Page images
PDF
EPUB

it has been already seen, that the former of these is the representative of the antichristian princes who inhabit the Western part of the Roman empire, and that the latter is emblematic of the members of the antichristian priesthood. And if the Dragon be mentioned as joined with them in a great confederacy it must signify such antichristian potentates, as have entered into the confederacy, but do not constitute a part of the proper ten-horned Beast. Such for instance may be the empress of Russia, the king of Prussia and some of the princes of Germany, who reign over territories that lie out of the bounds of the Western Roman empire.

St. John commences the passage by alluding to those partisans of the princes, who provoke the war, and employ themselves with activity in concerting the general alliance. It is as follows: and I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the Dragon, and out of the mouth of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the False Prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto, or, as I think it ought rather to be translated, among the king's of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place, called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

In the first of these verses, St. John has wrapped up his meaning under the cover of prophetic emblems. In the next, he changes his style ; and employing phraseology for the most part plain and unfigured, proceeds to explain the reason, why he had described the emissaries as coming out of the mouth of the Dragon and the Beast. For, says he, they go forth among the kings of the earth and of the whole world". To these two verses a remark of bp. Newton is

18 It may be seen in the lexicons, that among is one of the senses of ETTl, which is the preposition here employed.

19 They go forth among Caorders ons yes, the princes of the Roman empire in Europe, and not only among them, but also among those 795 oxidMEVNS, the princes who rule in other territories of the civilized part of the world. The former are denoted by the ten-horned Beast ; the latter by

applicable. “It is customary with the prophets, after they have described a thing in the most symbolical and figurative diction, to represent the same again in plainer language2o.' This episode is introduced between the sixth and the seventh vials. With a reference to the expression, and I sawa, Daubuz says, “ This is a fresh vision, that is, the vision of a fresh matter different from the former, and therefore hath this fresh mark of attention. The Holy Ghost has here followed the method observed before in those parts of the vision, which are distinguished by seven epochas: namely, to have an episode or parenthesis discovering some collateral and remarkable accidents, which seem not to follow the same kind of matters, and could not be so well placed elsewhere ; and this is done constantly after the sixth epochą. But there is another reason, more weighty than mere precedent, to account why this episode is placed just before the description of the seventh vial, Though the confederacy of princes which it announces may be supposed to exist during the effusion of the most early of the vials, and the war conducted by them may continue to be carried on while the six first are pouring out; there nevertheless appears to be a manifest propriety, why it should be inserted immediately before the seventh, because it is descriptive of those great events, which are the

the Dragon. Olxspevn, here translated world, St. Luke employs in a restricted sense ; and it is agreed on all hands, that it must here also have a very limited import.

20 On ch. vi. 15. This, says Vitringa (in Jer. xxiv. 21), is customary in Isaiah and the other prophets. In like manner Daubuz (on Rev. ch. xiv. 20, where an instance of this occurs) says, “it is frequently to be ob. served in the prophets, that they begin with a metaphorical or symbolical expression, and presently after go on with the literal.' Other examples of this, such as incidentally occur, Dan. vii. 13, 14 ; Joel iii. 13 ; Haggai i. 21, 22; Mat. xxiv. 30; Luke xxi. 27 ; Rev. vi. 2 ; and 12-15, will here. after be cited.

21 . It is no just objection, that a new subject is supposed to begin with the conjunction and ; for this is frequent in the style of the Hebrews.' Bp. Newton, vol. III. p. 190. In the book of Revelation particularly it is often thus introduced.

foundation, and indeed the immediate cause, of the mighty Revolution foretold in the last of the vials.

The persons spoken of in this episode are represented as coming out of the mouth of the Dragon, &c. and this, says Daubuz, is a symbol of decorum, because they are said to be spirits. Of the passage that follows from this author a part has before been cited. The mouth,' he says, “ is the organ of speech, and words in the sacred style are the same as commands and actions, because they imply the effects of the thoughts.-To come out of the mouth therefore signifies to be constituted and commanded ; to become an agent or minister, under a superior power. Accordingly those mentioned in the verse under consideration are, he adds, such agents”, as excute the commands of those, out of whose mouth they are said to come. Though they are, says Vitringa, a numerous body of men, they are spoken of as if they were only three, because the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, from whom they proceed, are three, in number.

Since the False Prophet is mentioned, it is plain, that the war of Armageddon shall be some war, which shall not only be distinguished by an extraordinary confederacy of princes, but which shall also meet with the marked approbation of the ecclesiastical orders ; a war, which the great body of priests, in the different hierarchies, shall be active to kindle, and zealous to promote. Dr. Lancaster, speaking of the emissaries who go forth among the kings of the earth, says*, by their persuasion and endeavors, a war will be at last entered upon by the antichristian powers, in which the Beast and False Prophet, or the said powers civil

22 They are, says an old English annotator, ambassadors or agents, called spirits for their subtilty and activity Apocal. Myst. by H. K. Part II. p. 28. Mr. Cradock entitles them wicked emissaries, negotiators, and solicitors ;' and Brightman, in the language which was current a century and a half ago, says of them, 'these bellows of troubles, and warmaking furies, shall leave nothing undone, that they may set the whole world in a combustion.'

23 In his Abridgment of Daubuz's Commentary.

and ecclesiastical, will meet with a final destruction. This will be a time when the power and dominion of God will be in a most extraordinary manner made, manifest.'

(The great Day of God,' says Daubuz, signifies that time, wherein God by remarkable and glorious acts vindicates his honor upon wicked men.-One of the most remarkable of all which occasions will be that wherein he shall destroy the Beast and False Prophet.The title of Almighty-is not useless in this case, but implies, that they shall be therein destroyed, God being on such occasions resolved to exert and demonstrate the plenitude of his power. Such a day therefore does not signify a short space of time, but indefinitely as much time as God thinks fit to employ therein, be it never so long24.

The word Armageddon alludes, says Vitringa, to the Valley of Megiddo, which is mentioned in the book of Chronicles and in the prophecy of Zechariah ́s. Indeed, says Lowman, Megiddo, being 'famous in the history of God's people for several memorable slaughters, because a proverbial expression for a place of destruction and mourning. The commentators accordingly observe, that it here signifies such a place ; and Vitringa declares, that it without doubt points to some great plain situated in Europe, wherein the two parties are to be engaged together. The defeat at Armageddon, says this eminent commentator, will cause the mightiest changes, and draw after it the downfall of the antichristian empire, as is most clearly evident from the succeeding prophecy. “The battle of Armageddon, says Mede, shall give an end to the antichristian sove. reignty. But it is not to a single engagement, but to a war, in which a succession of battles are to be fought, that the prediction of St. John probably refers; for the word

24 The word Day often comprehends a 'succession of time, in which a whole series of events is transacted. Mr. Lowth on Jer. xxx. 7. The word Day is, in the Hebrew notion, used ordinarily for tempus, yea longissimum : as in the prophets, for the Seventy years captivity.' Mede,

P. 945.

25 2 Chron. xxxv. 22. Zech, xii. 11.

26 P. 739.

translated battle signifies more properly a war, and it has been seen, that that other word, day, standing in connexion with it, is perfectly reconcileable with this notion. The genuine force of modelos 27 has not escaped the ingenious Mr. Lowman. “Whoever,' says he, the three unclean spirits are,—they seem plainly to intimate some powerful league or CONFEDERACY, by which the principal Popish Powers23 shall be engaged with all their forces in some war, in which they shall be totally overthrown, and which shall end in their final destruction, as seems to be more fully expressed in the description of the seventh vial or last cup. If Mr. Lowman apprehended, that these coalesced princes would be such only as profess popery, he would have found it a task of no small difficulty to have assigned any valid reason for drawing such a line of distinction. The expression, the kings of the earth, is general, and appears to be no farther restricted, than to the European quarter of the world. They go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, i. e. says Peganius, “ of the whole Roman dominion, as we read of Augustus, that he taxed all the world24, Luke 2. Among these are perhaps comprehended all those kings and princes, that heretofore were under the Roman jurisdiction, but have renounced the Romish religion : for certainly, amongst them also, all things are not so very well30. · It is said in v. 16, and he gathered them, that is, says Mr. Cradock in his paraphrase, ‘God by his all-wise providence permitted it so to be. To the same purpose Mr. Brightman. Whatsoever the kings of the earth aimed at, God's secret providence shall so guide and over-rule them, that whatsoever destruction they devise and intend to bring upon others, it should fall upon themselves. It

27 Iloreros, says Constantine, differt a mayo, quemadmodum apud Latinos bellum a prælio.

28 Who are the principal Popish Powers ? Austria and Spain.
29 Oirovpeva is the word employed by Luke.
30 P. 227

« PreviousContinue »