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$ 210 · And it was commanded them that they should not hurt,' &c. -The term rendered hurt, we have already shown to signify something the opposite of justifying, ($ 174,) or of manisesting a person or thing to be just. We suppose the action of these locusts to represent the operation of the principles of a certain system in showing the incompatibility of other principles with the process of justification ; these other principles being those figuratively denominated inhabiters of the earth—principles of the earthly system, the insufficiency of which is shown by the operation of the elements of the bottomless pit system. Of these inhabiters of the earth, however, the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed ones are exceptions; all the rest spoken of as men are subject to the action of the locusts, ($ 175 ;) although the natural propensity of these locusts to destroy vegetable productions is restrained, and their force is directed only against things figuratively designated as men not sealed. We are not to suppose the prohibition as to the grass and every green thing to exhibit these productions of the earth as subjects of favour. At the first trumpet's sound all green grass was burnt up, under the visitation of hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon the earth. This prohibition, therefore, only shows the action of the locust-principles to be confined to certain objects, leaving other unsealed objects equally fitted for destruction subject to the action of other instruments of judicial visitation. The part assigned to the locust was to operate upon one class of beings only; we must look elsewhere to ascertain the fate of any other class or classes. *
And it was given to them that they should not slay them, but that they should be tormented (tortured) five months.'—The part allotted to the locusts was not to destroy, but only to try or to put to the test. The word translated torment signifying the kind of torture used in extorting confession from accused persons, when subjected to the rack; the term being derived from the name of a stone (Búsavos, lapis Lydius) employed in testing the purity of metals, indicating the alloy with which they may be mixed, (Rob. Lex. 101.)
Some editions of the Greek have the word μόνους after ανθρώπους, and Leusden renders the passage nisi homines solos, except the men only; while Beza’s rendering corresponds better with that of our common version: Sed ipsis est dictum ne læderent gramen terre, fc.; sed tantum homines qui non haberent signum Dei in frontibus suis, -that they should not injure the grass of the earth, &c., but only the men which had not the sign of God in their foreheads. The difference is not material, so long as we consider the term men to be figurative as well as the terms grass, green things, trees, &c.; and it seems unreasonable to suppose, that in the same divinely inspired composition, vegetables, birds, beasts, serpents, monsters, and even women, are uniformly figures, while the term men and its equivalents are to be literally interpreted.
• Five months.'--This power to torture or to try was to continue five months, a term supposed by some to signify a chronological period in the history of Christendom, equal to one hundred and fifty years ; corresponding, it is said, with the incursion of the Saracens under Mahomet. Perhaps there would be no difficulty in finding other periods of literal torment, or of similar incursions, of an equal duration, either in political or ecclesiastical history. This, however, may not be necessary; the term may be only a mystic term—a key of correspondence with some other figure or scriptural type—as this period of five months' trial by the locust power corresponds with the five months during which the waters “prevailed upon the earth,” (Gen. vii. 24,) as also with the time during which the waters were retiring from the face of the earth. If, however, these five months designate, literally, a period of time in the history of the world, we may presume it is not to be understood till the final development of truth takes place. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons, (Acts i. 7.)
The periods of time mentioned in the Apocalypse have not like those of the prophet (Daniel an epoch assigned them, a from and after, from which we may date their commencement; and the termination of a duration, of which the commencement may be assigned ad libitum to meet one event or another, can afford no proof by which to verify the fulfilment of a prediction. Besides, the expiration of Daniel's periods affords proofs, calculated as they may be from their dates, of the identity of the coming of Christ in the flesh, with the advent of him who, as the Jews well understood, “ was to come.” But there cannot be the same proof required of the second coming of the Saviour, for, from all that is said of that event, it is plain that whenever it takes place there can be no misjudging respecting it : “ As the lightning that cometh out of the one part under heaven, and shineth unto the other part, so will the coming of the Son of man be.” Until this is in some sense apparent, we may be confident that the time has not arrived ; the assurance being repeatedly given in the Scriptures that the day of the Lord, whenever it does come, will come as a thief in the night,--suddenly and unexpectedly. There seems to be a degree of presumption in assuming dates and calculating periods, to defeat if possible this declared purpose of the Almighty; we incline therefore to the opinion that these five months are not a portion of the history of the world, but that they have some other signification, in respect to which we must for the present suspend our opinions.
$ 211. “And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.'-It is said of the scorpion that it fixes itself violently with its mouth and with its feet upon those whom it wounds, so that it cannot be plucked off without great difficulty. The figure in this respect may represent the almost fatal adhesion of certain deductions from legal princi
ples to human pretensions of merit ; trying their validity, and, if not utterly destroying them, showing at least their corrupt tendency—their inability to stand in the fiery trial, alluded to 1 Peter i. 7, and 1 Cor. Üï. 13, destined to try every man's work.
“I beheld,” said Jesus to his disciples, “Satan (the accuser) as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” (Luke x. 18, 19,) oủ8èv vuās où un adıxńca. To see Satan fall from heaven is equivalent to seeing the triumph of the economy of grace over the legal dispensation ; and the power of the apostles to tread on serpents and scorpions unharmed, may be taken as a figure of the power of the elements of the gospel (sealed ones) to overcome those principles of legal condemnation, arising from the transgression, which constitute the sting of death ;—that action of sin which must result in spiritual death. Corresponding with the same figure, the disciple adopted in Christ, by virtue of his imputed merits, triumphs over all the power of the enemy, having the same encouragement for his faith and confidence as that given to the prophet: “ And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions : be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks,” Ezek. ii. 6.
V. 6. And in those days shall men Και εν ταις ημέραις εκείναις ζητήσουσιν seek death, and shall noi find it: and os üv ponoi vòv Jóvatov, xai ou un süshall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
ρωσιν αυτόν· και επιθυμήσουσιν αποθανείν, και φεύξεται ο θάνατος απ' αυτών.
$ 212. “And in those days,' &c.—This is a strong hyperbolical description of a state of mental distress incident to the plague of the scorpion sting, and indicating an extremity of trial. The action of this visitation is not final ; it appears rather preparative for something else. The scorpionlocust power was directed against but one class of objects ; even the members of this class were not to be destroyed, they were only to be tried ; a part of their trial or torture appears, however, to have consisted in a fearful looking for of something still more to be deprecated: “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth,” (Luke xxi. 26.)
In a literal sense, those exposed to the fire and sword of the Saracen could hardly be said to have desired death without being able to find it; and, in a spiritual sense, the state of condemnation figuratively spoken of as death, cannot be supposed to have been at any period desired or sought for. As to the desire of annihilation, it may be said to be and to have been always common with every convicted sinner without a better hope. It may be “an after-thought-a wish unborn till virtue dies ;” but where sin is, virtue has died; and hence the after-thought. This is not a peculiarity, however, to be confined to five months, or to one hundred and fifty years ; it has existed ever since our first parents strove to hide themselves amidst the trees of the garden.
The locusts from the smoke of the pit were not literally animals bearing that name, nor were they literally armed with the sting of other animals termed scorpions, nor were those stung or hurt by them literally animals termed men or human beings. This, we think, must be evident, if we suppose the figures of divine revelation to be consistent with each other; and we can conceive of no other construction to be put upon the
than that these tortured beings are principles of self-rightousness, tried, as on the rack to the utmost, by elements of legal condemnation springing from the bottomless pit.
Vs. 7, 8. And the shapes of the locusts Και τα ομοιώματα των ακρίδων όμοια (were) like unto horses prepared unto bat- innois i toluoouevoış eis nóhsuov, xaù tni tle; and on their heads (were) as it were crowns like gold, and their faces (were) τας κεφαλάς αυτών ως στέφανοι όμοιοι χρυas the faces of men. And they had hair σω, και τα πρόσωπα αυτών ως πρόσωπα ανas the hair of women, and their teeth θρώπων, και είχαν τρίχας ως τρίχας γυναιwere as (the teeth) of lions.
κών, και οι οδόντες αυτών ως λεόντων ήσαν, $ 213. “And the shapes,' &c.—The general appearance, (ouoiwuc.) The locusts resembled war-horses in their state of preparation for battle. The allusion is probably to the ancient custom of covering the horse as well as the rider with armour. Horses, at the same time, as well as their armour, are human means of safety or of power to contend with an enemy; and thus represent principles of self-righteousness, upon which some may expect to justify themselves or to contend with the requisitions of the law; as it is said, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses : but we will remember the name of the Lord our God," Ps. xx. 7. So, also, they may represent principles or legal elements acting against the self-righteous by their tendency to enforce the requisitions of the law : “ Those that take the sword shall perish by the sword,” (Matt. xxvi. 52 ;) so those who depend upon legal elements for their justification, must by the same elements meet their condemnation. We may say metaphorically of a polemic, with his array of arguments, that he appears as a war-horse equipped for battle ; and so we say spiritually of these scorpio-locust principles from the abyss system with their legal furniture armed for the contest.
On their heads were as it were crowns like gold;' orégaron—the kind of crown given to victors at the games. The crowns appeared like gold, and in a certain respect, perhaps, were justly entitled to this appearance.
The action of these locust-principles, we are to remember, is against other principles represented by inhabiters of the earth, not having the seal or mark of God in their foreheads. They war against principles not belonging to God's plan of redemption, as set forth and testified to by the one hundred and forty-four thousand elements of the Old and New Testament revelations—the twelve multiplied by twelve, ($ 175.) Gold we suppose to represent truth, and a crown of gold to be the token of triumph in the cause of truth. These locust-principles appear crowned as victors in the cause of legal truth, although they are not the champions of gospel truth. The law is good when it is used lawfully ; so these elements of the law, bringing the scorpion-sting to act upon the elements of self-righteousness, appear crowned as successful champions of truth. The elements of ihe bottomless pit system, represented by these locusts, are victorious in their contest with the elements of the earthly system ; they would not be so, if they were contending with principles of the heavenly system of sovereign grace.
. And their faces were as the faces of men.'—The human face we have already supposed ($ 128) to indicate wisdom, reason, &c. These faces of the locusts may be the characteristic of wisdom generally, or of human wisdom only. The law in its strictest sense bears the stamp of divine wisdom, and, lawfully applied, this wisdom is manifest in it. So the legal elements of the abyss system, crowned as they are with legal truth, and employed against the fallacious elements of self-justification, must bear the characteristic of divine wisdom. On the other hand, the same elements of legality, if employed to sustain a system of self-righteousness, would bear the stamp of human wisdom ; for, strange as it may appear, man's wisdom favours most the elements of divine government least favourable to sinful humanity. Here, however, the locust-principles, operating against the inhabiters of the earth, representing elements of legal truth acting upon fallacious elements of a human system, must bear the stamp of divine wisdom, or of wisdom in the general sense of the term.
$ 214. “They had hair as the hair of women.'— The hair of women is given them for a covering or veil, (1 Cor. xi. 15,) symbolical of the covering of righteousness with which the disciple must be arrayed, or must be accounted to be arrayed, ere he can appear in the presence of his God. Such a covering of righteousness is at the same time a protection and a glory ; woman, in this respect, is the image or symbol of the man. Her hair, it is said, was given for a covering : God gave it to her; and so the ascription or imputation of divine righteousness (the only true righteousness) to man, is the gift of God. The hair of the Nazarite was a similar figure. The disciple, though strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, loses his strength when out of this position ; because, out of this position, he is without the imputation of his Redeemer's righteousness, and is no longer capable of meeting the requisitions of the law. Long hair, except