« הקודםהמשך »
the Reed of Scripture *; and that whatever is not read in Scripture, nor can be proved thereby, is not to be imposed on any one as an Article of Faith f.
Next, St. John is informed that the outer part of it and the Holy City will be trodden by the Gentiles for a certain time. Then Almighty God, having spoken of the measuring Reed, and of the admeasurement of the Church, immediately proceeds to say,—I will give power to my Two Witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These two Witnesses, He proceeds to say, are the two olive trees; and the two candlesticks (or candelabra), standing before the God of the earth .
It will now be asked, What are these Two Witnesses ? And why are they here represented as Olive Trees emptying oil into the golden Candlesticks; and what connexion can they have with the measuring Reed, and with the mensuration of the Church? How is this apparently sudden transition to be accounted for?
In reply to this inquiry, we are reminded by the ancient Interpreters that the word here rendered
* Victorinus says well on this subject (B. P. M. iii.): Potestatem dicit
quam Joannes dimissus (a carcere) exhibuit Ecclesiis. Nam Evangelium postea scripsit; cum essent Valentinus et Ebion et cæteri scholæ Satanæ diffusi per orbem, convenerunt ad Joannem de finitimis provinciis omnes, et compulerunt ut ipse testimonium scriberet. Hæc est arundo et mensura fidei. † Thirty-nine Articles, Art. VI.
Rev. xi. 144.
candlestick* is the same as that employed in the Greek Version of the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus, where God gives to Moses directions for the making of the Golden Candlestick, according to the pattern shown to him in the Mount, with seven branches and seven lights, or lamps, to be fed with oil t, and to stand in the Holy Place, which was the figure of the Church on Earth, and to illuminate it with its rays.
The same word is used also by the Prophet Zechariah, in the fourth chapter, in his Vision of the seven-branched golden Candlestick, fed by seven pipes, with oil flowing down from two Olive Trees † ; the one on the right hand of the Candlestick, and the other on the left s.
Thus the Law and the Prophets prepared imagery for the Apocalypse.
From the Apocalypse itself we learn that the Candlestick, as dispensing light, represents the Church, which diffuses the beams of Divine Truth ||
. † Exod. xxv. 31–37. xxxvii. 17. See Hebr. ix. 2, + Zech. iv. 3. δύο έλαίαι επάνω αυτής. & Zech. iv. 1–4.
|| Hence St. Irenæus borrows his own language concerning the Church Universal, v. c. 20: Ubique Ecclesia prædicat veritatem ; et hæc est éttápvžos Lucerna, Christi bajulans lumen. See also S. Gregor. Mag. lib. i. Hom. vi. in Ezekiel. That επτάμυξος, and not επτάμυκος, is the true reading in Ireneus, is clear from other considerations, and from Zech. iv. 12, TWY μυξωτήρων των χρυσών, said of the seven-branched λυχνία.
The seven Candlesticks (says St. John) are the seven Churches *. And, in the same passage, our Blessed Lord, the great Head of the Church, is displayed to us, arrayed in a long vesture, that is, in His sacerdotal attire, walking in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks t; that is, observing the state of the Churches, whether they burn brightly with the pure and luininous flame of true doctrine, or are dimmed with errors and corruptions. A Candlestick, therefore, represents a Church in the discharge of its office of shedding forth divine light. And how and whence is this light received ? Let St. John inform us.
I will give power to my Two Witnesses, says Almighty God, and they shall prophesy (or preach). These are the Olive Trees, and the two Candlesticks standing before the God of the Earth: an expression which again connects this Vision with that of Zechariah, where we read,— What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves ? Then said the Angel, These are the two anointed ones that stand before the Lord of the whole earth $.
And St. John says,—The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy s; intimating thereby that the word prophecy is used in the sense of Evangelical Preaching
What, now, are the two Witnesses, and two Olive Trees?
* Rev. i. 20.
† Rev. i. 13. i. 1.
Some Interpreters, you are aware, suppose them to be two Persons. Enoch and Elias are specified by some. Others adduce more recent names.
But the Prophecy aims higher, and reaches further than the person and existence of any child of man*. It is in dignity, divine; and universal in duration and extent.
The ancient Church, expounding the Apocalypse, remembered the words of God to Moses concerning the seven-branched Golden Candlestick of the Tabernacle; she recollected the Vision of Zechariah; she had before her eyes that prophet's seven-branched Candlestick, fed with oil by pipes from the two Olive Trees; she recollected, also, that St. John himself has given a key to the meaning of the symbolical Candlesticks; and she knew full well that, in the words of Isaiah, she herself, being the Church of God, must look for light to the Law and to the Testimony; and that, if she speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in hert; she knew, also, in the language of St. Paul, that she hath received this ministry not to preach herself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and that God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined into her heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, so that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should shine throughout the World [.
* See seventh page
from end of Lect. VII. and Lect. VIII. + Isaiah viïi. 20.
# 2 Cor. iv. 146.
The Church, we say, considering these things, as she looked on the two golden Candlesticks fed by the two Olive Trees, saw herself illumined by the two Testaments * The Scriptures of the Two Testaments are her Olive Trees, planted in the House of the Lord t, ever flourishing with fresh leaves for the healing of the nations t, ever bearing the emblems of peace, ever pouring forth the oil of gladness, and ministering the food of light. And in the form and office of the two Candlesticks she saw her own character and ministry, under the two dispensations, the Jewish and the Christian, as the divinely constituted Guardian, Keeper, and Interpreter of the Word of God.
Like them, the Church is to be of pure gold; like them, she is to be firmly set on a solid basis in the presence of God; like them, she is to be visible to all; like them, to extend her branches far and wide, and to diffuse her light, and irradiate the world. Her thoughts must all be upward. Her light must aspire to heaven. Her feet are on the rock; her heart is among the stars.
Let us also observe that, like the seven-branched Golden Candlestick, the Church has no light in herself. She can do nothing without the Olive Trees. If
* Similarly Vitringa Anacr. p. 468. Oleæ figurant Spiritum Sanctum (ut liquet ex v. 6) dona et gratiam suam communicantem per medium Verbi Dei divisi in Libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti. † Psalm lii. 9.
# Rev. xxi. 2.