Page images
[ocr errors]

Sabbath of the whole earth. In allusion to the same things seven signifies perfection. On the sea venth day God had perfectly finished the works of creation. Before atonements, consecrations, or luftrations could be perfected under the law of Moses, the guilty person, the person or thing to be con fecrated, and the impure person, were to be sprinkled seven times. When an Hebrew forfeited his liberty, seven years perfected his Navery. He must have been set free at the Sabbatical year. When an Hebrew alienated his landed property, seven times seven years perfected the period of its aliention, and it returned to him or his heirs, clear of all incumbrances, at the year of Jubilee. Seven Chiliads too, shall perfect the ages of the World; in so far that, though the world shall continue for some time after the end of the seventh Chiliad, yet not so long, in all probability, as to make up another age, as shall afterwards be shewn in its proper place. Though the ages of the world are fixed in scripture, yet not the precise time of its dissolution. “ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, “ not the angels of heaven.” Hence in the symbolical language the seven spirits, is of the same import with, The Holy and perfect Spirit : an appellation which in the full sense of the words can apply to that Spirit only who is God. Rev. xv. 4. It is faid " Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and “ glorify thy name? for thou 'only art boly.And


certainly absolute perfection is to be attributed to God only.

· As in this verse John prays for grace and peace for the seven churches; and as the symbolical description of the holiness and perfection of the divine Spirit is taken from the legal purifications appointed for finful men, and from the completion of the ages of the world; by the appellation of the Jever fpirits, it is intimated that the divine fpirit perfectly purifies men from fin, by renewing them in the spirit of their mind. “ That they are chosen " to salvation through fanctification of the spirit :" That his gifts and operations are fully equal to all the ages and countries of the world, and particu. larly to the number and situations of all the seven churches in Asia, for whom John here prays for grace and peace.

“ Before the throne,” refers to the vision in verse 5th chap. iv. which shall be explained in its place. The Son of God, is filed, “ Jesus Christ, who is " the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the “ dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth." The whole of this name as applied to the Son of God is fymbolical, even the well known and common appellation Jesus Christ. He is called, Jesus, (which fignifies a faviour) because he saves his people from their fins, and Christ (which fignifies anointed) because he is the Lord's anointed, he is the Melliah. “ The faithful witness," It is the


peculiar office of Christ faithfully to reveal the will of God to men. Mat. xi. 27. “ Neither knoweth

“ any man the Father, save the Son, and he to .." whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Before

Pilate Jesus faith, John xviii. 37. “To this end was • 1 born and for this cause came I into the world, “ that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every “ one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

As the revealer of the will of God, it seems to me that he was stiled, The Word of God, even before his incarnation. A word reveals or makes known to those who hear it the mind of the person whose word it is. Hence whatever makes known the mind of God is called the word of God. Thus sacred feripture is called the word of God; and, on this account it appears to me, that the Son of God is called the Word of God. John i. 1. “ In " the beginning was the Word, and the Word was 66 with God, and the Word was God." This is the prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up from among the Jews like unto him. .

" And the first begotten of the dead.” The words in the original are προτοτοκτος εκ των νεκρων, which should have been translated, “ The first born of, or on account of, the dead.” In the epifle to the Colossians chap. i. 18. Jesus is stiled the first born from the dead, which, in the original, is the very fame with the words in this verse. To thew us that he who is thus called the first born of the


dead is true God, it is said verses 16, 17, of that chapter; “ For by him were all things created " that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible " and invisible, whether they be thrones, or domi“ nions, or principalities, or powers, all things were "created by him and for him, and he is before all “things, and by hiin all things. confift.”

In the patriarchal age, the first born was the priest of his family; and under the Mofaic difpensation, the first born were virtually the priests; because God expressly declares, Numb. iii. 11, 12, 13. that he took the Levites for his priests instead of the First Born. By the dead we are to understand those who are spiritually dead : those who in the language of scripture " are dead in trespasses and “ fins. For to be carnally minded is death." Hence the first born of the dead, is the priest of those who were spiritually dead. Jesus is our great High Priest. But his priestly office was rendered neceffary only by the fin and depravity of man. If men had not been guilty, there would have been no need for Christ as their priest, to take away their sin by the one sacrifice of himself. If men had been pure they could have approached immediately, in acts of devotion, to a pure God; and therefore would not have needed Christ to intercede with God for them, as their priest. The Apostle gives us a full account of the priestly office of Christ in the epistle to the Heb. chap. vii. 17, 28.

" And


" And the prince of the kings of the earth.” By the kings of the earth, we are to understand not only all the kings of the earthi in general, but especially all the kings and emperors of the Roman empire, in its heather, and in its papal state, with all the separate kingdoms into which it hath been divided in that last state. The prophet Da. niel predicted the rise, the decline and downfall of the Roman empire, as the laft of the four kingdoms which should bear rule over all the earth, in chap. č. 31,-43. And then in the 44th verse, he foretold that the God of heaven should set up a kingdom, even Christ's kingdom, which should destroy all these kingdoms and continue for ever. “ And in " the days of these kings shall the God of heaven “ set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroy. " ed : and the kingdom shall not be left to other “ people, but it shall break in peices, and consume “ all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." The same predi&tion is more fully explained in the feventh chapter of Daniel's prophecies. In the 13th and 14th verses of that chapter, he thus prea dicts and represents Christ by his well known name The Son of Man, as the prince of the kings of the earth : “ I saw in the night visions; and be“ hold one like the Son of Man came with the " clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of " days, and they brought him near before him. " And there was given him dominion, and glory, and

« PreviousContinue »