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during which the holy city shall be trodden under foot by the Gentiles; all which commence much later, and termirate at the establishment of the fifth monarchy in Daniel, chap. VII, or the kingdom of the people of the most High. But the angel informs us, that this period is not equal to a chronos, though according to his manner of expression, its.length approaches nearer to a chronos, than to any other term of time mentioned in the Revelation, and is therefore expressed by the use of that term. We then know from the scale of prophetic times adopted in this prophecy, that this period is considerably more than a thousand years, and yet not a full chronos. Hence its precise number would be indeterminable, if it could not be found liy a comparison witlr other numbers and synchronizing facts, from parallel prophetic lines ; but by these means it may be determined with tolerable certainty.
Though we know its termination by the facts, to which the angel himself refers, yet the commencement of this period should also be attested by corroborating history. The angel's oath stands in close connexion with the little . book, the delivery of which was also a part of the message, communicated by the angel to the holy Seer. The gen-, eral purport of this act, we are informed, was, that the apostle should prophecy beyond many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. These words' evidently, allude to a period, which should commence with the establish: mėnt of new and important kingdoms within the limits of the church, and during which many nations, and tongues, and peoples should continue in close connexion with each other, and unite in actions and exploits of common interest, and of essential influence on the prosperity of Zion. The position, in which the angel delivered the little book to John, will induce us here to comprehend all the kingdoms founded about this time within the limits of those four great empires, which had domipion in Palestine ; but the period attested by the angel's
oath, commences with the establishment of certain kingdoms in Europe, and more particularly the German 'empire. For this empire of the West, Charlemagne laid the first foundation by his successive wars against the Saxons, A. D. 772, and by overturning the kingdom of the Lombards in Italy, A. D. 773, upon which he was crowned king at Rome. He soon after this passed the Pyrenean mountains, and conquered a great part of Spain unto the Ebro, subjugated the Saracens in Majorca, Mi. norca, and in many other places ; where he always contributed much to the prosperity of the church, and the propagation of the Gospel. Thus he established A. D. 800, the German empire. And whosoever now considers all the dynasties which have followed each other in this empire, and in those kingdoms founded in connexion with it, and for its support in Europe, will have a correct idea of the many peoples, nations, tongues and kings alluded to in this prophecy, with the regal succession of which this period commences, and terminates in the establishment of the glorious kingdom of Christ on earth.
Verse 7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel. The sound of this angel is heard not only at the end of the time allotted to the seventh trumpet, when the resurrection of the martyrs shall take place, Rev. xx, but during the whole of that time.
The mystery of God should be finished as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. The contents of the propheties of the Old Tertament, concerning the church and people of God on earth, may be divided into two parts : the first has been accomplished in the Gospel history of the first centuries.; and the other will be completed with the expiration of this period, which the angel attested by an oath, or at the commencement of the Millennium. These prophecies themselves are no mystery. We all know their general and glorious import in regard to Christ's kingdom, the conversion of the Gentiles, and
the restoration of the Jews to their country, and to their God, Acts 111, 19-24. The prophecies might be termed a mystery, on account of their being delivered in an emblematical style'; but this word rather seems to refer in this place, more especially to the time, order, manner and means of their accomplishment, which was a perfect mystery to St. John, before he received the little book. Of this mystery it is said, it should be finished, which is not a complete translation of the original, at least not in this *place. Te desitin may with more correctness here be rendered, should commence accomplishing, or should commence its accomplishment; as Tenew often has that signification. Vide Luke xi, 50. XXII, 37. XVIII, 31. For this mystery of God will not be completed at once, but by a series of divine measures during many years. Verse 8. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me
again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon
and upon the earth. 9. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the
little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy
mouth sweet as honey. 10. And I took the little book out of the angeľs band, and eat
it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey : and as soon
as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11. And he said unto me, Thou musť prophesy again before
many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Verse 8. The voice which I heard from heaven. It is unlawful to prophecy without a commission from heaven, and a divine rule laid down by which human ingenuity may be curbed, and the spirit of man directed to the true path. Here St. John received his commisson by the voice of the Son of God, chap. iv, 1. chap. 1, 10. This voice which he had heard verse 4, now authorized him again to prophecy.
Verse 9. Take it and eat it up. all this passed in a vision, and of course is not to be understood in a literal
sense. The Greek word xe Topyw, which our English version here renders to eat, actually signifies to devour, to swallow
Luke xv, 30, and indicates the eagerness and thirst of the apostle for the knowledge contained in the little book; by which the minds of inspired men at all times, were prepared to receive those heavenly communications, and to appreciate their value. Thus a great reader of books is termed in Latin helluo librorum, a glutton of books. Blessed is he, who is nourished by the word of the Lord !-this is bread of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. This prophetic figure is borrowed from the Old Testament, where Ezekiel chap. II, 8–10. III, 1-3. on being commissioned to his office, was commanded in like manner to eat a roll, containing lamentations, mourning and woe, by which he was endowed with that portion of grace and knowledge, necessary to him, as an extraordinary messenger of the Lord to the children of Israel. The reception of this knowledge was sweet to the apostle, because it afforded him many glorious views concerning the divine decrees and their accomplishment on earth ; but its contents made his belly bitter ; because these blissful prospects were then yet deferred to a great distance, and brought about by heavy and sore judgments against the nations of the world.
The contents of this little book certainly refer to the completion of the mystery of God, as declared to his servants the ancient prophets. But I cannot consider them a transcript of those ancient prophecies ; a second copy of which would have been superfluous to the apostle. It surely contained new matter, which had not before been revealed. To form a conjecture of its contents, from what the holy seer has disclosed as such, chap. x, 11. chap. XI, 1-14, it would seem to contain a special system of Revelation to St. John, concerning the methodical arrangement of the yet unaccomplished prophecies of the Old Testament, as to their order of time, and the manner and means of completion,
in the fates and fortunes of the Jewish nation, at the time, of their restoration to their country, and to their God; all which is to commence at the termination of the period at: tested by theangel's oath, and must have been earnestly desired bythe apostle.
Verse 11. Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, &c. &c. The original €71, which our common version has rendered before, Bengelius has very justly translated beyond, or of. See Hebrews 1x, 17. 1 Cor. xiv, 16. where it has the same signification. These peoples, nations, tongues and kings then, are not the principal and immediate objects of St. John's prophecy in this place, though they are concerned in its accomplishment, and will perhaps be accessary, and greatly instrumental in furthering the designs of Heaven; for which reason they are thus brought into connexion. His chief object in this prophetic side-line, is that ancient people of God, the Jewish nation, and their restoration to their prerogatives as the original household of God, in which the Gentiles have only become their fellow-heirs, Eph. 11, 19. 111, 6. Rom. xi, 11. XV, 27. Isa. LXI, 5.,6. Isa. LXVI, 19-21. Rev. XXI, 12. 24. 26. and which shall not be lost to them for ever. But these glorious events, in favour of this people, are not to take place until the close of this period, when great changes and Revolutions will also be brought about among those nations, peoples, tongues and kings, to which we are here referred.