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churches lie in a kind of circular form, so that the natural progress is from Ephesus to Smyrna, from Smyrna to Pergamos, from Pergamos to Thyatira, from Thyatira to Sardis, from Sardis to Philadelphia, from Philadelphia to Laodicea, and from Laodicea round to Ephesus again. This, adds the Bishop, is the order which John hath observed in addressing them, and was probably the circuit that he took in his visitation and if he is right in this conjecture, a new beauty is to be discovered in the type.
The first and last states of the church, Ephesus and Laodicea, were ordained to pass away, as it has been already shewn; and of the latter it may be observed, that the several intermediate conditions of the church, seem to merge into that one : and so accordingly, if the state of the church at this day be carefully examined, it will be found that the preceding state of it, as it was in Smyrna, in Thyatira, in Pergamos, in Sardis, and in Philadelphia, still continues more or less apparent in the church now in Laodicea. Upon the first and last state only, does the Lord come in judgment; in one instance to remove the candlestick, and light by which the church was enlightened, and in the other to cast her out, or reject her as being loathsome and hateful in his sight: and, as confirming the preceding idea, it should also be
remarked, in regard to the other states of the church, that the judgments threatened, are not, as here, directed against the churches themselves, but against those who have either persecuted or corrupted them. How soon the final judgment may be looked for, is a matter of the most interesting consideration and it must never be forgotten, that "in such an hour as we think not, the Son of Man cometh."
Prophecy of the Seven Seals.-Four first Seals considered.-Rev. iv. v. and vi. 1-8.
The second series of symbols, which the book of Revelations contains, is to be found in chapters iv. v. vi. and vii. It ends with the first verse of chapter viii. According to the present division of chapters, this verse has unfortunately been detached from its context. The seven seals here described, form another prophecy. The church of Christ is represented, as passing through the gospel dispensation into its millennial rest; and the seals embrace new particulars, filling up, in some degree, the outline described in the preceding prophecy. The seal of a deed or instrument, is that which ratifies, or gives effect to it. When sealed, the act is complete. Thus may the seals of this prophecy be considered as pledges of God's faithfulness, in bringing the appointed periods, each to its appointed termination. The end, the fulfilment, the completion of the times of prophecy, is particularly denoted under these symbols. That end is rest-the rest of the Lord's sabbath the rest of the Church of Christ, when it enters into millennial glory.
The fourth chapter of the Apocalypse represents the Apostle, as being brought into the more immediate presence of Jehovah, even into the holy of holies, where God was seated on his throne, holding a sealed book in his right hand-" a book written within, and on its back side, sealed with seven seals." The book was taken from out of the hand of him, who was seated on the throne, by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who alone "was found worthy to open and to read the book," and "to loose the seven seals thereof." revelation of the persons of God and of his Christ, contained in chapters iv. and v. might afford matter of inquiry, but it is foreign to the present purpose, and it seems sufficient to remark upon the glory here revealed, even the glory of God, and of his Christthat Christ is manifested as the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, whilst every tongue confesseth to his name, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. He, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, stood in the midst of the throne, and upon his taking the book from out of the hand of God, the living creatures which were in the midst of the throne, and round about it, even the cherubim or likeness of the great ones, and the elders, and the angels which were round about the throne, and every creature which was in
heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and all such as were in the sea, and all that were in them, joined in one general song of praise and thanksgiving, ascribing all blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto him that sat on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Unlike the books of modern times, the books of the ancients consisted of skins or sheets of parchment, fastened, and then rolled up together, the contents of which would be rendered inaccessible, by affixing a seal, so as to secure the outside sheet. Of such kind, was the book here described. It contained seven rolls, each having a separate seal. No direct intimation is afforded, as to the nature or contents of the book, except that upon breaking or opening each seal, in its order of succession, to unfold the several rolls, a new symbolical appearance was presented to the eyes of the apostle. Commentators, with almost one consent, have pronounced the sealed book to be some particular portion of the Apocalypse ; alleging, that the Apocalypse is divided into two distinct parts, one of which is the sealed book here spoken of, and the other, the little open book mentioned in the tenth chapter: but what precise portion formed the sealed book, and what constituted the little open book, they are by no means agreed.