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“ government. And, as there were many impora " cant reasons which induced him to suit the ad“ministration of the church to these changes in “ the civil conftitution, this necessarily introduced “ among the bishops new degrees of eminence and “ rank.” Then to the end of that paragraph are enumerated the various ranks introduced among the clergy at this time, viz. Patriarchs, Exarchs, Archa bishops, &c. ,
Pages 206, 207. “No sooner had Constantine " the Great abolished the superstitions of his ancef" tors, than magnificent churches were every “ where erected for the Christians, which were “ richly, adorned with pictures and images, and “ bore a striking resemblance of the Pagan tem" ples, both in their outward and inward form. “Of these churches, fome were built over the “ tombs of martyrs, and were frequented only at “ stated times, while others were fet apart for the “ ordinary assemblies of Christians in divine wor“ ship. The former were called Martyria, from “ the places where they were erected, and the “ latter Tituli. Both of them were consecrated “ with great pomp, and with certain rules bor“ rowed mostly from the antient laws of the Roman . “ pontiffs. But our wonder will not cease here, “ it will rather be augmented, when we learn, " that at this time, it was looked upon as an essen" tial part of religion to have in every country a VOL. I.
“ multitude of churches; and hence the true and “ only origin of what is called the right of patro, “ nage, which was introduced among Christians “ with no other view, than to encourage the opu. .“ lent to erect a great number of churches, by giv. “ing them the privilege of appointing the minif“ ters that were to officiate in them. This was a **new instance of that servile imitation of the an“ tient superstitions which reigned at this time; for “ it was a very common notion among the people " of old, that nations and provinces were happy "" and free from danger, in proportion to the num“ber of fanes and temples which they confecrat. "ed to the worship of gods and heroes, whose pro“tection and succour could not fail, as it was " thought, to be shed abundantly upon those who “ worshipped them with such zeal, and honoured " then with so many marks of veneration and ref« pect. The Christians unhappily contracted the “fame erroneous way of thinking. The greater “ the number of temples was, which they erected " in honour of Christ and his chosen friends and “ followers, the more fanguine did their expec. " tations grow of powerful fuccours from them, and *" of a peculiar interest in the divine protection. ; " They were so weak as to imagine, that God,
" Christ, and celestial intelligences, were delighted “ with those marks and testimonies of respect, which * captivate the hearts of wretched mortals.".
Verses 4th, 5th, 6th, 71h, 8th.—And I heard the number of them which were sealed ; and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Afer were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were fealed twelve thousand. If the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of lfachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulun were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
In these verses, we have an account of the ser. vants of God who were sealed. They are said to be of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was of old the people or church of God. During the time that Israel was the church of God, the limits of his church were comparatively very contracted,
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Hence, Israel is the symbol for the Christian church during its comparatively contracted state, previous to the millennium ftate, when Jew and Gențile shall be brought into the Christian church, and when all the kingdoms of the world shall be. come the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, Rom. ix. 6.“ They are not all Israel who are of Il“ rael.” Rom. xxviii. 29. “He is not a Jew, “ which is one outwardly; but he is a Jew, which ” is one inwardly.”
That these twelve tribes, do not here signify literally the twelve tribes of Israel, but symbolically Christian churches, appears not only from the language of prophecy, which is fymbolical ; not only from the connection of the following and preceding parts of this vision; but also from this circumstance, that the twelve tribes, enumerated in these verses, do not correspond, either in all the particular tribes, or in the arrangement of them, to the twelve tribes of Israel, among whom the land of Canaan was divided. In that partition, Reuben was named first, because he was the oldest. Here Judah is named first, because the tribes of ffrael represent Christian churches, and Christ, their head, and from whom they derive the name of Christian, came of the tribe of Judah. In the partition of the land of Canaan, Levi had no portion, excepting only the Levitical cities and their suburbs, because Levi was to wait on the altar, and to live by the altar.
But here Levi is mentioned as a tribe, because the Levites, or priests under the law, are the propersymbolical representatives of Christians, who are denominated priests unto God, and who look not for a temporal, but a spiritual inheritance.
As the two sons of Joseph were ranked among the tribes of Israel, in place of their father, and as Levi is mentioned here, there would have been thirteen tribes, if one of the antient tribes of Israel had not been omitted in the verses now under our view: But the tribe of Dan is omitted here. And the leaving out of this particular tribe, serves still farther to confirm the interpretation given of this symbol. For Dan very early went in quest of a worldly inheritance, out of his proper district; and apoftatised to idolatry, as is narrated, with many particular and striking circumstances, throughout the whole xviii. chapter of the book of Judges. He was therefore an improper representative of a Christian church, and rather a representative of an Antichristian one, by his fondness for a worldly inheritance, and his proneness to idolatry. Of all the tribes of Israel, only one is omitted; and that one had apoftatised to idolatry. And though there are scme servants of God sealed in every one of the other twelve tribes, no whole tribe .is sealed.
Twelve thousand are sealed out of every tribe. We are not to imagine, that the exact same number of individuals shall be sealed in every tribe or Chris