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alive, shall be caught up to the Lord * by a glorious deliverance; which seems to accord with that described in the prophecy now before us.
Ver. 4. One-hundred-and-furty-four thousand were sealed out of all the tribes of the sans of Israel.] On this passage I remark, first, that, according to the Gospel, “ Salvation is to the Jew first, then also to “the Gentile t." And we are instructed, that “God “ hath not cast away his people ;” that, “ though .“ blindness in part has happened unto Israel,” yet, 56 after the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, all Is“ rael shall be saved $.” Now, as the prophecy which engages our present attention, is of the last times, the times immediately preceding the great day of the Lord; so the Jews will by that time, if ever, be restored to the Church g. This body of the sealed may therefore be, literally, of the tribes of Israel. Or, secondly, the Israel here may be, under the New Testament, the purer Gentile Church, called also in Scripture, “ the Israel of God|l;” of which the ancient Israel is the original root T ; on which root the Gentile Church being engrafted **, receives for a time the name, the privileges, and the honours of that rejected people, being now the chosen peo“ple,” the “holy nation," " the temple of the Live “ ing God ft.” Such is the language of Scripture in general, applying the name and privileges of Israel to the Christian Church; such it will be seen also in
• 1 Thess, iv. 7. + Rom. i. 16. ii. 9, 10. Matt.'xv. 24. Rom. xi. 25, 26.
Rom. xi, 15–36. Il Gal. vi. 16. Pbil. iii. 5. Col. ii. 11. 9 Rom. xii. 17. 22. ** Rom. xi. 18, 19. # Tit. q. 14. Heb. vii. 10. 1 Pet.ij. 6-11.
this book of Revelation *. In chapter xiv, the hundredand-forty-four thousand, having the name of the Father and of the Son on their foreheads, appear again in the train of their Lord, and are expressly said to be “ redeemed from among men, a first fruit to God " and to the Lamb.” There seems no expression here sufficient to determine whether the 144,000 be lineal or adopted Israelites. The word “first fruit,” may be thought to favour the former interpretation, because the first converts to Christianity were certainly Israelites; and Saint James, writing his Epistle to the twelve tribes, calls them, together with himself (a lineal Israelite) " a kind of first fruit of God's crea“tures t." But concerning the interpretation of an unaccomplished prophecy, we inust not be positive ; it may be fulfilled in either way; or in a way which we cannot at present conceive.
Thirdly; the number of the sealed, whether they be original Israelites or not, expresses fulness and perfection, having been observed to amount to a multiplication of the complete square root of the number of the tribes, or perhaps of the Twelve Apostles, on whom, as a foundation, the Christian Church is said to be erected $; as will more particularly appear in Rev. xxi. 10. 14.
Fourthly; to the reader, who compares the names of the tribes, and their order, as exhibited in this passage, with parallel places in the Bible, some peculiarities will appear. The chief of which peculiarities are, that the tribe of Dan is omitted, and that of Levi, which, being dispersed among the other tribes for the purposes of ministration, had no allotment in
. . See ch. ii. 9. and the note.
+ James i. 18. * 1 Kings xviii. 31. Luke xxii. 30. Eph. ii. 20.
Canaan, is taken into its place. A reason may be assigned for the re-admission of Levi. This tribe had been excluded, because, separated for the priesthood, it had its provision in another form ; but now being to enter on the heavenly Canaan, where there is no temple* ; where all are priests to God t; there is no longer need of a peculiar priesthood: and therefore this tribe seems properly to resume its ancient station among the brethren. For the omission of Dan, the reason commonly given, is, that this tribe, by its early apostacy, became the common receptacle of idols, and corruptor of the rest $. The same cause is assigned for the omission of the name of Ephraim; the name of Joseph, the father, being here used instead §. There appears to have been an ancient notion or tradition in the Church, mentioned in the fourth century by Jerome, Ambrose, and by Gregory Nazianzene, that when Antichrist should come, he should be a Jew, and of the tribe of Dan; which opinion might take its rise, in some degree, from this omission of Dan amongst the sealed; though we may trace it in Irenæus, who seems to have collected this notion principally from Jer. viii. 16.
Ver. 9. Lo! a great multitude, which no one could number, from all nations ; &c.] The one-hundred-andforty-four thousand of the sealed, the first fruits to Christ, having led the way, the Gentiles, afterwards converted, follow, are incorporated with them s, and are presented before the throne, clothed in white robes, washed pure from their sins **, bearing palmbranches, the signals of joy and festivitytt, and * Rev. xxi. 22.- + Rev. v. 10. Judg. xvii,
See Mede's Works, p. 455. ll De Hæres. lib. v. cap. 30. 9 Gal. iii. 28. Col. iii. 11. ** See note, cb.iii. 4, 5. tt Levit, xii. 40.
victory. They ascribe their Salvation to God and their Redeemer. And the heavenly angels close around them, and rejoicing at their redemption *, unite in a chorus of praise.
Ver. 13. Who are they, and whence came they ?] To assist us in answering this question, and in determining who are the persons composing this multitude of palmbearing Saints, we have an heavenly Interpreter; from whom we learn, that “ they are come out of the “great tribulation,” ex rūs Dagbrews rūs peyaays: not, as it is generally translated, “out of great tribulation,” but out of the great tribulation, that particular tribulation, for which such preparation was made by the ministers of God's wrath, in the beginning of this chapter, and from which the sealed only are enabled to escape t. Yet it may be said, this multitude is not of the one-hundred-and-forty-four thousand, who alone are described as sealed. But, observe the remainder of the description. They are said by the elder to “ have washed their robes, and made white " their robes in the blood of the Lamb.” And what is this, when rendered by plain language, but that, through faith in their Redeemer, they are purified from sin? Which is only another mode of expressing that they are sealed as Christ's propertyf. Therefore the whole body, taken together, first of the one-hundredand-forty-four thousand, then of the great multitude from all nations added to them, seems to express the whole Christian Church, from the time of Christ to the great and last day. It is the New Jerusalem, as described in ch. xxi, which has its foundation on the
Luke xv. 10. + So Tertullian appears to have read and understood it, in the second century; “ ex illd pressurâ magna.” Scorpiace, sect. 12. See note, ch. vii. 2.
Twelve Apostles. So, to compose this assembly we have, first, the Judai-Christian Church, which was the first-fruits; then, the Gentile Churches which were received into it. And, as we are expressly informed by Saint Paul *, that the pious Christians, who, previously to the last day, shall be buried in the sleep of death, will not be postponed to those who are caught up alive to meet their Lord, so we may properly suppose this great multitude to contain also those that sleep in Christ. And thus it is the complete collection of the redeemed from earth, of all ages and nations; who, adhering to their allegiance and duty, shall escape out of “the great “ tribulation,” which is the peculiar burthen of this prophecy. The terrible calamities of these latter days are by our Lord represented under the very same terms, Stief is deyahn, “great tribulation t,” and after describing them he assures us, that he shall “ send “ forth his angels, and gather together his elect, from “the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth “ to the uttermost part of heaven I." These four winds are in this prophecy described as devastating that earth, from which the sealed, in the words of this Prophecy, and the elect in those of our Saviour, are to be delivered, and collected unto his presence, as is here represented. It was from a justly founded expectation of this signal deliverance, that the Apostles (who appear not to have known the particular time and season of this visitation, concealed even from angels $) exhorted the faithful disciples, as their Lord had done before them ||, to lift up their heads,
• 1 Thess. iv, 15.
Matt. xxiv. 36. Alcs i. 7.
Mark xiii. 27. ll Luke xxi. 28.