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Ezekiel 1:16

16. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: trod their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

16. Aspectus rotarum et opus 4040     That is, workmanship or form — Calvin. stent aspectus Tharsis et strutlitudo unius ad quatuor, 4141     That is, there was a certain equable proportion between the four wheels, so that one was altogether like another — Calvin. et aspectus eorum, et forma 4242     Either their work or workmanship; — On leur ouvrage ou leur facon. — Calvin. quemadmodum si rota esset in medio rotae.


Now the Prophet uses the plural number, and says, there were four wheels. He says, the color was like a precious stone. Jerome translates it “sea,” because the sea which looks towards Cilicia with respect to Judea is called Tharsis. But I know not why the color of the sea or the sky took his fancy. But granting that, the word is not found simply for a bluish-green color, for tharsis is a precious stone, as we learn from Exodus, Exodus 28:20, and many other places. The Greeks translated it chrysolite, but I know not whether correctly, nor does it much matter. We need only hold it to be a precious stone, whose color was so exquisite that it attracted all eyes to itself. And so God wished, under the figure of wheels, to place before his Prophet something earthly; but, at the same time, to raise his mind by its color, because he would ascertain from this that they were not either common wheels, or wooden, or of any earthly material, but heavenly ones. The color, then, was intended to draw off the Prophet’s mind, so that he might ascertain that heavenly secrets were laid open to him.

Like the appearance of a precious stone, he says: afterwards, and they four had one likeness This may, indeed, be referred to the living creatures as some have conjectured, but I have no doubt that the Prophet here teaches, that the wheels were so equal that there was no difference between them. Therefore their proportion and equality shows that in all God’s work there is the greatest arrangement — not that this lies on the surface, (for we should rather think that all things are involved in hurried confusion,) but if we raise our senses above the world, it will doubtless be given us to acknowledge what the Prophet here describes, viz.: that in all God’s works the arrangement is so complete that no line could be better directed. God therefore, whilst he turns round the world, preserves an even course with respect to himself, so that what we call changes or revolutions have no inequality with respect to himself, but each is in harmony with all the others. At length he adds, their aspect and workmanship, or form, was as if each wheel were in the midst of a wheel, so that the bending of one wheel is across that of another. For he does not mean to say, that one wheel was greater and another less, but that two wheels were so united that they were at right angles to each other. Now, we may see why the wheels were double; I touched on it briefly yesterday — viz., because God does not seem to hold on a direct course, but to have various changes, and, as it were, in contrary directions, as if the motion by which each creature is inspired with vigor was drawn in different ways. Therefore it is said, one wheel was in the middle, of another Finally, here God represents to us to the life what experience teaches. For first, the world is carried, along just as the wheels run round, and that, too, not simply but with such great variety that God seems to send forth his impelling force, now to the right hand and now to the left. This, then, is as if two wheels were entangled together. But I cannot proceed further now, and must leave the rest till to-morrow.

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