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readers. It cannot refer merely to the angel offering incense at the altar, while the people, according to ancient custom, were in silent prayer without; for St. John always puts his ueta TOUTA, after these things, when he passes from one vision to another, which he has not done in this place. Though this appears to be the most natural meaning of this silence in heaven, it may nevertheless also refer to the tranquil state of the Church under the emperor Theodosius. And in this case heaven would denote the Church of Christ on earth, and half an hour, simply an indeterminate space of time, as in Jolin iv. 21. 23.
Thus the seals comprise events in both the visible and invisible world; but the trumpets only refer to the Latin and Greek Churches, in their different states of degeneracy, and to the kingdoms of this world, which are to make room for the personal kingdom of Christ which is to be established during the Millennium.
Verse 2. And I saw the seven angels. The ancient Jews believed, that there were at all times seven angels attending around the throne of God, as his prime ministers, and special messengers in the government of the world. Job xii. 15. Zoroaster in his Zend-Avesta considers them, as the chief of all created beings, perfect images of God, kings immediately under him, generals against the powers of Ahriman or Satan, and in continual activity for the good of the whole kingdom of God. Their combatants and associates are the principalities, the powers, and all the mighty ones of heaven, with whom they constitute one state, one kingdom, and one people of the most High.* This also appears to have been the doctrine of the latter prophets, of the apostles of our Lord, Eph. ii. 21. Col. ii. 10. and a fundamental idea in the whole xosuos vontos, or Alexandrian philosophy. The passage before us affords new evidence of the truth of this doctrine. And in imitation of these angels, the Eastern monarchs chose seven
* See Erlaeuterungen zum N. T. 1 B. p. 29.
princes, as the principal personages of the empire, whose employment was a continual attendance at the thronc, Esther i. 14. As these seven ángels are to be considered the chief rulers in heaven, their introduction in this place denotes a general interference of all the celestial powers, in the execution of the Divine decrees under the trumpets. How great must be the interest at stake, how mighty and complicated the power and scheme of the enemy, when such exertions are made on the part of Heaven!
To them were given seven trumpets. See Rev. i. 10. The most ancient use of trumpets in communities among the Asiatics, is that of wandering nations, or migrating hordes, at shifting their habitations in search of fresh pasture; on which occasions, the most valient chief at the head of the whole train, blew a trumpet during the whole march. This custom is yet observed among the Kalmucs, and other Eastern hordes to the present day, when they roam about from place to place with their cattle. But it also was of general use as an instrument of war, both to an army in march, and to proclaim battle and victory. The Hebrews used trumpets to proclaim solemn festivals. But they cannot be considered in this sense here, where they no doubt, refer to that memorable invasion of the Roman empire, by so many Gerinan and Asiatic nations, after the death of Theodosius ; and to those wars, desolations, and calamities, which Heathen nations, in times after this catastrophe, have brought on Christian countries, and on the. Church. Jer, iv. 19. Hos. V. 8. Those expositors who connect these trumpets with the following angel at the altar, in allusion to the Jewish priests, blowing trumpets at the offering of incense, have not considered, that they were only given to the angels here, and not blown on this occasion. St. John makes a parenthesis in the text, when he passcs on to the angel at thc altar, whose offer of incense he only considers a collateral circumstance to the blowing of the trumpets, and not vice versa.
Verse 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar,
having a golden censer; and there was given
unto him much incense, that he should offer it ' with the prayers of all saints upon the golden
altar which was before the throne. . , 4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with
the prayers of the saints, ascended up before
God out of the angel's hand. 5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with
fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth : and there were voices, and thunderings, and light
nings, and an earthquake. Verse 3. And another angel came. The Revelation opens a stupendous view into the world of spirits. Here we see heaven and earth engaged, to accomplish the will of the Almighty ruler of the Universe. No book of Scripture makes such numerous recitations of angels as this ; and the correct meaning of this word is in many passages all-important, and yet difficult to find. Dr. Gill, for instance, has taken this angel to be our Lord Jesus Christ, and others have here understood the Holy Ghost. They fell into the same mistake with John himself, Rev. xix, 10. who began to worship an angel, which had told and shown him such glorious things. But the Holy Ghost is never called an angel in the Scriptures. Christ is sometimes denominated an angel in the Old Testament, because of his then future embassy into the world; but never in the New Testament, where he sends his angel. Rev. i. 1. xxii. 16. and is himself the Lord, whose second Advent is prepared by all these measures. The angel here with the golden censer is termed « another angel,” by which words he is compared to the former seven, as to his person, and yet distinguished from them as to his office and employment. This is also proved by the circumstances of his standing at the altar, of the incense having been given him, and from the whole aspect of his ministration.
Much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints. This is an unhappy translation, which very much favours the prevalent opinion of former times, concerning the mediation of angels in support of the saints. iva dásy should have been translated, that he should give, or lay it to the prayers of all saints, and not, that he should offer it with them; for the word offer, is not found in the original. The performance of this angel here, is an angelic function, and not a priestly employment ; but rather the archetype of that sacred office, which Moses beheld on the Mount. These prayers had been placed upon the altar, before the angel came to it, and received the incense. He did not lay the incense into the censer, but united it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar, where it was kindled by the holy fire of eternal love, as blazing forth in the intercession of Christ. Burning incense is an emblem, not of the prayers themselves, but of their being very grateful, and acceptable to God. Ps. cxli. 2.
The true import of this passage seems to be, that, some time before the blowing of the trumpets, all the saints on earth lamented the degeneracy and corruption of the Church, and made many efforts by prayer for her revival, but for a time without any visible signs of success. Thus the prayers of all saints were brought upon the golden altar in heaven, which, at least in this place, is not locally different from the true Church of Christ. Incense here denotes, both those heavenly graces in praying saints, by which alone their prayers are made acceptable, and of effect before God, as also that glorious consciousness of faith, in which believers rejoice, know and experience, that their prayers are accepted. Now, so degenerate was the Church at that time so much in want of the life and spirit of true Christianity, that, in prayers which regarded the whole Church, even the wise virgins of those days slumbered, and for a time were in want of incense, until
this ministering angel, who had received those heavenly graces for that purpose, revived and animated them anew, to a more exalted state of faith and love. Thus did the smoke of the incense ascend, with the prayers of the saints, out of the angels hand up before God.
Verse 5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar. Two altars are mentioned in this vision ; the golden altar of incense, and the altar of burnt-offering, here merely denominated the altar. The altar of incense under the old dispensation was the place, where men entreated God for favour and acceptance, Exod. xxx. 1. 3.6. but the altar of burnt-offering was the place, where God required Divine justice to be executed, against the transgression of his law. Exod. xxvii. This was done typically by offering sacrifices during the time of the Old Testament, and in reality, by the sufferings and atonement of Christ for the sins of the world. From the archetype of this altar of burnt-offering, or theatre of Divine justice against a guilty world, the angel took fire in consequence of the prayers of the saints, by which are meant the judgments and the wrath of God against his enemies, and upon the transgressors of his will.
Cast it into the earth : and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, The earth bere denotes the, Roman empire, now become Christian, and the earthly minded nations in the neighbouring countries. Thunder, lightning and earthquake are commotions of nature, which according to history, always precede the sore judgments of God; but here they are figurative expressions of great import, by which the prayers of the saints were answered, and certain measures of Divine justice signified to the Church. By voices, are meant those ministers of the Word, who rose up at this time, inspired with extraordinary zeal and fervour to enlighten the minds, and alarm the consciences of the people, by promulgating the future terrors, and righteous judgments of