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the addition or omission of a word; and, in truth, it is not easy to conceive a motive that should induce either the christian or the infidel to make the smallest alteration in it.
If the external evidence, then, is demonstrative of the authenticity of this precious record, the certainty that it contains the production of no human intellect is more immediately manifest. Through more than: seventeen centuries it has descended to us, like Moses, from the immediate presence of God, radiant with the effulgence of the Divinity upon it; and the Christian reader (to him alone the mystic volume is addressed) will smile with contemptuous compassion on the puny scepticism that could imagine the possibility of its being the effusion of an uninspired pen. '
A long and almost universal tradition of the church, that the Apocalyptic vision was exhibited to St. John, in the reign of the emperor Domitian, in the year 94 or 95, appears to be well founded—it is entirely consistent with the internal evidence of the narrative.
The first two verses of this marvellous book are, as it were, a title-page, containing a brief description of it, and of its author.
“ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it unto his servant John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
On the devout study of the Scripture, thus solemnly presented to us, a benediction is then emphatically pronounced :
3. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.”
Should Providence be pleased to permit this commentary to be the instrument of leading any one of the followers of Christ to the acceptance of the blessing, thus tendered to them all, it will be no small addition to the happiness which the writer, with profound thankfulness to the Giver of all good, acknowledges that he has received from the composition of it.
After a brief preface the narrative commences with a statement of the circumstances under which the revelation was communicated to the inspired penman.
9. “ I John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The cause and the nature of the tribulation to which the prophet refers, as afflicting equally himself and his Christian brethren, are well known.
The Roman empire was then at the summit of its magnitude. Its dominion extended over, or was dreaded in, every known region of the habitable globe. A fugitive from its wrath had no chance of escape, for he could find no asylum upon earth. The infant churches of Christ existing only, with perhaps some feeble exceptions, in its very central provinces, were entirely within the grasp of its rulers. To the utter extinction of those churches all the energies of a government, wielding the mightiest mass of human power the world ever beheld, were steadily directed with unrelenting cruelty. The sanguinary edicts of an infuriated despotism were gladly received and executed by the ferocious fanaticism of the countless multitudes of its Pagan subjects. Perhaps in contempt of his age, which was now nearly of a hundred years, perhaps for the malicious purpose of depriving him of the glory, and the church of the animating example of his more public martyrdom, but assuredly by the overruling providence of Him before whom all human power is nought, the life of Saint John was spared. But he was torn from the churches he was governing, and thrown on an almost desert, because almost barren, little island of the Mediterranean, where his condition was indeed a sad one. All his apostolical brethren were dead. More than sixty years had elapsed since he last beheld our Saviour, to whose service he had zealously dedicated his long life, and whose church, now apparently on the point of total destruction, was lying helpless at the feet of its cruel persecutors. Nevertheless, the lonely old exile could not have been without hope, for he assuredly was not without faith. But that hope was solely from above; on earth there was none for him. He was, accordingly, on the Lord's day engaged in the spiritual duty of prayer, and, no doubt, imploring for the perishing church the promised aid of its everblessed Founder, when a mystic vision of a glorified being, bearing the well known similitude of his be
loved Master, brought to him the joyful assurance that his prayers were heard.
10. “I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet.
11. “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, what thou seest write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatyra, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
12. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me, and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks : · 13. “ And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14. “ His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15. “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16. “And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and his countenance * was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17. “And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead : And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.
18. “ I am he that was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death.
19.“ Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.
20. “ The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The
* The word, in the original text, here properly translated countenance or face, is not a poownov, but Ofic—an observation to which the attention of the reader will be hereinafter requested. seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest, are the seven churches."
The only symbol comprised in this mystic vision, of which the signification does not appear to have been by commentators sufficiently explained, is that of his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace.
It has been, I believe, well observed that, burning in a furnace signifies, not only, the severe persecution which the church in general was then suffering, and had yet to suffer, but also, that only in the path of affliction and tribulation is the Christian character chastened into perfection. He who is not ready to take up his cross, and in that path to " follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” (Rev. xiv. 4.) is not prepared “ to fight the good fight,” and is not such a soldier as is required by “the Captain of our salvation."
Metallic feet well express the strength and durability of the church; but why are they of brass, and not of gold, a metal equally durable, and (being in all ages and civilized countries the most precious of all metals) a frequent scriptural emblem of the highest purity and value ?
The reason appears to me to be this; gold is a natural production, and is often found in its native state in its utmost attainable purity; but brass is a factitious metal, composed of materials fused, with scientific art, and by the action of fire, into a homogeneous mass. The symbol, then, appears to import