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taining laws, and the nourishment of flesh was beneath their feet, under their government. All this mystery, I say, of the cherubim, which we shall have ample room to discourse of under the next vision, is explained by our study of this symbol of the voice of Christ and of his church; because Ezekiel, who had the vision of that glory by the river of Chebar first, and next in the temple of Jerusalem before its destruction, and next returning in glory to the re-edified temple, expressly declareth that he knew it to be the cherubini (x. 20).
It is not now the place to inquire into the particular forms and appearances of those cherubim ; it is enough for our present purpose to have identified them by their voice with the body of Christ, the glorified church in heaven. This is the only point which is brought under our consideration in the passage before us : the rest will take its proper place under the visions of the fourth and fifth chapters ; only we do now claim, by this token of identily of voice, for our High Priest, all the greatness and glory which pertain to that appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah which Ezekiel saw. From this glorious person he received his coninission as a prophet; and from him he likewise received the roll of his prophecies (ch. ii.) Ezekiel therefore was a servant sent by Christ to prepare his way, one of those many who received of his fulness. Moreover, it was from this same image of the invisible God, that he received commandment to destroy the city of Jerusalem (ix. 1). Yea, and These cherubim furnished the fire with which it was consumed (x.ll); teaching us, that the judgments in times past, were brought by Christ through his prophets upon earth, and through his church in glory, even as in the visions (Rev.viii. and ix.) they continue to be brought. Moreover, for a habitation of this glory is the house of the temple rebuilt at Jerusalem, which, being finished according to the pattern and dimensions (Ezek. xli. and xlii.), is taken possession of by this same glory riding upon the cherubim (xliv. 1–6), whereupon lie that dwelleth between the cherubim uttered these words: “Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell iv the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall the house of Israel no more de
file." I know not whether these illustrations of the glory and the greatness of our Lord may prove wearisome to some, who have not understood, nor reflected
the mystery of Christ, to prefigure which and keep up the hope of it, all prophecy, yea, all providence, yea, and creation itself, were ordered of God; but to me, who have learned to desire the sight of Christ in all things, .and to discern the unity of the purpose of God in the diversity of all his operations, these followings of the Apocalyptic thread through the intricacies of the past, these openings of the various prophetic chambers with the Apocalyptic key, do impart an unspeakable delight; and in the hope that some chosen servants of God will take up the method, and use it for the opening of Scripture by means of this Book of Revelations, I do brave the scorn of being esteemed a fanciful and ingenious enthusiast, who hunts for curious coincidences to amuse his fancy withal. Verily, if preachers of the Gospel will not be at pains to compare spiritual things with spiritual, they shall never discern the consistency, the beauty, and the unity of God's word. If, instead of explaining Scripture by Scripture, and wooing the Spirit by most patient and painful searching of the word, they will search for forms of argument and rhetoric, in order to make the small store of truth which they possess acceptable to the people, they may find thereby the unity of their own thoughts, and strengthen their own natural spirit whatever it be, and get for theinselves a name of renown with men of natural understanding, good taste, and cultivated minds ; but the glory of my God, and of his Christ, never, never by such methods shall they procure, nor their own souls attune to high and heavenly things, nor the various diversities of human character join and knit together into the body of Christ with bonds of loving unity, nor (shall I add it? I will add it with fear and trembling, not in judgment, but in love for my brethren's souls,) shall they be able to render an account of their stewardship unto him who sent us to testify of himself, and
of nothing besides, even as he also testified only of the Father. Many will say, Why these digressions to the state of the church and the state of the ministry? My answer is, I cannot help it.
Out of the fulness of a lovioz heart I speak, deep-seated convic
tions I ulter. The tine is short ; I look daily for my Lord, and I wish to leave my testimony behind me.
The next feature of the vision is one of great importance, and to which I enter with an earnest prayer to be enabled to speak the truth : “ And he had in his right hand seven stars.” Rightly to unfold this symbol will require of us a twofold inquiry : first, into the meaning of the stars themselves; and secondly, of their being in his right hand. Now, with respect to the first of these questions, we have this information in verse 20: “ The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand.........the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” With respect to the number seven, we have nothing to add to what haih been said in this and the preceding lectures; that it is to signify all the ministers, as the seven churches doth signify all the churches. All that then were, and all that were to be thereafter ; all ibat now are, and that are to be hereafter, wbile the ordinance of a ministry continueth, and the number of the elect is accomplished, and the new covenant introduced, under which “they shall no more teach every one his brother, saying, Know ihe Lord; but they shall all know him, from the least even unto the greatest." And what is that office? and who that officebearer, which is thus represented by the symbol of a Star, and interpreted by the wame of an Angel? The word Angel, is a Messenger; and the word Evangel, or Gospel, is the good message ; and the word Evangelist, is the good Messenger. Ofttimes in the Old Testament is Christ called the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant; for ex® ample, Zech.iii. 1: “And the Lord (Jehovah) u hom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in." Oittimes in his dis courses doils Jesus claim to be the Angel, or sent one, of the Lord : “ Neither came 1 of myself, but God sent nie; he that sent me is with me." “ I am not alone, but I and the Father that sevt nie.” - The Father that sent me beareth witness of me.” (John viii.) And again, (John X.
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" And the substance of all faith is made to stand in this, " They have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that
thou didst send me” (Jolin xvii. 8). Now in that same discourse he doth declare, that in the same sense in which he was the Angel, or Sent One, of the Father, his Apostles and those who should stand in their room, were bis angels or sent ones. “ As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world” (ver. 18). And indeed the word Apostle meaneth no more than one sent from another: therefore also doth Paul take unto the Christian ministry the title of ambassadors for Christ from God, in whose beseeching God besought, who stood in Christ's stead entreating men to be reconciled to God; and taking them under the similitude of stars or lights, we have Christ denominating himself in one place the Light of the world, and in another place giving the same denomination, saying, “ Ye are ihe light of the world :" He containing the fulness of the light which is inaccessible and full of glory; and so bearing it up, and representing it to us, as that we shall be able to receive, and to reflect it upon others. Likewise the Holy Spirit, whose ministers we are, doth not take any thing save of Christ's, and shew it unto our souls. So that the more faithful and gifted a minister is, the more entirely is he a messenger of Christ. Now it is a messenger's office to report a message. He is the bearer and the utterer of a word. It is not an aci, but a word that constitutes a messenger. A messenger is not he who carries into effect, but he who declares what another desires to be believed, and haply also to be carried into effect. These considerations do lead us at once to the conclusion, that the angel of a church is he who bears the message of Christ thereunto; he who speaks in the name of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ; he who preaches unto that church the glad tidings of salvation. This accordingly is the interpretation which all sound commentators give of the name Angel of the Church. A man he is manifestly, from the things for which he is approved or censured in these several epistles ;-a man who owned no superior in the church of which he was angel, but was himself supreme over it, seeing upon him, as upon one who had the power, falleth all the blame of any disorder or transgression in the church. I mean, he has no spiritual superior upon čarth, and none in heaven save the Lord Jesus Christ.
For if he had deferred to any other, or been in any way under the authority of another, then, surely, that other would have been spoken to with approbation or with censure, whereas there is not a bint of any such co-ordinate or superior power to the angel in any of the seven churches. And to this conclusion we are likewise drawn by the place these stars occupy, which is the right hand of the Head of the church : side by side they lie there in co-equal and co-ordinate rank and dignity. Nor is there a hint in all the epistles of any superiority which one possesseth over another. Equally near are they, and equally dear unto the Angel of the Father. There is no difference, except that which ariseth out of their greater or lesser faithfulness to that one office with which they are invested.
Now this is a most important observation, to which I call the attention of the church, as casting a most steady and glorious light upon the office of a minister of the word. If, as we have shewn, the essence, the only meaning indeed, of the name Angel standeth in his being the person who delivers the message of Christ unto the church, theu most clearly is the person who is invested with this prerogative the chief responsible person, and, as it were, the head of that particular church, under the Lord Jesus Christ, lying in his right hand, hearing his word, and repeating it to the people. I do not say that there ought not to be councils in the church, whereby the government and discipline of the church may be administered. God forbid ! I believe the orders of presbyter and deacon to be of Divine appointment, and that the preshyter or elder is indifferently denominated also bishop or overseer, whose office is to give himself to the pastoral care of the flock. I believe that there is no difference between the pastoral care of a bishop, and the pastoral care of an elder or priest. So far as the watchful cure of souls is concerned, I believe bishops and priests, as we say, ministers and elders, to be alike responsible unto our common Head. I believe furthermore, that any difference in this respect which hath crept into the church is an innovation, a burdensome and evil innovation. But while thus I most firmly believe I do see another dignity, and a higher one, another respon.