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Mountains in ancient times were places of refuge from an invading enemy; they were especially so with the Hebrews; mountains were their strong holds. Hence a mountain is employed as a figure of means of salvation, as Ps. xi. 1, "How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" An island is equally a place of resort for safety at sea; and mountains and islands were refuges in times of flood, or deluge: so, spoken of in the plural number, they represent earthly means, or pretended means of salvation from the deluge of divine wrath; opposites of the one mountain, or rock, symbolizing the only true means-Christ. The insufficiency of these earthly refuges is illustrated by the condition of those who fled to them in the time of Noah, when the tops of the highest mountains were covered.
This shaking of the sixth seal has a twofold effect. The heavenly or spiritual view of the means of salvation is obscured and taken away, while the elements of the earthly system are severally tested; corresponding with the declaration referred to, Heb. xii. 26, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven." This shaking of heaven and earth, the apostle says, signifies the removing of certain movable things, in order that those which are immovable may remain. The scroll rolled up, we may suppose to represent the heavenly exhibition of the means of salvation afforded by the old dispensation, spiritually understood; the departure of the heaven, or rolling up of the scroll, being equivalent to the departure of the spiritual sense: the revelation of the Old Testament is still left, but it is understood only in the literal sense. It becomes, in effect, an earthly, and not a heavenly view; the only system left being that of the earthly, or self-righteous character, the vanity and fallacy of which is now being exposed the refuges of lies-mountains and islands-are now shaken to their foundation.
An allusion to this change seems to be made by Paul, Heb. i. 10–12, where both the heavens and the earth are described as waxing old, and being folded up, or laid aside as a garment; not that the true plan of salvation, or the truth as it is in Jesus, can ever cease to exist, but that the exhibition of it by the types and symbols and ordinances of the old dispensation will be superseded by the full development afforded by the gospel. The first will then, like an old garment, be laid aside the old heaven being changed for the new-as will be also the view of man's position, spoken of apparently Rev. xxi. 1, as the first earth. Truth itself must be eternal and unchangeable as the mind of Deity; but there may be certain modes of representing truth, which will cease to be employed as soon as they become unnecessary.
V. 15. And the kings of the earth, and
the great men, and the rich men, and the chieri captains, and the mighty men. and
every bond-man, and every free-man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of
Καὶ οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς καὶ οἱ μεγιστῶνες καὶ οἱ χιλίαρχοι καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι καὶ οἱ ἰσχυροὶ καὶ πᾶς δοῦλος καὶ ἐλεύθερος ἔκρυψαν ἑαυτοὺς εἰς τὰ σπήλαια καὶ εἰς τὰς πέτρας τῶν ὀρέων.
$168. And the kings,' &c.-We do not suppose these kings, magistrates, captains, rich, mighty, bond and free persons, or personages, to be literally men, or human beings, any more than we suppose the rocks, dens, and mountains to be such, literally; but we view them as principles or elements belonging to the earthly or self-righteous system, figuratively represented as human beings flying for refuge each to its peculiar system. The term man, or men, is not expressed in the original; it is only supposed to be understood, or something equivalent to it. The period reached seems to be that in which the souls under the altar were to be vindicated, or their blood avenged upon the dwellers on the earth; and this we have already contemplated as the period for the vindication of the truth, (§ 162:) these dwellers upon the earth, or elements of the earthly position, being represented as of different ranks, or classes, from the highest to the lowest; each class no doubt representing some corresponding principle, or class of principles. The rulers and kings of the heathen, or gentiles, are said, Ps. ii. 1– 3, to take counsel, and to set themselves to break the bands of the Lord, and his Anointed. This was true in a primary, restricted sense, of Pilate and Herod, and the chief priests; but it is still more universally true, in a spiritual sense, of chief principles and leading elements of anti-evangelical systems.
And hid themselves in the dens,' &c.-Although the rocks and mountains were moved out of their places, they still remained accessible; and, notwithstanding their manifest instability, they were still resorted to for protection another proof that the stage of proceeding here reached is not the final and great change, but only something preparatory to it.
Vs. 16, 17. And said to the mountains
and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from
the face of him that sitteth on the throne,
and from the wrath of the Lamb. Fot the great day of his wrath is cone; and
who shall be able to stand?
Καὶ λέγουσι τοῖς ὄρεσι καὶ ταῖς πέτραις· πέσετε ἐφ ̓ ἡμᾶς, καὶ κρύψατε ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ μεγάλη τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ, καὶ τίς δύναται σταθῆναι.
§ 169. Fall upon us ; or, rather, fall over us—as a criminal, taking refuge in a den when pursued by the officers of justice, wishes the impending rocks to fall over the mouth of the chasm in which he seeks to hide himself, that he may be the more effectually concealed, (Rob. Lex. 586, ninrw. Seq. izì cum accus. 2.) Fall over us, not to crush, but to protect us.
In view of the wrath to come, men fly to some merit or righteousness of
their own, which they have flattered themselves with regarding as a mountain or rock. We have here the description of a season of trial, when certain principles of self-dependence are put to the test. The justly panicstricken beings spoken of, have two subjects of alarm-two objects of dread : the face of the Sovereign Judge, and the wrath of the Lamb. Not that these are two different beings, but that the same being is contemplated under two different aspects. To be exposed to the face of a judge, is to be a subject of judicial investigation; in allusion to this, the Sovereign has himself said, "There shall no man see me, and live," Ex. xxxiii. 20. “There is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good, and sinneth not." There is not one who is not a transgressor of the law; consequently, there is not one who can appear with impunity before the Judge of all the earth; for, as it is declared, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."
But why fear the wrath of the Lamb; the wrath of him who came "not to destroy men's lives, but to save them?" The very name of the Lamb seems also intended to preclude the idea of fear. There are those, however, who have reason to fear, as it is said, Heb. x. 28 and 29, "He that despised Moses's law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" and Heb. xii. 25, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven."
§ 170. The sinner, or transgressor of the law, even in the most literal sense, may well fear to meet the face of Him who searcheth the heart, and from whom no secrets are hid; and the contumacious rejecter of gospel mercy may well fear, in its strongest literal and spiritual sense, the fate of those from whom the proffer of divine mercy is withdrawn, and who are left in the final judgment with no other hope or resource than their own selfrighteous subterfuges. But in this apocalyptic exhibition, we have supposed, and must still suppose, the several classes of human beings enumerated to represent principles, or doctrinal elements, figuratively spoken of as kings, captains, &c.,-principles incapable of withstanding the test of divine judgment-principles so manifestly deficient in this respect, as to be appropriately compared to the panic-stricken multitude flying to dens and caverns for safety. The prophet Isaiah, predicting the period when the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low, and the Lord shall be exalted, draws a similar picture, (Is. ii. 19:) "In that day, the idols shall be utterly abolished, and they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord,
and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." So it is said, Luke xxiii. 30-" Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us."
All these descriptions apparently corresponding with that state of conviction which is to prepare the stout-hearted for an exhibition of divine mercy, (Is. xvi. 12 and 13.)
§. 171. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?'-This seems to refer particularly to the wrath of the Lamb; or to the wrath of the Supreme Being in his character as the Lamb.
The wrath of divine justice must be directed against sin and sinners; but the Lamb is the propitiatory principle, and Jesus is especially revealed here as the Lamb "as it had been slain." The wrath of the Lamb, therefore, we may presume to be directed against those with whom he has to contend, and not against those whom he came to save. The enemies of the propitiatory principle are the opposite principles, tending to the condemnation of the sinner, opposing the work of Christ, and thus constituting the hostile force to be overcome. To these hostile, self-righteous principles, the manifestation of the truth as it is in Jesus we may suppose to be the day of wrath, represented as a season of the utmost consternation-a manifestation operating in effect as a trial which none of them are able to withstand-as is implied in the question with which the description closes. The trial in contemplation apparently corresponds with that elsewhere spoken of, as a trial by fire-the fire which is to try every man's workissuing in a destruction of that wicked, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming, 2 Thess. ii. 8.
We have here reached the end of the chapter, but this is not the end of the subject of the sixth seal; the relation, as we shall see, runs into the next chapter. The present, however, terminates the description of the consternation preceding the expected exhibition of wrath; for the remainder of the development of this seal offers a picture the reverse of that which has just now engaged our attention.
The opening of this seal, we are to bear in mind, does not reveal to us the wrath; it developes only the state of apprehension-the fearful condition of all obnoxious to this wrath, immediately preceding its coming. The exhibition of the wrath itself, is reserved, as we shall see, for the developments attending the opening of the next seal-the seventh, and last. From examining the action of this wrath, as there revealed, we shall be able to learn whether our suggestion, as to the objects of it, be well founded
THE SERVANTS OF GOD SEALED, AND CHORUS OF THE
V. 1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth,
that the wind should not blow on the
earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον τέσσαρας ἀγγέλοις ἑστῶτας ἐπὶ τὰς τέσσαρας γωνίας τῆς γῆς, κρατοῦντας τοὺς τέσσαρας ἀνέμους τῆς γῆς, ἵνα μὴ πνέῃ ἄνεμος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς μήτε ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης μήτε ἐπὶ πᾶν δένδρον,
§ 172. AFTER these things.'-There is here a change of scenery, but we are not obliged to suppose a succession in the order of the things themselves, or of their existence. The succession may be only in the apostle's sight; the things seen may all exist in some sense at the same time; at least, we are not under the necessity of confining our ideas to events occurring in the history of the world at different epochs, in a literal sense.
I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth.'-The earth was supposed to be a square; and as we now speak of the four quarters of the world as the whole world, the four corners of the earth, with the apostle, was probably an expression equal to the whole earth; / and an angel at each corner, was equal to a compassing of the whole earth with angels.
'Holding the four winds of the earth;'—that is, all the winds of the earth, as we now class all the points of the compass under four distinguishing heads; denominating a wind blowing from any point between N. W. and N. E. a northerly wind, and the same with a southerly, easterly, or westerly wind; these four winds comprehending all the winds of the earth. That the wind should not blow on the earth,' &c.;—that is, that there should be no wind from any quarter; a privation easily supposed to end in the destruction of animal and vegetable life. The Greek word пvεvμa signifies spirit, as well as wind or breath; and the word translated blow, equally signifies to breathe or to send forth the spirit.
If we suppose, for example, the earth to be the picture of man's position under the law—a position, in which he depends upon his works, upon the sweat of his brow, for his hopes of eternal life-to prevent the winds from breathing upon the earth, is equivalent to depriving this picture, or representation, of its spiritual sense; and as the earth is spiritually the scheme of man's legal position, and the things upon the earth, animate and inanimate, are the principles or doctrinal elements peculiar to this scheme; so the