Remarks on the Revelation.

1880 46 Before entering upon the consideration of this portion of the Revelation, I would briefly revert to chapters 4, 5. The substance of the instruction I derive from them, in one little word, is this — that the Divine Power has taken another and a new position, in which and from which to exercise itself, separate and distinct from that in which it had revealed itself as connected, properly speaking, with the present dispensation. Such I conceive to be the instruction meant to be conveyed by the representation in Revelation 4; while the purpose and object of this new throne seem taught by the circumstances revealed in connection with it, especially in Revelation 5 — even the bringing in, for Christ and the church in Him, of the day of glory; and this brought about by the exercise of the Almighty power which created and upholds all things, so over-ruling all things for Christ and the church from this throne. This throne will be found to be the centre, source, and regulator of all the vast machinery and means presented in the sum of the book, as well as the place whence the Lamb revealed to John, for the church, the history of these coming actions of the power of the God of creation and providence.

These two things are in themselves, and must be kept by us, very distinct: as connected with the active energy of the former, the Lamb never appears in the character of the Lamb upon the throne throughout the book; the latter being the only circumstances in which as the Lamb He acts from this throne; for He is on the throne, and has had this blessed honour and service assigned to Him there, thence to reveal to John, for the church, the history of the actions of the power of God as Creator and Sustainer, bringing in the day of His own glory as Redeemer. The doing of this, however, is the work of God, properly speaking, as Creator — unto whom, when in weakness, He (Jesus) "committed himself as unto one that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter ii. 23); concerning whom He has said, "I will put my trust in him" (Heb. ii. 13); and on whose word to take the kingdom and glory He waits. While the Lamb takes no part, as upon the throne,* in the actions subject to it, which are to prepare the way for His coming glory, it is He pre-eminently to whose intervention the church is indebted for the knowledge of these coming things. And this gives us as saints our confidence in studying what is thus presented to us — it is shown to us by the Lamb Himself. It enables us also (since He whose book it was intended it should be thus revealed by the Lamb from the throne to John) to understand the preparative character of all that precedes the opening of the seventh seal. Till He has opened the seventh seal, the Lamb is seen upon the throne, showing to John, for the saints, things which must shortly come to pass; but upon the opening of the seventh seal, we see no more of the Lamb upon the throne, but Himself in the new character of an angel by the altar, gives the signal for its tale of disaster to be told.

[*The question is not whether He who is the Lamb does or does not take part in the actions which are presented in the book: without question He does, and that a very prominent part (see Rev. viii. 3; Rev. x.; Rev. xiv. 1- 4, etc., etc.); but in these, and all His other times of appearing in the book, He is either in some other character than that of the Lamb, or else not upon the throne. This, and the ground assigned for His opening the book (see chap. 5), I believe to be very important, as showing that God, simply as God, is the source and origin of everything we here read of — a question more closely connected with redemption than some are aware of.]

The object of the first seals is, I conceive, to prepare the saints' minds for the sum and substance of the seventh; for I cannot for a moment admit that the unity of the roll and the consecutive order of its seven parts, is to be set aside by supposing that the revelation, consequent upon the opening of any of the seals preceding the fast, leads down to the end, and that a subsequent seal recommences from the beginning. I know some have thought that the seals thus present three courses from the beginning of time to the end; but such an interpretation is to me incorrect, and destructive of the internal perfectness and unity of the book. To proceed with the seals, which commence the portion proposed for inquiry. The four first are distinguished from the rest by the call severally, upon the breaking of the seal, of the living creatures, to "come and see;" these four present us with living agents going forth to the earth: the result of the fifth seal is different; John looks under the altar, and learns what is the present state and expectation of the souls of those slain for the word of God, etc., and that their number is still to be added to from the earth; during the doing of which they must still wait for the full enjoyment of the white robes then given to them, for the day of vengeance was not yet come.

The sixth introduces a great earthquake, and such as might take place any day, and the thoughts of men about it — thoughts very natural to man as a fallen being about such things at all times. Then comes a parenthesis: four angels come forward, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, but they are withholden from so doing till the servants of God on earth are sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel are then sealed on earth, and from them the eye of the apostle rises to the great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb. They are certified to him to be the heavenly family; and these from among the nations are thus seen at rest before the remnant of Israel gets into trouble.* Then (Rev. viii. 1) the Lamb breaks the seventh seal, and the seven trumpet-angels of sorrow and woe take their place. Yet another parenthesis follows, for the first blast is not until upon a signal given by another angel, and He confessedly the Mediator. There, at the golden altar, with his golden censer and much incense, having offered up the prayers of all saints, he casts the censer, filled with fire from the altar, to the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, and the angels begin to sound of woe. There is something very gracious in these parentheses, the subject-matter of which gives so much repose, as chewing how nothing can touch the disciple of Christ — even the messengers of God's sorrows to the wicked utter not their messages, save as at the command of Him who is Mediator to us.

[*Observe, when these are shown the Lamb is upon the throne (Rev. 4, 5), and their joy is in Him there (Rev. vii. 9, 10, 15, 17); when the one hundred and forty-four thousand are afterwards shown, they are with Him on mount Zion. (Rev. xiv. 1-4.) The song, too, of the latter, who are first-fruits from the earth, is peculiar to them, and not that of this heavenly family.]

The unity of the book will, I believe, be found to be to many the clue to much of the difficulty; in examining hereafter more closely the substance of the book as a whole, and the exact import of the revelation which follows the breaking of each seal, this will be, I believe, abundantly confirmed and established; at present I would only say, that so naturally and strongly does unity and consecutiveness of order in the seals suggest itself upon the first aspect of the matter, that very strong evidence ought to be required from those who would have the contrary received by us. The idea of consecutive order in the seals is more strongly suggested to the mind by the writing being upon a roll, than if in such a thing as a modern book. The order of breaking would be the reverse of that of making the seals. For when the whole was written on both sides, the first seal would be placed after rolling a little of that which, by further rolling for the second seal, would become the roller on which the winding afterwards proceeded. The opening of the seal first made, of course, could not take place till the whole of the outer six seals had been broken. The object of the six first, and of the parenthesis which follows the sixth and precedes the seventh, I conceive to be simply preparative. This parenthesis also seems to be just a commentary on the fifth and sixth seal, as showing who these brethren and fellow-servants that were yet to be killed are, and why, when the earthquake came, there was only fear from the men of the world, and no joyful shout from the disciples, "Jesus is come!" for this parenthesis tells us a remnant of Jews upon earth were sealed, and the disciples out of the trouble and trial in the heavens — not, however, in the full enjoyment of their glory, for their Bridegroom has not taken His own throne; but they rest before Him still sitting upon the throne of divine Providence. Thus I find the Lord sitting in rest at the right hand of power, and His sole action (as connected with this throne) the communication of the history of its actings to John; but directly the disciples are housed, and God's purposes as connected with the earth are alone in question, I find Him in action (as the emissary of this throne, however, still), till He takes His place definitely on Mount Zion with the one hundred and forty-four thousand redeemed from the earth unto God and Himself.

To examine now more closely the import of the revelation which follows the breaking of each seal, as was proposed.

The four first seals seem marked off, in some respects, from the rest by their having, in common to themselves alone, the introduction of the cry from the living creatures to "come and see," and by the substance of each of them being a horse and a rider going forth in aggressive agency from the throne to the earth.

The living creatures, as I have said, find this throne the place of their support, "for they were in the midst of the throne and round about the throne" (Rev. iv. 6), and are, if my interpretation of them is correct, the representative heads of those classes of creatures which needed and found refuge in the ark, in the deluge, and with whom the covenant to Noah was formed — the wild beast,* the cattle, the fowls of the air, and man; parts of the fifth and sixth day's creation — they are representative heads of all the classes wherein was the breath of life; the rest of creation, as the fish and plants, etc., needed not a refuge from the deluge, From their connection with these four riders, and their works, I judge that there must be some natural and palpable connection between that which the living creatures represent, and that which the riders represent and do; and, more than that, a connection of deep interest to the living creatures, for no sooner do they discern the horses than they cry, "Come and see." If creation, as connected with the Noahic covenant, is what the living creatures represent (as I believe it assuredly is), then creation, as connected with the Noahic covenant (the signs and marks of which are also pre-eminently stamped upon the throne which sustains these creatures, see Rev. iv.), must, I believe, be deeply interested in the works of these riders.

[*The distinction between wild beast and cattle is from the beginning, and kept up in the beginning of Genesis.]

As to the riders, what they are, I do not think any one can doubt who takes a review of the passages in which horses, and riders, and chariots of horses are representatively presented as connected with other things than those which literally they are the names of. Whether we turn to 2 Kings ii. 12; 2 Kings xiii. 14, or to Zech. i. 8; Zech. vi. 2, 3, 6, I find them uniformly to represent angelic agencies, never to be symbols of earthly things, as far as I remember. Any one, running in thought through the connection of Israel's history, in its various parts with God, may see at once the use our God makes of these angelic powers in His kingdom of providence; and the throne now before us is the throne of the Lord God Almighty, His names as Creator and Sustainer of all things. Of the distinctive character of each of these aggressive angelic agencies, thus going from the throne of providence, we shall see more here-after. For besides these things possessed in common by the four first seals, each of them has its distinctive peculiarity, which we will now consider, and then their interpretation.

First Seal. — There seems much peculiar to the first seal as distinguishing it from the rest of the four first. For instance, "the voice of thunder" is not mentioned in any of the others; the colour of the horse is the same as that on which the King of kings and the Lord of lords, with His attendant bands (in Rev. xix. 11–14) ride; the colour, too, used as expressive of glory (Matt. xvii. 2; Matt. xxviii. 3, etc.), of divine majesty (Rev. 1), of purity (Rev. vii. 9-13, etc.). Again, the rider had neither the implement of his aggressive action, nor any commission given to him — neither indebted to, nor restrained by, a commission. He possessed a bow, was recognised as conqueror by the gift of the crown, and went forth, in the energy of his own might, unordered, conquering and to conquer. The bow also is the weapon of aggressive war from the distance.

Second Seal. — The whole seal is evidently very subordinate to the preceding. No voice of thunder heard, no emphatic "I saw and behold;" but simply, "there came forth another horse, red," with a rider on its back: he has no power of his own, like the first; no implement of his own, like the first and third; nor any name, like the fourth. And though the action be more definite than the first, it is of narrower range, and in character lower than that of any of the rest. No commission is definitely given to him, but only liberty and authority to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; liberty and authority (the great sword), that is, to do that to which there is in fallen man the fullest propensity and readiness, just simply when left to himself. Who can remember the first scenes of man's history, after his exclusion from Eden, and not sigh at this likeness of fallen Adam stamped upon our Cainish race?

Third Seal. — Besides the announcement of the living creature, "Come and see," and John's emphatic "I saw and behold," there is a peculiar energy in this vision — "there was a black horse, and its rider self-possessed of his implement;" his commission also is definitely given either by Him that sat upon the throne or the Lamb, for they only were in the midst of the four living creatures whence the voice came. The commission is very definite, but in nature it is very high; because, to an office not altogether above the range of man, but one most closely connected with the testimony God has been pleased to give of Himself even to the heathen, in fruitful seasons — to the regulation of famine. The corn and the barley, the oil and the wine, are all had in remembrance.

Fourth Seal. — The natural name and attendant of the fourth rider (whose horse was greenish-white), Death his name and Hades his pursuivant, give him (as well as the language in which he is described) distinction. His service is not under a formally given commission, even as the second, yet more is implied here, I think, than there. There it is said, "it was given to him to take peace from the earth and a great sword;" but here, "power was given to them [both] to kill on the fourth part of the earth with sword, and famine, and death, and the beasts of the earth." There the second rider set others to kill one another, here these two themselves are at the deadly work. Liberty and authority to stir up the bad passions of men seem to be less of commission than the communication of power to mow down a fourth of the earth, not only by the sword, which is in man's hand — in one sense at least — but also by famine, death, and the wild beasts, which are in God's. The pre-eminence of this rider also is seen in the power conceded to him to use those things over which the two preceding riders were set.

1880 63 I feel prevented by ignorance from tracing out the distinctive connection between the respective parts of creation, as represented by the four living creatures, and the works and spheres of these riders. Each of the riders is announced by a living creature: and if the living creatures speak here according to the order in which they are mentioned in Rev. iv., then that order would be, first, the lion-faced creature; then, secondly, the calf-faced creature; thirdly, the man-faced; and fourthly, the eagle-faced creature. In this order they are mentioned in Rev. iv. 7, but the word, the first, is there found as before, the lion-faced creature; while in Rev. 6:1 it is not said the first, but simply, I heard one; which, of course, might have been that which is called the fourth in Rev. iv., and so the order of the rest of the series called the second, third, and fourth be quite deranged. I desire, therefore, here simply to plead, "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant," and to wait on the Lord for further light.

As to the interpretation of these riders, I would speak not with decision, but merely as suggesting to others, who have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things, who with me also are learning to prove all things, and hold fast that which is truth, what has struck my own mind in communion with the Lord as His mind about them. I do this with the more confidence, as believing it to be the will of our Father, and of His gracious ways of leading us all on, for us to have great liberty of speech one with the other as to what we believe to be the mind of our God, never putting forward either the notions we have learned from others, nor being backward to put forward in its proper place and season that which we believe we have learnt in holy, blessed communion from our God. And sure I am that we should all he ready to say, "We seek not to establish, we love not our own opinions: if others can prove they savour not of both 'grace and truth,' as in Him, let them pass as the morning cloud!" These four riders, then, seem to me the representation of the Lord God Almighty's recognition of what I may call "the ways and means" of providential rule. Those things which from the beginning were used by God to keep man's wickedness in a lapsed world so far in check, as to render it possible for His own people to abide in it, and His own purposes to be carried on, here seem recognised, as connected with this new throne and its objects. The throne, be it remembered, is a new throne; not the throne of God as the Father — not the throne of the Divine eternal glory, as seen in the light to which no man can approach — not the millennial throne either, for that is the Lord's in the character of Messiah, and not as this, which presents the Lord God Almighty overruling (for the Lamb, so as to bring in His name of Lordship) all in nature, creation, and providence.

None of the actions of the riders seem to me to be judgment, properly so called, so as for a disciple to be able to plead exemption from them. Any one, whose mind sweeps through the disastrous history of the earth with the eye of faith, will see how the very goodness of God has been aggressively acting upon the course of things below, even when there was no pillar and no cloud to sight, marking His near presence. It is just this which seems taken up here, as the first means to be used toward bringing in the Lordship of the Lamb that was slain. As to the first, we know, concerning the Son of God AS God, that it is written, "by him all things consist." (Col. i. 17.) "Upholding all things by the word of his power." (Heb. i. 3.) Now the thought which presses upon my mind is, that this first horseman is the Son as God, not as the Lamb, nor as the Lord, but as God, secretly and from the distance using the powers of providence in their natural course, as thus witnessing for God; using, not the delegated power which grace makes it his boast to wait for (see Phil. ii.), but in the power and majesty of His own Godhead acting as He will. And while we worship and love the meek and lowly Jesus, we never surely should forget that even all through His course on earth, and while now as the Man He is waiting for His appointed inheritance, He has been, and is, and ever must be, as God, the Sustainer and Director of that which Himself created. The Lord pardon His servant if a dim eye, or a film upon it, has seen Him in that in which He is not! But I do feel very strongly the peculiar dignity of that first rider.*

[*The notion of applying the first seal to Christ seems to me quite unfounded, and the reasons given inadequate. Far more probably might it be that enemy of the Lord who afterward heads the beast at the close. Ed.]

Secondly: the more immediate and natural connection, in a world of sin, between man and war, may account for the comparative insignificancy of the second as compared with the third and fourth seal; while the positive character of wickedness in war, not merely like sickness and affliction and trouble, proofs of sin, but fuller developments of it, may account for its commissioned agent; besides, as connected with the object of the throne, the needs be of its being guided and directed and its course.

Thirdly: the close connection between God as the Creator and God of providence, and His testimony of Himself as such, fully accounts, to my own mind, for the comparative importance of the third rider. His action is not aggressive to appearance: balances were in His hand when first He appeared, but nothing seemed his to do, till his commission comes forth that he should rule in the famine and necessity which not he had made, but the God who commissioned him. Reference might be made, as illustrative of the balances, to Ezekiel iv. 10-16.

Fourthly: this seems indeed to have a service of sadness and horror, but all, still (though faith would see God in it, as it does in everything), merely in the natural course of events apparently. His commission seems limited to a fourth of the earth. His name, Death; his follower, Hades; and the powers used by them, black famine, red warfare, death and the beasts.

When I look through the earth, I see sorrow, trouble, affliction, and trial of every kind natural to man as fallen. I see too not merely natural death, but warfare and all its attendant horrors; famine, and its wretchedness; and sometimes, as has strikingly been the case lately in India, all of these combined together, and not only so, but, ere combined, each so augmented in itself as to be fearful. How fearful is the account of the item of famines alone in India during the last thirty years! by one, three millions swept off in a few months, the atmosphere of districts putrid from unburied corpses, rivers choked with the bodies of the famished dead and of babes and children cast therein by their parents! These wild fruits of the fall are growing everywhere naturally and spontaneously, yet not now to us as disciples without our God. As upon the throne of the Lord God Almighty, He has commissioned agents over them all. The swelling and flowing of their course is all overruled, little as we may see it, for the bringing in of the Lordship of Jesus. As disciples also, we may be subject to them in whole or in part, for they are not, properly speaking, either judgments or chastenings: if in them, we should know not only that all things are of Him who hath reconciled us to Himself (the blessing we get from our adoption by Him), but more than this, that they are the precursors (His purpose in then who sits upon the throne) of the Lordship. They are the cover of the hand of God overruling even wickedness, so as to keep it in check, and give it guidance, that it may, though unconsciously, work on toward the introduction of the glory of the Lord; and, while so doing, work together for good to them that love God even now. How wonderful are the ways of our God! If warfare or famine, or aught else, sprang up, the thought it surely should awaken in us is that of the preparation for Jesus' coming Lordship. And while I recognise that into judgment we cannot come, because accepted in the Beloved, I do not see that the saints are guaranteed against providential trials of any kind; nor do I see in these four horsemen any signs whatsoever, as for a particular season or period of time for which we must look as to precede the appearing of Jesus to us. The whole, for what I can tell, may have had its full accomplishment long since.*

*[This too seems objectionable, unless on the long and vague scheme of am application of the book from John's day. On the final view the saints must be translated to heaven before the seals begin. Ed.]

The gradual increase of the pressure from the first to the fourth seal assures me of the consecution of their order, though I fully believe that the actions of the preceding cease not necessarily with the introduction of the succeeding. I would merely remark, that while I state the very deep interest which is common to the living creatures collectively in all the works of these riders, whose services to the throne are in that which these living creatures represent, I incline to believe that fuller light will show a distinctive connection of some one of the living creatures with the works in particular of each several rider.

Hitherto, then, the Lord God Almighty had been acting simply in the common routine of his providential arrangements; those who knew and loved Him, who might be on earth, being partakers of the heavenly calling, and thus not only dissociated from the earth, but fully associated with the person of the Lamb wheresoever He might be: definite judgment, as a thing let loose to take its course through the earth, there had been none, for that would have been dishonour unto Jesus. As a Father He may in the church have both judged and chastened, but as the Lord God Almighty ruling in the world He had kept His children distinct in His mind from the world, and either spared it entirely for their sakes, or merely judged it in measure (as in seal 4) for their sakes — but distinct general judgment there had been none. Now, however, the time was nearly come when it should commence; but preparatorily to it we must have, first, the removal out of the way of those who had been partakers of the heavenly calling; and, then, the bringing in of another witness in connection with the earth.

The Fifth Seal differs from what has preceded or will follow, as having all the action proper to it confined to heaven. The seal was opened by the Lamb upon the throne in heaven; there also was John. But in this he sees neither horses going forth to earth, nor, as in the sixth and seventh, scenes of things on earth. His vision is confined here to what is altogether in heaven: the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God, and the testimony they held, were seen beneath the altar; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" Who are these sufferers for the sake of God's word and testimony? If we trace backward, we find the only ones they can be are those whom John represents in Rev. i. — the church;* whose very standing and calling, in one aspect, is, "We are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, we are killed all day long." And observe the light their word casts upon the character of the preceding seals. "How long till thou dost judge and avenge our blood," etc. Had they then seen nothing of judgment or vengeance in what had preceded in the four first seals? Nothing; neither was there; for the answer from the throne confirms that which their demand thus suggests, and bids them wait still for His revenge.

*[This depends on the application of the book intended. — Ed.]

But how came they now to be thus distinctly heard, and that as consciously enjoying full fellowship with all the righteous ways and purpose of Him who was on the throne? Why now are these, some of whom at least had lain there a long time, now seen? Why now heard with loud voice crying unto God for vengeance? Why now each put in white, though told to wait? Simply thus, because now there was about to be a new witness — new in some senses at least — brought forward — a witness which had signs and marks about it, as distinctly peculiar, as were the signs and marks which distinguished the apostleship of Paul from that of Peter, though not of the same kind. The character of these will appear hereafter; one, however, is marked in chapter vii. These who were hid beneath the altar had needed, had known, no seal such as we find given to the one hundred and forty-four thousand of the earth. During their whole time God was merely acting in providence; and directly He is about to step beyond it, their number is closed, and the one hundred and forty-four thousand from the earth sealed, not from death — for as fellow-servants and brethren they also were to be killed, as these were, but, as in Ezekiel xix., from the judgments of the Lord. (See Rev. vii. 1.) This alone would be a strong ground to my own soul in proof that the heavenly disciple is not to look for even a ripple of trouble to precede his seeing Jesus; and, besides this, I find these fully recognised, and white robes given them, though they are told they cannot take their place with the Lord as avenger yet for a little season, and a little season it will be until their fellow-servants and their brethren who should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

O the unbounded riches of the grace of God! Not only must the church be set up at Jerusalem first, as we see in Acts, but, such is His loving-kindness, there also must be found at last, as we see here; for these brethren and fellow-servants we find are (Rev. vii.) Jews of every tribe twelve thousand. I might make here a remark, applicable also to Israel's return to the land, as connected with the appearing of the disciples in glory. To man's eye distant things often seem as one, which a nearer approach and more close examination prove to be divided into many parts. We are too prone to overlook the steps of Israel's return from their present state of scattering among the nations, to their establishment in the land; and likewise of the stages by which the disciples will journey into the fulness of glory. Now I think it is plain that our Lord entered not at once out of suffering into the glory which was the recompense of His toils. (See Phil. ii.) After His resurrection there was an interval until He had been to the Father, in which He could not present Himself to His disciples as the subject of their enjoyment. (John xix.) There was then a longer period during which He was seen from time to time by them, but not as the object of their faith fixed within the veil; then, when ascending, He went up from earth to the cloud, and thence to His Father. Now it does seem to me evident that this fifth seal, the substance of Rev. vii., from verse 9 to end; Rev. xix. 1–10 and 11–21; and Rev. xx., presents stages in the entrance of the disciples into the glory in themselves very distinct the one from the other; I leave this for the consideration of others. The title by which these beneath the altar address God ("Despot," despotes), as well as the expectation they express toward Him of vengeance and judgment, both seem to me to mark the connection and subjection of the whole scene to the throne of Rev. iv. and Rev. 5.

The action of the Sixth Seal is confined to earth. As a whole, it seems to me, like the opening of Zechariah's prophecy (Rev. i. 7–11), to present a scene, the grand, if not sole, object of which is, to bring to light the state of the earth. In both cases the entire scene seems subservient to the inquiry, "What is the state of the earth?" Here it comes, however, in a connection different from what it does in Zechariah. That there is, in the general testimony of scripture, a shaking of the heavens as preceding, and as quite distinct from, the removal of the heavens, I think all are agreed;* the former ushering in Jesus' return to Israel, the latter the prelude to God becoming all in all. That the scene here is the shaking, as distinguished from and preceding, by upwards of one thousand years, the removal of the heavens from before the face of the great white throne (Rev. xx. 11) is what I believe. If it be objected (ver. 14), "the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together" does not comport with the shaking, but removal, I answer, first, the Spirit seems here speaking according not to what is to be in reality, but to what is as to appearances. And this is proved by verse 13: "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." The same sort of earthquake which would give to men on earth this appearance, as to the stars, would give likewise, as to the heavens, the appearance of departing as in the rolling up of a scroll. Secondly, both the shaking and the removing are upon the same principle as to God's ways, and the character of results (with regard to both His glory, in connection with man, and redeemed man's entrance into enjoyment in Him); and therefore the one is but a premonitor and precursor of the other.

[*Isaiah li. 6, lxv. 17, and Isaiah lxvi. 22, seem connected with the removal spoken of by Peter: Isaiah xiii. 13, Isaiah xxxiv. 4, 6; Joel ii, 10, Joel iii, 16; Hag. ii. 6, 21, with the shaking.]

It is thus in the close of Rev. 5 we find the recognition which creation gives to Jesus, when He takes the book, expressing itself in terms such as fully suit only the time of the full manifestation of His Lordship; so may it be here. For this throughout scripture is the way of the Spirit; He sees in one thing which is little something infinitely larger, and so speaks: for in the lesser thing, the counsel, and plan, and mind of God, as bringing in the greater, is seen, and so the less becomes the pledge as well as the precursor of the greater. See David's song, 2 Samuel xxii.: "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God; and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also and came down; and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies," etc. etc. And, thirdly, I say that the language is not so strong as what is used in the Old Testament for the shaking, and shown to refer to it alone by the context. See, for instance, in Isaiah xxxiv., which is connected with the judgment of Idumea: "All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment."

The whole attention of John in this seal seems as exclusively shut up to the appearance of what is seen from the earth, and to the effect upon man there, as in the preceding seal to heaven. The quaking of the earth first calls his attention as he rests above in heaven (Rev. iv. 1, 2); and then the appearances produced around the heavens, of the earth, and throughout its every part, by the earthquake. Then the universal panic which follows among all the inhabitants of earth is described. As in heaven, when the Lamb first took the book, the mind of heaven confessed Him, from one and all there, as worthy, so here the mind of earth is expressed, and high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, all on whom the light of love and grace had shined without effect, tell the deep secrets common to every soul, that God is not only hated and dreaded, but that ever, all through their light and mirthful career, guilty conscience had kept alive the suspicion that some day or other He would burst in upon them. The sudden shock and the fearful signs of the earthquake wring the secret from them, and, oh, how it tells of man's rebellious heart! Six thousand years of mercy and goodness has God been showing, and the only thought of man's heart. in nature still is that He is an austere God. Six thousand years, too, man has been boasting in his own wisdom and sufficiency, and yet at a mere earthquake he will do what Adam did at first, try to hide himself from omnipresent Omniscience; yea, rather be crushed than endure the thought of meeting God face to face.

In this shaking not a trumpet is sounded, not a vial poured out; and I do not believe that God reveals Himself or the Lamb as in judgment in it, but that the cry "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: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" is just merely the expression of guilty man's hatred, and fear, and unwillingness to meet God. If it be said, Why should God care to elicit this? I would answer, as connected with the church thus removed, with Israel just about to be sealed, and with the world just about to be visited in judgment under the seventh seal, and with the character and ways of God involved in each of these three acts, purpose and object enough can surely be seen. It is remarkable that while we have here the first action of man in nature, when such disorder in his circumstances takes place as to make him think God has broken in upon him (an endeavour to escape from Him by any effort, even self-destruction), when God and the Lord are present in the very act of wrath these dread, their action is quite different, and instead of endeavouring to escape, they gather together against both the one and the other. (Rev. xix. 19.) I would add, that as the language of man under the sixth seal is not this language when the Lord does come in wrath, so neither could it be the language when the heavens and the earth have passed away, and the great white throne of judgment has been set up. I do not suppose that the words they utter must necessarily be upon their lips, though they may indeed. It is, however, a thing quite common to God the Holy Ghost, in presenting any party with a view to its character being learnt, to put into its mouth, not the words he might use, but the force and substance of these words as understood to God — and, believing the object of the Spirit here to be to draw attention simply to the state universal of the earth, I conceive thus it may be here. Nothing seems taken notice of here beyond those alive on the earth, after the church's removal, and at the time of the sealing of Israel; but the whole seems to run its course previous to the Lamb leaving the throne of Rev. 4 and 5.

1880 159 The character of the cry expressed upon the earth under the action of this seal, and the universality of it, is of special importance to us, as connected with the sealing of the remnant from among Israel; for, as the character of the four first seals, when taken in connection with the fifth, shows that no signs, as of God's interfering in open judgment of the world, will precede the rapture of the saints; so this shows that the manifestation of Israel as connected with God follows, and not precedes, our removal; a fact, I believe, of great importance. The cry had been universal from the earth, and therefore had included the nation of Israel; for had any of them been in conscious association with God, the cry would, so far forth, have not been universal. But however God might ere this have been dealing with Israel preparatively, none of them had been brought out into either conscious or recognised relationship with Him. This accordingly follows the sealing of a new witness (naturally more connected with the fortunes of the earth), as God's witness among the Gentiles when He comes in to judge them for their conduct during the proclamation of grace. As I said before, their being of Israel speaks volumes concerning the grace of God, and is a most blessed vindication of the power of His own truth and grace. The sealing of this new witness is evidently connected with the judgments which were coming.

To the panic and cry consequent upon it, God answers by sending four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, and they take their place on the four corners of the earth, to withhold the wind in its passage. They were, however, prohibited hurting anything by another angel, until he should have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads. Some have argued against these twelve tribes being literally of Israel, because Dan is omitted, and Levi inserted. As to the first objection, it does not seem valid, because Simeon is omitted in the blessing of Moses. (Deut. xxxiii.) That Dan has a place in the land is evident from Ezekiel xlviii. 1-32. I think any one tracing the mention of the twelve tribes will find, after the division of Joseph into two, that one is generally suppressed — I say this as the result of investigation, be it right or wrong, though I have not space to go into it now. I would add, that the reason for not mentioning Levi in portions of scripture which look at the land as dwelt in by the nation, obviously does not hold good here, where the question is not about the land, but about witness before the nations. These one hundred and forty-four thousand, I conceive, are those referred to in the fifth seal as "to be killed;" they seem to be the witnesses for God, onward to the close of the Book of Revelation, and, suffering with Him even unto death, get their portion in the resurrection-glory and marriage-supper of the Lamb. If any one has well considered the church, as set up under Peter at Jerusalem, with the features distinctive and peculiar to it then, and the church, as under Paul over the whole earth, with the distinctive peculiarities of this state, he will be well able, I think, to understand after God has vindicated His truth and power in a remnant from among the Gentiles, as He seems doing now, that He should do likewise as to the Jews, and this, from its connection with the coming Lordship of Jesus, as well as from the light it sheds backward, would be THE important thing. And this remnant of Israel, from the sealing onward, becomes "the saints," whenever they are spoken of as on earth.

From this company just sealed, the apostle's eye next turns to and rests upon an innumerable multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues, and people, standing before the very throne described in Rev. 4 and 5. The notice of this I press as showing it is a scene altogether pre-millennial, for then they shall be upon the throne of Jesus, the bride with Him; and evidently it is not post-millennial, as some have said, for then this throne shall not be, but God be all in all, and they not in heaven, as John sees them, but the new heavens and the new earth their portion. Under the fifth seal white robes were given to them; here they appear habited in them, and, in addition, with palms in their hands. Their cry is now, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb;" a cry very different from that of the elders, in Rev. 5, or that under the fifth seal, and one which could not have been sung then, because there was no manifestation of judgment; but now three things have marked to their intelligent eyes the nearness, if not presence, of the day of vengeance — namely, the earthquake, the four hurtful angels, and the sealing of the remnant of Israel. But it was this last which especially marked to them the rising up of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and brought them into the position of witnessing the open display and exercise of the retributive power of God and the Lamb.

The response of the angels, identifying themselves herewith, as they worship God, is immediate, "Amen! Blessing," etc. Their song, though addressed to God, and not to the Lamb, is in substance much the same as in Rev. 5, but the order in the honours paid is inverted, and here they are ascriptions not only as there said to be due. The elders and beasts being present identify the throne with that of Rev. 4 and 5 — the former, however, now representing those on earth about to be killed from among Israel; for the number from among the Gentiles was closed, and they were present. Peculiar emphasis and force is given to this scene by what follows: for, as if with the express purpose of sealing the truth home to the thoughts of John, one of the elders asks him who they are who, out of all nations, kindreds, peoples, and tongues, are thus arrayed in white, and whence they come? John declines to answer, and then the elder explains; not, however, resting upon the things by which as on earth they had been known, for that had been noted, "they were of all nations, kindreds," etc.; but noticing that by which they had been known to heaven, their much tribulation, and use of the blood of the Lamb for cleansing; and then he passes on, after just touching upon these things, to rest upon the fact of their present and complete exemption from all suffering, and realised association, even at that time, with God and the Lamb. And all this while the remnant from Israel is just sealed, and before one single trumpet, or vial of trouble, or sorrow, has been exhibited. The temple mentioned in this verse seems to me pre-millennial, for in the golden city there is no temple — and no sooner have the one thousand years commenced than the city becomes the dwelling-place of all that have suffered with Jesus. The dwelling in the temple of God, and serving Him there day and night, with the Lamb dwelling in the midst of them, I conceive to be the position they hold from the time of the sealing of the remnant of Israel till their next step in glory. As to the blessings common to this their position, and that afterwards, as in Rev. 21, I need not speak — nor, perhaps, need I say that I believe that the throne in Rev. 4 and 5 is now, at this present time, the abode of the Lord.

The four first seals present heaven acting upon the earth in restraint and control: the fifth the state of things in heaven when such a state of things ceases to be: the sixth the state of the earth at the same epoch, first in itself, and then as to God's witness set in contrast with those in heaven. The seventh seal, to which we now come, presents the actions of heaven over the earth in retributive power. But ere any of the agents of this can take their place, there is a silence of half an hour in heaven. The seven trumpet-angels take their stand; and He who had been in heaven as the Mediator and High Priest of the heavenly calling appears. The action is, to my mind, simple and clear, for His laying aside of the insignia of priestly intercession in the heavens becomes the signal for the commencement of trial and woe in the place where henceforth His witness is, and whence also, because it is there, His own intercession must arise. The action was in the temple, I judge, as presented in Hebrews, and is the closing up of His services there of that kind. He appears at the altar in the temple with His censer, receives sweet incense, with which He offers up the prayers of all saints (contrasted, perhaps, with those at the time saints on earth), upon their ascending before God. He fills the censer with coals from the heavenly altar, and casts it down to earth, and the trouble begins. And thus, if I be right, we have proof upon proof, through the whole of this portion, how there is no sign whatever for which we can look as preceding our removal from earth to the presence of the Lord.

1880 173 It is remarkable that the temple in heaven is only thrice mentioned in the revelation to John previous to the opening of the seventh seal, which is the commencement of sorrow to the earth; the three references are (Rev. iii. 12), "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out;" and (Rev. vi. 9) under the fifth seal, "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were beheaded," etc., and (Rev. vii. 15) in his temple shall dwell the innumerable multitude. This seems remarkable, because during the sorrows and woes of the trumpets the temple holds so very prominent a place. Thus first, in Rev. viii., immediately after the opening of the seventh seal, an angel stands at the altar which was before the throne with a censer; and, when his work is done, the seven angels begin to sound; secondly, Rev. ix., on the sixth angel sounding a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God, saying, etc.; then thirdly, in Rev. xi., we have the temple of God (ver. 1), and the temple of God was opened in heaven, etc. (ver. 19); again, fourthly, Rev. xiv., as to the harvest and vintage of the earth, we have three angels coming forth severally out of the temple (ver. 15); out of the temple which is in heaven (ver. 17); from the altar (ver. 18); fifthly, Rev. xv. 5, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened (ver. 6), another angel comes out of the temple with the plagues, and (ver. 8) the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power, and no man was able to enter into the temple; and, sixthly, from the same place, Rev. xvi., a great voice proclaims it is done. (Ver. 17.)

No one reading these contexts can doubt that one of the objects, in the prominent place given therein to the temple, is to identify the actions with the divine glory, and to show that they are more than the actions of God simply as Lord God Almighty upon the throne; though that throne is, in these passages, shown to be in the temple. They are the actions of God, as God, in the Divine glory, and showing Himself thus to be the object of worship, though still, through His emissaries, the Over-ruler of all things likewise. Till the close of Rev. vii., the Lamb is upon the throne; and so far the throne, as the seat of the government of one whose glory was, through grace, then fully to be known, stands without mention of the temple, and He that is there is seen as the door of everything; but no sooner is the innumerable multitude from among all nations, etc., brought to be in the temple than the throne seems hidden in it, and the actions which follow are seen only in connection with the emissaries of the throne. And this is just as one would have supposed; for every member of the heavenly calling has full access to God, and they are the objects of the former portion; the 144,000 from Israel are the objects of divine regard during the latter parts, and their standing and privileges are different and lower, and God's dealings to them more intermediate, through angels; and the definite action not openly presented and distinctly described as to us, but set forth in figure and symbols and parables. On this account I think that it is likely that while up to Rev. xii. all has been literal and no symbol used, henceforth, onward, till the partakers of the heavenly calling again become involved as the object of action, the description may run in symbol altogether.

In approaching now to the consideration of the trumpets, I would notice one or two general principles connected with the study of truth: our power of understanding scripture consists in the mind and Spirit of Christ, which we, as sons of God, have. The new creation in us has the mind of God, and to it the Spirit, searching all things, yea, the deep things of God, communicates, as He will. Nevertheless it is the written word wherein these deep things are found. This I believe to be of great importance, as showing the hindrance which knowledge (as men count it), gained by observation of present circumstances and experience, the study of history or works of man, may be — if not all tested by accordance with the written word. For instance, in approaching the subject of the seven trumpets, we come with heads full of notions about trumpets, derived partly from the modern everyday use of them, partly from the study of profane history, and it may be partly from books of the customs and manners of oriental nations. Now just so far as these thoughts are different from the thoughts which would be formed in the mind of any simple child of God by the Spirit, in passing through His own mention of trumpets in the written word, just so far, I say, should we come to the subject with a false medium of communication. I would it were more our habit than it is, to trace out with patience and humility the Holy Ghost's use of words and things ere pronouncing what we believe to be the mind of the Lord on any point. To my own mind, in nature there is nothing more in a trumpet than the idea of "a suitable means of drawing public attention in concourses of people," — it might thus lead me in thought to warfare, or the field of battle, or the presence of an earthly monarch; but so habituated am I to the sound of it in mere daily life, that these things would be rather the results of thought upon the subject than first impressions; and certainly the highest to which thought in nature would lead me. Far otherwise are the thoughts awakened by "the trumpet" to the mind which comes fresh from the study of the word.

The first trumpet was divine, announcing the presence of divine Majesty. To the holy priesthood the trumpet was given in Israel as an ordinance of the Lord, and none, either in the camp or the court, blew it but the priests;* for it was a call to God. The day of the blowing of trumpets ushered in that great feast of tabernacles, the type of better things yet to come; and when the blast was heard on the great day of atonement it was the immediate precursor of the jubilee of Israel and the land. Joshua and Gideon also can tell us terrible yet glorious things of the trumpet; and who knows David, or Solomon, the then tabernacle, or the temple, and not the trumpets?

[*I observe throughout the Jewish scriptures, that in proportion as the people wandered from God all the ordinances through Moses became of no regard, and the trumpets, etc., common things; and no wonder if they neglected their God that they should neglect His ordinances. On the other hand, according to the measure of reformation, I find this, as the other appointments, attended to.]

Let us see this and so establish our general principle, once for all, by rapidly glancing at the scriptures which mention the trumpets.

The first place in scripture in which we meet with "the trumpet," is in Exodus xix. It is here introduced to us as "The herald of the presence of the divine Majesty," when Jehovah formally displayed His glory to the people whom He had chosen to Himself to be their king, upon the top of mount Sinai: (ver. 13) "when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come to the mount." "And (ver. 16) there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." "And (ver. 19) when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice." "And (Ex. xx. 18) all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." Here evidently the trumpet was God's.

Of the three great feasts annually kept by Israel, one only was ushered in with the blowing of trumpets (Lev. xxiii. 2-1), "In the seventh month, in the first of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation." This (called by some "the feast of trumpets") was followed on the tenth day of the month by the great day of atonement (ver. 27), and on the fifteenth by the feast of tabernacles. (ver. 31.) This first day of the seventh month is thus distinguished, Numbers xxix. 1: "it is a day of blowing of trumpets to you."

But besides this "day of blowing of trumpets," there was the trumpet of jubilee, and this upon the great day of atonement. After every forty and nine years (Lev. xxv. 9), "then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you." A year of rest and joy was this to the land and to its inhabitants — when the alienation of property ended, and every man returned to his own possession.

In Numbers x. 2-10, we have the more general orders about the trumpets. There were to be two silver trumpets, of a whole piece, for the calling of the assembly and the journeying of the camps.

When both were blown, the assembly was to meet Moses at the door of the congregation; when one only, then the princes, even the heads of the thousands of Israel. If one alarm was blown, the camps eastward were to set forward. If a second, then the camp southward.

The sons of Aaron — the priests — were to blow. And it was promised that on war in the land, God would, on the alarm being sounded, remember and save them from their enemies. "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt-offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings, that they may not be to you a memorial before your God." And in chapter xxxi. 6 we find Moses sending Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpet to blow, in his hand.

The new trumpets and the wonderful purpose the Lord put them to, connected with the capture of Jericho, may well claim our attention next. — (Joshua vi.) When Jericho was straitly shut up by the children of Israel, the Lord said to Joshua, "Compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about it once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout: and the wall of the city shall fall down fiat, and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him." And so it was, but, as if to impress this upon our souls, we have not only this detailed order given, but the whole repeated over again by Joshua to the people, and the account of how they carried it into execution, given in full detail, and the success that followed; just as if the Spirit had found peculiar pleasure in resting the minds of those He would teach upon the ways of that God with whom we have to do.

The next use of the trumpet we find by the judges through whom God delivered Israel from the enemies, whom their unbelief left to be lords in the land. Thus we have Ehud (Judges iii. 27), after nobly slaying with his own hand Eglon king of Moab who had oppressed Israel eighteen years, blowing a trumpet in mount Ephraim; and then they went down and slew ten thousand Moabites, and subdued Moab that day.

So again, Judges vi. 34, when Midian and Amalek tame against Israel, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and Abi-ezer was gathered after him." And the Lord chose three hundred men out of the thirty-two thousand who were gathered, and to these he gave the victory. For Gideon divided them into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites, and all the children of the east, lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore for multitude. And Gideon and the one hundred men that were with him came unto the outside of the camp; and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and the three companies blew the trumpets and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right bands to blow; and they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host. And there was victory. In 1 Samuel xiii. 3 we have Saul blowing the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. The rest of the chapter would lead one to suppose that this also was in self-will

And we have Joab blowing the trumpet, as in 2 Samuel ii. 28, and then "all the people [of Judah] stood still, and pursued after Israel no more," neither fought they any more.

Again, 2 Samuel xviii. 16: and then "the people returned from pursuing after Israel."

And again, 2 Samuel xx. 22: and then "they retired from the city, every man to his tent." In these three cases, as in that of Sheba, 2 Samuel xx. 1 — when every man of Israel went back up after David, and followed Sheba — it was the signal of retreat.

Under David, too, we read much about trumpets, for he and all Israel played before the Lord with all their might on trumpets and other instruments, when bringing up the ark, both from Kirjath-jearim and from the house of Obed-edom. (2 Sam. vi. 15; 1 Chron. xiii. 8; 1 Chron. xv. 28.)

And the priests also, in the movement from the house of Obed-edom (1 Chron. xv. 34), blew the trumpets; and (as we see, 1 Chron. xvi. 6, 42) their use of the trumpet was in the arrangements of David for the ark fully recognised; as indeed yet more fully in the temple (as we see, 2 Chron. 5:12, 13; 2 Chron. vii. 6; 2 Chron. xxix. 26, 27, 28, and in 2 Chron. xiii. 12, 14): we have their place thus in the battle recognised.

It was thus also that Solomon was proclaimed, 1 Kings i. 39, for "Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon!"

Thus also (2 Kings ix. 13) we have the officers recognising Jehu as king, and (2 Kings xi. 14, and 2 Chron. xxiii. 13) Joash proclaimed. And here, in the reformation under Joash, we have a simple proof of the value set by God upon the silver trumpets as first appointed — in that they are included among the things which it is said Jehoiada did not make for lack of means.

In the prophets generally the trumpet is used simply as connected with war, as Jeremiah expresses it (Jer. iv. 18): "Thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." Yet there are a few passages calculated to leave a very strong impression upon the mind, as (Isa. xxvii. 13): "It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem." Again (Zech. ix. 14), "And the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south."

We may refer also to Matthew xxiv. 31: "He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other."

1 Corinthians xv. 52, "At the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Thessalonians iv. 16, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." And be it remembered that when the Lord appears to John in Revelation i., His voice was as a trumpet (ver. 10); and the same voice as it were of a great trumpet called him up (Rev. iv. 1) to heaven." With these thoughts let us proceed.

Rev. viii. 7, First Angel. — Hail is the symbol of wrath (Ex. ix. 18–33; Ex. x. 5–15; Ps. lxxviii. 47; Ps. cv. 32; Ps. cxlviii. 8; Isa. xxviii. 2, 17; Hag. ii. 17), fire of "discernment" or judgment, blood of condemnation. Trees and grass are the more simple and natural means of life to man and beast: for the former see Gen. i. 29; Gen. ii. 9; Deut. xx. 19; for the latter, Gen. i. 11, 12; Deut. xi. 15; Ps. civ. 14 and Ps. cvi. 20.

The presence of God having been announced by the trumpet, heaven-sent judgments follow. They are partly natural, as hail and fire, and partly above the course of nature, as blood. And they come, not on the unformed mass of nations (as the results of the next trumpet), but upon that which stands before God as "the earth," — the place in which His testimony has been, perhaps; and there they destroy all the more simple and natural ways and means of support.

1880 190 The second trouble comes on the sea. The sea is the unformed mass of nations. (Jer. li. 42; Dan. vii. 3.) A mountain is a kingdom in symbol. (Isa. ii.; Dan. ii.) A kingdom falls from the organised earth among the unformed nations under the judgment of God: its incorporation marks off a third of the nations for destruction; and one third of those not of the nations, yet living by them, are cut off; and one third of the traffic by the nations ceases, for so would be the death of the fish* and destruction of the ships.**

[*Ezekiel xxix. 4, 5; Habakkuk i. 14.]

[**Genesis xlix. 13; 1 Kings ix. 26; 1 Kings xxii. 48; 2 Chron. xx, 37; 2 Chron. ix. 21; Psalm civ. 26.]

The third trouble is upon the rivers and fountains. A great star, which is a leader or ruler (Num. xxiv. 17), or teacher (Rev. i.), fell from heaven. That heaven is the symbol of that which has rule is clear from Genesis i. 6, as gathered from its antitype, and from (Gen. xxxvii. 9–11) Joseph's dream: for the work of God in creation-matter, as recorded in Genesis i., is exactly in analogy the same as his work in the development of the work of redemption — the wonders of each successive day in creation being types of the wonders of each successive dispensation. The distinctive feature of the second day in creation was the firmament, as dividing the waters from the waters; and the distinctive feature of the second, or antediluvian dispensation (of which we read from Gen. iv. 1 to viii. 14, inclusive), was the introduction of rule among the children of men as connected with the heavens. As to Genesis xxxvii. 9-11, we have the sun and moon and stars (Israel and the twelve patriarchs), as that for which and by which all order on the earth was regulated.* This great teacher then descends with full authority, as coming thence where the authority of rule is; and He has a great show of light, being, as it were a lamp that burneth. In Matthew xxv. 3, 4, we have the lamp as the symbol of profession: "They took their lamps," etc. In Psalm cxiv. 105, we have, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths," as showing the thing connected with God. The force of "a lamp that burneth," as expressing bright light, is shown by Isaiah lxii. 1, where it is said that Zion's salvation in the latter day shall be "as a lamp that burneth" — while the connection of the lamp with wickedness is shown by Proverbs xiii. 9: "The lamp of the wicked shall be put out." (See also Prov. xx. 20.)

[*See also the type of the patriarchal dispensation, under which, too, this dream was (Gen. i. 11-19), in the fourth day's creation.]

This great teacher, sustained with power and accredited by a great show of light, falls upon a third of the rivers and fountains. By a fountain I understand "doctrine." "The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." (Prov. xiii. 14.) "The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." (Prov. xiv. 27.) I might refer also, I think, to (Zech. xiii. 1) the fountain opened to the house of David, etc., for sin and for uncleanness, as meaning doctrine of truth in power; and in the same way, to Rev. xxi. 6; Rev. vii. 17. And by rivers I understand the proceeds of these hidden springs and resources of doctrine or truth, whether in the concrete the waters themselves, or the channels through which they flow, or the teachings by which they were proclaimed. And thus Ezekiel xlvii. 5, and the parallel passages, as Joel iii. 18; Zechariah xiv. 6, show the flowing forth on earth, as Revelation xxii. 1, 2, the flowing forth in heaven, of those fountains previously referred to, even the river of God.

His name was Wormwood. In Deuteronomy xxix. 19, 20, He that hears the curses of the law, and says, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst, is likened to a root that beareth gall and wormwood. See also the strange woman, Proverbs 5:4. In Jeremiah ix. 15, wormwood seems the bitter results of disobedience, even being scattered among the heathen. See also Jeremiah xxiii. 15. Here, as in Amos 5:7, "Ye who turn judgment to wormwood," seems to mean the corruption of the waters, resulting in the death of those that drank thereof.

The fourth angel. On the symbolic meaning of the sun, and moon, and stars, I know not that I have anything to add to what was said under the last trumpet. If those remarks be correct, the result of this fourth trump will be obscuring judgment upon one-third of that which rules in that day on the earth, followed by an angel, [or eagle] crying, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth,* by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the other angels which are yet to sound.

[*"The earth," in prophetic diction.]

As the four first seals are marked off from the three last, so here we have a similar division of the trumpets into four and three. In both cases, of the seals and trumpets, the four first are more general in character than the three last.

Revelation ix. — The fifth angel sounds. The object of this trumpet, as a whole, is evidently to bring torment for a limited time, and limited extent, upon all men, save the one hundred and forty-four thousand. The symbolic force of a star, and its fall from heaven to the earth, have been looked at. To him was given a key, the insignia of power,* to open the well of the abyss. That there is a difference between "the well of the abyss" and "the abyss" I do not say, though I think it well to notice, that while here it is phrear tes abyssou, in verse 11, and in Rev. xi.; Rev. xvii. and Rev. xx. it is merely the abyss which is mentioned. I incline to think that there is a difference, the abyss opening into hell itself, the well of the abyss opening merely into the deep parts of the earth.

[*Isa. xxii. 22; Matt. xvi. 19; Luke xi. 52; Rev. i. 18; Rev. iii. 7.]

The pit was opened, and thence ascended a large and thick volume of smoke as from a furnace.

I do not see definitely what "the well of the abyss" means, though the smoke ascending from it, as a thing from beneath, and from such a place, seems to impress the mind with the idea of the manifestation of an infernal origin.

Smoke, as the accompaniment and consequence of fire or "discernment" in the widest application, would have a variety of meanings, though all of them having one leading common idea. The smoke of Edom going up for ever (Isa. xxxiv. 10) would be the abiding proof of God's having acted thereunto upon His discernment of its state, etc.

Isaiah vii. 4. The two tails of these smoking fire-brands would express persons manifestly used as plagues. The smoke (Isa. iv. 5), as of the cloud of smoke, was just the same as to the subject there — the manifestation of the presence of God. I cannot pass by the beautiful allusion here (Cant. iii. 6), the Bridegroom being likened to a pillar of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. In Revelation viii. 4 the smoke of the incense ascending up is the manifestation of God's approbation of the incense.

In Revelation xv. 8 the temple is filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power, on the seven vials full of the seven last plagues being given forth. Here, in Rev. 9, I take that the smoke is just the expression of the place whence it comes, being under judgment, and of the darkening tendency of what shall proceed thence, as the parent or nurse of the locusts thence issuing, and the smoke is "as* the smoke of a great furnace," I suppose as expressing the fulness of its volume; the result was, that the sun and the air were darkened thereby.

[*This expression occurs also in Genesis xix. 28; Ezekiel xix. 18.]

The air is, I believe, the symbolic mode of expressing universal connection with the earth, when looked at as not connected definitely with God.

[Ecc. x. 20, A bird of the air shall carry the voice]. Matthew viii. 20, The birds of the air have nests — see also xiii. 32; Mark iv. 32; Luke ix. 58; Ephesians ii. 2, the prince of the power of the air; just as the word heaven is used in connection with the word fowl, Jer. vii. 33; Jer. xvi. 4; Jer. xix. 7; Jer. xxxiv. 20; Jer. xv. 8; Ezek. xxix. 5; Ezek. xxxi. 6, 13; Ezek. xxxii. 4; Ezek. xxxviii. 20; Daniel ii. 38, etc.

I conceive also that the sun is thus used, not as where the moon and stars are also mentioned, but as expressing in like manner universality, as we find "under the sun" so constantly used in Ecclesiastes: "What profit is there in any labour under the sun?" "There is no new thing under the sun," etc., and 2 Samuel xii. 12, "I will do this before Israel and the sun."

Out of the smoke, thus darkening the sun and the air, came forth locusts.

Locusts were among the plagues of Egypt (Ex. x. 4-19), and were known always as a plague. (Deut. xxviii. 38; Ps. cv. 34.)

In Proverbs xxx. 27, the order of the locusts (" the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands") is spoken of, and in Nahum iii. 15, 17, the number "make thyself many as the locusts . . . . thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as grasshoppers"); but these locusts are symbolic, for they are monsters most incongruous in their parts. The power they had of harming was not natural to them, it was given, "power as the power of a scorpion." To harm the grass of the earth, the green things or trees (that is, to do the common works of their race), these locusts are prohibited, and limited to tormenting men — not to kill them, but to torment five months, with the anguish of the scorpion sting.

By this I understand the infliction of some such things as the mark of the beast; something which, while it circumscribes man's liberty in a painful way, at the same time has a poisoning effect upon his soul. If the marauding nation spoken of in Joel i. and Joel ii. are the same as these locusts, they come up against the land, ranging over its precincts, under a Satanic influence; for, God having then set to His hand to restore, Satan is seeking to hinder. It strikes me that in the days of our Lord, when the remnant (issuing in the church) which corresponded with this 144,000, which shall (in the time we are now reading of) be delivered from the power of these plagues — that the remnant, I say, was delivered by its allegiance to the Lord from some such thing. if any man confessed Jesus to be Christ, he was to be, ipso facto, haposynagogos. Again, such edicts as we read of in Daniel iii. and Daniel vi. by Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, both of whom were of the stock which, in the day of these trials, shall be blossoming in wickedness, may also be considered. If the scene of these scorpion-stings be the land and its precincts, and any such thing be that referred to, we can see and understand it; for a Jew of very moderate attainment in Judaism would feel anguish and vexation of soul enough to make him hate life and choose strangling rather, though he might not refuse to submit.* Many a thing in England the Hebrew nation has to submit to as the result of collision between its peculiar polity and the lenient laws of England. They are obliged, for instance, by a special covenant before marriage, to do away with their ability of acting upon part of their law. And we know how time was, when in Spain edicts were passed with a view of forcing the Jews to leave the country spontaneously, or to compromise their consciences.

[*See for instance Pharaoh's edicts in Exodus.]

The object of the description of their appearance seems to be to mark their monstrous character, and characteristics; yet this was universal, that, wherever they came, the result was "the tail and sting." The description runs thus:

1st. — In shape they were "like unto horses prepared for battle." Horses were prohibited to Israel (Deut. xvii. 16), and they were brought from Egypt. (1 Kings x. 28.) Pharaoh is compared to a horse rider. (Ex. xv. 21; Isa. ii. 7; Zech. ix. 10.) The Assyrian hosts were famous for horses. (1 Kings xx. 20, 25; 2 Kings xviii. 23.) Thus they represent strength (Job xxxix. 19; Ps. cxlvii. 10), swiftness (Jer. iv. 13; Hab. i. 8), fearlessness (Job xxxix. 18; Jer. viii. 6), majesty (Esther vi. 8), and strength in the battle. (Prov. xxi. 31; Jer. vi. 23; Jer. viii. 16; Jer. xii. 5, etc.)

2nd. — "On their heads crowns of gold," expressing manifest and conscious dominion, for the crown is the symbol of royalty, priesthood, and victory, passim.

3rd. — They had "faces like men's faces." From the use of the face (xxxiv. 29; Ex. xxxiii. 11; Ezek. x. 14; Ezek. xli. 19; Rev. iv. 6) I understand this as intelligence; and from its connection with man, who (as contrasted with woman in the next clause) personates lordship, they have manifest intelligent lordship.

4th. — "They had hair like the hair of women," (length of hair,) being perhaps the badge of luxuriousness, or beauty (2 Sam. xiv. 26; Isa. iii. 2.1). The reference to women definitely may be the assertion of the appearance of weakness (Isa. iii. 12; Isa. xix. 16), or (1 Cor. xi. the hair as for a veil) apparent subjection.

1881 240 5th. — "Their teeth were as the teeth of lions." This shows their preparedness for consuming; for the lion, whether applied to Judah, Messiah, Satan, or in nature, stands for courage and power. (Prov. xxviii. 1; Prov. xxx. 14, 30; Daniel vii. 7, 19: Joel i. 6.)

6th. — "They had breastplates as it were breastplates of iron," unassailable defensive armour. (Eph. vi. 14; 1 Thess. 5:8.)

7th. — "The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots." (See Isa. xxxvii. 24; Jer. xlvii. 3; Jer. xlvi. 15; Ezek. xxvi. 10; Joel ii. 5.)

They did not attack the grass of the earth, neither the green things, etc. (for the force of this, see trumpet first). Though competent, and though apparently made to conquer the earth, this was not their object. Perhaps the double name in Hebrew and Greek shows that their power will be upon Jews and Gentiles.

An edict, instituting and enforcing a fine upon the observance of circumcision, or of the unity of God,* by any power ranging over the precincts of the land, would produce just the recklessness referred to. The nursery of these marauders, if not their nest, was a thick mist of mysticism and error from beneath.

[*Or any such dilemma, I think, as would throw a man who had naturally Jewish propensities, between the one hundred and forty-four thousand and heathenism, with the necessity of choosing one or other.]

The star, by whose means the way is made for them, does not seem to be marked as their leader. He, the star, is perhaps only the remover of the hindrances which prevent the smoke rising.

The mists from beneath, in themselves savouring of judgment (as smoke tells of fire), do away with the light and air, destroying apparently, that in which man finds his way before God, and that also which is the power of mutual association; thereupon result these marauders, already looked at. They seemed fit but for one thing, to eat grass, etc.; but, in fact, this they did not, but only used the power, not natural to them but bestowed upon them, of torment and torture.

Hitherto the sad results of each successive blast have been worse than those of that which preceded, and more manifestly laying bare, and declaring the presence of, the hand of God; and so in the coming trumpet.

On the sounding of the first, hail and fire, mingled with blood, were cast on the earth, to the destruction of one-third of its produce. The second brought a great mountain on fire into the sea, for a similar destruction of, one-third of its contents.

The third issued in the poisoning of one-third of the rivers and fountains, so that many men died.

The fourth brought darkness on one-third of the sun, and moon, and stars.

The fifth was a scourge and trial of all not having the seal of God, thus making manifest God's object of affection and desire, and so confessing Him more plainly than ever; even as the gradual development of power, in that part of the series which had preceded, had gradually made the divine power, which was at the bottom of it all, more and more conspicuous, for the actions become more and more manifestly divine as to the extent of power. In the fifth, the sealed have been exempted from the trial, so far at least as the scorpion stings were concerned (whether beyond this I know not). On the sixth angel sounding, the cry comes from the golden altar, as showing where the mind which regulated, and which was the spring of it all, was; and perhaps also showing that that altar, which had been the altar of the heavenly calling, was in some sense, in its past history, connected with it all. The scene of this wave of trouble is wider than of the preceding, for its waters were circumscribed to the bounds of the Hebrew and Greek tongues. Here the trouble springs up in the Euphrates, and has a four-fold energy, going whithersoever there is idolatry. There is a haste and a wildness in the mighty rush here presented to us, and an all-devouring character of action prominently displayed in their first appearance, very unlike the character of action in the last trumpet. There is no presenting of any such idea of order, preparedness, dominion, intelligent lordship, or apparent gentleness, as in trumpet fifth; but the two hundred millions are presented at once, brilliant as the flames in action; and consumption, rather than victory, marking their progress; while behind them is felt the stinging wretchedness of subjection to them. The sorrow rolls in judgment over heathenism, but leaves it, in moral result, just where it was. If these horsemen are the Lord's, this visitation may be, perhaps, a plague, or pestilence, and the four angels be the same who, in Rev. vii. 1, are represented as having it in them to withhold the wind, and so injure the earth, etc.; and so symbol is preserved throughout, which I judge to be the case.

I know not whether the whole four angels were for a year, a month, a day, an hour, or whether one for a year, another for a month, another for a day: if so, as all four were loosed at once, the sorrow decreases, etc.

Ere proceeding, we must remark, how immediately between the close of the results of the fifth trumpet, and the sound of the sixth, the announcement (ver. 12), "one woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter," comes in, referring to a somewhat similar verse (Rev. viii. 13) introduced between the results of the fourth trumpet, and the sounding of the fifth.

A verse, similar to the twelfth verse of the ninth chapter, is found (Rev. xi. 14): — "The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly," which refers, I conceive, to the results of this sixth trumpet, and marks Rev. x. and Rev. xi. 1–13 as a parenthesis. The object of this parenthesis I conceive to be just to show the state, morally and as to circumstances, of the inheritance (toward the assuming of which, by the Lord, all this action is moving on) at the time of the end. It seems to me also to be presented more as a piece of prophetic history; and the burden of the parenthesis is the vision of the state of things, as characteristic of the place at that time, and not of those actions of the Lord, like the parts we have been considering, which have, as their end and object, the introduction of His Lordship only.

Revelation x. — The object of the descent of this mighty angel, and his conduct as to the little book, seem to me two distinct things. Confessedly he is the arch-angel, and comes to claim the earth and sea as his own, as was promised in Psalm viii.

The connection of a cloud with the Lord is common. In the following places it was the covering of the Lord: Ezekiel xvi. 10, "the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud," Ezekiel xix. 9; Ezekiel xxiv. 15, 16; Ezekiel xxxiv. 5; Leviticus xvi. 8, "I will appear in the cloud, on the mercy-seat." (See also Num. xii. 5; Deut. xxxi. 115; Dan. vii. 13.) The connection of the returning Lord with clouds is too frequent to need notice. This, and the rainbow about His head — that is, His crown, the insignia, as seen in Rev. iv., of the covenant with creation — and His face like the Son of man's (Rev. i. 16), as the sun, and His feet like pillars of fire (as in Rev. i. 15), all tell His dignity. Well, He conies forth in all this dignity, with a little book open in His hand. But the book does not seem the important thing, for He sets His right foot on the sea, and left on the earth, thus claiming them for His own, and shouts aloud. Perhaps, in 1 Thessalonians iv. 16, "with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God," refers to the shout here given, to the swearing which follows, and to the seventh trump — I say perhaps. Upon this shout, as of a lion, seven thunders utter their voices. In themselves I conceive they are the divine sanction, or response, to the action and cry of this lion, as in Ezek. ix. 23; 1 Sam. xii. 17.

In the substance of them, in that they could not be revealed, but were sealed up, they may have contained some expressions of God's mind in connection with that which the little book opens; which, as connected rather with God's estimate of the principle at work in the scene it would open, were not properly expressed at a time when all divine action was confined to the bringing in of the Lordship, and not to witnessing against evil. I know nothing which gives the soul more freedom in reading the book than this sealing up, as telling of the care and love and foresight which has closed in the book all that we might not see. It strikes me that the voices having been heard by John, and the writing of them forbidden to him, the revelation of them to him was probably somehow connected with his peculiar service of testimony. But, oh, how sweet it is to rest in the love that sealed them to us, and opened them to John, and to be able to be without jealousy or grudging against Him who has made the difference, or against John to whom it was made. On the command, "Seal up," and by a voice from heaven, the mighty angel lifts up his hand to heaven, and swears by Him, by the Everlasting Creator (thus letting out who himself the while was), that there should be no more delay, but, on the seventh angel sounding, the close of the mystery* of God, according to the testimony to the prophets, should take place. Then the voice that had commanded the sealing of the thunders' voices sends John to take the little book. The mighty angel tells him it shall be sweet in taste, but bitter in digestion; John takes it, and finds this true; and the mighty angel says to him, "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."

1881 255 There seems to me a correspondence between the bitterness in John's belly and the voices of the thunders: on God's part, judgment; on John's, as the representative of the servants of God, bitter sorrow.

The introduction of this mighty angel also seems to me connected with the change in the character of the prophecy. Hitherto all the testimony had been about what God alone should do, and that as bringing in the Lordship — not a testimony to man, but a special prerogative revelation by the Son to His servants. Now, however, it seemed good to state what at that time would be a matter of testimony to all nations, tongues, etc., for they all shall have part in the scene; and the testimony is not as to God's actions in bringing Lordship, but God's forbearance to man, when he, led by Satan, will be setting up other gods; and therefore John is chosen. For though the Lamb will be and is the channel of communication, now and ever, from the Father, and from God to the sons and servants, not He but they stand before the world; and this, to me, is just the opening of the necessity for this change.

As the temple hitherto has been the temple in heaven (Rev. xi.), such, I suppose, is here likewise; the more so, as the outer court is defined to be the holy city, that is, Jerusalem, and it cannot be both temple and court. Moreover, in verse 19, Jerusalem having been spoken of, and so the danger of mistake brought in, the temple in heaven is specified. What is meant by the order, "rise and measure," etc., I know not, unless it be the expression of God's desire, and the way taken, to call the servant's mind, at this juncture, off especially, and definitely to fix it upon the blessed truths the servant knew from chapter vii. would, at the time this was acted out, be his own portion in the sanctuary itself. This would be refreshment from the bitterness of belly just felt, and about to be felt yet more in the scene which followed; the marking too the character of his sorrow, and most high position, to be able to have such (not sorrow for himself, but) from association with the Lord's name, and honour, and Spirit. And such, both in Ezekiel (Rev. xl. onwards) and in chapters xxi., xxii. of Revelation, seems to be the object of the specification of measure; and how blessed in that hour will be the worship in the temple, though so sadly contrasted with the holy city, or outer court.

And thus, for the first time in the book, I think, Jerusalem on earth comes before us, estranged indeed from God's ways, and trodden down by the Gentiles, and that most actively for forty-two months, notwithstanding its being part of the earth claimed by the mighty angel as his possession. It is this claim, with the especial bearings of it on Jerusalem, which brings in the witnesses. And sadly is their lot, though most honourable in itself, contrasted with the lot and portion of the worshippers within the temple. Amid the treading down of the city, they witness in sack-cloth for God till, their testimony being ended, the beast makes war upon them, and overcomes and kills them, to the joy of all the Gentiles (people, nations, kindreds, and tongues) treading down the city, and to the vindictive delight of (their own countrymen) those who are natives of the land. Who they are I know not, unless the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed in chapter vii. The expression, "the beast makes war against them, and overcomes them, and kills them;"* and their bodies being seen by the nations, peoples, tongues, etc., "in the broad way of the city," rather inclines me to think that they are not only two individuals,** but a large body of persons. Their power is of God (ver. 3), and by Him they are placed as His witnesses, fed by and giving light before Him, as now claiming to be God of all the earth. Verse 5 looks to me also, in addition to verses 7, 8, as symbolic, "fire proceeding out of their mouth, and devouring their adversaries,"*** though verse 6 is not so. If Elijah and the one hundred and forty-four thousand constitute God's testimony; part may refer to the one, and part to the other. It may be also that there will be some such double action in Elijah as in Moses, in that he first goes to the people, and then makes the display of his power before Pharaoh. The work of Elijah, in the closing up of this dispensation, may be the means and instrument of gathering out the one hundred and forty-thousand. But whoever they are, their actions have a double character. I speak not of their testimony, but actions, as in verses 5, 6; partly like Moses, using power over the world, to the annoyance of one of its lords; partly like Elias, closing the heavens from an apostate people, etc. just what will be needful for a testimony in Jerusalem, when the people, far from God, are lending themselves to some infidel heads of the nations round them.

[*One could hardly say this of Herod's cruelty to James and Peter.]

[**The thought of Haman's heart, in Esther, comes more before us than the slain One on Calvary.]

[***See Rev. ix. 17, 18.]

I would remark, that all the action, in Rev. viii., Rev. ix., is of God, toward the bringing in of the Lordship into earth; Rev. x. is the link from above, and Rev. xi. the link into it from beneath; Rev. xii., onward, the state of things on earth. Rev. x. is thus the revelation of the connection of God's actions, seen by the saints, but not by the world, with the first manifestation of that purpose to the world.

It seems to me that "who the witnesses are?" is a question proper to the Christian while reading this; apart from the object of their mention it may be, and doubtless is so. Here the simple point was, "There would be an adequate witness supplied of God, and upheld by Him, till His purpose, and ours too, as fellow-labourers with Him, is accomplished." The Old Testament does supply one witness for that day — Elias; the New another — the one hundred and forty-four thousand; so far is truth, if such be the meaning here.

The candlestick, in Zechariah iv., with its seven lamps, seems to me the light of God's grace, establishing by righteousness, by His power in providential sway, a testimony. The question there is as to the return from Babylon. Salvation-of-jah was high priest when established by grace therein; a stone,* with seven eyes in it, is laid before him and his fellows, as a pledge of the bringing forth of the Branch. Then this candlestick is shown to the Disperser of Babel, the Governor; and this word said (ver. 6), "Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." What is this, but that the great mountain should become a plain before Zerubbabel (that is, Babel utterly wane), and the headstone (of the temple, ver. 8) be brought forth, with shootings, "Grace, grace unto it!"** The hands of Zerubbabel, who laid the foundation, shall finish it. Thus was Zerubbabel, as the representative of kingly power, establishing the temple for a great light, though it was "not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord;" for the stone (Dan. ii.) should come in with the full impress upon it of the seven eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the earth.

[*Haggai makes himself and Zerubbabel the leading parties Zechariah makes Joshua.]

[**See also Haggai.]

The two olive-trees here, feeding this light, and standing before God, are Haggai the prophet, and Joshua the high priest, yet as representatives of the prophetic and priestly office especially — so, at least, I take it. (See Haggai passim.)

In Revelation both the witnesses are candlesticks and olive-trees. Their testimony is evidently double: first, to those that dwell on the earth; secondly, to the nations. This may account for there being two; and it is plain to me that the representative of kingly power here is not on the side of God, but against. These two both give light, and are anointed ones by God. The nations preventing their bodies being put in graves (ver. 9) carries the mind to Psalm lxxix. After three and a half days they are revived from death, and called up to heaven before all men. A great earthquake follows, and one-tenth of the city falls, and seven thousand names of men are slain. The rest are affrighted, and give glory to the God of heaven.*

[*Has this anything to do with the too late virgins?]

The second woe is announced to be passed, and the third at hand; and then the seventh trump sounds; and heaven proclaims that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, and He is to reign for ever and ever. The twenty-four elders worship God (perhaps as showing the thing was still not a matter of manifested display even yet; or, if so, not yet to be looked upon by the reader as such), and praise God for having taken His great power, and reigned; and, spite of the anger of the nations, brought in the time of just retribution and reward to all, whether they have done evil or good. It does not seem that the recognition of the kingdoms of this world having become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ is made, as recorded in this chapter, anywhere save in heaven. This may be of moment to notice.