on Revelation 16 :7
on Revelation 16 :7
And I heard another - Evidently another angel, though this is not specified.
Out of the altar - Either the angel of the altar - that is, who presided over the altar (Prof. Stuart), or an angel whose voice seemed to come from the altar. The sense is essentially the same. The writer seemed to hear a voice coming from the altar responding to what had just been said in regard to the judgment of God, or to his righteousness in bringing the judgment upon people, Revelation 16:5. This was evidently the voice of someone who was interested in what was occurring, or to whom these things particularly pertained; that is, one who was particularly connected with the martyrs referred to, whose blood was now, as it were, to be avenged. We are naturally reminded by this of the martyr-scene in Revelation 6:9-11, in the opening of the fifth seal, though it cannot be supposed that the same events are referred to. There "the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God" are represented as being "under the altar," and as crying to God to "avenge their blood on them who dwelt on the earth." Here a voice is heard with reference to martyrs, as of one interested in them, ascribing praise to God for having brought a righteous judgment on those who had shed the blood of the saints. They are both, for similar reasons, connected with the "altar," and the voice is heard proceeding from the same source. In regard to the meaning of the word "altar" here, and the reason why the martyrs are represented in connection with it, see the notes on Revelation 6:9.
True and righteous are thy judgments - Responding to what is said in Revelation 16:5. That is, God is "true" or faithful to his promises made to his people, and "righteous" in the judgments which he has now inflicted. These judgments had come upon those who had shed the blood of the martyrs, and they were just.
In regard to the application of this there are several things to be said. The following points are clear:
(a) That this judgment would "succeed" the first-mentioned, and apparently at a period not remote.
(b) It would occur in a region where there had been much persecution.
(c) It would be in a country of streams, and rivers, and fountains.
(d) It would be a just retribution for the bloody persecutions which had occurred there.
The question now is, where we shall find the fulfillment of this, assuming that the explanation of the pouring out of the first vial is correct. And here, I think, there can be no mistake in applying it to the events bearing on the papacy, and the papal powers, which followed the French revolution. The next material event, after that revolution, was the invasion of Italy, where Napoleon began his career of victories, and where he first acquired his fame. At this stage of my examination of this passage, I looked into Alison's History of Europe to see what events, in fact, followed the scenes of confusion, crime, blood, atheism, and pollution in the French revolution, and I found that the next chapters in these eventful scenes, were such as would be well represented by the vial poured upon the rivers and fountains, and by their being turned into blood.
The detail would be too long for my limits, and I can state merely a summary of a few of the chapters in that history. Chapter xix contains the "History of the French Republic from the fall of Robespierre to the establishment of the Directory" - comprising properly the closing scenes of "the Reign of Terror." Chapter xx contains an account of the campaign in Italy in 1796, embracing, as stated in the summing up of contents in this chapter, the "Battles of Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego; the passage of the bridge of Lodi, and fall of Milan; the siege of Mantua, and the battle of Castiglione; the battles of Caldero and Arcola; and the battles of Rivoli and Mantua." This is followed (chapter xxiii) with an account of the campaign of 1797, which closed with the fall of Venice; and this is followed (chapter xxvi.) with an account of the invasion of Switzerland, etc. It is unnecessary to dwell on the details of the wars which followed the French revolution on the Rhine, the Po, and the Alpine streams of Piedmont and Lombardy. The slightest acquaintance with that history will show the propriety of the following remarks:
(a) These wars occurred in regions under the influence of the papacy, for these were all papal states and territories.
(b) These scenes followed closely on the French revolution, and grew out of it as a natural consequence, and would be properly represented as a second "vial" poured out immediately after the first.
(c) The country is such as here supposed - "of rivers and fountains" - for, being mostly a mountainous region, it abounds with springs, and fountains, and streams. Indeed, on the supposition that this is the land referred to, a more appropriate description could not have been given of it than is found in this passage. One has only to look upon a map of Northern Italy to see that there is no other portion of the world which would more naturally be suggested when speaking of a country abounding in "rivers and fountains of water." The admirable map of this region prefixed to the volume, for which I am indebted to the work of Dr. Alexander Keith, on the Signs of the Times, will clearly illustrate this passage, and the corresponding passage in chapter viii., x., xi.,. Let anyone look at the Po and its tributaries on the map, and then read with attention the twentieth chapter of Alison's History of Europe (vol. i. pp. 391-424), and he will be struck with the appropriateness of the description, on the supposition that this portion of the book of Revelation was designed to refer to these scenes; for he cannot but see that the battles there described were fought in a country in every way corresponding with the statement here.
(d) This country corresponds with the description here given in another respect. In Revelation 16:5-6 there is a tribute of praise rendered to God, in view of these judgments, because he was righteous in bringing them upon a land where the blood of saints and prophets had been shed - a land of martyrs. Now this is applicable to the circumstances supposed, not only in the sense that Italy in general had been the land where the blood of martyrs had been shed - the land of Roman persecution, alike under paganism and the papacy - but true in a more definite sense, from the fact that this was the very region where the persecutions against the Waldenses and the Albigenses had been carried on - the valleys of Piedmont. In the times of papal persecution these valleys had been made to flow with the blood of the saints; and it seemed, at least, to be a righteous retribution that these desolations of war, these conflagrations, and these scenes of carnage, should occur in that very land, and that the very fountains and streams which had before been turned into blood, by the slaughter of the friends of the Saviour, should now be reddened with the blood of men slain in battle. This is, perhaps, what John saw in vision: a land where persecution had raged, and the blood of the holy had flowed freely, and then the same land brought under the awful judgments of God, and the fountains and streams reddened with the blood of the slain. There was a propriety, therefore, that a voice should be heard ascribing righteousness to God for avenging the blood of the saints Revelation 16:5-6, and that another voice should be heard from the "altar" of the martyrs Revelation 16:7 responding and saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
on Revelation 16 :7