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sponding winds," the four winds of heaven.” And thus “ the four corners of the land,” are used to signify all the land t; whence Philo says, wavid ex tņ Telgede I. So Pythagoras : Tetras omnium perfectissimus, radix omnium $. When, therefore, in the prophetic language, the number four is used, it implies universality or completion. In the present instance it seems to import that the whole throne, every side or corner of it, is surrounded by the living creatures; which are here described to be the body-guards and nearest attendants upon Him that sitteth thereon.
Ib. Living creatures.] The Greek is Zãe, very improperly translated beasts. A beast is inferior, these living creatures are far superior in intelligence, to man 1. I have adopted the term used by the Right Reverend Translator of Ezekiel: and I mean to prove by a comparison of particulars, that the livingcreatures, of Saint John, are the same celestial intelligences with those described by Ezekiel, and by Isaiah. The comparison will cast useful light on each of these prophetic descriptions. As the medium, or common measure, by which they may be brought together, we will use the Greek of the Septuagint,
which will admit of the nearest comparison, and x Blackwell in vacr
. claf. rapi dyection to comme Frans Ernton, as inkopiero reuderin. Zwa bias's * Dan. vii. 2. xi
. 4. Rev. vii
. 1. mg rog. ndes. it Isaiah xi. 12. Ezek, vii. 2.
All things are comprehended in the number FOUR, which completes the square. Tege Mwotws, lib. iii. p. 152.
§ Brucker de Pythag. i. p. 1053, 1054.
|| Plato has been observed to apply the term Zway to God. (Dialog. Timæus.)- To which we may add, that Aristotle has done the same: Dades de toy Osov Hvar ZNON aidsov, agısov. (Metaphysic. lib. xiv. cap. viii.) -Zwor is any thing which has life, and in its highest signification may be applied to Him who alone “ has life in Himself;" John v. 26.
is probably the text which was used by the writer of the Apocalypse *.
REV. iv. 6, 7, 8.
Ezek. Ch, i. 10. ISAIAH vi,
- here danti
1. Τεσσαρα Ζώα,
1. Ως ομοιωμα τεσσαρων Ζώων. 2. Εν μεσύ το Θρονα και κυκλω τΘρονα. 2. Εν τω μεσα-συρρεφομενών. 3. Γιμονία οφθαλμών εμπροσθεν και οπισ- 3. Οι κωλοι αυτών και οι χειρες αυτών θεν-κυκλοθεν και εσωθεν.
και οι τροχοι τσληρεις οφθαλμών, 4. Το πρωτον ομοιον λεοντι,
4. Προσωπον το λιωτος.
7. Προσωπον αετε.
9. Και εκεκραγεν έτερος προς τον έτερον, 9 Και αναπαυσιν εκ εχεσιν ημερας και και ελεγον 'Αγιος, άγιος, άγιος
νυκτος, λεγοντες, Αγιος, άγιος, Κυριος Σαβαώθ, πληρης σασα και αγιος Κυριος ο Θεος και παντοκράτωρ,
γη της δοξης αυτ8. Isaiah vi. 3. ο ην, και ο ών, και ο
Prom this comparison, (in which all the expressions of the writer of the Apocalypse, describing the “living
creatures,” are contrasted with like expressions taken from the visions of Ezekiel and of Isaiah,) it inust appear, that all these descriptions are derived from the same original, and that, whatsoever may seem to be the difference between the Seraphim of Isaiah, and the Cherubim of Ezekiel, it is here reconciled by their being brought into comparison with a third common measure, namely, the “ living creatures” of Saint John's vision. I shall present to the reader some additional observations on the several passages, referring to them as numbered in the foregoing scheme.
1. The number of “living creatures” is the same as described by both Prophets; but Ezekiel already intimates the indistinctness of the vision, and the difficulty of expressing it by similitudes taken from earthly things; for he says, ws 014016 pict, as it were the likeness of four living creatures.
2. Here both writers concur in expressing this indistinctness; but in such a manner as to be useful to the explanation of each other. John says, “in the “ midst of the throne, and around the throne;" as if he could not fix the exact station of these heavenly attendants. Ezekiel says, “in the midst;" and at the same time expresses the uncertainty of their position, by these words, they “ran and returned, as the ap
pearance of a flash of lightning ;" like the aurora borealis, or northern lights, whose position seems ever moving, and whose exact station cannot be ascertained.
3. The abundance of eyes is the same in both writers, though not described exactly in the same
From both, it appears that no part of these heavenly ministers was without eyes. In Ezekiel's vision, they extended to the wheels, which appear to have been added in that vision for the purpose of making the throne moveable. In Saint John's vision, the scene is stationary; the wheels therefore are not necessary. The eyes, that wonderful part of animal creation, the inlets of knowledge and intelligence, are innumerable, and thus express an infinite superiority of understanding to any thing which is earthly.
4, 5, 6, 7. In both writers we see the resemblance of the same animals; but in Ezekiel, each cherub seems to have had the four likenesses in itself, and, together therewith, a general resemblance of the human form; ομοιωμα ανθρωπο επ' αυτοις: they had that dignified ap
the same already
this Pin jeful to
is if he
pearance which distinguishes man from other animals, resulting from his superior intelligence. The Cherubim, says Josephus, were extraordinary living creatures, of a figure unknown to man *. The resemblance to the animals was not exact, but somewhat like to them appeared, as the living creatures flashed upon the scene, ' in the midst and around the throne f."
8. In the vision of Ezekiel, the Cherubim had each four wings ; in that of Isaiah, and of Saint John, they have six. The propriety of this distinction is remarked by Grotius. The Seraphim of Isaiah, says he, have two more wings than the Cherubim of Ezekiel, because they are described to be more immediately before the presence of God; and therefore each of them has “ twain to cover his face,” before such transcendant brightness.
9. Here also what was wanting in Ezekiel's description, is supplied by that of Isaiah. The Seraphim sing the praises of God without intermission.
After this comparison with concordant passages of Scripture, we shall have little hesitation in determining the nature and species of these “living creatures” of the Apocalypse. They are the same with those in Ezekiel and Isaiah; and Ezekiel has settled this point by declaring expressly that they are Cherubim, and that he knew them to be Cherubim I. They are of the highest order of angelic beings, attending most
Antiq. lib. iii. c. 6. lib. viii. c. iii. 3. + The word Mooxos signifies in the Greek the progeny of a bull and cow; not only in its tenderest years, while we call it a calf, but long afterwards; and as it agrees best with the appearance of the vision, to suppose the majesty of the young bull or steer, and not the helpless awkwardness of the calf, the translation is altered accordingly. See Schleusneri Lexicon in voc. Mooxoso Ezek. X. 2, 8, 15, 20.
nearly upon the Throne, and speaking thence with the voice of thunder; which is the voice of God * They are so near to the Throne, so intermingling with its dazzling splendour, that human faculties inust fail in attaining any precise and adequate idea of them. All nature appears linked together in gradational order. The chain, beginning from heavy and inert matter, ascends through the vegetable to the animal tribes, of which man is the highest, proceeding through Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, to the Throne of God. But the higher orders of angelic intelligences, who are nearest to the Throne, must necessarily be seen indistinctly by human apprehension.
The opinions of commentators upon the “ four “ living creatures," have been variously divided. There is an ancient interpretation, derived in some measure from Irenæus, and repeated by Athanasius, Victorinus, Augustine, Jerome, and others, that under these symbolic representations, The Four Gospels are designed f. Nothing but the antiquity of this notion can give it any weight or respect. In the Apocalypse, offices and services are ascribed to the living creatures: which no books can perform. Nor could The Four Evangelists themselves be intended; for Saint John, one of this number, was a spectator at the time. This
* See ch. vi. 1, and note.
+ Irenæus argues that the Gospels are four in number, and therefore perfect, bearing a certain analogy to the four quarters of the world, and to the four principal Spirits ; seeming to allude to these four Cherubim of the Apocalypse. The followers of Irenæus, observing this allusion or illustration, have attempted to establish it as a complete symbolical representation. Irenæus, lib. iii. c. 11. See also Victorin. Comm. in Apoc. Rev. iv. Augustin. in Johan. Evang. Hieron. Prolog, in Comm. Matth. Epist. ad Paulinum.