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A Brief Commentary On The Apocalypse by Sylvester Bliss

The Sealed Book.

|And I saw in the right hand of Him seated on the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose its seals? and no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book nor to look in it. And I was weeping much, because no one was found worthy to open, and to read the book, nor to look in it. And one of the elders saith to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose its seven seals. And I saw in the midst of the throne, and of the four living beings, and in the midst of the elders, the Lamb standing, as having been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of Him seated on the throne. And when he took the book, the living beings, and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, all of them having harps, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book and to open its seals: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth! And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and the living beings, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and those on the sea, even all that are in them, I heard saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever! And the four living beings said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshipped.| -- Rev.5:1-14.

The written book, must symbolize God's purposes, which were about to be unfolded on the loosening of the seals. Its being written within and without, indicates the fulness of its contents, the completeness of the record: -- God's purposes being fully and unalterably formed. In like manner Ezekiel was shown |a roll of a book ... written within and without,| symbolizing the |lamentations, mourning and woe| (Ezek.2:9), which were soon to overtake Israel.

A sealed book is one whose contents are hidden: |The vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed,| Isa.29:11. God said to Daniel, |Shut up the words, and seal the book, till the time of the end,| Dan.12:4.

To open the seals, no one was found worthy. There was no being in heaven among the angels, no human being on the earth, and no disembodied spirit, or demon, under the earth, who was able to unfold the future. The tears of the revelator are, however, dried, and his drooping spirits cheered, by the announcement of one of the elders, that |the LION of the tribe of JUDAH, the ROOT of DAVID, hath prevailed to open the book,| and to unfold its mysteries. He stood in the midst of the assembled intelligences, -- his human nature and sacrificial office, being designated by his metaphorical title of the |Lamb:| -- John seeing Jesus coming to him said, |Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,| John 1:29. His sovereignty is shown by the |seven horns,| the symbols of power; and his relation to the Godhead, by the seven eyes, the seven Spirits of God; -- expressive of the Holy Spirit. See p.25.

The rejoicings on the announcement of Christ's ability to take the book, and to open the seals, indicate the greatness of the blessing which God gives the church, when he thus reveals a knowledge of the future. All creatures should join in these hosannas, and praise the Lord for his great condescension, in showing his servants the things which must shortly come to pass. To neglect this revelation, is not joining in the ascription of praise.

The golden vials, full of odors, symbolize the prayers of saints. Under the Mosaic dispensation, the frankincense and odors offered at the tabernacle were emblematic of prayer and praise to God. |Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice,| Psa.141:2.

Christ takes the book from the hand of him who sits on the throne, and opens the seals. Thus he makes known unto his servants the revelation which God had given him, 1:1. As each successive seal is opened, successive portions of the writing in the book become accessible, -- an epoch is marked, following which, and previous to that symbolized by the opening of the next seal, are to be fulfilled, the events symbolized under it.

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