Page images

Lucerna, Christi bajulans lumen. From some passages in Josephus t, it will appear, that the candlesticks of the Temple were seven, each distinct from the other; but that the Romans, when they took possession of them, new-modelled them, to grace the triumphant entry of Vespasian; forming them into one of seven branches; which they certainly appear to have been originally. (Exod. xxv. 31.) But this alteration may have probably taken place. And it agrees with the representation in this vision, wherein our Lord is represented as walking in the midst of the seven lamp. bearers; which could not be so easily conceived, if they had been so many branches.

Among the antiquities exhibited in modern Rome, is a representation of the seven lamp-bearers, or rather of the lamp-bearer with seven branches, which is to be been on the Arch of Titus I.

*" For in all parts the Church preacheth the truth; and this is the " seven-branched lamp, bearing the light of Christ.” Irenæus, lib. v, c. 20. As the Church is the awxnix, or lamp-bearer, so the illustrious characters who have adorned the Church, and given light to the world, are sometimes called the auxror, the lamps, or lights ; such, in the language of Saint John, was John Baptist : exeuvos m d aux nos é maiouros Mau Panw. Joh. v. 35. And in the martyrdom of Ignatius, that venerable apostolical Bishop is said to be duzenus duxan Osüne thy sxass Paulular drawiav. Martyrium Ignat, sect. 1.

† Antiq. Jud. lib. iii, c. vi. 7. lib. viii. c. iv, 1. Bell. Jud. lib. vii. c. v. 5. lib. v. c. v. 5.

Count Stolberg's Travels; Lumsden's Antiquities of Romě ; Dontfaucon's Antiquities. The subsequent history of the original lamp-bearers is as follows: They continued in Rome till that city was plundered by Genseric in 455. They were then removed to Africa, where they remained till the Emperor Justinian, having subdued the Vandals in 534, presented these spoils to the Great Church at Jerusalem, Adr. Reland. de Spoliis Hierosol,

Ver. 13. Like the Son of Man.] The same expression occurs in Dan. x. 16, and it is the appellation which our Lord himself generally adopted; but John (if the Apostle John) had known the appearance of this Son of Man in the flesh; had seen not only his ordinary bodily form, but also bis more glorified appearances, on the heavenly mount, and at his ascension. And we may collect an argument from this his manner of noting the likeness, that the person who saw the vision, was one of the aulotte, eye-witnesses *, of these heavenly exhibitions; and therefore probably the Evangelist Saint John, who alone of the Apostles was living at this latest period of the Apostolic Church.

It is agreeable to the tenor of Scripture, that our Lord is represented as walking amidst his Churches. Walking amidst is the action of one that busies himself to watch and protect those for whom he is concerned. Thus God says to the Israelites, “I will walk among you, and be

your God 7." And, as Daubuz observes, the de xguomu au Q:Bebynæs of Homer, spoken of Apollo, has the same force I. This is the office of our Lord, according to his gracious promise s, “Lo! I am with you, even "unto the end of the world." He is, as styled by Saint Peter, " the Bishop of our souls.” Other Bishops execute an office subordinate to him, and therefore, in those early times, Ignatius, speaking to the Ephesians of their good Bishop, calls him will wx ex pugns TICHOTOS, your Bishop in the flesh.

Clothed with a long garment down to the feet.)

* Luke i, 2.

+ Levit. xxvi, 12.
Sym. Dict. word posture. Matt. xxviii. 20.

See also Matt. xviji. 20. Col. i, 18.
Ignat. Epist. ad Epbes.

This is the dress of a priest * Such is our Lord, “ a priest for ever,” ever living “to make intercession" for his Church f.

Ver. 14, 15. His head and his hair, &c.] The appearance of this heavenly personage is of a similar description with other glorified bodies described in Sacred Writ. Our Lord, at his transfiguration, as seen by Saint John, had “ his face shining like the sun, “' and his raiment shining exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth could white them $.” In the visions of Daniel , “ The Ancient of Days did sit, “whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of “ his head like the pure wool.” And again ||," A man $clothed in" linen, whose loins were girded with fine * gold of Uphaz, his body also like the beryl, and his f' eyes as lamps.of fire ; and his arms and feet like in "colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words 6 like the voice of a multitude.'

In which passages we have all the original ideas which are represented in this vision of Saint John, but with that varied expres. sion which implies that Saint John's copy was not taken from these passages, but from the same kind of original, which they had copied. This may be exemplified in the last.expression. "The voice of a multi " tude,” says Daniel, “ The voice of many waters, says Saint John. They describe the same thing, by the intervention of ideas, which at first sight appear to have no mutual relation, but on comparison will be found truly and symbolically representative of the same original. Obseșve how beautifully they approach each


* Exod. x.xviii. xxix.
1 Mat. xvii. 2. Mark ix. 3.
H.Ch. x. 5, 6.

+ Heb. vi. passim,

Ch. vii. 9.


other in another passage of Scripture: ... Wo to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like “ the noise of the seas, and to the rushing of nations; “ like the rushing of mighty waters * !” This figurative resemblance, having its foundation in nature, has been noticed also in classical antiquity. Demosthenes, dlesirous of acquiring that forcible oratory which should rise superior to the tumult of popular assemblies, was in the practice of declaiming before the waves of a stormy sea.

15. Smelting brass, as if burned brightly in a furnace.] See Schleusner on the word Xuanonebavov, where it will appear that the most learned interpreters assign this meaning to it, which corresponds exactly with the resplendent brightness of the thing seen in this vision. This is expressed by Ezek. xl. :3, and Dan. x. 6. és operis χαλκε στιλέοντος. And πεπυρωμενοι, though in the perfect tense, does not seem to express burned, that is, the fire being extinct, but having been in the act of burning so: long as to have obtained a great degree of brightness So the context 0108 augos, and the parallel passages referred to in the foregoing note, seem to point out; also, ch. x. 1, where the angel's feet are is still mugos.

Ver. 16. Seven stars.] The seven stars in the hand of the great High Priest, are explained below, ver. 20, to signify the angels of the seven Churches. To understand which expression, we may observe, that A[yeaos, angel, in the Old and New Testament, as well as in X profane authors, is generally used to signify a messenger, ambassador, or representative; one who bears a deputed office or commission; and that it rarely occurs in the sense in which we understand the English word, angel,

Is. xvii. 12. See also Psalm xciii. 4. Ezek. 1. 24. xliii. 2. Rev. xiv. 2. xix. 6. Wisd. xvii.

(i. e. a messenger from God), without the addition of the words God or Lord, either expressed, or evidently from the context understood. Examples are numerous, and may be seen in all the concordances. The afgeron, angels, or messengers of John Baptist (Luke vii. 24.) of Christ (Luke ix. 52.) of Peter (Acts xii. 15.) were human beings, ambassadors, delegates. Such were the

twelve Apostles, as the very name implies, messengers, X delegates ; to which Saint Paul adds that of herald

(ungu& ual TOTO0s, 1 Tim. ii. 7.) which has nearly the same signification. They executed the office of ambassadors under Christ t; and the Bishops, afterwards delegated by them, held the same kind of commission. For Saint Paul, mentioning under what name or title such heads of the Church, Titus and others, were to be received, says, “They are the messengers of the Churches, (in the original it is enogloos,) and the glory of Christ I." They held an intermediate and delegated office, between Christ, the Head of all the Churches, and that particular Church to which they were deputed by him or his Apostles. They were the under-shepherds, to whom particular flocks were intrusted, and from whom the Great Shepherd will ex. pect account. To such persons, in so interinediate and responsible an office, the injunctions of their Lord, the supreme Head, are addressed. As he walks in the midst of the seven lamp-bearers, or seven Churches, so he possesses, and directs, the seven lights which are to be placed upon them. The lights which the Churches receive, are derived from him, and pass through his hand. These lights or teachers, and heads of the

Αγελος τε Θεα Or Κεειε.

2 Cor. v. 20. Eph. vi. 20. 1 Cor. iv. 1. 1 2 Cor. iv, 1.


« PreviousContinue »