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dresses of God to us, is at a greater distance from the conceptions of mortals, exhibits more clearly his knowledge of our moral constitution, or displays a greater wisdom of adaptation, than the use of these thoughts to raise the prophet to a recognition of him as the incarnate Word.
II. A similar proof of its divine origin, is seen in the personal appearance of the Deity, in the opening and several of the subsequent visions.
There is an obvious necessity that God should appear in the visions as the Creator and Ruler of the universe; the rightful object of homage, and the author of the revelation : and the Redeemer also, both as the Lamb slain for men, and after his sacrifice, as the Almighty King accomplishing the great scheme of redemption. Yet it were inconsistent with their nature, to represent them by any thing drawn from the created universe. There is nothing among creatures presenting any analogy to the Selfexistent, the Eternal, the Almighty. To attempt a representation through them, were to degrade, not exalt our conceptions of him. The law of symbolization accordingly forbids his introduction by representatives. To meet therefore, on the one hand the necessity of exhibiting him as the author of the revelation, and yet not detract on the other from his dignity, analogy is laid aside, and he appears in his own person. A shape immeasurably transcending our loftiest conceptions of created grandeur, invested with the insignia of infinite power, knowledge and dominion, appears enthroned. Various orders and innumerable hosts of intelligences bending in his presence, recognise and worship him as the Selfexistent, the Creator and Ruler of all, and hymn the rightfulness, the wisdom and the benignity of his reign. In like manner the Redeemer appears in the first vision, in his human form glorified to dazzling majesty, with symbols of his peculiar character and office as the head of the church.
This expedient is marked by a loftiness and beauty of wisdom, wholly transcending the genius of mortals. Had there been nó visible exhibition of God, it would have detracted greatly from the perfection of the revelation. The apostle would have been left, not indeed without a knowledge from whom the visions proceeded, but without that effulgence of demonstration which became the divine majesty, and which his necessities required. The concinnity of the spectacle would have disappeared. It would have been an apocalypse without a visible revealer; a series of divine acts, without a manifested deity. His appearance gave the visions their proper relation. The dazzling splendor of his aspect, the annunciation of his attributes, the awful symbols of his supremacy, the homage of the universe, distinguished him from all other actors in the scene, and raised to vastness and intensity the apostle's conceptions of his distance from creatures.
Had he not appeared in person, but been represented by a created intelligence, it had been to neglect the care with which he ever guards his deity; to descend to the false conceptions of men, in place of exalting their thoughts of him to truth and dignity; and to stamp an imperfection on the revelation that would have bespoken it the work rather of human contrivance, than divine wisdom. It has been the disposition of men in all ages, however lofty their genius, to represent God and his attributes in the forms of creatures, and by fancied analogies. With what beauty his wisdom appears in this instance in avoiding all countenance to that tendency, and yet meeting at once the demands of our nature, and of his majesty.
III. There is a suitableness of the symbols to the agents and events they are employed to represent, that bespeaks them the work of a higher wisdom than that of man.
They give in all instances with great clearness and strength, a color of representation that accords with the beings and agencies which they foreshadow. They are chosen in conformity with a single, a simple, and however it has been overlooked, a most obvious law, which when understood, renders at least the species of agents and events which they denote, of easy discovery. When they deviate from that law, it is by the introduction, as in the instances already noticed, of the beings themselves to be exhibited, from the impossibility of finding an appropriate substitute. And they display the great characters of the agents and objects which they represent, with a sublime brevity, clearness and strength, that are seen only in delineations by the pencil of God.
There is thus a beautiful propriety, an impressive grandeur, in the exhibition of a gigantic angel, robed in a cloud, with an iris glory encircling his head, descending from the atmosphere, as a representative of illustrious men whom God commissions to proclaim anew the gospel to the world, and be the instruments of conducting multitudes from age to age to the knowledge and acceptance of salvation.
A monster brute formed by the union of the most characteristic parts of the principal ferocious beasts, is an apt emblem of
a vast combination in a government of savage and tyrannic men, wantonly slaughtering and devouring to satiate their lawless and cruel passions.
What other portent of terrific grandeur can be imagined so suited as a lasting eclipse or obliteration of the sun, to denote the fall from the pinnacle of glory of an ancient government, and the darkness, confusion and dismay with which such a catastrophe overwhelms a people deprived in an instant of the protection of law, robbed of rank, plundered of property, and exposed to the ruthless passions of brutal conquerors. Or what event in the natural world more fit than an earthquake agitating the surface of vast regions, and dashing down the fabrics of art, can be found to symbolize a great political revolution in which the whole structure of society is shaken with passion, all ordinary law suspended, ancient institutions overthrown, and an aspect of violence and disorder impressed on every scene. An eminent appropriateness
and adequacy thus mark all the symbols of the Apocalypse. They deviate in no instance from the most conspicuous propriety. They are never disproportioned in significance to the objects they are employed to represent.
IV. Its exhibition of the eternal Word as exalted to the administration of the universe, and the recognition by all orders of intelligences of his title on the ground of his work as Redeemer to reign, is a mark of its inspiration.
The views which it presents of his station and work as Redeemer, are in accordance with the representations of the other Scriptures. He appears in the first vision, and in the addresses to the Asiatic messengers, as the head of the church, holding the stars in his hand, walking amidst the candlesticks, chastening his offending people, rewarding the faithful, destroying his enemies ;—in the second as receiving from the Father the volume of his designs to unfold them to the apostle, and in the following as executing them by his providence. His elevation thus to the throne of heaven, administration of the divine government through a vast succession of ages, and reception of the homage of the universe, is one of the most wonderful of his agencies as Redeemer, and doubtless one of the most essential to the perfection of his work. Whatever other reasons there may have been for that measure, it is apparent, that it gives birth to several most important results which would not have been otherwise attained ; a demonstration on an infinite scale of his deity; a recognition of his deity and title to reign by the universe ; an intimate relationship between him as the incarnate
Word, and all his intelligent subjects; and thence a manifestation to them of his work as Redeemer, and communication of the infinite aids to wisdom, rectitude and happiness which the knowledge of it is suited to yield. The Apocalypse exhibits this great feature of his work in a most impressive form; and it is a mark that it is a revelation from him. What a grandeur of design it displays! How suitable to the greatness of God! How adapted to the necessities of his kingdom! Into what an immeasurable significance ii expands the work of redemption : and how it reconciles with his infinite dignity and wisdom, the condescension of the eternal Word to so humble a nature as ours, and the labors, the ignominies and the sufferings through which he purchased salvation! What an elevation it displays above the views which are usually entertained by men, who limit their thoughts of the influence of his work almost wholly to our race! And what a contrast it presents to the false and impious conceptions of it, which, when left without restraint, they adopt and maintain, as is shown in the symbolization of the apostate church!
V. The thoughts, purposes and actions which are ascribed to the Word, are such as befit his station as Redeemer and Ruler of the universe, and could never have proceeded from the unaided genius of man.
He proclaims his attributes and prerogatives as the Selfexistent. He acts as intrusted with the assertion and support of the rights of God. He displays his purpose to maintain a government of spotless righteousness, and reward the obedient with the gifts of immortal life, and the incorrigible with eternal death. He exhibits an attention to all the actions of his people, and knowledge of their thoughts, of which none but the Omniscient is capable; and an awful justice towards sinners, that belongs only to a being of infinite intelligence and rectitude.
On the other hand he displays a majestic forbearance, tenderness and benignity toward his people. He stoops to their necessities; he supports them in their trials; he is the witness of all their obedience; he holds a crown of life in his hand to reward their fidelity. Of all the delineations of love that have ever been drawn, there is none that approaches in beauty and sublimity that presented in the Apocalypse, of the sentiments with which the Saviour regards
those whom he is first to raise from death; chap. xiv. 1-6. They are youths, in the bloom and spotlessness of first maturity. "They bear on their brows a
circlct on which his name, and the name of the Father are engraven. Their song is exhibited as marked by a significance and fraught with a homage which neither any others of the redeemed, nor the angelic hosts can equal. They are associates and companions of the Lamb, and follow him whithersoever he goes. He remembers none of their offences. Their fidelity is unquestioned. They are without fault before him. From what heart but his who loved them and washed them in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto God, could expressions like those proceed! The patience, the tenderness, the condescension, the love displayed by parents towards their offending offspring, are always beautiful, and often rise to grandeur. But in their happiest forms and highest energies, they are only proportional to their limited nature and relations. The love of Christ has a greatness and sublimity of which the Infinite alone is capable.
The ascription to the Redeemer of thoughts and affections so suited to his complex nature, his station and agency, required a higher judgment than man's, and bespeaks it the work of the Omniscient Spirit. There is no task so difficult to even the greatest geniuses, as the conception of thoughts, affections, and actions appropriate to the Deity. The great poets have failed in none of their attempts so universally and conspicuously as in this. They have seldom risen, even in their addresses to the Supreme, to a becoming simplicity and sublimity of thought. The opposite natures, the infinite energy, the lofty suitableness both to his deity and his manhood, of the affections and actions ascribed in the Apocalypse to the Redeemer, form a picture of truth and beauty which none but the all-perfect Intelligence himself could have drawn.
VI. The system of administration through a vast period, foreshown in the Apocalypse, is such as no uninspired mind could have anticipated from the Redeemer's exaltation to the throne of the universe.
Such is the permission of an extreme debasement and corruption of the church through a long tract of time; the continued allowance of idolatry over a great part of the globe; the rise and spread of new forms of false religion; the cruel domination over his people through ages of apostate powers; the slaughter of his faithful witnesses ; his continuing to leave their dust to slumber in the ignominious ruin of the grave through a vast round of centuries; and his release of Satan from imprisonment after the millenium, and permission again to tempt the nations, and convert