« PreviousContinue »
I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." But is not a candlestick, which unquestionably typifies light and illumination, and which, in the vision beheld by Zechariah, we know, on heavenly authority, symboled the Lord of the whole earth, as appropriate a type of Deity, of the great Source and Father of all lights, as it is of a church? Or could candlesticks be an appropriate type of churches, but for the illuminating deity, announced in Scripture as dwelling continually within these hallowed fanes? In the consecrated sanctuary ordained by the Mosaic institution, God did himself declare that He would affix his name, and continually dwell. (Exod. xxix. 45.) In this He revealed the glory of his immediate presence, and with his glory filled the whole house. (2 Chron. v. 14.) Under the Christian one, though the visible presence of Deity has been totally withdrawn from out our hallowed sanctuaries, yet we are assured that God would fill this latter house with glory; and that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the former. For where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, He has himself declared He is in the midst of them. When St. John beheld the seven golden candle
sticks, which typified the seven churches, he likewise beheld Christ in the midst of them, and their angels in his hand; showing that they were completely under his controul and solely at his command. And a spiritual union betwixt Christ and his church is continually described in Scripture by figures representing them as one." I am the vine, ye are the branches." We are "grafted into the good olive-tree." (Rom. xi. 24.) "Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone of the church, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephes. ii. 20, 21, 22.) Christ is the head of the church," (v. 23,)" and we are members of his body." (ver. 30.) Again: "and he is the head of the body, the church," (Col. i. 18;)—" who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church," (ver. 24.) Again: "But Christ as a Son over his own house, whose house we are." (Heb. iii. 6.)
These passages do, we conceive, render the symbol of a candlestick as appropriate a representation of sanctuaries inhabited and illuminated by Deity, as it is of Deity itself; rendering it highly probable that the candlesticks spoken of in the book of Revelations, in which Christ was in the middle depicted God the Son, concentrated unto his body the church; that is, the living members whereof it is composed, and between whom and their adored Head we have found
Scripture describing so close and intimate an union. Or could candlesticks, which manifestly signify light and illumination, be any way an apt type of churches, but for the illuminating influence of the indwelling Trinity? We therefore think it very reasonable to conclude that candlesticks (the seven spoken of in the Apocalypse) may be at once intended as symbolic of Christ and his members, the church, which is his body, and of which he is the living Head. But supposing that this was not the fact, we cannot discover any just reason for concluding that because the seven golden candlesticks which St. John beheld were explained to him as typifying seven eastern churches, that it must incontrovertibly follow, which Dr. W.'s comment seems to intimate, that the candlestick beheld by the prophet Zechariah was designed to typify a church also. In both instances these visions were explained by heavenly interpreters; and it might be reasonably expected that if the golden candlestick exhibited to Zechariah was designed as representative of the ancient Jewish church, (except we consider God and the church as one,) that the angel who so very particularly answered the anxious inquiries of the prophet as to its real meaning, would not have omitted informing him that it was so intended. On the main point the celestial guide is explicit and decisive, namely, that it typified the Lord of the whole earth; and the description he enters into is distinct and minute. The eyes of the Lord are conjoined by golden pipes unto the bowl and candlestick; and the two anointed olive
trees, which branch on each side from it, are expressly said to be the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. And it does, we think, lamentably degrade the meaning of these glorious types to imagine them representative either of any two individual men, collective bodies of men, or eastern and western churches, except it be on the account of God's union with collective bodies of men, as members of the universal church. Besides, supposing Dr. W.'s conjecture to be just, as to the two witnesses representing the afflicted members of the eastern and western churches groaning under the oppressive tyranny of Mahometan, and, lamentable to state, Christian persecution, from opposing sectaries, (and certainly is, in a figurative sense, a just conjecture, if we consider the two witnesses as representative not only of Christ, but also of the collective members of Christ's body, the church,) yet admitting this to be a true representation of the vision beheld by St. John, how are the two anointed olive-trees, displayed to the prophet, to be interpreted and disposed of? (and that the Old and New Testament visions were one and the same vision, Dr. W., by implication, clearly allows.) For it is highly improbable that the two anointed olive-trees beheld by Zechariah could be designed to typify the eastern and western churches, under the Christian dispensation. The only view in which they can be considered as depictive of holy sanctuaries is that we have already stated, namely, the union of the Trinity with holy sanctuaries. The Mosaic insti
tution was only prefigurative of the Christian one; and whilst the temporary tabernacle was ambulatory in the wilderness, we know from whence those who therein did worship derived their spiritual sustenance-how the blest olive-oil was administered to them,-" For they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ,"" who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Therefore, in this point of view, the types in question may be considered as representative not only of the glorious Trinity, but also of its union with holy sanctuaries. The two visions are unquestionaly one and the same vision; and, as Joseph observed respecting Pharaoh's two dreams, if the dreams were one, the interpretation was one; so, in like manner, if the visions are one, the interpretation is one also.
It therefore only now remains to inquire, how far the characters of the two witnesses described in the Apocalypse are correspondent with the two anointed ones; that is, with God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. It is first observable, that the occasion on which the vision was imparted to St. John, was very similar to that on which it was imparted to Zechariah: that under the Old Testament was to encourage the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem, and the reestablishment of the Jewish religion; that under the New, was to support the Christian church under its destruction, and the subsequent afflictions that awaited them, namely, the holy city