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20: thirdly, to protect her against whatever attacks may be made upon her, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” Matt. xvi. 18. Such is the similitude between this rainbow and that which Almighty God established after the deluge for the sign of his alliance or engagement with mankind, never more to destroy the earth by water. The angel's face was as the sun; a lively image of the brightness with which the Church will shine in coming forth victorious from the great persecution of Antichrist; a brightness, arising from her invincible faith and the number of her glorious martyrs; a brightness, that will receive an additional lustre from the extraordinary zeal and sanctity produced in the Christians by the persecution. Lastly, the angel's feet were as pillars of fire; the feet being the extremity of the body, here is signified the ending of the world by fire.
V. 2. “ And he (the angel) had in his hand a little book open.” The little book in the angel's hand represents the book of the Gospel, which is not voluminous; and it is open, as ready to be divulged and preached over the whole world.Thus in the shape and equipment of the angel we read an epitome of what will principally concern the Christian Church from that moment, in which the angel is supposed to appear, to the end of time.
V. 2. “ And he (the angel) set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.
V. 3. “ And he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth.” The angel stands with one foot upon the land and the other upon the sea, to show that what he is going to announce, relates to the whole earth. And he cries with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, to make himself heard over the whole globe.
V. 3. “And when he (the angel) had cried, seven thunders had uttered their voices.
V. 4. “ And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me: Seal up the things, which the seven thunders have spoken, and write them not.” Here St. John is permitted to write, but ordered to seal up the things which the seven thunders had spoken ; which circumstance seems to insinuate, that the things spoken by the seven thunders were seven particulars of Antichrist's persecution; as the word thunder is generally used in the Apocalypse to denote some disaster; and these seven particulars being most dreadful and severe, the Almighty chose to have them sealed up or kept concealed,
lest the foreknowledge of them should too much terrify and damp the human mind.
V. 5.“ And the angel, whom I saw standing upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to heaven,
V. 6. “ And he swore by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things which are therein: and the earth, and the things which are in it: and the sea, and the things which are therein: that there should be time no longer:
V. 7. “ But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God should be finished, as he has declared by his servants the prophets."
Here the angel announces in the most solemn manner the end of the world, swearing by the eternal God, Creator of heaven and earth, that time shall soon be no more: and that at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God shall be finished or consummated, that is, that the whole system of divine dispensations, which the Almighty had in view in creating the world, shall then be totally fulfilled, and all that he had revealed to or declared by his prophets, relative to his providential economy towards mankind, shall then be entirely accomplished : upon which a period will be put to the world. The earth then will be burned, as signified by the angel standing upon it with feet which were as pillars of fire.
We may here observe that St. John says, in the days, and not in the day, of the voice of the seventh angel sounding the trumpet; which expression seems to indicate two soundings of the trumpet, with some interval between them: the first sounding being destined to put an end to time, and to the breath of all then living; and the second, to call up the dead to judgment.
V. 8. “And I heard a voice from heaven again speaking to me, and saying: Go, and take the book that is open, from the hand of the angel, who standeth upon the sea and the earth.”
St. John is here ordered, by a voice from heaven, to go and take the book; the little book according to the Greek text; the same book as mentioned above, ver. 2, in the angel's hand. The little book is the gospel, as we have said; and St. John himself here represents the ministers of the Church, who will be stirred up and stimulated by the voice of Henoch and Elias, and of the Church itself, to take the little book, čr the gospel, in hand, and to undertake the preaching of it, which will be so particularly wanted in this depraved and dangerous time.
V. 9. “And I went to the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the book. And he said to me, take the book, and eat it up: and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth, it shall be sweet as honey." St. John goes and asks of the angel the little book : that is, a numerous clergy of all degrees animated by the above voice, and inspired with a new zeal and an apostolic spirit, ask a commission from the Church, to go and preach the gospel to all the nations of the earth. . This commission is given them, as the book was given to St. John: and they are enjoined “to go into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark xvi. 15. And as St. John is told to eat up the book, these new preachers are exhorted to proceed to announce the word of God with the same ardour and eagerness with which the hungry man flies to his food. St. John is further told by the angel, that the book will be sweet as honey in his mouth, but will make his belly bitter; both which the apostle experienced, v. 10. " And I took the book," says he, “ from the hand of the angel, and eat it up: and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, and when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." The new troop of apostolic men, in setting out on their mission, feel an inexpressible satisfaction in undertaking a work, 30 much to the glory of God, and to which are promised such high rewards. In this sense is the gospel as honey in their mouths. But afterwards, when swallowed, it makes their belly bitter, or causes them pains in the bowels; a figurative expression of the persecutions and severities the preachers were to suffer in consequence of their ministry. Thus then it appears, their fate will be alike to that which our Saviour destined for his apostles and foretold them : “ They shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death :" This will be done in the great persecution of Antichrist, the cloud which clothed the angel.
V. 11. “ And he,” the angel, “said to me, (St. John,) thou must prophesy again to many nations, and peoples, and tongues, and kings."* Here then the above-mentioned ministers of the gospel, represented by the person of St. John, after having received their commission, are told to enter upon their work of preaching : “ Thou must prophesy again to many nations,” &c. Let us however observe, that the expression of prophecying implies preaching accompanied with the gift of prophecy, and of interpreting prophecies. We must observe
* In the Greek, “Thcu must prop!iesy, before nations, and peoples, and many tongues, and many kings.”
also, that St. John is told, he must prophesy again; the mean. ing of which is, that as St. John himself, with the other apostles and preachers, had carried the gospel through the world in the first age of Christianity, in the same manner the ministers of Christ must announce it again in the last age. In this general preaching, St. John's gospel and his other writings will be chiefly made use of.
In this manner will the Almighty display the riches of his mercy for the conversion of mankind, by sending them zealous preachers endued with miraculous powers, and by such an abundant effusion of his graces, as will be proportioned to conquer the influence of the then prevailing wickedness; though the greater part of men will remain hardened in their iniquity. And now the holy work will be in some measure advanced, and a select number of people will be prepared for the afflictions and calamities that the Almighty is upon the point of permitting, in his anger, to break out and burst upon mankind. “Behold there come yet two woes more hereafter.” Apoc. ix. 12. Of these two remaining woes, the first follows on the sounding of the sixth trumpet : and the second or last belongs to the seventh trumpet, the sounding of which will put an end to the world. We shall now see of what kind is the wo, announced by the sixth trumpet.
The sounding of the Sixth Trumpet. Apoc. chap. ix. 13, “ And the sixth angel sounded the trumpet : and I heard,” says St. John, “a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before the eyes of God.
V. 14. “ Saying to the sixth angel, who had the trumpet; loose the four angels, who are bound in the great river Euphrates.
V. 15. “And the four angels were loosed, who were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year; for to kill the third part of men.
V.. 16. “ And the number of the army of horsemen was twenty thousand times ten thousand.—And I heard the number of them.
V. 17. “ And thus I saw the horses in the vision : and they that sat on them, had breast plates of fire, and of hyacinth, and of brimstone, and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions : and from their mouths proceeded fire, and smoke, and brimstone.
V. 18. “ And by these three plagues was slain the third part of men, by the fire and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
V. 19. “ For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails. For their tails are like to serpents, and have heads : and with them they hurt.
V. 20. “ And the rest of the men, who were not slain by these plagues, did not do penance for the works of their hands, that they should not adore devils and idols of gold and silver, and brass and stone, and wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.
V. 21. “Neither did they penance from their murders, nor from their sorceries, nor from their fornication, nor from their
As the object of the sixth vial is closely connected with that of the sixth trumpet, we shall here immediately subjoin the pouring of that vial.
The pouring out of the sixth vial of the wrath of God.
Apoc. chap. vi. 12." And the sixth angel,” says St. John, “poured out his vial upon that great river Euphrates : and dried up the water thereof, that a way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun.”
To return to the first text. The sixth trumpet sounds, and St. John hears a voice, according to the Greek text “one voice, from the four horns of the golden altar" of incense, that is, one voice composed of four voices issuing from the four horns, that adorned the corners of the altar, in resemblance to the altar of incense in the temple of Jerusalem. The four horns or corners of the altar denote the four, that is, all the quarters of the globe; and the four voices that come from thence represent the voices of the guardian angels* of all the kingdoms of the earth. These angels finding themselves frustrated in their continued labour to reform the people committed to their patronage, at last leave them as incorrigible, in the same manner as was done by the tutelar angels of Babylon and the provinces of its empire: “We would have cured Babylon," said they, “but she is not healed : let us forsake her.” Jerem. li. 9. The angels therefore in the present case flying from their respective countries, and confessing the justice of the
*It is sufficiently intimated in Scripture, that empires and nations have their tutelar angels. St. Michael is said to be the prince of the Jewish people. Dan. X. 21. The Christian Church has likewise chosen the same archangel for her patron. Daniel mentions the prince of Persia, which is understood to be its guardian angel. Most of the ancient fathers have in the same manner ascribed the care of kingdoms to angels.