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, or, the
and has its proper place before the throne * brazen altar of burnt sacrifice f. The former belongs more appropriately to the scenery; but the latter seems more fitting to the action represented, in which the martyrs are sacrificed. For, at the golden altar were offered only incense and prayer; before the brazen one, the victims were slain. This uncertainty occasions some difficulty, which may perhaps be removed, by supposing the action of this seal, as of the four preceding, to be represented graphically in picture. Then, though the golden altar may be still supposed to stand in its place, in the scenery before the Throne, yet the brazen altar may also appear delineated upon the roll of the book when opened by the Lamb. For on the unfolding of the fifth roll, this additional altar appears, and the martyrs are seen under it, and voices are heard to accompany their expressive gestures, as they hold up their hands in prayer.
Ib. The Souls.] 'H tuxn, the soul, is that vital part or principle of life in man, which, by the favour of God through Christ, they who kill the body cannot destroy I. The martyrs (for such they are), although slain by persecutors " for the word of God, and the “ testimony which they held,” are “ alive unto God,” their “souls are not left in hell § ;" they are deposited in “ their proper place || :" they had suffered as victims
• That is, before the Ark and Mercy-seat, which was the local seat of the Divine presence in the Temple. See Exod. xxx. xxviii. xxxi. xl. 5; 2 Cbron. iv. 19; Luke i. 11; Heb. ix. 4. 7.
† The word Juoiasngroy may be used to signify either of these altars; see Luke i. 11. Matt. v. 23. Rev. xi. 1. The expression Suolangios Supapatos is applied in the Septuagint to both of them. | Matt, X. 28.
§ 1 Pet. iv. 19. | TON TOTOY TOY idlov• (Acts i. 25.): on which text see Bp. Bull's Sermon.
at the altar * :” and from under the altar we hear their complaint.
Ib. They cried.] In the figurative language of Scripture, the blood of the murdered is said to cry from the ground to the Lord for vengeance f.
Ver. 10. Sovereign Lord.] In the Greek, DET OTM5, which is applied to God, as the sovereign Arbiter and Disposer of all things 1.
Ib. How long ?] Such, with pious sufferers, has ever been the subject of enquiry and complaint: “How long “shall the ungodly triumph g? For wise reasons, in part discoverable now, but which will be completely apparent hereafter, the Almighty, in forbearance, suspends his certain vengeance on the triumphant wicked ||. But in chapter xv. of this prophecy, we shall see a complete answer to this complaint ;-—we shall see the mar. tyrs triumphant, and the “just judgments of God” manifested.
Ver. 11. And there was given unto them white raiment.] White raiment is emblematic of innocence, purity, and justification through Christ 1. “ Precious “ in the sight of the Lord is the blood of his saints **." To those who suffer in the cause of their Redeemer, are promised great rewards in heaven tt: and what can be more glorious, than to be presented pure, and blameless, and justified, in the sight of God! To this blessing, they who suffer for the word are entitled II.
* Rom. viii. 36. 2 Tim. iv. 6. Phil. ii. 17. + Gen. iv. 10: and see Grotius on Heb. xi. 4. I Luke ii. 29; Acts iv. 24 ; 2 Pet. ii. 1. $ Psalm xciv. 3. || See Luke xviii. 7, 8; which has resemblance to this passage. See note, ch. iii. 4.
** Psalm lxxï, 14. It Matt. v. 12.
Dan, xii. 10.
Ib. They should rest yet a time, until their fellowservants also and their brethren should be completed, who were about to be slain, eden as they had been.] A general day of recompense, and of vengeance on wicked persecutors, is universally promised in the Word of God. Until that time come, although persecutors may be seen to suffer some exemplary punishments *, yet the adequate and complete vengeance of a Just God is delayed. Under this seal, the promise of a Divine retribution is renewed, and the lists are still kept open for additional martyrs who shall conquer in the cause of their Redeemer. At the time when this prophecy was delivered, there had been but few martyrs to the Christian cause. We are here taught to expect (that which subsequent history has produced) a numerous succession of suffering witnesses, through a long period of time. We were prepared, by the imagery of the second and third, and more especially of the fourth seal, to expect some account of those that should be slain in such times“ for the testimony of the word.” In this seal it comes forward, but in general description only, (as in the preceding seals,) to be resumed in the sequel of the prophecy t. The period of time, occupied by the martyrs, under this seal, is therefore from the death of our Lord, who is properly the first Christian Martyr $, to the great day of recompense, when the “noble Army of Martyrs” will be completed and avenged. But the point of time in which their history is especially delineated, under this seal, seems to be towards the close of the fourth seal, when they had suffered
* See some striking instances adduced in Jortin's Eccl. Hist. iija 246-322. + See ch. xi. 7-14. xiii. 7. xv. 2-5. xviii. 20. XX. 4. Ch. i. 5.
such enormities of persecution, that the question “ how “ long," seems more emphatically called forth, and thus the events of the fifth seal, as here interpreted, will be found to stand in their proper place.
The opening of the sixth Seal.
CHAP. vi. ver. 12-to the end.
12 Και είδον, ότε ήνοι- 12 And I beheld when he 12 And I beheld when he ξε την σφραγίδα opened the sixth seal;
bad opened the sixth την έκίων και σεισ
and there was a great seal; and lo, there was μός μέγας εγένείο, , earthquake; and the
a great earthquake, and rj ó Qiyévelo sun became black, as the sun became black μέλας, ως σάκκΘ.
sack-cloth of hair; and as sack-cloth of hair, τρίχιν, και η σε- all the moon became and the moon became
λήνη όλη εγένετο ως 13 as blood: And the stars 13 as blood; And the 13 aius. Kaioase of heaven fell to the stars of heaven fell unρες τα έρανε έπεσαν
earth, as a fig-tree cast- to the earth, even as a εις την γην, ως συκή eth her untimely figs, fig-tree casteth ber unβαλλει τις λύνθes
when shaken by a timely figs, when she auths, ÉTÒ uerény 14 mighty wind: And the is shaken of a mighty 14ώγέμε σκομένη" Και
heaven was removed 14 wind: And the heaven και έρανος απεχω- as a volume rolled up; departed as a scroll, είσθη ως βιβλίον εί
and every mountain when it is rolled toλισσόμενον, και σαν and island were moved
every όρος και νήσος εκ των
out of their places : mountain and island τόπων αυτών εκινή
15 And the kings of the were moved out of 15 θησαν Και οι βασι
earth, and the great 15 their places: And the λεις της γης, και οι με- men, and the chief cap- kings of the earth, and γισάνης, και οι χιλίαρ- tains, and the rich men, the great men, and the χοι και οι πλύσιοι, και and the mighty men,
rich men, and the chief οι ισχυροί, και σας
and every bondman, captains, and the 8g26, xai [wäs] and [every] freeman, mighty men, and every
ελεύθερθ, έκρυψαν hid themselves in the bond-man, and every Saules sis ta on caves, and in the rocks free-man, bid themλαια και εις τας σε- 16 of the mountains : And selves in the dens, and τρας των ορίων:
they say to the moun- in the rocks of the 16 Και λέξεσι τοις όρε- tains and to the rocks, | 16 mountains; And said
σι και ταϊς πέτραις" “ Fall on us, and hide to the mountains and Πέσιτι εφ' ημάς, ,
from the face of rocks, Fall on us, and και κρύψαλε ημάς “ Him who sitteth on
hide us from the face από προσώπε το " the throne, and from
of Him that sitteth on καθημένα επί το “ the wrath of the the throne, and from dpove, ky ano rñs 17" Lamb: For the great
the wrath of the Lamb: igans rų agvíso day of his wrath is
17 For the great day of 17 "Οτι ήλθεν η ημέρα “ come: and who is his wrath is come; and η μεγάλη της οργής 66 able to stand?"
who shall be able to αυτά και τις δύνα
stand ? ται καθηναι; ;
Ver. 12. Sixth seal.] In the complaint of the martyrs under the fifth seal, it was asked, “ how long" the day of vengeance and of recompence should be delayed? The answer to which was expressed in general terms, “ When the number of martyrs should be com
pleted.” The sixth seal represents the arrival of this awful day: “ The great day of his wrath is come; and “ who may be able to stand !” Now, if this great day be (as I trust will be made apparent in these notes) the great day of universal recompence, and which cannot take place till all martyrdom is over, the prophecy before us evidently describes a time which is still future. Such a prophecy cannot be now illustrated, as all prophecy should be, by the event, as delivered in history. In a prophecy of this description, all that the commentator can prudently attempt is, to cast upon it what assistant light he can, by comparing it with the other prophecies of the Old and New Testament, which bear relation to it. This shall be our present object,