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to be indefinite; and hence, according to the construction of the Greek verbs, cides is in the aorist. The various visions which were made to John, he was to write exactly as they appeared to his mind. Whether he understood the real meaning of the .visions, or not, he was not to make the smallest alteration, in his written account of them, from that appearance, which, at the time of the visions, they had to his mind. In obedience to this command, he wrote down these visions just as they stand in this book of the Revelation ; which visions, as we proceed, shall appear to make up the greatest part of it.
The following part of verse 19th runs thus in the original; xal d 4101, xoi ci permet yeres bar METEL T&UTC, and should have been thus translated, (as every one acquainted with the Greek language must know): “ Even the things which at present exist, " and the things which shall come into existence " after these;" that is, the visions relate to the present state of the Christian church, and of the world as connected with it, and also to those erents relative to both, which have not taken place yet, but which, in the course of divine providence, shall rise into exiitence, in regular succession, from the present moment to the diffolution of this earth.
Accordingly, some of the visions represent the things which existed in the days of John, about
the year of Christ, ninety five, when this vision was made to him. Such, for instance, as the first vi. fion recorded in this chapter, verses 12,-16. which related to the then present state of the seven Christian churches in Asia. The state of these churches, at that time, is delineated in the seven epistles addressed to them, and contained in chap. ii. and iii. The first seal also relates to the things which are; and all the other visions predict the various events, which, in regular succession, were to happen to the church of Christ, and the kingdoms of the world, as connected with it, to the end of this world. :
Such was the command given to John; and such is the great division of this book. As we proceed, I trust, it shall appear, that he hath faithfully executed this command; and that this book exactly corresponds to this division. He is commanded, in particular, at this time, to write the mystery of the seven stars, which he saw in Christ's right hand, and the seven golden candle. sticks.
Verse 20th, 2d claufe.- The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches ; and the seven candlesticks; which thou saweft, are the seven churches.
In this verse, Jesus explains the mystery, or hieroglyphical meaning, of the seven stars, which John saw in his right hand, and of the seven candlesticks. He plainly tells him, that the seven stars are the angels of the seven Christian churches in Afia, particularly enumerated in the 11th verse; and that the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. The angels are the ministers of these churches. 'Ayyeros, the word translated angels, signifies messengers, those who carry a message from one person to another. It is commonly used to signify that order of heavenly fpirits, who are employed as the messengers of God; who, not from any thing peculiar in their nature, but from the nature of their office, are stiled angels. Hence any person, or even event or thing, that is employed as an instrument to carry the messages of God to men, is called an angel; as shall appear in the course of this book. The peculiar and official work of a minister of the gospel, is to deliver to the church the messages of God. He is to preach to them, not the commandments of men, as doctrines, but only the doctrines of the gospel of Christ, as they are taught by God, in those scriptures, which “ are given by inspiration of God, and are profi“ table for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, " and for instruction in righteousness, that the “ man of God, (or meslenger of God), may be “ perfect, throughly furnished unto all good
“ works." The gospel fignifies good tidings, as it was originally denominated by the angel who proclaimed the birth of Christ, and the introduction of the gospel into the world, Luke ii. 10.
The connection between the import of the word, angel, and the work of a minister of the gospel, is very close, and must be very striking to those who are acquainted with the Greek language, the language in which the New Testament was written. In the 2d chapter and Ioth verse of Luke's gofpel history, when the angel said, as in our translation, “ I bring you good tidings,” it is in the original, ayyeros túayyenilovas, which, translated lite. rally, is, “ And the angel said, I act the part of “ a good angel, or messenger.”
That the angels of the churches are the minifters of these churches, is further evident from the fymbol by which they are represented, even a star. In the symbolical language, a star always signifies a minister of religion. We shall frequently meet with this fymbol, in this book, and in every place find that it is of the same signification.
In the symbolical language, seven candlesticks fignify seven churches. We cannot err in explaining the meaning of the hieroglyphics used in this first vision, because a plain explanation of them is given by Christ himself. Yet, as the same symbolical language runs through all the other visions in this book, and as the meaning of G 2
the the symbols is not explained in every one, though it is in several of them, but is to be learned only from a knowledge of the symbolical language, it will be highly proper, that I make a few explanatory observations on the hieroglyphics used in this vision.
As the symbolical language was invented in a very early and simple stage of civil society, the resemblance between the symbol, and the thing sig. nified, must always be obvious and striking, and never far-fetched or whimsical. Let us examine the symbols in this vision upon this principle. These we shall examine with peculiar advantage, because Christ hath told us their meaning before. hand. He hath done so, probably for this reason among others, that, with the more certainty, in the entry of this book, we might discover the key to the language in which it is written.
The personage, whom John faw, was “like unto “ the Son of man;" a name by which Christ, in consequence of his having assumed the human nature, is well known in fcripture; a name by which he was pointed out, in the vision which Daniel saw, chap. X. 16. “ Clothed with a garment “ down to the foot, and girt about the paps with “ a golden girdle; his eyes were as a flame of fire, “ and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burn“ ed in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of 4 many waters." This is the very dress and ap