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But when Chrift came, this Myftery, which was in a great measure hidden from former Ages, was brought into a clearer Light by the Gofpel. At our Saviour's Baptifm, God the Father declar'd him by a Voice from Heaven to be his beloved and only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghoft defcended on him at the fame time, in the Shape of a Dove, to bear withefs of him: where we have all the three Per fons of the Trinity mention'd, the Father, Son and Holy Ghoft; all and each of which are after feverally ftil'd, God bleed for ever, having all the Titles and incommunicable Properties and Perfections of the Deity distinctly afcrib'd to them which made St. John to affirm, that there are three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft; and these three are one. 1 John 5. 7.
From hence the Church took occafion to profefs and declare their Faith in this great Point, and to pay their folemn Praises and Adorations to the three feveral Perfons: yea, tho this Doctrine of the Bleffed Trinity was daily own'd in the Hymns, Creeds and Doxologies of the Church, yet one Day was thought fit to be confecrated to the celebrating of this great and adorable Myftery.
And becaufe Chrift's vifible afcending up to Heaven, and the Holy Ghost's vifible defcending from thence, gave no fmall Light and Confirmation to this great Truth, therefore the Sunday after Whitfunday, which was before obferv'd as the Octave of Pentecoft, was made choice of for this purpose. And this is the Day on which we now commemorate the Holy Trinity. Accordingly, the Collect for the Day teaches us,
Firft, By the Confeffion of a true Faith to acknowledg the Glory of the eternal Trinity.
Secondly, In the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity.
Thirdly, To pray for Grace to be kept ftédfaft in this Faith against all Adverfities and Opposition whatever. For the
Firft, The Epiftle for the Day fets forth something of the Glory of the eternal Trinity: From whence we may learn to acknowledg and adore it. This St. John here doth in a Vifion, representing God the Son fitting on the Throne of his Father, and coming with his Holy Angels to judg the World. The Vifion begins in the first Words; After
this I look'd, and behold a Door was open'd in Heaven. Here he feems with St. Paul to be wrapt up to the third Heaven, 2 Cor. 12.2. Where looking about, he faw as it were the Door of Heaven open'd unto him; And the first Voice that I heard (faith he) was as it were of a Trumpet talking with me, which faid, Come up hither, and I will hew thee things which must be hereafter. That is, by the help of a fhrill loud Voice, imitating the Sound of a Trumpet, he receiv'd Revelations of fome future things, which fhould in time come to pafs; which things we may fuppofe related to the laft Judgment. Upon the fight and hearing of these things, immediately (faith he) I was in the Spirit, that is, in a Trance or Extafy, like St. Paul in the forecited Place, Whether in. the Body or out of the Body, he could not tell, God knoweth :: Or elfe, his being in the Spirit, might be his feeling fome fecret Impulfes or Motions of God's Holy Spirit stirring within him. And behold (faith he) a Throne was fet in! Heaven, and one fat on the Throne. The Throne here reprefented to him, as fet up in Heaven, was a Throne erected for Judicature; and the Son of God, to whom the Father hath committed all Judgment, is the Perfon here brought in as fitting upon this Throne, whofe Glory is after defcrib'd by the Luftre or Shining of precious Stones :: for in the next words he tells us, that he that fat on the Throne, was to look upon like a Fafper and a Sardine Stone; and there was a Rainbow round about the Throne, in Sight like anto an Emerald: that is, the Majefty or Colours wherein he was reprefented, were like unto the Colours of a Jafper and Sardine Stone; the former, to wit the Jafper Stone,: for its Firmness and Hardnefs, reprefents the Power and Omnipotence of God, the latter, the Sardine Stone, for its fiery Redness, reprefents the Juftice of God, who will come in flaming Fire to confume the Adverfary, Heb. 12. 28. The Rainbow that was round about the Throne, was an Em-blem or Token of God's Covenant made with Man, as we read, Gen.9. 13. The orient Colours whereof represent the Brightness that was round about the Throne, and the Appearance of the Glory of the Lord; Ezek. 1.28. And this is faid to be in Sight like unto an Emerald, which for its pleafant Greenness and Mixture with other Colours, reprefents the Goodness of God, and his mixing Mercy with Judgment; delivering his People, at the fame time that he detroys the Ungodly.
Moreover, Round about this Throne (as the following words declare) there were four and twenty Seats, and upon the Seats I faw four and twenty Elders fitting, clothed in white Rayment, and they had on their Heads Crowns of Gold. Where by the Seats are meant, fo many Chairs plac'd about the Throne, and by the Elders fitting on them, are meant the Saints who at Chrift's coming to Judgment, fhall fit as Affeffors with him. So he himself told his Difciples; When the Son of Man fhall fit on the Throne of his Glory, ye alfo fhall fit upon twelve Thrones, judging the twelve Tribes of Ifrael; Mat. 19. 28. which made St. Paul fpeak of it as a thing certain and well known, Do ye not know (faith he to the Corinthians) that the Saints fhall judg the World? 1 Cor. 6. 23. meaning, that 'tis certain, that at the great final Judgment of all the World, the Saints fhall bear Chrift company in judging the Wicked, and fhall fit with him in pronouncing Sentence against the evil Spirits. Which Elders or Saints are faid to be clothed in white Rayment; that is, in Garments representing Purity and Inno cence, as white Linen doth: by which it appears, that white Garments are not fuch bad Attire, as fome would make it, when the Saints are here reprefented as array'd in them. And thefe are faid to have on their Heads Crowns of Gold; meaning, that they have receiv'd that Crown of Glory, which God the righteous Judg fhall give them in that Day.
To which 'tis added, that out of the Throne proceeded Lightnings, and Thundrings, and Voices: fignifying, that as there were Lightnings, and Thundrings, and terrible Voices heard, at the giving of the Law, to awe Men to the obferving, and terrify them from the breaking of it; fo will the like terrible Signs and Tokens appear, at the giving in Evidence, and pronouncing Sentence against the wilful Violators of it.
And there were feven Lamps of Fire burning before the Throne, which are the feven Spirits of God. Thefe Lamps are here interpreted to be the Holy Angels, which attend the Throne of God, and are as miniftring Spirits, fent forth to minifter to them, who fhall be Heirs of Salvation. But the Lamps and the Spirits here being both reckon'd to the number Seven, hath made fome think them to be meant of the feven Angels of the feven Churches of Afia; though the confining them to thefe, may perhaps be only a Conjecture, founded more in a Fancy about Numbers, than on any good ground of true Reafoning. Furthermore it is faid,
That before the Throne, there was a Sea of Glafs like unto Cryftal: Where by the Sea, is meant the Multitude of Perfons or People, that fhall then stand before the Tribunal of God, exprefs'd here by a Sea, or Multitude of Waters, which in this Book often fignifies a Multitude or Croud of People coming like Waves one upon another; as we read, Rev. 17. 15. By the Sea of Glafs like unto Crystal, may be meant a Multitude of People then appearing, whofe Confciences like a Cryftal-Glafs fhall reflect and lay open all their Thoughts and Actions, and make them vifible before the Judg: tho fome would have this Sea of Glafs to be a Figure of Heaven, reprefented as à Sea for its Largenefs and Extent; and of Glafs, for its Purity and Splendor. But I leave this to the Wisdom of the Learned.
To go on, 'tis here farther faid, that in the midst of the Throne, and round about the Throne, were four Beafts full of Eyes before and behind. Who thefe four Beafts or living Creatures in this Reprefentation were, is varioufly conjectur'd by the Writers on this obfcure Book: fome understand by them the four Apoftles, James Bishop of Jerufalem our Lord's Brother, Peter, John, and Andrew. By their being full of Eyes before and behind, they understand their having the Gift of interpreting Scriptures; by which they could look backward, and declare what was paft; and having the Gift of Prophecy, they could look forward, and foretel what was to come. But thefe being only Conjectures, let us go forward, and confider the Defcription here given of them.
The firft Beaft was like a Lion, the fecond like a Calf, the third had the Face of a Man, and the fourth was like a flying Eagle. Thefe likewife are by fundry Authors variously interpreted: The Jewish Writers take thefe four Likeneffes for the four Enfigns or Standards of Ifrael, viz. The Likenefs of a Lion in the Camp of Judah, of a Man in the Camp of Reuben, of an Ox in the Camp of Ephraim, of an Eagle in the Camp of Dan; of which Likeneffes we read alfo in the Prophecy of Ezekiel, Chap. 1. 10.
Others again take these four Likeneffes for Reprefentations of the four Evangelifts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which they take from the Beginnings of their feveral ; Gofpels
St. Mark, for beginning his Gofpel with the Voice of one crying in the Wilderness, Prepare ye the Way of the Lord, As wont to be reprefented by a Lion.
St. Matthew, for beginning his Gospel with the Birth and Genealogy of our Saviour, is reprefented by the Face of a Man.
St. Luke, for beginning his Gofpel with the Prophet Zachary, who was us'd to offer Sacrifices, is reprefented by an Ox.
St. John, for beginning his Gospel with the Divinity of Chrift, is reprefented by a flying Eagle, which foars high, and carries our Contemplations up to Heaven. Thefe Conjectures have occafion'd the picturing the four Evangelifts with thefe Refemblances.
Now thefe being but uncertain Gueffes about doubtful Matters, we may lay no great Stress upon them, being content to be ignorant at prefent of fome things, which we may hereafter better understand. And fo much for the firft Part of this Vifion of St. John, which teaches us to acknowledg the Glory of the eternal Trinity: for here we find God the Father appointing, God the Son judging, and God the Holy Ghoft approving and executing the Sentences pronounc'd at the laft and great Day.
The Second Part of it will teach us, in the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity. For the four Beats, or living Creatures, whatever they are, are faid to have each fix Wings about them, to make them quick and nimble in God's Service; and to be full of Eyes within, to give them a full fight of their Duty: And thefe reft not day and night, faying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! Where the thrice Holy denotes the three Perfons of the Trinity, and the once Lord in the fingular Number, betokens the Unity of the Godhead in all three; and their not refting day and night, invocating and praifing of him, denotes their continual worshipping of this Trin-Une Deity, whofe Eternity, is defcrib'd by these words, Who was, and is, and is to come, that is, who was before all Time, is at prefent, and ever will be. And when thofe Beafts, or living Creatures, give Glory, and Honour, and Thanks to him that fat in the Throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty Elders, or Affeffors, at the fame time fall down before the One God, that fitteth on the Throne, and worship him alone that liveth for ever and ever; all of them cafting their Crowns before the Throne, and faying, in the fingular number, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive Glory, and Honour, and Power; for thou Vol. IV. Part 2. G bat