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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. pour out. Power was given to the Church to impose judgment upon those who are to be condemned, and to give absolution in mercy to those who are converted. And to all the angels indeed was the command given, to pour upon the earth. But the same men of earth, according to the difference of sins, have different appellations assigned, that the fulness of guilt also might be reckoned by the number seven, as well as that of preaching and vengeance.

2. earth. Preachers pour out the wrath of God in a twofold manner, while they either impose the punishments of the ungodly upon the ungodly themselves by judging spiritually; as Peter said to Simon, “Thy money perish with thee;” or they manifest it to holy Church by preaching, as he also said, “For their judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their perdition slumbereth not.” A third manner may also be understood, in that each sinner, as the preaching of the truth is heard, is destroyed by the severer wound of contradiction, of which the Lord said, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.”

Lore. They who forsake the lord, and worship the devil, will spiritually perish from the most grievous wound of the same ungodliness.

3. sea. They who not only are stamped with the mark of Antichrist, but who also assail the stedfastness of the servants of Christ with the waves of bitter persecution, will be punished with a spiritual retribution which he calls blood; and they who boasted that they were alive, will be proved to have served the author of death.

4. waters. And they also who pretend that they give to drink sweet things, in order that they may pour out their poison upon the incautious, will be punished with the worthy retribution of a continual plague.

angel. In the angel of the waters he speaks of all the angels of the peoples, who in inner affection are united in singing the praises of God; for that inavenging the blood of His servants, He has made their murderers to drink of death.

7. judgments. That which the angels are, the same also is the altar giving thanks to God, that is, the inner affection of saints, or angels, or men, who bear rule over the peoples by teaching.

8. sun. The persecutors of the Church, who, like the fiery sun, strive to dry up the seed of the word of God, are to be burned in the future with the fire of hell. Or, if thou interpret the sun of the brightness of the wise, it is not given to the angel who pours out upon the waters to scorch men with heat and with fire, but to the same sun. For while the wise, overcome by torments, are infected by the error of evil doing, the weak, induced by their example, are inflamed with temporal desires. But the heat, as we said, may also be understood to be, that the body of the devil is incurably tormented and incited to blasphemy by the stedfastness of the saints, of which the prophet says, “Wrath takes hold of the people without understanding,” and “now fire devours the adversaries.” And that “now” forsooth, for indeed the fire of the last judgment is reserved.

9. men. At the present time indeed, so far as is permitted, the devil glorifies his own, which glory and joy the Holy Spirit has described to be plagues and sorrows. For we read also above, that the army of the devil killed men with fire, smoke, and brimstone; not that he killed them openly, but that he doomed those who are consentient with him to these flames.

10. seat of the beast. The seat of the beast, that is, his kingdom, as it were the judiciary power, is darkened by plagues of this kind, that is, by the false joy of earthly felicity, and is made to be without light; as the Psalm has, “Thou didst cast them down, while they were lifted up.” For he said not, after they were lifted up.

tongues. As the righteous “will eat the labours of his own hands,” so the ungodly also, exposed to the just punishments of his blasphemy, is satiated as it were with his own tongue. They hurt themselves therefore who blasphemed, because of the wrath of God, with which when they were pierced through, they thought it joy.

11. repented not. He referred it not to their own hardness, but to the just indignation of God, Who sent on them a plague of such a kind, that in it they should not remember themselves. For who, when afflicted in body, does not feel the hand of God, like Antiochus. “They blasphemed,” he said, that is, not openly, but by luxuriating in sins.

12. Euphrates. While the people perish, the affluence of Babylon, in which there is nothing living, nothing green, which is not fit for fire, will remain. This is the same that he said above, “The harvest of the earth is dried,” the saints of the king hasten to meet the Sun of Righteousness. Otherwise: as “while the ungodly is lifted up, the poor is consumed,” so when the pestilent is scourged, the wise will become more astute. And now, in his accustomed manner, he passes over the seventh angel, and recapitulates briefly from the beginning

13. frogs. The spirit of the devil, and of Antichrist, and of those who are set over his body, which is spoken of as threefold, according to the number of the parts of a body, is compared with frogs, to creatures, that is, which are horrible in their haunts, their appearance, and their vexatious croaking, which although they seem to be inhabitants of the waters, yet move about in filth and mud. For hypocrites indeed, while they promise their own the water of life, lie dead and hidden beneath the filth which believers deposit in the water. So Pharaoh, who to destroy the people at their Baptism went in after them, was therein slain.

14. demons. For as was done by the magicians of Pharaoh, so is it to be supposed that these will perform signs. And not without reason did he remember these, when he had made mention of frogs, but that he might announce that the ministers of Satan would then also perform similar signs. For the magicians were permitted to prevail by their enchantments as far as the sign of frogs.

kings. As there are holy kings to whom, when the Euphrates is dried, the way of the East is laid open; so also are there said to be evil kings of the earth, who, without being gathered together from the whole world into one place, but each nation in its place, are to fight against the saints. By “the great day of the Lord,” he means the whole time from the Lord’s Passion. “The day” may also be taken to be the day of judgment, when the army of the devil, which has been gathered together through the whole time of the present life, will meet the Lord, the King, that it may be overthrown.

15. I come. Another version has more suitably, “At the great day of God Almighty: behold He cometh as a thief.”

Blessed. Blessed are they whose sins are covered, who hide the baseness of a reprehensible life before the eyes of the just at the judgment, by the covering of subsequent good works. In the Gospel also, the Lord, under the example of the thief to be guarded against, commands His servants to watch.

16. Hermagedon. Elsewhere he explains this place, saying, “He gathered them together to battle, and they compassed the camp of the saints and the chosen city,” that is, the Church. On the contrary, the seat of the ungodly one, the devil, may also be understood, who in the man of perdition, inflated with the pride of usurped Deity, will rejoice to resume his former plotting, which was formerly interdicted by the Lord. For Hermagedon is interpreted, the “rising up together to former things,” or, “the round mountain.”

17. air. Above, the blood of vengeance went forth as far as the bridles of the horses, namely, the unclean spirits; and so here, when the same final vengeance was poured upon the same aërial powers, it is said that “it is done,” that is, that the end is come, when, as the Apostle says, “the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed.” Thus far, under the name of “plagues,” the last persecution is described; all which Tichonius will have to be understood in a contrary way. “It is, ‘the plague which cannot be healed,’ he says, and ‘the great wrath,’ to receive the power of sinning in an especial manner against the saints, and not as yet to be overtaken by the greater wrath of God. The accession of blessedness indeed, is the death of the wicked, as on the contrary, torments and humiliation are the glory of the Church. For at that very time all the ungodly will be unhurt by any plague of the body, as they who have received all power to rage. Nor in the completion of sins, and the consummation of wrath, will there then be need that any one of the wicked should be scourged and restrained from fury. He recapitulates from the same persecution, and describes the fall of the ungodly city.”

18. lightnings. At the end of the world, when there shall be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning, the greatest signs will in like manner be shewn, but whether on the side of the good, or on the side of the bad, or on both sides, as it was in the instance of Moses and the magicians of Pharaoh, is not here sufficiently apparent.

19. divided. The ungodly city wages a threefold war against the Church of Christ. For the heathen and Jews attack it in open conflict, heretics by treacherous defection, false brethren by evil examples. And this has been represented above in the three bad horses, red, black, and pale.

cities. That is to say, all the strength and confidence of the nations. For the mirth of the ungodly is their great fall, and the joy of the unjust their destruction.

wrath. Babylon then falls, or drinks the wrath of God, when it receives power against Jerusalem, especially at the last. Therefore he says that it has fallen by the earthquake, which He makes for the Church. But if thou shalt refer it to the day of judgment, the ungodly, who now says in his heart, “God hath forgotten,” will then come into remembrance with God.

20. island. The Church, which from the height of its stability is compared with islands and mountains, prudently hides itself from the waves of the persecutors.

21. hail. The hail of the wrath of God is likened to a talent; for it is both heavy in weight, and equal in judgment, and is inflicted upon all according to the diversity of their faults. And all the plagues of Egypt were figures of spiritual plagues.

blasphemed. That is, because some sins are the cause of sin, some the punishment of sin, some both; as Isaiah says, “Behold thou art wroth, and we have sinned.” In this place “to blaspheme God, because of the hail,” is acknowledged to be both sin, and the punishment of sin.

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