Page images

his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

The sea of glass was shown, in Lecture V, on chap. iv. 6, to be expressed in allusion to the great brazen sea in the ancient temple, which was a type of gospel grace, of the fountain opened for washing from sin. That vessel was called a sea, on account of its great capacity. It was prepared for the ceremonial cleansings of the priests. And the fountain of gospel grace is prepared for the true spiritual cleansing of them that are kings and priests unto God. This sea is Christ, and all his means of salvation. These, under the Old Testament, were seen but darkly; but in the New Testament they are seen with great clearness. And this far greater clearness is denoted by the basin of our great gospel sea of grace being composed of pure transparent glass; instead of being brazen, as of old. This is now large enough for all the true people of God: its brims wide, and firm enough for their conveniently standing upon it: and its form, in the figure, is such as to reflect the rays from the sun which fall upon it, like a prism, giving those rays in their different shades, perhaps from the red to the violet; thus giving it the appearance of being mingled with fire. Here is the washing apparatus of divine grace. The fire of divine justice is indeed reflected in it, in the death of Christ. And all the milder and softer rays of light and grace are also reflected from this sea of divine love, to those who find their standing upon it. This standing upon the sea of salvation will be especially notable, and uninterrupted after the vials of divine indignation shall be accomplished, and the millennial sun shall be found rising. Though the event here stands before the vials; yet its true chronological order is after them; that subsequent state being here taken by anticipation, to relieve and fortify the minds of the people of God. In the Millennium, the church, having overcome, may live on her sea of glass; or be in a sense fixed as pillars in the temple of God, to go no more out. And their harps of God are an emblem of their devout songs of praises to God for his judgments, and for all the wonders of his grace. All the sacred descriptions of their blessedness, in that golden age of the reign of grace, give the true comment upon the blessedness in the text.

Ver. 3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.


4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

This is to be the song of the church immediately after the battle of that great day of God. We have here their first employment in their song of praise to God for his judgments in that battle; and the certainty that all nations, the remnant left on earth, shall now speedily come and unite in the salvation of Zion. The song is that of Moses, and of the Lamb; which suggests, that the scenes of judgments then just finished, are but the antitype of the scene at the Red Sea. Hence the song of Moses, and the pious in Israel, on the eastern bank of the Red Sea, in view of the destruction of the Egyptians, will be again now celebrated, upon the fulfilment of what was typified by the ruin of the enemy, and the deliverance of Israel there; and upon the view of the glories of the Lamb now renewedly unfolded. This scene, the last vial, is now future; but will in due time be accomplished, to the glory of the Redeemer, in the salvation of his people.

Ver. 5. And after that, I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.

6. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

The information here, that "the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened," to present the scene of the vials, is of deep interest. The great sacred tent pitched by divine order in the camp of Israel in the wilderness, was to them instead of a temple, and afterward gave way to the temple. This was called

"the tabernacle of testimony" (Exod. ix. 15); because it stood for a continual testimony of the gracious presence and watchful eye of the Almighty over his people; as well as for an emblem of the body of Christ, afterward to be assumed; and an emblem of the Christian church. It was of old recorded that "the cloud covered it; and, at even, there was upon it as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night." The people of God had here, full in their sight, a manifestation of the gracious presence and care of Jehovah with his people. And the circumstance of the temple,-the tabernacle of testimony, being open in our text, and the angels of judgment proceeding from it, is to assure us, that this new series of judgments on the enemies of Zion is in full token of God's gracious presence with his people, and from covenant faithfulness to them. He will thus show that "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness." And we here again learn that the judgments of the vials are inflicted by the ministry of angels, the guardian spirits of the heirs of salvation. Their white dress is an emblem of their purity; their golden girdles, of their pure and holy love.

Ver. 7. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

We are filled with admiration at the honour God puts upon the prayers and agency of his ministers and people. To hear the symbolic angel say to Christ on his white cloud, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap," as in the last lecture. To hear what power of judgments is ascribed to the witnesses, Rev. xi. 5, 6; to the saints, in Psalm cxlix.; and that he that overcometh shall rule all nations of enemies with a rod of iron; here is an honour done to the prayers of the saints, indeed wonderful. We are prepared, then, to hear in our text, that one of the emblems of the gospel ministry gives the seven cups of divine wrath into the hands of the seven angels of judgment, to pour them out upon the enemies of God. Christ truly is head over all things to the church, and for her salvation. For this

he governs the world; and he says to his people, "For all things are yours." "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee." And he adds, "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the generation of old; art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?" To his ministers he says, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." And, in our text, Christ gives them the astonishing honour of delivering into the hands of the seven angels of judgment, the cups of the seven last plagues. This must allude to their official vigilance and prayers for the salvation of Zion, at the period alluded to. The judgments will take place in answer to the prayers and groans of the church, led by her ministers.

We find something very similar to this, and perhaps it is the parent text on which this rests, in Jer. xxv. 15-33. God here commands the prophet to "take the wine cup of his fury from his hand, and to cause all nations to drink of it" And in the same sacred passage we learn, that whatever judgments might here have been primarily included, the whole ultimately refers to the battle of that great day of God, accomplished in the seventh vial. For God here says, "The Lord shall roar on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation: he shall mightily roar upon his 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 controversy with the nations; and will plead with all flesh: he will give them that are wicked to the sword. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation; and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be, at that day, from one end of the earth, even unto the other end of the earth; they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground." This is said of " all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth," as verse 26. "And this cup of wrath (the vials are cups of wrath), this wine cup of the fury at God's hand," the prophet should take, and cause all nations to drink of it; and they should be "drunken, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which God will send among them." We have here the same figure with the

one in our text. God's minister takes the cup (vial) of divine wrath from the hands of the Almighty, and delivers it to some agent, to be executed upon the nations of his enemies. Such honour the ambassadors of Christ never would have assumed. But, as God confers it upon them, they have no right to decline it, nor others to disbelieve it. It is God's sovereign pleasure and decision.

Ver. 8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

This may be only a filling up of the figure. It may have some allusion to the ancient cloud by day, and fire by night, over the camp of Israel. God says of that period, he will create upon his people a cloud by day, and a flaming fire by night; and upon the glory shall be a defence.


Ver. 1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go your ways and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

A cup (the same as the vial in the text) is a figure much used in the word of God to denote a portion, good or bad. "In the hand of the Lord is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them." Upon the wicked God shall rain fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." The seven vials are seven select portions of divine judgments, in the last days.


Relative to the events designed by the vials, the following has been a noted scheme, but a very unsatisfactory one: viz. That the first, inflicting a grievous sore upon the people of the papal earth, was fulfilled in the ninth century, in contentions between the popes and the emperors of Germany relative to power. The second, poured upon the sea, and turning it to blood, was fulfilled in the

« PreviousContinue »