27. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
27. Et vidi tanquam formam Hasmal, tanquam aspectum ignis intus per circuitum, ab aspectu lumborum ejus et supra, et ab aspectu lumborum ejus et infra, vidi quasi aspectum ignis et splendor illi in circuitu.
By these words the Prophet signifies that God appeared so visible under the form of man that the splendor dazzled his eyes. For if the appearance of Christ was such that the Prophet could consider each part separately, as when I behold a man, I not only cast my eyes upon his form from head to foot, but I consider of what kind his eyes are, and also his sides, and what his stature is, whether tall or short.
When we look at men or trees, a glance is sufficient for distinguishing their several parts. But if we wish to cast our eyes upon the sun, they are immediately made dim, for the brightness of the sun is so great that it dazzles us. Then if our eyes cannot bear the light of the sun, how can the glance of our mind penetrate even to God, and comprehend the whole of his glory? This then is the Prophet's object when he says, I saw as it were the color of amber. We have said that some interpreters understand an angel here, but in my judgment, their view is erroneous: hence I reject it, for I have no doubt that color is meant, and what sort of color. As to Jerome's version, electrum, I leave it doubtful: as to his saying that it is more precious than gold and silver, this is foolish, because it is composed of both metals. But then its color was remarkable, because it not only attracted the eyes of the Prophet but dazzled them with its splendor, so that he acknowledged it as celestial and divine. Therefore he adds, there was as it were the appearance of fire within, which we have previously explained, and that, too, round about it The fire was apparent, so that the Prophet might understand that there were some marks of the glory of God; and at the same time, that he might perceive, as we shall see at last, this vision to be otherwise useless unless he restrained himself within due limits: because when the majesty of God meets us on the way, it can destroy the angels themselves. What therefore would become of us? But God suits himself to our capacities, so that visions should be useful to us only when we avoid pride and are not carried away by foolish and bold curiosity. He says then, the fire appeared upwards and downwards, that is above and below his loins, and the fire was brilliant round about Afterwards he adds --