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of the virgins in the former part of the 25th chapter, I conceive, is intended to describe the state of his visible Church, previous to his second coming. It would (notwithstanding his warnings to continue watchful) have a season of slumber as to the expectation of his coming.—And how marvellously has the great body, even of serious christians, slumbered for ages as to the doctrine of the second advent! But when the cry is made, "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" (not be it remembered "he is come") "go ye out to meet him," the wise trim their lamps, and go to welcome his approach; while the foolish are confounded and
finally shut out. Our Lord closes this reply to the second question of the disciples with a repeated exhortation to "watch."
The specific answer to their third question commences with the parable of the talents, which shews the reward every one will receive at the end of the ivorld; and the remaining portion, as well of the chapter, as of this answer, is a detail of the awful proceedings of the general judgement; which will take place, "when the Son of Man shall (have) * come in his glory, and all the holy 'angels with him, and he shall sit '(as Judge) upon the throne of his 'glory."
ORIGINAL NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE.—By H.
(Continued from Page 271.)
*+* The Reader need scarcely be reminded, that he must have his Bible open before him at the perusal of these Notes, so that the text of the several divisions of the verses may be first read; or the whole will be unintelligible.
In the 19th verse of the former chapter the Lord commanded John to write his visions according to three modes of classification. First, "Write the things thou hast seen;" that thus believers may- have a faithful representation of the approaching advent of the Judge, in the glory of the Godhead, and in the person of that Son of Man to whom his heavenly Father had committed all judgement. Secondly, "The things which are," i.e. the state of the seven churches existing: in Asia at the time
of the Revelation. Thirdly, " The things which shall be hereafter." These words clearly separate the last from the two former series of visions, as to prophetic history, though preachers and individuals may accommodate and apply passages for present edification.
Some view the Lord's addresses to the seven churches as prophetic of the concerns of an indefinite number of churches, (because the number seven denotes what is complete,) and the peccant state of the whole line of the Gentile "witness** till the second advent, But I prefer following the Lord's division of the subject of his Revelation to John.
By Acts xix we learn that Paul established these seven churches; most of which fell into ruin before the great apostacy of the sixth or seventh century. As the first church of Jerusalem under James; those also of Antioch and Alexandria, founded by Mark; of Rome, probably founded by Paul; of Corinth, Galatia, &c. are omitted; the addresses appear not to be of a general character, even as to that period, much less in reference to periods then future. The locality of those named indicates their havingnothing to do historically or prophetically with subsequent churches; which might have seemed more probable, had the mother churches of Jerusalem and Rome been singled out. But the real division of the professing Church, into the true and the apostate, includes all the churches of the christian dispensation under collective symbols, as the chaste woman and the harlot.
These epistles contain admonitions against the apostac)^ and therefore relate to times during which it began to work, though apparently previous to its prevalence. They also refer to the earliest appearances of heresy.—Mr.Frere says they relate to a period prior to Christianity becoming the religion of the empire. This seems agreeable to the text; whether his limitation be correct or not when he adds,—" a period wdiose principal action is formed by the ten persecutions, closed by that of Diocletian, A.D. 313."
I acknowledge however, that there is force in the argument, that every address to these seven churches concludes with an exhortation, applicable to those of all ages, who, in the Spirit, apprehend the promises of millennial felicity, given them by
Christ, and applied by the Holy Ghost.—Those verses do seem to render each address inclusive of the succession of Gentile churches throughout the whole christian dispensation ; but the internal evidence of all the other verses leads me to conclude, that these epistles refer only to the period of pagan persecution, when millennial doctrines were the great support of the harassed believers, and when they encouraged each, as single combatants, to fight the good fight of faith in view of the promised recompence of reward. That these doctrines were the comfort of the Church of God in the early ages, is proved by the apostolic writings; and by the primitive fathers, as Justin Martyr, Papias Melito, &c. "The latter, being bishop of Sardis, could not be ignorant of the traditions of that and the rest of the seven churches in regard to the Apocalypse, on which he wrote a comment; nor to its doctrines.
We must therefore restrict the primary meaning of the concluding verse of every epistle to the individuals of each church, who, overcoming the persecutions and trials of faith from the false doctrines of their age, should at the end of the dispensation attain the first resurrection unto life; which was the crown every christian warrior contended for, and which all the New Testament writers place before the believer.
In the 20th verse of the 1st chapter, our Lord authorizes the explanation of symbolic language by his own declaration, that the angels of the seven churches are denoted by the seven stars: stars therefore are the uniform symbol for ministers. The seven churches themselves have the seven lamp-candlestick for their emblem; a candlestick therefore is the emblem of collective churches under one jurisdiction.* This our Lord calls " a mystery .-"i.e. a thing hidden from our understanding till revealed.a
These addresses present a glorious assemblage of divine titles and attributes, appropriated by our Immanuel to himself.
Chapter ii, 1, declares His almighty power and incessant agency in repect to these churches, and his continual presence with all of them: "Lo! I am with you always to the end of the age." Verse 2 declares his omniscience ;—verse 3, his observance of motives of action ;— verse 4, his independent judgement upon their failure in the true principle of action;—verse 5, his sovereign power to remove that lamp of the candlestick whose light no longer shines to his glory;—verse 6, his cognizance of the deeds of his enemies and of his people's mind relative to them.
In verse 7 we have also his exhortation to individuals of every age and church, wThose ears are unstopped to hear the Spirit's voice to all churches, thus in his office taking of the things and words of Christ and manifesting them to the conscience. The promise which the Spirit here applies is, that the second Adam will restore what the first Adam forfeited.b The tree of life was in the earthly paradise; here Christ proposes to give to him who overcometh to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God: and chapter xxii, 2, presents to view a street and river, in millennial days, planted with this tree of life; therefore it is on earth, and to be bestowed on the children rjC the resurrection.—The emblem it
self we hope to consider, if spared, when we arrive at that chapter.
Verse 8. The Lord Jesus proclaims his original self-existence in the divine nature; and his victory over death by his resurrection in the human nature, as the first fruits from the dead.
Verse 9 exhibits his omniscience respecting the deeds, sufferings, and temptations of his people in Smyrna. Be it remembered, the Church is the garden of the Lord, enclosed out of the waste wilderness of this world; into which the beloved goes down to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies; or, wherein he delights himself in his ransomed ones, waters them every moment wdth the dew of his blessing, sustains, protects and comforts them.
Verse 10 shews his prescience of the particulars of those sufferings, and his independent power to bestow the crown of life upon those found faithful unto death.—In 2 Tim. iv, 8, Paul anticipates receiving that crown of righteousness from the Lord, at that day; referring to verse 1 where he says, the Lord Jesus shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing and kingdom.—Nor to him only will it be adjudged, but likewdse to all them that love his appearing. See Heb. ix, 28 and Rev. xix, 11—21 in explanation of the judgement meant.
Verse 11 compared with chapter xx, 6—14 and xxi, 7, 8, shew that millennial blessedness is intended, and exemption from the condemnation of those who live not again till the 1000 years are finished.
Verse 12 presents Christ to the church at Pergamos as the Avenger, bearing the two-edged sword of
* It may be worth, while here to remark that the Jewish sabbath-lamp, which in many instances is even now supended from the ceilings of their houses, contains places for seven wicks, and is filled with pure olive oil.
justice for her enemies.—Meanwhile, verse 13 shows his watchfulness over believers amidst the temptations of Satan and persecutions unto death; and verses 14 and 15, his hatred of a temporizing, unclean and antinomian spirit.
Verse 16 indicates that, in pity to the enemies of God, believers should watch their own spirit and conduct, lest all be involved in common destruction: for if the salt of the earth has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted ?—if the light that is in them be darkness, how great is that darkness! The threats of God's judgements may be intended, by "the sword of his mouth;" but more probably the Lord's weapons of war,—that instrumentality of angels and men, by which in his second advent he will literally destroy his enemies. (See Ps. cxlix, 6.) That period, in every repetition of his threatenings and promises, he describes as " coming quickly;" for with the Lord a thousand years are as one day.
Verse 17. The oft repeated exhortation, "He that hath an ear, &c." shows, that it is the office of the Holy Spirit to apply every word of Christ to the believer's heart and mind; especially those exceeding great and precious promises by which he becomes a partaker in the divine nature.—Read the comment on the particular promise in this verse in John vi, 29—58, and Psalm lxxviii, 25, where manna is called " angels' food;" heavenly in its origin, abundant, satisfying the multitude of the redeemed. Manna was the type of Christ, who is the source and sustenance of spiritual life in angels and men. The white stone is the token of justification, and alludes to the custom of Grecian tribunals, where those who gave suffrage respecting a prisoner of justice, cast in a white stone for
acquittal, a black one for condemnation. This stone was inscribed with that " new name" in virtue of which the believer is entitled to acquittal, because it is the consequence of his union with Christ, who " was made 'sin for us that we might be made 'the righteousness of God in him.'* —It is new as it bears reference to time, and regards Him who is The Eternal; and those who are made "new creatures in Christ Jesus," by the new birth of the Spirit.—This union and title no one knows but he who receives the acquittal, and to whom the inscription on the stone is made legible by the Spirit's agency. It may be that, as christians now bear the name of Christ (a name to live !) because they are supposed to participate in the same unction of the Holy Ghost; so in the new Jerusalem, where he will dwell with men as Immanu-EL, God-with-us, his elect will receive a corresponding name, denoting that their life is hid with Christ in God; which none can apprehend but by experience, any more than the true signification of the christian name. Such is the divine love, that in regard to all the benefits acquired by Jesus for his people, and to all his communicable graces, they have a similar designation. If he is " the Lamb of God," they are "the sheep of his pasture and the lambs" which he carries in his bosom. Is he " the vine? they are its branches." Is he " the lily of the valley?" they are " the lilies." Is he " the plant of renown?" they are "his pleasant plant." Is he " the tree of life?" they are "trees of righteousness; the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified!" He being "the Christ of God, His Anointed," and "the Son of God;" they are also "his anointed ones," and " sons of God." Verse 18. To the Bishop of Thyatira Jesus declares his divine nature as the Son of God; and a son always partakes of the nature of his father, though in office he may be subordinate. As when he appeared to John as Son of Man ;c so now as Son of God, ''his eyes are like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass." The 23rd verse again shows, according to the symbolic description, that he possesses the prerogative of Jehovah.01 "All * the churches shall know that I am 'He which searcheth the reins and 'hearts; for the purpose (as it f follows) of giving to every one ac'cording to his works."—Oh! how ought this gracious intimation to quicken our exertions in the christian race, and strengthen us for selfdenial! Observe in regard to the declaration, "all the churches shall know him as the Searcher of hearts," that this is the design of all his revelations: see Ezek. xxxvi, 23; xxxix, 22; Zech. ii, 9, 11.
Verses 19—23 show, that his eye is in every place discerning between the righteous and the wicked, abhorring literal and spiritual harlotry; which latter signifies idolatry, manifested by various doctrinal heresies, as well as by turning from the living God to created objects. The "bed" of infirmity and death, bodily and spiritual, is the result.
Verse 24. The individuals are excepted "who have not this doctrine" of devils, (i. e. idolatr}^,) taught in the collective churches, symbolized by the woman Jezebel; who assumes to be a prophetess, and teaches and seduces to idolatry, and to eat of the pretended sacrifice of the mass, thus rendered, nay worshiped, as an idol.*
Her children are to be "killed
with death;" an expression equivalent to that in Genesis, "dying thou shalt die," and signifying, in regard to the soul, its endless separation from God. Oh ! what a bounden duty it is to call to them while there is time, "Come out of her, that ye 'be not partakers of her sins, and 'that ye receive not of her plagues." But to return to those who have "not known these depths of Satan;" the Lord promises to put on these "no other burden; (i.e. no other injunction, command, or doctrine ;.) but to hold fast such as they had already received, till he comes."— That this is the sense of the word "burden," see Mat. xi, 30. Christ's holy requirements are a burden to the old Adam, or unrenewed part of his own people; though still " light" in comparison with the yoke of iniquity: but when "he comes," sin being done away, and our vile body fashioned like unto his glorious body, his law will be so written in our hearts, that we shall perform it without finding any opposing law in our members. But " to him that overcometh," this opposition of "the flesh lusting against the Spirit," and that perseveres in obedience of faith "to the end,"—or, bears in believing remembrance the works of Jesus which testified to him as God the Saviour,e—to him " will he ever be mindful of his covenant." "While the praises of God are in his mouth, a two edged sword will be in his hand to execute the Lord's vengeance on the heathen and punishments on the people, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute upon them the judgements written.—This honor
* An English gentleman told the writer, that on visiting an uncle in Italy, when he first heard bells tinkling in the street, he asked, what they meant? The reply was; "Do not you know that God is passing by?" He looked out and saw the host elevated, and the people bowing the knee, &c.
c Chap, i, 15. d Jer. xvii, 10. e See John vi, 28; Psalm lxxviii, 10, 11, 32;
and Hi, 2—8.