Page images

dom of Jesus, would once more awake, and strive to attain the first eminence of their ancestors!


Verse 6. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

7. Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him: for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

This book of Revelation opens a most majestic view into the invisible world of spirits. We here see good and bad angels united with the agency of men, to accomplish the eternal purposes of Heaven. The Lord also here wishes to be understood, and we must not shut our eyes against the dawning light, which may be designed to cheer our hearts and extend our views in a benighted land. Wherever the word angel occurs in this book, it generally signifies one of these ministering spirits, which the Lord now sends forth to minister for the heirs of salvation, Hebrews chap. I, 14. and in that case their appearance and actions are often symbolical, representing achievements in which they themselves perform a chief part, from which we may judge of their different stations and excellence in the invisible world. However, there are also passages in this book, where the word angel signifies a whole set or number of Gospel ministers, chap. I. II. III but in that case, we are always able to distinguish sufficiently from concomitant circumstances, as in the chapter now before us.

Here are three angels successively flying in the midst of heaven ; each of which represents a whole set of Gospel ministers, with a patriarch of the Church, a man of peculiar talents, and of an extraordinary portion of grace, at their head. These three angels are appointed, to promulgate three distinct messages to the Church; and each patriarch makes his passage a peculiar fundamental principle of doctrine, which the Lord has enthroned in his mind, as being of the highest importance to the Church at that time. They also embrace and publish other truths of religion; but view them chiefly in reference to their general aim. By these characteristics they may be known to the Church and all their associates and followers, as they successively belong to each voice.

Verse 6. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven. This then is not a celestial spirit; the Gospel ministry among men, cannot be committed to their care. He is the symbol of a whole number of Gospel ministers, influenced by a patriarch of eminent distinction, who, perhaps, enjoys the assistance of a superior intelligence in the execution of his peculiar charge. He is termed “another angel flying in the midst of heaven," by which words we are referred to a preceding one, in the order of this prophecy, who also flew in the midst of heaven; which can be no other, than the angel chap. vIII, 13. proclaiming the three woes. The first proclaimed times of most severe afflictions, and these three angels publish salutary messages to the faithful followers of Jesus. At the time of the first the long and dreary night of superstition, began to encircle the Church, in which the religion of Christ was nearly eclipsed in all its lustre ; at the time of the second, vital religion was revived upon a general plan, as the very first indication of Millennian Godliness and christian glory. This reference here to the angel chap. VIII, 13. is also intended to advertise the reader, that this prophecy concerning the three angels, commences a new

series of events, not in immediate connexion with the preceding history of the Lamb and his company on Mount Sion, as some authors, through inattention, have attempted to explain.

Having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth. The original is an everlasting Gos pel, without the definite article, the ; which some expositors have not observed, and therefore have not explained this expression as referring to the word of God, or the Gospel of Christ in general. But by this word is meant the message of this angel exclusively, which is called a Gospel, glad tidings, in a double point of view: first, with regard to the nature, contents, and object of the great Gospel of Christ, of which the peculiar scope of this message comprises an essential, though partial view; and secondly, to point out its superior excellence, importance and virtue, in comparison with the messages of the following angels, which are not termed Gospels. And in the same comparative view it is termed an everlasting Gospel; because its contents will endure for ever, being an esential part of the general Gospel of Christ ; even after Babylon and the beast, to which the messages of the other two angels refer, have long disappeared.

Though these angels carry separate messages, each in some measure distinct from the rest; they are nevertheless all three carried by angels, [instruments of the same kind, who communicate in the same manner,] and no doubt connected by one general aim. Some authors have thought that Luther, and his associates in the glorious Reformation, are intended by this first angel. But we have found that great work of the Lord, in which he has been the principal organ of the Church, represented by the second flight of the womán chap. XII; and this prophecy nowhere makes unnecessary repetition, or runs twice over the same ground. Neither does this message seem to indicate such an external separation in the Church at all;

which is more strikingly and naturally represented by the flight of the woman, than by an angel delivering a message to the inhabitants of the earth. A woman is the symbol of a whole Church, an angel, only of the gospel ministry. But it would also appear from the prophetic chronology, and from a resemblance of arrangements observed between the different lines of prophecies in this book, that this angel must be later than the Reformation. For, where there is no prophetic time annexed to any particular prediction in this series of prophecies, the accomplishment of the following prediction generally commences, about the expiration of the preceding prophecy, and its precise date can only be determined with certainty from history. This is the case with the messages of these three angels. The prophecy concerning the Bohemian-Church drew to a close, by that final catastrophe between the years A. D. 1617-1627;* and this must be about the time, when this first angel commenced his flight.

Fly in the midst of heaven. Heaven here certainly signifies the Church, and the midst of heaven may denote both, the heart of the true Church of Christ and the midst of Christendom, considered geographically at that period of time. In either sense of the word, we cannot look for this angel in Italy, England, Sweeden, Russia, Turkey, or in any country upon the borders of Christendom, but in a middle-country, and this, in my opinion, is Germany. This is the centre, of all those countries formerly under the dominion of the beast, from which this angel could easily publish his message to all the surrounding nations. The flying of this angel, indicates both ac

*See Hist. persec. Eccl. Boh. p. 142. 155. &c. cited by Bengelius, and Comenii Hist. Eccl. Slav. & Riegers History of the BohemianBrethren.

†μεs8ęаvпμæ, media cœli regio, vel medium cœli spatium, a ૬૬૦૬ et leavag

celerated and extensive success in the communication of his message.

Verse 7. Saying with a loud voice, &c. This verse expresses the fundamental principle of doctrine, by which this Patriarch, his associates and followers, stand distinguished from the rest of the Gospel ministry in the Church; the peculiar and principle object of which is, the re-establishment of experimental religion and the internal worship of God. I have declared John Arndt, Metropolitan of the principality Brunswick-Lunenburg, to be this Patriarch, who according to the unanimous testimony of the great historians Walch, Mosheim, Schrock, &c. has been the author of a second Reformation in the Church, perfectly correspondent with the distinguishing characteristics of this message. To establish this point, I must lay down a few preliminary remarks. I have given a brief account of the Reformation of Luther, Zwingel and Calvin in the prophetic history of the woman ch. XII, during which the learned, the nobility and the rulers of the world, took such a glorious stand in favour of the evangelic doctrine. The support of these powerful classes of society was necessary, to accomplish such an arduous enterprise at that time. The spirit of the Lord abode with them, and we find no diminution of ardour and zeal for the kingdom of God in these noble combatants during that trying season. But when the great contest was over, the descendants of these illustrious champions soon relaxed, and began to temporize with the world, to the great disadvantage of vital religion. And as the first separation from the Romish Church, had indeed been principally a reformation in doctrine and worship, more than of lives and manners by a revival of experimental Christianity, especially among the lower and middle classes; the churches soon relapsed into a state of fruitless faith and lukewarmness, which threatened to blast the expected fruits of that glorious work. Here heaven in


« EelmineJätka »