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1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
Ver. 1. A lamb ] In opposition to that counterfeit lamb, Revelation 13:12 . A lion he can show himself at pleasure.
Stood ] Ready pressed for action, as at the stoning of Stephen, or he stood sentinel for such as he here reserved to himself under the reign and rage of Antichrist.
A hundred forty and four thousand ] The same that were sealed, Revelation 7:4 , all the holy martyrs, confessors, believers.
Having his Father’s name ] His Father and their Father, his God and their God; this was written. on their foreheads, as "holiness to the Lord" was upon the high priest’s,Exodus 28:36; Exodus 28:36 . For the constancy of their confession; they were not "ashamed of the gospel of Christ"Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16 , nor "afraid with any amazement," 1 Peter 3:6 .
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
Ver. 2. As the voice of many waters ] The word of God (called here a voice from heaven) hath, saith Mr Forbes, three degrees of operation in the hearts of men. 1. It works wondering (as the sound of many waters) and acknowledging of a strange force and more than human power,Mark 12:22; Mark 12:22 ; Luke 4:32 ; John 7:46 ; John 2:1-25 . It works not only wonder but fear, as thunder doth; thus it wrought in Felix, and may do in any reprobate. 3. It works in the elect peace and joy; it makes music in the soul, far sweeter than that of harpers,1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 1:8 .
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Ver. 3. A new song ] See Trapp on " Rev 5:9 "
But the hundred, &c. ] To whom alone it was given to understand the mysteries of God’s kingdom. Others could not skill of it.
From the earth ] i.e. From the Antichristian rout and rabble. These dunghill cocks meddle not with that jewel, the joy of faith, but speak evil of what they know not.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Ver. 4. Which were not defiled with women ] Which have not moiled themselves with fornication corporal or spiritual, as those Israelites, Numbers 25:1-9 , by Balaam’s counsel, and as Papists at this day, seduced by those effeminate locusts, Revelation 9:8 . As for their shavelings that plead this text to prove marriage defilement, let them hear the apostle, Hebrews 13:4 , and another almost as ancient: Si quis coinquinationem vocet commixtionem legitimam, habet inhabitatorem dracohere apostatam; If any call lawful marriage a defilement, that man hath a devil dwelling in him. (Ignatius.)
These are they which follow the Lamb ] As the seaman’s needle doth the north pole; or as the hop, in its growing, winding about the pole, follows the course of the sun from east to west, and can by no means be drawn to the contrary, choosing rather to break than yield.
These were redeemed ] For royal use. SeeRevelation 14:3; Revelation 14:3 .
Being the firstfruits ] Separated and sanctified unto him from the rest of the world.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Ver. 5. And in their mouth ] Children they are that will not lie,Isaiah 63:8; Isaiah 63:8 , neither is a deceitful tongue found in their mouth, Zephaniah 3:13 . They will rather die than lie. The officers of Merindol answered the bishop that moved them to abjure, that they marvelled much that he would go about to persuade them to lie to God and the world; affirming that they punished their children very sharply when they took them with a lie, even as if they had committed a robbery, for the devil is a liar. (Acts and Mon. fol. 866.)
For they are without fault ] 1. By imputation; 2. By inchoation.
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Ver. 6. And I saw another angel ] This is held to be John Wycliffe, who wrote more than two hundred volumes against the pope, and was a means of much good to many. The Lady Ann, wife to King Richard II, sister to Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, by living here was made acquainted with the gospel; whence also many Bohemians coming hither, conveyed Wycliffe’s books into Bohemia, whereby a good foundation was laid for the following reformation.
In the midst of heaven ] Not in fastigio caeli, in the height of heaven, as some render it; but allow rather, and as it were in the mid-heaven, because of the imperfection of his doctrine when it was first divulged.
Having the everlasting gospel ] The ancient truth, no new doctrine. A gentleman being asked by a Papist, Where was your religion before Luther? answered, In the Bible, where yours never was. It is called the eternal gospel (saith Brightman), as if the Holy Ghost would on purpose meet with the offence of those times, when the truth (that was restored) should commonly be condemned of novelty.
7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Ver. 7. Fear God ] Let one fear drive out another (as one fire doth another); the fear of God, the fear of your fellow-creatures, who draw you to idolatry. For this it is that the second commandment is the first with punishment.
Give glory to him ] By confessing your sins and amending your ways. See Joshua 7:19 ; Jeremiah 13:16 .
For the hour of his judgment is come ] The judgment that he will exercise upon idolaters and their mawmets, as once in Egypt. See John 12:31 ; Act 17:30-31 Acts 14:15 .
And the fountains of waters ] Quantum miraculi sit in admiranda illa fluminum perennitate, nemo, credo, philosophorum satis explicare haetenus potuit, saith Bucholcer.
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Ver. 8. And there followed another angel ] Martin Luther with his book De Captivitate Babylonia, which when Bugenhagius first read, he rashly censured for the most pestilent book that ever was written; but upon better deliberation he retracted his former sentence, and became a means to convert many others.
Of the wine of the wrath ] Of the intoxicating, enraging wine, that sets men a madding after her:
" Nam Venus in vinis, ignis in igne furit. "
There is a story of Walter Mapes, sometime Archdeacon of Oxford, who relating the pope’s gross simony, a concludes his narration thus, Sit tamen Domina materque nostra Roma baculus in aqua fractus: et absit credere quae vidimus. Rome had ravished this man out of his wits.
a The act or practice of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, or emoluments; traffic in sacred things. ŒD
9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
Ver. 9. And the third angel ] Understand by this third angel, all the reformers and preachers of the gospel after Luther, to the end of the world.
If any man worship ] See Mr Perkins’s Treatise. A Papist cannot go beyond a reprobate.
And receive his mark ] He saith not this of those that have the name or the number of the beast. For we doubt not but many were carried away by him, as those 200 were by Absalom in the simplicity of their hearts,2 Samuel 15:11; 2 Samuel 15:11 , knowing nothing of his treason.
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Ver. 10. Of the wine of the wrath of God ] Wine for wine. God delights to retaliate and proportion; as he that said, Fumos vendidit, fumo pereat, He sold smoke, and by smoke let him perish. Imposturam faciunt et patientur, as the emperor said of them that sold glass for pearls: They deceived others, themselves shall be deceived much more.
Without mixture ] viz. Of mercy, with which God usually moderateth the cup of believers’ afflictions. SeeJames 2:13; James 2:13 . They only sip off the top of God’s cup, Illud tantum quod suavius est et limpidius: That which is so sweet and so clear. Reprobates drink the dregs. They shall have an evil, an only evil without mixture of mercy, Ezekiel 7:5 . Judgment without mercy, darkness without light. Philosophers say that in this world non dantur purae tenebrae, there is no mere darkness; but reprobates, that here preferred darkness before light, shall be cast into utter darkness without the least glimpse of light. Non surget hic afflictio. God will make an utter end; "Affliction shall not rise up the second time," Nahum 1:9 . The wicked shall be totally and finally consumed at once.
In the presence of the holy angels ] Who shall be not spectators only, but executioners also, as once at Sodom.
In the presence of the Lamb ] Notwithstanding their Agnus Dei, Lamb of God and other superstitious trumperies.
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Ver. 11. And the smoke of their torment ] Utinam de gehenna ubique dissereretur, saith Chrysostom. Would to God men would everywhere think and talk more of hell, and of that eternity of extremity that they shall never else be able to avoid or to abide. Surely one good means to escape hell is to take a turn or two in hell by our daily meditations.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Ver. 12. Here is the patience ] See Revelation 13:10 . The beast, being thus declared and declaimed against, will rage above measure; hold out therefore, faith and patience.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Ver. 13. A voice from heaven ] That voice of Christ, John 5:24 ; John 8:51 .
Write, Blessed are the dead ] Though by the pope accursed and pronounced damned heretics.
Which die in the Lord ] Especially if for the Lord; which is (saith Father Latimer) the greatest promotion in the world, such as is not granted to any angel in heaven.
From henceforth ] As well as heretofore in those primitive persecutions. Or, from henceforth, that is, presently from the very time of their death, απαρτι , e vestigio, a mode, ab ipso mortis tempere. This puts out the very fire of purgatory; for if all believers die in Christ, and are blessed, and that presently, then none are to be purged.
Rest from their labours ] The sleep of these labourers, oh, how sweet is it! Quale sopor fessis in gramine -they get the goal, they enter the haven:
" Italiam socii laeto clamors salutant. "
A Christian here is like quicksilver (which hath in itself a principle of motion, but not of rest), never quiet; but as the ball upon the racket, ship upon the waves, &c. Death brings him to his rest, Isaiah 57:2 .
And their works follow them ] They die not with them, as Hortensius’s Orations did. Mors privare potest opibus, non operibus, Death may deprive a man of his wealth, but not of his works.
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Ver. 14. A sharp sickle ] An instrument to cut down grain, Deuteronomy 16:9 , and the bunches and branches of the grapes, Isaiah 18:5 . It betokens sharp and sudden vengeance. What more beautiful to behold than the field before harvest, than the vineyard before the vintage, &c.? This is spoken for the consolation of the persecuted people of God.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Ver. 15. Thrust in thy sickle ] This is not a command, but a request of the faithful, which is soon fulfilled. It is like that of the Church, Psalms 102:3 ; "Arise, O Lord, and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come."
16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Ver. 16. And he that sat on the cloud ] That is, Christ, who soon condescendeth to the suits of his servants. Iste vir potuit quod voluit, said one concerning Luther. The death of Arius was precationis opus, non morbi, the fruit of prayer, rather than the effect of his disease, saith another. He was brought to confusion by the prayers of Alexander, the good bishop of Constantinople.
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
Ver. 17. And another angel ] The community of faithful Christians that combine against Antichrist, to pull him out of his throne and cut his comb.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
Ver. 18. And another angel ] A type of true pastors, saith Mr Forbes; by whose plain and powerful preaching the other are informed and stirred up to consecrate their hands to the Lord. Such an angel was Zuinglius, who died in battle; such was Beza in that battle that was fought in campis Druidensibus; such were the Angrognian ministers, and such were sundry of our late army preachers, Mr Marshal, Mr Ash, my dear brother Mr Thomas Jackson, now of Gloucester, &c.
Which had power over fire ] Not Christum et Evangelium flammeum praedicans, as a popish varlet a slandered Beza at the afore mentioned sight, but as the pacifying the fire of contention among brethren, and setting them all together against the common enemy.
Thrust in thy sharp sickle ] Fall on, quit you like men, be valiant for the Lord of hosts; "Cursed is he that doth the Lord’s work negligently. Cursed is he that withholdeth his sword from blood." Thus the faithful ministers strengthened the hands and hearts of the soldiers to battle, and made them stick close to their colours and commanders.
Are fully ripe ] Ripe for vengeance, as the Amorites were, when they had filled the land from one end to another with their uncleanness, Ezra 9:11 . About the year of grace 1414, Theodoricus Urias, an Augustinian in Germany, complained, that the Church of Rome was then become, ex aurea argenteam, ex argentea ferream, ex ferrea terream, superesse ut in stercus abiret; of gold silver, of silver iron, of iron earth, which would shortly turn to muck. (Jac. Revius.)
a A man or lad acting as an attendant or servant; a menial, a groom. Now arch. OED
19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Ver. 19. And the angel thrust in ] Down go the Antichristians immediately, by the power and prowess of the Christian armies, thus edged and eneagered by their preachers. This we have seen fulfilled in our late wars to our great comfort, at Edgehill and Nazeby fight especially.
In the great winepress ] Lacus iste locus coedis. Such a lake, the place of devastation, This winepress is called Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 .
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Ver. 20. And the winepress was trodden ] viz. By Christ the King, with his heavenly horsemen, Revelation 19:13-14 .
Without the city ] i.e. Without the Church, haply in Judea, whither the pope being driven from Rome, shall fly and sit, till Christ shall unroost him with the brightness of his coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 .
Even unto the horse bridles ] To confute the pride and cruelty of those bloody Papists that threatened to ride their horses up to the saddleskirts in the blood of the Lutherans. (Flac. Illyr.) So Famesius, Minerius, Felix of Wurtemburg, Sir Charles Ellerker, Charles IX of France, that cruel Queen, who when she saw some of her Protestant subjects lying dead, and stripped upon the earth, cried out, The goodliest tapestry that ever she beheld. These and the like shall be one day glutted with blood, which they have so barbarously thirsted after. Satia te sanguine, quem sitiisti, &c., Satisty with your blood which you were so thirsty for, as she said of Cyrus. (Justin, lib. i.)
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29