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Church, are here represented under the emblems of stars; by which, in the symbolical language of Scrip. ture, are signified eminent leaders in God's service. Under this symbol, Joshua, David, and others, and Christ himself, are denoted *. And it well accords to the distinguished presidents and conductors of the Christian Church, whose appropriate reward is an. nounced t, that " they shall shine as the stars for ever " and ever.” And the removal of such teachers is represented in prophetical language, as the stars being removed, covered, darkened, and not giving their light I.
Ver. 16. And from his mouth a two-edged sharp sword coming forth.] This is the weapon by which our Lord and his followers are to conquer at the last; and therefore is again described in ch. xix. 15, 21. In an eminent passage of the evangelical Prophet, confessedly prophetical of our Lord, it is said, “ He shall “smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with “the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked 5." Agreeably to which, the “sword of the Spirit” is called by St. Paul, “ the word of God || ;” and is the weapon with which, according to the same. Apostle, even “ with the spirit of his mouth,” the Lord shall destroy the man of sin [. And the powers of this weapon are again described : “ The word of God is quick **, and
powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword tt."
• Num. xxiv, 17. Rev. xxii, 16. Dan. viii. 10. 2 Macc. ix. 10. † Dan. xii. 3.
Ezek. xxxii. 8. Joel ii. 10. iii. 15. and in other passages. s Is, xi. 4. See also Is. xxx. 28, 33. xlix. 2, Job xli. 19, 21. Ps. cxlix. 6. || Eph. vi. 17.
1 2 Thess. ii. 8. * i. e, alive, Zür, # Heb. iv. 12.
These quotations from Holy Writ cast considerable light upon
passage before us, and shew the nature of the arms, by which our Lord and his Church are to gain their victories ; not by the usual instruments of human warfare, but by the preaching of the word in evangelical purity and power. The metaphor of the sword, employed here to represent powerful speech, may appear bold; “but,” says Bishop Lowth, “ it is just*. “ It has been employed by the most ingenious heatheni “ writers, if with equal elegance, not with equal force, “ It is said of Pericles, by Aristophanes ti
Οθως εκηλει, και μονος των δηλορών
Apud Diod. lib. xii.
his powerful speech Pierced the hearer's soul, and left behind Deep in bis bosom its keen point infix'd.
“ Pindar is particularly fond of this metaphor, and
frequently applies it to his own poetry. Olymp. ii. “ 160, 149. ix. 17."
The Sun.] Our Lord has the stars, the lesser lights, the ministers of his word, in his hand, under his direction ; but he himself alone shineth like the greater light, “The Sun of righteousness, with sevenfold
light I.” But as he is in glory, so shall be likewise his faithful servants after their resurrection. They shall " shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of theit “ Father g."
Here ends the Apostle's description of this appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ; for such he undoubtedly is, from his account of himself, which follows in verse
* On Is. xlix. 2.
§ Mat. xii, 43.
the 18th, and which can belong to none of the angelic natures, but solely to the only-begotten Son of God. It is also to be observed, that our Lord repeats, and applies to himself, all this description, in his addresses to the seven Churches, contained in the two subsequent chapters; and in one of these passages he calls himself o úos Toữ £oũ, the Son of God. Now an angel, or even a good man, in the language of Scripture is called sometimes vios Oes, a son of God; but none except the only begotten, our Lord Jesus, is ever styled å tros 58 @€8, the Son of God. Ch. ii. 18. Add to this, that in the next verse, Saint John is described as prostrating himself before this Son of Man, and no reproof follows, as in ch. xix. 10, and xxii. 9, when he prostrates himself to the angel. This shews the difference between an angel and the only begotten Son of God; and unites, with other passages of Scripture in authorising the worship which the orthodox Christians pay to their Redeemer. Such was the opinion of the most ancient commentators, Το της Θεοτητος τα Χρις8 εμφαινεται μεγεθος, αυτ8 γαρ δελα τα συμπαντα *.
*. Ver. 17. As dead.] The effect here described is such as was to be expected from the conflict of passions in the breast of the Apostle, of surprise and delight, of fear and joy. For, it was the appearance of the Son of Man, who on earth had dignified Saint John with his peculiar love, but it was at the same time awful and alarming
Ib. And he laid his right hand upon me.] The right hand is the hand of protection, and of salvation t, and of fellowship F, and the instrument of conveying spiritual gifts $. The touch felt palpably by the
* And. Cæsariens, in loc.
Gal, ii. 9.
+ Psalms, passim. Acts viii. 18.
Apostle, is agreeable to that part of Scripture which represents our Lord, after his resurrection, as an object of feeling. This passage is sublime*: Mahomet perceived and has imitated it in his fictions : but his imitation is carried to a vicious excess; the hand of God, touching the Prophet, is described to be cold t.
Ib. Fear not. ] The scenery accompanying the visions under the Gospel, is of a milder nature than that under the Mosaical dispensation, which was ushered in at Mount Sinai with so dreadful an apparatus, that none could dare to behold I. “ Fear not,” is the comforting assurance to the Virgin, to Zacharias, to the Shepherds, to the Women at the Sepulchre, under similar impressions.
Ib. I am the first and the last.] See the notes on verses 4 and 8.
Ver. 18. The keys.) To bear the keys, imports the same, both in Scriptural and Pagan antiquity, as to bear power and office. In chap. iii. ver. 7, our Lord is represented to have “ the keys of David;" to bear that
power and office which were attributed to him by the Prophet Isaiah, in the very same words g. It is by these keys that he possesses the sole and exclusive right of opening and shutting to all eternity l.
* “ Wlio can read, if he reads without prejudice, the following " address of Jesus to John, sinking to the ground through fear, and not “ be affected with the greatness of the thought and the expressions ? “ Fear not, &c. &c. v. 17, 18.” Michaelis, Introd. to N. Test. ch, xxxiii. sect. x.
+ Prideaux, Life of Mahomet. Vie de Mahomed par Boulainvilliers, p. 356.
1 Heb. xii. 2 Cor. iii. 7, 8, s Is. xxii. 22.
# See Greg. Neocæs. Oratio Panegyr. p. 73. edit. Paris.; Bp. Lowth on Isajah xxii. 22; and Jortin's Sermons, vol. iv. 366.
Ib. Hell.] By this word, in popular language, is commonly expressed the Gehenna, or place of punishment, only: but this is not the true and proper sense of the word, the sense in which it is to be taken in this passage; for the word Hell will be found in our old writers to answer exactly to the Scheol of the Hebrews, and to the Hades of the Greeks. It is the general
x receptacle of the dead, the place of departed souls, whatever it may be, whether happy or miserable *. And therefore, though I had at first used the word Hades in my translation, after the examples of Bishop Lowth and of Daubuz, 1 afterwards restored this word from the old translation; hecause, rightly understood, it is fully adequate to represent the idea of the 'original: and why should we adopt foreign phrases, when our own language is competent to express what we intend ? Besides, we seem obliged to preserve, in our versions of the Scriptures, this English expression, in conformity with our principal creed, and with the third article of our national religion ; in both of which the word Hell is used; and so used, is continually explained by our catechists to mean the invisible mansion of departed souls. In the earlier forms of our language it was written Hele, being derived from the Saxon Helan, to cover.
Death is a formidable foe, who kills the body; but there is yet a more dreadful enemy, which attacks the soul, in those regions beyond the grave, where “the "worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Both are mentioned by our Lord, in Matt. x. 28, and he points out which is the most formidable. Both are
* See the learned notes of Grotius on Matt. xvi. 18. Luke xvi. 23. xxiii. 43, and Schleusner or Parkhurst on the word 'Adns.