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those regions where the great body of the inhabitants seemed to have forfeited all claim to be called by this honourable name, some of this precious seed were to be found. Clouds of witnesses might be thicker in some regions than in others, but Christianity was no where so dreadfully corrupted, but some good was done, and a friend to truth was raised up to sigh and cry for all the abominations that were in the midst of the land.
Together with the aggregate or general amount, the parti. cular number sealed out of each tribe is also mentioned. And as what is affirmed of one tribe is affirmed of the whole, the four following verses do not require a separate consideration: there are, however, three things which merit attention :
First, The order in which the tribes are mentioned. They are very differently arranged in Scripture. Sometimes they are mentioned in the order of birth, as in Genesis, chap. xxix. and xxx. Sometimes the order of marriage is followed : First, the sons of Leah; secondly, the sons of Rachel; next, the sons of Rachel's handmaid; and, finally, those of the handmaid of Leah. In this order they occur in Gen. chap. XXXV. And sometimes they are mentioned from the order in which they were settled in the land of Canaan, as in Gen. chap. xlvi. But in the verses before us we are at a loss to perceive any thing like seniority, dignity, contiguity of place, or any other special reason for the way in which they are mentioned. If their names had been put down at random, there could not have been less of order or method seen in the statement; here the younger is sometimes mentioned before the elder, and the sons of the bond-women are classed along with those of the free. But this apparent medley is not without design. The tribes mentioned in these verses are not those of the Old, but of the New Testament Israel ; and under this dispensation there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for they are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 28. Relation to Christ is the only thing that can confer true dignity, and minister to the advantage of those who belong to the visible body of professors. Hence Judah, the tribe from which our Lord was descended, is the first mentioned; and Joseph and Benjamin, the two favourite sons of Jacob, are the last.
Secondly, In this enumeration, the tribe of Levi is particularly mentioned, (ver. 7,-a thing which seldom occurs when the literal tribes are enumerated. In consequence of Manasses and Ephraim, the two sons of Joseph, being erected into separate tribes, the numerical sum of the tribes was thirteen, and not twelve; but as Levi had no portion or inheritance among his brethren, and as his descendants were mingled among the rest of the tribes, that everywhere the people might have the benefit of their public instructions, they had no distinct inheritances of landed property, and are, therefore, not mentioned when the twelve tribes are enumerated. But while they have a distinct place in the catalogue before us, the number that was sealed of this tribe was not greater than that which was sealed of the rest. All of them were public teachers; and, in consequence of the office with which they were invested, they were daily versant in matters of religion ; but they did not profit more than others by their privileges. In this stormy season there was as great a proportion of those in public office, as of the other members of the church, that were blown away ; though all of them were teachers, they were not all sealed. This is an awful consideration to those that minister in word and doctrine, that many of them may hold up the torch of light to others, shewing them the right way, while they themselves may be left to wander in all the darkness of a natural state.
Thirdly, In this enumeration two of the tribes are omitted. We have no mention here either of Dan or of Ephraim. To make up the number twelve Levi is introduced, and Joseph is mentioned in the room of Ephraim. Roman Catholic writers have given a singular reason for the omission of Dan. They suppose that Antichrist is to spring from this tribe; and, therefore, as a mark of disrespect to the whole society, the name of the founder is omitted. But they are considerably at a loss to assign any reason for the omission of the
mighty tribe of Ephraim. If the true reason could be ascertained, it might be found to be equally applicable to both. The great adversary of the true church described in this book of the Revelations is the idolatrous church of Rome; and as Dan and Ephraim were peculiarly addicted to idolatry, it may be on this account that these unclean tribes are not so much as once mentioned in this catalogue. At an early period after the settlement in the land of Canaan, Micah, a man of mount Ephraim, had an house of gods, together with an ephod and teraphim, and one of his sons was consecrated to be his priest, Judges xvii. 5. This idolatrous house was rifled by a party of the tribe of Dan, who, among other spoils, carried off all the images, and other emblems of idolatry; but instead of destroying them, they founded a new city, which they called by the name of Dan, their father, and there set up the idols. From the day in which Micah's graven image was set up in Dan, till the period in which the kingdom of the ten tribes was overturned, idolatry was openly practised in this tribe, Judges xviii. 30, 31. Jeroboam, who is stigmatized as the man that made Israel to sin, was of the tribe of Ephraim ; and after he had the address to make ten of the tribes revolt from the house of David, and acknowledge him for their sovereign, to prevent them from returning to their allegiance to their legitimate prince, he set up calves for them to worship; the one he placed in Dan, where the images of Micah had long previous to this been worshipped, and the other in Bethel, a city which belonged to the tribe of Ephraim. The testimony of the hundred and forty and four thousand was particularly pointed against idolatry. They are afterwards distinguished from those who are called Gentiles; and, therefore, the two tribes, who, by being zealously attached to the worship of idols, were more like Gentiles than Jews, are not so much as once named, when the tribes are mentioned from which sprung the faithful witnesses of Christ.
OBSEnv. 1st, Jesus Christ is invested with a high and honourable office. He is the Lord Chancellor of heaven, the Keeper of the seal of the living God. Only in the throne, the Father, in his economical character, is higher than he.
2d, The worst things, as well as the best, that can befal the church, are under the control of Christ. Not so much as a breath of wind can blow without his permission.
3d, Even in the region of the church the most pestilential and destructive tempests may break out.
These evils are permitted for the manifestation of character--the more luminous exhibition of the truth and for the trial of faith and other militant virtues.
4th, In the worst times there are some that are saved. Thousands were reserved for Christ among the idolatrous tribes of Israel, at that very season when their idolatries and vices were of the grossest kind ; and in later times, when the world was wondering after the beast, he had an hundred and forty and four thousand that had not bowed the knee to this modern Baal.
THE INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE.
Rev. vii. 9-12. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude,
which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before
the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands ; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God
which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the
elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen : Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanks
giving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
This chapter contains a satisfactory answer to the insulting question which has been often proposed to Protestants, viz. In what region of the earth did their church exist before the time of Luther ? Her limits were not circumscribed within those of any particular district, or bounded by the rivers and mountains which separate one political association from another. Her members were scattered over a widely-extended surface, among
all those numerous tribes and families which bore the name of Christians. And it is much easier to trace up
her extraction to the true apostolic church, than for the bishop of Rome to shew that he has received the keys, either of doctrine or of discipline, from Peter ; or that the church of which he is the head is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. Though the records of the dark ages are exceedingly imperfect, they are, nevertheless, sufficient to shew, that, even in the most