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from whence the four winds blow. Dan. viii. 8. xl. 4. Math. xxiv. 31. But these winds are not denominated winds of heaven, they are termed “ winds of the earth;" which denotes that these angels are not divine messengers, and these winds, storms of calamities and war, by which the Roman empire should greatly suffer, and be utterly rent to pieces.
Verse 2. Another angel ascending from the East. This #as a holy, but created angel, as is apparent from the language which he holds in the third verse : 6 the servants of our God,” by which he acknowledges himself a subject and worshipper of the Lord. St. John beheld him ascending the horizon from the East, from whence those dreadful calamities, and consequently the sealing of the servants of the Lord, were to commence. He cried with a loud voice, because the four angels showed signs of eagerness, to accomplish their bloody work without delay. This shows the provident care of the Lord, and even of holy angels for the Church of Christ, during the approaching trials and dangers. She would not have been able to sustain the storm in her present state, having lost much of her former spirit of faith, love and fidelity, during her late prosperity; wherefore this mighty angel was sent to strengthen and prepare her for this time of great peril. Verse 4. And I heard the nunber of them which were
sealed. And there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the
children of Israel. 5. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thou,
Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.
of the tribe of Napthalim were sealed twelve
Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve
thousand. 7. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thou. ,
sand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand Of the tribe of Isachar were sealed twelve thou
sand. 8. Of the tribe of Zebulon were sealed twelve
thousand. of the the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve.
thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve
thousand. The sealing angel had the seal of the living God, and in the execution of his commission many assistants, of whom he speaks verse third, in the plural number. Under what symbol this 'seal appeared in the vision to St. John, is not mentioned; but it was impressed on none, except the servants of God, on true believers already advanced in holi. ness. It was said, that Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, bore the hieroglyphic of a king in his physiog nomy. And there is no doubt, the tranquil, serene and heavenly mind of a sanctified child of God, will also impress itself on his countenance, by which others are warn. ed: take heed, that thou speak kindly to Jacob. Gen. xxxi. 23. But the sealing in this place is of far greater importance. It was an unction from above, by which the mema bers of the Church of Christ received self-subsistence, firmness invincible under the trials to come, and an invisible safeguard for bodily security, amidst all the ca. Jamities of the empire under the following trumpets. As anciently there was a mark upon the houses of the Israelites, in consequence of which the destroying angel passed by, Exod. xii. 7. 13; and upon the foreheads of those that sighed and cried in Jerusalem, Ezek. ix. 4; so were these servants of God, in a particular manner, convinced of their
state of grace and adoption, and of their safety in the chamber of his protection, till the days of indignation should pass over, and the glorious Millennium begin. 2 Cor. iii. 3. 2 Tim. ii. 19.
Verse 4. Of all the tribes of Israel. This cannot mean Israel after the flesh, but the true Israel of God, the children of the promise, the Church of Jesus Christ, where all distinction of tribes has ceased, Gal. iii. 28, and every believer is accounted an Israelite. Rom. ix. 6. 8. This passage does not treat of the protection of the Jews, but the preservation of the Church. She is represented by the twelve tribes of Israel, in order to show that she has been accepted in their place, and may apply all the promises of scripture to her comfort, as being grafted into the first stock. Rom. xi.
By the number 144,000, these servants of God are represented as the true Church of Christ. This is a square number consisting of twelve, in allusion to the members of the Church of the Old Testament, who were the true and genuine offspring of the twelve patriarchs; and to the Church of the New Testament, of the offspring of the twelve apostles. It also is the number of New Jerusalem. The Church of Christ is expressed by this number here, because at that very time, all those heads of families had been brought into her bosom, which constituted the genuine lineage of the old dispensation, and such of the Church of Christ, as by their posterity will reach the gates of New Jerusalem. This you may call mercy unto thousands on them that love him, Exod. xxxiv. 7. Verse 9. After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude,
which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with
white robes, and palms in their hands; 10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, salvation
to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11. And all the angels stood round about the throne,
and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and wor
shipped God, - 12. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wis
dom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.
Amen. This vision is distinct from the preceding one, and yet. closely connected in subject, matter, and design. The former comprehends the lineage of the twelve tribes, as incorporated with the Church of Christ, and comforts the servants of the Lamb, by a lively representation of the provi. dent care of God for the security and enlargement of the Church during the following times of great peril, and Romish apostacy. Here St. John beheld an innumerable mul. titude of saints in heaven, from all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, among which were all the chil. dren of God under the Old Testament, in order to animate their drooping spirits under the approaching calamities of the trumpets. Their being clothed in white robes, denotes their characters and employments at present, and during the Millennium : as it was usual for princes and priests to be arrayed in such garments, when in the exercise of their offices. Rev. i. 6. v. 10. They had palms in their hands, which were emblems of victory and triumph among the ancients, as also tokens of great joy at solemn festivals among the Jews. Lev. xxiii. 40. They had vanquished Satan, sin and death, and now commemorated the wonders of his love in the following verse, by which they had been preserved, and brought hither. In this they were joined and assisted by all the angels in heaven, who had been ministering spirits to them, while yet in the wilderness of this world, and now enjoyed the unspeakable plea-. sure, of seeing all their labours crowned with immortal honour. Heb. i. 14. Yet in humility, they ascribe all to
the Lord, who enabled them to accomplish so important a
me, what are these which are arrayed in white
robes ? and whence came they?
he said to me, these are they, which came out
more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor
throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them
wipe away all tears from their eyes. Verse 13. And one of the elders answered. 'Atongivoudi, does not only signify to answer, but often, to begin a discourse, to address a person, and thus it ought to be rendered here. The angel addressed St. John, in order to give him more information concerning this multitude of saints, for the comfort of the Church, and himself under his present sufferings.
This innumerable company of saints before the throne of God and the Lamb, were not the holy martyrs. For all the martyrs from the beginning of the world to that time, would not amount to such a great multitude, as St. John here beheld. Beside this, their lot has been determined under the fifth seal, as that of the unhappy dead under the sixth ; so that we cannot expect to meet with them so soon again. Nevertheless, the elder describes them as hav.