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: CHA P. V.
Verse 1f. AND I saw in the right hand of
n him that fat on the throne, a book written within, and on the back side, sealed with seven seals. I
This book was in the form of the antient rolls. Though the rolls were frequently, like this book, written within and on the back side ; yet, as they were rolled round a piece of timber and sealed at the end, though detached words were seen, as several words could not be seen in their regular order, it was impossible to perceive the meaning of a single sentence, while the roll was wrapped round the piece of timber and sealed at the end. Let any person wrap a roll of paper round a piece of timber, in the way in which these antient rolls were wrapped, and he shall find it impossible for him to read a single sentence of it, though written on the back fide as well as within. In Ezek. ii. 9. 10. a roll of a book is said to be written within and without.
The hieroglyphic in this verse is a very singular and uncominon one. A book received from God is the symbol of a revelation from God committed to
writing, Jer. xxxvi. 2. Ezek. ii. 9. But as this book is still in the hand of God, and sealed with seven feals, its contents are known to none but God.
The book too is written within and on the back fide, that is, it is entirely filled up. No new revelation is to be added to it. This looks like a pa. radoxical hieroglyphic, a complete revelation committed to writing, to which nothing is to be added; and yet known to God only. This book is sealed with seven seals. Probably these feals were not all fixed at the end of the roll; but every one of them at a different part of it, in the following manner: So much of the roll was wrapped round the piece of timber, and then a seal was placed upon it; so much more, and then a second seal; so much more, and then a third seal; and so on until all the seven seals were placed upon it at proper distances; and the seventh seal was placed upon and closed up the end of the roll.
When the seal, which is at the end of the roll, which, in the opening is called the first seal, is opened, and so much of the roll is unwrapped as is contained between that one and the second seal, the contents of that first part of the roll may be seen and read, In like manner, the second is opened, and so on to the seventh.
This book is said to be sealed with seven seals, because it is divided into seven distinct predictions, as shall appear in the opening of these seven seals.
This This number has also a reference to the seven ages, into which the greatest part of the duration of the world is divided, as shall afterwards appear when I consider these ages. Seven, too, the symbol of perfection, signifies that this book was so perfectly sealed up, before the days of the apostle John, that no creature could open it, and look into its contents.
But what is the particular book which exactly corresponds to all the parts of this paradoxical hieroglyphic? It is the book of the prophecies of Daniel so far as it relates to the Roman empire, under its heathen and papal heads, and to the church of Christ; particularly chap. vii. 77–28. and chap. xii. In these passages are contained all the predictions, which are more fully illustrated in the whole book of the Revelation, from the beginning of chap. vi. to the end of the book, as shall appear as we proceed in the commentary. Hence as nothing is added to it, in this last written revelation of God's will, it agrees to the first character of the book in this verse, that it is written within and on the back side.
It is also a book, for it was a written revelation from God in the days of Daniel, many hundred years, before John saw this vision. But though it was a revelation from God committed to writing; yet it was in the days of John still a sealed book in the hand of God. Neither Daniel himself nor a
ny other man or creature knew its meaning. Da. niel not only tells us that he knew not the meaning of the things which he saw and wrote in his book, but that by the divine command they were sealed up, and were to continue so until the time of the gospel dispensation. He thus expresses hiniself, chap. xii. 8, 9. “And I heard but understood s not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the “ end of these things? And he said, go thy way “ Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till " the time of the end. The time of the end, which is frequently mentioned in sacred writing, signifies the same thing with those expressions, which also frequently occur in sacred scripture, the last times, and the fullness of times. All these fignify the time of the gospel dispensation, which commenced with the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and ends with the consummation of all things, or Christ's delivering up the mediatorial kingdom unto God the Father. This period is stiled the last times, the fulness of times, and the time of the end, because, though there were several times or dispensations of religion, before it, such as first that of Adam in paradise, second the patriarchical dispenfation, and third the Mosaic dispensation; there Thall be no dispensation of revealed religion, in this world, after it. This difpenfation is the time of the end.
This book is in the right hand of him who fat on the throne. The right hand is the symbol of wil.
dom, dexterity, and power. By this fymbol it is declared that all the things predicted in this book are di&tated by the unerring wisdom, and, in spite of all oppofition, shall be exactly accomplished by the almighty power of God. In fact, these parts of the prophecy of Daniel remained sealed up, until the time of the gospel dispensation, when the book of the Revelation was written by John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in order to open up the sealed book of Daniel,
Verse 2d. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
An ångel fignifiés à messenger of God to men, whether that messenger is one of the celestial spirits, one of the sons of men, or a particular event in the course of his providence.
The angel mentioned here, appears to me, to have been the prophet Daniel. He was so frequently employed as a messenger of God to men, that he might well have been stiled an angel. He anxiously desired to know the meaning of these sealed visions, chap. xii. 8, 9. He says " And I “heard, but I understood fot; then said I, O my " Lord, what shall be the end of these things ? * And he said, go thy way Daniel ; for the words