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husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.”
Gad, by name, represents the church as the Lord's host, or an army with banners, Song vi. 10; called the host of the Lord, a good company of soldiers; the
of saints, Rev. xx. 9; engaged in the fight of faith, 1 Tim. vi. 12; a-troop of good soldiers of Jesus Christ, who are to endure hardness, 2 Tim. ii. 3; to put on the whole armour of God, Eph. vi. 11; and overcome the world, 1 John v. 4. Gad signifies a troop. “ And Zilpah, Leah's maid, bare Jacob a son.
And Leah said, A troop cometh; and she called his name Gad."
Asher, by his name, represents the church in her covenant state, being blessed of God, and under the blessing of Abraham, “ They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham,” which Zion certainly is; for it is on the mountain of Zion that the Lord hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii. 3. And this shall be proclaimed aloud in the great day, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom.” Asher signifies blessedness, or being made happy under a blessing, which all God's people are, more or less. “ And Zilpah, Leah's maid, bare Jacob a second
And Leah said, happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” Naphtali
, by his name, represents the church of God as mighty prevailers, struggling hard both with heaven and earth; like Jacob, they must
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wrestle hard with God for a blessing, or they will never take the kingdom of God by force, which is said to suffer violence. And they are obliged to wrestle with principalities and powers, and with spiritual wickedness in high places, Eph. vi. 12, in order to overcome the world. Naphtali signifies a mighty or prevalent wrestler. “ And Bilhah, Rachel's maid, conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed; and she called his name Naphtali.”
These particulars highly induce me to think that these twelve patriarchs, in the signification of their names, are twelve of these elders mentioned in my text. First, they all sprung from Jacob, whose name Christ assumed, Psalm xxiv. 6; and which name every saint of God may assume, Isa xliv. 5. Secondly, they were the fathers of all the Israelites; and they are all Israelites that believe in Christ for salvation, called the Israel of God. These patriarchs all sprung from Abraham, who is the father of us all, Rom. iv. 16; and from Sarah, who in the allegory is the free woman, and the mother of us all, Gal. iv. 26. Hence we are commanded to look to Abraham our father, and to Sarah that bare us. Thirdly, these patriarchs were the fathers from whence the twenty four courses of priests sprung; and by their names being at the gates of this city, they appear to be the elders of this city; and the gates of these elders; and unless we are Israelites by grace, as these patriarchs were
by nature; and interested in those things signified by their names, we never can enter the gates of this city. We must produce our register, as they could, and our genealogy both, as written among the living in Jerusalem, Isaiah iv. 3; else we shall find no admittance into this city, much less into the sanctuary; we shall be stopped in the outer court, which the reed of God's word is not to measure, because it is to be trodden under foot, as every outer court worshipper will be, Rev. xi. 2. God will trample hypocrites in his fury, Isaiah lxiii. 3; and expose them to as much contempt as the children of Habaiah, the children of Coz, and the children of Barzillai, who could not prove their descent from Israel by register or genealogy, and therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood, Nehem. vii. 63, 64.
The other twelve elders mentioned in my text, I believe to be the twelve apostles of the Lord. They in scripture are styled elders: Peter says, “The elders I exhort, who am also an elder.” John styles himself “ the elder unto the elect Lady and her children.” The twelve apostles are said to have their names in the foundations of this city of the living God: “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” As the apostles are called elders, and are said to have their names in the foundations of this city, it shews that they were doctrinally or ministerially the founders of it. We all know that it was " The Lord that
founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it;" and that “ He that built all things is God,” yet he used wise masterbuilders to lay the foundation doctrinally: “I, as a wise masterbuilder,” says Paul, “ have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon; but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” God the Father laid Christ in his own decree and purpose; hence he is called an elect stone, which God laid, and revealed him to the prophets, who laid him in their ministry. The apostles succeeding the prophets laid him more clearly and extensively, even in the Gentile world; and every child of God is “ built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom
ye also are builded, for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
To the apostles were committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven, all that they loosed on earth were loosed in heaven, and all that they bound on earth were bound in heaven. Now as the church of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, for an habitation of God through the Spirit, it appears that this habitation of God is this city that I am speaking of; for this city is said to have the glory of God in it, and her light was like a stone most precious, Rev. xxi. 11. This city is likewise called “The bride, the Lamb's wife,” if so, this city must consist of such souls as
the apostles espoused to a good husband, and presented as chaste virgins to Christ, 2 Cor. xi. 2. This whole city consisteth of souls that were not defiled with the errors of mystical Jezebel, Rev. ii. 20; or the mystical whore of Babylon, Rev. xvii, 1, 5. This city consists of such as were not defiled with these women, for they are virgins, Rey. xiv. 4.
Thus it appears that the twelve patriarchs, in the gospel signification of their names, are twelve of these elders that represent the church of God in my text; and their having their names at the gates, seems to shew that they are the elders of this city; and unless we are Israelites, or inwardly Jews, circumcised in heart, and worshippers of God in the Spirit, Phil. iii. 3, we shall not be able to find our names in the book of life, or written among the living in this new Jerusalem.
You may object and say, the new Jerusalem signifies the triumphant church, which is let down from heaven; or the spirits of just men made perfect, coming with Christ in the clouds of heaven to receive their dead bodies raised again and to be united to them, being those blessed ones that have a part in the first resurrection. Be that as it may, let us look nearer home; matters will go well with us in that day, if we are found to be true citizens. Paul says, “ Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and