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him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, be glory and dominion for ever and ever?" Cold and insensible indeed must be the heart of him who will not add, with the sacred writer, "Amen ;" so may it, so ought it to be. And never let that man hope for future felicity, who refuses this tribute of praise and gratitude to the great Redeemer.
That these sentiments of reverence, of honour, and of love, may be more fully excited, and that we may be animated to obedience, and encouraged under trials, the apostle directs us to the Saviour about to come speedily, by remarkable dispensations of Providence, and at last to appear in majesty to judge the world: "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." In these triumphs of their Saviour over his finally impenitent enemies, his friends will rejoice, and cry, "Even so, Amen." Now we mourn over them, we entreat them to turn and live; we weep when we behold their obstinate resolution to destroy themselves; but then even their fearful doom cannot interrupt the joys, or suspend the songs of the blessed. High and comprehensive views of the divine justice, of the necessity of the punishment of these despisers of a Saviour's grace, forbid the redeemed to indulge even a sigh of regret; although we may imagine that their rapture assumes the character of adoring submission, and that their anthems of praise for the redemption of mankind, for a moment give place to one more solemn and majestic, which the prophet of God once learned from the lips of seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts."
To remove all doubts of the accomplishment of the predictions that should be uttered, the Saviour declares to John his essential dignity and glory: "1 am Alpha and Omega." These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the language in which the predictions were uttered; they represent the Redeemer as the first cause and last end of all things: their import is plainly shown in the succeeding words: "I am the beginning and ending, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Every rule of fair interpretation must be violated, if these words are not assigned to Jesus. We will consider their more definite meaning, when we hear him repeating them.
Such is the awfully solemn introduction to the first vision with which the apostle was blessed. He speaks then of the place to which he was banished, and of the season when he saw the Redeemer. It was at Patmos, "on the Lord's day," that day on which his devotions had often been mingled with those of the faithful. Far from them, he still could enjoy communion with his Lord. He was on that day "in the Spirit" a supernatural influence suspended the exercise of his bodily senses, and his mind was powerfully affected by the Holy Spirit. In this situation, he heard behind him a voice, strong and piercing as that of a trumpet. This sudden and unexpected sound, like the trumpet upon Sinai, prepared him for the solemnities that were to follow. He heard some being distinctly say, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia." Turning to behold the person that spake, he saw seven golden candlesticks, which were emblematic of Christian churches, in which the
light of truth, of holiness, and joy, should continually shine, and in which divine love should constantly flame. In the midst of them was "one like unto the Son of man:" the blessed Saviour proving how dear to him were the concerns of his church.
Our Saviour ascended to heaven in a human body: it still remains in the world of felicity the eternal monument of redeeming love, but is glorified and exalted in a manner suited to the high dignity of Immanuel; in it, he will come to decide our everlasting destinies, and "the vile bodies" of believers shall at the resurrection, "be fashioned like unto this glorious body." But we are not to suppose that Jesus appears in heaven, as he was here exhibited to the apostle the description is entirely symbolical, and represents the union of the purest innocence, the most elevated glory, the most comprehensive knowledge, impressive majesty, irresistible power, and tender solicitude for the church in the Redeemer: he appeared with the robe of the high-priest, and with a girdle richer than that of Aaron, to teach us that he exercises for us his priestly office in heaven; "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow." This is a natural emblem of age; but as age gives experience and allays the passions, it may denote the knowledge, prudence, circumspection, and equity of the Son of God; and it may also represent the majestic splendour proceeding from the rays of light and glory round his head. "His eyes were as a flame of fire," to express at once his omniscience, the all-penetrating nature of divine knowledge, and his indignation against those foes whom he was about to punish. "His feet were like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnance," to represent the strength, the murity, and beauty of all his dispensations. "His
voice" terrible and sublime, "as the sound of many waters." "In his right hand he had seven stars :" they are the ministers of his church, who are stars as to their duty to shine before others, and as to their reward, since if faithful, their lustre in heaven will be perpetual: Jesus holds them in his hand, supporting, enlightening, defending them. "From his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword," a symbol of the efficacy of that word by which he subdues his enemies and protects his friends." His countenance was as the sun shining in its strength," bright, dazzling, but cheering.
So august was the spectacle, that the apostle was overwhelmed by it; the powers of nature failed, and "he fell at the feet of Jesus as dead." But the blessed Redeemer instantly dispelled the apprehensions and strengthened the frame of his disciple: "He laid his right hand upon me," the emblem of his gracious and almighty power, in order to revive and raise me up, and said, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Surely these are words that are calculated to dispel every fear. Let us consider them for a moment. "I am the First and the Last." Than this declaration, nothing can more fully declare that truth which lies at the foundation of the gospel-system, which is the source of the hope of the sinner, and the consolation of the believer, the real divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Deny this truth, and the revelation of God is no longer suited to the wants and woes of guilty man; the trembling and agitated conscience no longer can find full rest and perfect peace; the "fountain opened for sin and uncleanness" is sealed, and a stone placed upon it, which not even an angel can roll away. The thunders still roar, and the lightnings play around
the brow of Sinai; the law still utters its curse; the cross and intercession of Jesus, lose their efficacy; and the violated sanctity of God, and his character, as the moral Governor of the universe, still call for our perdition. But blessed be God, if this truth is important, it is unequivocally asserted in the holy volume; and this single title, were there no others to be adduced, ought for ever to close the lips of the Socinian blasphemer. Thrice in Isaiah the Lord claims it as a title peculiar to himself; thrice in the Apocalypse, it is claimed by Jesus as his due. "Thus saith the Lord," this is the language of inspiration in the Old Testament, "Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts, I am the First and I am the Last, and besides me there is no God; fear ye not." (Is. xlvi. 6.) "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I Jehovah, the first and with the Last, I am he." (Is. xli. 4.) "I will not give my glory to another: Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called, I am he; I am the first, I also am the last." (Is. xlvii. 11, 12.) When these passages are compared with those in which the Redeemer assumes this as his prerogative, can we doubt of his essential divinity?
Fear not then, Christian; your Saviour is omnipotent. Were he a creature like yourself, however elevated a creature, you would still have reason for despondency and apprehension; but now, when you approach to him, though burdened with your guilt, assailed by your spiritual enemies, desirous of being pardoned, sanctified, raised to heaven, you need not doubt of his power to confer even these inestimable blessings, since he is the mighty God.