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kind of nearness to which none but themselves can lay claim. These hieroglyphical ministers were not set down precisely upon the same spot, but placed in different situations about the throne. As the sons of Levi were dispersed among the tribes, so these living creatures were stationed in such a manner, that the elders behind the throne, and on the two sides, might be edified by their ministrations, as well as those that were immediately before it. And as the kingdom of Christ shall one day be universal, they were stationed according to the four cardinal points, that the lively oracles committed to their trust might be proclaimed all the world over.
Their number was only four, but this was sufficient to represent the whole of their sacred order ; especially as the elders are only twenty-four, and any greater number would have militated against all just proportions between ministers and people in the Christian church. Even this number is double the proportion that was allotted under the law. Then it was as one is to twelve ; but here it is as one is to six.
Their powers of vision were very remarkable : for they were full of eyes before and behind. All the living creatures of "Ezekiel had four faces; they could, therefore, see in all directions at once. Those of John were possessed of what was nearly equivalent, as they were full of eyes behind as well as before. They had eyes to look to the throne for instruction in the mystery of the Divine will, for countenance and support in their work, and for success in their ministrations ; they had eyes also to look behind them for inspecting the state of their flocks. At one and the same time they could fix their eyes upon the throne and upon the elders. Ministers are to study all the different intimations of the mind of God; like Timothy they must pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine; they ought to make themselves as familiarly acquainted with the matters of revelation as possible. In this way only can they expect, that their profiting will appear to all. They are also to take heed to themselves, and to the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers.
They are next described from their general appearance : ver. 7, The first was like a lion. This animal is every where acknowledged to be the king of the forest; he is distinguished by a bold majestic appearance, and is the symbol of an undaunted spirit: a man of true bravery is said to be as bold as a lion.—The second was like a calf, or, as it might with more propriety have been translated, an ox,*-an animal which
performs the most laborious services without a murmur, and is therefore the symbol of a meek, patient, and laborious disposition. The third had a face as a man.
The human countenance is the hieroglyphic of wisdom, prudence, sagacity, and intelligence. By his intellectual endowments, man is widely distinguished from all other animals, and exalted in the scale of being far above them : what his physical strength cannot accomplish, his ingenuity can perform ; and there is hardly a valuable quality in any of the inferior tribes which he cannot make subservient to his own designs.-The fourth was like a Aying eagle. This bird is distinguished by his natural affection, the rapidity of his motion, the strong, piercing quality of his eye, and the great height to which he can soar in the clouds. In the natural history of the eagle, few things appear to be more remarkable, than the strength of his sight, and the tower. ing, elevated station to which he can raise himself in the air. Hence this bird is the symbol of deep research, and of ardent and raised affections.
Among the ministers of the gospel there is a great diversity of gifts and attainments. Some of them are lions in respect of courage; they can stand without being appalled in the midst of dangers which would make others tremble like the shaking of a leaf. Some, in respect of a patient endurance of wrongs,
• The word is taken indifferently to denote a calf or an ox. The last of these senses is generally adopted by the Septuagint. It is the term which they employ in the corresponding prophecy of Ezekiel, chap. i. 10, and which our translators have rendered by the word ox. It would have been better if they had adopted the same translation here ; as few animals are more frisky and playful, and more im. patient of restraint, than a calf; and therefore it could never be the hieroglyphic either of a laborious, or of a meek and patient disposition.
and an indefatigable spirit for ministerial services, may
be fitly symbolized by the ox. Some are distinguished by their wisdom, skill, and prudence in managements, and are therefore appropriately represented under the emblem of the human countenance. And some are like the eagle; they have a strong mental eye, they have a deep insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, and, at the same time, possess the warmest and most elevated affections.--Ezekiel's living creatures were the hieroglyphics of angels; they had, therefore, all these different qualities combined, for each of them had four faces. But John's living creatures were the hieroglyphics of a certain order of human beings; and it is seldom that we meet with such a combination of talent, either in the ministers of religion, any
other order of men. Those ministers that are most distinguished for one set of ministerial gifts, are seldom famed for others. It is exceedingly rare to see the strong intellectual powers symbolized by the eagle, combined with the patience and perseverance symbolized by the ox; or the bold and undaunted spirit of the lion, combined with the prudence and sagacity indicated by the human countenance.
If ever there was a period in the Christian church, when ministers were severally possessed of such a combination of excellence, it was in the earliest age of her existence. But, even then, a distribution of talent was conspicuous. Paul had his special attainments; Peter and John, and all the rest, had each of them theirs. In later times, the distribution is still more obvious. But the scanty measure in which one set of gifts is afforded, is often more than compensated by the abundance of others. The habit of application generally does more than the greatest strength of intellect ever attempts; and sometimes the godly minister, that never was the admiration of the multitude, either in the pulpit or in the church court, but who followed up his public instructions by private tuition, and by a prudent and pious example among the people, has been honoured to be the spiritual father of a numerous progeny to the church ; while many that were possessed of the most brilliant gifts have laboured in a great measure in vain : and of those who have been the idols of the people, not a few have set, like the sun, in a very dark and cloudy sky.-When ministers are introduced to their respective charges, by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, and the call of the people, there is good reason to suppose, that the gifts with which they are endowed are such as the Holy Ghost, as well as the peo. ple, hath judged to be fitted for their edification, and that their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But when they are placed in the front of the throne, or behind it, on this side or on that, without any regard to scriptural rules in the settlement, things are then turned out of their proper channel; and we have no scriptural data upon which to form an opinion, whether their gifts are really suited to their circumstances or pot.
These living creatures are also described from their extraordinary powers of motion, as in the beginning of ver. 8 : And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him, Symbolical, like every other language, admits of many combinations. It does not consist of radical terms only; many of its words are compounds, or derivatives. We have different examples of this in the chapter before us. These symbolical living creatures are presented to our notice by a combination of figures. The first appears as if it were a sort of griffin, composed of the lion and the eagle :-while the second had the general aspect of an ox, he had nothing of that sluggishness in his motion which characterizes that animal; for he was furnished with the wings of a bird :-the third appears to be a messenger of Heaven, peculiarly fitted for despatch ; for swift as is the motion of the eagle, this symbolical man is much more remarkable for the celerity of his movements, as, instead of two, he has no fewer than six wings. The same we find was the case with the last-mentioned, and with each of the two first.
The sixth chapter of Isaiah sufficiently explains what we are to understand by the wings of these hieroglyphical living creatures. There we are told, that each of the Seraphim had six wings ; with twain he covered his face, with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. The uses to which they were applied shew that they were the symbols of action and of reverence. Impressed with a deep sense of their inferiority to Him that sat upon the throne, and of their unworthiness, notwithstanding their angelic attainments, to minister in the presence of such a holy Lord God, the seraphim veiled both their feet and their faces with their wings; and while two pair of wings were thus employed, a third was stretched out, ready to fly upon the slightest intimation of the will of God. In the same sense we must understand the figure in this text. The station that ministers occupy is the most important that human beings can fill. In all public devotional exercises they are the mouth of the people unto God; and in all those exercises which are purely ministerial, they are the mouth of God unto the people. Hence, they are both the ambassadors of Christ and the servants of the churches; they stand between God and the people ; and if they are properly alive to a situation so exalted and so responsible, they will be filled with reverence and awe; and, at the same time, they will be concerned to do, with readiness and despatch, whatever services God has assigned them.
There is another feature in the character of these living creatures, which remains to be explained ; and it is not less remarkable than any that we have considered : they were full of eyes within. They had extraordinary powers of vision for perceiving external objects, as they were full of eyes before and behind ; but as they were also full of eyes within, they had the faculty of discerning where few persons have eyes to see, or inclination to look. There was no secret, dark, or dangerous cavern of the heart, which they were not in some measure fitted to explore; and, by the same means, they were qualified to watch over the movements of the numerous brood of the serpent which were lodged there. Faithful ministers know something about personal and experimental godliness; hence they are