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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. sign. Again the order is renewed. And as in he were about to relate the same plagues of the last persecution, he wished the hearer to be made attentive, in that he said, “a sign great and marvellous.”

seven. That is to say, the Church which is replete with sevenfold grace.

last. He calls them “the last,” because in them the wrath of God is consummated. For the wrath of God ever smites the rebellious people with seven plagues. He says repeatedly in Leviticus, “And I will smite you with seven plagues.” And these are to be the last, when the Church shall have come forth from the midst of it.

2. glass. That is, the pellucid fount of Baptism, which is consecrated by the fire of the Holy Ghost. Or else: because it pertains to the nature of fire, in that it is made red by martyrdom.

victory. They who overcome the wiles of the beast, appear in consequence to stand upon a baptism of fire. For they desire, as the Apostle says, “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.”

harps. That is, they have the hearts of those who praise dedicated to God, and melodious with the truth of both Testaments; or, the flesh extended on the wood of passion. And here, not the sound of the voice alone is signified, but the operation of a good work.

3. Great and marvellous. I have found this song in both Testaments, where the Lord, both true and merciful, is celebrated as the Judge Who is to be worshipped by all ages.

5. temple. He repeats what he had set forth before, and the vision accords with the song. For, in order that the Lord may be worshipped by all nations, the temple of the mysteries of God, formerly inclosed within the walls of one city, now begins to be opened spiritually to the world.

6. came. This is the same with that which Mark says, “But they went forth, and preached everywhere.”

linen. “As many of you,” the Apostle says, “as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” For “He is the chief corner-stone, elect.” Or, if the singular be understood to be put for the plural, it signifies various ornaments of virtues. Another translation has, “white linen,” which indicates mortification of the flesh in teachers, according to this, “I chastise my body, and subject it to servitude, lest perchance, while preaching to others, I myself be found reprobate.”

girdle. Let him who desires to preach strong things not only mortify the body, but also bind the breast with the gold of wisdom. Or, at least, to bind the breasts with golden girdles, is to restrain all the motions of changeful thoughts by the bands of the love of God alone.

7. seven vials. These are the bowls which are carried with their odours by the living creatures and the elders, who are the Church, and who are also the seven angels. The same bowls are said to contain both the sweetness of supplications, and the wrath of punishments. For they are poured forth by the saints before the advent of the kingdom of God, when the judgments of God, which are now no longer secret as the abyss, but open as the bowls, are announced as being salvation to the righteous, but destruction to the ungodly. As the Apostle says, “Because we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in those who are saved, and in those who perish.”

8. smoke. The Church, when it is to preach to the nations, is first influenced itself with the fire of love, and sends forth the smoke of pious confession, while it “gives thanks to God for His unspeakable gift.”

enter. No one is able to be incorporated among the members of the Church, but he who hears the mysteries of faith from the preachers, and learns that Jesus is constituted by God the Judge both of the living and the dead. But if thou shalt interpret the smoke to be the secret judgment of God, these remain impenetrable, and closed to mortal men “until,” after the plagues of the present age are ended, “the Lord come, Who is both to bring to light even the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest” how much the coming of Antichrist confers which is either of utility in proving the faith of the Church, or of judgment in blinding the eyes of the Jews, “Who received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

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