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to slide by every cross, as though determined never to suffer any inconvenience for the sake of Christ. Such characters have ever abounded. But such “ fearful souls” are ranked with the “ unbelieving,” who shall have their part in the lake of fire.” Those who cheerfully suffer with Christ, are the souls who shall reign with him. “Ye are they who have continued with me in my temptations ; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed unto me.” All others virtually deny Christ, and will be by him denied.
Listen, then, to the way by which to overcome; and to the infinite benefit to your souls of overcoming. It must be by faith in Christ; and by persevering faithfulness in his strength and grace. And " he that overcometh shall inherit all things."
Ver. 22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Seven times are we presented, in these epistles, with this solemn warning, in the same words. Why is it thus repeated ? The reason is manifest: men are dull of hearing. But, that they should hear, and obey, is of eternal importance. They must hear and obey : or eternally sink in the lake of fire. Hence the same words are repeated to the perfeet number seven.
Seven is a number much used in this mystical book. We find here at least seven septenaries; or, the number seven seven times used. We have seven addresses to an equal number of churches ; seven horns of the Lamb; the seven lamps ; the seven eyes of the Lamb (the same as the seven spirits of God); the seven seals; the seven trumpets; and the seven vials.
Vastly important to us is the warning in our text, seven times from the mouth of God, urged in the same words. This should make a deep and practical impression on the hearts of all in Zion. Let those who seldom read them, and those who read, but yield no trembling obedience, pause and consider. May all awake, and hear, and obey, the warnings in these seven epistles to us from our final Judge. Such they are, though alas, forgotten. They furnish a glass in which every church, and all the members in the visible kingdom of God, may see themselves,
and prepare to meet their Judge! Let us be conversant with this most precious heavenly mirror. Let us, with devout souls, and most devout breathings of heart towards God, often place ourselves before it, and form our hearts and lives by it, lest we be condemned at the close of our probation. “ The words which I have spoken, they shall judge you at that day."
Ver. 1. After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
The actors in the following scenes are next to be presented; and it must be done in the figurative language of this book. The place chosen for the presentment of them is found to be the third heavens; or the space imagined to be above our visible heavens, above the air, and starry regions. Looking upward, John saw in vision, or seemed to himself to behold, an opening in the vault in the upper sky which terminates our sight, when directed upward. From this opening, a trumpet-like voice directed him to ascend thither, and he should learn scenes of futurity.
Ver. 2. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine-stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
John seemed to himself instantly to obey, and to lose sight of all things earthly. He now seemed to behold God the Father as seated on a throne worthy of himself. But inspiration assures us that no man hath seen God at any time; or can see his face and live. This scriptural representation, and the one in our text, form no disagreement; for the former speaks of seeing God literally, as he is; and in the text, the view given of God is only figurative, and such as mortal man can endure.
This view, given of God the Father to John, was on the same principle with that which, in the close of the Revelation, is given of heaven, in the figure of the New Jerusalem. Similar figurative views had before been given of God;—as that to Isaiah, “ in the year that king Uzziah died;" that to Micaiah, when called before Ahaz; and that to Stephen, about to suffer martyrdom. God was said to converse with Moses “ face to face,” as a man converses with his friend : while the fact was, Moses only heard God's voice from the Shechinah; while yet God assured Moses, that no man could see his face and live.
The Divine appearance to John, in our text, was merely assumed, that God might accommodate himself to mortal man. The scene might be borrowed from the style of earthly monarchs, who have their thrones, robes, and richest gems.
The Divine appearance like a jasper and a sardinestone, was an emblem of God's perfection. Grotius was of opinion, that the jasper in the Revelation means the diamond, the richest of all gems; and it here denotes the power and purity of the Almighty.
The sardine-stone, of a red hue, may here remind us of the Divine justice. And the rainbow round the throne denotes the faithfulness of God to fulfil his word. The rainbow is set in the cloud, to show that God will keep his word, never again to drown the world; so, whenever it is appended to any Divine appearance, it indicates God's immutable faithfulness. The greenness of the bow round the throne, in our text, denotes the mild and pleasant effects of the faithfulness of God to man ;-like the still small voice to Elijah after the earthquake, the wind, and the fire.
Ver. 4. And round about the throne were fourand-twenty seats : and upon the seats I saw fourand-twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
These elders denote the common members of the church of Christ. Their number is that made by the union of the patriarchs and apostles; as the gospel church and the church of the Old Testament are essentially one.
It is a fact, too, that the priests of old (typical of the gospel church) were divided into four-and-twenty courses. And among the Levites of old, there were also four-andtwenty courses of sacred musicians for public worship.
With these things accords the fact in our text, that the representatives of the common members of the gospel church, who are God's royal priesthood, should be exhibited as twenty-four. They appear sitting each one on a seat round the throne of God, which denotes the presence of God with them: “God is in the midst of her.” Their clothing of white raiment denotes their purity: and their crowns are an earnest of their eternal glory. They are kings, as well as priests, unto God.
Ver. 5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
These thunders, lightnings, and voices, are most fit appendages of the scene; and they indicate the judgments with which God vindicates his church, and destroys her enemies.
The seven lamps burning before the throne, or in the midst of these elders, assure us of the various gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, communicated for the salvation of the people of God; “ There are diversities of gifts ; but the same Spirit.”
Ver. 6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto crystal: and in the midst of the
throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind.
This sea of glass is in allusion to the great brazen sea, in the temple of old, which was for the washing of the priests. This vessel was called a sea, on account of its vast capacity; and it was made of brass.
In allusion to that ancient sea in the temple, Divine grace, under the Christian dispensation, was predicted as a “fountain to be opened for sin and for uncleanness." The Christian church, as well as the church of old, should have her sea for gracious cleansing. But in the Christian church, instead of this sea being of brass, impervious to the rays of light, it should consist of pure transparent glass. This is to denote the lucidness of the Christian dispensation; where light has come into the world, the Sun of Righteousness has risen, and his rays now pierce through the whole establishment of gospel cleansing, as rays of light pervade a vessel of glass.
This sea of glass is before the throne of God, as the ministrations of grace are under the special eye of Heaven,
-as God dwells in Zion--and as he engages his special presence in all Christian assemblies for worship.
The brazen sea of old stood on twelve brazen oxen; three of them facing each cardinal point of the compass. We have here a lively emblem of the twelve apostles, setting their faces in every direction, to carry the gospel-through the earth; and in this employment their successors were to follow them, down to the end of the world.
We accordingly find in the text, emblems of the ambassadors of Christ, as though annexed to this sea of glass; even as the old brazen sea stood upon its twelve
These ambassadors are now denoted by four live ing creatures, instead of the twelve brazen oxen; one now for each point of the compass. They are rendered in our text four beasts ; which rendering is very unhappy. The word in the original is zoa, from zoo, to live ; and should have been rendered living creatures. Gospel ministers are here denoted by these emblems, instead of by brazen oxen, as of old-connected with the emblems of cleansing grace. The word in this book rendered beasts, is theria. (Chap. xiii. 1-10. and xvii. 3.) That these four