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and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”.
These sublime ideas with regard to the happiness of the righteous, as well as the awful punishments which are denounced against the wicked, in the lake that burneth fire and brimstone, which is the second death, evidently direct our views of this prophecy, in its complete and ultimate fulfilment, to the rewards and the punishments of eternity. But still the vision of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as
a bride adorned for her husband,—which, in one passage of this book, is applied to the Church of Christ triumphant upon earth, and, in another, is promised as a reward to the faithful in heaven"; and other expressions in this chapter, which seem to unite the most sublime ideas, which we are able to collect from other passages of Scripture, with regard to the future triumphs and glories of the religion of the Redeemer upon earth, and its final and perfect consummation in the regions of the blessed', appear evidently to point to a double fulfilment. Such a view of this prophecy appears to be rendered necessary by a consideration of all the circumstances connected with it: and, at the same time that it gives a peculiar interest to this sublime vision, it casts an additional and an interesting light over the spiritual character of ancient prophecy.
Dean Woodhouse, and the majority of commentators, consider that this vision is applicable only to the glories of the heavenly state. But, as we have seen, both the corresponding prophecies of the Old
9 Chap. vii. 14–17.
Chap. xix. 6–8.
Testament, from which the imagery of this vision is principally borrowed, as well the internal evidence of the prophecy itself, appear to forbid our limiting it to this application : and we have a similar instance of this union of different subjects in our Saviour's prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem'. We are all able to appreciate the wonderful sublimity and power, with which our Saviour, in this prophecy, has united the description of the terrors which would accompany that awful event with the still greater terrors which will accompany the day of judgment; and how eminently the figurative description of our Saviour appearing in the judgments, which he denounced against his guilty people, was calculated to raise the minds of his disciples to that tremendous day, when he shall appear in visible majesty, sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. In the same manner, with regard to the sublime prophecy, which is the subject of this vision; this view of it,—which thus connects together the greatest triumphs of the Gospel in this world with its final consummation in the glories and the happiness of eternity,—supplies faith with the most powerful motives, and adds the most animating encouragement to holiness; and, at the same time that it raises our thoughts to the contemplation of those triumphs, which await the Gospel, even in this world, it teaches us to look forward to those everlasting rewards, which are prepared for the righteous at God's right hand for evermore.
Grotius and Hammond would apply the prophecy contained in this chapter, as well as that in chap. xix. 6—9, to the flourishing state of religion after the accession of Constantine to the Imperial throne. It is, however, impossible not to remark, with reference to this interpretation, what has been before observed with regard to similar opinions of these eminent commentators concerning other parts of this prophecy,—that it is directly opposed to the plain and obvious meaning of the language, which is employed by the Apostle, and to the whole scope and object of the Apocalyptic prophecies.
1 Matt. xxiv.
PART VII. SECT. III.
“And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: 6 and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Be- 7 hold, I come quickly : blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. And I John saw these things, 8 and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am 9 thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. And 10 he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be 11 unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and 12 my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and 13 the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his 14 commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
For without 15 are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus 16 have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning-star. And the Spirit and the bride say, 17 Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him
that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the 18 water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth
the words of the prophecy of this book, "If any man shall
add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues 19 that are written in this book: And if any man shall take
away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall
take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy 20 city, and from the things which are written in this book. He
which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. 21 Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
In a manner so solemn and awful is this sublime and interesting prophecy brought to its close! It opened with a solemn blessing on all who should hear and read it: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand. It closes with the same blessing on all who keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book. “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things that must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand. And, behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you, these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. . And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take
of the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen.” Nothing can be more solemn and affecting than this. The same Divine Person, who had before appeared, under such circumstances of unspeakable awe and majesty in the opening of this prophecy, to give his commission to his faithful prophet and apostle St John, and who has been manifested during the course of it, first, as leading his Church to victory, and, lastly, as completing his triumph over all his enemies—THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS ;—now appears, in its close, to call the devout attention of believers to the sayings of the prophecy of this book ; and he reveals himself under those characters, which are so eminently calculated to obtain attention and reverence, as the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last. When Daniel received his prophecy relative to the same events, he was commanded to "shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end ;” because, before the events should come to pass, “many run to and fro, and knowledge should be increased'." St John is commanded “not to seal the sayings of
i Dan. xii. 4, 9.