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The Saviour adds, for the consolation of his apostle and of believers in every age," I am he that liveth ;" the ever-living God in my divine nature, having life in myself as Mediator, and therefore able to secure the interests of my church. In my human nature, “I was dead;" I once hung upon the cross, there to atone for the sins of the world, to purchase for myself a church, and to bring in everlasting righteousness: "And behold," with joy, with faith and hope, “I am alive for evermore ;" I conquered death, I rose, I live for ever in that nature which then died in it, I live in heaven as the high-priest and prevalent Interces-*. sor for my people, as the Lord and King of Zion! Again I ask you, my brethren, who will not with the enraptured apostle, in considering these declarations, cry out with satisfaction and delight, "Amen ?"
Fear not then, Christian. He who died to redeem you to God by his blood, lives, eternally lives, possessed of almighty power to apply the fruits of his redemption: be not swallowed up with sorrow, if those dear and tender connexions who possess thy love, are called to the tomb; your best, your most -precious friend, your Jesus, liveth for ever, liveth for thee, to give thee consolation and support. Fear not, if thou thyself art called to descend into the tomb : thy Saviour has conquered the King of terrors; and if thou expire in his love, like him, though dead, thou shalt be alive again, and shielded for ever from the strokes of death.
Still further to cheer his apostle, the Saviour adds, "I have the keys of hell and of death." Those of you who are acquainted with the original scriptures, well know that the term here translated hell, does not ordinarily signify the place of the accursed, (for this, a different word ya is used.) but the whole of the in
visible world; the state of all who have departed from earth, whether good or bad. Over this extensive world, the Lord Jesus as Mediator, exercises absolute power and dominion; for this is the import of the figurative phrase, "to have the keys of it," the key being often used as the emblem of power and authority. He has also dominion over death, the passage from the visible to the invisible world, and he removes men from the present state when and in what manner he pleases. You see then the import of these impressive words: "I exercise unlimited dominion over the whole invisible world: I assign to those who enter it their everlasting states: at my command death bears the children of men from the earth, and at my orders the grave shall restore those whom it has received."
After this address, the apostle is enjoined to write the things which he had seen, and those which should be revealed to him; and the symbols of the candlesticks and stars are explained to him.
My brethren, we also shall see the Son of God. Ah, despiser of Jesus! if when the Redeemer came with a message of mercy and with sentiments of love to the holy apostle, he nevertheless trembled, and could not sustain the glorious vision, what will be thy condition, when he shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those that know not God, and when the awful splendours of his indignation shall burn before him? Ah, Christian! a higher privilege than that here enjoyed by John, is reserved for thee! Thou also shalt see Jesus; but thy body spiritualized, and strengthened by divine power to behold divine glory, thou shalt fix a steady gaze upon him, and feel thyself invigorated and strengthened by every glance.
Believer! rejoice in the elevation of thy Saviour. He who" was dead and is alive again;" who conquered the last enemy for us, and "destroyed him that had the power of death;" he "who brought life and immortality to light;" he whose heart is love, whose affection to thee is inconceivable; who became man and expired upon the cross to save thee; and who now sways the sceptre of the universe, bids thee look upward and behold the heavens opened, and himself standing ready to receive thee: he holds the key that admits thee to joy, to immortality, to God: his own hand holds the crown of righteousness, which for ever shall sparkle on thy brow! Ah! fall before his throne, and adore him with confidence. Dismiss thine apprehensions, since thine interests are in secure hands: tremble not even at the tomb, since it is opened for thee by thy Beloved; since, through it, he conducts thee to glory.
Bereaved and desolate mourners! think of Jesus as he here exhibits himself, and be resigned. It was he who removed your friends; he who as their Creator, had a supreme right over them; who, as Mediator, has purchased the keys of the invisible world and the grave by his precious blood. Do you doubt his wisdom? Are you qualified to be his counsellor? Dare you impeach his rectitude and justice? Can you doubt of his love? Is it fit that the wishes of you, blind ignorant mortals, who are but of yesterday, and know nothing," should overrule the unerring determinations and wise counsels of Immanuel? Will you still dispute, as by want of resignation you do dispute with him, who shall govern the world?
Impenitent and thoughtless man! meditate on the glory of Jesus, and then say whether it is safe in thee
longer to neglect him? Myriads of exalted intelligences bow to him in that invisible world over which he presides; and who art thou, perishing sinner! that thou shouldst refuse to acknowledge his authority? He died that he might obtain power to admit thee into heaven, in consistence with the divine attributes; and wilt thou requite his goodness by rushing into hell? Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, pay homage to him, yet he still condescends to thee, dust and ashes: shall this condescension, instead of melting thy heart, only increase thy guilt? Oh! in time be wise! Again he invites thee, and offers himself to thee? Sinner, wilt thou now accept him? Oh! delay not the answer, lest the key should turn, and the opportunity of salvation be lost for ever!
REVELATION, CHAP. II. AND III.
In our last lecture we beheld the apostle filled with love and adoring awe at the display of his Saviour's glory, Jesus ordered him to write to the seven principal churches of proconsular Asia. These epistles are found in those two chapters which we shall now rapidly review with you.
Some persons, with more ingenuity than judgment, have supposed that there is in these chapters a description of seven principal states, through which the church universal should pass: there is not even a probable argument in favour of this opinion, and there are many insuperable objections to it. The real state of seven churches then actually existing is exhibited; while lessons are taught useful to Christians in all ages and places.
To each of them is prefixed a title derived from the symbolical representation of the Saviour in the first chapter, which we have already explained. They are addressed to the angels or ministers of the churches. This is a title derived from the Jew5