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and of Roman paganism. These events no doubt are given; but by no means exclusively. Many other things then future would be found to be of no less interest to the church, and equally entitled to consideration. Human wisdom must here be exercised, and yet only in humble reliance on divine; "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." No doubt the great course of events, concerning the church, in which she would have a special interest even to the end of the world, will be found to be included in the "things that must shortly come to pass," and "the things which shall be hereafter." This history of events (if it may be so called) beforehand declared, and given in language deeply figurative, must be construed by pious and sound discretion; taking into view the language of prophecy, and the analogy of things. The chief object of the Revelation is, not to reveal things done in heaven, but things done on earth; and this information is to be most piously gratefully and obediently received.
Ver. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.
We have here the duty and encouragement of this study; and the rich benefits to be derived from a due and pious attention to this book. The remotest events to occur on earth might be said to be at hand, at the period in our text; such is the shortness of time compared with eternity. And the phrase implies that the events are to be studied and kept in mind while yet future.
Ver. 4. JOHN to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne.
5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and Amen.
Seven messages were to be sent from the mouth of
Christ to the seven churches then in Asia Minor. messages were not prophetic, as some have imagined; but simply admonitory. See chaps. iv. and v., where is a formal preparation, to unfold events of futurity. They, as such, are full of instruction to the people of God in all ages. What is said here of God the Father, that he " “is, and was, and is to come," is an essential glory of real and underived divinity. We have in this phrase the eternity of God, as in the following: "Thus saith the High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity." Let this be remembered, when we shall find the same attribute of underived divinity taken by Jesus Christ to himself.
The seven Spirits in the text, denote the Holy Ghost in his various gifts and graces furnished to men. "There are diversities of gifts; but the same Spirit.' In the text we have three in the Godhead expressed:-"from him that is, and was, and is to come; and from Jesus Christ; and from the seven Spirits "-"three are thus noted that bear record in heaven!" Grace and peace to man are from these Three, united in one God! which Three are one! Most clearly is this prime article of the Christian faith here established. The flowing of grace and peace from Heaven is only by Christ, the true witness to the law, government, and mercy of the Godhead;-who died to redeem; and is the resurrection from the dead; the King of kings; Head over all things to the church, whom he makes kings and priests unto God; to whom be glory and dominion (says the text) for ever and ever. The saints are made kings, as having grace to govern themselves; as having fellowship with Christ in his government of the world; and as being heirs of the crown of glory in heaven. And they are made priests, as having a full interest in Christ's priestly office; and as being themselves prepared, by Divine grace, to offer unto God holy spiritual sacrifices and services, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. In these, they praise their Almighty Saviour for their redemption, and their title to glory.
Ver. 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
The scene here hinted is one well known in the sacred oracles; the coming of Christ to judge the world. Christ
in humanity is the judge of the world. "When the Son of man shall appear in his glory, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations."-To learn who this Judge of the world is, see Psalm 1. 1,-"The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come -I am God, even thy God!" Verily, then, Christ is God. And he will thus come. "Unto you that look for him, shall he appear a second time without sin, unto salvation." His coming in the flesh was his first coming. And his literal appearance in our text is his second coming. This is said to be "in clouds!" the true sense of which, the event will unfold. It seems he will be attended with clouds of fire; clouds of angels; clouds of all the saints; and (for aught we know) clouds of the unknown legions of intelligences in the universe. And what clouds of overwhelming splendor will attend, none can now conceive. All then will literally behold Christ, the infinite Judge!Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, all the Jewish rulers, all who have persecuted him in his person, or in his people, or pierced him by their sins. All the multitudes of the papal, and infidel Antichrist; of Mohammedans; of the world of rejecters of his salvation;—the final Gog and Magog, going upon the breadth of the earth to destroy the church of God; all shall see him; and all destitute of his salvation shall wail in eternal horror!-while the saints hail their heavenly Bridegroom with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
The Bible furnishes several mystical comings of Christ, which were to be antecedent to the last and literal coming just noted,-as, his coming in the destruction of Jerusalem; in the revolution in Rome from paganism to Christianity; his coming in the reformation; and especially his coming in the battle of the great day just before the Millennium; and in the introduction of that event. And the coming of Christ in signal judgments is noted as being in clouds. "Clouds and darkness are round about him." Christ's coming in the battle of the great day, in Rev. xiv., is noted as being on a white cloud. And the antichristian nations shall then see him, and shall wail.
Ver. 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Alpha is the first, and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, in which language the New Testament was first written: which led the Saviour to add, in another text, "the first and the last!"
Ver. 9. I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
This beloved disciple would thus be known to all the people of God as their companion and brother in the labors. and perils of the gospel. He was then suffering, as an exile, in the desolate island of Patmos, in the Ægean Sea, to which he had been banished by a Roman emperor for his Christian faith; and Christ here conferred upon him the signal honor of this vision. The Most High says, "They that honor me, I will honor." No pagan emperor was ever blessed with honors in any degree comparable to the honor now given to this preacher of Christ. Persecuting tyrants may doom to infamy the dearest people of God; but he that sits in heaven can commute the sentence, and make its fulfilment a scene of true glory. Such is the economy of Heaven. Who then would not choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season?
Ver. 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
The Christian Sabbath is here called the Lord's Day, as the holy Eucharist is called the Lord's Supper. The Sabbath is so called, because that on its morning our Lord burst the bands of death, and finished the provision made for the salvation of lost man. The first day of the week, on the morning of which our Saviour arose, was henceforth adopted as the holy Sabbath, instead of the seventh day as before. This was thenceforth to be celebrated in special commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, the chief corner-stone of the new heavens and new earth; as well as in commemoration of his creation of the world; it was likewise to be a day for special improvement of the ordinances of grace.
Relative to this change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week;-the prophet Isaiah, predict
ing the mission of Christ on earth, as a rod from the stem of Jesse (Isa. xi.), says, "His rest shall be glorious." In the Hebrew original it is, "His Sabbath shall be glorious:" Christ then should have a special, and a glorious Sabbath. The Psalmist, predicting the rejection of Christ, and his yet becoming the Head of the corner, as he did indeed by his resurrection from the dead, says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will be glad and rejoice in it." (Psalm cxviii.) These prophecies, it is thought, give the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week, as kept by the Jews, to the first day to be kept by Christians. Accordingly, our Lord made special visits to his disciples, after his resurrection, on the first day of the week. See Luke xxiv. 13-43, and John xx. 19-29, where the first day of the week is repeatedly noted as the time of the gracious visits of Christ to his disciples, as well as the day of their convocations for his worship. Paul at Troas waited some time for the arrival of the first day of the week, when Christians would convene, that he might preach to them. And to the Corinthians, Paul gave directions for their performance of their charities and pious donations on that holy day. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2. These, together with the testimony in our text, of John's being in the Spirit on this day, and having on this day his Revelation, afford testimony to the divinity of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. The example of the inspired apostles is equal to a command of God. And when we add to these arguments, the considerations that the day of Pentecost was on the day following the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath, or was on the first day of the week, answering to the Christian Sabbath; as was also the ancient Jubilee; the arguments in favor of this change of the Sabbath are complete. On this day was changed the dispensation of the covenant of grace, from the Mosaic to the Christian; when the Holy Ghost came like a rushing mighty wind, and three thousand were converted to Christ. And this first day of the week gives the true antitype of the ancient Jubilee trumpet, proclaiming liberty and salvation! On this holy day, John was in the Spirit. If Christians now better imitated him in this, they would, no doubt, have more and richer interviews with Heaven. The apostle in our text being thus engaged, heard behind him a loud commanding voice;
Ver. 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and