Page images

derstanding and believing Mofes, shall believe in Jesus of whom Moses testified, when God shall bring in his antient people the Jews with the fullness of the Gentiles, and when the Jews, seeing Christ and his kingdom triumphant over the Roman empire and all the kingdoms of the earth, shall hear. tily embrace him, not as a temporal but as a spiri. tual king, whose kingdom is not of this world.

Verse 5th. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings, and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire, burn. ing before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.

Thunderings and lightnings proceeding out of the throne, fignify, that this book shall fortell many awful judgements, which shall come upon the world; and, that who or whatever shall be the immediate instruments of inflicting these, they shall all happen in the time and manner fixed by God the supreme Governor of the world. And the voices signify, that the intention of these is to give necessary and seasonable warning and directions to the church of Christ, and to the world at large. That both shall be done shall appear as we proceed. We are told that the seven lamps of fire, burning on the front of the throne, signify the seven fpirits of God; that is the Holy Spirit of God, as


[ocr errors]

hath been shewn at considerable length in the commentary on chap. i. 4.

The symbol of feven lamps of fire burning, fignifies the illuminating and purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. For the lamp gives light, and fire purifies by melting away the dross. These influences fhall extend to, and are sufficient for all, the seven ages of the world.

[ocr errors]

Verse 6th.—And before the throne there was a fea of glass, like unto crystal; and in the midst of the throne,, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

In the same situation with the seven lamps, even on the front of the throne, was a sea of glass, like unto cryftal. This symbol is taken from the molten sea, a large vessel of thirty cubits in circumference, and five in depth; placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and filled with pure water. The sacrifices which were to be offered as burnt offerings, were washed in water drawn from this sea into ten lavers on the side of it; and the priests, before offering them, were to wash themselves in the molten sea, i Kings vii. 23,-39. 2 Chron. iv. 6. The design therefore of the molten sea was to purify the sacrifice, and the priest who offered it. It was a symbolical repre. VOL. I.



fentation of the purifying influences of the blood of Christ, without which neither the sacrifice nor the priest could have been of any avail to the purifying of the conscience, or averting the wrath of God. Hence, the sea of glass fignifies Christ, by whofe blood every Christian is purified. Christians are stiled priests unto God in this book, and other parts of sacred scripture. Christ is the sea in which these priests must wash, before they can offer unto God, in an acceptable manner, the sacrifice of prayer and praise. This sea of glass is mentioned again in chap. xv. 2. in which passage it is evident, and shall appear in the commentary, that it signifies Christ as the mediator between God and man.

This fea of glass, like the spirit of God, is on the front of the throne. By this situation, it is fignified, that Christ is a divine person as well as the Holy Spirit, and that he proceeds from the Father. The word in the original, which in both cases is translated “before the throne" is éYOTIVY, which fignifies the face or countenance. The pure Deity is invisible by the bodily eye of man, and his counsels cannot be discovered by any created being. But the Holy Spirit reveals so many of his counsels as are fit for us to know, and the Son of God in the flesh displayed in a visible manner many of the natural and moral perfections of God. Thus they have, as it were, made his face visible to men, 1 Cor. ii. 9,---16. John i. 14, and 18.

[ocr errors]

In the space between the throne, and that circle around it, in which the twenty-four elders fat on twenty-four seats, John saw four beasts, full of eyes before and behind. The faces of these beasts looked to the throne, and their backs to the elders.

Our translation throws great obscurity over this passage, by translating the Greek word {wc, beasts. It signifies living creatures. It is entirely different and distinct from Unprov, which is rightly!translated heast, chap. xi. 7. where it is said, “ the beast " that ascended out of the bottomless pit”. Ongior fignifies a ravenous beast of prey. What it fignifies in the symbolical language, shall be shewn in the commentary on that verse, and how exactly that fignification corresponds to the original one of a beast of prey.. The beasts (living creatures) [poken of in this verse, are mentioned no less than nineteen times in the following passages of this book, ch. iv. 6, 7, 9. ch. v. 6, 8, 11, 14. ch. vi. I, 3, 5, 7. ch. vii. 11. ch. xiv. 3. ch. xv. 7. and ch. xix. 4. and in every one of them the word ?wo is used. Mention is made of the beast, (the beast of prey) which is mentioned in chap. xi. 7. no less than eleven times in the following passages of this book, chap. xi. 7. chap. xiii. 1, 11. chap. xv. 2. chap. xvi. 13. chap. xvii. 8, 11, 12, 13. chap. xix. 19. and chap. xx. 10. in every one of which the word Inpsov is used. The distinction between these words in the original is perfectly evident to every person ac

[blocks in formation]

COMMENTARY Ch. IV. quainted with the Greek language: The same distinction ought to be preserved in every translation of them. We cannot suppofe, that the unerring Spirit of God had not a sufficient reason for preserving the distinction between them, as we fee he hath done in every passage, without a single exception, in which they are used in this book, though they are used in it no fewer than thirty times.

These four living creatures, for this term I shall henceforth use instead of the four beasts, are symbols of the gospel ministry in four successive periods, distinctly marked by the beautiful hierogly. phic of these four living creatures, which is drawn in the following verse. By the gospel ministry is not meant the individuals who in thefe periods bear the name of ministers of the gospel; but the collective body, which is made up of all those particular ministers of the gospel whom Christ knows to be his servants, and will undoubtedly approve of at last as such. Such ministers of the gofpel, are with great propriety denominated “living crea“tres,” because they are fpiritually alive; and imur office, as instruments in the hand of God, is to excite and strengthen the spiritual life in Chriftians.

That these four living creatures signify the gofpel ministry, is evident from the station in which they are placed, and the part which they are represented as acting in this vision. They stand in


« PreviousContinue »