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that no qualities of the natural man, be their excellence what they may, can, without religious cultivation, have the properties required by Christ in the
members of his church.
The circumstances pertaining to that vision suggest some observations not unconnected with the purpose of this treatise.
The enjoined transmission of the Apocalypse to seven churches, each of which was in a separate city, was well calculated to ensure the preservation of it, as well from entire destruction as from the corruption of its text.
It is also inconsistent with the presumption that any one of the churches that profess the faith of Christ was intended by him to have dominion over the others.
In the list of the churches to which Christ commanded that this, his last solemn communication, should be delivered, neither the church of Rome, nor any church in communion therewith, is included.
The vision of the stars and candlesticks, together with the exposition given of them, as signs of things not then visible to St. John, was well fitted to apprise him and his readers that the other appearances, about to be exhibited to him, were symbols having an appropriate though latent signification.
The vision of Christ in the midst of the candlesticks, like the sun encircled by planets which receive all their light and vivifying heat from him, was a symbolical repetition and confirmation of the promises he had, when on earth, made to his apostles,
that he would be always spiritually present with every church that should keep the faith which he delivered unto them..
Christ holding in his right hand the seven stars, the declared symbols of the angels, or ministers, of seven churches, appears to me to signify that the spiritual government of the several hierarchies of his several churches is always retained by him in his own hands, and not delegated by him to any other being whatever.
The seven churches, to each of which the prophet was commanded to write a distinct admonition, and to send the book, which he should write containing an account of the revelation about to be signified to him, were in Asia Minor, wherein Greek, introduced by Grecian colonies, became under the successors of Alexander, though certainly not in Attic purity, the prevalent language. The Asiatic Greeks, by constant intercourse with the Jews of Palestine, had adopted many Hebraistic modes of expression, and, in a dialect thus modified, the Apocalypse was written as we find it.
The second and third chapters contain the several admonitions which St. John was commanded to write to the seven churches that have for many centuries been trampled, very nearly to utter extinction, under the brutal tyranny of that great Mahometan empire, whose final overthrow is, thanks be to God! so visibly near at hand. On this part of the Apocalypse it is not material to my present purpose to observe further than that the knowledge manifested by Christ, of every
particular affecting the condition of his churches, is so perfect, that, in the communication concerning that of Pergamos, he mentions the death of an individual so obscure, that no allusion to the existence of such a person is elsewhere to be found.
him, “my faithful martyr Antipas."
How infinitely more precious than all the panegyrics that ever fell from human tongue or pen is that brief notice of the blessed Antipas !
The accurate knowledge thus manifested by Christ of the state of his churches, was well calculated to impress upon them the profound conviction that, however apparently to the human eye they might appear abandoned by him to the fury of their enemies, no circumstance, affecting any member of any of them, can be so minute as to escape the vigilance of his superintending eye.
How admirably adapted such an impression, as well to cheer the afflicted soul of St. John as to sustain the church of Christ through all the varied forms of persecution which, in every age, the professors of his faith have had to undergo, is sufficiently obvious.
The immediate purpose of the mystic vision, described in the first chapter, being completed by Christ's delivery of his address to the last of the seven churches, the attention of St. John is called to another vision, of the collective church of God, Mosaic and Christian, preparatory to the exhibition of the series of visions prophetic of its subsequent history.
1. "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me, which said, come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."
The term heaven occurs very frequently in the apocalyptic narrative. In popular language it has, from the remotest antiquity, signified the supposed habitation of the Divinity,—of Him who in truth hath no local habitation, "the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him," for he filleth all space. It hence, by an obvious association of ideas, is used to signify power, authority, government, divine or human, spiritual or temporal. Accordingly, the specific nature of the power, which on any particular occasion it is employed to denote, can be collected only from the context wherewith it is used. Thus, when in chap. xii. 7, 8, it is said that "there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not neither was their place found any more in heaven;" the term heaven (as when we come to consider the passage in its proper place will be found sufficiently plain) there signifies the government of the Roman empire.
Whatever was the precise appearance of the symbol that conveyed to the mind of St. John the idea of "a door opened in heaven," it imported that the divine councils were now to be disclosed to him,-that he was about to be admitted to a knowledge of the mysteries of God's government.
2. "And immediately I was in the spirit:
πνευματι, the same words used by the prophet in chap. i. 10, to express that he sensibly perceived himself to be under the dominion of a divine or spiritual influence, "and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."
3. "And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4. "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats were four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment: and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5. “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.
6. "And before the throne there was a sea 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.
7. "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face like a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."
If the word in the original were μόσχιῳ οι μόσχαριῳ, the dative case of the neutral and diminutive uоoxiov or μooɣápiov, the present version, "to a calf," would be correct; but the word is póoxy, an inflexion of μóoxos, a bull.*
* The word pooxoc is strictly equivalent to the Latin bos, the generic appellative of the ox tribe. St. Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews (chap. ix. 12, 13), referring to the Jewish sacrifices, speaks of the blood τραγων και μοσχων and ταύρων και τραγων,