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And, for this reason, it is not necessary to suppose that these attacks are made in an exact, successive, chronological order. If the whole of Christianity (as under the seals) were to undergo four several attacks, such attacks could only succeed each other ; but these assaults being upon the four parts of the whole, are not necessarily successive, but may be contemporaneous; each assault might begin, or end, at nearly the same time; and yet they would be narrated in a progressive order; for, the history of one part must be told before that of another.
Ver. 7. Hail and fire mingled with blood.] Both hail and fire are instruments of destruction. Hail is such more especially in the warmer climates, as may be seen in the accounts of modern travellers; affording such testimony, as to give perfect credibility to the Scriptural history, which relates surprising events of this kind. (See Job xxxviii. 23. Josh. x. 11. and the commentators.) And even in the climate of France, so congenial to our own, there are undoubted rela. tions of such destructive effects from hail. During the expedition of our Third Edward against that kingdom in 1360, the hail-stones fell so large, as to kill men and beasts * The effect of fire and hail united, is seen in Exod. ix. 23. Psalms xviii. 12. cv. 32. cxlviii. 8. Ezek. xxxviii. 29. Eccl’us xxxix. 29. And the horror is increased by their being mingled with blood, as in Exod. iv. 9. vii. 17. Is. xv. 9. These, like the incense and fire in the preparatory vision, are cast to the earth; but not upon the earth in general; not upon every part of it, but upon that part, which,
Froissart, liv. i. ch. 212. And extraordinary ravages by hail on the agriculture of France, are related by Mr. Arthur Young, in his late account of that kingdom. .
distina distinguished from the sea, we call the Land. Now, in the prophetic writers, 'H In, the land, as opposed to the sea, is found frequently to signify the Holy Land, the people of Israel, so long as they continued the people of God *. And beiween these and the Gentile converts, who are represented by the sea t; there was, in the early times of Christianity, a marked line of distinction; the circumcised being bound to the observance of the ceremonial law, while the uncircumcised were free from such obligation. They are separated in the New Testament also, under the different appellations of doi and Edvi I, and on account of this division, there was a corresponding distribution of offices to the Apostles and teachers; some among whom being sent to the circumcision, others to the Gentiles . This distinction has occurred before in ch. vii. of this prophecy; and will recur in the progress of the book. The descendants of the twelve Patriarchs, preserved miraculously as a separate people, may probably make a separate part of Christ's heritage after their conversion to his name ||.
Ib. And the third part of the land was burned up, and the third part of the trees was burned up, and all green grass.] Trees, and other vegetables, represent the converts of Religion; some of whom are
* See Is. xxiv. throughout, and the Prophets generally. • † See note below, v. 8.
1 Acts iv. 27. xxi. 28. xxvi. 17. 23. Rom. xv. 10. $ Gal. ii. 7, 9.
|| See notes, ch. ii. 9. vii. 4. xi. 1.-We have reason to believe, that the Church, even in its glorious and triumphant state, shall still be conformed to its primitive division : for, Christ assured his Apos. tles, that when the Son of Man should sit upon the throne of his glory, they also should sit upon twelde thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jones's Lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 381. A A 2
"rooted and grounded in the faith;” others, having no root, cannot stand against the storm The third part of these is destroyed. To tpilov, the third part, is an expression not uncommon with the prophetic writers : compare Ezek. v. 12. and Zech. xiii. 8, 9, &c. ; where the third part represents the remnant of the people who are to be saved, few in namber, when compared with those who are to perish: but here the greater part of the Christian 'plånts are to survive the attack.' But no grass is left; "all green grass “ was burned up." "Grass, in Scriptural language, represents the gaily flourishing ; 'those who exhibit a promising appearance, yet, liké lierlage iu hot burning climates, are soon withered and gone f. Such persons, our Lord foretold, would "spring up quickly; " with joy receive the word, but, in time of perse“cution, fall away." The first persecution which attacked the Church, arose from the Jewish zealots, and fell upon the converted Jew's. Saint Stephen and Saint James the Elder, and Janies the Just,' suffered martyrdom under such.' Saint Paul was an instrument of this rage, and afterwards à sufferer by it. It continued to `molest.thie Chårch grievously at the time when this prophecy was 'uttered, as may be seen in ch. ii. 9 - 12. jii. 9.: and the few'ancient records which we now possess of those early times; shew that it was continued afterwards I. .. .. .. tis... cui i
Psalms i. 3. Ixxx. 8, 9. &c. Isaiah v. 7. 24. lxi. 3. xliv. 4. Jer. ii. 21. 2 Kings xix. 30. Matt. iii. 10:* xi. 6. 21. 03.19. F.ph,aji. 17. Jude 12.
... sim. iso ... . in **** + See Psálms lxxii. •16. xc. 7. Matt: vi. 30. James is 10. And by comparing Exod. x. 15; Is. xv. 6. xxxvii. 27 ; Ezek. xvi. 24. xx. 47 ; in the Septuagint; it will be evident, that trigos xoplos is, she green, flourishing grass, opposed to the Enges, withered. » : : See Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, in various passages. See also the martyrdom of Ignatius, where the unconverted Jews are
- Ver. 8. A great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea ; &c.] At the sound of the second Trumpet, the hostile invasion of the antichristian powers falls upon the sea. Under this name, or that of the Isles of the sea, or Isles of the Gentiles, the nations beyond the. pale of the Jewish Church, the Gentilės, are frequently represented *. These, by the original counsel and appointment of God, were, in process of time, to partake the benefits of Christianity, and to be exposed to its warfare. Upon these the attack descends, under the symbol of "a great mountain burning with ;" fire.”. A mountain, in prophetic language, signifies an eminent seat of power, civil or religious. From the mountain of Sinaï, the Law was proclaimed; it was the seat of the God and King of the chosen people. On Mount Sion afterwards stood His temple and the place of His local residence: and the jocreasing kingdom of Christ is described under the emblem of a mountain, which shall fill the whole earth f. And the powers, who opposed God and his people, had their fastnesses, and local worship, on the tops of mountains, “on every high bill I.” Under such figurative language, the Christian Religion is called Mount Sion, and is contrasted with the Jewish Law, called Mount Sinaï, in the Epistle to the Hebrews $. In this sense, Babylon, that eminent seat of power and of idolatry, hostile to true Religion, is by the pro
represented as the most active instigators of that persecution. See likewise Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, cent. i. ch. v.
* Gen. x. 5. Psalm lxv. 5. Isaiah xxii. 2, 11. xxiv, 14. xvij. 12, 13. Is. 5.9. xlii. 4.; compared with Matt. xii, 21. Ezek, xxvi. 15, &c. Eccl'us xxiv. 56.
+ Is. xxv. 6. Dan. ix. 16. ii. 35, 44. Mic. xiii. 12. Zech. viii. 3. " | Ezek. xviii. 14. Mic. 1. 45. Heb. xii. 18, &c.
... ? vini . : phets
phets called a mountain, although it stood in a low situation by the river,' and upon an extended plain. “ Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain ; “ I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee “ down from the rocks.” To which is added, “ I will “ make thee a burnt mountain.” And these words appear to be spoken prophetically of the utter destruction of Babylon, frequently foretold in other pas. sages. The mountain before us is still burning, and as such, is to become a formidable neighbour and enemy to the sea, -to the Gentile Christians, as the hail and fire had been to the land, -to the Jewish con, verts. The effect is similar in both, -- " Blood ;"and the third part perishes, A large proportion of “ those who had life,” (that is, as I conceive, spiritual life in Christ)*, and who were distinguished among the Gentiles for their eminence, like ships which lift their heads above the plain of waters, perishes. “ Howl, ye ships of Tarshish t,” is an address to the inhabitants of Tarshish, and not literally to their ships, And to die, in the figurative language of Scripture, is to lose the spiritual life which is in Christ f. Our Lord had foretold under the same figure, :(Fire,") that his Religion should not descend upon the world without producing persecution, divisions, contentions, bloodshed, for the trial of faith, under which, many should fall away ş. The Gentile converts were mingled with the heathen idolaters, whose power and corrupt religion were in due time, like Babylon, to become is a burnt mountain." But the period of its extinction was not yet arrived : it was now burning, and, as such, became terrible to all around. During
• See note, ch. iii. i. 1 See note, ch. iii. 2.
+ Is, xxiii, 1, ...