« VorigeDoorgaan »
"laid up as wheat in the granary of heaven." Oh! in the prospect of that harvest-day of the world, let us pray God for the wicked before their state is without resource. Let us supplicate more earnestly for ourselves and our friends the influences of heaven to ripen us for glory.
LECTURES ON THE APOCALYPSE.
REV. CHAP. XV.
WE have seen the woes that were denounced against the Roman empire under the first six trumpets, and have shown the accomplishment of those events that were foretold. In the last chapter we had a general view of the judgments that shall be inflicted on Antichrist. In this there is presented to us a vision preparatory to the declaration of that series of woes, that shall issue in the destruction of all corruptions, errors, and superstitions in the church; and in the introduction of the pure, the spiritual, and universal kingdom of Messiah.
St. John again stood on the portals of heaven, and beheld a sign, great in itself, wonderful in his estimation: "Seven angels received the seven last plagues, in which is filled up the wrath of God." They include the final manifestations of the anger of God against the corrupted church; they are inflicted by angels, who no less readily fly to be the executioners of the divine indignation against the guilty, than to cheer, comfort, and animate the real believer; who as readily, when God orders, smite the host of a Sennacherib, as they bear the soul of a Lazarus to glory.
Immediately after beholding these angels, and knowing their commission, the apostle was taught that there were many who, unstained by the corruptions of Antichrist, should not partake of her plagues. "I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." These constitute that holy, happy company, with whom we hope hereafter to be united: to join with them in the exalted hymn of thankfulness and praise; and with them to bow before "him that sitteth upon the throne, and before the Lamb." image, his mark, and his number, have been explained to you. Without repeating the observations then made, it will be sufficient here to remark, that those who obtained the victory over them, are those who amidst many seductions, maintained the purity of the gospel in faith, in worship, and in conduct; those who are represented in Rev. xii. 11, as having "overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." "These have harps," the
The beast, his
instrument used in the ancient temple, on which to celebrate the praises of God, and from which now resounds the song of the conqueror. But what is this sea of glass, mingled with fire?" There are two principal sentiments, each of which may consistently be maintained. Some persons have imagined that this is the same sea that is represented in the sublime vision contained in the 4th chapter; where (verse 6.) the apostle saw "before the throne a sea of glass like unto crystal." The imagery there is certainly derived from the Jewish temple, and the allusion there is doubtless to the molten sea, in which the priests washed before they offered their sacrifices, and in which the sacrifices themselves were washed before they were presented to God. They both represented, as we showed you, that blood of the Redeemer, without which neither our persons nor our services can be acceptable. To illustrate the purity and sinless worship of heaven, that which John beheld was "clear as crystal." According to many commentators, this is precisely the same scenery, and the blood of the covenant is here exhibited. It is a sea shining with brightness, as white and clear as crystal, but rendered beautiful and apparently mingled with fire, being irradiated from the reflection of the light falling on it from the throne of God: or, according to others, "its waves flash with the flames of divine indignation, shining high to the glory of his justice; and the saints are represented as in union with Christ, both in the merits of his atoning sacrifice, and in the exercise of those judgments that he is about to bring upon those who are not interested in his atonement, and who obey not the gospel."* This interpreta
tion, as I have said, is defensible: it rests upon principles that are correct; it enforces a great and a precious truth, that the redeemed derive their joy, their triumph, and security in heaven, not from their. works and sufferings, but from the sacrifice of Immanuel. Nevertheless, I incline to the opinion of those who, because the song of Moses is immediately mentioned, suppose that there is here an allusion to the deliverance of the Israelites, and to the grateful song which burst from their hearts on the borders of the Red Sea. In like manner, these happy spirits, having been delivered from all their enemies and trials; having just passed through the good providence of God, from earth to heaven, stand at or near (for so the word may be translated) the sea that they have crossed, and proclaim the praises of their Deliverer. It is a sea of glass, smooth and shining, frail and unsubstantial, as are the enjoyments of earth. But it was to them mingled with fire: they had passed through persecutions and calamities to glory; many of them had been baptized by fire, as well as by water; and had from the midst of the flames ascended to the world of felicity.
66 They sung the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." Their hymn was of the same general strain with that of Moses, celebrating the attributes and works of God; but they add the praises of the Redeemer, who had been so much more fully manifested to them than to the ancient church; and they look forward with rapture to the universal triumphs of that Lamb of God, who has justified, sanctified, and saved them. They look at creation, and are filled with wonder at the Almighty power; they look at redemption, and with admiration see justice and truth shining as brightly as do
mercy and grace; they call upon all to fear, to glorify the divine name; and they anticipate the millennial glory that will be introduced by the judgments upon the beast. "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty." Thus they begin their song to God the Father, in almost the same language that we find in the song of Moses; they turn then to the Lamb, to Him who is so frequently called King of Zion, King of his church, King of his people, whom "he has redeemed from all iniquity and purified to himself." "Just and true are all thy ways, thou King of Saints." "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy;" essentially, underivedly, perfectly, communicatively; " for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest." I give you no long commentary on these words: the pious heart affords the best commentary.
The apostle then beheld" the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven opened:" that is, the inmost part of the heavenly temple, corresponding to that part of the Jewish temple where the ark of testimony was deposited, and where God peculiarly dwelt and manifested his glory. There was the throne of God: there were the attending angels, and from their stations these angels came to execute the commands of God. They were seven, having the seven plagues; seven peculiar dispensations of Divine Providence upon a corrupted church. They appear in the habits of the high priest, offering proper sacrifices to God, though thousands fall before them. They are "in pure and white linen," showing the righteousness of the Lord in his judgments. They are "girded," ready with alacrity to execute the