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And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood : And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond-man, and every free-man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand ?'-Rev. vi. 12-17.
Many have supposed this passage to be descriptive of the final consummation of all things, and to indicate that some shall be tormented in the future life. A different view is given below. The reader may find it profitable to review the notes on Matt. chap. xxiv., 2 Pet. iii. 7–13, &c., where similar language occurs.
1. HAMMOND. ‘And at the opening of the sixth seal, in that roll, there was a representation of eclipses of sun and moon, &c., figuratively to express great destructions, Ezek. xxxii. 7, Isa. xiii. 20, Joel ii. 10, 31, and chap. iii. 15. And the same was again signified by an appearance of falling stars, dropping down as the withered figs, those that are of a second spring, and come not to be ripe that year, but hanging on the tree in the winter, are frostbitten, and with a great wind are shaken down and fall from the tree, Isa. xxxiv. 4. And by the appearance of great, black, gloomy clouds, covering the whole face of the sky, not a star to be seen any more than the writing is discernable in a roll folded up, and by the earthquakes, ver. 12, whereby many hills and islands were moved out of their places, Isa. xxxiv. 4. And the governors and great ones, of several degrees of power among the Jews, the generals of the several factions among them, and every meaner person of all sorts, appeared in the vision to be in a horrible consternation. And the guilt of the
blood of Christ and christians, which they had shed, and of which they wished that it might fall upon them and their children, now fell upon them, made them fly into vaults, or caverns under ground, and into walls, (according as it really fell out, and as it was foretold by the prophets, Isa. ji. 19, Hos. x. 8, and by Christ, Luke xxiii. 30,) as seeing this inevitable vengeance now falling on them. Par. in loc.
Five notes are added by Hammond, for the more full illustration of this vision. I quote only the last :
• Ver. 16, Wrath of the Lamb: the anger of the Lamb, and the great day of his anger, here, ver. 16, 17, and thine anger, chap. xi. 18, are set to express this vengeance on the Jews, whereof the crucifixion of Christ was so great and particular a provoker. Hence is it, that in the gospel it is called the kingdom of God, and the coming of Christ, and in Josephus and Eusebius, divine visitation, destruction from divine vengeance, and visitation from God, Euseb. Lib. iii.; and all this from St. Luke xxi. 22, who calls them days of vengeance from God, poured out upon them remarkably for what they had done unto Christ. And one phrase yet more eminent, there is to the same purpose, Rev. xvi. 14, the war of the great day of God that ruleth all, that is, the bloody destruction which this just judgment of God brought upon them, for their crucifying of Christ, and persecuting and killing of christians.' Annot. in loc.
2. ASSEMBLY'S ANNOTATIONS. In these annotations, this passage is referred to certain troubles in the Roman empire. The first note commences thus :
• The troubles that were to befal the Roman empire, and strange alterations therein, are set out figuratively, by the shaking of the earth, and confusion of the heavenly bodies, as often in the prophets such alterations are described,' &c. Annot. in loc.
3. Clarke. All these things may literally apply to the final destruction of Jerusalem, and to the revolution -which took place in the Roman empire, under Constantine the Great. Some apply them to the day of judgment;
but they do not seem to have that awful event in view. Com. in loc.
4. LightFOOT. • The destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of this world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city-places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as 'much, or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues.' He notices Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, and 2 Pet. iii. 10, and then continues thus :—Rev. vi. 12, 13, The sun became black, &c. Where, if we take notice of the foregoing plagues, by which, according to the most frequent threatenings, he destroyed that people—viz., the sword,
4, the famine, ver. 5, 6, and the plague, ver. 8—withal comparing those words, •
They say to the mountains, fall on us, and cover us,” with Luke xxiii. 30; it will sufficiently appear, that by those phrases is understood the dreadful judgment and overthrow of that nation and city. With these also agrees that of Jer. iv. 22--28, and clearly enough explains this phrase.' Heb. and Talm. Exerc. in John xxi. 22.
* And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man wership the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead,, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation ; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. REV. xiv. 9-11.
This is considered, by some, to afford very conclusive proof, that sinners shall be tormented eternally in the future life. But the orthodox writers, quoted below, interpret it to mean only certain severe temporal judg
ments, inflicted on sinners soon after the Apocalypse was written.
1. HAMMOND. 'And methought a third angel followed, on purpose to confirm all weak and seđucible persecuted christians, and to fortify them in their patience and constancy, under the present, or yet remaining persecutions ; (ver. 13;) and this he did by denouncing the judgments that the inconstant should fall under, the direful ruin which attended all apostatizing, complying christians, that, (after the manner of the Gnostic compliers,) for fear of persecutions, had, or should forsake the christian purity, and join in the worships or practices of heathen Rome, in the bitter punishments, or effects of God's wrath, such as fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah, Christ being the Judge, and the angels the executioners of it; even utter destruction to all that shall have been guilty of this in any degree, and do not timely repent of it. Par. in loc.
See, also, Hammond's note on chap. xx. 6.
2. GROTIUS. • Shall be tormented with fire and brimstone: these words may, indeed, very aptly signify torments after the resurrection. But as similar language occurs, chap. xix. 10, where no reference is had to that period, as is evident from what follows, it appears that an interpretation should here also be adopted, applicable to that people ;—that conscience should be understood as burning within them, in the presence of Christ and his angels: this would be somewhat like dwelling in gehenna. Thus have the poets represented the bosoms of men to be burned before the faces of the furies.
‘And the smoke of their torment ascendeth, &c. : the memory of the afflictions they have suffered shall continually remain. Words often burst forth from the impious, testifying the anguish of their minds; as from Tiberius, in his epistle, found in Tacitus, and Suetonius.' Annot. in loc.
* The beast that thou sawest, was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings : five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven,
and goeth into perdition.'—Rev. xvii. 8–11.
I NOTICE this text, not so much because it is supposed to imply endless misery, as because it gives me an opportunity to exhibit still further the view which some orthodox writers have taken of the word perdition. As this word has been considered indicative of torment after death, it will not be improper to quote some authorities respecting it.
1. HAMMOND. And the scarlet beast, ver. 3, on whom this power is seated, and which blasphemeth, and defieth the God of heaven, that is, the person of the emperor, in whom this power is vested, at the time to which this part of the vision refers, is one which was in power, but at this point of time, that is, after Vespasian's return out of Judea, was out of it, but shall come to it again, as it were out of hell, to persecute the christians. And when he, that is, Domitian, shall have delivered up the empire again to Vespasian, upon his return out of Judea, and for some years become a private man again; this shall be matter of great admiration and astonishment to all that are not christians, wheresoever they are, seeing by this means, that the persecutor of christians is gone out of power, (and when' he comes in again, shall not continue long, but himself be cruelly butchered, ver. 8 and 11,) and Vespasian, a favorer of the christians, but the destroyer of the Jews, is come in again, even while Domitian was alive, which made it the more strange. This is the meaning of the riddle; the seven heads are the