Page images

one; no being throughout the whole creation, containing angels as well as men. The power of opening this divine book, depended upon worthiness, as appears by verses 2d and 4th; and no created being was found sufficiently worthy.

Ver. 4. I wept much.] The tenderness of feeling producing tears under such a disappointment, is agreeable to the character of St. John. He would lament the loss of the prophetic information, knowing how consolatory it might be to the infant church of Christ in its then afflicted state; and penetrated with grief, that among all the creatures of God, none could be found worthy to obtain it.

Ver. 5. The Lion of the tribe of Juda.] Under the symbol of a lion, the superiority of the tribe of Judah was predicted. (Gen. xlix. 9.) This prophecy had a partial completion in the person of king David, who is an acknowledged type of Christ. Jesus, in his human nature, was • of the house and lineage of David;” but in his divine nature, he was more. He, who was before all worlds, by whom the Father made this world, and decreed its redemption, was the cause and origin, and, as it were, the Root of the spiritual conquests achieved by the Son of David, at the same time that he was a branch of that tree. Isaiah therefore calls him not only the branch, but the Root also of Jesse, (ch. xi. 10.); and St. Paul quotes the passage, applying it to Christ. (Rom. xv. 12.)

Ver. 6. In the midst of the throne, &c.] The cherubim were represented as “ stationed in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne ;" but the expression here is “ in the midst” only; and the station is further explained, by adding

in the

midst of the four living creatures and of the elders.” This is the inner, and central, and most dignified situation, to which the Son only can have access; “ far above all principalities and powers, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” So in Rev. xxii. 1, this station is called “ the throne of God, and of the Lamb.'

A Lamb.] Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom alone this supreme station could be designed, is frequently represented under this symbol of innocence, led to suffer at the altar for the sins of mankind, as prefigured in the daily service of the Temple. He appears as a suffering Victim, the character which endears him above all others to sinful and mortal man; and which, thoroughly considered, is found to agree perfectly with that more splendid description of him above, where he is styled “the Lion of the tribe of Judah ;" for it was in this low and suffering form, that he fought against the enemies of human salvation, and overcame them. The prophecies of the Old Testament, describing the Messiah, sometimes as a despised Sufferer, sometimes as an irresistible and triumphant Conqueror, appeared dark and irreconcileable, until the event showed the truth and consistency of both predictions, when “ the Lord of glory” effected the salvation of the world, under the character of an innocent, unresisting victim.

Apviov, here translated “ a Lamb,is a diminutive from Aps, Apvoç, Agnus, Agnellus. (Schleusner.) As such, it is expressive of tenderness and love. St. John uses it in this sense, as the words of our Saviour to Peter, Bookɛ ta Apvia you. Feed my lambkins, my beloved little lambs, my Christian flock, for whom I have suffered. (John xxi. 15.) Here he is himself the suffering, sacrificed Lamb.

As it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, &c.] The word copayuevov implies that the Lamb appeared with a wounded neck and throat, as if smitten at the altar, as a Victim, “as a Lamb for the slaughter,” eni opavnv. (Acts viii. 32; Isa. liii. 7.)

Seven is a number expressive of universality, fulness, and perfection, (see ch. i. 4.); and as a horn, in the figurative language of Scripture, is emblematical of power, so the seven horns of the Lamb signify his omnipotence, as the seven eyes do his omnipresence and omniscience.

“ All power,” says our Lord to his disciples, " is given to me in heaven and in earth.” And this he said immediately after he had vanquished the formidable enemies of man, Sin and Death, under this form of a victim. (Matth. xxviii. 18.)

Ver. 8. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials, full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.] This adoration is paid to the Lamb; and, uniting with many other passages of holy writ, authorises that worship of praise and thanksgiving, which Christians of almost all descriptions offer up to the second person of the Godhead, the Redeemer of man. The cherubim, as before, lead in the song

of praise; the elders unite in it, bearing every one of them harps, and vials of odours, or incense. These are borne by the elders only, as the masculine ekarToç shows; and as most appropriate to their form and to their office, as“ priests to God.”

The Vial, pialn, was a patera or basin, in which were deposited before the altar the offerings of meal, or incense, according to the law: the latter being a compound of various sweets and odours, (Exod. xxx. 34; xxxvii. 29; Lev. xvi. 12.) was probably intended to be expressed by the word OumapaTwv; for the offering of this incense was accompanied by the prayers of the congregation, (Luke i. 10; Ps. cxli. 2.) which are here called “the prayers of the saints,' At the dedication of the tabernacle, the twelve elders or princes of Israel, offered each of them a golden spoon or patera, full of incense. (Numb. vii. 10, 14, &c.) The elders here make a similar offering to be deposited before the altar of the throne. (See Daubuz and Vitringa.)

Ver. 9. A new song.] New, because the sufferings and subsequent glorification of Christ, had furnished a subject of joyful exultation and song unknown to former ages; unknown to the inhabitants of heaven before this disclosure of it under the New Testament. (Matth. xiii. 35; 1 Pet. i. 12, 20.)

Kings and priests.] See note, ch. i. 6.

[ocr errors]

Ver. 10. Ten thousand times, &c.] “ An innumerable company of angels :” (Heb. xii

. 22.) and “let all the angels of God worship him.(Heb. i. 6.)

Ver. 13. Blessing, and honour, and glory, &c.] The received translation, by leaving out the article which is found in the Greek, in this and similar passages, has not attained the sense of the original, which implies not only that praise, honour, power, should be ascribed to God and to the Redeemer generally, but the particular and supreme praise, &c. which belong only to the God of heaven. In the Lord's prayer, the article is translated with proper effect, “ thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory;" and so it should be here. To this we may add, that the word Eulovia, does not seem properly rendered by the word blessing. Blessing descends from the superior to the inferior. (See Heb. vii. 7.) I would substitute the word praise.



The opening of the first Seal.

Chap. vi. ver. 1, 2.

1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.”] The voice of the Lord from heaven appears, in many passages of Scripture to be a glorious and terrible sound, like thunder: and to this it was compared in John xii. 28. In the representation now before us, the voice comes from the throne, from the cherubim " in the midst of it, and surrounding it.” And it calls St. John to come near to the throne, there to see more certainly and commodiously the symbols prophetic of future events, as they appear in a sort of coloured delineation, upon

of each seal. Ver. 2. And I saw, and behold a white horse.] The horse is a noble animal, employed by the Eastern nations principally in war; so that in scriptural language, a horseman and a warrior are used synonimously. The description of the war-horse in the book of Job, is highly poetical. (Ch. xxxix. 19—26.)

the opening

« PreviousContinue »