« السابقةمتابعة »
that the exaltation of such human beings, who, by following the Redeemer have obtained his promises, makes a necessary part of the scheme. (See ch. ii. 10; iii. 5, 12, 21.) Of this exaltation, strong intimations are given by the inspired writers, “ Man is made lower than the angels, to crown him with glory and worship.” (Ps. viii. 5.) “ The apostles are to sit on thrones, judging the tribes of Israel. (Matth. xix. 28.) “Do ye not know," says St. Paul, “ that the saints shall judge the world ?" and that " we shall judge angels?" (See also ch. i. ver. 5, of this Revelation; and the note thereon.)
This interpretation seems to be confirmed in the following chapter, where these elders will be seen falling before the Lamb, and singing " thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every tribe, and language, and people, and nation.”
Ver. 5. Lightnings and thunderings.] With such terrific pomp the majesty of Jehovah appeared at Mount Sinai, and it is frequently so represented in the book of Psalms.
Seven lamps of fire.] These are not luxviai, as in chap. i. 12, but daurades; not the candlesticks, or receptacles of the lights, but the lights themselves. The same imagery occurs in Zech. iv. 1,7--10, on which the angel observes, by way of explanation, “ Not by might nor by power, but by. my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. So that it is in harmony with other passages of prophetic Scripture, as well as with this revelation, that “ the seven lamps of fire,” before the heavenly throne, imitated by the seven branched candlestick in the earthly temple, represent the holy Spirit of God. (See note, ch. i. 4.)
Ver. 6. A sea of glass, like unto crystal.] In the best manuscripts, as Vitringa has observed, and as may be seen in Griesbach, the word 'wc is added ; Και ενώπιον του θρονου ως θαλασσα υαλινη, ομοια κρυσTallw, which may be thus translated, “And before the throne, as it were, a sea, glassy, like unto crystal.” All the ancient commentators, down to Primasius, have supposed this glassy sea to have its prototype under the Old Testament, in the great laver, full of water, standing in Solomon's Temple, called the brazen sea, used for the purification of the priests, (1 Kings vii; 2 Chron. iv; Joseph. Antiq. viii. iii. 6-8.) and that this sea thus represented to us under the New Testament, is intended to express that instrument of purification which it introduces, “ the water of holy baptism,” or more properly, that which the baptismal water represents, “ the blood of the Redeemer;" which alone possesses the cleansing efficacy of taking away sin. And Grotius and Mede, followed by other modern commentators, have adopted this interpretation.'
· The learned and indefatigable Vitringa objects to this; (1st.) that the Laver of the Old Testament was not before the throne, but in the court of the Temple; but he may be answered, as he himself has answered upon a similar occasion, that in this heavenly exhibition of the throne, the veil is taken away, and the Molten Sea will then appear as here described, “ before the throne.” (2dly.) He asks how a laver of water can properly be called a sea ? or why, if so called, is there no mention of the Laver? Answ. It is so called in the Old Testament repeatedly, and such a name has sufficient reference to the Laver supposed to contain it. Lastly, he is persuaded that under the name of “as it were a glassy sea, like unto crystal," is described the rich transparent pavement, supporting the celestial throne and its surrounding ministers, as described by Ezekiel, ch. i. 22; and by Moses, Exod. xxiv. 10; and that this kind of pavement is the fittest station for the victorious saints, who are represented in ch. xv. 2, as standing upon the glassy sea, not by the side of it.
There is weight in this observation, thus founded upon scriptural allusion ; upon a similitude discovered between the relations of three inspired writers with respect to the same heavenly object. And, in support of the opinion of this able commentator, it may be added,
And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind.] By referring to other passages in this sacred book, where mention is made of these Zwa, (Ch. v. 6, 14; vi. 1, &c. ; vii. 11; xv. 7.) it plainly appears, that their station is, as in part here described, “ round about the throne.” They encompass it on every side, and are within the encircling body of the Elders. But in this passage, they are said also to be“ in the midst of the throne.” “ The midst of the throne,” is the position of the great Father, and afterwards (ch. v.) of the Lamb, in union with him, and can only be applied to the Zwa, as expressing their very near approach to the throne. Like the cherubim, in the midst of which the God of Israel, under the Old Testament, is represented sitting, they seem to occupy a part of the throne.
But this passage can only be understood by comparing it with similar descriptions of the appearance of the divine glory to mortal eyes, as delivered in the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel. In the former of these prophets, angelic beings, called by him seraphim, surround the divine throne, and each of them has six wings, like these in the Apocalypse, and they sing Holy, Holy, Holy, in the same manner. that Saint John, in his description of the heavenly Jerusalem, represents the pavement, or street of the city, to be “ of pure gold, as of transparent glass,” (Rev. xxi. 21.); and that Isaiah has applied a similar image to the stones and foundation of the renewed Jerusalem. (Ch. liv. 11.) But yet it cannot, and must not be forgotten, that in the passage before us, St. John calls this object expressly a sea, not a pavement, and that he describes its situation as “ before the throne, not under it; and that afterwards, when he comes to speak of the fountain of the waters of life, issuing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and irrigating the streets of the city and the tree of life, for the support of the glorified inhabitants, he represents it, as does the sea in the present text, clear, or shining as crystal, (ch. xxii. 1.) All this bespeaks water, and not pavement.
In the vision of Ezekiel, the angelic beings are, like these, four in number; and, together with an human appearance, they have the faces of the four animals to which these in the apocalyptic vision are likened. And Ezekiel has pronounced that the Zwa, which he thus saw and described, were cherubim, and that he knew them to be such. (See Isaiah, ch. vi.; and Ezekiel, ch. i.)
These two descriptions, though differing from each other in the name, and in some few particulars, are of the same divine original. The variety which seems to distinguish them, is to be accounted for by the difference of the exhibition. The throne, as shown to Isaiah being stationary, but, as presented before Ezekiel, moveable. But in this apocalyptic vision, they are brought to a closer similitude, by a common measure of comparison resembling them both. This comparison of the three visions, so necessary to the right understanding of the Zwa in the Apocalypse, may be seen to advantage in the commentary of Vitringa; and in addition to this, the student may perhaps find some useful observations in my annotations published some years ago, when I was unacquainted with Vitringa's notions on this subject.
Full of eyes.] The eye, as created in man, is a wonderful inlet of knowledge and intelligence. These angelic ministers, surrounding the throne, possess them without number, and in superior perfection. It is the same in Ezekiel's cherubim ; and
i Our translators have been very unfortunate in their choice of the word “beast," as representative of the Greek Zwov; for however inoffensive this term may be in its primary sense, it is highly displeasing in its secondary and usual acceptation; and therefore most unfitly applied to a glorious inhabitant of heaven. Nor even in its primary sense is it a correct translation; for thus it is opposed to men, birds and fishes, whereas the original word Zwa comprehends all living creatures.
the throne there described being moveable, the wheels on which it moves are also“ full of eyes, and animated with the same spirit and knowledge as the angelic beings.
Ver. 7. And the first beast was like a lion.] The four Zwa, or living creatures, had some resemblance in their aspect to four animals upon earth. The first to the lion; the second to the Mooxos; which word in the Greek Scriptures, is used to express not only a calf, but the same animal also when arriving towards its maturity, and thus signifies a young bull or steer. The third is described as approaching most to an human appearance; though all of them, as seen by Ezekiel, “ had the likeness of a man.” The fourth resembled an eagle with expanded wings.'
1 There is no subject of discussion in the Apocalypse which has afforded greater diversity, and I may add, greater absurdity of interpretation, than this of the Tecoapa Zwa. The most ancient is that which supposes them to represent the four gospels, or the writers of them. That they represented the four gospels is just as probable, as that the twenty-four elders represented the books of the Old Testament; an absurdity which has long ceased to be maintained. In Augustine's time it was contended to which of the evangelists each of the symbols was applicable. (Tom. i. de consensu Evang. c. 6.) The distinctions then settled they still retain, in the imaginary pictures or statues which are made to represent them. A subsequent opinion arose, that they were the four arch*angels; but po such archangels are commemorated in legitimate and divine Scripture, and to find any mention of such a body, we must go to the apocryphal books, or to those of later Jewish authority.
Grotius interprets them to signify apostles, and he arbitrarily fixes upon Peter, James the Less, Matthew and Paul, as so improbably distinguished. By many commentators, the living creatures are supposed to represent the whole body of Christian believers in the four quarters of the Globe: but to this it has been properly objected, that in the scene before us, the living creatures are evidently preferred before the elders, whom these same commentators suppose to represent the Christian priesthood : for the living creatures are nearest to the throne, they lead in the ministration, and are