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CHAPTER VII.

1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

"After these things I saw."-Happen what may, the saints survive. The great saints? Yea, and the little saints along with them. Saints are all, every one of them "great fishes " drawn ashore at last in the unbroken net of salvation.

"Four angels . . . holding."-A period of suspense, preparation. Suspense is preparation, and should be utilized for preparation. That it should be, attests that it can be. That any one can so use it, certifies that all can. Suspense tempts one to do nothing: it ought contrariwise to stir one up to do everything.

For suspense though it may be prolonged indefinitely must sooner or later terminate; and must be succeeded by we know not what. Had we known what would follow, suspense could not have been suspense.

During suspense we can prepare ourselves for anything, only by preparing ourselves for everything. The prepared man secures "a happy issue" out of suspense whenever and whatever that issue may be. But the unprepared man . . .?

And since "the preparations of the heart in man" are "from the Lord," let us pray with David whose heart indited of good matters: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." For Jesu's sake. Amen.

St. John saw four Angels standing on the four corners of the earth. They would equally have been standing there had he not seen them; and it may be so even now at this present

moment.

Angels see us though we see them not, they hear us though

we hear them not: let it not be that they love us though we love them not.

Whether we love them or not, and even whether we love God or not, they love us so long as God loves us because they are lovely, that is, love-like; and we know Who it is Whose Name is Love.

Glory be to Thee, O Lord God, Glory be to Thee for all created glories, for all ministries of mercy and judgment, for what eye hath seen, and what eye hath not seen, for Angels unfallen, for saints raised up to newness of life, for sinners with the possibilities of saints, for equality with angels accessible to man, for glory differing from glory, for glory that shall be revealed. Glory be to Thee for the Excellent Glory, for our knowledge of Thy Glory in the Face of Jesus Christ; Whom we plead, desiring to live and die unto Thy glory. Amen.

Dear Angels and dear disembodied Saints

Unseen around us, worshipping in rest,
May wonder that man's heart so often faints
And his steps lag along the heavenly quest,
What while his foolish fancy moulds and paints
A fonder hope than all they prove for best ;
A lying hope which undermines and taints

His soul, as sin and sloth make manifest.
Sloth, and a lie, and sin: shall these suffice

The unfathomable heart of craving man,

The heart that being a deep calls to the deep?

Behold how many like us rose and ran

When Christ life-Giver roused them from their sleep

To rise and run and rest in Paradise!

This period of suspense is under one aspect a period of calm the winds being withheld from blowing, earth, sea, and every tree stand still. Wherefore?

While we wait to know, let us practise ourselves in faith. "Be still, and know that I am God."

Lord, grant us calm, if calm can set forth Thee;

Or tempest, if a tempest set Thee forth;

Wind from the east or west or south or north;

Or congelation of a silent sea

With stillness of each tremulous aspen tree.

Still let fruit fall, or hang upon the tree;

Still let the east and west, the south and north,

Curb in their winds, or plough a thundering sea;

Still let the earth abide to set Thee forth,

Or vanish like a smoke to set forth Thee.

Earth with four corners, amenable to four winds and four angels, might seem but a small place.

And earth is small compared with space. And space is small compared with infinity.

Let us not lose our soul to gain the world, that smallest of three areas.

How escape four avenging winds, and four avenging angels? By entrenching ourselves betimes amid the four cardinal virtues Prudence which seeks God while He may be found; Justice whereby (among other functions) man judges self, and so is not judged; Fortitude which even counts it happy to endure; Temperance which strives lawfully, and runs so as to obtain.

2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

All alike angels, each with his particular office to fulfil, talent to use. Four to chastise, one to protect. The angel of protection exercises authority over those his brethren ; salvation must be secured before destruction does its work; mercy delays judgment.

O Christ my God, if I know it not concerning any soul beside mine own, yet concerning mine own soul well know I that mercy delayeth judgment. Well I know it, yet not fully Thou alone fully knowest the length, breadth, depth, height, of Thy mercy towards me; free mercy, renewed mercy, pursuing mercy, beseeching mercy. O my God, let it be prevailing, conquering, triumphant mercy over me, over all, lest we heap up wrath against the day of wrath by means of the longsuffering of Thy mercy: Thou Who camest not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Amen.

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Another angel ascending from the east."-As a star risen in the east manifested Christ, so now an angel rises in the east to manifest them that are Christ's. Instinctively I should picture an angel as descending, and not ascending on earthly embassies; but this angel visibly ascended: the east thereupon emitting a double light; an angel in his brightness; and an illuminating inference, that every Divine errand or calling whithersoever and whatsoever it may be exalts a faithful messenger, a dutiful servant.

To descend penitently into the valley of humiliation, to descend obediently and with a good courage into the valley of the shadow of death, is to ascend the hill of the Lord. To excavate the foundation forwards the erection of the Temple.

"Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up."

"The seal of the Living God."-In Holy Baptism we certainly receive such a seal. But Baptism initiates: this seal seems to stamp the end rather than the beginning. Final perseverance, if it be not itself the seal, appears congruous with it.

To be sealed makes the members so far like their Head : for Christ declared concerning Himself, "Him hath God the Father sealed." Which ineffable sealing I have seen explained as referring to a Jewish custom observed towards the Passover Lambs, according to which they were before sacrifice authoritatively inspected and certified as without blemish.

Whence it would seem that our Lord's "sealing" both attested His perfection and assigned Him to sacrifice. I know not whether a parallel on a lower level may be permitted to apply the same thought to His elect.

There is yet another sealing whereby the Bride prays to be indissolubly united to her Heavenly Bridegroom: "Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm : for love is strong as death." And to this prayer each devoted soul may unblamed frame a parallel: Set Thyself as Seal upon my heart, as Seal upon mine arm; that my love may wax strong as death. Amen.

A SORROWFUL SIGH OF A PRISONER.

Lord, comest Thou to me?

My heart is cold and dead :
Alas that such a heart should be
The place to lay Thy head!

"The Living God."-"As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. . . . As the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." "The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. . . . And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."

"To whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea."Each duty, office, vocation, is God's gift whether to man or to angel. Man indulges ardours and reluctances, choices, recoils and preferences; some gifts he styles trials, some burdens. Angels seem to see and feel no difference between calling and calling, opportunity and opportunity. Angels doubtless

estimate the gift by the Giver: men too often the Giver by the gift; not, that is, by the intrinsic value of the gift, but rather by their own taste or distaste for it.

And indeed to flesh and blood it is in truth an appalling thing to be constituted a rod of God's anger. We shrink from reading of David: "He smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive."

Well may we thank God for our exemptions.

We should naturally expect sooner or later to behold the four Angels execute their charge, perhaps by releasing the four winds. But we read not of the event in any such form. Earth and sea are smitten after a time, but not statedly by those. "Be not wise in your own conceits."

3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

In like manner Sodom and Gomorrah could not be dealt with until righteous Lot" had been rescued: "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. . . The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."

Thus are saints the salt of the earth; preserving it from dissolution. Thus do the blessed meek inherit the earth.

Thus are they, thus do they. Gracious Lord Jesus, let it not be Thy rare saints only who are and do thus, but all souls with them.

"The servants of our God."-It might have sufficed for practical purposes to say simply, The servants of God: but the other is a loving form, and consequently a tongue of Angels.

"In their foreheads."—"Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world," is St. James's declaration. And St. Paul writes more particularly : "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His."

God knoweth His own before they are sealed. The holy Angels who minister to such heirs of salvation must also previ

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