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Thus opens the great theatre of heavenly visions, to which the holy seer St. John was raised by a second ecstacy. The Lord Jesus raised the curtains, and the Churches beheld the most exalted and interesting scenesthe tabernacle of God with men. How marvellous is his loving kindness, in discovering such divine things to mor- ' tal man ! Let earth and heaven raise one chorus, to magnify his name.
Verse 2. I was in the spirit. St. John had returned from his first vision, where he beheld Christ in the midst of the golden candlesticks, with seren stars in his right hand, in order to write the seven charges. His mind was now again wichdrawn from all visible objects, and fixed .by the command of a clear, loud, and sonorous voice, as of a trumpet; so that it appeared to him, as if his soul was transported into heaven, where he beheld the profound mysteries of eternity. .
A throne was set in heaven. There certainly is no throne in heaven, upon which God should sit. A throne is an emblem of power, authority and government. This throne denotes the supreme dominion, which God exercises over the world in his Church. It is not the eternal throne of his Godhead, from which he gives laws to the Universe ; but that, which was set at the creation, in establishing his Church on this earth. This is the archetype to the throne of God in the temple at Jerusalem, Isa. vi. 1. Jer. xvii. 12. and in the tabernacle, where he dwelled between the cherubims, Ps. xcix. 1. 1 Sam. iv. 4. Job i. 6. 1 Kings xxii. 19. revealed himself to Moses, and in succeeding times, answered the questions of the high priest concerning church and state. Exod. xxv. 17. The original word čxeito, from xeiuant, signifies to lay down, to place along, by which the size of this throne is intimated, as being very large and broad; and accordingly he who sat on it, though in human form, far exceeded the size of a man. The Lord is in his holy temple in Zion; let all the earth
keep silence before Him, Habak. ii. 20. He dwelleth under the praises of Israel: declare among the people his doings.. Ps. xxii. 3. ix. 11. .
Verse 3. And he that sat was like a jasper and a sardine stone. He that sat on this throne is God the Father, the Ancient of days, in distinction from the Lamb, which was in the midst of the throne, and from the Holy Ghost, who is represented by seven lamps of fire. The apostle describes his external appearance and colour, as like unto the precious stones Jasper and Sardius, which no doubt, are here intended to express the various perfections of his divine nature, as perspicuous in his government, particularly during the first ages of the world. The Sardine is red, and at least half transparent, the Jasper is white, cerulean, and has small red veins ; both would make up the appearance of a Being, of nearly flesh-colour, but of a more refined substance, partly bright, clarified, and exceedingly glorious. White, denotes purity, holiness and justice; red, signifies judgment, and fiery indignation against the wicked; and the durability of these gems, that He is eternal, immutable in his nature, and all his promises and threatenings most sure. Thus far the God of nature was known from his works and by tradition, to the antedeluvian world, as represented by these emblems.
A rainbow round about the throne, like unto an emerald. The throne of the supreme Governor of the world, was with respect to its height, or more properly its breadth, encompassed by a rainbow, in order to keep those about the throne at a proper distance. This bow is the archetype of that in the clouds, which the Lord promised Noah, as an eternal memorial of his covenant with him and his posterity, that he would no more destroy the world by a flood. Gen. ix. 12—16; and that seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease while the earth remaineth. Gen. viii. 22. The apostle compares the colour of this bow to
an emerald, which is an exceedingly fine green, and the stone itself very bright and transparent. This may denote, that the grace of God under this covenant towards the world shall always be in an improving state, and of everlasting duration. Verse 4. And round about the throne were four and
twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white rai. ment; and they had on their heads crowns of
and thunderings, and voices : and there were
beasts full of eyes before and behind. Verse 4. Upon the seats four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment. What are these elders? And whence came they? This they tell us themselves, chapter v. 9. 10. “ Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Though these elders are from every tongue and nation on earth, yet when their whole character is considered, as described, they are not the representatives of all mankind, nor of the visible Church of Christ on earth, nor of the general number of the elect. If we compare their own confession with Rev. xx. 4. they represent those chosen spirits, and witnesses of Jesus throughout the world, who, as an equivalent for having lost their lives for Christ's sake, shall rise in the first resurrection, and reign with Christ during the Millennium. And with regard to this their future appointment, and proper theatre of action, they are spoken of twice in the future tense: - verse 9. xad o tav dccouco. And when they shall give glory, in connexion with the elders; and chap. v. 10. Basıneú. Souen, we shall reign on earth. In reference to these elders, the Jewish church had established twenty-four courses of priests, 1 Chron. xxiv. 1. 4. 18. Luke i. 5. who served by turns in the temple at Jerusalem-and twenty-four Levites, as deputies of the twelve tribes, who attended the service of the temple as their representatives, and transacted the business of their tribes at court, in the Sanhedrim, and with the priests. They are clothed in white raiment, from the custom of clothing those, who were admitted on account of their genealogies and perfection of body, to the court of the priests. In the original, their seats are also called thrones, and these, as well as their crowns of gold, and the circumstance of their sitting on these thrones, indicate their present appointment, and future royal priesthood in the kingdom of Christ on earth. They are particular saints, who have proved themselves worthy of this station, Isa, xxiv. 23. Hebrews xi. 2. at the head of their brethren. Oye combatants under the banners of Jesus! behold the glorious reward of faithfulness in trying seasons, and rise to follow their footsteps; the recompense is infinitely superior to the toil of the undertaking.
Verse 5. Lightnings, thunderings and voices. Light: nings refer to the sight, thunderings to sensibility, and voices to the sense of hearing. The allusion is evidently to the Old Testament dispensation, and the manner in which God revealed himself in giving the law on Mount Sinai, Lightning may allude to the discovery, which the Lord made to the Israelites of his own nature and character, in promulgating the moral law as the fundamental principle of his moral government over the world. Thunderings may refer to his promises and threatenings, blessings and curses, by which he excited the sensibility to the performance of his will. And the prophecies of the prophets are often
'called the voices of the prophets, Acts xii. 27. John the Baptist calls himself the voice of one in the wilderness. John i. 23. , Ps, ciii. 20. xxix. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Seven lamps of burning fire. The Holy Ghost, in allusion to the seven lamps in the tabernacle and temple. Seven is the number of fullness and perfection, in which he is always present in the Church, and communicates his illuminating, quickening and refreshing influence through his word and ordinances in all ages. This sevenfold communication is specified, Isaiah xi. 2. See chap. i.4. iii. 1. , Verse 6. Before the throne was a sea of glass, like unto crystal. We are apt to conceive the theatre of this vision on too contracted a scale, which upon mature consideration of all the different objects, must have been very wide and extensive. St. John beheld a spacious throne with a very broad pedestal, on which the four living beings formed a full circle with the throne, and before it an extensive pavement, broad and deep like a sea of crystal, above which stood the seven flames of fire. Around this sea of glass, the twenty-four elders formed a second circle, with the
throne of God, and at a proper distance behind the elders, - millions of angels surrounded the whole. · Chap. v. 11.
In order to understand the spiritual meaning of this sea, . it is necessary to attend to the following remarks on the original. The learned Doctor S. R. Doederline says: It is customary with the Hebrews, to call a large plain a sea. And the original vadovos, from u años, not only signifies glass, but the ancients also very frequently translate it electrum ; which according to Theophrastus, is a collective mass of all the different precious metals, in a most refined and purified state. Chap. xxi. , 18, it is said, that the city of New Jerusalem was built of pure gold, liké purified electrum; and verse 21. that not the street, as we read in our common version, but rad Tadteix the market-place and centre of the city of God, immediately before the throne of God and the Lamb, was of pure gold, like transparent elec