SIX VOLUMES IN ONE BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D. REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada REV. STEPHEN KEENAN REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J. REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
These are the wicked spirits which St. John describes in his Revelation, under the most frightful forms we are able to conceive. " I saw," says he, "a star fall from heaven upon the earth, and there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and the smoke of the pit arose as the smoke of a great furnace ; and the sun and the air was darkened with the smoke of the pit. And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth, and power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads: and it was given to them that they should not kill them; but that they should torment them five months, and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and they shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them. And the shapes of the locust were like unto horses prepared for battle: and on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold; and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women: and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breast-plates as breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails." Apoc. ix. 1-10.
Thus far are the words of St. John. Now what was the design of the Holy Ghost in showing us the greatness of these torments under such terrible representations and figures? What other design could he have, but to let us know, by these dreadful forms, how great the wrath of the Lord will be, what the instruments of his justice, what punishments are to fall on sinners, and what power our enemies are like to have, that the dread of these things might deter us from offending God ? For what star was it that fell from heaven, and had the key of the bottomless pit delivered to it, but that bright angel, who was flung headlong out of heaven into hell, and to whose power the kingdom of darkness was committed ? And what were these locusts, so fierce and so well armed, but the devils his accomplices, and the ministers of his rage? What were these green things, which they were commanded not to hurt, but the just, who flourish by being watered with the heavenly dew of grace, and thus bring- forth the fruits of eternal life ? Who are those that have not the seal of God stamped on them, but such as are destitute of his Spirit, the true and fallible mark of his servants and of the sheep of his flock ? It is against these unhappy wretches the divine justice has raised such forces, that they may be tormented, both in this life and in the next, by those very devils whose service they have preferred, before that of their Creator, as the Egyptians once were by the flies and gnats, which they adored. Add to all this, how dreadful it will be to behold, in this sad place, those hideous and frightful monsters, this devouring dragon, and this writhing serpent. What a horrible sight must it be to see this huge and monstrous behemoth, which is said in the book of Job, to erect his tail like a cedar, to drink up whole rivers, and to devour mountains.