rivers of the earth, and these waters are waters of the earth. They are supposed means of propitiation, belonging to the earthly system; streams emanating from the earthly scheme of salvation-of the earth, earthy-opposites of the pure river of the water of life, Rev. xxii. 1, and of the fountain coming forth of the house of the Lord, Joel iii. 18. The light of truth thrown upon these self-righteous and legal means of propitiation, causes them to appear in their true character. Bitter as the waters of the sea are bitter;-bitter as the waters of Marah. The terms sweet and bitter, when applied to water in Eastern phraseology, being equivalent to our designation of fresh and salt water. These earthly waters are thus manifested to be incapable of furnishing the means of eternal life, or of cleansing the soul from the pollution of sin.

We may suppose, for example, in a certain scheme of salvation of a

legal character, the elements of sorrow for sin, resolutions of amendment, remorse, self-mortification, endurance of some specific suffering, some selfinflicted chastisement; all or any of them to be set forth as means of propitiation. A development of divine truth, brought into contact with this mistaken view, exhibits the exceeding sinfulness of sin; showing the immensity of suffering required to atone for the transgressions of the sinner, and the consequent inadequacy of any human means of salvation of the character supposed; at the same time showing the extreme bitterness of such a process, the bitterness of the sorrow, of the remorse, and of the suffering required. The nature of the pretended propitiation is not changed by this development, but its true character is exhibited. The disciple, brought to compare the gospel means of ablution (the atonement of Christ) with these vain pretensions, perceives his error; the rivers and waters he trusted in now appear to him, as they are, bitter waters, unfit either for cleansing or for diet. These refuges of lies are thus swept away, and the now enlightened believer is prepared to cast himself without reserve upon the merits of Him who is described to be as rivers of water in a dry place, (Is. xxxii. 2.)


201. And the name of the star is called Wormwood,' (Absinthe.)—So named, not as a matter of reproach, but on account of the design and effect of its mission. Wormwood itself, when administered as a medicine, strengthens the stomach, and creates an appetite for wholesome food; so the bitter quality of this star is benignly intended to create a desire for the bread of life-a hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

The same Greek terin, piros, does not occur in the Septuagint, (Concord. Trommii,) although our translators have rendered another ¬ıxqía, bitterness, by wormwood, Lam. iii. 15. We may, perhaps, safely consider bitterness, wormwood, and gall, synonymous terms. The people of Israel, on account of their idolatrous conduct, were to be fed with wormwood, or bitterness, and water of gall was to be given them to drink; so it is with those who reject the sweet water of a Saviour's atonement, and place their trust in some merit of their own bodily or mental suffering. They shut themselves up to a dependence upon these waters of bitterness; nor do they perceive the folly of their choice, till enlightened by a further revelation of gospel truth. This revelation may appear to them a messenger of bitterness, by its exhibition of their real position, but it is nevertheless a messenger of mercy. The wormwood and water of gall given the Israelites for food, were instruments of judicial chastisement: the bitterness of the star Absinthe is designed as a medicine, and a preparation for better food ;turning the disciple from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan, the accuser, to God, Jehovah our righteousness.

A sorrow for sin, bitter as it may be, to which the disciple trusts, as to a propitiation, is a sorrow of the world that worketh death; but a sorrow

for sin convincing the disciple of his need of a Saviour, and constraining him to fly for safety to the hope set before him in that Saviour's atonement, is a godly sorrow, working a change of mind, a repentance unto life—a change not to be changed-a repentance not to be repented of, (§ 44.)

It is said of the children of Israel, Exod. i. 14, "The Egyptians made their lives bitter;" so the position of bondage under the law engenders bitterness of soul; yet the law is good and benign, for although it brings the knowledge of sin, it is also a leader to bring us to Christ. So the passover was to be eaten standing-staff in hand-with bitter herbs, showing that no time is to be lost between a conviction of sin and a participation by faith in the merits of Him who, as a paschal lamb, was slain for us,

The third (part) of the waters became wormwood;'—that is, the waters spiritually understood, became bitter. So of the fountains of the waters in the preceding verse: it is not said the third of the fountains, but we may take the figure of the fountains, as connected with the waters, to be equivalent to the third of the waters-that is, the waters in their most important spiritual sense, as the fountain gives its character to the stream.

'And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.'— As the star is not a material star, and as the rivers and fountains are not material objects, so neither are the men who died literally men; nor is the death in contemplation a literal death. The men we suppose to be elements of the earthly system, manifested to be without life and incapable of giving life—the exhibition of the bitterness of these fallacious systems, showing the deadly character of the elements of the earthly scheme of redemption; these mistaken elements of propitiation resulting in condemnation instead of deliverance.

V. 12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third (part) of the sun was emitten, and the third (part) of the moon, and the third (part) of the stars; eo as the third (part) of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third (part) of it, and the

night likewise.

Καὶ ὁ τέταρτος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισε, καὶ ἐπλήγη τὸ τρίτον τοῦ ἡλίου καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς σελήνης καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀστέρων, ἵνα σκοτισθῇ τὸ τρίτον αὐτῶν, καὶ ἡ ἡμέρα μὴ φαίνῃ τὸ τρίτον αὑτῆς, καὶ ἡ νὺξ ὁμοίως.

And the third (part) of the sun,' &c.-The more particulars we have of this third, the more evident it is that the word part, in our ordinary acceptation of the term, does not express its meaning. If the third part of the heavenly bodies, or of each of them, were eclipsed, it would not prevent the day and night shining, they would only shine with one-third less light; and if we suppose them to be darkened one-third of the time successively, so that there should be daylight only eight hours instead of twelve, the same construction could not be applied to what is said of the third of the earth, sea, rivers, &c. And as a fountain cannot send forth at the same time both bitter water and fresh, so neither can we divide the light of day or night,

that one-third

same time.

part of it may be light, and the other two-thirds dark at the

We can only get over this difficulty by supposing this third to refer, as we have suggested, (§ 191,) to something like a third sense. The sounding of this fourth trumpet we accordingly presume to manifest this whole solar system, in its spiritual or third sense, to be devoid of the light of righteousness; the third spoken of being, not the third of the spiritual sense, but the whole of the thing represented in that sense, which is its third, or the third of it.


We say this solar system, to adapt the expression to our modern views of the organization of the sun, moon, and planets; but in the times of the apostles the common opinion was that the sun was created for the earth, and not the earth for the sun-that the earth was the centre around which the sun and all the heavenly bodies revolved. What we now call the solar, would then have been considered the terrestrial system, or the earthly sysWhatever name we give it, however, we suppose the system itself to have three senses: the physical or natural sense; the figurative sense, as applied to the Jewish economy, or to the organization of the visible church on earth, and matters connected with it; and thirdly, the spiritual sense, as applied to the economy of salvation, of which the Jewish or Levitical economy, or visible church, is but a type. In this spiritual or third sense, however, the system we have in view is not a heavenly, but an earthly system; the difference between the two being as great at least as that between the ancient apprehension of this portion of the science of astronomy, and our modern views of it.

This terrene-solar system, as we may call it, exhibits man's views of the economy of salvation: this solar system, in its third or spiritual sense, is an exhibition of the economy of salvation, but it is such as man's judgment forms of it. The system has a sun it has a righteousness belonging to it, but it is not the sun of divine righteousness. It supposes in effect a sun of self-righteousness: it has a moon, but this moon is supposed to shine with a light of its own and it has its planets, but they are all supposed to be independent bodies, shining with their own light. The sun of this system is supposed to impart light, but it is not supposed to impute light. As in the common apprehension of mankind, while every one is sensible that the rays of the sun are required to enlighten this earth, so that its inhabitants may pursue their avocations, it scarcely occurs to the minds of any that whatever light or splendour this planet may exhibit to other worlds, it is not a light of its own, but only the reflected light of the sun to which it is indebted for all its beauty. Man, too, individually rejoices in the light of the sun, and prides himself upon his outward appearance; but while admitting his dependence upon this light to enable him to perform his duties, he rarely recollects that he is indebted to the reflected rays of the same source

of light for all the beauty or perfection of his appearance in the sight of his fellow-mortals.

Analogous with this, we suppose the system of divine things spoken of here as the third of the sun, moon, and stars, to be the system or economy of salvation in human apprehension—a system admitting the necessity of divine aid to enable man to perform his duty, and so far permitting the Deity to come in for a share of the glory of what the creature may perform; but a system into which the idea of imputed moral perfection is not allowed to enter. The self-righteous have their economy of salvation, their heaven, and their sun of righteousness, as they have also their rock and their vine; but more enlightened believers may say of them, their heaven is not as our heaven-their sun is not as our sun-nor is their rock as our rock, our enemies themselves being judges; their vine is the vine of Sodom, and the fields of Gomorrah-their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter, (Deut. xxxii. 31, 32.)

This mistaken view of God's plan of salvation, manifested by the action on the stars, we suppose to be void of light, or of the essential ingredient of righteousness; a manifestation resulting from the sounding of the fourth trumpet, which sounding it is to be presumed characterizes some peculiar development of truth.

§ 203. There are three that bear witness in the earth: the spirit, the water, and the blood, 1 John v. 8; the water of baptism, the material blood of Christ, and his blood, in a spiritual sense, or his atonement. So we may say, first, there is a natural or literal sun; second, a metaphorical sun, Christ in the flesh; and third, a spiritual sun, Jehovah our righteousness: all three of these indicating the same divine object in his relation towards the subjects of his redeeming mercy-"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD (Jehovah) will give grace and glory," Ps. lxxxiv. 11.

The natural sun does not cease to exist when eclipsed; he still shines to other worlds; so Jehovah is ever the same, although we may not see him as our Sun, clothing us with the light of his perfection, or although we may substitute in our vain imaginations some other source of light in his place, and even conceive ourselves suns, and thus walk in the sparks of our own kindling. In this apocalyptic exhibition we do not suppose the true spiritual heaven to be darkened, but it is the heaven of human estimation substituted for the true, which is manifested to be as it is without light. The same manifestation appears to be contemplated in the declaration, Ezekiel xxxii, 7, “I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light all the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God." The prophecy is immediately applicable to Egypt, but it is evident that this Egypt must be some object in a spiritual

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