18. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
18. Et circumferentiae ipsis, it proceritas ipsis, et terror ipsis: et terga ipsarum plena oculis per circuitum ipsis quatuor.
What he says about the circumferences of the wheels may seem superfluous, but he refers to the second clause of the verse, where he says, that these circumferences were full of eyes. Here, then, he now treats about their height and terrible aspect. It signifies that the wheels were large, for being round their length and breadth is equal. When he says they were lofty, he, doubtless, signifies that they inspire terror by their very appearance, as he afterwards expresses it.. The sum of the whole is, that these wheels were not common ones, but. they so exceeded the usual size that their magnitude was formidable. But all these things tend to impress the vision on the attention of the Prophet, because unless the Lord should, as it were, draw us violently to himself, we should become torpid through sloth. The Prophet then required to be so variously affected, that, as soon as he sees that no common vision is before him, he should apply all his faculties to its consideration. What he now says, that the circumferences of the wheels were full of eyes, signifies that all the wheels were not rashly but considerately put in motion. If the eyes had been in other parts, they had not been useful; but since the wheels turned by means of their felloes -- that is, their iron hoops -- there the Prophet saw the eyes fixed.
Now, therefore, we see in what manner God directs the world in various ways, and yet nothing' is done without reason and plan. By the eyes, the Prophet understands, that providence which never wanders. He does not say, that every wheel had two eyes, but that the circumferences were full of eyes, which expresses much more than if he had said they possessed eyes: which means that there was not the least motion in the wheels unless arranged and governed with the utmost reason. And hence the error of those who think that years are intended by the entangled wheels is refuted. This idea they obtained, I suppose, front the Egyptians, for in their hieroglyphics the year is represented under the image of a serpent., which, being twisted round, bites his own tail. It is indeed true, that the continual series of time is so woven together that year draws year behind it, as Virgil also says in his second Georgic --
|The year returns into itself by its own footsteps.|
But this is altogether out of place here, where the Prophet; signifies that motions which seem to us confused are yet connected, because God does nothing either rashly or inconsiderately. Now, therefore, we comprehend the sense of this portion. He adds --