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already. The duality of God's kingdom is preserved in all descriptions of it. The spirits, or eyes, sent into all the earth, represent the Christian church through the world. But here the double imagery must again be kept up, and, as the spirits represent the church, the church must represent the power that inspires it, which is the Holy Ghost. The seven horns, also representing the civil power, must represent God himself, as its author, so that the Trinity is represented in the lamb, and the unity of Godhead by the throne and him that sits upon it.
6. The rainbow symbolizes that God's throne is the seat of the promises, and represents its final establishment in the world.
7. "And round about the throne were four-and-twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four-and-twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment, and they had on their heads crowns of gold."
1. The seats.-A seat represents, in symbolic language, a separate power. Twenty-four seats would symbolize twenty-four seats of dominion; but, as the figures in this scene are all double, the twenty-four will represent but twelve.
2. The elders.—A man represents a body of governTwenty-four elders, therefore, as the symbols are double, will represent twelve governments.
3. The crowns.--There are two different words, in the original scripture text, which are translated crown; but one should be rendered diadem, and the other crown; for one word is stephanos, and the other diadema. The diadem is a symbol of independent power, and the stephanos of delegated power. The crowns of the elders
are of this latter class, and signify that their power or civil authority was received from a higher source, and was responsible to it. These twelve seats of delegated power and elders, doubly represented, perfectly coincide with the twelve dominions the apostles are to receive from Christ in the final kingdom.
8. "And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings, and they were full of eyes within." Some persons make a great ado about these living creatures being called beasts, but as one was a lion, and another an ox, our translators were tolerably correct.
1. The beasts.-A beast is always used to represent a civil power, and two of these four beasts are a lion and an ox. A man is, also, used to symbolize a government, as the willful king, the ancient of days, &c.; and one of these creatures was like a man. An eagle is often used, by the prophets, as a symbol of a civil power. These four beasts must, therefore, represent civil power; and as they are all blended together in the same work and throne, they must be a twice doubled representation of the very same power. "They had eyes before and behind." This shows that their power was external, or national, and that they watched over the exterior department of power.
It is remarkable, that the four national standards of Old Israel precisely coincided with these four beasts, and were the representatives of nationality. A lion was the
standard of Judah and two tribes on the east of the camp of Israel; a calf, or ox, was the standard of Ephraim and two tribes on the west; a man's face was the standard of Reuben and two tribes on the south; and an eagle flying was the standard of Dan and two tribes on the north. To these the vision is plainly conformed.
2. The twenty-four wings full of eyes.-A wing is a symbol of a power. Isa. xviii. 1: "Wo, thou land shadowed with wings," or governments. As these twenty-four wings (each beast having six) were full of eyes within, a spiritual power must be represented, which looks to internal affairs, as the state looks to outward matters. The number twenty-four, is just a double symbol for twelve. As these wings give motion to the beasts, so the church of Israel gives velocity and power to its nationality.
9. "And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal." These two symbols are associated by their locality, and must be counterparts of each other. The seven spirits, we have already shown, symbolized the church and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is but one spirit, but a capital letter being used of the seven, seems directly to show a symbolic reference to divinity.
A sea denotes a body of people; and a sea of glass shows a pure people; and, as glass is of a thicker consistency than water, it would seem to represent the civil authority of Israel and of Christ; while the lamps represent the church and the Holy Ghost.
In all this description, the supreme government and the Trinity are represented double by a single symbol; and the subsidiary kingdoms of God are represented by double symbols.
This doubling is in accordance with Joseph's dreams, and his declaration to Pharaoh, that the dream was twice doubled, because the dream was certain and the interpretation was sure. Now, as one of Pharaoh's visions was given to interpret the other, so in this vision there are double forms of the very same things, so blended as to make one glorious picture.
The worship of the redeemed millions before the throne, is prophetic; and, indeed, the whole vision of the heavens before John, was prophetic of the final and universal prevalence of God's kingdom on earth; and, as Christ's second advent is placed at the beginning of Revelation, so this final kingdom also comes before the prophecy is delivered, as indicative of what would result when prophecy was all ended.
THE BOOK OF SEALS-FIRST PANORAMA OF THE WOrld.
"I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals." "And no man was able to open the book within to look thereon." "And he (the Lamb) came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne." "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to loose the seals thereof."
Before the giving of this prophecy to Christ, the history of the world was already in the hands of Israel; but Daniel had declared that it would be "a sealed vision, until the time of the end;" and this sealed book coincides with the declaration, "the words are closed up and sealed." As God gave the prophecy of the book of Revelation to Christ, and he to John, and John to the world; and as it, like Daniel's vision of the same great period, has ever been sealed to men, we can not understand the breaking of the seals by Christ, to refer merely to the giving a new prophetic history of the church and the world; but we understand it to be symbolic of the giving of the prophecy; and this, then, of the greater exercise of the power to bring the prophecies to a complete fulfillment, in the establishment of the throne of God and the Lamb forever among men. This interpretation is in accordance with the double symbolism of John's writings, and with a scriptural consistency of interpretation of the Old and New Testament prophecies. The seven seals show that the book contained seven great prophecies; and, being written without and within, shows other prophecies additionally.
THE FIRST SEAL-OR CHURCH AND STATE UNION.
"When the Lamb opened one of the seals, I heard as it were the voice of thunder, one of 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."