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seen the vision. For in chap. iv. 5, where the symbol of the seven spirits was seen, it had appeared before the throne closely connected with the glory of the Father, and previously to the entrance of the Son under the emblem of the Lamb. Another reason may be,” (and it is probably the great reason for the peculiar mode of its introduction in this passage,) " that the character and description of the Son is reserved separately for the last, there to be longer dwelt upon; because he appears throughout the vision to be the prime agent, and the grand object of the whole prophecy; he who, alone of the persons in the Godhead, has taken our human nature upon him, and visibly fought our battles against the common enemy.
He is described to us here, 1st. as in his suffering state; when, having taken the lowly form of a servant, he bare witness to the truth. 2dly. As the first-fruits from the grave'; when, triumphing over sin and death, he obtained the victory for his faithful followers. 3dly. As King of kings”, when, fulfilling all the prophecies which predict the Messiah, he shall reduce all nations under his easy yoke, utterly subduing all usurped dominion. The two first of these offices and characters he hath already fulfilled; the first
the first during his earthly life, the second at his resurrection; the last remains to be completed; and is peculiarly the subject of the prophecies in this book 3."
Well, therefore, may the Apostle conclude with that sublime doxology, in which he has applied all those titles and attributes to the Redeemer, which most of all recommend him as the object of affectionate reverence, or of awe, to fallen man; when
il Cor. xv. 20.
2 1 Tim. vi. 15.
3 Woodhouse, Ib.
we regard him as the merciful Redeemer and the all-powerful Judge of mankind ! “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
The endearing title of “him that loved us,” is applied to the Redeemer by St Paul; and the rewards and privileges, which are the portion of true Christians, are described under the image of a kingdom in other parts of Scripture. “ A kingdom is proposed for the servants of Christ', and they are to reign with him”.” In Exod. xix. 5, God promises to Israel that by obedience they shall become a “kingdom of priests, a peculiar treasure unto God above all nations, a holy nation.” In Isaiah ixi. 6, this promise is extended to the Christian times and to the converted Gentiles, whom St Peter calls a holy nation, a royal priesthood; in which latter expression, as in the words of Moses, the two ideas of kings and of priests are brought together?” In the same manner, the terrors of his final advent, as they are here represented by St John, are aggravated by a reference to those passages both of the Old and the New Testament, in which he is described as “sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven"
a subject of awful reflection to those, who are conscious that they have neglected, while repentance was possible, to look to him who “was pierced” on the cross for their transgressions', and who died for their salvation.
4 Rom.viii.37; Gal. ii. 20 ; Eph. ii. 4.
7 Woodhouse ad locum.
III. The last division of this opening portion of the Apocalypse relates to the glorious appearance of the Redeemer himself, and his commission to the Apostle John.
This portion of the subject is contained between the ninth verse and the end of the chapter.
I. 9—20. 9 “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in
tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,
was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, 10 and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit
on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of 11 a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the
Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and
unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto_Thyatira, and 12 unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And
I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being 13 turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst
of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed
with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps 14 with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white
like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame 15 of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned 16 in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And
he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth
went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as 17 the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell
at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, 18 saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am
he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for
evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which 20 are, and the things which shall be hereafter ; the mystery
of the seven stars 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 which thou sawest are the seven churches."
This last verse explains the meaning which is concealed under the figurative representation of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels, or bishops, of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. This is in perfect conformity with the general tenor of the prophetic language, in which the lights or teachers, and heads of the Church, are represented under the emblems of stars.
Under this symbol, Joshua, David, and Christ himself, are described 1: and the removal of such teachers is represented, in prophetical language, by the stars being removed, covered, darkened, and not giving their light. This vision of the seven candlesticks has its prototype in that of Zechariah, in which, under the image of a golden candlestick, is represented the Jewish Church?; a vision which is closely connected, in its spiritual signification, with this sublime vision of the Apocalypse. For as Joshua was to Zechariah “a type or shadow of Jesus Christ our Saviour, as he is consecrated by God to be the author of everlasting salvation”;" so does the great Antitype, in this vision of the Apocalypse, appear clothed in the dress of a Priest,
glorious, but affecting representation of that office, which he sustains for ' mortal man in the presence of his Father, as our great High Priest, “where he ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
But, in comparing this glorified vision of the Redeemer in the Apocalypse with those which are represented in other parts of Scripture, the uniformity of them is very apparent. When he appeared to Daniel, his appearance was of "a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude?.” When he appeared in glory on the mount of Transfiguration, we read that “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light?” In which passages, as has been observed, “we have all the original ideas which are represented in this vision of St John, but with that varied expression, which implies that St John's copy was not taken from these passages, but from the same kind of original which they had copied 3.” But if this vision of the Redeemer was accompanied by circumstances of terror, which did not attend that which was vouchsafed to the Apostles on the mount of Transfiguration", (because at that time the Redeemer had not undergone those sufferings through which he was to pass to his glory); and under the influence of the surpassing glory of the later revelation, the Apostle, like his predecessor Daniel, “ fell down at his feet as dead;" yet, like him, he experienced, in a remarkable manner, the divine support; though accompanied with circumstances of consolation, which Daniel never knew, and which were derived from the peculiar circumstances attendant upon his incarnation,—from those painful sufferings and that triumphant resurrection, by which the Redeemer has overcome death and “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” What can be more full of comfort and consolation than the words, with which the Redeemer dispelled his fears?
1 Num. xxiv. 17; Dan. viii. 10; 2 Macc. ix. 10; Rev. xxii. 16.
2 Ezek. xxxii. 8; Joel ii. 10; iii. 15; Matt. xxiv. 29, &c. Vide Woodhouse ad locum.
3 Zech. iv. 1, &c.
4 On this subject compare Dr Jackson, Works, Tom. 11. Chaps. 21, 22. pp. 1008_1016.
5 Dr Jackson, Ibid. 1009.