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VISION OF THE CLOUD-ROBED ANGEL--NOT A CREATED ANGEL--HIS ATTIRE--HIS FACE--HIS FEET--THE PLACING OF HIS FEET--HIS LION-CRY--"THE SEVEN THUNDERS"--THEIR UTTERANCES SEALED--THE LITTLE BOOK--ITS IDENTITY WITH THE SEALED ROLL--JOHN'S EATING OF IT--ITS SWEETNESS AND BITTERNESS--THE OATH OF THIS ANGEL--THE MYSTERY OF GOD--PREACHING OF THE CONSUMMATION--"DAYS OF THE SEVENTH ANGEL"--DELAY OF THE LORD'S COMING-ITS CERTAINTY NEVERTHELESS.
Revelation 10:1-11. (Revised Text.) And I saw another, a mighty angel descending out of the heaven, clothed about with a cloud, and the rainbow on his head, and his face as it were the sun, and his feet as it were pillars of fire, and having in his hand a little book [or roll] opened; and he set his right foot upon the sea, but the left upon the land; and he cried with a great voice even as a lion roareth; and when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices; and when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; and I heard a voice out of the heaven saying, Seal up those things which the seven thunders spoke, and write them not.
And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the land lifted up his right hand into the heaven, and sware by him that liveth for the ages of the ages, who created the heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there shall be no more delay; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall sound, the mystery of God is [to be] fulfilled, even as he preached (glad tidings) to his servants the prophets.
And the voice which I heard out of the heaven [I heard] again speaking with me, and saying: Go, take the book [or roll] which is opened in the hand of the angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the land. And I went to the angel, saying to him, Give me the little book. And he saith to me, Take, and eat it, and it shall make bitter thy belly, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the hand of the angel and ate it; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter. And it was said to me, Thou must prophesy again upon peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings many.
This part of the Apocalypse is sometimes treated as an episode, thrown between the second and third woe-trumpets, and having little or no relation to either. This is an error. We have still to deal with the blast of the sixth Trumpet. It is only in the fourteenth verse of the eleventh chapter, that we find the note of indication that the woe of the sixth Trumpet is accomplished. What now comes before us accordingly pertains to the sixth Trumpet, the same as the sealing of the 144,000, in chapter seven, pertained to the sixth Seal. It introduces new subjects and phases of the judgment administrations, but continues the same general narrative and burden found in what precedes and follows. God give us soberness of thought and earnestness of consideration, as we proceed to unfold what is here written for our learning! We observe,
I. A VISION OF A VERY NOTABLE PERSON.
John writes, "And I saw another, a mighty angel descending out of the heaven." This person I take to be the Lord Jesus himself. He is called an Angel, but there is nothing in that to prove him a created being. Angel is a title of office, not of nature. In the Old Testament the Son of God is continually described as the Jehovah-angel. We had a somewhat corresponding vision in the first chapter; yet, he who there appeared, announced himself as the First and the Last, the Living One, who became dead and is alive forever. We had an account of an angel in the seventh chapter, and again in the eighth, whom there was reason to regard as none other than the Lord Jesus. We do know that he appears in the Apocalypse as a Lamb, as a Lion, and as an armed Warrior, and there is nothing to hinder his appearance also as an Angel.
This person is also very particularly distinguished from other angels who appear in these visions. He is not one of the four loosed from the Euphrates, nor one of the seven who sound the Trumpets, but quite "another."
He is further described as "a mighty angel." This would seem to identify him as the "strong" Lord who judges Babylon, and the mighty One on whom God hath laid help, even Christ. When no more is said of an angel than simply that he is strong, or mighty, there is no reason to suspect anything but a created being, for all angels are powerful; but when this quality is referred to as a mark of distinction among other high angels, and is conjoined with what does not properly belong to angels, it is to be taken as equivalent to Almightiness, and as meant to denote a being who is uncreated and divine.
The attire of this angel indicates Deity. John beholds him "clothed about with a cloud." Wherever clouds are connected with glorious manifestations, there we find the presence of Divinity. If there is cloud, there is mystery; and if there is mystery, there is suggestion of Deity. The Lord descended on Mount Sinai in a thick cloud. He appeared on the mercy-seat in a cloud. When Israel was delivered, "the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud." When the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, "a cloud covered the tent of the congregation." When God reproached Israel for their murmurings, "the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud." "The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud." The Psalmist gives it as the characteristic of the Almighty, that "clouds and darkness are round about him;" that "he maketh the clouds his chariot: "and that about him are "thick clouds." When the King of glory cometh in his divine majesty to judge the earth, the exclamation is: "Behold, he cometh with clouds." Clouds, therefore, belong to the attire of Deity, particularly in his manifestations toward fallen men. They indicate his unapproachableness, his infinite majesty, his consuming power toward sin, which cannot live before his uncovered glory, and yet his drawing near to communicate with the dwellers upon earth. No mere angel is ever arrayed in such drapery, and the vision is that of the glorious Godman himself, in the midst of the grand administrations of judgment.
He has "the rainbow on his head;" not a rainbow, but the rainbow. This is a further mark to show that he is not a created angel. We had this rainbow in the fourth chapter, where it is given as one of the grand appurtenances of the throne. It refers back to God's ancient covenant with the earth. It was originally ordained as God's mark in the cloud, and the sign of His, and no mere angel's covenant. We never read of any one surrounded with the rainbow, but the person is God. The clouds are indicative of Divine judgment, and storms, and rains, and floods of wrath; and so the rainbow is indicative of Divine mercy in the midst of judgment, and a covenant of security to the believing, even though everything seem to be going to destruction. A garment of cloud, and a tiara of the iris, would, therefore, well befit the Saviour, in the administrations which we are now considering, but would in no manner of truth be suitable to a mere angel, however mighty.
"And his face as it were the sun." This again identifies him as the same who appeared unto John in his first vision. It is there said of Him who walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, that his countenance was "as the sun shineth in his strength." This luminousness of face is also one of the ascertained characteristics of Christ, in connection with the final revelation of his kingdom. Peter speaks of the appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration, as a foretaste and earnest of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and yet, in that sublime picture, the record is, "his face did shine as the sun." It was thus that he appeared unto Saul of Tarsus, on his way to Damascus. (Acts 26:13.) And from the most ancient times, the prophets were accustomed to refer to him as the outbeaming glory of God-the very Sun of Righteousness.
"And his feet as it were pillars of fire." These are manifestly the same feet beheld in the vision of the first chapter. There they dazzled the eyes of the seer, like fine brass melted and glowing in a furnace; and they were the feet of Him who was dead, but is alive forevermore, and has the keys of death and of hell. There they presented an image of terrible pureness, and here they furnish an image of steadfast and consuming majesty, which no one can encounter and live. Nothing of the kind is ever affirmed of a created angel. We observe again,
II. A NOTABLE ACT OF THIS PERSON.
"And he set his right foot upon the sea, but the left upon the earth." This was a distinct and deliberate act, and is full of significance. To set one's foot in a place, expresses a purpose to take possession of that place. Jehovah said to Israel, "Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours." (Deuteronomy 11:24.) Abraham could not "set his foot on" any part of Palestine in this sense, inasmuch as God gave him none inheritance in it. And when this mighty Angel deliberately sets his right foot on the sea, and the left on the land, he thereby claims possession of it, and asserts his purpose to take it as his own, and to establish his occupancy and rule over it. It is an act befitting the character and office of Christ, but hardly a created angel. He is the rightful sovereign of sea and land. His taking of the sealed book from the hand of eternal majesty, and his breaking and destroying of its seals, proved and legitimated his right to the possession of the earth; and here we have his assertion of that right, and his purpose to enforce it. Long has both sea and land been under the dominion of his enemies, but now he sets foot on each, and takes hold upon them as his own.
He does it also in a way which shows how useless it will be for his foes to resist him. Those feet are mighty columns of fire. Who can stand against columns of fire? The image is one of invincible power and steadfastness, joined with consuming destruction to those who venture to withstand. Pillars are firm and mighty; and pillars of fire are steadfastly irresistible; and Christ plants his feet on sea and land "as pillars of fire." They are then immovable, and must needs consume all opposition.
And with the symbolic act, and as part of it, there is a corresponding utterance. "He cried with a great voice, even as a lion roareth." It was not a cry of distress and fear, but a shout of power, and the herald of vengeance upon enemies and usurpers. We have already seen who it is that is called "the Lion from the tribe of Judah." Of old it was written, "The Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake." "The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation: he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversey with the nations, he will plead with all flesh, he will give them that are wicked to the sword." (Jeremiah 25:29-31.) And the great voice before us connects directly with these predictions. It is not the voice of a created angel, but the cry of the almighty Judge himself. As yet he is in his cloud, like the lion in his covert. But when he comes forth to set his feet upon the earth, the shout, like of those who tread the grapes, shall be given, and the winepress of the Divine fury shall be trodden. It is the cry for and the herald of the oncoming judgments of God; and upon it follows,
III. A NOTABLE RESPONSE FROM HEAVEN.
"And when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices." Interpreters have been much tasked to tell what particular thunders are here meant. Seven times is thunder called "the voice of the Lord," in the 29th Psalm, and some pretend to find these seven thunders there, but what to make of them as thus found, they know not. Certain writers have spoken of "the thunders of the Vatican," and so some think they see these seven thunders in the bulls of the Popes against Luther and the Reformation! But if we cannot find "the seven thunders" without resorts so remote and puerile, we might as well confess that we know nothing about them.
They are mentioned with the definite article. The force of this is that these are thunders of which the Apostle assumes that his readers already have some knowledge. And if we will only go back in the record, we will find that we have heard of them before. In the vision of the fourth chapter, John saw "a rainbow" encircling the throne, and here he speaks of that rainbow (ἠ ἰ ρις) as upon the head of this mighty Angel. And in that same vision he beheld and said "out of the throne go forth lightnings, and voices, and thunders." They are not specified as "seven," but in the nature of the case, upon the principle on which the number seven is employed in this book, seven is their number. That is the number of dispensational completeness, and these thunders from the judgment throne are the thunders of the entire administration from that throne. They may, therefore, be very properly referred to as specifically "the seven thunders." Some detonations of these same thunders were also remarked in the eighth chapter; for, as the Priest-Angel turned the contents of his fire-filled censer upon the earth, "there followed thunderings, and lightnings, and voices." They are the judgment thunders, and hence must proceed from the judgment throne, and everything attendant on that throne takes the characteristic number seven: "seven torches," "seven spirits of God," "seven seals," "seven angels," "seven trumpets," "seven vials;" and for the same reason, and in the same sense, necessarily "seven thunders" of the Divine indignation.
 See comments on Revelation 8:1-5.
The first readers of the Apocalypse, therefore, had no occasion to go to the 29th Psalm (Psalms 29:1-11), nor yet to wait fifteen hundred years for the Pope's bulls against the Reformers, in order to find what thunders John here had in view. "The seven thunders" are the judgment thunders of the throne of God. And when the Lion from the tribe of Judah gives his roar, as on the eve of bounding forth upon the prey, these seven thunders utter themselves in full sympathy with the proceeding, and the righteous vengeance of the throne of eternal majesty vocalizes the sentences to be visited upon the guilty and still rebellious world. Verily, no created angel could thus evoke the seven thunders of the Almighty's wrath.
There is also a sort of personality ascribed to these thunders. It is amazing how everything takes animation, and becomes instinct with life, intelligence, and sympathy with the heavenly movements, in these awful processes. The very thunders have distinct articulation added to their terrific detonations. They speak; they give forth intelligible utterances. John heard what they said; and when the period to which he refers once comes, the dwellers on the earth will doubtless also hear and understand them. Thunder is an expression of the majesty of God, and of his wrath upon transgressors; and the voices of these "seven thunders" were voices of consummated divine indignation to be launched upon the guilty world, though the seer was not permitted to record what they uttered.
At the beginning of these wonderful visions, he was commanded to write what he saw, and to make it known unto the churches. Therefore he says: "When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write: and I heard a voice out of the heaven saying, Seal up those things which the seven thunders spoke, and write them not." The command was absolute, and the holy apostle obeyed it. What the seven thunders said, is therefore unwritten and unknown, and must needs remain unknown, till, amid the ongoings of the judgment as here foreshown, they shall answer the great voice of the mighty Angel. And, until then, it is enough, and best, that the children of men should know no more upon this point than that there are such thunders; that they have utterances to give in sympathy with the lion-cry of Christ when in the act of proceeding to take possession of the sea and land; and that those voices, in all their terrific majesty, will be heard when the time comes. We observe,
IV. A NOTABLE DOCUMENT IN THE HAND OF THIS PERSON.
As the Angel proceeded to set his right foot upon the sea and his left upon the land, the Apostle saw "in his hand a little book, or roll." This is a marked feature, and not without important significance. It is not the main thing in the vision, as Alford and some others have erroneously supposed, but it is an expressive accessory to the thrilling revelation.
The Apocalypse abounds with references to books and records of a remarkable character. The first verse of the fifth chapter disclosed to our view a very notable document, in connection with which all the interest, up to the chapter now before us, has arisen. We had a good deal to observe concerning that book, or roll, at the time; We were then constrained to look upon it as representing the title-deed of the inheritance, forfeited by man, and recovered by the Lamb. We saw it lifted by that Lion-lamb, amid the adoring shouts of eternity, and one of its seals after another broken open, followed with miraculous commotions, which shook the earth from centre to circumference, and affected even the great orbs of immensity. When the last of the seals was broken, that book was still in the hands of Him who alone, in all the universe, was found worthy to take it, break its seals, or even to look upon it. The breaking of that seal introduced the seven trumpet-angels; and then, for the time, we lost sight of the wonderful document around which all this interest and these wonders concentre. And as this mighty Angel can be none other than the selfsame Lion-lamb who took the book from the hand of eternal majesty, why may not this roll in his hand be the same identical roll lifted from the throne? Some commentators have ridiculed the thought, but I take it to be a most reasonable supposition. If the book in the hand of this Angel be not the same book which the Lamb took from the throne in heaven, then that marvellous document, after all the wonderful interest and events created by it, most strangely and ingloriously disappears, and is never heard of any more forever. Such awe and exultation at its first appearance, and such mighty occurrences attending the mere opening of its seals, beget the expectation and belief, and indeed require, that we should hear of it again; that it should not be so miserably hustled off the scene; and that it should have an end befitting its character and its introduction into these visions. But an unaccountably sorry fate does it receive, if we are not to recognize it in the roll in the hand of this Angel.
 See comments on Revelation 5:1-14.
It is said of the little book now before us that it was "opened." This implies that it had been shut, sealed; and that what kept it shut, its seals, had been broken off; all of which accords precisely with what we saw of the book taken by the Lamb.
Both documents were small rolls. They are both designated by the word βιβλιον, which is the diminutive of βιβλιον. The one in the hand of the Angel is, also, by some manuscripts, called βιβλαριδιον; but that is only another diminutive form of the same word, whilst all the best MSS., in one place or another, use precisely the same form of the word for the one which is used for the other.
 This little book is mentioned four times, and in the different MSS. and critical editions of the Apocalypse, is called βιβλιον, βιβλαριδιον, βιβλιδαριδιον; all of which words are diminutives of βιβλος--different forms of the same word, about equal in signification.
In Revelation 10:2, the Codex Vaticanus, Cod. Coislinianus, two Codices of Stephens, Baroc. Cod. N. T., Sinaitic 5, Huntington 1, Pet. 2, and Matthaei, read βιβλιον, the same as in the case of the roll taken by the Lamb.
In Revelation 10:8, the Codex Alexandrinus, Cod. Basilianus, Cod. Ephraem, Cod. Coisln., Cod. Licestrensis, Aldine N. T., the Vulgate, Lachman, Tischendorf, Thiele, Bengel, Alford, and Tregelles, read βιβλιον.
In Revelation 10:9, the Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Basil, Cod. Coisln. Cod. Alexandrinus as corrected by original scribe, original Cod. Ephraem, the Vulgate, Bengel, Tyndale, read βιβλιον.
In Revelation 10:10, the Codex Vaticanus, Cod. Sinaiticus, Cod. Coisln., Baroc. Cod. N. T., Huntington 1, Card. Barbarini, Matthaei, the Vulgate, Tyndale, Bengel, &c, read βιβλιον.
And in each of these instances, where one MS. varies from another, or from itself, the word is either βιβλαριδιον, or βιβλιδαριδιον, neither of which can be said really to differ in sense from βιβλια.
The nature of the case would also seem to call for the presence here of the same document which the Lamb had taken from the throne. The Angel is engaged in the solemn and sublime act of formally claiming the possession of the earth. He needs his warrant for such an act. Redemption proceeds on a legal foundation. Christ as our Redeemer had to be made under the law. It was necessary that he should fulfil all righteousness. All his successes, triumphs, and exaltations were achieved on the basis of having meritoriously met and answered all demands of the law. He could neither rise from the dead, ascend to the right hand of the Father, propose free forgiveness to men, or dare to repossess man of the forfeited inheritance, except as he had satisfactorily atoned for all man's sins, and in himself meritoriously won and purchased all that he now or ever holds or claims for his redeemed. It was only as he was slain for mankind, and atoned for their unrighteousness, and thus overcame, that he was pronounced worthy to take the book, or open its seals, or act the God for those whose inheritance had been disponed away, and overrun by aliens. And so neither could he claim and take possession of the earth, and clear it of all foes and usurpers, except upon warrant from the law giving that right as the just due of his perfect righteousness. No man can claim land without showing that he holds his title-deed for it. No one can proceed to execute penalties even upon transgressors, without warrant from the government. And so our mighty God in proceeding to set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land, claiming possession of the earth, and about to inflict extirpating punishments upon the rebels who infest it, holds in his hand the open title to it, worthily obtained from the right hand of eternal majesty, displays it to all observers as his warrant from the throne, and challenges the potencies of earth and hell to yield or perish; whilst all the thunders of Almighty power utter themselves for his support.
The ultimate disposal made of this document is also such as to correspond with the character I have assigned to it, and to identify it as the same that was taken by the Lamb from the hand of sovereign majesty. John says, "The voice which I heard out of the heaven [I heard] again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the book [or roll] which is opened in the hand of the Angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the land. And I went to the Angel, saying to him, Give me the little book. And he saith to me, Take, and eat it. And I took the little book [or roll] out of the hand of the Angel, and ate it." Thus the history of this βιβλιον terminated. And for what does our blessed Redeemer take the book out of the right hand of eternal sovereignty? Why does he appear in the court of heaven as a once slain Lamb that he may be accounted worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof? What indeed is the great object and intent of all his works and doings, whether on earth or in heaven, to procure rights, titles, and warrants from the throne? Yea, what? but that he may give and impart the same to his apostles and believing people, that they may take them, eat them, appropriate them, preach and prophesy them, live on them, and build themselves up with them unto eternal life? There is no book like the roll which the Lamb takes from the right hand of the Sitter on the throne. It embodies in itself all the prophetic, priestly, and royal rights of Christ, in the attitude of our God, or Redeemer. It compasses the very spring and kernel of all sacred prophecy, all evangelic preaching, all true faith, all abiding hope. It is the eternal charter, from the right hand of eternal sovereignty, on which reposes the whole right, authority, work, kingdom, and dominion of Jesus, as the Lord and Saviour of men. And the grand intent and purpose of all that he has done in reference to that document, for which he has obtained it and freed it of its seals, and for which he holds it open in his hand as he proceeds to take possession of the earth is, that his people may have the benefit of it-that they may take it from his hand, feed on it, incorporate it with their inmost being, make it the subject of their hopes, their prophecies and their prayers, and in the strength and virtue of it live and reign with him forever. And if we have at all hit upon the nature of the document which John beheld upon the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne, the analogy of faith, and the whole congruity of things, come into play to establish and confirm the belief that this βιβλιον, or βιβλαριδἰον, in the hand of the Angel, is the same book, and that the Angel who holds it is none other than the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb that was slain, the blessed Jesus.
The effect of this roll on the prophet likewise corresponds with the view we have taken of it. There is nothing sweeter than the Gospel to a willing and believing soul. The good things which Jesus has obtained for us from the Father, and especially the title to them, are so suitable to us that every child of God can exclaim with the Psalmist: "How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to the mouth! "The victory of the Lamb over sin and death-the meritorious repurchase of our alienated inheritance-the acknowledged right, and power, and gracious promise of our Lord, to tread down Satan under our feet, and bring us into the goodly land of rest-all these are involved with the roll from the Saviour's hand, and are like living waters to the thirsty, and precious manna to the hungry. But,
E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears,
And the cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears.
No one can truly eat the book, but he "must prophesy." Its power in us is to send on errands, lead through scenes, and charge with offices and duties, full of hardships, trials, and many a bitterness. The roll of God's word to Israel was in the mouth of Ezekiel "as honey for sweetness," but it carried him on a mission to which he "went in bitterness, in the heat of his spirit." It costs pains to be a full-souled believer, a faithful prophet, an unflinching candidate for an inheritance not seen as yet. And such dreadful "lamentation, and mourning, and woe," must come upon the unsanctified world before the precious charter Christ has obtained from the throne can go into full effect, that no true man can be other than sad when he contemplates it. So the book in John's mouth was "sweet as honey;" but when he had eaten it "his belly was made bitter." To receive as his own, and as the food of his soul, these precious title-deeds of the blessed inheritance, thrilled him with joy and gladness; but those scenes of blood and wrath to the dwellers upon the earth which must be enacted before the inheritance is reached-those hardships to the flesh in holding faithfully to the holy document-those conflicts, and contradictions of sinners, and harrowing contumelies, and trying dangers, and laborious toils, attendant upon honest prophesying of these things,-all combined to make the effects of the book bitter in his body, though so sweet to his taste. It is all perfectly natural and easily accounted for, just as I have taken it. Even Jesus wept on the very eve of triumph, and while the hosannas of final glory were already heralding their approach. But we have yet to observe,
V. A NOTABLE PROCLAMATION.
"And the Angel, whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the land, lifted up his right hand into the heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for the ages of the ages, who created the heaven and, the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there shall be no more delay; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall sound, the mystery of God is [to be] fulfilled, even as he preached glad tidings to his servants the prophets."
 The word here is εὐηγγέλιδε, from εὐαγγεζωλι, to address with good tidings, to preach the Gospel, to declare, including in the declaration always glad tidings, particularly of salvation.
The Mystery of God is nothing more nor less than the final sum of all God's revelations and doings for the reinstatement of man into his lost inheritance. The fulfilment of this mystery is the final accomplishment of the last items of the Divine administrations which make up that sum--the ultimate realization of all the foreannouncements made to and by any and every one of God's prophets in all the ages-the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven at length merged into full and everlasting fruition of that kingdom-the consummation of all things. And concerning this consummation, sundry particulars are here observable.
(1.) It is true Gospel. What God has made known concerning it is glad tidings, good news, the proper evangely. People shake their heads, and say, that we are quite beside the Gospel, if not beside ourselves, when we preach about the second coming of Christ and the end of all things; but this mighty Angel is of a different mind. Himself the very heart and soul and life of everything that is gospel, and apart from whose person, utterances, and work there is no gospel, He not only makes this consummation the one sole theme of, perhaps, the most majestic, solemn, and formal proclamation ever put upon record, but at the same time, and after the same manner, and as part of the same awful discourse, affirms, that the same was and is the prime subject of all God's inspirations of all His prophets. We, therefore, plant ourselves upon all the divinest of records, and upon the most authentic, direct, and solemn of all sacred utterances, and say, that he whose gospel drops and repudiates from its central themes the grand doctrine of the consummation of all things, as portrayed in this Apocalypse, is not the true Gospel of God.
(2.) It is to be accomplished in the period of the seventh trumpet-"in the days of the seventh angel, when he shall sound." I say period of the seventh trumpet, for it spans a section of time, and its sounding is not over in an instant. The word is not day, but "days;" as "the days of Abraham," "the days of David," "the days of youth," "the days" of Christ's sojourn on earth. The greatest events of time transpire under this trumpet, and it may overspan years. It is the grand climacteric of the Apocalypse, and so of these mysterious administrations of God. And "in the days" which it embraces, the whole Mystery of God shall be fulfilled, and everything foretold by the prophets consummated.
(3.) It will only come after long, repeated, and trying delay, if not on the part of God, yet in the estimates and expectations of His people. This is distinctly implied in the proclamation, the gist of which is to meet a feeling that the whole thing has receded so far into the distance as hardly to be any more within the bounds of sober credence. The idea is, that there has been delay, and repeated delay; that time has intervened, and lengthened itself out to very suspicious proportions; but that, notwithstanding, as God lives, and has made and controls all things, when once the period of the sixth trumpet is reached, there shall be no more delay.
The Scriptures often allude to this postponement beyond all anticipation, and the temptation and ill effects of it upon men. Peter tells of people to whom the thing is put off so long, that they finally turn scoffers, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning;" and in the same chapter he apologizes for the fact that the grand event is so long deferred. It is implied in the fact that some servants shall say, "The Lord delayeth his coming." The same is perceptible in the parable of the Ten Virgins. Even after the eagle-saints have been "taken," and the whole of remaining Christendom, having ascertained its place in the prophetic calendar, has been moved to go out as one man to meet the next great turn in the already present judgment-scenes, there is still such tarrying and delay, that all the animation and zeal upon the subject largely subside, and all sink into apathy and slumber with regard to it.
It is very true that the Scriptures nowhere definitely tell us when the time is. "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven." There is hence no warrant for any one, at any time since the blessed Saviour ascended, to put away into the distant future that day when judgment shall begin. The true attitude of the Church, and that to which all the representations and admonitions of the Scriptures are framed, is to be looking and ready any day and every day for the coming of Christ to seize away his waiting and watching saints. But in faithfully assuming this attitude, and thus hoping and expecting the speedy fulfilment of what has been promised, the Church has been made to see one notable and quickening period after another pass away without bringing the consummation which was anticipated. Eve thought the promise on the point of fulfilment when Cain was born; but He whom she was expecting was yet 4000 years away. When Simeon took the infant Saviour to his bosom and sung his exulting Nunc demittis, he supposed that the time for the consummation had arrived; but it was only the preliminary advent that he had lived to witness. When John the Baptist thundered his rugged calls to repentance through the wildernesses of Judea, the joyous burden of his soul and preaching was, that now the Consummator was come with winnowing fan to make the final separation between the chaff and the wheat; but what was most in his contemplation was yet a score of centuries off. The early Christians were lively in their expectations that yet in their day the standard of the coming One would be seen unfurled in the sky, and all their hopes be consummated; but the days of the Apostles and of the apostolic fathers passed, and still "the Bridegroom tarried." Nearly every century, as it rolled, was designated as the one in which the Church might confidently count on being transferred from earth to heaven; but each, like the one before it, came to an end, without bringing that more notable end on which our eyes are ever to be fixed. The Reformation, with the revival of the primitive faith, revived the primitive hope, that the great day must needs be very close at hand; but the days of the Reformers passed, and all the days which they designated as those beyond which the day of judgment could not be delayed; and yet the momentous period had not arrived. Many times within the past hundred years the attention of men has been called to particular dates as the times when this present world should end; but they have all come and gone, as innocent of the great consummation as any that went before them. And although the Saviour may come any day, and our duty is to be looking for Him every day, it is still possible that all present prognostications on the subject may fail, as they have always failed; that years and years of earnest and confident expectation may go by without bringing the Lord from heaven; and that delay after delay, and ever-repeating prolongations of the time of waiting may intervene, till it becomes necessary for the preservation of the faith of God's people to hear the fresh edict from the lips of their Lord, that "there shall be no more delay."
(4.) Though the coming of the final consummation be slow, it will come. There is not another truth in God's word that is so peculiarly authenticated. All the holy prophets since the world began have foretold it. All the evangelists and apostles have inwrought it in all their writings as one of the central and fixed things in the Divine purpose. Jesus himself has given us parable on parable, precept upon precept, and promise upon promise, all directed to this one thing. And God hath certified it to all men, in that He hath raised up Christ from the dead. But after all the rest of the canon of Inspiration was finished, another book was indited, making this its particular and specific theme; and in that book is a particular vision, in which the mighty Judge himself appears, and gives forth the most intense and awful asseveration on the subject. With clouds for his garments and the rainbow for his crown-with his face shining as the sun and his feet glowing like pillars of fire--with a roll in his hand, lifted by his merit from the throne of infinite majesty, he stretches up his right hand into the sky, and swears,--swears by the Eternal-swears by the power which has given birth and being to all things,--that, in spite of all the mistakes, disappointments, delays, and consequent doubts upon the subject, what was made known to the prophets shall be, and that the time shall come when there shall be no more delay!
Shall we then have any doubt upon the subject? Shall we allow the failure of men's figures and prognostications to shake our confidence or obscure our hope? Shall we suffer the many and long delays that have occurred, or that ever may occur, to drive us into the scoffer's ranks? True as the life of God- certain as the Divine eternity-unfailing as the Power which made the worlds-immutable as the oath of Jesus-the great consummating day will come, when the whole Mystery of God shall be fulfilled. Unbelief, away! Misgiving, be thou buried in the depths of the sea! Doubt, be shamed into everlasting confusion! "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him. Even so, Amen."
Holy One of heaven, have mercy upon us, and help us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised!
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Seiss, Joseph A. "Commentary on Revelation 10". Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/
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