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a Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
The beloved disciple now looked, with solicitous expectation, to see this wonderful "Lion of the tribe of Juda!" And he beheld in the midst of the throne, and of the emblems of the gospel ministry, and those of the private followers of Christ, a Lamb! as having been slain, and recovered again to life! When people look for great things in religion, they are often disappointed, in finding what appears at first small. The Lord is not in the fire, nor in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake; but in the still small voice! Both the lion and the lamb are notable emblems of Christ, in our holy oracles. And the position of this Lamb hints to us, that Christ, through God, is ever in the midst of his ministers and churches, even while he is on the throne of the universe; and he holds his stars in his right hand. The seven horns of this Lamb are emblems of his omnipotent power. His seven eyes are emblems of his omniscient wisdom; and also of his having, at his official direction, the Holy Ghost in all his multiform gifts, and gracious operations, for the salvation of Zion.
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
8. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
Christ took the book from the Father. The Father officially communicates to the Son all he has to do as Mediator. It is in this official sense that Christ says, "The Father is greater than I." And the business of both revealing and fulfilling the decrees of God, is thus received by the Son from the Father. And, in view of such a Saviour, and of the economy of divine grace towards men in him, Christ's ambassadors and his whole church prostrate themselves before God and the Lamb in the most humble adoration, praise, and holy obedience. The harps in their hands are emblems of their actual preparation for the business of praise and holy worship, either with or without instruments of sacred music to aid their voices.
And their golden vials, or cups, full of the prayers of the saints, assure us that the true people of God pray much! Their vials are not merely half filled; but they are full! And we here learn that their prayers are odors, in a twofold sense; or both as coming from hearts truly grateful, graciously contrite, and sincere; and as being perfumed with the incense of Jesus Christ in his powerful intercession.
Ver. 9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
The song of salvation by Christ is and eternally will be new, as it will for ever excite in the souls of the redeemed new wonders and joys; and will never appear old, nor in the least degree irksome. We read of a new commandment as given to Christians, that they "love one another." This is the same commandment which they had from the beginning; but it is called new, because attended with new light and obligations under the Christian dispensation. Upon the same principle, the songs of praise to God for the salvation by Christ, will appear new in eternal ages. Those then, who become tired of their religion, have never learned the new song of redeeming grace in our text. The fact here, that the four living creatures and the elders unite in ascribing their redemption to the blood of Christ, further decides, that both do indeed belong to the human family. And God sees fit to employ these two sets of emblems to denote his true people on earth, consisting of his ambassadors, and the other members of his church. Such is the distinction which God makes between the ambassadors of Christ, and other Christians. But they both adore and praise God that he hath not only redeemed them, but has made them kings and priests unto himself. Levites and priests were types of Christians under this last dispensation. And inspiration sees fit to prefix here the title of kings also; making them a royal priesthood. Christians are priests, as being consecrated entirely to God in the temple of the gospel; and as being prepared by grace to offer to God holy and daily sacrifices, accept
able to him by Jesus Christ. And they are kings, as governing themselves by the divine direction, and as having holy fellowship with Christ in his government of the world. "And we shall reign on the earth." In the Millennium, Christ will reign on the whole earth-not visibly-but spiritual in the hearts and the holy faith of the world of people. And the reigning of the saints on the earth will be, not by any literal resurrection of those who have died; but by a blessed participation of the whole family of the saints (in heaven, and on earth) with Christ in his millennial reign. The saints in glory will see and know that the blessed cause in which their hearts were bound up, both living and dying, now fills the world! and this fact will add new joys to their heavenly glory. And also the saints on earth will at that time have such fellowship with Christ in his reign of grace, that they too may be said to reign on the earth!
Ver. 11. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12. Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
13. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four-andtwenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for
ever and ever.
A grand chorus here arises from all creation, except from the world of despair!-from the holy angels;—from all the ambassadors of Christ;—and all his followers, amounting to millions innumerable! The ministers and people of Christ are distinguished in this universal chorus, as being the people more immediately interested, having been redeemed. In this grand Halleluia, Christ is expressly worshipped and adored; and this too, in the most ample and rich profusion of expressions of wonder and adoration. And the scene closes with a renewed burst of
rapture from the redeemed. The ambassadors of Christ exclaim, Amen!-a term of adoring acquiescence,-and a token for others to follow. Upon which the whole church fall down and worship.
Most rich is this chapter in instruction, and in practical reflections. The opening of the way of gracious communication from heaven is, for lost man, a theme of immortal wonder and praise. And it is a subject worthy of all acceptation and improvement. And great indeed must be the folly, guilt and self-ruin of neglecting it. The thought of the ministers and people of Christ being in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, furnishes a most commanding motive to gratitude and Christian faithfulness. An ancient prophet assures us, Jerusalem shall be called the throne of God." And another; “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early!" God governs the world for her salvation. May Christians more diligently learn the new song of redeeming grace; and never become weary of it. The idea, "And we shall reign on the earth," is commanding; and should ever awaken in Christians new and holy zeal. Their sea of glass, too, their luminous fountain for washing from all sin, should set their souls in holy fire of love and gratitude. We are in ourselves defiled; and our deep innate depravity too often fills with vanity, folly and guilt. This, every true Christian daily laments; and he feels his need of cleansing grace! and, blessed be God, our sea of glass is ever at hand! We may there daily and hourly wash and be clean. "Wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.' "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin!" This sea for cleansing is not only pellucid; but is ample and free for all. God's kings and priests wash here without defiling the fountain; which is ever clear as crystal, like the waters of the river of life in the new Jerusalem. O ye kings and priests of the Lord; dwell on the broad and ample brims of this sea of glass; [see chap. xv. 2,] and keep yourselves pure. It is striking to find that the church there, at the opening of the Millen\ nium, is noted as standing on this sea of glass. Its brims are so ample and firm, that all may, as the kings and priests of God, take their station upon it continually, to enjoy its waters of salvation. They now seem to have David's request truly fulfilled in themselves; "One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold
the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire at his temple." Let us labor, let us pray, that we may enjoy this blessedness! Then shall we indeed answer to the description of Paul;"And hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." And then may we obey the following gracious direction; "Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. The Lord who made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion!"
The way was now prepared to commence the unfolding of events then future.
Ver. 1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
Jesus Christ broke the seal on the last edge of the outer leaf of the book; and, unrolling the leaf, he presented to view its contents; upon which it seemed to thunder. Thunder is a noted emblem of war; and wars tremendous were about to commence. One of the emblems of the gospel ministry officially and audibly said, "Come and see!" We here learn, that when new and interesting events take place, the minister of Christ is to call the attention of his people to them. Come, and behold what God has done, or is doing. "Ye can discern the face of the sky; how is it that ye cannot discern the signs of the times?" "None of the wicked will understand; but the wise will understand." Of the wicked, inspiration says, "Thy judgments are far above, out of his sight." But it is not to be so with the people of God! they are to behold the fulfilment of the sacred Scriptures. Paul at Thessalonica reasoned three