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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. angel. The Lord, the angel of the great counsel, comes down from heaven clothed with a cloud of flesh; as also Isaiah says, “Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt.”

rainbow. That is, the promise of propitiation abiding around the good.

face. When the face of the Lord becomes bright, that is, when the knowledge of Him is manifested by the glory of the resurrection, His feet which are to preach glad tidings upon the mountains, and proclaim peace, are illumined with the fire of the Holy Spirit and are made firm like a pillar, for “James, Cephas, and John, seemed to be pillars,” of the Church.

2. book. This is the book which was mentioned above, and which was closed by a long-continued covering, and was at last unfastened by the grace of the Lord, that, as the Prophet says, even “the deaf might hear the words of the book.” And with reason is His face as the sun, because He now carries an open book.

earth. The preaching of the Christian faith is extended by land and sea. But, allegorically, the stronger members are placed in the greater dangers, the others in such as are suited to them. For God “does not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.”

3. thunders. When the Lord proclaims mightily, the Church also, filled with sevenfold grace, lifts up her voice to preach. For “the lion shall roar, who will riot fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who will not prophesy?” seeing that the seven thunders of which he is speaking are the same as the seven trumpets.

4. Seal. Neither do thou exhibit to all indiscriminately the mysteries of the Christian faith, lest they become of low esteem; nor close them to the good, lest they be entirely hidden. And for the same reason he heard at a later time, “Seal not the words of this prophecy.” Both these are comprised in a single verse in Daniel, for it is said to him by the angel, “seal the book, and shut up the words even unto the time appointed.”

5. hand. The angel swears by Him. who liveth for ever, while Christ, Who comes in the Father’s Name, confirms the words of His own unchangeable truth, saying, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”

6. created. He who stands on the sea and on the earth, and stretches forth his hand to heaven, swears fitly by the Creator of the heaven, the earth, and the sea.

no longer. Assuredly, as the Psalmist says, “The time of the godly will be for ever.” But the changeable variety of secular times will cease at the last trumpet, for “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise incorrupt,” and “their inheritance shall be for ever.”

7. mystery. The mystery of the Gospel which is now preached will then be finished, when “the ungodly shall go into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

8. voice. When the Lord lays open the mysteries of future time, and says, “For the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” the Church also is admonished to receive the same book of preaching. But these words may also be suitable to John himself, who is to return to preaching after his banishment.

9. Give. Let him come to the Lord who wishes to receive the sacraments of teaching.

Take. That is, place it in thy inward parts, and write it down in the breadth of thy heart.

bitter. When thou hast received it, thou wilt be delighted by the sweetness of the divine oracle; but thou wilt perceive a bitterness on beginning to preach, and to practise what thou hast learned, or, at least, it is to be so understood according to Ezekiel, who, when he said that he had eaten the book, added, “And I went away in bitterness, in the indignation of my spirit.”

11. prophesy. He shews what was signified by the book eaten up, and the sweetness mingled with bitterness, namely, that he was to be delivered from banishment, and was to preach the Gospel to the nations, which is sweet indeed through love, but is bitter through the persecutions that are to be endured.

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