And when he had opened the seventh Seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Now the sealed book was fully opened by our blessed Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah; who is God blessed forever (Rom. 9:5), so that the first principal vision in this prophecy of the Revelation, is fully ended. And here begins the second principal vision thereof, that is, the seven trumpets, from the eighth verse of this chapter unto the end of the thirteenth chapter of this book. The first thing that followed the opening of the seventh seal [was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour]. By [heaven,] here we are to understand the church of God, (compared by Christ unto heaven, Matthew 25:1;16,18,19) in contradistinction unto the world, called earth, (v. 13; Rev. 12:12). And by silence in heaven, we may understand the cessation from churches sufferings, sorrows, weeping, and crying, during the short time of peace, quiet, and rest, which was but half an hour; that is, half the time of the reign of Constantine the Great, who reigned about thirty years, whereof the former fifteen years the church of God had rest from persecution, and peace to serve and worship God, under his government: And then began the grand heresy of the Arians, whereby the churches rest, and peace was disturbed, interrupted, and troubled by Constantia, Constantineís sister, whom he greatly favored; and Constantius his son and successor became so eager in maintaning the Arian heresy, and the Arian bishops, that St. Hierom (in Chronicis), said, [Omnes poene toto Orbe Ecclesiae Aria-norum consortio polluuntur; Almost all the churches in the whole world are polluted by the agreement of the Arians]. Historians relate, that Paul the Patriarch of Constantinople, and Athanasius the Patriach of Alexandria, who were most eminent opposers of the Arian heresy, were both banished by the Emperor; and some historians testify, that the persecutions of orthodox bishops, ministers, and Christians, by the Arians, were as bloody and barbarous, as the Ten Pagan Persecutions.
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
These [seven Angels] were the messengers of God, who are ready to declare or do his revealed will; and therefore are said [to stand before God]; by whom we may understand literally the holy angels, and mystically the faithful ministers of God, called angels (Rev. 1:20). Seven is a complete or perfect number, as of churches, ministers, seals, angels; so here of trumpets, (and after of vials, Rev. 15:1,6,7). With these seven trumpets those messengers of God were to sound seven alarms to the church, and also to the world; and they having received orders from Christ, prepared themselves to sound one after another (read v. 6).
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne.
By this [other angels], we are to understand Jesus Christ, called the Angel of the Covenant, (Mal. 3:1), and the High Priest of our profession, (Heb.3:1). The Antitype of Aaron, and all the true High Priest under the law (Heb. 7:25,26), as appears also by his standing at the altar, (Ex. 40:5). The golden altar of incense, which typed out the deity of Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, (Col.2:9,10; see chap. 6:9). And by [incense], here we may understand mystically the merits of Christ intercession for the saints, as the mediator of the new covenant of grace between God and the saints. Incense, literally, that mentioned (Ex. 30:34,38), but here typically, the virtue and efficacy of Christís intercession for the saints. See more in the exposition of the next verse.
And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angelís hand.
Christ our mediator standing at the golden altar with his golden censer in his hand, received much incense to offer up (with the prayers of the saints) upon the golden altar. [The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascend up before God, out of the angels hand]. That is, the prayers, intercessions, thanksgiving, and supplications of the saints, had access to God, through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:18), with acceptance (1 Pet. 2:5), for Christís sake, in whom God is well pleased; and the prayers of the saints also heard, their persons and services are accepted in Jesus Christ his beloved son.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it unto the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings and lighting, and an earthquake.
After Christ had offered his incense, with the prayers of the saints, he filled his [censer with fire of the altar]; that is, the wrath and indignation of God, who is a consuming, fire (Heb.12:28,29). [And cast it unto the earth]; that is poured down upon the inhabitants of the earth (Rev. 8:13; 12:12). [And there were voices, and thunderings, and lighting, and an earthquake]. Now the silence in heaven is interrupted: [And there were voices]; that is, different opinions among the Christians; and then followed [thunderings and lighting], which signify the judgements of God against the Inhabitants of the Earth (Isa. 29:6). These dispensations of Godís fiery indignation, caused [an earthquake]; that is, great divisions, and renderings, and troubles between the eastern and western churches; and also in the whole empire, as all historians do testify.
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets, prepared themselves to sound.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
The seven angels having attended and waited on the Lord for his orders, and having received their commission from Christ, do now prepare themselves to sound their trumpets, orderly one after another. [And the first angel sounded]. By [angel,] here we may understand Athanasius, Paulus, Hilarius, Ofius, Paulinus, and other faithful ministers of the gospel, who lifted up their voice like a trumpet, and did bear their testimony publicly against arianism and other errors; and we may also by this angel, understand the kings of the Goths and vandals, whose religion was Arianism; they sounded a terrible alarm to the Roman Empire by their invasions. Upon which [followed hail, and fire mingled with blood]; that is, great storms of persecution, (Pleffaeus his Mystery of Iniquity, and Heirom de Chronicis), and bloody wars. (See Alaricus in Chronicis Regnorum Veterum and Helvicus in Theat Hist). Alstedius, Genserick, Atyla, and others, with their armies, destroyed Valence, that bloody Arian emperor, who caused eighty supplicants (that were sent to him from some Orthodox bishops, and other banished Christians) to be murdered.
[And the third part of trees was burned up]. By [trees] here, we may understand, such professors of Christianity, as either bare no fruit (Jude 12:12), or else, brought forth fruit to themselves, as (Hosea 10:1) but brought forth no fruit to perfection, as (Luke 8:13,14). They were not trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, (Isa. 61:4). [Burnt up]; that is, rooted up (John 15:6), and plucked up by the roots, (Jude 12, 13; John 15:6). [And all green grass was burned up]; that is, the ordinances of God, which are as green pastures, where Christ feeds his sheep and his lambs (Ps. 23:1,2; Rev.12:6,14). But now both the doctrine and the ordinances of the gospel, were so corrupted that they were like grass, scorched with the heat of the sun, and so burnt up and withered, that the flocks of Christís pastures sheep could not feed (Amos 8:11Ė13; Isa. 40:28Ė31; Zec.11:8,9). The eastern bishops and churches being so corrupted with errors and heiresses, and western bishops and churches being more orthodox and less corrupted; the bishops of Rome began to contend for supremacy, and at last obtained it. Plessausís Mystery of Iniquity, (pp. 4, 44).
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood:
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and third part of the ships were destroyed.
By this [second angel], we may likewise understand both ministerial and political angels, who gave the second alarm to the church of God, and to the Roman papal empire; especially the faithful ministers of the fourth century in the western church. [And as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea]. This [great mountain] was the patriarch of Rome, burning with pride and ambition, loving to have the preeminence and the supremacy over Godís clergy. [Was cast into the sea]. By sea, we may understand their ecclesiastical jurisdiction, over all peoples, tongues, nations and languages, which are the sea of many waters. upon whom the Roman whore sitteth, (Rev. 17:1,10,18). And especially their corrupted worship (read Rev.13). (Alsted in Chronicis Ordinum inter Monachos; and Socrates, Lib. 5. Of his Ecclesiastical History, Anno 395, 396.) [And the third part of the sea became blood]; (like one of the plagues of Egypt, (Ex. 7:10,11). That is, a great part of the worship and ordinances of God were so corrupted and polluted by the inventions of men of corrupt minds, and by the superstitious and idolatrous traditions of the Roman papal clergy, that many who drank of those mystical waters died, etc. One part were sealed and secured; another part were preserved by the incense of Christís mediation and intercession; and a third part, whose names were not in the Lambís Book of Life, were false worshippers, and they died, etc. (Rev. 13:8,15-17; 14:9-11 and verse 9 of the chapter). [and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died]. By those creatures, we may understand the Roman clergy, [who had life]; that is, who formerly seemed to be lively and zealous defenders of the faith, [died]; that is, some recanted, others where corrupted, and others were destroyed, etc. [and the third part of the ships were destroyed], By [ships], here we are to understand the churches of mystical Babylon, and the ship-makers and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, (Rev. 18:17). and all the company in ships, etc.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters:
By this [third angel], we may understand the ministers of the next century, namely, Augustinus, Hieronymus, Prosperus, Optatus, etc. The great star that fell from heaven was Nestorius, the then Bishop of Consiantinople, and several ministers with him, who corrupted the doctrine of the gospel, touching original sin, justification, election, satisfaction for sin and free-will, and polluted the pure worship of God, by bringing in penanceís, holy days, fasts, and feasts of their own inventions; Also superstitions, the worshipping of angels, praying to saints deceased, etc. These heterodox prelates and priest, are said to fall from heaven; that is from the true church, sound doctrine, pure worship, and heavenly life. And of shining stars to become burning lamps; that is, they lost all that spiritual light which they had by the gifts of the Spirit (as 1 Cor.12:4,8), but being learned men, they kept the lamp-light of their acquired arts. Which they had from the school-men; and thereby they flamed and shined like a burning lamp; (as the lamps of the five foolish virgins did, until they went out, (Matthew 25:1-2; 8-11). [And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters]. Whereby we may understand the rivers of the sanctuary, (Ezek. 47:1,5,12). The sound doctrine of the gospel, and the pure worship of God. There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city (the church) of God (Ps. 46:4), called the Wells of Salvation, (Isa. 12:3) and the Fountains of Living Waters (Rev. 7:17). [The third part]; that is, not all, but a great part of doctrine and worship was corrupted and polluted.
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became Wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
[Wormwood] put into pure water, or good wine, doth make it bitter; so the doctrines and commandments of men being mixed with the doctrines of Christ: Also the inventions and traditions of men being mixed with the Holy Ordinances of God, maketh them bitter and unwholesome. Any man, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth from the Lord, and committeth idolatry, is compared to a root that beareth gall and Wormwood, (Deut 29:18). [And the third part of the waters]; that is, of the doctrine and worship, [became wormwood]; that is, bitter and deadly poisonous. [And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter]. Their souls were infected, poisoned, and perished.
Historians tell us, that in this century came in Extream Unction, in imitation of the sacred ordinance of anointing the sick (or infirm) with oil (Jam. 5:14-16). Falex, Patriarch of Rome, appointed the Chancel or Choire to be separated from the Stoney Church, for the second service, and sacrament to be said and administered in the Chorie or Chancel, as the most holy place in the temples of stone, called the church, the parish church, etc. And the patriarch Gregory, caused the image of the virgin Mary to be carried in procession; and candles were then brought into the temples or churches for Candlemas-day (Cent. Magd. Cent. 5). At that time also, Benedict the Father of Monks, and little Denis the maker of cycles for Easter, are said to live. Thus popery crept gradually into the church by the fall of the stars, angels, ministers, etc.
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
By this [fourth angel] we may understand Gergorius a man of greatlearning who opposed John Bishop of Constantiople; that took the name of universal bishop, (Gegor. Lib. 4, Epist. 32,34,36,38, ad Johnnem Constant Lib. 7, Epist. 30, also Cent. Magd. Cent. 6 cap. 1:7). And other faithful ministers, who opposed innovations in worship, and unsound doctrines at that time. By the sun, moon, and stars, in the heaven of the visible church on earth, we are to understand all sorts of spiritual light, which God hath ordained and set in the church; that is, the Holy Scripture of truth (Ps. 119:105,130). The able ministers of the New Testament (Matthew 5:14). A third part of these were smitten, so that a third part them was darkened. [And the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise]. That is, the gospel light of the Holy Scripture of truth, was darkened by corrupt doctrines and glosses. This mystical eclipse of sun, moon, and stars, did so darken the day, that it, [shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise].
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst, of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhibitors of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the Trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound.
By this [angel,] we may understand Christ or some of his holy angels, or some of his prophetical angels; that is, some of his ministers, or messengers: And for the better understanding of this verse, I shall premise a few things; First, that heaven and earth, in this prophecy, of the Revelation, are often used metaphorically (read Chap. 6:12, 13, 14; 7:1-3; 9:1). Secondly, that the inhabitants of the earth are put in opposition to them that dwell in heaven, (Rev. 12:12). Thirdly, as by [heaven] is meant Sion so by earth we may understand Babylon, (Rev. 15:15,18; 1:2,10). Now I proceed; by the [inhibitors of the earth,] here we are to understand those people who are members of, and continue in the anti-Christian state of the Roman papal church, (called mystery Babylon, Rev. 17:5 the great whore and mother of harlots) both ministers and people, who have been made drunk with wine of her fornications, (Rev.17:1,2), and do worship the beast, or his image (Rev. 13:1,7,8), or received the mark in their forehead, or in their hand. Those are the persons and people against whom these three woes are denounced by Christ and angels, (Rev.18:13; read Rev. 14:9-11). If any man worship the Beast and his Image, and receive his Mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, etc.