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« but even to defy my omnipotence, and deny my
existence ; and therefore begin to reap, to “ cut them off and destroy them.”
And we are told, by the prophet, that Christ did thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth (the ungodly) was reaped, “ was cut off and destroyed*.” Here the prophet, by the word earth, alludes to those dreadful judgments which we have lately seen poured down upon France, Germany, and Italy, and that which is to fall on the Othman empire ; judgments upon the particulars of which the prophet enlarges in the sixteenth chapter, under the symbols of the first “ six vials ;” as I shall have occasion to prove in a future comment upon them.
Having thus briefly alluded to the destruction of the wicked, in the course of the events of the first six vials, the prophet gives us the great outlines of the seventh and last : for he says,“ Ano“ther Angel came out of the temple, which is in "s heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And “ another angel came out from the altar, which “ had power over fire.” Upon considering these verses, several observations naturally occur. The three first angels mentioned in this chapter, were to be the messengers of Christ, sent in the course of his office to admonish and reform mankind, and to announce the judgments of his Father upon the refractory and obstinate sinner, as we have already seen ; but the three following angels mentioned in it, are said to come out of the temple, and one of them from the altar, to inform us they were vested with authority from God himself: for it is in his temple which is in heaven, that the spirit, the presence, the power and glory of God are supposed to reside. One of the angels had also a sharp sickle (the emblem of a fierce and dreadful destruction), to show that he was sent from God prepared to cut off the ungodly, as soon as he should receive the awful command; a business not within the original commission of Christ, which was the salvation, and not the perdition, of man. The second angel comes from the altar, the place whence the justice and mercy of God are administered in the course of his allrighteous providence ; and he had “ power over fire;" over the most destructive of all the elements, over that very element by which the world itself shall be burnt up “ and destroyed at the last trump*.” Clothed with this power, he is sent to the first angel, and commands him, with a loud voice, to a thrust in his sharp sickle, “and gather the clusters of the vine of the eartht, “ for her grapes (her wild, or sour grapes, or “ wickedness) are fully ripe.” And it is said, that the angel did “thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered,” not the clusters only, but " the vine” itself, “ of the earth, with the clusters upon it;” evidently alluding by the vine to the kingdom of Satan. For, as the vine is the parent and the nourisher of the grapes, so Satan is the author, propagator, and power that brings all manner of sin to its utmost maturity. Into this kingdom then, or as St. Paul describes it, into the kingdom of “the prince of the power “ of the air, the spirit that worketh in the chil“ dren of disobedience, *" the sickle is to be thrust; and Satan, the vine of it, with its clusters of his wicked instruments, are to be gathered, cut down, and destroyed. But this is not all: thus gathered, they are to be “ cast into the winepress
* Ver. 14, 15, 16.
2 Pet. iii. 10. Isaiah, li 6. Matt. xxiv. 3. 36. Rev. xx. 11, Ibid. xxi. 1.
† The reader is requested to turn to the beautiful parable of the vineyard which brought forth wild grapes, to be found in Isaiah, v. 1, 2, 3, 4; to the vine of Sodom, and the bitter clusters and grapes of Gomorrah, Deut. xxxii. 32, 33 ; and to the sour grapes inentioned by Ezekiel, xyiii. 2 ; and he will find that these passages clearly support my construction.
of the wrath of God;" there, as a vitner treads out his grapes and mashes them to pieces, never again to be united, Satan and his power are to be trod, and so divided and destroyed, as not to be able to impede the coming, or interrupt the peaceful reign of the LAMB OF Godt.
I have been led to this interpretation of the seemingly mysterious, and yet beautiful group of figures, expressing the meaning of the prophet, by finding that the word earth), in many parts of the Scripture, is used as a metaphor for a wicked power or nation, for wickedness and sin in general, and the source of sin ; that the word vine is used for a power either good or evil: when represented as bearing its natural fruit, it is used for the Jewish churchs, the church of Christ|l:
Eph. ii. 2. + Ver 17, 18, 18. Rev. xxx. 19, 20, 21.
and Christ himself; and when bearing wild, sour, or bitter grapes, for a sinful power or people, that a vinc growing out of the earth, the source of all evil, represents Satan, the evil spirit ; and that a, or one, vine of the earth in the singular number, having clusters of grapes raised and nourished by, and united to it, is a beautiful figure for a number of wicked and ungodly powers, with their several hosts, collected and united to. gether in one grand confederacy* : that a sharp sickle, is a proper trope for a rapid and great destruction ; and the gathering the “vine of the
earth, and casting it into the wine-press of the « wrath of God,” denote the utter destruction of such confederacy, and the parties concerned in it. But that which chiefly seems to countenance this construction, however novel it may appear, is, that the prophet, having given this brief account of a great confederacy which is to come, enters into a particular description of the partiest and of their design, and denounces their utters destruction among the events of the “ seventh vial.”
* Deut. xxxii. 32. Isaiah, v. 4. Ezek. xviii. 24 + Rev. xvi. 13, 14, 15, 16. xix. per totum. | Rev. xix. per totum.
THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATLON.
IN this short chapter, yet continuing his summary
of the third and last woe, the prophet draws nearer to the particular history of the contents of the “ seven vials,” and tells us, there were presented to his view “ seven angels, having the seven last plagues ;” and that « in them is filled up the wrath of God*.” But it being the uniform practice of the divine Spirit of prophecy to give to the church assurance of his merciful protection, amidst the awful dispensations of his wrath upon the wicked, so it is not omitted upon this last dreadful occasion : and therefore he adds, what ought to be the most powerful of all motives with the believers in Christ, to double their dili, gence, “ And I saw as it were, a sea of glasst “ mingled with fire, and them that had gotten " the victory over the beast, and over his image, " and over his mark, and over the number of “his name, stand upon the sea of glass, having « the harps of God I.” This place of holy protection, prepared of God for the righteous, is not to be the sea itself, but, as it were, or like unto,
It was like unto the sea in its great extent and compass; because it was to contain all “ who had feared God, and given him the gloryg.” It was like unto the sea in its natural state, calm, unruffled, and at perfect rest, amidst surrounding
* Ver. 1.
† See chap. iv. $ Rev. xix. 6, 7.
| Ver 2.