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the doctrine of salvation by the imputed righteousness of God. The angel, or star, however, is not the light itself, but is something between the candlestick and the light. It is something capable of receiving and transmitting the true light, but something, as we shall see, by which the true light may be misrepresented.
Analogous to this is a literal church or congregation of disciples; it receives the light, and may be the instrument of imparting it intellectually, but it may also be the instrument of perverting it. As it is said, Matt. v. 14– 16, Ye are the light of the world: a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid: neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men. Here the literal church is neither the light nor the candlestick, but the candle; supposed, however, to give no useful light unless placed in a candlestick. So, to remove the candlestick would be equivalent to depriving the candle of its ability to enlighten those around it ; corresponding with which, we may suppose the star to be no longer held in the right hand of him who is in the midst of the golden candlesticks.
$33. And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.'-The word of God is said (Heb. iv. 12) to be sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, (yvyñs te zaì nveŃ, paros,) separating the physical or natural from the spiritual sense. This word of God is also spoken of, Eph. vi. 17, as the sword of the Spirit; the instrument by which a spiritual understanding of revelation is obtained. So the promise given to the apostles was, that the Holy Spirit should give them understanding; the Spirit of truth should guide them into all truth, John xvi. 7, 13. This promise we find fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when this Spirit of truth appeared unto the disciples as cloven tongues (Acts ii. 3) of fire. Not two tongues paired-but one tongue divided into two parts, (διαμεριζόμεναι γλῶσσαι,) figurative apparently of the literal and spiritual senses in which the language of revelation may be understood. These tongues, too, were of fire, because the revealed word, with its literal and spiritual sense, is the element for testing the character of every doctrine, or principle of doctrine. Connecting this twofold characteristic of the tongue with the description of the two-edged sword, and its position, coming out of the mouth, we may suppose the two instruments to be the same revealed word, spiritually understood, which is also termed, 2 Thess. ii. 8, the spirit of the mouth of the Lord.*
* The idea of a twofold sense in the language of inspiration, is far from being a modern one. The efforts of the public teachers amongst the Jews to ascertain the hidden, or mystic sense of the Holy Scriptures, obtained for them, it is said, the appellation of searchers; and teaching in the synagogues was commonly called searching, (Cruden's Concord., art. Synagogue.) Such probably was the searching of the Bereans, (Acts xvii. 11,) and to such searching our Lord may have alluded in his direction to the scribes and Pharisees, (John v. 39.)
§ 34. And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.'The day cometh, says the prophet, Malachi iv. 1, 2, when the Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings. This Sun of righteousness is here revealed in the person of the one like unto the Son of Man. As the natural sun clothes every object accessible to its rays with light, so every object of divine mercy is clothed with the imputed righteousness of the Redeemer. Thus clothed, the disciple appears clad in the light of the countenance of his divine Master, to which allusion is made, Ps. iv. 6, and xlii. 5. So, Ps. lxxxiv. 11, The Lord God is a sun and shield; and lxxxix. 15, "Blessed is the people that know the (gospel's) joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance; in thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Or, as it is expressed, Acts ii. 28, Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
We thus perceive in this description of one like unto the Son of Man, the attributes of the Triune God. The one being the express image of the other; thus preparing our minds for a full exhibition of their identity.
I saw," says the prophet, (Dan. vii. 13, 14,) " in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed." To this we must add the declaration of the apostle, 1 Cor. xv. 27, 28, “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith he hath put all things under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.*"
The one like unto the Son of Man being virtually brought near unto the Ancient of days-one identified with the other-God manifest in the flesh -being no other than Jehovah, our righteousness, and the Lord our Redeemer; corresponding with the declaration, Is. xliii. 11, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour.
Vs. 17, 18. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I am
the first and the last: (I am) he that
liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am
alive for evermore, amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Καὶ ὅτε εἶδον αὐτόν, ἔπεσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡς νεκρός· καὶ ἔθηκε τὴν δεξιὰν ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος καὶ ὁ ζῶν· καὶ ἐγε αὑτοῦ ἐπ ̓ ἐμέ, λέγων· μὴ φοβοῦ· ἐγώ εἰμι νόμην νεκρός, καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου.
* It is evident that, in this, and in all similar passages of Scripture, the manifestation of the fact, and not the fact itself, is that which is spoken of as prospective.
$35. Thou canst not see my face and live,' said the Lord to Moses, Ex. xxxiii. 20, for there shall no man see me and live.' The most favoured servants of God appear to have borne this declaration in mind upon every manifestation of the Deity. It was to them, however desirable the favour, a cause of trembling. "Wo is me," said the prophet, (Is. vi. 5,) "for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Such seems to have been the apprehension of the apostle on this occasion. He does not appear to have recognized, in the form before him, the face of his beloved Master. His impressions seem to have been only those of that awe which a supposed sight of the Supreme Being must have inspired.
Daniel experienced similar feelings of fear in beholding the vision already alluded to, so like the present, (Dan. x. 5-18.) He needed one like the appearance of a man, to strengthen him, to enable him to contemplate the face of him whose appearance was as of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire. So it is in Christ only, as in the cleft of the rock, (Ex. xxxiii. 22,) that we can behold the glory of the Lord and live. As, without holiness no man can see the Lord, so it is in Christ only that any can be thus qualified to see him, or to enjoy his presence.
'And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not.'-This right hand is the same as that holding or sustaining the seven stars. The right hand of the Lord is particularly designated in Scripture as the hand of power, Mark xiv. 62, and Luke xxii. 69, especially of saving power, (Ps. cxxxviii. 7,) and the reason why it is thus designated is given, Is. xli. 10. Because it represents that divine righteousness by the imputation of which the sinner is justified and saved. As it is said, "Fear not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." To be upheld by the power of Jehovah's righteousness, being thus equivalent to being in Christ, or in that position of holiness which enables the disciple to see the Lord and live, and which virtually says to him, Fear not.
36. I am the first, and the last, and the living'-and I became dead, and behold, I am living for ever.-The terms first and last, corresponding with Alpha and Omega, have been already commented upon (§ 22) as applicable especially to the beginning and ending of the economy of redemption. The living, that is the ever-living, as John vi. 57, ó (v naryo, the living or ever-living Father. And was dead or became dead; the living became dead, and yet behold he liveth, and that for ever. Here is a declaration identifying expressly the speaker with the crucified Redeemer, “who died for our sins, and was raised for our justification;" at the same time identifying him with the speaker in the eighth verse, who declares himself to be the Alpha and the Omega-equivalent to the first and the last-also the being, and the was, and the coming-the Almighty. We have thus
advanced, by a very important step, in the development or unveiling of Jesus Christ, showing him, although in appearance to human vision like unto the Son of Man, to be in effect one and the same with the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, as it was predicted of him, Is. ix. 6.
The living, the Ever-living, became dead, and still he is alive for ever.— Well might it be said of him, in the same prediction, his name shall be called Wonderful. Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness—God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory, (1 Tim. iii. 16.) The Ever-living, in the person of his Son, having assumed a human form, uniting a material body with his own spirit, underwent a separation of that spirit from the body, became dead, as all who die undergo a like separation; but again, by his own power, reunited that spirit with the same body, and remains as he was, the Ever-living. As he said, in reference to his human form, (John ii. 19,) "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" and as he said of the sacrifice of what may be called his natural life, John x. 18, “No man" (ovdɛis, no one) “taketh it from me— -I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." He did lay it down, he yielded up, or rather sent forth, transmitted, breathed out, (as it is variously expressed by his evangelists,) the spirit; but we must bear in mind that this spirit did not cease to be, and that what we call death itself, is not annihilation. Jesus died, or became dead, and rose again, or became alive again, the third day, but he was not annihilated a single moment-there was no cessation of being. His spirit, separated from the body, had still the power of reuniting itself to the body. The body without the spirit is said, indeed, to be dead, (James ii. 26,) but it is nowhere said that the spirit without the body is dead.
§ 37. And have the keys of death and of hell.'-There is a difference here, it will be perceived, in the order of these terms, some editions with our common version, reading, the keys of hell and of death; giving the precedence to the term death, however, is most in conformity with the arrangement of the same words in other parts of the Apocalypse, as well as with our general notions of the subject.
And have the keys.'-As keys are instruments, in a literal sense, of locking and unlocking, of confining and of liberating, so used as the expression is here, in a book of revelation, we suppose them to represent the means of unlocking or opening the things to be revealed. Christ may be said to have the keys of Death and Hell in every sense-literally, as God, subjecting the creature to natural death and its consequences-as Supreme Judge placing the sinner in a position of condemnation, and pronouncing the sentence of condemnation; and as Redeemer, delivering even the criminal from the state to which under the law he has been condemned. But
especially, in this last respect, he not only has the keys, he is himself the instrument of the deliverance. We may presume, therefore, that in the apocalyptic sense, the use of a key is its employment in developing the mysteries spoken of; as, in his first coming, Jesus Christ furnished a key to the interpretation of the ancient prophecies, so, in the final manifestation of his true character and offices, he furnishes the means of understanding the mysteries of Death and Hell. As it is said, 1 Cor. ii. 7, 10, "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; even the hidden wisdom ordained of God before the world;""but now," he adds, "revealed or unveiled unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." "Which things, also," he says, "we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth"-comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The whole Economy of Redemption constitutes, it is true, one mystery; but this mystery is composed of a number of other mysteries subordinate to it; as the mystery of the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 57; the mystery represented by the marriage union, Eph. v. 32; the mystery of iniquity, 2 Thess. ii. 7; the mystery of the seven stars, Rev. i. 20; the mystery of Babylon, Rev. xvii. 5, 7. All of which may be included with others in the mysteries of the kingdom alluded to, Matt. xiii. 11, and Luke viii. 10; and the mysteries of God, of which the Corinthians were said to be stewards, (1 Cor. iv. 1.) So we suppose Death and Hell to have each its separate mystery, of which Christ alone has, and furnishes the key or means of interpretation, as he possesses and furnishes also the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, (Matt. xvi. 19.)
38. Death and Hell.'-Whatever is to be understood in the apocalypse by these terms, we find by Rev. xx. 14, that they represent something finally said to be cast into the lake of fire, which is sufficient to establish the point, that they represent mysteries, for the development of which a key may appropriately be said to be required. We find, by Rom. vii. 9, that there is a state of death contemplated in Scripture entirely distinct from that of death in the ordinary, or physical sense of the term. I was alive, says the apostle, without the law; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. Here death is an appellation given very specifically to a position under the law, which peculiar position we may term the mystery
The term Hell, would have been better rendered in this place by adopting the Greek word Hades, to distinguish it from the term yéerva, (Gehenna,) which we have likewise translated by the same English word Hell, although the two Greek terms have probably very different significations. The last of these terms, sometimes denominated the Hell of fire, rv réɛrvav tov яvós, (Matt. v. 22, xviii. 9, and Mark ix. 47,) is not found at all in the book of Revelation; not, we may suppose, because there is no such thing, but because