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the Lamb, is more difficult to conceive, as the economical character and relations of the persons in Trinity are not written in the volume of nature, but only in that of revelation.
To see how these different orders may be represented as singing praises to the Redeemer, it is necessary to remark, that the introduction of sin produced the greatest apparent confusion in this lower world. Till the Son of God was re
vealed in the character of a Saviour, Satan appeared as if he had been wiser than God, and had completely frustrated the benevolent intentions of Deity in the creation of the world. But the revelation of the Saviour furnished a decisive proof, that nothing had happened by the introduction of sin which God had not foreseen, nor any thing which he would not overrule for a more signal manifestation of his glory, and for the bestowment of a more abundant life upon a chosen company of the human family. It was never meant, in the secret purpose of God, that the paradisiacal state of things should continue any length of time; it was only a temporary scene, which was soon to be closed, and which was to be succeeded by a very different order and constitution of things. The theatre of the world had been erected chiefly for the display of the glory of God as a Redeemer. Accordingly, the book was no sooner received by the Lamb, than all the sons of God shouted for joy.
In the original constitution of things, creatures were placed in a state of immediate dependence upon God the Creator; but, in the new settlement, they are placed in a state of immediate dependence upon God the Redeemer. By him do all things consist,' Col. i. 17. He is given to be the head over all things to the church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,' Eph. i. 22, 23. the physical as well as of the moral system. There is, therefore, the same reason that the irrational tribes should sing of him in their sphere as that angels and men should sing of him in theirs. They cannot indeed, any more than angels, say, that he redeemed them to God by his blood; but they may
He is the head of
sing in truth and say, that He who is the Redeemer of men is their Lord, that he is the head of the system to which they belong, and that he is infinitely worthy to be praised.
But, as the redeemed from among men have a special interest in the mediatorial character of the Son of God, if any heart is peculiarly affected at the consideration of the work of Christ, it may be expected to be found among them. Accordingly, the living creatures and the elders, who were represented in vers. 8, 9, as the first to strike the note, are introduced again in the close of the chapter, as the last to conclude the song, ver. 14: And the four beasts said, Amen; and the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. The living creatures said, Amen: they gave their full and cordial assent to all that the holy angels and the other orders of creatures had sung. It was their earnest desire that Messiah's praise should be glorious; and when they saw such harmony and cordiality among all orders of creatures, in his praise, they expressed their high satisfaction by a loud response. We have no mention of any thing uttered by the four and twenty elders: their satisfaction was greater than language could express; and therefore, in the exercise of holy wonder and admiration, they fell prostrate before the throne, and worshipped with their spirits him that liveth for ever and
The cursory view we have now taken of these introductory chapters ought to fortify the mind against all slavish fears, to afford the richest consolation, and to inspire us with the strongest confidence and hope, respecting the safety of the church. What though thunder and lightning proceed from the throne! while the bow of the covenant continues to surround it, and the dispensation of judgment as well as of mercy is in the hand of Christ, it is impossible that she can be injured. When John recollected what he had seen in heaven, he could not but mock at all the efforts of the enemies of the church. The
thrones of secular princes may be razed; but the throne of the heavens continues firm. The most solemn compacts and treaties between princes may be broken; but the covenant of God with the church is an everlasting covenant. In all ages, this mystical bow is in sight like an emerald. Times may be so tempestuous, that the ablest minister may be unfit to pilot the vessel of the state; but, as the administration of the Divine government is committed into the hands of Christ, and as he has purchased the church with his own blood, this society will be taken care of. We may, therefore, adopt the language of the ancient church, and say, 'We will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Psal. xlvi. 2, 7.
Rev. vi. 1, 2. 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.
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.
It was mentioned in the Introductory Discourse,* that three different kinds of symbols, viz. Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, are employed to describe a succession of the most remarkable events of Providence, between the times of John and the commencement of the glory of the latter days. Before we enter upon the explanation of the verses presently read, it will be necessary to establish this position by proof; as it will be impossible to compare facts with predictions, while the period to which they refer has not been ascertained.
Different interpreters, both ancient and modern, consider the seals and trumpets as collateral predictions. They suppose, that it is the object of the one to describe the condition of the church, between the opening of the first seal and the pouring out of the first vial; and that it is the object of the other to describe the condition of the Roman state during the same period of time: they conceive that, at the sounding of the first trumpet, the prophet returns to the point from which he had set out at the opening of the first scal, and gives a reexhibition, or second description of the same times, though not of the same events, which he had partly described in the history of the seals.-This method of arrangement necessarily
* See Lec. xxxiii.
gives to each of these predictions a very long period of time for its fulfilment,-a period which cannot be much less than two thousand years. And some interpreters extend their full accomplishment to a season that is even more distant, as they do not suppose that the revolution of the sixth seal will take place till the scenes of the last judgment are disclosed.
Others consider the seals and trumpets as successive, and not collateral predictions. They, therefore, limit the time of their fulfilment to a much shorter period; and refer to facts and circumstances very different from those stated by the former, as proofs and illustrations of their fulfilment.-It is impossible that both views can be correct; and, therefore, when we are just entering upon this region of prophecy, it is necessary that we ascertain, How far the prospect extends, or to what distance we may travel in any of the departments, through the prospective history of the church or of the world.
It is impossible to settle this controversy without a strict attention to the prophecies themselves: and the way in which they are linked together appears to be sufficient to determine, whether they are one continued chain of prophecy, predicting a series of events which follow one another in the strictest chronological order, or are meant to foretell two collateral series of events, which are to be realized within the same period of time.
On both sides it is admitted, that the seven trumpets are the contents of the last seal; and that the preceding seals are not simultaneous, but successive; that is, the events of the second seal are not contemporaneous with those of the first, but followthem in the order of time; the events of the third follow, in the same order, those of the second; and, in like manner, those of the other seals follow one another, in the strictest chronological order, till we arrive at the seventh. But this seal is as much a part of the mystical book as any of the rest; and, if all the preceding seals follow one another in the order mentioned, by what rule of interpretation is the seventh turned out of the succession, and made to revert upon times and sea