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denotes, is a sign of covenanted mercies to the church. “ He that sitteth on the throne,” I can have no doubt, is an emblem of our exalted Saviour, sitting on the throne of providence, having all power in heaven and in earth given into his hands. “ The lamb that was slain," which seems in this vision to be shown as distinct from the king on the throne, is certainly, indeed, an emblem of the Saviour; and this at first view may destroy the notion, that the same person can be represented by the emblem of the king. But, in my view, it is far less incongruous with the symbolical language of Scripture, to suppose two symbols of the same person in his two different capacities, than to suppose any similitude whatever of the absolute Deity of the Father. The King, therefore, is He that hath overcome, and is set down with the invisible Godhead upon his throne. #1
The emblem of the four and twenty elders, who sit around the chief throne, is easily deciphered. Their white robes are symbolical of priesthood ; their crowns, of the kingly office. Now, it was the acknowledgment of the redeemed, (chap. i. ver. 5, 6,) that Christ had not only · loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood," but that he had also made them “ kings and priests unto God and his Father.” Connect with this the
Compare on Daniel, chap. vii.
1“ This representation has a close resemblance to what it pleases the Holy Spirit to display, at other times, of the majesty of Jehovah. Isaiah, vi.; Ezekiel, i. 2, 6. llis ineffable majesty can only be represented
by sensible and earthly images." -DEAN WOODHOUSE.
If we consult the passages here referred to, we shall have no doubt that it is the person of the Son, and not of the Fa
was manifested to these prophets.
promise to the faithful, (chap. iii. 21,) — “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me upon my throne,
, even as I also overcame, and am set down with
Father on his throne:” and the emblem is clearly significant of the church triumphant in heaven.
In the seven lamps burning before the throne - emblematical of the Spirit in his sevenfold gifts, or of the completeness of that unction that flows from the exalted Saviour upon all his churches -- and also, in the sea or laver of glass like unto crystal, we are still reminded of the Jewish tabernacle, or rather of that heavenly tabernacle, and of that throne of grace, which the worldly sanctuary represented.
We have here, too, in the same situation which their golden models occupied in the Jewish tabernacle, the cherubim of glory, -- " in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne.” That the “ four beasts,” or as we should render the term, the four “ living creatures," in this vision, are the same emblems as the cherubim and seraphim in the visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah, will be manifest from a comparison of these visions, especially that of the last mentioned prophet; to the exposition of which I refer.
What these cherubic beings symbolize, has not been uniformly agreed upon by commentators: but they cannot be emblems of the Divine Being, or of his attributes, as has been already remarked; because they appear as worshippers of him that sitteth on the throne: their perpetual employment, indeed, is worship: “ they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come!” They are
emblems, therefore, of some blessed ministering spirits, who serve in the presence of the manifested glory of Jehovah. But yet they are not angels, because they are plainly distinguished from them below : " And I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands," &c. *
And as they cannot be angels, so, by the representation of the vision before us, they cannot be the powers of nature personified, nor inferior creatures, as distinct from men and angels; for it immediately follows: “And every creature which is in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever !”
As, therefore, neither God, nor his holy angels, nor the powers of nature, nor inferior animals, are denoted by these “ living creatures,” they must symbolize the redeemed themselves, or some part of them. And this, too, is clear from what follows.
In the eighth verse of the fifth chapter, we find these cherubic beings join in the thanksgiving of the elders to the Lamb; nay, they lead the song, and express the same expectation of reigning upon the earth, as he begins to unfold the volume of prophecy : “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts,- or living creatures, and the
— four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new
* Chap. v. 11.
+ Ver. 13.
song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.” We are, therefore, warranted to conclude that “ the cherubim," as well as the crowned “ elders,” are symbols of the church triumphant, which is one day to be manifested on earth, and with Christ to take the kingdom and the dominion under the whole heaven. What are the different parts of this blessed company, and what their several functions, as represented by these different emblems, perhaps we cannot know till the day shall reveal it; but these cherubim seem to be stationed nearer to the throne and to the Lamb than even the crowned elders !
I have already expressed my notion of the emblem of “the Lamb as it had been slain;" that it is but another symbol for him who sits as a king upon the throne: accordingly, he is seen“ in the midst of the throne,” as well as in the midst of the cherubim and angels. In short, it is an emblem of something now in God, that is to say, of the manhood taken into God of that human nature which God the Son (who personally sat on the throne) had taken upon himself, in order to redeem mankind, and to accomplish the ultimate purposes of creation. He, according to the flesh, was “ the shoot from the root of David," “ the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” Judah's future victorious Chief. He is represented in the vision as prevailing, by his worthiness, to have the book of futurity unfolded, and its contents revealed for the instruction of his redeemed people. Hence the title of this closing book of Scripture, “ the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which
God gave unto him, to show to his servants things that must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified"or, "made it known in signs and symbols-by his angel unto his servant John."
I agree with those expositors who consider the subsequent vision as divided into distinct portions, in the following manner :
First, into seven greater divisions, by the opening of SEVEN SEALS, that seem to disclose in order the volume or roll of destiny:
Next, the last of these seals is divided into seven other divisions, marked by the sounding of SEVEN
Lastly, the seventh of these trumpets is divided into seven new divisions, by the pouring out of SEVEN VIALS, which finish the wrath of God, and lead immediately to the establishment of the promised kingdom.
Such is the order of the prophetic narrative of the Revelation, upon which we must keep our eye continually fixed. Various other scenes and symbols are introduced in the vision, to illustrate various mysteries in the dealings of God with his church, and in the permitted hostility of the rulers of the darkness of this world; but these are to be considered in the nature of episodes or interludes.
To understand the vision, we must keep constantly in view the progress of the main train of events, marked by the opening SEALS, the sounded TRUMPETS, and the VIALS of wrath poured forth. And all these symbols will be found to signify, in order, various remarkable epochas, with their subsequent eras, in the future history of mankind; all leading, in their successive series, to the deve