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Revelation 14:1-5 . Lo, a Lamb, the Lord Christ, stood on mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty four thousand, whom he had redeemed to God by his blood. Here is the church of the firstborn, both jews and gentiles, distinguished as the first heirs of glory, and our forerunners to heaven, the redeemed, the washed, the elect of God. Yet their best portion, as the first heirs of glory, does not obstruct the salvation of others. All there is light, glory, and joy, at the nuptials of the Lamb. See on chap. 7.
The eulogies of this church are great and high. They are nearest the eternal throne, they bear their Father’s image and name, they are happy beyond degree, and sing new songs of redemption, of victory over every foe, and have full possession of the eternal inheritance. The song is exclusively theirs, yet others may share in the joy. They glorify God for preserving them from the feasts and abominations, where sin is without shame. Their felicity is associated with harps of sweetest sound; joys and songs, which the giddy crowds in carnal feasts can neither relish nor taste: they cannot learn that song till they get a new heart. They follow the Lamb in all the paths of righteousness, and shrink not at the cross, but continue with him in his temptations. In a word, no guile was found in their mouth; they retain their first love and simplicity to the end of their course.
Revelation 14:6-7 . I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having his commission immediately from God. He was like the seraphim, burning with ardour to tell the good news to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. He saw the world lying in a state of apostasy from the covenant of Noah. The missionaries carry no new religion to the heathen, but the religion of their fathers, made perfect in Christ. He saw them lying in darkness, and brought them the light of life; he preached the righteousness of God to men enslaved by every crime. He saw the anguish of the woman without the certainty of a husband; he saw the tyranny of their chiefs and princes; and what is more, he saw them under the tyranny of Satan, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
The manner of his preaching is with fervour; he cried with a loud voice, Fear God. Abstain from crimes. Give glory to him for all his grace; be now converted at once, and from all your sins; for the hour of his judgment is come. Give your idols to the moles and the bats, and worship him that made heaven and earth, for all the heavens worship him by obedience. Cry in your thirst to him that made the fountains of waters, infinitely valuable in the sandy deserts, and the torrid zones. The present revivals of religion, connected with bible and missionary efforts in the whole christian church, are thus favoured with the cares of heaven.
Revelation 14:8 . There followed another angel, saying, as the order of the words are in the Greek, Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great. See the note on Revelation 11:8.
Revelation 14:9-11 . A third angel followed, saying with a loud voice, if any man worship the beast and his image, after the full blaze of gospel light, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God. On the ages of past ignorance God has winked, but he will punish all image-worship, as he punished the worshippers of the golden calf. While I am writing this, the Spaniards are drinking the bitter cup of a civil war, and God is avenging the blood which the Inquisition has shed. He has sworn that the earth shall not conceal the blood of his saints.
Revelation 14:17-20 . Another angel came out of the temple, on a mission more terrific than all the other scourges of God. He is arrayed in all the aspects of war, with a falchion in his hand. This is probably the last war, and may be associated with the final battle, alluded to in the nineteenth chapter. God will surely strike at the atheism of Europe; and it does not appear that mahomedanism can be chased away, except by the storms of war, that the gospel may follow the darkness with its healing beams.
We pass here from the sorrows to the joys of the church. While the beast and his victims go down to the abyss, the firstborn sons of Zion sing with the Lamb on the holy mount. To hold fast the faith in evil times is the first and best character of God’s faithful flock. They wept on earth, but they shall sing in heaven.
The angel, superintending the revival of preaching, and of spreading the everlasting gospel, seems to refer to the reformation from popery, and to all the subsequent efforts to instruct the heathen. Besides, in this age the Bible society in London, connected with other societies in Europe, and in the East Indies, have done incredible things in diffusing the light of revelation. They have circulated the holy scriptures in a great number of languages, many of which are in India and China. The missionaries will keep pace with this light, and encourage the slumbering churches of the east to shine forth as the lamps of heaven, where Satan has long reigned in all the horrors of idolatry, attended with an infinitude of human sacrifices. But this loud voice from heaven assures us, that ere long they shall worship none but Him who made heaven and earth, and the fountains of water. So far prophecy and providence admirably accord, and promise to subjugate the world to the faith of Christ.
The second angel, announcing the fall of Babylon, is presently followed by the third angel, with a loud voice of judgment against the worshippers of the beast, and of departed spirits or demons, and who obstinately do it in defiance of the light of the reformation, and persecute the protestants unto death. Yet in the church of Rome, God surely knows how to deliver the good men of hidden piety, whom the papal bishops and others have persecuted. God always had a people in the church of Rome, who have flourished as the lily among the thorns of corrupt creeds, and superstitious rituals. Making this exception, look now on the infatuation and vengeance which have fallen on the clergy, and the friars, who wore the badges and habits of the beast, during the late war of more than twenty years. Look now, and see how they have drank of the cup, with which their fathers drenched the protestants. And if repentance was denied them, this vengeance fell upon their souls as well as on their bodies. What is still more awful, the punishment is everlasting, as is also implied by the brimstone which retains fire, and by the ever-ascending volumes of smoke. Hence it is of no avail for any men to attempt a mitigation of those torments, because the deliverance of devils and men from hell is not revealed in our scriptures. See note on Matthew 25:46. Now, before those evil times of vengeance on Babylon, “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord:” they are taken from the evil, and their works follow, as seals of their faith in Christ.
The white cloud on which the Son of man sat, and the angel which followed to reap the harvest, and the second angel which followed to cut the vintage, betoken God’s severest judgments by repeated strokes on both rich and poor. The scene of those judgments is the mystical Roman Babylon, as in Revelation 14:8; and the second verse of the next chapter celebrates the victory over the beast of the Turkish empire. The mode of obtaining this victory was to be by war, and war so terrible that the blood should reach to the bridles of the horses. The extent of this war was to be chiefly in the space of two hundred miles, or one thousand six hundred furlongs. There is no way of saving the mahomedans but by the shaking of all those nations, and by the removal of their power.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26