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“ the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
This earthquake happens at the time when the witnesses finish, or are finishing their testimony. That is, towards the close of the twelve hundred and sixty years, assigned to them in verse the second. The events therefore prefigured by it, are probably yet to come, and cannot be safely ascertained before history shall show them forth conformable to the prediction.
However, in the annals of the Reformation already obtained, commentators have pointed out events, which, in the spiritual sense in which this prophecy has been hitherto explained, seem to amount nearly to fulfilment. Thus, in the sixteenth century, the Reformation re-attempted, by Luther and his followers, occasioned the most violent commotions; and the great city or community professing itself Christian, was vehemently shaken by wars and persecutions; and a great part of it renounced their obedience to the Roman pontiff. But, a considerable number of the men, (Christian, in name and profession,) fell from the life which is in Christ. The Christian liberty, which they were entitled to, (Gal. v. 1.) and had obtained, produced in some licentiousness and fanaticism, as in the anabaptists of Munster; in others infidelity and atheism.
But to the Christian world in general, the Reformation of the sixteenth century was in every sense most beneficial. Many nations withdrawing themselves entirely from the tyranny and corruptions of the Roman church, modelled their religion by the word of God, and the practice of primitive Christianity. And even they, who were compelled to adhere to the papal communion, incited by the example of Protestants, began to cultivate, if not in their formularies, yet in their lives and practice, a less impure and corrupt religion. Some nations, acknowledging the papal name, have been enabled to shake off a considerable part of the papal yoke ; to renounce the authority of the court of Rome in their civil, and (as in the Gallican church,) some of their religious concerns; and a prospect is thus opened of their entire deliverance from this audacious usurpation.
Ver. 14.] The second woe appears, from this passage and its context, to be under the sixth trumpet, and included in the period of twelve hundred and sixty years, which seems to contain the greater part of the Mahometan and Papal times. As to the third woe, or temporary depression of Christianity, I have in another place expressed an apprehension that it is yet to come; and we must withhold our judgment concerning prophecies yet unfulfilled.
The sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.
CHAP. xi. ver. 15 to the end.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16 And the four-and-twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Ver. 15.] The sound of the seventh trumpet was become an object of expectation. It was the last trumpet, the sabbatical one, which, after a long period of warfare, should bring rest and peace to the church. The angel had solemnly declared, that “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God should be finished.” Immediately, therefore, as this sound is heard, heavenly voices hail the happy time, and announce the triumphant reign of
God, and of his anointed. The twenty-four elders join the heavenly chorus, anticipating the joyful event, even before it is disclosed in prophetical 'vision. Thus the scene is suddenly removed from earth to heaven ; where the same apparatus, and the same heavenly ministers appear, surrounding the throne of God, as in the fourth chapter.
Ver. 18.] The wrath of the nations, must remind us of the opening of that august prophecy relating to Christ's kingdom, in the 2d Psalm,
why do the nations so furiously rage, &c.” and of similar expressions in the 110th Psalm.
The received translation expresses that the dead are to be judged at this time : but more than this seems to be intended in the original : for before the great day of final retribution, when the literally dead shall be raised from their graves for judgment, (as in ch. xxii. 12.) another kind of judgment is to be expected,—that by which the inequalities in the distribution of justice, shall be rectified under the reign of Christ's religion upon earth. Kploi Touç Elvegi enayyeλει, det," he shall utter judgment to the nations," was the prophetic designation of our Lord, (Matth. xii. 18.) "All judgment was committed to him by the Father, (John v. 22.) and his right to exercise it took place from his crucifixion (John xii. 31.); but this judgment was suspended for a time, Η κρισις αυτου ηρθη, (Acts viii. 33.) and was not to be exercised in plenitude of power, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. (Luke xxi. 24.) And this judgment, though not perfected in all its parts before the great and last day, (which is also comprehended under this seventh and last trumpet,) yet is first to be partially displayed in the destruction of the corrupt worldly powers, and the restoration of a purer religion and morality.
“ The time of the dead,” may likewise signify
(in that metaphorical sense in which the word death, &c. is frequently used,) the time when pure religion,
c dead and buried with the witnesses, shall with them revive and flourish. But no final and certain opinion can be passed on prophecy, before the event shall direct the interpretation.
Ver. 19.] “ The ark of the covenant,”—the sacred coffer so called, because it contained the tables of the covenant into which God had deigned to enter with the ancient church,—was deposited in the tabernacle called “ the holiest of all.” (Heb. ix. 145.) This interior part of the temple, accessible under the law to none but the high priest, is now opened, and the ark is exhibited to view. Jesus Christ, the only High Priest and Mediator of the new covenant,-who had now deposited here his new covenant of mercy, “ the everlasting gospel,”—who had broken down the partition which excluded the Gentiles from its benefits,—who alone could enter the holy of holies, grants the exhibition. As the walls of idolatrous Jericho fell before the ark of the old covenant, so will the corrupt Babylon before the new one: but that which seems more immediately to be signified under this exhibition, is the restoration of the Christian religion in its purity. To the Gentiles, who, the greater part of them, had not yet known this religion in its purity, a view of the ark of the covenant is afforded from the æra of the Reformation.
Vitringa has taken a concise and able view of those interpretations of this prophecy, which have referred the fulfilment of it either to the great and last day of judgment, or to those times preceding our own, when religion, after having been long de