« AnteriorContinuar »
the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will vouchsase his divine presence, like the Shekinah in the Jewish temple,and shall dwell among these blessed and holy ones, who share in the sirst resurrection, in the new heaven and earth; and these shall be the people of God.
St. John proceeds to a long description of this renewed earth, the dwelling place of saints.
We may institute a sew enquiries, in order to render the meaning of this passage of St. John plain and intelligible to every careful, judicious reader.
1. Where shall we six the scene of St. John's vision?
2. Who those were whom he saw sitting on thrones? and who were those that were beheaded?
3. What is meant by the thousand years lise and reign of the saints with Christ, and where shall this thousand years be placed, whether before or after the general resurrection and judgment?
4. What we are to understand by the expression the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years werefimjhtd?
5. What is meant by the sirst resurrection?
6. What by Gog and Magog, and when they were drawn together against the saints;
If we can answer these inquiries according to the analogy of scripture, it will doubtless, be satisfactory to the reader, and open an entertaining prospect to his view.
x. Where shall we six the scene of St. John's
vision? vision? If we carefully consider and compare. St. Peter and St. John, we may satisfy ourselves that the eatth is the scene of the vision, and the place where she righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked punished, after the resurrection and general judgment.
The passage in St. Peter, to which I reser, is in his second epistle, Chap. iii. 7-1-13, inclusively. "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the fame word are kept in store, reserved unto sire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."—Here is a plain intimation that the earth, when changed by sire, (hall be the place of the perdition of ungodly men. And this is not at all inconsistent with the place also of the happy residence of the righteous; as we (bail fee more fully afterward?. To proceed with St. Peter's prophetic representation. «' But, beloved, he not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not flack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness j but is Wg suffering t,o us- ward,not willing that any (hould J^erife but tb.a,t all should come to repentance."— Here is something very worthy of notice, and, it bei«£ so feapP'ly coincident with my principal design, I doubt not the reader will excuse me for adverting to it. The apostle had just observed that the earth was destined as the place of judgment and perdition of ungodly men-, and given us to understand that it would suffet, by the change which sire would effect upon it, to such a degree, as to render it a proper
place sot the execution of the divine judicial sen* tence, to be passed on the ungodly. Yet the apostU expressly informs us, that God, from his desire of the repentance of the wicked, delayed the time of placing them in a far more disagreeable situation on earth, than that which they now were in. This, at once, gives us a most exalted opinion of the divine benevolence towards sinners, and some rational idea of hell or the next state of those who die impenitent from under God's present dispensation. This earth, when changed by sire, andj in some part of it, made to suffer very considerably by the change,- will be the place of hell to the ungodly. •. - ..>'-'-'.-k
To return; "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night;" suddenly and with surprising circumstance*; " in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt; with servent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, (hall be burnt up. Seeing therf that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on sire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with serveftt heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
This promise, reserred to by St. Petes, we sind in Isa. lxv. 17, 18, 19. "For behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not
be remembered, hor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice Forever in that which I create: for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the Voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying." If God would rejoice in the hew Jerusalem which he should create; and joy in his people there; and if no more weeping nor cryiag should b6 heard in her; with great propriety is the Jewish church exhorted to be glad and rejoice in that which God would create, and hot to suffer the former Jerusalem to be fondly remembered, nor tome upon their heart} at the Hebrew expression signisies, , •
Here God, by the prophet, promises to create a new heaven and earth; that it should be called Jerusalem j that He would rejoice in that new Jerusalem, and in his people there; and that there should be no weeping nor crying in the new Jerusalem, Now let as compare this with St. John's vision. Chap. xxi. 1, 2, 3, 4. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth 2 for the sirst heaven and the sirst earth were passed away j and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . ,
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven^ saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself (hill be with them, and be
O • thtir
their God. Apd God shall wipe away all tears frora their eyes $ and there shall be-nc^, more .death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain j for to* forincr things are passed a
waX» ,1 '.t.- .. . i ',.- ' vun -j..: -. ;.j -j..; :.. _—_;; y Thfc hypothesis, that the? earth, in ber^ regenerated
state,; will be the future residence of the .virtuous,
i$ thus shown to be very agreeable with the analogy
of prophetic scripture. ., -.; , ,,. , ,
And hotv easy will it be with God, in <be futuie conflagration,, to sit up and. prepare; ajitt ol..th\i earth for.the.dwelling place of his faints, in their in* corruptible and glorisied bodies: whilst the other part should.be permitted so to suffer by the conflagration, as to become a very disagreeable habitation for the ungodly and sinners... ,, . 1 .::.'.: ;;..
Thus we may have some intelligible idea of heav* en and hell j whereas, according to the common representation, we caa obtain no adequate conception of either. , '. i.~.>." j ... .:
2. Who were they whom St. John saw sitting -on thrones, and who were the beheaded ?,
I think the original words are well rendered, and they sat upon them, arid judgment was given to them.
By consulting the language of the new Testament, we shall be satissied who these were, who sat on thrones, arid had judicial power given to them. Our blessed Saviour fays to his disciples, Matt. xxv. 2i. "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a sew thing.*,; 1 will make