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Deity,'—the awful “ One sitting,” The Twenty-four are associated with the operations of the Holy SPIRIT. For here there is no mysterious Being seen, as in the former case, but “ seven Lamps of fire ;" these Lamps pointing rather to the energies and gifts of the Blessed Spirit than to His Person.
And hence it may perhaps be, that in the one emblem we see the Holy Church in its aspect towards God; as indwelt by God; the Organ of God; the Tabernacle and Throne of God;-and that in the other we see the Church in its relation towards the world ; the Church in its ministerial and sacerdotal capacity; the conservator and guardian of the Faith (the Twenty-four are afterwards seen as forming the foundations of the Everlasting Temple); the vehicle of the “ seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
“These seven Spirits of God (writes Mr. Curzon) are sent forth by Christ into all the earth, and so represent the Apostles and others commissioned by Him to preach the Gospel to every creature. The whole Christian Church seems thus represented as ministering in spiritual things : which shows its missionary character, in opposition to the restricted privileges of the Jewish system.”—P. 29.
So that while the Cherubic emblem probably symbolises the Church in its innermost essence and idea and Divine perfection, the Pa. triarchal and Apostolic emblem represents it in its mediatorial functions towards the world.
The Cherubim are seen engaged in no ministerial work with reference to earth. Their myriad eyes are directed to God alone. Their sole business is with “Him that sitteth upon the Throne," who “ dwelleth between the Cherubim,"—that awful One with whom they are here seen so mysteriously and intimately associated : their employment, to offer Him ceaseless adoration and worship. Their occupation is Heavenly, not earthly : they address God, not man.2
1 The question whether the Dread Being seated on the Throne symbolises the FATHER, or rather, the whole Blessed and undivided Trinity, may be seen dis. cussed in Cornelius à Lapide. Both interpretations are probably correct; and while the representation points particularly to the Person of the Father, it not the less, generally, includes a reference to the whole Trinity in Unity.
? The“ Come and see" (ch. vi.), ordinarily supposed to be addressed by the four Śwa in succession to S. John, forms, we believe, no exception to this statement, In the first place, the best authorities agree that the reading is incorrect, and that in each case there is but a single word uttered by the Living Creatures : “ Come." (Epxov.)
The question next arises, To whom is this word addressed ?
And who are these Riders? The first is universally admitted to represent our · LORD Himself (cf. Ps. xlv. 4–6). And probably, in some sense, the three suc
ceeding Riders equally represent our LORD; as, speeding on His way, and mounted on His mystic Charger, His visible Church-He ever and anon appears, in different stages of His continuous Advent; coming, now in mercy, and now in His “four sore judgments.” And thus, for example, we find Him as it were identifying Him
Whereas the Elders are seen engaged in Priestly and Ministerial work; presenting the prayers of the Saints, and on two occasions administering instruction and consolation to the Blessed Apostle, (Rey. v. 5 ; vij. 13-17.)
The fão appear to be an intense symbolical representation of the Human Nature of our LORD—the Body of the Incarnate Redeemer-extended and imparted from Himself, by means of the Sacraments, to His Elect, who are thus taken up into Him, made one with Him, glorified with His own glory, and consecrated to be the “Dwelling” and “ Rest” of God for ever. This is the True Temple and Throne of the Most High, the various sides, or modes of manifestation, of which, as exbibited in the perfect Life of the Redeemer, are revealed and brought out in the Quadriform Gospel,
Whereas the Twenty-four symbolise the Church as to its visible, earthly composition and organisation, made up of the 12 of the Old and the 12 of the New Dispensation, united in one Faith, ministering and mediating, as well as worshipping
4. We have thus glanced at the first three, and the last three members of the sevenfold series, and their mutual relation.
The central member stands alone. “Out of the Throne proceeded Lightnings and Voices and Thunderings ;” a collocation which may seem suggestive of the Three succeeding groups—Seals, Trumpets, Vials—which characterise this division of the Apocalypse : the Seals bringing to light the obscure prophetic future of the Church; the Trumpet-Voices (cf. Rev. i. 10; iv. 1) sounding forth their notes of warning, preparation and alarm; the Vials dealing out wrath, indignation, and judgment.2 self with the second dread Rider, the Minister of War, in these words : “I am not come to send peace on earth, but a Sword.”
The divers appearances of the 'O 'Epxóuevos are consequent upon the different phases through which His Church, as His visible representative, passes.
It is worth noticing that this characteristic word "Epxov, so expressive of the deep heart-yearning and intense longing of the whole Church on Earth and in Paradise, occurs just seven times in the Apocalypse.
1. “I heard one of the four Living creatures saying, as with a voice of thunder, Come."
2. “ I heard the second Living creature saying. Come."
It is to be observed that in the 5th and 6th cases the Text. Recept, has, incor. rectly, 'Erdé, instead of Epxov.
Not“ Lightnings and Thunderings and Voices” as in our E.V. 2 May there be some secret allusion to the Three Divine Persons in this symbolic triad ;-the illuminating flashes suggesting the Holy SPIRIT ; the Voices, the Incarnate Son (Rev. i. 10–13); the Thunders, the “FATHER of an Infinite Majesty ?” We may perhaps see also a mystic parallelism with our Lord's well known triad, “ Sin, righteousness, and judgment:" the Lightning glances of the Holy SPIRIT convincing of Sin ; the Voice of the Incarnate Redeemer (through the agency of the same Spirit) telling of Righteousness ; the Thunders of the FATHER announcing Judgment to come.
ning operations in emblem ofting, like un representatibol of the
But where, in this ballowed and solemn scene in Heaven, with its sevenfold group of Mysteries, is there any direct symbol of the Blessed Redeemer? We have an ineffable representation of the Eternal Father in the “One sitting, like unto jasper and sardine stone.” We have an emblem of the Holy SPIRIT, as manifested in His operations in the Church, in the “Seven Lamps of fire burning before the Throne.” But where is the Great Head of the Church militant and triumphant, where is He the peculiar Object of the Love and Praises and Adoration of all the redeemed in Heaven and earth? We look in the central position of the whole group: but we see Him not. We are but dazzled by the blinding lightning-gleams, bewildered by the awe-inspiring voices and thunderings which issue from that abyss of unapproachable majesty; as though betokening the presence, hitherto undiscernible, of some peculiar and dreadful Mystery. But as yet the Mystery is not disclosed ; and the remaining features of the group are recounted in order. Thereupon follows the marvellous detailed description of the “ Living Creatures :"i then the reference to the sealed Book ; and the angelic challenge to open it. At length the Apostle, strengthened and comforted by one of the Elders, is enabled to discern and gaze upon the central Mystery of all. There, in the very midst, where pought could hitherto be distinguished save awful Lightnings, and Voices, and Thunderings, is now seen the OBJECT round which the whole system of Wonders clusters. “I bebeld, and lo, in the midst of the Throne, and of the four Living Creatures, and in the midst of the Elders, stood a LAMB as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." Here is the culininating Mystery of all: Incarnate God sacrificed for man. And now from the “ thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” peals forth the Anthem of jubilee, echoing through the everlasting vaults in its sevenfold cadence, “Worthy is the LAMB that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
Ere we leave this Scene in Heaven, there is one other point in connection with it, which we cannot pass over without notice. It is this : that in the wondrous sevenfold group depicted by S. John, we seem to have but a symbolic representation of the famous sevenfold sequence of Christian Verities enunciated in plain words by S. Paul in the 4th chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. « There is : “One Body” — The Body of the Incarnate Redeemer, the Temple ever; here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein')
and Throne of GOD—(“as God hath said, I will dwell in It and I will walk in It.” “ Here shall be My Rest for
i The language in which the description is conveyed, forming itself into a succession of threes (ch. iv. 8—11); a fact which has doubtless unconsciously stamped the passage as appropriate for Trinity Sunday.
typified in the Quadriform Cherubim. “One SPIRIT”—Doubly pourtrayed; in the seven Lamps of fire
burning before the Throne of God, and the seven eyes of
the Lamb sent forth into all the earth. “One Hope”—The emerald Bow; telling of God's unfailing cove
nant-promises, of His mercies ever fresh and new, and of the “Crown of Glory that fadeth not away, eternal in the
Heavens." “One LORD”—The “ LAMB as it had been slain.” “One Faith”—The Faith of God's elect, the otepeòs Oeueríos ToŨ
Okoũ (2 Tim. ii. 19), symbolised by the twice Twelve—the
Rev. xxi. 12–14.) “One Baptism”—The glassy sea in whose crystal depths we are
“begotten again unto a lively hope.” “One God and FATHER”—The awful Being seated on the Throne,
“in sight like jasper and sardine stone." The arrangement of the two series is different. That the order of each has its own mystery we cannot doubt.2
But we must not allow these interesting and alluring (we trust not wholly idle and visionary) speculations to divert us longer from the book at present under our notice, whereby these thoughts have been suggested.
A very few words however will be necessary to dispose of this “Scriptural Key” which claims to unlock all the arcana of the Apocalypse.
Mr. Curzon's “ short and easy” method of dealing with the Revelation of S. John, is simply as follows.
Duly recognising the fact, on all sides admitted, that our LORD's address in the 24th chapter of S. Matthew presents many parallels with the disclosures of the Loving Apostle; he first maintains that the whole of the Apocalypse is, in that chapter, contained in germ; —and possibly he may be so far correct. He next proceeds to an
1 The Twenty-four are enthroned and crowned, as typical representatives of the victorious “ Faith which overcometh the world;" and to which the promise is made “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My Throne.”
S. Paul's sequence is as follows. 1. One Body; 2. one SPIRIT; 3. one Hope ; 4. one LORD; 5. one Faith ; 6. one Baptism ; 7. one God and FATHER.
Here again there appears to be an inverted parallelism.
iv. And lastly (as in S. John's series) the “One God and FATHER" is associated with the mystic Cherubim in which “ He dwelleth”—the one Body-the Sacred Manhood of Incarnate God.
For another arrangement of this celebrated sequence, vid. Ecclesiastic, Vol. XV:
arbitrary division of our LORD's discourse. He maintains that it is susceptible of classification under seven heads. (Whether this again is the case or not, we are not quite prepared to say : though we certainly do not accept our author's division.) He arranges these different subjects or heads,—these so-called leading statements of our LORD-in an arbitrary order of his own : not the order followed by our LORD. And then he lays down, that this (and no other) is the sequence of events opened out in the Apocalypse : that this particular series is introduced again and again (for no conceivable reason, apparently,—veiled each time in new forms of imagery ; that, commencing with the seven seals, it is seven times repeated, in seven different modes of typical illustration, and that it closes the whole of the Revelation.
What a waste of language on the part of the Apostle! And what a disheartening announcement, moreover, for those who, allured by the promise of the “ blessing" attached to the devout study of this Divine Book,"search diligently” into its meaning
-to learn that, after all, their labour is useless. For the whole meaning lies in a nutshell; and each succeeding sequence is nought save a naked and objectless repetition (disguised in a new suit of figurative clothing) of what has gone before.
Now these seven heads, or prophetic statements, which comprise the whole of the Apocalypse, are the following :
1. The Gospel is to be preached, with certain effects.
Now that all these events are referred to in the Apocalypse is most true; and they are doubtless introduced, moreover, as illustrations and prophetic shadows of more appalling and world-embracing occurrences yet to ensue.
But this latter truth our author steadily refuses to admit. It interferes with the simplicity, with the “clearness and consistency” of his scheme of exegesis. He maintains that these several announcements of our LORD and His Apostle have no ulterior reference whatever: for prophecy “ has its distinct period of fulfilment, and to that it must be limited. No double interpretations or successive fulfilments can be admitted !”
Now to refute this monstrous assertion, or seriously examine a theory of Apocalyptic interpretation based upon such foundations, is quite beside our purpose.
We will simply exbibit, in conclusion, one or two of the results which follow from its application.
Let us take (as a simple example) the case of the numbers, which