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The Biblical Illustrator Rev 7

The Biblical Illustrator Rev 7

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 12, 2011
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THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR REV 7CHAPTER VII.Vers. 1-8. Four angels . : , holdingr the four wiads.— The four winds : — I. ThbEVETS FiauRATivELY REPRESETED BY THE FOUR WIDS. DifferentOpinions havebeen expressed respecting these winds. Bishop ewton and other writers under-stand by them those Pagan persecutions which assailed the Christian Church priorto the time of Constantine, and which were removed when he took the Christianreligion under his protection. The text evidently includes all winds that injure theChristian Church and impede true religion in the world ; but Constantine onlysuspended one wind to let loose another, equally, if not more, injurious than thewind of persecution ; I mean the winds of error, formality, earthly-mindedness, andgeneral corruption. Mr. Jones, author of the hiitory of the Waldenses, makesthese winds to mean the influences of the Holy Spirit, which, he says, were with-held from the Church when she became the favourite of the state underConstantine.It is quite true that the influences of the Holy Spirit are frequently represented inScripture by the figurative term •' winds." Still this cannot be the true meaning of the term " winds " in this passage, for this reason, the four angels are commandedtorestrain these winds till the servants of God are sealed ; whereas this sealing cannotbe effected without the influences of the Spirit. What, then, are we to understandby the winds mentioned ? I answer, two things : 1. Divine judgments. Wars,famine, pestilence, the overthrow of kingdoms, and the universal wreck of allearthly things. The particular judgments to which these winds refer are, I think,those mentioned in the sixth seal, at the close of the sixth chapter, and whosefearful operations are represented by the seven trumpets in the eighth chapter. 2.All events and influences unfavourable to the cause of Christ. The wind of perse-cution ; the wind of false doctrine ; the wind of delusion and wild fanaticism ; thewind of temptation ; the wind of infidelity ; the wind of open profanity andblasphemy; the winds of affliction, adversity, and distress; by all of which theChurch is frequently assailed. These things are, called " winds," because theyproduce agitation and commotion — breaking the branches, blasting the fruits, anduprooting the trees of God's spiritual vineyard. They are called " four" winds, toshow their universality, their wide-spreading desolation. They are called winds of the " earth," because earth is the scene of their operation — they are for everexcludedfrom heaven; their coming from the four cardinal points at once shows their
violence, rage, and fury. U. The agents to whom they are committed. Thisnotion of angels ruling the winds is very ancient. Herodotus says it was held bythe Persians ; Eusebius says it was held by the Phoenicians ; Pausanias says it washeld by the Greeks ; Tertullian says it was held by the Romans ; Seneca and Virgilsay it was held by the Gauls ; and most of these people worshipped these rulingspirits. Some understand by the four angels four monarchies, the Babylonian, theGrecian, the Persian, and the Roman ; but this cannot be, for at the time to whichthis passage refers, the monarchies will have long been forgotten : while existingmonarchies will be the objects of this vengeance, and not the executioners of it.Others understand by these four angels four emperors, Maximinus, Galerius,Maxentius, and Licinius, or their preetorian prefects ; but the same objectionsstandagainst them as against the monarchies. Others think that four persecutingpowers are meant. Others think four evil angels, or demons, are meant, who holdback the winds of the Spirit from blowing upon this valley of death, that the drybones might live ; or who are charged with destructive powers, as the messengersof an angry God ; but as their work is first to restrain all antagonistic influences tothe gospel, while it effects the high purposes of God, and then to execute the Divinevengeance at the day of Christ ; and as these employments are nowhere ascribed towicked angels, this cannot be the real meaning. These are four good angels.23354 THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. [chap. vn.This appears first, from the fact that they are here represented as taking a partwith the fifth angel in sealing the servants of God ; also from their being entrustedwith such an important post — restraining wicked spirits, persecuting men,antagonistinfluences, and Divine judgments, till grace has worked out its wonders. Thentheir attitude — standing — signifies that they have no settled dominion ; that theyare the movable ministers of God ; that they are ready to do His pleasure. III.The gbeat Being who commands their postponement ob suspension. 1. Bishopewton, and several other writers both before and since his day, tell us that thisangel was Constantine the Great, who, they say, brought light, protection, anddeliverance to the Christian Church that had been greatly afflicted under thepersecuting tyranny of the Pagan Koman emperors. As far as I can judge, thereis not even the shadow of a reason for thinking that this angel was Constantine.(1) The language applied to this angel is too sublime to refer to a fallen creaturelike Constantine. (2) The events which this angel is said to control, and the
magnificent work he is said to accomplish, are not the narrow and limited circum-stances of one man's life, but they stretch through ages ; spread over kingdoms,continents, sea, and land. (3) The character of Constantine differs widely fromwhat we must believe was the real character of the angel referred to in this passage.(4) The influences on true religion, which followed Constantine's interference,were,in many respects, just the opposite to those which the angel in the text is said toproduce. This angel not only suspends persecution and postpones judgments, butvital godliness greatly prospers, as is evident from the number that are said to besealed. Besides, this prosperity of genuine religion is not for a brief period, but itappears to extend through centuries. ow, is there anything analogous to this,which may be regarded as the result of Constantine's interference ? That somegood resulted to the then existing and persecuted Church, from this interferisnce,we do not deny. Persecution was suspended. Still we maintain that the evilaccruing from this change preponderates ; it brought her in contact with asecular power that tarnished her purity, beclouded her glory, enervated her nativepower. 2. Well, who is this Angel ? Why, the Lord Jesus Christ, the uncreatedAngel of the Covenant, to whom the figurative language of the text applies to thevery letter. This Angel is described — (1) By the point of His ascension. " And Isaw another Angel ascending from the east." This was literally true of Christ ;He came from the east, and hence He is called the East, or, as it is commonlyrendered, " the Day-spring from on high." But His ascending from the eastshows the favourable nature of His mission and character. The east is the greatfountain of light, life, fruitfulness, purity, and joy ; so this Angel, Christ, is calledthe Sun of Kighteousness, that visits our world with healing beneath His wings.He is that bright, shining Sun, that never sets, but whose heavenly radiance alwaysbeams upon His Church, giving salvation, light, beauty, and joy. (2) By credentialsHe bears. " Having the seal of the living God " ; which refers, first, to His officeas Mediator between God and man. This refers to a custom among the kings of the earth, who have their own confidential servants to whom they deliver certainseals of office. These seals of office are the influences of the Spirit withoutmeasure ; authority to bestow them, procured by virtue of His atonement ; energy,to carry all His plans into successful operation ; and all power, both in heaven andin earth, to render all things, creatures, and events, subservient to His designs.But His having the seal of the living God goes further still. It refers to the dignityof His person, as the Son of God, as well as to the glory and credentials of Hisoffice, as the Saviour of the world. Having the seal of the living God — that is,having in His own nature the visible impress of deity, the authentic testimony,proof, and demonstration that He Himself was the living God, the brightness of His Father's glory, and the express image of His person. (3) By the supremeauthority He assumes. " He cried with a loud voice," the emblem of supremeauthority and power ; He commands or forbids as He pleases, and whatsoever He

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