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precise time, “ the hour, and day, and month, and year;" and for this
purpose, to slay the third part of the men.”
The altar is the golden one, the altar of incense*, which makes a part of the scenery in heaven, standing before the Throne, as, in the earthly temple, before the Mercy-seat, which represented the local residence of Godt. Upon the four horns or projecting angles of this altar, under the Mosaic law, atonement for the sins of the people was made # From this sacred place, from the four cardipal points thereof, is issued a decree of destruction against a third part of the Christian Church. For, by the men is to be understood the Christian men. In Acts xv. 17. oi nolaRouTOI Tūv å vbpwtwv, are the remnant or residue of the Is. raelites ;--and thus also in this chapter (verse 20,) oi λοιποι των ανθρωπων are plainly the residue of the Christian men; as also in chap. ix, 4, the men who have not the seal of God, are the nominal Christians. And the sins and offences of the Christians must have been great at this period, when the altar, which, as Bishop Newton observes, is “their sanctuary, calls “ aloud for vengeance upon them.” The voice coming from the altar which was before the throne, is as the voice of God, who permits, and had decreed this destruction; yet, coming from the altar, and not from the throne, somewhat more seems to be intended : religion seems intimately concerned. The angels who lead this assault on the Christian Church, are four, in concordance with the four horns of the altar, whence the decree and permission proceeded. We are to account them evil angels, like those of the bottomless deep; for why, otherwise, were they bounden? They appear to have been engaged in such destructive warfare aforetime, at the river Euphrates ; but their progress had been arrested, their activity restrained ; now they are again loosed to devastate the Church. But what are we to understand by Euphrates? In Scriptural language, “ War upon Eu- .
* See note, ch. vi. 9.
+ See notes, ch. vi. 9. viii. 3. Exod. xxx. 1–10. Prideaux, Con. i. 141, &c. 5
phrates,” is against the King of Assyria.*, whose capital city Babylon, on that river, was the grand seat and receptacle of idolatry, the formidable enemy, the insidious corrupter, and at length, by the Divine appointment, the scourge and corrector of the Ancient Church t. The Jews, corrupted by the arts, and then subdued by the arms, of Babylon, were detained in a long captivity ; from which they returned to their native soil, so entirely weaned from idolatry, that, prone as they had been to this strange propensity, before their sufferings in that idolatrous city, “they were strongly and cautiously, and even “ to superstition, set against it afterwards I.” Idolatry never again reared its head in the Church, till the Church had been for some ages Christian. That time was now come: for under this Trumpet, the Church is described as idolatrous and desperately
* 2 Kings xxiii. 1 Esdras i. 25—27.
+ Jer. li. Prid. Con. book ii. art. Babylon. Whitby's note on 1 Pet. v. 13.-Upon Euphrates, at the time this prophecy was delivered, stood the ruins of Babylon, whose ancient walls inclosed a park; the country surrounding, was still called Babylon, and the Nestorians soon afterwards had a patriarch of Babylon, which, as Gibbon observes, was an appellation successively applied to the great cities which rose in the neighbourhood of Babylon; to Scleucia, Ctesiphon, and Bagdat. This shews how connected was the name of Babylun with the reigning city on Euphrates. Prideaux, Con. i. 339. 425. 515.
wicked ; as will appear evident by referring to the 20th and 21st verses.. And it is not surprising that whnyai, corrections, should issue from this quarter, where they appear to have been kept in readiness, even from the times when they had been so successfully applied to the punishment and correction of the Church. These ministers of wrath had been permitted to lead the Assyrian troops against the idolatrous Jewish church, and to carry it into captivity. But on the repentance of the sinners, their agency was restrained. They now come forth with a new commission against the idolatrous Christians; not to lead into captivity, but to slay one third of them. And, as is the punishment, so is also the effect of it, different from that of the former chastisement; the offenders are not all slain, and the remaining church is not reclaimed from its idolatry.
The above is a general view of the character of this Trumpet: but since the swarm of invaders under the fifth Trumpet, and the army of assailants under the sixth, appear to have a certain assimilation, as well as a certain difference, of character, which, compared together, may cast useful light on both; let us bring them into one view.-
SIXTH TRUMPET. 1. A swarm of scorpion- 1. An army of myriads locusts.
of cavalry. 2. The leader, a star 2. Their leaders, four fallen, a fallen angel, the angels,
the angels, who had been destroyer.
bounden at Euphrates, but are now loosed at the command of one voice, and
that from the altar. 3. They arise from the 3. They come from Eupit of the bottomless deep, phrates, where they had under cover of darkening been bounden. smoke.
4. Their commission is 4. To slay the third part not to slay, but to tor- of the men. ment, the unsealed, who wish to die, but cannot; and these are the unsealed only. 5. Their continuance,
5. Their appointment for five months.
the hour, day,
year. 6. Their character: 6. The horses of the They have tails and stings troops of cavalry have tails and power as scorpions; of serpents with leads on are like war-horses in ap- them, with which they inpearance; have crowns as jure. The heads of the of gold; faces as of men; horses like heads of lions. hair as of women; teeth as From their mouths issue of lions ; breast-plates as fire, smoke, and brimstone, of iron; come in smoke; by which they kill. And with the noise of war- the riders have breastchariots; wound with plates of fire, smoke, and sting and tail.
7. Their attack is of the nature of a wanym, or stroke of correction upon the ido- ' latrous and wicked, but produces no repentance or amendment in those who
survive the calamity. I proceed to offer some observations on these passages, thus brought to comparison, in the order in which they stand; referring to the numbers prefixed to each.
1. A swarm of locusts and an innumerable army of hostile invaders, are in Scripture used metaphorically for each other Yet there must be some difference in the present instance; otherwise they would both have been described under the same name, whether it be of locusts, or horses for war. This difference is pointed out afterwards; the locusts are said to be like war-horses; (v. 7.) The other are warhorses. The attack under the sixth Trumpet has therefore more real warfare in it, than that of the fifth ; which only resembles warfare, being metaphorically such,
2. The leaders of both invasions are of the same description, angels; under the fifth Trumpet, one fallen angel ; under the sixth, four; certainly wicked angels, why otherwise had they been bounden ? The difference is four instead of one; which seeins to imply t, that the devastation is to be more dreadful and complete.
3. The angel of the fifth Trumpet leads his invaders from the grand seat of all impurity, from the
* Joel ii.
+ See note, ch, iv. 6. DD 2