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We find that these gifts are often noted in different scriptures: “And he gave to some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and .some pastors, and teachers." And again, “ All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas;" meaning the different gifts of the ministers of the gospel. The first class in the text, is like a lion,-bold, undaunted, as well as strong. The second like a calf, or a young ox; alluding to the brazen ox under the sea in the temple of Israel, - Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox;" or shalt support the ministry. This second class of these emblems denotes a class of ministers patient, strong, and though not brilliant, yet profitable;-means of great good in God's husbandry. The third emblem, with the face of a man, may denote ministers who are argumentative, deep, perhaps very humane. The fourth like a flying eagle, swift of flight; of piercing vision; passing fearlessly over deserts, mountains, lakes; towering toward heaven, and flying to different regions. This emblem may remind us of the flights of missionaries,—some to the ends of the earth.
Ver. 8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Their six wings a-piece assure us of their alacrity in duty; that true ministers fly in swift obedience to their Lord and master; as saith Isaiah, “Here am I, Lord; send me!” and Paul, “ For the love of Christ constraineth
Their being “full of eyes within,” indicates their gracious self-knowledge, and vigilantly keeping their own hearts, as well as cultivating their mental powers.
Their resting not day nor night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy”-is most significant. They are themselves holy! “Be ye clean, who bear the vessels of the Lord.” One great business of their lives is to proclaim the holy God, and the holiness of God, as well as to call on men to be holy. Let the following hints illustrate this; “I ceased not to warn every man, night and day, with tears. have set watchmen on thy walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace, day nor night.” Their saying, holy, holy, holy, is thought by some to allude to the eternal Three in One, in Hirn who is, and was, and is to come! that each in this infinite Three is superlatively holy!
Ver. 9. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
The ministers of Christ lead in the holy worship of God; and the churches unite in the same, The casting of their crowns at God's feet, denotes their most feeling and devout confession, that all their salvation, from its origin to the crown of glory, is of the most free and sovereign gift of God. One argument used by them is powerful indeed that God made all things, and this according to his own pleasure! While hypocrites and sinners contend with the Divine sovereignty; the true people of God adore him in it, and rejoice that “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”
May ministers and churches be ever deeply impressed with a view of the great exaltation and responsibility of their character and standing. Verily their doties, at such a day as this, are great and urgent! What must the many eyes of the ministers of Christ, (eyes before and behind, and within) discover, at this age of infidelity and of licentiousness! May all Christ's ministers clearly discern the signs of the times—what is doing—and what ought to be done! If ever wakefulness and faithfulness were important, they are now important! In the midst of the terrors of the times, just antecedent to the Millennium, let it be remembered, that faithful ministers and Christ's churches, are round about the throne! God is near, and with them, with the rainbow of his covenant faithfulness, which will not fail of bringing salvation to Zion, and desolation to her enemies. They "that be with us, are more than they that be with them.' “God is our refuge and strength!” May ministers know, and well cultivate their own proper gifts; and not get out of their place, by attempting to fill that of another. Let them be themselves; and not vainly attempt to be other men. Every man has something of his own; which, should another attempt to imitate, it would be disgusting. A lady said to her minister, while making such an attempt,
• What does ail you? I long to see you
act yourself again!” Should the ox attempt to act the lion; or the lion the ox; or both attempt to be a flying eagle; their success would be but miserable. Let each man learn and improve what is his own. And may hearers learn to be content with what they ought; and not be “puffed up for one against another. People who have chosen their minister; if he be a good man, should be content with him, even if he be not a lion, nor a flying eagle. "Much increase is by the strength of the ox. Benefits derived from ministers of this class, may bear the same proportion to the benefits derived from men far more popular, which the increase by the strength of the ox bears to the benefit derived from lions and eagles.
Having thus far exhibited the actors of the scenes to be unfolded; another preparatory scene is now introduced. A lively exhibition must now be given of the fact, that no revelation of mercy could be given from God (after man's apostasy), and no merciful predictions of future events, but by an infinite Mediator. All the gracious communications which had been made in the Old Testament from the beginning, of the doctrines, duties, and motives of salvation in the prophecies and promises, had been made only in anticipation of a Saviour to come. And of this, a clear decision must now be given, before entering on the revelation of scenes of futurity. No such gracious revelation from God to man could have been made, after the fall of man, but through one mighty to save. And a council must here be represented as held in heaven, to see if such a Saviour could be found, and hence such an unfolding of the salvation be made! With this view, we are prepared to attend to this chapter.
Ver. 1. And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals.
God on the throne holds a book in his right hand—a book not of modern, but of ancient form. The form of books in ancient days, was a leaf (either a parchment, or the rind of papyrus, or some fit substance), written sometimes on both sides, as in the case of Ezekiel's roll; but usually on but one side, and rolled up, the writing inward. If they had matter for more than one leaf, they would write it on another leaf, and roll it over the first; then another; and so on, to any amount. Such a book is seen in the right hand of God the Father, consisting of seven leaves, thus written on the inside, rolled over each other, and sealed on the last edge of each leaf, so that it was, in a sevenfold degree, a sealed book.
The text seems to tell us, that each leaf was written on both sides; but the best expositors agree that this is not the sense of the passage. A wrong sense is given by placing a comma in the passage, where it does not belong. The pointing of the Bible is of human invention, and this passage is mistakingly so pointed as to read thus: “written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals!” whereas the true reading is as follows: "written within, and on the back side sealed with seven seals.” The whole account shows this to be the true reading; for the book was sealed, and no part of its writing could have been designed to be seen, till its seal was broken, and its leaf unrolled by a person able to accomplish it. This sealed book was an emblem of events then future, designed for the salvation of the church; and which could be opened only by Christ.
Ver. 2. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3. And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
The question, of infinite interest to a fallen world, was to be decided; could there be, in the case of fallen man, any hope that salvation, and a merciful unfolding of future scenes, could be given? The inquiry seems great and public, made by a strong angel; probably the greatest agent in the intelligent creation ;-q. d. Is any creature in the universe able to open this book? And no one, oudeis in the original), meaning here, no creature in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth;—meaning; living or dead;- no created being in the universe was found able; which amounts to a divine decision; of most unusual formality, to the real and infinite divinity of Christ;
and that none but the infinite Godhead could furnish a Saviour for lost man.
Ver. 4. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Had not one in the infinite Three in heaven been found disposed to undertake, all men must have wept, and wailed, and gnashed their teeth in eternal wo! But infinite wisdom and goodness found and presented one both able and willing to undertake, and to accomplish.
Ver. 5. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
"The Lion of the tribe of Juda." The old rabbinical legend relative to the four standards of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, of which that of Judah was a lion, may, or may not be true. But it is by no means so satisfactory an origin of the figure in the text, as is the following, viz.: Jacob, when he was about to die, and was inspired to foretell the destinations of his sons, speaks of Judah (from whom Christ in his humanity came) as an sold lion!!! This appellation then, naturally descended to Christ;— "the Lion of the tribe of Juda!" One of the elders-representatives of the church on earth-communicates this blessed information of the Saviour. It might seem to human wisdom, as though some favored angel, or at least one of the emblems of gospel ministers, would be commissioned to give this information. But it is otherwise. It must be one of the elders !-a common member of the church! Was this designed to hint that Adam had been the honored agent to give information to his fallen race of the blessed heavenly secret, that a Saviour was found for lost man?—that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head?
Whether this be here meant or not, so the thing was in fact, as we find in the history of ancient Paradise.
Ver. 6. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood