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phrase, Jerusalem which cometh down, out of heaven from my God," should be marked. It is evidently spoken by Jesus in his mediatorial character and office, for he calls God, MY God." The city as evidently cometh down, out of heaven. What do we mean by a city or church ?—not its walls, but its citizens or congregation. So in this verse, the now invisible Church is exhibited as returning glorified in visible triumph for millennial blessedness, to be enjoyed apart from, and yet maintaining intercourse with, the dwellers on the new earth, when
righteousness dwelleth there." But this subject belongs to the consideration of the 21st chapter. May the Spirit open our ear to all the exceeding great and precious promises revealed by this chapter!
Verse 14. Christ, as head over all things to his Church, when addressing the Laodicean angel, describes part of of his mediatorial character and office, as exercised on behalf of this church: that of “the faithful and true witness" to her of all the truth of God. He again appropriates to himself the signal attribute of DeityTHE AMEN, a title no created angel could assume. In Isa. lxv, 16, God is twice called the God of Truth," or Elohim, Amen." God is Truth ;"-yet Jesus, even in the days of his humiliation, said, "I am the Truth," i. e. essentially, inherently, absolutely, eternally, as being God over all. But in his mediatorial character and office, God gave him for witness to the people"w in Rev. i, 1, he gave this Revelation to Jesus Christ to shew to his servants, &c. -Thus Christ presents at once his
nature as God, and his mediatorial office as the Christ of God.
He adds a more mysterious title, the beginning of the creation of God;" spoken I believe in the sense of his being its originator and framer. framer. In colloquial language we say, in reference to a plan or work originating in the mind and purpose of any person; "he was the beginning of it." In Col. i, 18, Jesus is called is called "the Beginning, the first born from the dead;" for as he is "the Resurrection, he rose, not only as the first fruits or earnest, but also because by virtue of his resurrection he will raise up at the last day every believer. Thus he is the origin or procuring cause of every resurrection of the just, as well as the pledge of it. Col. i, 16, ascribes to him the creation of all things in heaven, as well as of all on earth, visible and invisible. Now it is manifest that he who created all things is God, and “is before all things" by an eternity of past existence which mortal mind is lost in attempting to imagine.
In view of "all things being created by him and for him," he repeatedly assumes the appellation of "the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last," for without him was not any thing made that was made, and he was in the beginning with God, and he was God,"y
The appellation then merely assures us that he had no predecessor and in this sense it is I believe used in reference to Jesus Christ.*
Verses 15-17 show that the Laodicean church was in the state of the professing church of all ages,-viz. indifferent to things invisible, spiritual and eternal. Selfsufficiency has been the character of
w Isa. lv. 4.
x John vi, 40.
y John i, 1-3.
* "The Greek for "the beginning" signifies that he was so actively, not passively;
i. e. from whom all things draw their beginning." (Leigh.)
man since Eve sought "to be wise," instead of making dependence upon God her supreme felicity.
Verse 18 reminds them that the time of grace is not past: his merits are still sufficient; nor will he refuse them the white robe, which is the righteousness of saints, hiding the shame of their own destitution. The anointing which opens the blind eye is also still attainable.
Verse 19 cautions them from despair on account of reproof and chastening; and urges it as a proof of long-suffering love, that would have them come to repentance and awake from lethargy, and be no more lukewarm but zealous. Nay, if the Church would not hear, yet if any member of it would but consider, that individual might behold him near in his providence, about to cut him down quickly, except he should find works meet for repentance; near by his grace, repeating his merciful invitations and threatenings, if he would but be persuaded to hasten, and return, and receive Christ, and with him power to become even now a child of God: for he would not disdain him for the past nor reproach him for neglect and contempt; but at once come in to his heart," bring truth into the inward parts, make him to understand wisdom secretly, and never leave him more but abide with him, and cause the believer to abide in Him, as a branch graffed into the true vine. Besides this gracious assurance, he closes in verse 21 with promises in reference to the kingdom
to come; when he would of mere favor grant to him who should overcome to sit with himself in his own throne, even as in the days of his earthly tribulation he overcame the same enemy of souls, and sat down on his Father's throne. Jesus has the undoubted power to give this privilege in his kingdom;—for he has a throne of his own, distinct from the Father's throne on which he now sits, as God over all, (“I am set down with my Father on his throne,") reigning spiritually over all in heaven, and all on earth, and all under the earth. all under the earth. But he has not yet come down to sit on the throne of his father David, according to the promises,-promises which cannot fail, because Jehovah changeth not.*
Oh that all the vastness of this recompence of reward set before us might induce each to seek grace to persevere zealously in all the works which he hath new created us to perform, knowing that no work of faith or labor of love can be in vain in the Lord. May the Spirit bring home to every believing heart, every word of these gracious Revelations of present support and eternal reward!
As the addresses of Paul to the various churches he planted belong in a spiritual sense to the whole Church of every age and nation, so do these which John was the organ of communicating to the churches of his bishopric. But I see no reason to view them as of a more prophetic character than those of Paul or of Peter, &c.
* See Luke i, 32, 33; 2 Sam. vii, 12-16; Ps. lxxxix, 2-4, 26 & 27; Is. ix, 7; Acts ii, 30, and Ps. ii, 7, &c. Such is "the covenant ordered in all things and sure." The part of it concerning his people answerable to the promise in this verse may found 1 Sam. ii, 8; Dan. vii, 22; Matt. xix, 28; 1 Cor. vi, 2, 3.
ON THE ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST,
The State of separate Spirits.
No circumstance connected with modern theology has more affected me with surprise, than the vague and unsatisfactory notions entertained by most respecting the present and future conditions of the dead. In its first aspect, so far as our own individual happiness is concerned, it appears to be the object of all others in divine divine revelation of most intense interest, and most calculated to engage the inquiry of intelligent, mortal beings and indeed there are few persons who are not led by the ordinary afflictions or sympathies of life to entertain the subject at some period of their existence, however transiently; and there are few ministers, in the habit of encouraging religious conversation, who are not repeatedly assailed by inquiries on this head. Yet how many preachers and writers treat the topic with hesitation, or mere conjecture; not seeming to have any decided scripture testimony on which to base their hopes! and how many others, whilst they wish to be persuaded on these points, yet are not altogether without some inward misgiving, as if they rather wished their sentiments to be true, than that they have a decided assurance concerning them! The conclusion to which this has led me is, that christians in general, owing to erroneous views concerning the resurrection state and the kingdom of glory, have got completely wrong in regard to some important circumstances respecting the present and future conditions of the dead. And it is remarkable, that
they commonly speak with the greater degree of confidence concerning the state of separate spirits, which is really an obscure point, and respecting which but little is revealed; whilst in regard to that other state, which is declared to be life and immortality brought to light," and concerning which we have abundant revelation, they are almost inclined to discourage inquiry, as though it were altogether hopeless.
I trust I write not these things in a spirit of arrogancy; for I am deeply sensible that I have myself been precisely in this predicament, at a time when I was nevertheless desirous to ascertain and to communicate the truth: but I think it due to those holy doctrines which I now advocate to avow, that it was only in proportion as their glorious light broke in upon my understanding that I was enabled to apprehend the other truths with any clearness; and this I state in the hope of conciliating towards millennarian opinions somewhat more of candid examination.
As these essays are chiefly intended to set forth the future condition of believers, I might have been justified in passing over the mention of the intermediate state : but as I consider it important, when advancing opinions opposed to the ordinary notions even of pious christians, not to be misunderstood, or presumed by my silence to entertain sentiments which I cordially reject, I purpose to preface my inquiry into the resurrection state, by a notice of the state of separate spirits.
Some of my brethren, dazzled perhaps by the first reception of light, were induced, when they embraced millennarian views, to consider the state of the disembodied spirit as one of unconscious sleep and though most of them have now retracted this opinion, yet some hold it; whilst many have only modified it, and, as it appears to me, do still degrade the separate state below what the Scriptures have revealed concerning it. I shall therefore endeavour to prove 1st, that the dead in Christ are in a state of consciousness, in the fullest sense of the term; and 2dly, that they are in a state of holy enjoyment, superior to any experienced upon earth.*
I. That the spirit is in a state of unconsciousness is argued from the circumstance, that death is described in Scripture as a sleep, and that the dead are said to awake and arise from it. I doubt whether more be meant by such expressions than a figure, seeing that the very same phrases are applied by the Psalmist to God; -"Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise; &c."a A writer in the
Morning Watch under the signature H. B. scouts, as idle, the notion of this class of Scriptures having respect only to the body :b yet must I not be deterred from observing, that I know of no such Scriptures that are not ambiguous in regard to their applicability to the spirit; whilst Psalm xvi, 9, My flesh shall rest in hope," appears to me quite unequivocal as respects the body and therefore I feel justified, when the context does not determine the point, to limit all doubtful instances to the body likewise.
I apprehend Romans viii, 10, 11, to be referable to this subject: And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the
* I do not think it needful to dwell formally upon another opinion, held by Socinians, that at death the soul is annihilated; because I fear they are a class of persons not likely to read the Investigator. We may refute them with this text (if they will receive it)" Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." For were the soul annihilated at death, its destruction would be placed within the power of man; so that he who killed the body would as certainly annihilate the soul.
+ Some of those who quote Dr. Burnett on this head are disposed to go very far beyond their master: for he admits that such expressions may be limited to the body; and even if applied to the soul, it is only in the sense that they are excluded from active intercourse with the external world, just as persons who are wrapt in sleep. "Secundum communem dictionem Sacræ Scripturæ, Mors dicitur "Somnus" morientes dicuntur "obdormire :" quod innuere mihi videtur statum mortis esse statum quietis, silentii, et aɛpyarıaç: nempe quoad mundum externum; ut nihil habeamus commercii cum mundo externo in statu mortis, non magis quam in statu somni. Præterea, "expergisci" dicimur et "evigilare" in Resurrectione: quamobrem vero? nisi quod, mutato statu, quasi excusso somno, in lucem et in mundum visibilem resurgamus. At dices forsan, Phraseologiam illam sacram, qua mors assimilatur somno, &c. esse tantum Euphemismum, et respicere corpus, quod, cum mortuum, placide requiescere videtur ac si esset somno obrutum. Esto sed plenior fortiorque erit dictio, si, una cum corpore, animam quoque complectaris, &c." (De Statu Mortuorum, cap. v.)
a Ps, xliv, 23; and see also lxxiii, 20; lxxviii, 65.
b Vol. II, p. 382.
likewise quickened: but where in the meanwhile is the eminent distinction between the body being death and the spirit life, unless it be that in the intermediate state the body sleeps, whilst the spirit enjoys a living consciousness?
The Writer of the able and ingenious paper just referred to, when discussing the locality of hades and paradise, contends from Matt. xii, 38, and Rom. x, 7, that they are in the heart of the earth: nor am I disposed to question this part of his statement, which is certainly supported by Scripture. But the application of the term sleep to the body appears to him idle on this very account; because the body soon becomes dissipated into dust and cannot therefore have a locality. To me however the return of the body to the dust confirms the view which I have taken: for we are expressly told, that many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;"c and Isaiah exclaims, "Awake and sing ye that dwell in dust."'d If H. B.'s hypothesis as to hades be correct, these things cannot be predicated of the spirit, and thereforemust apply to the body.
It is objected by some, that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the latter is represented as lying in Abraham's bosom; and that as he is not made to speak, he must be in a state of repose, and consequently of unconsciousness. But the apostle John is also described as lying in the
Saviour's bosom; yet it does not follow, that he slept there, but that he enjoyed the situation as a privilege and distinction. Besides, the rich man is evidently conscious and does converse: it must therefore be his body only that slept; and shall we say that the damned enjoy a consciousness which the righteous do not?
II. This point, the consciousness of the spirit in the intermediate state, will be more fully established when we consider secondly, that the dead are in a state of holy enjoyment, superior to what they experienced when on earth for that which proves the latter point, does more eminently confirm the former.
St. Paul declares "that for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain."e I have carefully attended to the arguments which would explain this text otherwise ;-viz. that the Apostle here overleaps the intermediate state, as of no account, and refers his gain by death to the resurrection; but I cannot at all concur with them. Surely death
would in the mean while be a loss to the man who could say, when living, To me to live is Christ; unless that conscious union with Christ were still continued to him: for in regard to any merely natural circumstances we may say, a living dog is better than a dead lion."f And this continued enjoyment of Christ-yea, and this increased enjoyment of him-is fully borne out by the 23rd
*For the information of some Readers (and others I trust will excuse it) I may here explain, that the ancient doctrine concerning Hell or Hades does not limit it to a place of torment, as is generally intended by the word Hell in common use; but includes the places of disembodied spirits, both of the righteous and the wicked, between whom there is a separation, likened in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to "a great gulf." The receptacle of the righteous is called Paradise; to which place the spirit of our Saviour went when he gave up the ghost, as is evident from his assuring the thief-" This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." The receptacle of the wicked is called Tartarus.-The phrase in 2 Pet. ii, 4 " Cast into Hell" is in the original, "Cast into Tartarus."
c Dan. xii. 2. d Isa. xxvi, 19.
f Eccles. ix, 4.
e Phil. i, 21.