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crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the transparent, that the figures of per- have animal life, as well as beasts. sons were reflected from it as if it The word beast not only degrades were water. The floor, or pavement the signification, but the animals before the tabernacle, on which the here mentioned have parts and appeople stood to worship God, was pearances which beasts have not, and composed of plates or slabs, highly are represented as in the highest polished. It looked like glass, and sense rational.” The revelator seems when persons stood upon it, their to have copied from Ezekiel in this images were so clearly reflected, that description. To describe the apthey seemed almost to be standing proach of Jehovah, the prophet said, on the open sea. Hence, we read, " The heavens were opened, and I Rev. xv. 2, “And I saw as it were a saw visions of God;" chap. i. 1. sea of glass mingled with fire; and “ And I looked, and behold a whirlthem that had gotten the victory over wind came out of the north, a great the beast, and over his image, and cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and over his mark, and over the number a brightness was about it, and out of of his name, stand on the sea of the midst thereof as the color of glass, having the harps of God.” amber, out of the midst of the fire. They stand on the sea of glass, — for Also out of the midst thereof came so the pavement seemed to be; and the likeness of four living creatures. they had the harps of God, because And this was their appearance; they they came there to praise him ; it had the likeness of a man. And was the place on which the people every one had four faces, and every stood when they assembled to sing in one had four wings. And their feet chorus the sacred songs of the temple. were straight feet; and the sole of
In the midst of the throne. The their feet was like the sole of a calf's beings referred to had a very near foot; and they sparkled like the color approach to the throne; they were of burnished brass. And they had nearer to it than were the four-and- the hands of a man under their wings twenty elders. The cherubim seemed on their four sides; and they four to be in the midst of the ark. “ For had their faces and their wings. the cherubims spread forth their two Their wings were joined one to anwings over the place of the ark, and other; they turned not when they the cherubims covered the ark and went; they went every one straight the staves thereof above ;" 1 Kings forward. As for the likeness of their viii. 7 ; 2 Chron. V. 8; Heb. ix. 5. faces, they four had the face of a From this near relation which the man and the face of a lion, on the cherubim held to the throne, came the right side : and they four had the idea of the revelator. | Four beasts, face of an ox on the left side ; they or rather four living creatures. — The four also had the face of an eagle. four beasts were hieroglyphical rep- Thus were their faces; and their resentations, though the word beasts wings were stretched upward ; two seems to be an unfortunate transla- wings of every one were joined one tion ; for they certainly are described to another, and two covered their as intelligent beings, “ saying, Holy, bodies. And they went every one holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which straight forward ; whither the Spirit was, and is, and is to come." " It was to go, they went; and they turn. was a most unhappy mistake in our ed not when they went. As for the translators, (says Dr. Doddridge,) to likeness of the living creatures, render the word zon, beasts; it cer- their appearance was like burning tainly signifies any other kind of coals of fire, and like the appearance animals, that is, of creatures which of lamps : it went up and down throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. among the living creatures; and the idea which men have of an angel, is fire was bright, and out of the fire that of a being of extraordinary inwent forth lightning. And the liv- telligence, having the power of pass. ing creatures ran and returned as the ing from world to world, especially appearance of a flash of lightning;" from heaven to earth, and from earth 4–14. On this long description we to heaven. How, then, is the angel shall offer a few remarks. The described hieroglyphically? Answer: Egyptians, from the earliest antiqui- As a being that we have never seen ty, were in the habit of writing, es- - a human being with wings. So in pecially on sacred subjects, in hie- the description of Ezekiel, his aim roglyphics. In truth, sacred woriting being to describe powers all of which is what the word signifies etymo- were not found in the same creature, logically. The people of Egypt had he was obliged to conjoin different exercised a great influence over the creatures; and in this way he proJews, especially in consequence of duced his anomalous animals. But the long bondage which they had suf- it is not to the form of the animals fered there. It was there, perhaps, we are to look, but to the qualities that the latter improved in the art which he represented by them; and of this kind of writing — expressing these qualities were such as he supideas by images. _ In the passage posed God to possess. In the first just quoted from Ezekiel, we have place he described the approach of a sample of the hieroglyphical style. the Deity. He came in a whirlwind And at what did the prophet aim ? [a sign of great power); he rode on a Answer: To give a description of brilliant cloud, in the centre of which the unseen Deity. He had said, (ver. was a flame, whose effulgence shined 1,) “I saw visions of God;" i. e., out like amber. Out of this cloud emblems and symbols of the divine came the likeness of four creatures, to majesty. His object was to describe, represent the powers or attributes of by emblems, the attributes of God. God. And this was their appearance: The Jews never professed to see God. they had the likeness of a man. PreHe was, in their estimation, a spir- eminently, then, the prophet desired itual being ; but still he was actually to give the idea of intelligence. Every a being, possessing all the attributes one had four faces, and every one of the most perfect intelligence. In had four wings. There never was the prophet's attempt to give a hier- in reality such a creature; but let us oglyphical representation, he sought see what it represented. By four for the most wonderful powers pos- faces they saw in every direction, sessed by any creatures; and these showing the simultaneous vision powers he represents by the images which God has of all parts of the of the creatures themselves, as is universe. Man, the noblest of all always done in hieroglyphics. Some God's lower works, can see but one of these powers he found in one kind way at a time; but God can see all of a creature, and some in another; things, and in all directions, at a and in bringing them together, they glance. So much for the four faces. form an anomalous animal, such as By their wings they could fly, — they never existed, and probably never could pass from place to place will exist. When we are studying through the air. Their feet were hieroglyphics, therefore, we are not straight; they went every one straight to think so much of the outward ap- forward; ver. 12. They were brilpearance of the symbol, be it ever liant, sparkled like burnished brass, so anomalous, as of the qualities in- like the feet of the Son of man, mentended to be represented by it. The tioned Rev. i. 15. They had the 7 And the first beast was like 8 And the four beasts had a lion, and the second beast like each of them six wings about a calf, and the third beast had a him; and they were full of eyes face as a man, and the fourth within : and they rest not day beast was like a flying eagle. and night, saying, Holy, holy, hands of man; and hence all the what he called “the appearance of skill denoted by the human hand the likeness of the glory of the was attributed to God. This is the Lord;" i. 28. T Full of eyes. — See highest degree of skill possessed by Ezek. i. 18; x. 12. Jt is evident the any creature; had there been great revelator had Ezekiel's description er, the prophet would have chosen it. in his mind. The revelator's words Their wings were joined ; and thus, are, “ full of eyes before and behind," although they had the powers of dif- i. e., on every side. They had faces ferent beings, yet there was a sense every way, and, of course, they had in which they were one. All the eyes every way;
The eye is the powers of the four were designed to metaphor for sight and intelligence; represent the powers of the Being and the idea is, that God can see and who called himself One Lord. They understand all things at a glance. turned not when they went ; for as 7. Like a lion. - This is evidently each had four faces, there was no a copy from Ezekiel's hieroglyphics; need that they should do so. Man, i. 10. | Like a calf. -- Ezekiel said, the most perfect being on earth, ox; they are of the same species. sees bat one way at the same time. Face as a man. — This also comes He must therefore turn his body from Ezekiel. | Flying eagle. - No when he wishes to change his direc-one, we should think, could doubt tion. To take away what would be that the revelator followed the prophan imperfection in the Deity, the et. He was not writing the effusions prophet gives his images each four of a sickly brain, but copying from faces; and hence they turned not the standard sacred books of the when they went, but went every one Jews; and when the intent of these straight forward. And now as to the metaphors is seen, and their force likeness of their faces. Each one and power understood, they are had the face of a man, — INTELLI- known to convey ideas of the greatJENCE; the face of a lion, the king est grandeur concerning the Deity. of beasts, – MAJESTY, STRENGTH; the 8. Six wings.
Ezekiel's images .ace of an ox, — [a sacred animal had wings. | Full of eyes. — We vhich the Egyptians worshipped; have already noticed this under ver. hence the golden calf of the children 6. | Rest not day or night, i. e., cease of Israel,] denoting STRENGTH, PA- not from their glorious employment ; TIENCE, FAITHFUL LABOR; the face abate not from the expression of their of an eagle, SOARING,
reverence. This distinction is very The eagle soars to the highest height, necessary to be observed, because it and he has the most piercing sight. is said of the worshippers of the hor. Now let any man, even of the most rible Roman beast, that they have brilliant fancy, put himself into the no rest day nor night;" xiv. 11. But age in which Ezekiel lived, and see the words in the case before us have no if he can devise an image which will such sense as the words bear in the describe more fully and correctly the latter quotation. | Holy, holy, holy, attributes of the Deity. The whole - Thrice holy art thou, O Lord God of the tenth chapter of Ezekiel is on Almighty. This is the most solemn the same subject. Both chapters form of ascription in all the Bible. contain the prophet's description of | Isaiah has a figure very like Eze
holy, Lord God Almighty, which ders fall down before him that sat was, and is, and is to come. on the throne, and worship him
9 And when those beasts give that liveth for ever and ever, glory, and honor, and thanks to and cast their crowns before the him that sat on the throne, who throne, saying, liveth for ever and ever,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, 10 The four and twenty el. to receive glory, and honor, and kiel's, and the two appear to have to say, " In thy sight we are, O Lord, been mingled in the revelator's mind. as nothing. Thou art our Creator. “ Above it stood the seraphims : each All we are thou hast caused us to be. one had six wings : with twain he | And although thou hast honored us covered his face, and with twain he by making us kings and priesis in covered his feet, and with twain he thy church, still we know, that of did fly. And one cried unto another, ourselves alone, we are not worthy and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the of distinction. We render all the gloLord of hosts: the whole earth is ry to thee.” full of his glory ;" Isaiah vi. 2, 3. 11. Thou art worthy. — The song
Was, and is, and is to come. — An which they sung is one of great sig. assertion of the eternal being of God, nificance. It consists of three parts, covering wholly the past, the present, and is in fact the substance of all the and the future.
anthems of praise contained in the 9. Those beasts give glory. — They Apocalypse.
1st. “Thou art worare, in the description of the revela- thy, O Lord, to receive glory, and tor, not only images to represent honor, and power." 2d. “For thou God's attributes, but they are also hast created all things." 3d. “And agents to execute his will; and for thy pleasure they are and were thence they worship him. They created.'' God's worthiness to rewere next to the throne of God; and ceive homage from his creatures not only represent his attributes to arises from the fact that he is their us, but also, as the agents of his Creator, and that he has made them will, are invested with those attri- for a great and glorious purpose. He butes, that they may be his ministers made them for his pleasure. He has the more effectually. Standing next no pleasure in the death of the wickthe throne, they set the example of ed, Ezk. xxxiii. 11, and therefore he adoration, an example which at did not create them for endless death; once infuses itself throughout the and although the wicked die, tempo. heavenly hosts.
rarily, this is not the end in which 10. Four and twenty elders fall donn. God rests as his design, for he has no - They imitated the four living crea- pleasure in their death as such, and tures in their adoration before the permits its reign only for a time, and throne. All heaven worships God; for a good purpose. Adam Clarke all earth should worship Him. That has a fine remark on this passage: liveth for ever and ever. - God is end-“God made all things for his pleaslessly existent; the Being who is, ure; and through the same motive and was, and is to come. T Cast he preserves. Hence, it is most evi. their crowns. - Why they wore those dent, that he hateth nothing that he crowns we have shown under ver. 4. hath made ; and could have made no But when engaged in acts of worship, intelligent creature with the design to they are represented as taking them make it eternally miserable. It is from their heads, and laying them strange that a contrary supposition down before the throne. The pur- has ever entered into the heart of port of this is, that they were moved I man; and it is high time that the
power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
of him that sat on the
benevolent nature of the Supreme book is said to have been written God should be fully vindicated from within and on the back side." How aspersions of this kind.” Thus we could a mere English reader under. have seen that the fourth chapter of stand this? To such a reader the the Revelation contains a hieroglyph- last term thus applied would be unical representation of the supposed derstood to mean the cover, which is dwelling-place of God, of the attri- not very fit for being written on; and butes of the Deity, and the court would, besides, contain no more than of heaven. God is described as wor- might have been contained in one thy of the highest worship from all additional leaf, though the book had beings in heaven and on earth. In consisted of a thousand leaves. Now, closing our notes on this chapter it is the long scrolls or books of the anproper to remark, that the imagery cients were seldom written but on one is kept up in the revelator's mind side, here said to be within, because through the whole Apocalypse. See that side was turned inward in roll. iv. Ô, 8, 9; v.6, 14; vi. 1, 6; vii. 11; ing. When any one of these scrolls xiv. 3; xv. 7 ; xix. 4.
was written on both sides, it contained CHAPTER V.
twice as much as if written in the
usual way. See Ezek. ii. 9, 10. The 1. And I saw. - John here con- chief intention of the revelator, in tinues the vision which he commenced mentioning this circumstance, must to describe in the preceding chapter. have been to signify that this volume He had painted the supposed celestial was replete with information, and residence, with the throne of God, that its contents were not to be meas. and the retinue that surrounded him, ured by its size. - (Campbell, Diss. ii. and rendered him divine honors; and part i. sec. 3.). Sealed. he now proceeds, in the same style, This the same book referred to by to the rest of his vision. In the Daniel? “ But thou, O Daniel, shut right hand. — God held the book; it up the words and seal the book, even was the record of his will ; it was to the time of the end;" xii. 4. “ And in his care; and could not be re- he said, Go thy way, Daniel ; for the vealed until the proper time, and the words are closed up and sealed till proper revelator came. A book the time of the end;" ver. 9. Daniel written within and on the back side. — had foretold the destruction coming Book is not so good a translation as upon Jerusalem ; but he was directed the word roll. The books of the an- to seal the roll until the time of the cients, in outward form and con- end. When the prophet foretold an struction, were very different from event that was not to be of speedy
When we read, as in Rev. vi. occurrence, he was directed to seal 14, that heaven departed as a book up the sayings as if no use was to be when it is rolled together, we see made of the writings at that time, but the absurdity of translating the Greek the fulfilment was to be waited for. word in every case by book; and If, however, the event was near at hence the translators render it in that hand, then the roll was for immediate verse by scroll. The books of the an- use; it was not to be laid away; it cients consisted of long scrolls, gener- was to be kept open. Hence we read, ally parchments, sewed or pasted at the conclusion of the Apocalypse, together, and fastened at the ends to “Seal not the sayings of the proph. two rollers. In the case before us the lecy of this book, for the time is at