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carth *; which now appears in view, immediately below heaven and the throne; not in an orbicular form, but stretched out as a plain, with four sides and angles, and thus it continues through the trumpets.
Ib. The four winds.] In the language of Scripture, a wind (which, when violent, destroys) is used to express destruction t; and the four winds, a general destruction I. The necessity of a superintending Providence to restrain the fury of these ministers of vengeance, will be acknowledged by those, who have witnessed the dreadful devastation committed by the unimprisoned winds in ruder climates; or, who have read accounts of the hurricanes in the West Indies. Hence the heathen poet has represented them as under divine restraint, and with such dignified language, that I shall not scruple to quote from him :
Hic vasto rex qolus antro
ÆNEÏD. i. 56-63.
But now the restraint is removed,
• Is. xi. 12. Ezek. vii. 2.
- ac venti, velut agmine facto,
Æneid. i. 86-90.
Previous to the dreadful siege of Jerusalem by Titus, a prophet (perhaps an enthusiast) is described by Josephus, as going about and crying, Durn aro TWY TECæpwv dvejwy: * which was perfectly understood to mean a wide and dreadful destruction t.
Ver. 2. Sunrising:) This quarter, which we call the East, was the cardinal point of first importance with the eastern nations of antiquity ; because from that point was seen to arise the sun, that visible source of light and vital heat. In the
In the camp of the Israelites, the eastern side was always the front, the honourable post. Here Moses and Aaron were stationed I. And “The Sun of Rigtheousness” (so our Lord is called) is said to emit his first beams of glory, his “ day-star,” from that quarter Ş. Hence, the Jews appear to have reckoned their cardinal points by supposing a person to face the East, as the first and principal quarter of the heavens. To a man so stationed, the South is on his right hand, the North on his left, and the West behind him, In consequence of this distribution, the Syrians, who were to the East of Israel, are said to be " before “ Israel ;” the Philistines, who dwelt to the West,
* A voice from the four winds.
+ Bell, Jud. lib. vi. c. 5. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 8.—The space comprehended under “the four winds,” is paraphrased by our Lord in these words, “from the uttermost part of the earth to the “ uttermost part of Heaven;" Mark xiii. 27. Numb. ii. 3. iii. 38. Ezek. xliii. 2. Matt. ii. 2. xxiv. 27.
"behind" them. Hobah is described as on the “ left “ hand of Damascus,” because it lay to the North of that city * The Europeans, on the contrary, have made the North their first and fronting point, and, as such, have placed it at the top of their maps. And from this cause, in political geography, the eastern bank of a river f is termed its right bank, the western its left. This division is as ancient as the times of Homer:
E7 επι δεξι' ιωσι, προς ηώ τ' γέλιον τε"
ILIAD xii. 239.
The angel who now appears upon the earth to the angels stationed at its four corners, comes from the Divine presence, with a Divine commission, of which the seal he bears is a mark and earnest.
Ib. A seal of the Living God.] Seals were in use with ancient nations to secure possessions ý; each person having his peculiar mark which ascertained the property to be his own.-Signare, quid est nisi proprium aliquid ponere? Ideò rei ponis signum, ne res, cum aliis confusa, à te non possit agnosci ||Hence the seal of God is his mark by which He
. Gen. xiv. 15.-And from this usage, it has been observed, that the same word in Hebrew, which is applied to signify the South, signifies also the right hand. + Instance the Rhine. 1 Ye vagrants of the sky, your wings extend,
Or where the Suns arise, or where descend,
Pope, line 279. Job xiv. 17. Matt. xxvii. 66. 1 Augustin, in Juhann. vi.—What is sealing, but marking a thing as your own? You place a mark on the thing, lest, being mixed with other things, it may not be known by you.
“ knoweth them that are his *.” Under the Law of Moses, circumcision is represented to be the seal, which separated the people of God from “ the hea“ then who did not call upon his name f.” And, in this sense the sacrament of baptism, succeeding to circuincision, was called by the fathers of the Church, the Seal of God:ť but in the Gospel, this divine seal is more accurately described to be the Holy Spirit of God. They who have this Spirit, are, marked as His ģ. Our Lord Jesus Christ is represented as possessing eminently this mark ll. Generally, all “who name the name of Christ, and depart from “ iniquity,” are said to be thus divinely sealed (. By the seal of God, then, is signified that impression of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of man, which preserves in it the principles of pure faith, producing fruits of piety and virtue. This is the seal which marks the Christian, as the property of the Almighty, and consequently under his providential protection,
Ver. 3. Until we shall have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.] The sweeping destruction, by the winds of heaven, which is to level every thing in this world in one common devastation, is withholden by Divine command, until the servants of God shall be so marked by his Holy Spirit, as to be separated and saved apart from those whom he now consigns to punishment. The sealed mark is said to be impressed upon the forehead; because on this con
• 2 Tim. ii. 19.
+ Rom. iv. 11. 1 Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 23.-See many more instances of this, produced by Grabe, in his notes to the Spicilegium, sect. i.
ll John vi. 27.
S. 2 Cor. i. 29. Eph. i. 13. iv. 30. 4 2 Tim. ii. 19.
spicuous part of the person, distinguishing ornaments were worn by the eastern nations * Slaves also were marked upon their foreheads, as the property of their masters t. But the passage will receive more particular illustration, by a coinparison with the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, which, foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem, represents the ministers of Divine vengeance prepared to strike; when another angel is commanded to mark on the forehead the servants of God, who are to be saved from the calamity. This prophecy of Ezekiel was fulfilled at the taking of the city by the Chaldeans, when“ a remnant was saved,” and many of the righteous Jews, as Daniel and his comparlons, were promoted to honour.
And again it was fulfilled at the final overthrow of Jerusalem by the Romans; when the Christians, fvrewarned by their Saviour I, retired to Pella, and were saved Ş. But a more universal accomplishment still awaits this prophecy, when, together with those of Is. xiii. xxvi. Zeph. ii. 3. Mic. vii. Hab. i. Mal. iv. Matt. xxiv. 2 Thess. i. 7. 10. 2 Pet. üïi. 10, and this of the sixth seal, it shall receive its final completion, in the last days of vengeance, previous to the destruction of this globe. Of the manner in which the sealed of God shall be delivered in that day, we can speak no farther than the assurances of other passages of Scripture seem to warrant. Saint Paul assures us, that, in the great day of the Lord, the pious Christians then
* Gen. xxiv. 22. marg. note ; which seems to be the true read. ing. Exod. xxviii. 38. Ezek. xvi. 12. Deut. vi. 8. 2 Esd. ii. 38.
+ Grotius, in loc. Mede's Works, p. 511, Jortin on Eccl. Hist. iii. 219. iv. 371. * Matt. xxiv.
Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. iii. c.5.