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ing: "If the righteous scarcely are saved, where will the wicked and ungodly appear?"
Finally, let us rejoice that our candlestick is not yet removed; that we enjoy the ordinances of religion; that Jesus again comes to us this day, knocking at the door of our hearts. Oh! may he enable us to open the door, that he may come in and sup with us, and we with him.
LECTURES ON THE APOCALYPSE.
REVELATION, CHAP. IV. and v.
NEVER was a more splendid vision exhibited to mortal than that which was here presented to the beloved disciple. It combines all the terrible majesty which appalled the Israelites, when they stood at the foot of Sinai, with the grandeur and mystic obscurity of the manifestations of Jehovah to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to Daniel: and is rendered more touching and interesting than them all, from the fuller display of redeeming love.
It is the solemn introduction to that part of this book which is more immediately prophetical; and
is intended like the corresponding visions in the Old Testament, to impress the mind of him to whom the revelation is primarily made, and to dispose us to receive the predictions with reverence, and study them with care.
It was exhibited to St. John while he was "in the spirit:" his senses were closed to external objects, and while in a holy rapture, a supernatural ecstasy, these representations were made to him with clearness and force. Heaven appeared to be opened to him; the voice of the Redeemer, which had already been addressed to him in the vision described in the first chapter, again sounded to him like the voice of a trumpet: solemn, loud, and majestic, as that which was once heard on Sinai. He listened with joy to the gracious invitation: "Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must be hereafter."
Before describing the vision, let me repeat the observation I have already made to you: the language of this book, and of prophecy in general, is symbolical; every symbol conveys an important truth; indicates real properties in the object to which it is applied; yet we are not to suppose that it always has its exact external archetype. Thus we have seen that every trait in the hieroglyphic description of the Saviour in the first chapter, gives us instruction as to his character or offices. Thus in the present vision, we rejoice in the certainty of his atonement while he is exhibited as the Lamb that was slain; yet in both instances we are not to imagine that the Saviour appears in these outward forms in the world of glory; and we are to regard those painters who have thus exhibited him, as deficient alike in taste, in elevated views of Jesus, and in a knowledge of the prophetical language. So also it would be ab
surd to suppose that the four living creatures have that external appearance by which their attributes and qualities are symbolically represented.
After this remark, which I pray you to remember, and apply during the whole of these lectures, let us consider the vision itself.
The throne of the great and glorious God was exhibited. There was no definite similitude, no exact form of the Invisible; but a display of his presence far more majestic, glorious, and awful, than in the Shechinah, which in the temple rested between the cherubim. There appeared a splendour which infinitely exceeded the lustre and radiance of the most precious and brilliant gems. I speak thus generally, because I suppose that there are no particular mysteries to be sought in the jasper and sardine, which are peculiarly mentioned. The throne was encompassed with a rainbow of the soft and vivid green of the emerald. The rainbow, as you recollect, was the token of the covenant with Noah: here it surrounds the throne of the eternal Father, and in the tenth chapter we perceivė it encompassing the head of the Redeemer. It teaches us, that the great and glorious Jehovah is our covenant God: it reminds us, that while his majesty and power will be displayed in the punishment of his enemies, he will ever remember the promise and oath of the covenant which assure the happiness of his children: it shows, that though so great, he is still on a throne of grace; that in the midst of his glory he is kind; and that we may look with confidence from those insufferable splendours which dazzle even the seraphim, and oblige them to veil their faces, to this mild and cheering evidence of his tenderness.
Yet lest we should for a moment forget his authority and grandeur, and that with all the confidence derived from covenant relation to him, we might mingle holy awe-" thunderings and lightnings, and" articulate" " voices," proceeded from the throne of Him who, though thus gracious, never ceases to be majestic.
In the midst of this throne of Jehovah appeared the Redeemer, in his mediatorial glory. He was represented under the symbol of a Lamb that had been slain for sacrifice, and who, though alive, bore the marks of recent slaughter, to denote the perpetual efficacy and unfailing virtue. of that atonement which, as our priest, he had made. He had seven horns: the emblem of perfect power, showing his ability, as king of his church, to defend it, and to subdue all its enemies; and seven eyes, to denote that he, the great prophet, has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, a full acquaintance with all the circumstances of his church, a watchful care over it, a knowledge of all things future, and authority to distribute the gifts and graces of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in all their variety and excellence, according to his pleasure.
Immediately before the throne "were seven lamps of fire burning, which are the seven spirits of God." There is an allusion to the seven lamps in the Jewish temple, which were never to be extinguished. We have already shown you, that in this highly figurative book, this phrase expresses the one Holy Spirit of God, whose communications are so manifold, who sheds light, and holiness, and joy, into the souls of all his children; and blesses even the spirits of the just made perfect.
There was also opposite to the throne, "a sea of glass, like unto crystal," similar to the molten sea in the temple, and expressing the same great truths which it represented. The intent of the molten sea was, as you remember, to wash the priests before they offered their sacrifices; and in water drawn from it the sacrifices themselves were washed before they were presented to God. Both it and the sea in the vision represented that blood of the Redeemer, without which neither our persons nor our services could be acceptable. To show the unsullied purity and sinless worship of heaven, that which John beheld was "clear as crystal."
Nearest the throne of God were four living creatures, for thus the word Zwe should uniformly be translated. The description of them is entirely hieroglyphical: they have six wings full of eyes; having respectively the appearance of a lion, a calf or ox, a man, and a flying eagle. This species of figurative representation is, as you have seen, usual among the prophets; and, indeed, was common among all the eastern nations.* But what beings are thus represented here? Not angels, as many have supposed, for these are separately mentioned; but some who have been redeemed from among men, as is evident from the express declaration of their song. They are distinguished also from the general body of the faithful; they are the pious ministers of God; not merely the evangelists, to whom so many painters have applied these symbols, giving the man to Matthew, the lion to Mark, the ox to Luke, and the eagle to John; but the general body to faithful pastors in all ages. They are full of eyes, having
Among a thousand instances of it, none are more striking than the inscriptions on the palace of Persepolis.