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them! How zealous and resolute in obeying them! Behold, again, what a glorious picture is here displayed to us of the aim and end of the Holy Scriptures. The glory of God. The eternal honour of the Most High. The Gospels are endued with light, life, and voice; and all are exercised in the praise of God. They rest not day or night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
This Evangelic Trisagion evokes the Choral Antiphon of the Old Testament. That is, in the heavenly Vision, the New Testament gives voice to the Old. When the Four living creatures give glory to Him that sits on the Throne,then the Four and Twenty Elders fall down before Him, Who liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power : for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.
Thus the ancient Church saw in the Apocalypse a vivid representation of the true office of the Scriptures of Both Testaments: she heard their voices in heaven, joining in everlasting Hallelujahs to the Majesty of the Most High, seated on His heavenly Throne, Sovereign Lord of the Universe.
It will not be imagined, my brethren, that we intend to propound this interpretation as absolutely unquestionable *. No; it is propounded only as probable ;
* It has been objected to this interpretation, that it supposes an inanimate object to be symbolized by an animated one. But, let it be remembered, that the Scriptures are Móyla Güvra, lively
and probability is perhaps the limit to which, with our feeble faculties, we can arrive, in this world, in the interpretation of such mysterious symbols as these. But then, it must be remembered, that there is a certain good, even in probabilities. And since this interpretation rests on a considerable amount of primitive testimony of the divinely-appointed Interpreter of Scripture, the Christian Church, and therefore cannot give occasion and encouragement to private and neoterical fancies; since also it is in harmony with the main tenour of Christian teaching; and since it serves to confirm our faith, to excite our love, and to animate our devotions; and since it tends to augment our reverence for God's Holy Word, and makes us more careful to study and obey it;—then, we may venture to affirm, the uses of such a probable interpretation are not probable, but certain ; and it may reasonably be supposed that the Holy Spirit, Who does nothing in vain, and has written the Holy Scripture for our learning *, had these uses in view when He revealed these Visions, and pronounced the words, Blessed is he who readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy t. oracles (Acts vii. 38); and it is remarkable that, in the next Vision, the Reed (representing the Canon of Scripture) is endued with life ; for the true reading in Rev. xi. 1. is é860n pou kálapos Aéywv, i.e. the Reed speaks, for it is inspired. Besides—these emblems of the Scriptures are to be extended, in a secondary A very important observation arises here. This interpretation accords very felicitously with the known character and office of the Author of the Apocalypse, St. John. He was specially employed by our Blessed Lord to close the Canon of Scripture; and it is in entire harmony with the scope and position of the Apocalypse, the crown and colophon of Holy Writ.
hend all persons, who build their faith on the written Word. * Rom. xv. 4.
| Rev. i. 3.
sense, so as to
It was very important that the Church should receive an assurance concerning the number of the Books of Scripture. St. John was the fittest person to give that; and no place so fit for it as the Apocalypse. Malachi closes the Old Testament with a retrospective reference to the Law of Moses and the Statutes and Judgments *. St. John authenticates the contents, and displays the divine authority, of Both Testaments.
In further illustration of what has been said, let me now invite your attention to another passage in this Book.
The eleventh chapter of the Apocalypse contains a revelation of the condition of the Church Militant on earth. St. John is there ordered to measure the sacred precincts with a Reed † like a Rod.
This direction, it may be observed, is specially appropriate to the Evangelist, St. John, who survived all the Apostles, completed the building of the Church, and being the beloved Disciple of the Incarnate Word, Who is the Alpha and Omega of all God's Revelations, closed the Canon of the Holy Scripture. And, it will be remembered that the word Canon is derived from the Hebrew Koneh * the term which is used by Ezekiel in his fortieth and forty-second chapter, and which is the same as the Greek and Latin word kávva, or reed, and the English cane ; and that it signifies a measuring reed, and is therefore well applied to the Divine Reed of Faith, that is, to the Holy Scriptures † of the Old and New Testament.
* Mal. iv. 4.
This Reed is said to be like unto a Rod. What
* Credner, Geschichte des Kanons, Halle, 1847, p. 6. Das griechische Wort kavùv, verwandt mit karva, Rohr, entspreche dem alt-hebräischen ?? welches von der Grund bedeutung Rohr, Halm (kulapoc), die weiteren Bedeutungen gerader Stab, Mess-stab, gerader Schaft, u. s. w. ableitet. . . . Vergl. Apokalypse, xi. 1. kalapos quoios paßèy und dazu Victorinus Petavionensis (Gallan. Bibl. Patr. iv. p. 59). “Hæc est arundo et mensura Fidei." Origen de Princip. 1, præf. “ Certa linea perfectaque Regula (kavúr)."-S. Amphilochius (Append. No. xvii.) ends his verses enumerating the books of Scripture, ούτος αψευδέστατος Κανών αν είη των θεοπνεύστων γραφών. Bp. Cosin, on the Canon, i. says, " The Books of Scripture are therefore called Canonical, because they have in all times been acknowledged by God's Church to be the Infallible Rule of our Faith." See Galat. vi. 16.
† Aquinas in Apoc. xxi. Per arundinem auream intelligitur Sacra Scriptura.—Cf. Vitringa, Anacrisis, p. 453. Calamus mensorius, quo dimensio peragenda est, haud dubiè est Verbum Dei, Lex et Testimonium, Lex regni Christi, unicus Canon et norma veri.
Rod ? it may be asked. The Rod, we reply, mentioned in other places of the Apocalypse. The Rod of iron with which Christ—and, by His power, all faithful Christians *_are there represented as breaking in pieces the potter's vessels of earthly error—the straight rod † of Holy SCRIPTURE, which is strong and unbending as iron, and cannot be broken f. Lest therefore, from the mention of a Reed, any one should imagine that what St. John had in his hand was brittle, or shaken by the wind S like a Reed, it is said to be like a Rod; and this Rod is a Rod of iron.
There is a reference to the peculiar character of this Rod of iron in the Apocalyptic words, - He will rule the Nations with a Rod of iron ||. The word for he will rule is moluaveī, that is, He will guide as a Shepherd does his flock; and so this rod becomes a pastoral crook. Hence we see the true character of Holy Scripture. It is a reed for measuring, a rod of iron for strength and correction, and a shepherd's staff for guidance and support.
This measuring Reed St. John takes in his hand, and metes out the Sanctuary; showing thereby that the limits of the Faith of the Church are traced by
Rev. ii. 27. xii. 5. xix. 15. cf. Hebr. i. 8, paßoc eúdúτητος. .
† Berengaud. ad Rev. ii. 24. Virga ferrea Evangelium figurat, qua omnis error destructus est. See also ad xxi. 6. 1 John x. 35.
8 Matth. xi. 7. || Rev. xix. 15. See also Ps. ii. 9. Micah vii. 14, in LXX.