« הקודםהמשך »
passage denominated the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David; and in others, the Word, the Offspring of David, and the Star. In accordance with that usage, the term Lamb in this and the numerous other passages in which it occurs, is to be regarded as merely a proper name of the incarnate Word drawn from his office as a sacrifice. That construction is required also by analogy. It is inconsistent with his deity and office as ruler of the universe, that he should be symbolized by a mere creature and a lamb. A lamb was suited to represent him only in his human and mortal nature, and in the relation of a passive sufferer of a violent death. It had no adaptation to symbolize him
a as a self-existence, the revealer and executor of the divine purposes, and the ruler and judge of the universe. A mere creature can only symbolize a creature ; God alone can represent himself. The Redeemer accordingly appears in his own person in his human nature glorified, in all the visions in which he is seen. In conformity with this, acts are ascribed to him,-the reception of the book, and opening of the seals,—that are proper to his nature and office as the incarnate Word, but wholly inappropriate to a lamb.
The presence of the angels and of the redeemed, shows that the revelation was made to them as well as to men.
The worship of the living creatures and elders on Christ's reception of the book, bespeaks on the one hand in the most emphatic manner his deity, and on the other their sense of the propriety of his exaltation as the head of the church. Thou art worthy to be the revealer and the executor of the divine purposes respecting the salvation of men, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of all nations, and hast made us to our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth. It is meet that he should reign and conduct the work of salvation, not only that he may display his deity, and adequacy
rk, and that the universe may behold and acknowledge him as divine, and testify their sense of the rightfulness, wisdom and glory of his work; but also that those whom he has constituted heirs of God and joint heirs with him, and exalted to majestic stations in the conduct of his kingdom, may fill those offices in a conspicuous relation to him as their head, in whose presence in his glorified form alone it is that their nature especially fits them to serve, and will still more pre-eminently fit them when they shall be raised from the grave in a like glorious shape. The responsive ascriptions of the angelic myriads bespeak their perfeci knowledge of the deity of Christ, his incarnation and sacri
fice, the great purposes and influence of his death, and the propriety that he should assume the government of the world, and be the revealer and executor of his designs.
The chant of acquiescence that then came from all the distant realms of the universe, and ascriptions both to God and to the Lamb of honor and glory and power forever and ever, is inimitably grand, denoting their acquaintance also with the Redeemer's work, their sense of its infinite importance to God and his empire, their personal and supreme interest in it, and assurance that it is to display his glory in dazzling effulgence, and contribute to the wisdom and blessedness of his kingdom.
A vast and august recognition is thus made in this scene of all the great truths on which the government of the universe and the redemption of men proceed, -the nature, the agency, the relations, the rights of God; the knowledge and celebration of his perfections both by the beings who serve in his presence, and who dwell in his distant realms, the exaltation of the Redeemer to supreme dominion, and exercise of the office of revealer to the heavenly hosts and the church on earth ; the suitableness of his assuming that station because of the demonstration it presents of his deity; the appropriate relations to him into which it raises the redeemed who are heirs of God and joint heirs with him ; the vindication which the greatness of its results is to form of the propriety of his interposition; and finally the understanding acknowledgment and adoring celebration of these truths by all orders of his intelligent creatures throughout his immeasurable kingdom.
The book was written within and without. Some interpreters, forgetting that the volume was a symbol, have treated it as though it were the Apocalypse itself written by the finger of God, and attempted to distinguish the chapters that were written on the outside. Nothing can be more groundless, or could involve the whole spectacle in more preposterous confusion and unintelligibleness. It is to contradict the representative character of the scene, and adopt a rule of construction which is wholly impracticable in respect to most of the symbols. If the book were not a symbol of the purposes of God, but the Apocalypse itself, and its characters those which the prophet afterwards inscribed on his scroll and which form our present Apocalypse, then all the other objects in this and the following scenes must on the same principle be likewise taken as precisely what they are denominated, and without any mystical meaning ;—the living creatures, the horsemen with the bow, the sword and the balance, death
and its attendant, and all the monster shapes of the subsequent visions, which were absurd and impossible. That assumption is equally irreconcilable with the mode in which the symbolic objects were presented to the apostle and the whole revelation conducted. They were exhibited to him in vision acting out their representative agency. He says expressly he saw the horsemen go forth as the seals were successively opened, the souls at the altar, the majestic shape ascending from the east with the seal of God, the innumerable company clothed in white robes, and heard the voices of the living creatures, the cry of the martyr spirits, the number of the sealed, and the ascriptions by the palmbearing multitude of salvation to him that sat on the throne and to the Lamb ; not that mere verbal descriptions of them such as he himself wrote, were presented to him.
But if those agents were shown him, not on the scroll, but visibly in a distant scene, of what instrumentality to their manifestation was the unfolding of the scroll, or the inscription on it of those voices? Can the proclamation at the opening of the third seal have been read from the scroll; the cry of the martyr spirits, the answer, and the call under the sixth seal of the kings and great men of the earth, the bond and the free, to the rocks to fall, and to the mountains to cover them from the face of him who sat on the throne ? Were the addresses of the interpreting angel ? If not, how did their inscription in the book contribute to their revelation to the prophet? Were the first five chapters which preceded the opening of the seals, embraced in the volume? Is such a supposition reconcilable with the representation that the whole of its contents were unknown and undiscoverable by creatures? If, as these writers assume, the whole of the events belonging to each seal be not denoted by the symbols of that seal, but partly by others inscribed on the exterior of the scroll, what means are there of determining what those events are ? On what grounds that are not wholly arbitrary, and at war with all order and certainty, can it be assumed that the series of events denoted by the second, third and fourth seal, begin after those of its predecessor had closed ? But if that assumption be not authorized, -and it is indisputably clear, that they are cotemporary through long periods-on what principle can different classes of cotemporaneous events afterwards revealed, be divided among those cotemporary seals?. And finally, if the book were the Apocalypse and not a symbol, why was it not after the visionary exhibition, delivered to the apostle ? Why was he directed to write what he saw, raiher than copy or deliver to the churches that which was already written by the pen of the Almighty? The assumption is manifestly embarrassed in every relation with insuperable difficulties.
As then the whole revelation was obviously conducted without any reference to the inscription on the book; as the seals served no other office than to signify that the purposes of God were unknown and undiscernable by creatures, and their opening by the Redeemer no other end, than to show that to him alone belong the power and right to unfold and execute those purposes ; and as the law of symbolization itself imperatively requires us to regard the volume as a mere representative; it is manifest that those who deem it the Apocalypse itself, and found their constructions on that assumption, are wholly in error; and the inextricable difficulties in which their theories involve them, exemplify the embarrassments that usually spring from a neglect, in the exposition of the book, of the law of analogy.
CHAPTER VI. 1, 2.
THE FIRST SEAL.
And I looked when the Lamb had opened one of the seven seals. And I heard one of the four living creatures say, as a voice of thunder, Come. And I looked, and lo, a white horse, and he that sat on him having a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering, and that he might conquer.
There is no indication that the spectacle thus displayed to the apostle was a mere delineation on the scroll. Nor is the description compatible with that hypothesis. So far from it, the symbol, it would seem, did not appear until after the summons by the living creature. Indeed, it was to the horseman undoubtedly, not the prophet, that that summons was addressed. The xai Bets, and see, of the received text, are not admitted in the best editions. The voice of thunder would seem extremely disproportioned if addressed to the apostle ; but appropriate, if designed for the angelic armies, whose number was so vast that the stations of many must have been remote, and who yet cannot be supposed to have been required successively to approach the throne, in order to see the scroll. So far from being a mere picture, or verbal description, the rider and horse, it is apparent from every part of the narrative, and from the laws of symbolization,
were living agents. The apostle not only says that there was a white horse, and that he that sat on him had a bow, but that a crown was given to him, and that after his appearance undoubtedly; and that he went forth conquering and that he might conquer; actions which could not be represented by a single delineation, and which it were incongruous to ascribe to a mere picture. A fictitious action moreover cannot be a representative of a real one, unless it be acted out in vision before the prophet; nor can an agent be the representative of an action. There is no analogy on which to found such a representation, no relations being more conspicuously the converse of each other, and no dissimilarities more absolute, than those of cause and effect. All the symbols of agents in the Apocalypse are accordingly agents, and all actions of agents represented by corresponding actions of symbols. And that mode of representation is obviously requisite in order to a certainty of meaning. Were there no uniform analogy between the sign and the thing signified, -if a thing incapable of action might both represent a thing like itself and an agent ; and an agent, both an agent and a thing incapable of an action ; a cause an effect, and an effect a cause,-then as the relations of the symbol to the thing represented might in different instances be exact opposites, opposite constructions would be equally probable, and all certainty therefore of meaning be wholly unattainable. But that the rider and horse were real agents, not a mere picture, is manifest finally from the scene of his agency, which, as it was a scene into which he went forth, and was the theatre of his victories, was the earth, not the mere scroll, nor the heavens. The opening of the seal manifestly then had no other significance than to denote that it was by the act of the Redeemer that the purposes of God about to be unfolded were revealed; and no other instrumentality in the revelation, than that it was the signal for the manifestation in vision to the prophet, of the symbolic spectacle by which it was followed.
The personage on the horse is a warrior, manifestly from his being armed with a bow; an instrument in chief use in the east
a at that period by cavalry especially, in attacks at a distance. The crown was given him for conquests he had already attained, and denoted that he had gained them for the power from which he drew his authority, and received his crown, not for himself; and that he had conducted his warfare therefore conformably to the ends and laws of his office. Otherwise he would not have received a crown. The office of the horse was simply to exhibit him on the one hand in the attitude in which victorious warriors