« ПредишнаНапред »
the Bible :—God is every where: sin alone prevents us from perceiving him: "He is about our path, and about our bed,"c << and in him we live, and move, and have our being.,,f Where sin does not impede the perception, he is doubtless manifested in all parts of his creation: and when the curse shall be taken away from the earth, his glory will here too be sensibly felt. In the mean time the theory which leaves his gladdening, heaven-creating presence thus unconfined, and rather extends it to multitudes of worlds, is surely the most honorable to his perfections; however ill it may correspond with the boundaries of our finite apprehensions.
Before I conclude, I must revert to the recommendation with which I set out;—to use precision in the ideas which we attach generally to the language of Scripture, and to this word, 'heaven,' in particular. Sometimes we shall understand by
e Ps. cxxxix.
it, the air; sometimes, the stars; and in the passage in 2 Cor., so much dwelt upon, hades. We shall also frequently, perhaps most commonly, find that it simply means, the sky, without any imj^lied limitation to the first heaven, or the second; but meaning generally the place over our heads. At other times we shall observe that it serves for the purpose of poetic imagery, to exalt our conceptions of the Deity. We shall, in some instances, understand it to mean God himself: in others, we shall perceive its reference to the glorious kingdom of Christ upon earth: and sometimes it will exhibit a political or ecclesiastical meaning, denoting the government of kingdoms, or of the Church. May God grant us spiritual discernment to discriminate properly in reading his own blessed word: may He guide us into all profitable knowledge; and preserve us from all injurious error! Amen.
Nil. f Acts xvii, 28.
ON THE PESTILENCE.
That we are living in eventful times, all must acknowledge; and very many even of those who do not look for the glorious rising of "the Sun of righteousness"—who do not expect that Jesus will come to reign amongst His ancients gloriously—do nevertheless confess, that some mighty event is being ushered in. But to the christian who is indeed watching for the triumphant coming of his Lord,—to him who is keeping his garments free and his loins girded, anxious to be ready to meet the Bridegroom,—these signs speak with a ten-fold significance. Let us however for the present take one particular subject; and briefly
consider "the Pestilence which stalketh at noonday." This is a theme that will yet, I fear, speak home to the hearts and feelings of all. We know not how soon it may be written in characters of blood before our eyes; and it will not be the less terrible, because God has for a time stayed his destroying angel, so that the disease has not pursued its course with its wonted giant strides,—because the Lord has in his mercy held back the sword, and thus, as it were, given to Britain a short time to repent and to turn from her iniquities. But we know not how long his mercy may wait: perhaps even now the disease may be extending its roots slowly and steadily; and ere many weeks shall have passed over our heads, it may rise up like a tree; and as the yew o'erspreads the village churchyard, so may this awful pestilence overspread our land in its length and breadth, so that the voice of mourning and lamentation will be heard throughout our cities :—yes! in those very streets which now resound with the shout and the laugh of a God-forgetting people. Now is the time for the christian to go forward, and to warn sinners to flee from the wrath to came ;—now is the time for every one, who has tasted of the good things of Christ, to stand between the people and the destruction that is coming on them; —to call upon all who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Redeemer, to come now to the true Bethesda, and wash in that fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. This is not a time for any to lurk in comers and to hide those talents which God has committed to their charge. Shall we now be either afraid or ashamed to acknowledge Jesus? shall we hesitate to preach "the acceptable year of the Lord,'* when that very year is swiftly approaching in the hope of which Enoch rejoiced, saying, "The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints ?"—that very time to which Paul was looking, and in the hope of which he exhorted the disciples to "comfort one another" under their afflictions, since "the Lord 'himself shall descend from heaven * with a shout, with the voice of the 'Archangels and with the trump 'of God, and the dead in Christ 'shall rise first."
But there is one thing which, as it appears to me, christians ought now particularly to show both by their word and in deed: viz. that
they do not for themselves fear the pestilence, awful though it be. Let every believer evince, that he believes "that no evil can come nigh him; that even if a thousand should fall at his side and ten thousand at his right hand, yet he is safe under the wings of the Almighty;" (See Ps. xci;)—knowing that if death does not touch him he remains to serve the Lord; and that if it does, he dies only to depart and wait in a state of happiness until with all the saints he return with his Almighty Brother to a purified and honored world, there, having received a redeemed and glorified body, to reign with Christ. Oh then let us lift up our heads and be glad; for what have we to fear? These things, terrible though they be, are but the filling up of that picture of which an Almighty hand has sketched the outline,—are but the reality of that pattern which we may behold in the prophetic Scriptures. May the Lord hasten the time, when our earth shall be purified from the slime of the serpent;—when the strong man armed who hath so long '' kept the house" shall be forced to yield, and to confess that a stronger than he has come! May all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and truth be strengthened against these perilous times, and be enabled to see and believe that these " pestilences and diseases," these "wars and rumours of wars," though causing discordant sounds, are but as the tuning of instruments before a concert and to last but for as short a time; and then one glorious hymn of joy and rejoicing shall peal forth from the whole redeemed creation, and while men shall beat their swords and their spears into plough shares and pruning hooks, they shall shout aloud—" Alleluia! AlleLuia! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!"
ORIGINAL NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE.—By H.
The writer, having frequently arisen dissatisfied from the perusal of various systems on this subject, read the Apocalypse in earnest prayer for the Lord's teaching, and then used the following exposition in a social prayer meeting. Looking for that "unction of the Holy One" which teacheth all things, it was presumed that the internal structure of the prophec}^ would, in consistency with the fixed meaning of symbols and examination of parallel prophecies, lead to clearer apprehensions of the Revelation of the contents of that book, which Daniel had been commanded to seal until the time of the end. For it is not, as some suppose, the depository of mysteries still concealed, but their disclosure. The title Apocalypse denotes the unveiling or uncovering what was before hidden; in allusion probably to the roll of the Law, which being locked up and covered with a veil in the sanctuary, was opened with much ceremony, amid shoutings of joy and notes of praise, by the purchaser of this privilege.
The 1st verse st}des it, <c The Revelation of Jesus Christ/' given him (as Mediator of the new covenant, as the Priest and Prophet of his Church) not to conceal from, but "to show to his servants" generally, and not to any class in particular, "the things which must shortly come to pass,"a and which lead to his desired return in glory. Otherwise, how would prophecy be "a light which shineth in a dark
place until the day dawn ?"—or, how would the Spirit of prophecy lead into all truth as it is in Christ Jesus; as he promised, saying, "He shall show you things to come."^ This verse also states, that Jesus sent his angel, and signified to John what he has here recorded "of the 'word of God and of the testimony 'of Jesus Christ and of the things 'that he saw." The Syriac version informs us, in agreement with some of the earliest writers, that the vision was vouchsafed to John in Patmos, whither Nero banished him: and there, Sir I. Newton thinks, he wrote this record of it before the destruction of Jerusalem. We need not discuss the criticisms with which various opinions on that point are supported; but proceed to the subject itself.
In our Lord's prophecy of the period between his departure and return, he rests principally on the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the first great event after his ascension; and on the last events, which were to be the signs of his return: these being the two points of his disciples' inquiry. These events, described in three of the gospels, mark, as I suppose, a period subsequent to most of the revolutions in the Roman empire, ecclesiastical and civil, which I consider to be symbolized by the earthquake under the sixth seal; (ch. vi, 12—17,) during the percussions* of which the tenth part of the city fell, under the sounding of the sixth trumpet: (ch. xi, 13:) a period also under the latter blasts of that trumpet during which the Euphrates is gradually exhausting; and during which anarchy, blasphemy and infidelity are spread abroad by the three unclean spirits, who, (under the outpouring of the sixth vial,) gather the kings of the Roman earth to the still future battle of Armageddon, (ch. xvi, 12—14,) which terminates the fourth monarchy.
a 2 Pet. i, 19. b John xvi, 13.
* An earthquake seldom ceases after one shock: the earth reels to and fro under continued or oft repeated percussions. So has France in particular, and most parts of Christendom, under repeated revolutions, and minor changes, preparatory to the greater shocks.
This scene of the present times is preparatory to the Coming of the Son Of Man in the glory of his Father, or of the Godhead, to destroy both parts of the Roman empire, and both its apostacies; and of course to close the persecution against his true Church, and to open his reign with the saints. All this is described in the Old Testament prophecies of Babylon's destruction and Israel's restoration, and is further developed in the book of Revelation. Thus they altogether form one complete prophecy and the interpretation thereof; as Newton remarks of those of Daniel and John.
We must remember, that the unchangeable Jehovah formed one perfect and therefore uniform design; the revelations of which must be in perfect keeping or unity with it and with each other, though their light shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Consequently, no passage can contradict another; but what Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah declare respecting literal Israel and their enemies, must correspond with New Testament prophecies concerning spiritual Israel and their enemies. Neither is omitted in
either part of the inspired volume; which was all penned by Jews, but every word inspired by God himself.
In so vast a portion of Scripture as its prophecies, how shall each short lecture contain the materials in a form at once comprehensive and condensed. Perhaps by a rapid sketch of each division of the book of Revelation which will bring into one view the eventful period in which we live, coinciding with that described in Matt, xxiv, 29—31; Mark xiii, 24, 25; and Luke xxi, 25, 26, 28, already adverted to: for those passages describe the period of the End of this dispensation being the signs of our Lord's return. This was the subject of the anxiety of his apostles ;c and the reply of Jesus was divided (and I suspect his last revelation also was divided) in correspondence with this two-fold inquiry; viz. "When shall 'these things be? this desolation 'of our country and people? and • what, (oh, what!) shall be the 'sign of thy coming? and of the 'end of the world?"
In the New Testament prophecies, the intermediate period of Israel's separation from God is very cursorily referred to: the prophecies respecting this must be adduced from the Old Testament.
On reading verses 1—3 allow me to repeat, that this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which the Father imparted to him as the Mediator, Priest and Prophet of his Church, "to show to his servants ;"—not to show to John only, not to the apostles or the learned only ;—but to all who may be characterized as his servants, however imperfectly they serve him. In chap, v, 5 we learn, that when John wept because none was worthy to open the sealed book, it was as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, (respecting his manhood,) and as the Root of David, (respecting his divine nature,) that the Lamb prevailed to open it. His manifestation, as taking flesh of the seed of Abraham, is not forgotten on addressing Gentile Churches.
c Matt, xxiv, 3. * Compare Eph, i, 10, and iii, 15.
There is some difficulty in the expressions in verses 1 and 3; because though with the Lord a thousand years are as one day, it is not so with man; and to him therefore all the things revealed did not then "shortly come to pass," nor was "the time at hand" for them all. But the opening up of that succession of events was at hand,—the commencement of that course of time, which hath rolled onwards and shall still flow on, till all be fulfilled, and time itself be no longer. For the events foretold in this Revelation run through the period from the giving of the prophecy until the Lord's return; being a development of all particulars concerning both his true and the professing Church, and the empire as connected with them, throughout the whole first advent day which was the scope of His prophetic sketch of events in Matt, xxiv, &c. even until it be closed by the dawn of his second advent day.
By the close of the first verse we learn, that angels are subject to Jesus Christ in ministering to his servants. Hence in chap, xix, 10 the angel who directed John what to write said, "I am thy fellow 'servant, and of thy brethren that 'have the testimony of Jesus; 'worship GOD! for the testimony
< of Jesus, [i.e. that he is God,] is
< the Spirit of prophecy." Remarkable words! from which we learn that angels confess themselves the
servants of Jesus, and glory in possessing the Spirit's prophetic testimony to him in his mediatorial work, and godhead; or, in having to bear this testimony to men for his sake: still therefore they act agreeably to the truth that God only must be worshiped, and that therefore he who accepts worship, though also the Lamb slain, is GOD. This is the spirit, the essential characteristic of the united testimony of all prophecy, by whomsoever delivered or administered.
I beseech you observe that "Je'sus Christ sent his angel and sig'nified, or communicated his Revela'tion to his servant John;" yet in chap, xxii, 6, it is written. "The 'Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass. Glory to God ! here we have a positive, undeniable declaration, in holy Writ, that he who sent his angel for this purpose is Jesus Christ, and also the Lord God of the prophets, and of the same angel. When John offered undue reverence, even some sort of worship to the angel by prostration, he repeated, xxii, 9, " See thou do it not, 'for I am fellow servant of thee, 'and of thy brethren the prophets, < and of them that keep the sayings 'of this Book; worship God !"*
Observe again in v. 2 another evidence of the godhead of our adorable Saviour. What he spake v. 1, is here called "the Word of God" as well as "the testimony of Jesus Christ."
A blessing is next pronounced on all who read and hear this testimony. Fear not therefore to be presumptuous in humbly seeking to apprehend by the teaching of the Holy Ghost what is revealed. As John was "in the Spirit" when he