sons to be cast on one side and neglected? Are the stand-points of prophetic interpretation to be disregarded? Is that which is fixed and certain to be despised? No! Certainly a great indignity is put upon the Word of God when we forget how much has been already manifestly fulfilled. Our wisdom is to stand by what is thus certain, and then in the fear of God ponder over his blessed wonders; feeling persuaded that all the rest will assuredly be fulfilled in its season.

But I must not enlarge; and will now endeavour to give you some more hints; not attempting to domineer over your faith, but to suggest such things to your consideration as shall help you in a prayerful search into the mind of God as revealed in the sure word of prophecy.

In attempting to properly understand any part of the Word of God, or any particular book in the Bible, it seems most important to try and see what is the grand scope and design of that particular book. Such a plain rule as this applies with the greatest force to a book like that of the Revelation. Let me, then, just suggest to your mind what plainly appears to be the scope of that book.

Briefly, it is a history of the church of God, or the kingdom of Christ, from the earliest days of Christianity to the end of time. Of course, such a narrative contains the history of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King of that kingdom, and as in connexion with it. As, then, in other histories of particular kingdoms we have a description given us of their rise and progress, of their internal condition at various times, and of the administration of their home affairs, as well as of the oppositions they meet with from without, and overcome, of battles, defeats, and victories; so it is here in this history of the kingdom of Christ, as set up on this earth. I may observe, too, that in the history of a particular country the affairs of other countries are sometimes more fully or more briefly noticed, just so far as they have more or less bearing upon the affairs of the country whose history is being unfolded. Thus it is in the history of the church of God. Bible was not written to give us mere historical information; it deals in higher and sublimer matters. It does not therefore necessarily tell us anything about even the greatest nations or most astonishing events. No! it only introduces other nations and kingdoms, and treats of events as they have to do with the particular matter in hand-the history of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Though the carnal mind scorns such an idea, and natural men ignore it, assuredly this is true, that in God's view of things they are only of importance as they bear upon his eternal purpose in Christ. All things work together to one definite end, the setting Christ and the church of God, as united to him, on high.


These thoughts will, I think, give you a general idea of the contents of the book of Revelation, and of what you may expect to find in it. Remember, you are reading God's Word. To read


and consult that blessed Word, in order to obtain mere literary, scientific, or historical information from it, would be most unseemly. God's oracles are not merely for the head, but for the heart and conscience. They are given for wise, holy, and practical ends. "If any man," says Christ, "will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." That some men stumble at, and some pervert, the testimonies of God, is no marvellous thing. They bring to their study of that word nothing but unsanctified intellects and unhumbled hearts; and if free grace prevents not, are as sure to corrupt the Word of God as that Word is true.

But to resume. May this thought abide with you in studying the book of Revelation,-that you are reading a divinely inspired history of the church of God upon earth; a history in which the internal affairs and administrations of that kingdom of Christ, as well as its outward relationships, are treated of, and in which the secret springs of events in connection with the cause of God are often laid bare. Prophecy is pre-written history; and this prophecy is the pre-written history of the church of God from the days of Christ.

Having made these remarks upon the general character, I will now try to bring before your mind some parts of this book of Revelation, in order that you may see what a blessed and instructive portion of God's Word it is, and how it is really written in harmony with the views already hinted at.

In the first place, then, I must call your attention to the three first chapters. In these we have what we have called the internal state and home administration of Christ's kingdom, the church, set before us. This is a very suitable preface or introduction to all that follows. It is also designed, I believe, for the support and comfort of God's saints. Before the many terrible scenes of after-ages are described, the people of God are shown what still abides true,--that Christ is in the midst of his people. He remains King in Zion, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and orders all things for the real advantage of his church and people.

Well, then, in the first three, or opening chapters of this divine and prophetic history we have our attention called to the following things:

1. We have the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the King of Zion, set before us in his divine and spiritual glory and beauty.

2. We have the church or kingdom of Christ set before us, as represented by the seven churches of Asia.

3. We have the King set before us in his relationship to his kingdom, and, therefore, as walking in the midst of the churches, to carry on their internal government.

He, then, who would be a student of this book to real profit, should begin where the Lord begins. He should meditate upon and pray over these opening chapters. A blessed revelation to his own soul of the King in his beauty, as set forth in the first chapter, and a due consideration of Christ in his relation to the

churches, and of those churches themselves, as they are upon earth, will be no bad preparation for a profitable examination of the rest of this history.

I will pause, then, for a moment in order to suggest two or three things to your mind in reference to these three chapters. In the first place, you will, no doubt, perceive that it is principally the spiritual and divine glory of the Lord Jesus which is set forth in the vision with which John was favoured in Patmos. It appears to me that we have particularly represented to John for the edification and comfort of the church in all ages those attributes of Christ which, as King of Zion, he exercises in the midst of the churches as purging, purifying, advancing as to its true interests, and bringing to its designed perfection his own church or kingdom. Therefore, when he comes and addresses a particular church, he refers to himself as thus seen in vision by John, but selects such parts of that vision as will be suitable to the particular condition of the church addressed. In other words, he calls the attention of a particular church to one or more of those glorious attributes and perfections with which he is endued as the Christ of God, such perfections having a particular reference to the state of that church. For example, when he addresses the church of Smyrna, he speaks of himself as "The First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive;" but when he addresses the far more corrupt church of Pergamos, he refers to himself as "He which hath the sharp sword with two edges." Christ is endowed, as the Christ and King of Zion, with every attribute and perfection suitable to the purification and edification of the church of God; or, in other words, to the carrying forward his purposes in his proper kingdom.

Now let us turn to the churches. We of course understand in the first place that there were those seven churches of Asia, and that each particular church was in that exact condition represented in the words of Christ. But we may clearly look farther, and see that these seven churches were selected as representative ones, so that in addressing them, other churches then upon earth in similar conditions were really at the same time addressed. Indeed, this seems clear from the words connected with each epistle: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

But we must even look beyond the days of the apostle John, and not only consider these epistles as addressed to saints in his day, but as written for all time. It seems quite proper to look upon these seven churches themselves in a prophetic point of view, and to consider them as characterizing the states of particular churches and people of God in after-ages; and not only so, but as also typical of even successive states of the church of Christ generally in the successive periods of time. Thus it does not seem a vain question if we inquire to which of these representative church states we may consider the condition of the church generally in our own days conformable. I suspect the

answer will not be very far to seek. At any rate, I think most discerning persons will select either Sardis or Laodicea. Few would venture to take instead Smyrna and Philadelphia.

Now, when you consider that these seven churches represent the church and churches of God as upon earth, a question may possibly arise in your mind as to the reason for using as emblems of such churches golden candlesticks. The same emblem is used of the Jewish church in Zechariah, with this remarkable addition: "All of gold." The same is to be understood here, though not expressed. These candlesticks, too, were doubtless all of gold. But how is this a correct emblem of churches upon earth? Even the best are made up of poor, frail, sinful men and women; of persons full of infirmities. Besides, in the churches as upon earth, tares are mixed with the wheat; foolish virgins with wise ones. But, then, we must always remember that what is true of an individual believer is true of a real church of Christ, as well as of the church at large. Individual Christians, all true churches, and the church at large, are seen in the Lord Jesus, and beheld as complete in him. Only the gold is taken account of; the dross is not considered, but laid aside, in the estimate. Of course, so far as disciplining, purging, and purifying go, it is regarded; but so far as God's estimate of the church as seen in Christ is concerned, it is not taken into the account. Thus even Laodicea, as long as it remains a church of God, is spoken of as a golden candlestick, as well as Smyrna or Philadelphia.

This is a very sweet and encouraging view of things, and is well calculated to produce in gracious minds an aiming after and prayerful pressing to the mark of that perfection in its full enjoyment which is already counted to belong to the saints individually, and the churches generally, as seen in Christ Jesus. If a church is seen as all of gold in Christ, the belief of this will animate the members who realize their position to desire that what is offensive to Christ may be purged out, and truth and grace and godliness much more abound.

One hint more, and I must conclude. No doubt the angels addressed were the ministers of these particular churches. But as the churches may be considered representatively and prophetically, so may the angels. They may be viewed as representing the ministers of various ages. It were well, then, for ministers not only to examine into what may be the present church state, or condition of the particular churches they serve, and of the church generally, but to pray to the Lord that they may receive, as the angels and messengers of the churches, the suitable messages. How vain and evil would it have been for Laodicea's angel, disliking his own message, as not pleasing his hearers, to have pilfered and repeated the message of the angel of Philadelphia. The messengers of the churches should receive the particular kind of message they give forth from the Lord's mouth, or by the Lord's Spirit. The stars should, and will if in Christ's hand, shine with a suitable light, not borrowed from

men, but direct from him. False watchmen are compared to dumb dogs. They utter forth no suitable notes of warning. The thief may steal into Sardis, but there is no warning. But Christ is still in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He still holds the true stars in his right hand. May his ministers thus shine in harmony with his perfections. May they preach the suitable truths of God. Christ gives to each a message. When he gives it, it will be in harmony with the states of his people, good or bad. O to be found faithful in our day and generation! not flattering men, or seeking to be mere flesh-pleasers, but serving the Lord, and thus instrumentally carrying on his internal work of discipline, government, and edification in the


I must add no more. Believe me, yours in sincerity,


"CAST DOWN, BUT NOT DESTROYED." Written in a copy of Luther on the Galatians, belonging to one William Roofe, dated Nov. 17th, 1774.

Now to the praise of God my King,
Be all my powers employed;
While of this precious truth I sing,-
"Cast down, but not destroyed.'

Oft the united powers of hell
My soul have sore annoyed;
And yet I live this truth to tell,—
"Cast down, but not destroyed."
This world and my deceitful heart
Have oft my steps decoyed;
Yet in these words I have a part,-
"Cast down, but not destroyed."
When persecutors' cruel tongues
Against me are employed,

Yet then I prove these words so strong,―
"Cast down, but not destroyed."

Thus far o'er life's tempestuous seas

I've safely been convoyed;

For this has been made good to me,-
"Cast down, but not destroyed."
In all the paths which I have passed,
What mercies I've enjoyed!
And this shall be my song at last,—
"Cast down, but not destroyed."

I shall at last in heaven appear,
And there my God adore;
Destroyed shall be my sin and fear,
And I cast down no more.

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