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commands of their Lord; their girdles are "golden," to denote the excellence of their nature, and the dignity of their office.
From one of the four living creatures, (representatives of the faithful ministers of Christ, whose prayers hasten the latter-day glory, and the destruction of the enemies of the Redeemer,) they receive “seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever." The original term that we translate vials, signifies the cups used at the temple for the purpose of libations. They were golden: just, precious, and useful, though their contents were terrible to the enemies of God. They contain the last effusions of the indignation of the Almighty upon the earth; for after them all the beauties of the millennium shall appear. They are the manifestation of the wrath of Him" who liveth for ever and ever:" words which here have a terrible emphasis, and not indistinctly imply that his indignation against his foes shall be as interminable as his duration.
Immediately afterwards, "the temple was filled with smoke, from the glory of God and from his power, and no man was able to enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled." To understand this verse, you have only to look back to the history of the Old Testament: when the tabernacle was dedicated by Moses, and the temple by Solomon, the glory of God descended in a cloud, which was the symbol of his presence for the protection of his friends and punishment of his foes. The same cloud appeared when Korah and his company were swallowed up, and in other instances. Thus God here displayed his presence in a thick cloud of smoke awfully glorious; and as
we are told that Moses could not enter into the tabernacle, nor the priests stand to minister in the temple," while the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord," (Ex. xl. 35. 1 Kings viii. 11.) so no one was permitted to enter into the heavenly temple to entreat that these impending calamities should be prevented, until all the punishments to be inflicted by the seven angels in their order should be fulfilled. The power and wrath of God should without intermission be manifested till Antichrist and all his adherents should be utterly destroyed.
Let us conclude this lecture by a few reflections. What a different aspect has every thing connected with the government and character of God, on the happiness of the wicked and the good! To the enemy of the Redeemer every thing connected with the providence, the judgment, the purity of the Lord, speaks terror and dismay; to the friend of Jesus, the very same truths are sources of the richest comfort. Apply this general remark to two of the great points presented in this chapter-the agency of angels in the concerns of men, and the eternity of God.
Every where in the holy volume we are taught that there is an intimate connexion between the visible and invisible world; that angels are employed to execute the purposes of God to our race; to accomplish his promises and threatenings. And how cheering a truth is this to the believer! Already united to these angels by similarity of character, views, and desires; worshipping the same God, and devoted to the same Redeemer with them; anticipating a perfect union with them in the world of glory: the Christian rejoices that he is ever encompassed by them; that they continually guard, de
fend, direct him; he sees by faith as great a number of them as the servant of Elisha did when his eyes were opened; and he trembles not at danger, knowing that "more are they that are for him than they that are against him;" he knows that sooner than one promise of God should fail," ten legions of them should be sent from heaven."
LECTURES ON THE APOCALYPSE.
REVELATION, CHAP. XX. 1—6.
You perceive, my brethren, that in returning to these lectures I have omitted several chapters. I have done so that we might sooner be brought to the consideration of that glorious and happy state of the church which is to succeed to the darkness, the errors, and the guilt, under which the world has so long groaned. The chapters that we have passed over, contain but two principal points; a minute description of Antichrist, and a particular account of the mode of his destruction. The great traits of the former were exhibited when we illustrated the
thirteenth chapter; and on the latter point our descendants will be better commentators than ourselves. The previous part of this book we could readily explain, by taking the works of God in providence to elucidate his predictions in his word; by tracing the concurrence of history and revelation. But the pouring out of the vials is still future and though their great object is manifest, yet those who live after their effusion can alone with certainty declare what is the precise design of each wo, and where the tremendous field is to be found where the battle of Armageddon shall crush the enemies of the Lord. It is enough for us to know that these events are certain, and that the beast and false prophet, with all the foes of the Redeemer, shall assuredly be overthrown. Immediately after this, the millennium (a term formed from two Latin words, and signifying the period of a thousand years) shall bless the church and the world. It is true this event also is future; nevertheless, we may with confidence speak concerning it; for it is not mentioned merely in a single passage of scripture, but is described in both testaments, and is referred to in every portion of the sacred volume. Let us then proceed to a more detailed examination of this subject, which is so associated with the best feelings of the believer, We shall,
I. Explain that portion of scripture on which our lecture is more directly founded; and then
II. Inquire into the nature and the precise period of the commencement and duration of the millennium; and the chief means by which it will be introduced.
I. St. John beholds an angel descending from heayen; he has the emblems of divine authority, and
is evidently the Angel of the covenant; that blessed Redeemer who has the keys of hell and of death;" who "shutteth and openeth" according to his pleasure; who came to "destroy the works," and to overthrow the kingdom " of the devil." He has the key of the world of darkness, horror, and despair, in the one hand; and in the other, a chain to bind the criminal opposer of his cause. He seizes him, who in the twelfth chapter has been represented as a great red dragon, (xii. 9.) who, in allusion to his temptation of our first parents, is called the old serpent, who is the devil, or false accuser of the saints; and Satan, or the adversary of the pious. This foe of God and holiness is bound for one thousand years; is shut up for this period in the pit of despair; is there secured with the seal of God; is prevented from deceiving the nations, from leading them into error, persecution, and sin; is hindered from going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. "After this, he is to be loosed for a little season." By the permission of God, to his own confusion, and for the fuller glory of Christ, he will for a short time, after the millennial glory, and just before the consummation of all terrestrial things, exercise his subtlety and malice. The apostle beheld also "thrones, and those who sat upon them, to whom judgment was given." The church was not only delivered from the assaults of Satan, but those believers who now lived, instead of being persecuted and oppressed, appeared with the highest honour and dignity, as so many judges ruling over their enemies. "And I saw," adds St. John, "the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus," for their faithful testimony to Christ as their only Saviour; and for the word of God," for their at