« הקודםהמשך »
and hair were white, as white wool, and as snow; an emblem of Christ's divine existence from all eternity, whiteness of hair naturally indicating old age. And his eyes were as a flame of fire, as piercing as the flame of fire, penetrating into every thing as he himself says: “I am He, that searcheth the reins and hearts.” Apoc. ii. 23. His feet were like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace; the feet make the extremity of the body, and appear here inflamed as brass in a glowing furnace, to show that at the extremity or end of time, Christ will come to destroy the world by fire. His voice was as the sound of many waters; his voice sounded like the noise of many flowing waters, as terrible as the roaring of a tempestuous sea. Such will be his voice in denouncing sentence against the wicked at the last day. In his right hand he held seven stars, which will be explained below, ver. 20. And from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword, the terrible weapon which Christ will use, as we shall see hereafter, to slay Anti-christ and his armies. It appears to proceed from his mouth, as ready to execute his command. It also shows in general, that Christ punishes his enemies. Lastly, his face shone as bright as when the sun shineth in its full power; this is the bright pleasing countenance which he will show to his saints at the last day.
Thus appears the Son of Man, arrayed in dignity, with the marks of his unlimited power and dominion, with the symbols of his divine and human attributes, and as the sovereign Administrator of his Church.
V. 17. “ And when I had seen him," continues St. John, “ I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not, I am the first and the last
V. 18." And alive,* and was dead. And behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell.
St. John, struck at the awful appearance of his Lord, falls down at his feet as dead; but is raised up by Christ, who tells him not to fear, and adds, I am the first and the last: I exist before all created beings, and shall continue to exist when time shall be no more; I am from all eternity, and shall be to all eternity. I am alive and was dead: I am the living one; life is essential to me, as God; but I died, as Man-God; and behold I am now living for ever and ever. I hold the keys of death and of hell; mine is the power of opening the graves, and raising the dead bodies; mine is the power of opening hell,
* In the Greek text, “the Living-one."
and drawing thence the souls, to reunite them to their bodies: and thus I am He that shall resuscitate all mankind, and shail be their Judge.
V. 19. “ Write therefore the things which thou hast seen, and which are, and which must be done hereafter."
Our Saviour here orders St. John to write the scene he has already seen, and the things which are, or which have just now been dictated to him; and to write also the things which aust be done hereafter, that is, the history, that will preser y lo given him, of the events which will happen in the Christian Church.
V. 20. “ The mystery of the seven stars," continues our Saviour,“ which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches."
Here Christ himself explains to St. John the mystery or meaning of two particulars: the seven stars, which ihou sawest in my right hand, are, or denote the angels of the seven churches in Asia, that is, the bishops of those churches : and the seven candlesticks are, or represent those seven churches. Let us also observe, that these seven candlesticks. or seven churches, may very well represent all the churches of the christian world; and in that case, our Saviour, who is placed in the midst of them, is naturally exhibited as adminis fering and governing the whole.
HISTORY OF THE FIRST AGE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
CHRisT proceeds, in the second and third chapters of the Apocalypse, to dictate to St. John particular instructions for each of the seven above mentioned churches, which as they do not belong to the general history of christianity, we shall pass over, and shall now proceed to the fourth and fifth chapters, which open a general magnificent scene, that prepares us for the particular transactions.
Prelude to the Opening of the seven Seals. Apoc. chap. iv. 1. “After these things I looked," says St. John, “and behold a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard as it were of a trumpet speaking with me, said : Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must be done hereafter.
V. 2. “And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. . V. 3. “ And he that sat was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
No sooner had St. John received, in the preceding vision, the documents he was to transmit to the seven Asiatic churches; when behold! a new scene displays itself. Heaven opens. St. John is invited up thither by the voice which had spoken o him before, that is, by St. John Baptist, and is told he shall see what is to happen in future ages. On a sudden appears a throne, and the Almighty himself seated upon it, shining in the brightest lustre of jasper green and sardine red, the green colour, as best proportioned to the human eye, speaks his mercy, and the red his justice: these two attributes bearing a particular relation to mankind. The throne is surrounded with a rainbow, in which shines remarkably a most beautiful green, like that of emeralds. This rainbow, with its bright green colour, denotes the covenant of reconciliation aná peace, which God made with man after the deluge.
V. 4. “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads crowns of gold.”
Round the throne of God appear sitting four and twenty ancients, representing the saints that preceded the age of christianity, and for that reason called ancients. They are clothed in white to express the immortal glory they possess in heaven; and their crowns of gold show their royal dignity, God admitting them to sit as judges with him. In the same manner it was said, that Christ makes his saints kings, Apoc. i. 6.-See p. 18.
V. 5. “And from the throne proceeded lightnings and voices, and thunders: and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.”
The lightnings, loud voices, and thunders, which come from the throne of God, announce alarms and severe hardships, such as persecutions, dissentions, calamities, &c. by which he tries the fidelity of his servants on earth. And the seven spirits of Gnd, who appear under the form of burning lamps, are seven angels as before mentioned. Apoc. i. 4. standing ready to execute the divine commands.
V. 6. “And in the sight of the throne was as it were a sea of glass like to crystal : and in the midst of the throne and round about the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.
V. 7. “ And the first living creature was like a lion: and the second living creature, like a calf; and the third living creature, having the face, as it were of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying.
V. 8. “ And the four living creatures had each of them six wings: and round about,* and within, they are full of eyes."
The extensive sea of glass here described, transparent as crystal, represents what may be called, the floor of heaven, Before the throne of God and round it stand four living creatures of an extraordinary shape, which denote the four great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremy, Ezechiel, and Daniel. Their bodies are described full of eyes both before and behind, an emblem of their prophetic sight, that penetrates into all ages, past, present, and to come. And they being also full of eyes within, indicates that their extensive knowledge arises from an interior divine Inspiration. They have each six wings, in the same manner as the seraphims appeared to the prophet Isaias, Isa. vi. 2: Two wings serve to cover their face, two their feet, out of respect for the Deity: and the two others serve to fly, that is, figuratively express their expeditious readiness to carry and deliver the divine instructions and messages.
Some have imagined these four symbolical living creatures to represent the four Evangelists, but we think improperly; as St. John was still living, and there present in person. Besides, the scene exhibited here to St. John represents the times and persons that existed before the age of christianity. The first living creature is here said to resemble a lion, the king of beasts; because the prophet Isaias, represented by it, was descended by the royal race of David. The second living creature resembles a calf, and represents the prophet Jeremy, in his character of a priest; the calf which was the principal victim in Jewish sacrifices, being on that account the emblem of priesthood. The third living creature, exhibiting Ezechiel, has the countenance of a man; because God, in speaking to that prophet, always addresses him by the name of Son of man. The fourth living creature, denoting Daniel, resembles a flying eagle, on account of the sublime oracles of this prophet, who soars to the highest object, and views the succession of all the great empires, that were to rise up in the world
* In the Greek, “six wings about him; and within,” &c.
to the end of time. Probably these four principal prophets are to be understood to represent all the prophets of the old law.
V. 8. “And they (the four living creatures) rested not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come!
V. 9.“ And when those living creatures gave* glory and honour and benediction to him, that sitteth on the throne, who Jiveth for ever and ever.
V. 10. “ The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
V. 11. “ Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things, and for thy will they were,Ť and have been created."
The Almighty being seated on his throne, in the splendour of his majesty, with the marks of his supreme power, surrounded with the august choir of the ancient Saints and Prophets; these Prophets, represented by the four living creatures, are constantly employed in offering their homage to him and singing his praises. They cry out day and night, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty ! &c. repeating three times Holy, probably in honour of the Blessed Trinity; and for the same reason they give to God three different kinds of praise, glory, honour and benediction, or thanksgiving. And whenever the four living creatures sing these praises, the four and twenty ancients are ready to join their homage, by falling down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adoring Him that liveth for ever and ever; and in token of their acknowledging all their happiness and pre-eminence to be his gift, they cast down their crowns before the throne; and thus they conclude their homage: Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, honour, and power: because thou hast created all things, and for thy will they are, and have been created; that is, we acknowledge thy power, O Lord, because by thy Omnipotence thou hast created all things; honour is due to thee, because by thy will they are, or continue to exist; glory is due to thee, because they were created to serve to thy glory
Apoc. chap. v. 1. “And I saw,” says St. John, “ in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book, written within and without, sealed with seven seals."
The book, which Almighty God holds in his right hand, contains the detail of his administration of the Christian church;
* In the Greek, “shall give,” &c.-" the four and twenty ancients will fall down," &c.
+ In the Greek, "they are."