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But when Christ came, this Mystery, which was in » great measure hidden from former Ages, was brought into a clearer Light by the Gospel. At our Saviour's Baptism, God the Father declar'd him by a Voice from Heaven to be? his beloved and only-begotten Son t, and the Holy Ghost descended on him at the feme time, in the Shape of a Dove, to bear witness of him: where we have all the three Perw sons of the Trinity mention'd, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost •, all and each of which are after severally stil'd, God bltj[ed for ever, having all the Titles and incommunicable Properties and Perfections of the Deity distinctly ascrib'd to them: which made St. John to affirm, that there are three that hear Record in Heaven, the Father* the Word_ and the Holy Ghost; and these three are me. i John 5. 7.
From hence the Church took occasion to profess and declare their Faith in this great Point, and to pay their solemn Praises and Adorations to the three several Persons: yea, tho this Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity was daily own'd in the Hymns, Creeds and Doxologies of the Church, yet one Day was thought fit to be consecrated to the celebrating of. this great and adorable Mystery.
And becanse Christ's visible ascending up to Heaven, and the Holy Ghost's visible descending from thence, gave no small Light and Confirmation to this great Truth • , theresore the Sunday aster Whitsunday, which was before observ'd as the Octave of Pentecost, was made choice of for this purpose. And this is the Day'on which we now commemorate the Holy Trinity. Accordingly, the Collect foe the Day teaches us,
First, By the Confession of a true Faith to acknowledg the Glory of the eternal Trinity.
Secondly, tn the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity.
Thirdly, To pray for Grace to be kept stedfast in thjs Faith against all Adversities and Opposition whatever. For the
First, The Epistle for the Day sets forth something of the Glory of the eternal Trinity: From whence we may learn to acknowledg and adore it. This St. John here doth in a Vision, representing God tha Son iitting on the Throne of his Father, and coming with his Holy Angels to judg| the World. The Vision- begins in the first Words y Afier this I looi'-d, and behold a Door was open'd in Heaven. Here he seems with St. Paul to be wrapt up to the third Heaven^, i Cor. 12.2, Where looking about, he faw as it were the-. Door of Heaven open'd unto him • , And the first yoke that 1 heard (faith he) was as it were of a Trumpet talking with \ me j which said, Come up hither, and I will stiew, thee things, which must be hereafter. That is, by the, help of a shrill • loud Voice, imitating the Sound of a Trumpet, he receiv'xl.Revelations of some future things, which should in time, come to pass• , which things we may suppose related to the last Judgment. Upon the sight and hearing of these things,; immediately (iaith he) / was in the Spirit, that is, in a Trance. or Extasy, like St. Paul in the/orecited Place, Whether An, the Body or out of the Body, he could not tell, G.od knowethi. Or else, his being in the Spirit, might be his feeling some secret Impulses or Motions of God's Holy Spirit stirring < within him. And behold (faith he) a Throne was set in! Heaven, and• one sat on the Throne. The.Throne here represented to him, as set up in Heaven, Was a,Throne erec-j ted for Judicature arid the Son of God, to whom theFather hath committed all Judgment, is the Person here brought in as sitting upon this Throne, whose Glory is after describ'd by the Lustre or Shining of precious Stones ; 1 for in the next words he tells us, that he ihat, sat on the Throne, 'was to look upon like a Jasper and a Sardine Stone j, and there was a Rainbow round about the Throne, in Sight like «cnto an Emerald: that is, the Majesty or Colours wherein he was represented, were like unto the Colours of a Jasoer and Sardine Stones the former, to wit the Jasper Stone,: for its Firmness and Hardness, represents the Power and Omnipotence of God ^ the latter, the Sardine Stone, for its fiery Redness, represents the Justice of God, who will come in flaming Fire to consume the Adverfary, Heb. 12.28. 'The Rainbow that was round about the Throne, was an Em-; biem or Token of God's Covenant made with Man, as we read. Gen. 9. 13. The orient Colours whereof represent th'e Brightness that was round about the Throne, and the | Appearance of the Glory of the Lord; Ez,ek. 1.28. And this >s said to be in Sight like unto an Emerald, which for its pleaAnt Greenness and Mixture with other Colours,, represents s the Goodness of God, and his mixing Mercy with Judg-. ment• , delivering his People, at the fame .time that he destroys the Ungodly. . . .' i
Moreover, Round about this Throne (as the following Words declare) there were four and twenty Seats., and upon the Seats I saw four and twenty Elders sitting, clothed in whitt Rayment, and they had on their Heads Crowns of Gold. Where by the Seats are meant, so many Chairs plac'd about the Throne, and by the Elders fitting on them, are meant the Saints who at Christ's coming to Judgment, shall fit as Assessors with him. So he himself told his Disciples •, When the Son of Man shall fit on the Throne of his Glory, ye also flail fit upon twelve Thrones, judging the twelve Tribes of Israels Mat. 19. 28. which made St. Paul speak of It ias a thing certain and well known, Do ye not know (faith he to the Corinthians) that the Saints shaU judg the World? 1 Cor. 6. 23. meaning, that 'tis certain, that at the great final Judgment of all the World, the Saints shall bear Christ company in judging the Wicked, and shall sit with him in pronouncing Sentence against the evil Spirits. Which Elders or Saints are said to be clothed in white Raytnent; that is, in Garments representing Purity and Innocence, as white Linen doth: by which it appears, that white Garments are not such bad Attire, as some would make it, when the Saints are here represented as array'd in them. And these are faid to have on their Heads Crowns of Gold; meaning', that they have receiv'd that Crown of Glory, which God the righteous Judg shall give them in that Day.
To which 'tis added, that out of the Throne proceeded Lightnings, and Thundrings, and Voices: signifying, that as there were Lightnings, and Thundrings, and terrible Voices heard, at the giving of the Law, to awe Men to the observing, and terrify them from the breaking of it; so \vill the like terrible Signs and Tokens appear, at the giving in Evidence, and pronouncing Sentence against the wilful Violators of it
And there were seven Lamps of Fire burning before the Vhrone , which are the seven Spirits of God. These Lamps are here interpreted to be the Holy Angels, which attend the Throne of God, and are as miniltring Spirits, sent forth to minister to them, who shall be Heirs 01 Salvation. But the Lamps and the Spirits here being both reckon'd to the number Seven, hath made some think them to be.meant of the seven Angels of the seven Churches of Asia. -% (though the confining them to these, may perhaps be onlyj a Conjecture, founded more in a Fancy about Numbers, fthan on any good ground of true Reasoning. Furthermore. Itissaid, . • - .' Tha£
That before the Throne, there Wm a Sea os Glass tike unto Crystal: Where by the Sea, is meant the Multitude of Persons or People* that shall then stand before the Tribunal of God, express'd here by a Sea, or Multitude of Waters, which in this Book often signifies a Multitude or Croud of People coming like Waves one upon another; as we read, Rev> 17.15* By the Sea of Glass like unto Crystal, May be meant a Multitude of People then appearing, whose Consciences like a Crystal-Glass shall reflect: and lay open all their Thoughts and Actions, and make them visible before the Judg: tho some would have this Sea of Glass to be a Figure of Heaven, represented as a Sea for its Largeness and Extent ; and of Glass, for its Purity and Splendor. But I leave this to the Wisdom of the Learned.
To go on, 'tis here farther faid, that in the midst of the "Throne^ and round about the Throne., were four Beasts full of Eyes before and behind. Who these four Beasts or living Creatures in this Representation were, is Variously Coniectur'd by the Wtiters on this obscure Book: some understand by them the four Apostles, James Bishop of 'Jerusalem our Lord's Brother, Peter, John, and Andrew. By their being full of Eyes before and behind, they understand their having the Gift of interpreting Scriptures , by which they could look backward* and declare what was past, and> having the Gift of Prophecy, they could look forward, and foretel what was to come. But these being only Conjectures, let tis go forward, and consider the Description here given of thehn
The first Beast was like H Lion, the second like a Calf the third had the Face of a Man, and the fourth was like a flying Eagle. These likewise are by sundry Authors variously interpreted: The Jewish Writers take these four Likenesses for the four Ensigns or Standards of Israel, Viz.. The Likeness of a Lion in the Camp of Judah, of a Man in the Camp of Reuben, of an Ox in the Camp of Ephraun, of an Eagle in the Camp of Dan; of which Likenesses we read also in the Prophecy of Ez,ekiel, Chap. 1.10.
Others again take these four Likenesses for Representations of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ; which they take from the Beginnings of their several Gospels,
St. Mark, for beginning his Gospel with the Voice of one crying in the Wilderness, Prepare ye the Way of the Lord, wont to be represented by a Lion.
•St.'Matthew, for beginning his Gospel with the Birth and Genealogy of our Saviour, is represented by the Face of a Man. . i'
St. Luke, for beginning his Gospel with the Prophet Zathary, who was us'd to offer Sacrifices, is represented by an Ox.
St. John, for beginning his Gospel with the Divinity of Christ, is represented by a flying Eagle, which soars high, and carries our Contemplations up to Heaven. These Conjectures have occasion'd the picturing the four Evangelists Vfitbi these Resemblances.' _i J . .
Now these being but uncertain Guesses about doubtful Matters, we may lay no great Stress upon them, being content to be ignorant at present of some things, which We may hereafter |better understand. And so much for thfc first Part of this Vision of St. John, which teaches us to acknowledg the Glory of the eternal Trinity: for here we find God the Father appointing, God the Son judging, and God the Holy Ghost approving and executing the Sentences pronounc'd at the last and great Day.
. The Second Part of it will reach us, in the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity. For the four Beasts, or living Creatures, whatever they are, are said to have each fix Wings about them, to make them quick and nimble in God's Serviceand to be full ef Eyes within., to give the in a full sight of their Duty: And these rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! Where the thrice Holy denotes the three Persons of the Trinity, and the once Lord in the singular Number, betokens the Unity of the Godhead in all three ; and their not resting day and night, invocating and praising of him, denotes their continual worshipping of this Trin-Une Deity, whose Eternity, is describ'd by these words, Who was, and is, and is to come; that is, who was before all Time, is at present, and ever will be. And when those Beasts, or living Creatures, give Glory, and Honour, and Thanks to him that sat in the Throne, who liveth for ever and ever ; the four and twenty Elders, or Assessors, at the fame time sall down before the One God, that futeth on the Throne, and worship him alone ihat liveth for ever and ever ^ all of them casting their Crowns before the Throne, and faying, in the singular number, Tmu art worthy, O Lord, to receive Glory, and Honour, and Power ; for thou Vol. IV. Part 2. G hast