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their crowns before the throne,
wings and wheels of the cherubim were full of eyes round about; and in Revelation, the hieroglyphics of the Church were full of eyes before, behind and within. Eyes in prophetic language denote the power of vision concerning spiritual things.beasts The sight of celestial spirits is of things in heaven and on earth, and respects all the providential arrangements to which they have ministered and shall minister: it is perfect in regard to all their services, so that their whole body is full of light. The hieroglyphics of the Church saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, have a retrospective and prospective to receive glory and honor and view; and especially a spiritual dis-power for thou hast created all cernment of the holiness of God, things, and for thy pleasure they as exemplified in his dealings to- are and were created." There is ward each, and all the way by a beautiful propriety in the fresh which he led them in providence and adoration of the 24 elders, when the grace to himself, and all the inward Church, which they had been the operations of the Holy Spirit where- means of gathering, testified of its reby he worked in them mightily to covery to the paradisiacal apprehenwill and do his good pleasure; from sion of the glory of Jehovah. Well which vivid recollections they swell may they renew their worship of the chorus of praise, as they medi- his personal glory, and cast at tate the combined attributes and his feet their crowns of rejoicing, perfections exercised for their re- gemmed like Paul's with the spirits demption, sanctification and final won to God by each prophet and salvation by the three co-equal per- apostle ;P for He only is worthy as sons of the godhead; which, if the Mediator to receive from his Fafour living creatures symbolize the ther (in order to bestow on his Israelite Church, would be expressed people) glory, honor, and power; by Jehovah Elohim Shaddai. inasmuch as he created all things, and for his pleasure they are and were created :”—words used by John i, 3, 10, and by Paul, Col. i, 16-18 in reference to Jesus Christ. Delightful ascriptions of praise! Blessed vision of our Immanuel on the throne of his glory, as living Dispenser of blessings, occupied with the best interests of his redeemed, and alone worthy of the mercies restored for his sake to the believing remnant of a fallen world, -even glory, holiness and dominion, lost by the first Adam and restored
p 1 Thess. ii, 19.
The exulting acclaim of the seraphim (Isa. vi) was directed toward one another, as they ascribed glory to him while considering his being and godhead. But in Revelation the Church adores him in reference to the unity displayed in trinity, for the accomplishment of those purposes for which almighty power was needed, and by which he was proclaimed Jehovah Elohim El Shaddai,—the all-sufficient in justice, power, wisdom, mercy, love and goodness, and that everlast
ingly. For, after the triple ascription, "holy, holy, holy !" the living creatures magnify the Self-existent, who was and is and is to come, the Eternal.
vv. 9-11. And when those give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the 'throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders 'fall down before him that sat on
the throne, and worship him that
I liveth for ever and ever, and cast
in the second! Hence Immanuel is here glorified as Creator of the new creation, which is become the Church triumphant in heaven, and he is worshiped as a Priest upon his throne for his Church, and as God by the incommunicable attribute of self-existence-from everlasting to everlasting.r
With what vivacity is the scenery of the FIFTH CHAPTER brought before us! Here the action of the book begins.
But a difficulty occurs which remains only to be candidly stated and left. The Writer trusts, that, in explaining Revelation by its own light alone, some satisfactory views may be unfolded; yet never can the finite mind comprehend all that the infinite mind has revealed; nor go beyond the point up to which the Holy Spirit is pleased to guide it. There it becomes us with all humility to sink into our own nothingness, and adore the depths we cannot fathom and the heights we cannot attain to; but which should not deter us from meditating as deeply, and soaring as high, as we are enabled to do.
The first words of this chapterAnd I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book, &c."-indicate a continuation of the vision and its scenery for the purpose of adding those particulars, on account of which the representation was vouchsafed. Now by comparing
chap. iv, 1, with chap. i, 10, we find the voice to be that of the Son of Man; and his promise to shew future events accords with chap. i, 1.
He was to look upon, &c." and therefore visible: but the Father is visible only in the person of the Son,
who is the King of glory, and the express image of his Father's per'son ;" and who alone renders visible the invisible, and who says, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" i.e. as much as mortal can receive of the manifestation ; for "no man hath seen (or can see) God at any time."
Again, he who sits on the throne is encircled by the rainbow; as in parallel visions of the Son of God.s
Still, without stating the Father's presence on the throne, (except it be understood that He never removes thence in respect to his dealings with the children of men,) yet the person who sat on the throne held the book in which futurity was depictured to man; and the Mediator, who stood in the midst of the throne": -surrounded as before by the elders and the living creatures, in his characteristics of the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb of God-took the book. It is manifest that the act of one taking it from the right hand of the other infers the presence of two persons; and to be at that right hand is the post of our merciful High Priest and Intercessor,t who prevails with the Father to bestow all needful knowledge and gifts on his redeemed.
* There is a difference of expression in reference to him who sat on the throne, and to the Lamb who "stood in the midst of the throne," compare iv, 9, 10; v, 6, 7, 13; vi, 16 and vii, 10. But while this difference expresses the distinctness of persons in united supremacy, it does not set aside the reasons formerly given from parallel Scriptures why the Son appears to be meant throughout chap. iv. Again in v. 1, he promised by the divine prescience to shew things future: and chap. v, 5 he prevailed to open the book in his mediatorial character.
a Compare Ps. lxxii, 1, 11 with Phil. xii, 10, and Matt vii, 11. xiii, 8. t Heb. viii, 1.
s Ez. i, 28.
r Heb. vii, 25 and
The only further remark ventured is that John, as a Hebrew seer and prophet, was accustomed to contemplate the perfect unity of both persons in whatever concerns the covenant of grace and their equal supremacy on the throne, as in Rev. xxii, 1—4. He was accustomed also to such a peculiarity of language respecting it, as occurs Zech. ii, 8; xii, 10; xiv, 5—“ They shall look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him.—The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee," &c. The mental transition from one to the other person in the divine Unity, did not require in a Hebrew seer to be signified by words. The vision in this chapter resembles that in Dan. vii, in that the Son of Man came to the Ancient of days who sat on the throne; &c. just as here the sealed book is taken by the Lamb out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
v. 2. John was made sensible of the angel's inquiry, “ Who is worthy to open the book?" that the alone worthiness of the only Mediator between God and man might be avouched; for no man in heaven or earth, i.e. no created being in the universe, has merited to disclose the contents of the sealed book. No eye but that of God can of itself behold things to come. Christ is God, or he would not be able to be able to open or look on the book," (v. 4)
for the purpose of disclosing these visions of futurity. Man vainly frets about them, as did John; but cannot discover what concerns the next moment, except as it is partially revealed to the spiritual eye by this "Revealer of secrets," the righteous Advocate, who hath prevailed to open and loose the seals Daniel had of the awful volume.* some glimpses of it vouchsafed to him; but though Gabriel was commanded to give him understanding of some of its mysteries, he was ordered to shut up the words and seal the book till the time of the end." When that time should come, “knowledge would be increased and the wise understand;" which refers to the book then sealed.
Now He, who in the united natures is above all creatures, doth nevertheless open the book as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root, (i. e. origin and sustainer) of David; in which observe, that the nationality of the people who are to have "the first dominion" is for his sake never forgotten: "Salvation is of the Jews," because He took on Him the seed of Abraham, and sprang from the tribe of Judah ' and the family of David."
u Chap. xii, 4, 9.
Verses 6, 7 indicate his having prevailed by the merit of his blood, under the anointing which he received as man from the sevenfold influences of the Holy Ghost, who is inseparably one with him in the di
* From this roll the Spirit of prophecy had given various extracts, as it were, to Moses and the prophets, respecting those particulars which they were commissioned to reveal in various ways to their own and each succeeding age, Thus the whole is given in the Bible, "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." So that if mortal mind could gather all up into one view, we should see the scheme of revelation as it regards all mankind for the glory of God; though worlds on worlds-eternity past! eternity to come !—would still remain beyond our ken. But who is sufficient to hang all the prophecies on just that part of the vast frame-work of this Revelation to which each properly belongs? When his kingdom shall come, those who will be raised up in spiritual bodies, like Jesu's glorious body, will delight with all angels to look into these mysteries.
vine nature, and sent forth from the Father and the Lamb. He, who on earth walks amidst the seven golden candlesticks, stands in the midst of the throne of God, (the attitude denoting that he is executing his Father's will,v) surrounded by the living creatures and the elders, wearing the appearance of a Lamb as it had been slain," or offered in sacrifice. For the value of this sacrifice, thus presented before God continually, our high Priest receives all power in heaven and earth for his people's benefit. "Yet have I anointed my king upon my holy hill of Zion.*" -This plenitude of power is denoted by his seven horns, which are the symbol of dominion;w and the seven eyes, (a symbol of spiritual vision,) denote that, as prophet of his Church, he is anointed by the Spirit without measure; an expression which declares his infinity, since only he who is infinite can receive with out measure" the influences of the infinite Spirit. Those eyes raining heavenly influences, as upon Peter; those eyes, as a flame of fire; those eyes discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart, searching the reins of the children of men ; go forth into all the earth :" consequently consequently omniscience and omnipresence, the attributes of the godhead, are ascribed to " the Lamb slain." What a glorious object! In the midst of the throne of deity, surrounded by the elders and the Church, stands its sacrificial Lamb, as its High Priest, King and Prophet; having, as its Mediator, plenitude of power, and
v Isa. iii, 13; Dan. xii, 1; xvi, 9; Zech. iii, 9; iv, 10.
being filled with the Eternal Spirit, omniscient and omnipresent!—Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, we worship thee as God over all, blessed for ever!
Verse 7 agrees with chap. i, 1. For as it is there stated, that God gave the revelation to Jesus Christ to show to his servants; (i.e. in the economy of grace, wherein each person of the covenant Three has his peculiar office ;) so here he came and took the book out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
v, 8. For this "the living creatures and the elders," the Israelite Church with her priests under both dispensations, (to whom God said of old, Ye are my witnesses !") mingle in perfect concord of praise before the Lamb, all being made kings and priests unto God, "every one" having his harp attuned to join the choral symphony; and golden vials full of odors, even the prayers offered by those separated unto God on earth. These are acknowledged as sweet incense in heaven itself, all accepted, and all remembered and answered in the beatific vision : for He put their tears into his bottle, and wrote in his book of remembrance the repentance they evinced.y Observe !-all honour the Son even as they honour the Father. So also Phil. ii, 9-11.
* See the Hebrew in Psalm ii, 6, which confines that prophecy to Messiah: for David was not anointed in Zion; and Solomon's reign could not be characterized by verse 9.
Acts vii, 56. w Luke i, 69; Heb. iii, 4. x 2 Chron. y Ps. lvi, 8, 9
+ If Isaiah xxxvii, 4, 31, 32, be thought to refer only to a past deliverance, Isa. x, 20-22 and xi, 11-16 certainly refer to that yet future, when the Lord shall set his hand a second time for the recovery of the remnant from all the tribes, as from
"scattered in the cloudy and dark day," that are symbolized by the living creatures.
Comparing however this vision with chap. xiv, 1-4 the difficulty returns, whether they do symbolize the Israelite Church, or the elect Gentiles; because the 144000 of the twelve tribes sing a new song before the four living creatures and the elders, and are thus distinguished from them. (See chap. vii, 4, and xiv, 3.) Indeed this song of Moses and of the Lamb is said to be one which none could learn but the 144000 redeemed from out of the (Roman) earth. Such was the song prepared for literal Israel "in that day" for in Isa. xii, 4, they declare his doings for them among the peoples, and are the remnant for whom the highway to God is cast up, as it was in the day they came out of Egypt. So in Rev. xv, 1-4 they are distinguished from the nations who shall worship God, and seem to be the same as the living creatures, one of whom gives the seven vials to the angels,—and with peculiar propriety, because they pour out the wrath decreed for Israel's wrongs.a In chap. vii, 9 the number of elect Gentiles is indefinitely great; whereas the number from all the tribes of Israel is appropriately specific, v. 4. The very propriety of this circumstance, in regard to both, indicates who they are.
Who then are these 144000? what portion of them are symbolized by the living creatures? and why distinguished from them in chap. xiv, where they are represented as singing the same song as in chap. xv? All were redeemed; and all the re
z Isa. lxv, 9, 22; Ezek. xxxiv, 5–31. xliv, 22. c Lev. xvii, 11 with Zech. ix,
deemed of Israel are symbolized in chap. v, as glorifying God for that redemption. They were They were the first fruits unto God and the Lamb." After the four heathen empires are brought forward in chap. vi, the Gentile multitudes gathered out of them are, with scriptural exactitude, introduced in chap. vii.
Is it any help toward solving the difficulty, that in Isa. Ixvi, 5-23 a part of restored Israel is selected to bring their brethren back to declare the glory of God to those Gentiles, who up to that period will not have heard his fame or seen his glory?—Again, is it a help, that in Ezek. xliv, 10 to 16 the sons of Zadoc are selected from the Levites to draw nearest to his table, enter into his sanctuary and offer the offerings, &c. I think this I think this may be the solution: nor let any hesitate about the renewal of sacrifices; for, as literal Israel was chosen to offer those which were prefigurative of the only true sacrifice which has been offered once for all; so the Spirit of God by Ezekiel positively appoints others, after the return of the glory of Jehovah to dwell in the midst of his people, and which may be deemed commemorative of that one atonement by which all the mercies of God were recovered for his people.
Verses 9, 10 suggest two remarks. First, the substance of the new song is, Glory to the Lamb for shedding his blood for the ransom of his people. people. Thus Jehovah in view of his everlasting counsel for "Jacob and Israel" declares, "I have blotted out your transgression,"b i.e. by the blood of the covenant.c Observe the words "" us," and "out of." All
Egypt first. (so Isa. xi, 16.) See also Jer. xxiii, 3—9; xxxi, 7, 8; Amos ix, 1115; Mic. ii, 12, 13, iv, 7 and v, 7, 8; Zech. viii, 11-13; Ps. ix, 27, 28.
b Isa. xliii, 25 and
a Zeph. ii, S-11. 11 and Heb. x, 29.