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(Phil. ii. 9–11,) “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every
knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
* To receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.'--Here, seven particulars or attributes are enumerated; we may presume, not without possessing some peculiar allusion ;perhaps they may have a relation to the seven horns of the Lamb, considering those horns in the light of crowns; as Jesus is said, Heb. ii. 9, to be crowned with glory and honour. The receiving power, &c., we suppose to be put for receiving the ascription of it. The work of the Lamb had been already accomplished, the only question remaining to be solved being this: By whose power, by whose riches, by whose wisdom, and by whose strength, has this been accomplished ? and to whom do the honour, and glory, and blessing belong? to him, or to some other being ? The united testimony of this multitude show that these belong to him that he is entitled to take all the merit and the praise, for the means are his, and the work has been his; while nearly the same ascription being given to him that sat on the throne, Rev. iv. 11, we cannot do otherwise than consider the two Beings as identic. The power, we may suppose, to be especially the power of God unto salvation—the propitiation of Christ ; the riches, those durable riches, which furnish the ransom of the sinner; the wisdom, that by which justice and mercy have been reconciled; the strength, that of divine righteousness ;—all these are means employed in the work of man's salvation, and the honour, glory, and blessing, incident to the successful result of this employment, can be ascribed only to Christ, as the Lord, Jehovah our righteousness—God manifest in the Aesh.
V. 13. And every creature which is in Και πάν κτίσμα και εστιν εν τω ουρανό και heaven, and on the earth, and under the éni vñs yñs xoà inoxúta rìs yñs, xui ini earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, rīs galúoons ä coni, xaù tù év avroīs zurand honour, and glory, and power, (be) ta, ryxovou héyortası tự xa fruivo tri ton unto him that sittell upon the throne, and θρόνου και το αρνίω η ευλογία και η τιμή unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. και η δόξα και το κράτος εις τους αιώνας
των αιώνων. . $ 142. And every creature,' &c.—The very universality of this ascription of praise, shows us that its utterance is to be taken in some qualified sense ; as we say, all creation continually uttereth the praise of the Lord. But, to be more exact, we repeat what we have before said, that to set forth the cause of praise, is virtually to praise. The wonders of creation set forth the cause of praise to the Creator, and thus in effect praise him; as it is said, Ps. cxlviii. 7-10, “Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps : fire, and hail; snow, and vapour: stormy wind fulfilling his word: mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars : beasts, and all cattle ; creeping things, and flying fowl.” So, Ps. cxlv. 10, “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord!" In like manner, the elements of the economy of redemption, with all the principles subordinate to it—of the law, as well as of the Gospel—of condemnation, as well as of justification—all tend to exhibit the cause of praise, in the character and operation of sovereign grace, and thus in effect praise the Lord.
• Unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.'—The peculiarity to be noticed here is, that the adoration described in this verse is represented as offered to two objects; whereas, in the previous accounts, the ascription of praise is rendered to one of these objects alone. Prior to the taking of the book by the Lamb, the four living creatures are represented as ascribing holiness perpetually to the Almighty God—which ascription is responded to by the prostration and homage of the twenty-four elders. After the taking of the book, the same living creatures and the same elders prostrate themselves before the Lamb, singing the new song; and after this, the angels encircling the throne, and encircling the beasts and the elders, offer their homage, apparently as a response to the new song. And finally, this ascription of praise is offered, by all created beings, to God and the Lamb jointly; which homage to these two objects, as we find from the next verse, is responded to by the Amen of the living creatures; showing us, that whatever apparent difference there may have been in the objects of the preceding acts of adoration, there is a perfect unanimity of purpose in all engaged in them.
We have here three several and successive acts of worship, each consisting of two parts—the offering and the response—the first before God, the second before Christ, and the third before God and Christ. The last bringing, as it were, the two preceding acts of worship into one ; and thus preparing us for the final exhibition of that adoration which is due to the one Supreme God; that is, identifying the Lamb with Him that sits upon the throne, that there may appear thenceforth not two objects of worship, but one only.
V. 14. And the four beasts said, Amen. Και τα τέσσαρα ζώα έλεγον αμήν· και And the four and twenty elders fell down οι πρεσβύτεροι έπεσαν και
προσεκύνησαν. . and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
$143. “And the four beasts said, Amen.'—This may be viewed as the last clause of the preceding verse, and would probably have been better so divided. Every living creature was heard to say, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever; and the four living creatures said, Amen,-So let it be.
The elements of divine sovereignty, or the elements of truth sustaining the principles of God's sovereignty, are here represented as according to the Lamb, a coequality with him that sitteth on the throne ; that is, according to the Son, a coequality with the Father-conceding to the Lamb a participation in that homage which can be due only to sovereignty.
The word be, in the 13th verse, as rendered in our common version, is supplied. There is no verb in the original in its place, and we have as good a right to supply the verb belong, as be. The language of the ascription may be considered declarative of a fact already existing, not of something that is to be. Adopting the order of the Greek, the passage may be thus read, “Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, belong, for ever and ever; and the four living creatures said, Amen."
“And the four and twenty elders fell down, and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.'-Neither Him on the throne, nor the Lamb, are here mentioned; but in the place of these two objects of adoration one alone is presented, the Ever-living. The inference is unavoidable, that this Everliving comprehends the two others; God and the Lamb have been exhibited, first, as each entitled to honour; secondly, to be honoured coequally and jointly. They are now spoken of as identic ; the Sovereign on the throne and the Lamb constituting the eternal God; the element of sovereignty and the element of propitiation coalescing in the exhibition here made of the divine character.
There is some difference, however, in the Greek editions, as to this text; that from which we copy omits the words rendered him that liveth for ever and ever; reading only, " And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped;" that is, they worshipped Him that sitteth upon the throne, and the Lamb; thus joining, by their action, in the Amen of the four living creatures, according coequal honours to the two objects in eontemplation. The difference is not material, for we have the positive testimony of both the Old and New Testaments, that there are not two objects of worship,—that there cannot be more than one ; and that this one will not divide his glory with another, Consequently, if the Sovereign on the throne and the Lamb be both objects of homage and adoration, they must be identic; the apparent difference between them being only assumed for the temporary purpose of illustration.
The whole process of the manifestation exhibited in this, and the last chapter, corresponding with that described by Paul as resulting in the giving up of the kingdom by the Son unto the Father, that God may be all in all, 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.
$ 144. It will be perceived that the principal scope of this chapter is to show the peculiar worthiness of the Lamb; that is, his fitness to open the sealed book :—this fitness arising from his having been slain, or offered in sacrifice; from his having accomplished the work of redemption ; and from the fact of his being coequal, and consequently identic, with the divine occupant of the throne.
The Lamb, as it appears, is known to have been slain, and to be entitled to divine honours prior to the opening of the book. These facts simply, therefore, do not constitute the mystery of the book ; but the book, we may presume, contains particulars (the exhibition of truths and principles) connected with these facts, which connection constitutes the peculiar qualification of the Lamb for opening the book. The book we suppose to . represent a mystery ; and this mystery to be the purpose of God, in the work of redemption-Christ, as the word, or wisdom of God, is fully cognizant of this purpose; while, as the Redeemer, he has wrought it out, or carried it into effect; he is therefore the proper instrument, and the only proper instrument of its development.
The Revelation, or Apocalypse, now being made, corresponds, we apprehend, with that made to Paul, and to the holy apostles and prophets : “ the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ,” Eph. iii. 3–9. This mystery, preached by Paul and the other apostles, and spoken of in dark sayings by the Psalmist and by the prophets, was exemplified, illustrated, and carried out by Jesus Christ, while in the flesh; but there is a spiritual meaning attached to all that he did, and taught, and suffered ; which meaning he unfolds (through the medium of this Apocalypse) in the person of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Speaking of himself as the Lamb, and of the economy, or mystery of redemption, as the Holy City, or Bride; both together constituting that eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, κατά πρόθεσιν των αιώνων, ήν εποίησεν εν Χριστώ Ιησού τω κυρίω ημών, Εph. iii. 11.*
* The word ręóleos, rendered purpose in this passage, expresses something more than a mere latent design. It is a purpose set forth, or the setting forth of a purpose. In Latin, propositio, i. e., ea argumentationis pars, per quam summatim ostendimus quid sit quod probaturi sumus, (Suiceri. Lex.) That part of an argument in which we set forth summarily what we are about to prove: applied to the mystery of redemption, it directs our attention to the shew-bread, a tou apoious,
Thus far, however, we have only seen the Lamb taking the sealed book; a knowledge of its contents is to be gathered from the subsequent chapters. In this stage of the representation, the spectacle presented for our contemplation is that of the whole array of the heavenly assembly, described both in this and in the preceding chapter. The throne, the sovereign upon the throne, or rather one representing that sovereign ; for the apostle appears expressly to avoid speaking of the Deity as himself
The rainbow above, the seven lamps, and the sea of glass, are all before the throne; while the twenty-four elders round about the throne, and the four living creatures in the midst and round about the throne, are singing the new song. An outer circle of myriads and myriads of angels are offering their tribute of adoration to the Lamb, and all in heaven and earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, are ascribing praise to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb; to which ascription the four living creatures respond their Amen, while the twenty-four elders also responsively prostrate themselves in the act of adoration.
Such is the appearance (wonderful as it is) which may be said to be presented by the background of the picture,—a representation of the operation of elements of truth, existing from all eternity.
In the foreground, in front of this assembly, and in the midst of these hallelujahs of every living thing, the LAMB (the Champion) is seen, having seven horns, and seven eyes, possessed of the book, and about to open the seals thereof.
The process of this opening, with the several exhibitions consequent to the breaking of each seal, constitutes the remaining action of this mystic drama; interrupted occasionally by the introduction of a chorus, or the voice of some friendly interpreter, attending the apostle, the only privileged mortal permitted to enjoy the spectacle. Thus privileged, however, as we find from his own testimony, for the sake of those for whose edification he is directed to commit to writing an account of the extraordinary scenes passing before his eyes. But the apostle is not
panes propositionis; or, according to Hebrews ix. 2, the setting forth of the bread, ń po trois tūv årtwr. Christ is the bread of life, because the righteousness of God represented in him, and through him imputed to the believer, constitutes the means of eternal life. The means and mode of application constitute the eternal purpose of the Divine mind; this purpose being set forth in Christ. Such, we think, is the sense of the text quoted from Ephesians; and this proposition, or setting forth, in its most spiritual sense, we suppose to be the design of the Apocalypse. The shew-bread, Christ in the flesh, and this mystic vision, all concurring in the same exhibition of that divine purpose, or plan of sovereign mercy, which we sometimes denominate the economy of grace: “ the bride,” or “wife” of Christ, because identic with him“the mother of us all,” because by this means we become the children of God.