And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,…
I. THE STATE OF SOCIETY AT THE TIME.
II. THE NATURE OF THIS VISITATION.
1. It is evoked by a cry out of the four horns of the altar. It comes from the immediate presence of God, and therefore with the sanction of God. The call itself is the common voice of all four of the horns of the altar, indicating the energy and the universality of the demand for vengeance, and of that vengeance itself. The implication is that God's appointed way of forgiveness has been set aside; that the Divine system of gracious atonement and salvation has been rejected, and that the wickedness of earth has risen so high, especially in point of antagonism to the Cross, that even the altar itself, which otherwise cries only for mercy, is forced into a cry for vengeance.
2. The command issues to the angel who sounds this trumpet. The command itself is the command of the contemned Saviour. But it is addressed to the angel. He obeys it as his Divine commission, and thus presides over the administration ushered in by his trumpet. He looses the imprisoned forces, and sets them free for action.
3. Other angels are the more direct executors of the woe. Some have taken these to be good angels. I do not so regard them. Good angels are free, not bound. Good angels would not destroy men, except by special command of God; but these had only to be loosed, and they at once rushed forth for slaughter, impelled to the dreadful business by their own malicious nature. They were bound in mercy to our race, and here they are let loose in judgment. Their number also indicates the universality of their operations.
4. The moment the four bound angels are released from their constraint, hosts of death-dealing cavalry overrun the earth. As there are infernal locusts, so there are infernal horses; and as the former were let forth to overrun the world with their torments under the fifth trumpet, so the latter are let forth to overrun the world with still more terrible inflictions under the sixth.
5. Fearful havoc of human life is made by these infernal horses. To say nothing of the dread and horror which their presence inspires, and the confusion which their advent strikes into every department of society, it is here written, that, by these horses, one out of every three of the whole human family is killed, destroyed from the face of the earth.
6. The continuance of this plague is equally extraordinary.
7. The object of this woe is partly retributive and partly reformatory. It belongs to the judicial administrations of the great day. It is God's terrific judgment upon the world, which has disowned allegiance to Him, and rejected the mediation of His Son. It is the righteous indignation of outraged justice which can no longer endure the superlative wickednesses of men. And yet, in wrath God remembers mercy. He suffers on]y one-third of the race to fall a prey to this tremendous woe. He delighteth not in the death of the wicked, but would rather that they should turn from their evil ways and live.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,