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closed in the very same passage of the Apostle to the
represented, upon the same scene, in the ensuing chapter. / 490 Yet, before these times of the Gospel, numbers of swivvies " just men” had lived; some of whom, as our Lord !! tells us of Abraham, saw the day of redemption, and rejoiced* These Patriarchs and Prophets of the old
Church are expressly called Tigeobulegon, Elders, by the Apostle *; and they seem in this vision to be represented by the body of twenty-four. This is that part of the Christian Church (for all are redeemed through Christ) which, having already“ fought its good fight" on earth, appears triumphant in heaven; and seems properly distinguished from the part which still remains upon earth, whose future conflicts with Satan and Antichrist are described in the succeeding visions. They are called Elders, because such, with the Jews, was the title given to eminent men selected to be their rulers. Such, among other ancient nations, also, were the Patres of the Romans, and the regoole of the Carthaginians f. They who have the experience of age, are the fittest to direct; especially in those times and nations where little attention has been given to education. Such, among the Gothic nations of Europe, were the Earls, or Elders (as the word imports), and whence is derived our Elderman, or Alderman. Among the Jews, a selection of such a body was first made by advice of Jethro t, and afterwards by Divine appointments. These were seventy in number. Such was the grand superior council, called the Sanhedrim, which was always permitted to form a court, and to transact business, if twenty-three of its members should be present. And beside this supreme council, there was in Jerusalem, and in every considerable city, another court of elders, twenty-three in number, who exercised criminal jurisdiction. This body would have been mure complete in number, if it had been composed of
# Heb. xi. 2.
+ Polybius, lib. x. p. 591. I Exod. xviii.
Numb. xi. | Maimonides, in Sanhed. Per. 1, 2, 3. Spencer, de Leg. Heb. Lewis, Orig. Heb. lib. i. c. 6.
twenty-four members, like the priests of the courses, two for each tribe, (1 Chron. xxiv.) but an unequal number was preferred, in order that upon a division on any vote or sentence, there might be a decisive majority. Either of these courts, the greater when reduced to twenty-three, or the less when full, resembles deni the session of these twenty-four elders in heaven ; who,
elle being now “ made perfect,” and placed beyond the reach of error in judgment, are represented as complete ?rive in their number, because unanimous in their decisions. In Isaiah xxiv. 23, the Supreme Lord is described as
reigning before his Elders (speo Bulegov) gloriously.” Thus does he also appear in this passage of the Apocalypse. More observations on this body, will occur in the note below, ver. 6.
itori Ib. White raiment.] Such is the array of those, irrite! who, through faith, and the power of the Redeemer, are described as having overcome the enemies of their salvation, washing their garments white in the blood of .. the Lamb. This confirms us in the notion that these Elders are of “the redeemed from the earth.”
Ib. Crowns of Gold.] See note, chap. ii. 10. Such is are promised to the faithful throughout the Gospel. 20, They shall reign with Christ t; they shall receive “a,
hindi “crown of righteousness, of life, of glory t." This is another confirmation that the Elders are of the redeemed from earth,
Ib. Lightnings, and thunderings, and voices.] With such terrific pomp the majesty of God appeared at Mount Sinai, and is thus represented frequently in the Book of Psalms.
* Ch. ii. 4, 5. vii. 9, 14. xix. 8, 14.
Ib. Seven lamps of fire.] These are not auquiei, as in chap. i. 12, but haptadeç: not the receptacles of the lights, but the lights themselves. We have the same imagery in Zech. iv. 1, 7, 10; on which the Angel observes, by way of explanation; “Not by inight, nor
by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Therefore, under this symbol was represented the Holy Spirit of God. This agrees perfectly with the representation before us, which will receive additional confirmation by recurring to chap. i. 4, and the note thereon; where the seven Spirits before the throne, appear evidently to represent the Third Person in the Holy Trinity
Ib. A Sea, glassy.] The clearness and purity of water is expressed by the same image in the classical writers :
O fons Blandusiæ splendidior vitro !
Vitreo daturus nomina Ponto.
One of the sacred yessels in the ancient Temple was called the Sea. It was a large receptacle of water, thirty çubits in circumference, supported by twelve images of oxen *; and it was used for the purification of the priests. The Sea before the throne in heaven may be supposed to have a similar use and efficacy under the new covenant. Upon our Lord's coming, (as foretold by the Prophet Malachi t) he was “ to purify the sons " of Levi;” to prepare, for them and for his “ peculiar
people ,” the means of a more perfect purification. But what does this appear to be, by the whole tenour of
* i Kings vii. 2 Chron. iv. Joseph. Antiq. viii, iii, 6, 8, + Ch. iii. 3.
Tit. ii. 14.
Scripture, but his own precious blood, which alone cleanseth from sin *? Its purity and cleansing efficacy, are here expressed by the term vadovu, glassy; which is glass in like manner applied to the heavenly Jerusalem in ch. xxi. 18, 21. And the martyrs, who are introduced as triumphant on this glassy Sea t, obtain their conquest“ by the blood of the Lamb;” in which they are Culi represented to have “ washed and made white their " robes I.” To those who attend to this connection of imagery, there can be little doubt, but that this purifying laver, clear as crystal, represents the blood of the Redeemer, which alone cleanses man from sin.
Vinna Water, in baptism, represents this sacred blood; and therefore all the ancient commentators, down to Pri. masius, understood the glassy Sea to represent the laver of regeneration in Christian baptism s. But it seems to represent not only the water used in baptism, but that also which the water represents,—the blood of the Redeemer.
Ib. Four.] This number is used frequently in Scripture to denote universality or completion ||. It has this force naturally, from the figure and formation of the human body; which is so fashioned, as to occasion a four-fold division of the objects which sur, round it: so that under the number four they are all comprehended. For instance, a man faces one quarter of the horizon, the south; he has the north behind him ; his hands extended, point to the east and to the west 1. Hence is derived in Scripture the determina, tion of these four cardinal points, and their corre
* 1 Pet. i. 19. i John i. 7.
+ Ch, xv. 2. 1 Ch. xii. 11. vii. 14. See also ch. i. 5.
See Andreas Cæsariensis, Arethas, Victoriņus, and Primasius, in loc. Prov, xxx, 18, &c.
9 Job xxiii. 8, 9,