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insinuated by their being contained under the cardinal number four, answering to the four sides of the Throne, and to the four Cherubim there stationed, who speak on the opening of each seal, until the voices have gone through the complete square of the Throne. This unity also accords with that of the four first trumpets, and of the four first vials, as will be seen in their places *.
These four seals present us with a general view of the progress of Christianity, from its first establishment in purity, to its utmost corruption and degeneracy under the papal usurpation. They contain the first outlines of a history, which we shall see afterwards extended and filled up by the same prophetic Spirit. And this method is analogous to that of other sacred prophecies; of those of Daniel in particular, in which, as Sir Isaac Newton observes, the same subject is retraced; the subsequent prophecies adding continually something new to the former f.
* See the note, ch. xvi. 17: and observe also, that as the ancients accounted the number seven of all others the most perfect (see note, ch. i. 4.); so, among other reasons for its perfection, they assigned this, that it is compounded of the numbers four and three; the first of these, the most perfect of the even numbers; the second, of the uneven. (Cyprian. de Spirit. Sanct.; August. de Civ. Dei, c. 30. ; Macrobius in So Scipionis.) Certainly, in this book of Revelation, the number seven evidently divides into these component parts,
in the seals, in the trumpets, and in the vials.
+ Sir Isaac Newton, on Prophecy, part i. ch. 3.
The opening of the fifth Seal.
CHAP. vi. VER. 9-11.
9 Και ότε ήνοιξε την 9 And when he opened | 9 And when he had
τσέμπλην σφραγίδα, , the fifth seal, I saw, opened the fifth seal, είδον υποκάτω τα under the altar, the I saw under the altar θυσιαςηρία τας ψυ- souls of those that the souls of them that χάς των έσφαγ- were sacrificed for the were slain for the word μένων δια τον λόγον word of God, and for of God, and for the 18 9:8, 3 aira Try the testimony which testimony which they
uaglugíay ay sizcov. 10 they held. And they 10 held. And they cried 10 Και έκραξαν φωνή cried with a loud voice,
with a loud voice, sayμεγάλη, λέγοντες saying, “ How long, ing, How long, O "Εως τότε, ο δεσ- “Sovereign Lord, the Lord, Holy and True, πότης ο άγι και “ Holy One and True,
dost thou not judge αληθινός, ο κρίνεις “ dost thou not judge, and avenge our blood και εκδικείς το αίμα
“and avenge our blood on them that dwell on ημών από των κα“upon those that dwell
11 the earth ? And white Toixóylor & Til tros
11“ on the earth?" And robes were given unto 11 yñs ; Kai idoon
there was given unto every one of them, and αυτοίς σολη λευκή,
them white raiment; it was said unto them, και ερρέθη αυτοίς, ένα
and it was said unto that they should rest αναπαύσωνίαι έτι
them, that they should yet for a little season, χρόνον, έως πληρω
rest yet a time, until until their fellow-serθώσι και οι σύνδελοι
their fellow-servants vants also, and their αυτών και οι αδελφοί
also, and their brethren brethren, that should αυτών, οι μέλλοντες should be completed,
be killed as they were, αποκλείνεσθαι ώς και
who were about to be should be fulfilled. αυτοί. .
slain, even as they had
Ver. 9. Under the altar.] We are not informed whether the altar here mentioned, is the golden one of incense which makes part of the scenery in ch. viii.
and has its proper place before the throne*, or, the 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
their hands in prayer. Ib. The Souls.] 'H fuxm, 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 Chron. iv. 19; Luke i. 11; Heb. ix. 4. 7.
+ The word Juolangion may be used to signify either of these altars; see Luke i. 11. Matt. v. 23. Rev. xi. 1. The expression Juglasngor Suusapatos is applied in the Septuagint to both of them. | Matt. X. 28.
§ 1 Pet. iv. 19. || TOY TOTOY TOY idroro (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, DECHOTUS, which is applied to God, as the sovereign Arbiter and Disposer of all things I.
Ib. How long ?] Such, with pious sufferers, has ever been the subject of enquiry and complaint: “ How long “shall the ungodly triumph $? 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 martyrs 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 . “ 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 11.
* Rom. viii. 36. 2 Tim. iv. 6. Phil. ii. 17. + Gen. iv. 10; and see Grotius on Heb. xi. 4, | Luke ii. 29; Acts iv. 24 ; 2 Pet, ii. 1. $ Psalm xciv. 3. || See Lake xviii. 7, 8; which has resemblance to this passage. See note, ch. iii. 4.
** Psalm lxxii. 14. tt Matt. v, 12. 11 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, even 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, iż. 246-322.
+ See ch. xi. 7-14. xii. 7. xv. 2-5. xviii. 20, XX. 4. 4 Ch. i. 5.