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THE WORSHIP OF HEAVEN.
Revelation iv. 8.
AND THEY REST NOT DAY AND NIGHT, SAY
ING, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God ALMIGHTY, WHICH WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME.
The portion of scripture which is appointed to be read instead of the Epistle for this day, contains, one of the most sublime and majestic descriptions of the worship of heaven that is to be found in the volume of Divine revelation. The beloved disciple appears to have been admitted to see, in the Spirit, his Divine Redeemer seated upon the throne of His glory, and receiving the adoration of the heavenly hosts.
No man hath seen God at any time. The exhibition, therefore, of the man upon the throne was that of the glorified Redeemer,
who is the image of the invisible God. His splendour had before so overpowered the apostle, that he fell at His feet as one dead. But although the brightness of His glory was so overwhelming, His disciple found Him to be the same gracious, kind, and compassionate Being that He had always manifested Himself to be in the days of His flesh; for He laid His right hand upon him, saying unto him, Fear not; and then having commissioned him to write to the angels, the ministers or bishops, of the Asiatic churches, the admonitions which He dictated; a further exhibition of the glory of his Lord and Master was vouchsafed to the apostle, by which he was assured that He was indeed the King of kings and Lord of lords.
St. John records, After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the Spirit ; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne; and He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone ; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Here it appears that the Lord Jesus was seen sitting on the throne of heaven, resplendent with majesty and glory; and encircled with a rainbow, beautiful and transparent as an emerald, a token of the everlasting covenant between God, and every living creature of all flesh; or of the covenant of redemption, of which our Lord Jesus Christ undertook to be the Mediator and Surety. This covenant, it is here intimated, is firm and unchangeable as the throne of God, which the rainbow encircled. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats ; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. These are supposed to denote the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles, as representatives of the Jewish and Gentile churches, or of the Mosaical and Christian dispensations. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices; and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. This describes the fulness of the Spirit by which the church of God is enlightened and comforted. And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto crystal ; descriptive of the purity of the church, as washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. These living creatures, called by the prophet Isaiah, Seraphim, and by the prophet Ezekiel, Cherubim, occupied the throne. Representations of them were made in the holy of holies, both in the tabernacle, and in the temple at Jerusalem.
These living creatures,
whose overshadowing wings denote the protection which they afforded, and their being full of eyes,
, their omnipresence and omniscience, are further described. The first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle; and the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within. The lion is the monarch of the forest, the ox of the plain, and the eagle of the air; and thus are emblems of sovereign power and majesty. With respect to their occupation it is said, They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. This is the song of heaven, where the holiness of the Divine Being is eminently displayed. The meaning of the song is further explained. Those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever. And this acclamation of praise was a signal for the worship of heaven being paid to Him; for then the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.
He then who sat upon the throne, who had before described Himself to His apostle, 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 196 was the acknowledged Creator and Governor of the universe; to whom every knee must bow, and every tongue confess His almighty power, His infinite or incomprehensible majesty, and His eternal glory.
If we compare this account with what is elsewhere spoken of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall see that it was to Him, exalted in His glorified body, that this worship was offered. St. Peter says of Him, that He is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.97 St. Paul declares, By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him.98 Thus it was that God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord in the glory of God the Father.99 These texts confirm the statement, that it was our glorified Redeemer, in whom dwelleth all the fulness
96 Rev.i. 18. 97 1 Peter iii, 22.
98 Col.i. 16.
99 Phil. ii. 9-11..