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Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book-Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand.
Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Blessed are they who de his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates to the New Jerusalem.
I JESUS have sent mine angel to testify these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him which is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take of the Water of Life freely.
Amen. Even so, come LORD JESUS!
LORD JESUS CHRIST be with us all.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
This Section is composed from the Revelations of St. John. "In this mysterious book of Scripture many re volutions are foretold, which were to take place in the church of GoD*. They are not indeed so foretold as to afford a clear and precise information concerning the time of their coming to pass-it would have been, on many accounts, improper to have lifted up too far that awful veil which covers futurity. The intention of the HOLY SPIRIT was not to gratify the curiosity of the learned, but to satisfy the serious concerning the
* See Dr. Blair's Sermon on the Happiness of a Future State, in Vol. ii,
general plan of Providence, and final issue of the divine government. Amidst those distresses which befel Christians during the first ages, the discoveries made in this book were peculiarly seasonable, as they shewed that there was an Almighty Guardian, who watched with particular attention over the interests of the church which he had formed, who foresaw all the commotions which were to happen among the kingdoms of the earth, and would so over-rule them, as to promote in the end the cause of truth. This is the chief scope of those mystic visions, with which the Apostle John was favoured."
From the first of these extracts we learn, that the consummation of all things will certainly come, for the Almighty has determined it; TIME will cease to be numbered by days, weeks, months, and years, by the revolutions of the heavenly luminaries, and will be absorbed in an unmeasurable ETERNITY, Then the great mystery of God's providence, in suffering vice and confusion to prevail so much in the world, which has been partly made known to us by the prophets, will be fully cleared.
From the 2d we learn, that God distinguishes as his own all his faithful servants; and when he sendeth judgments to destroy the wicked, he has a regard to THEIR safety and comfort.
The 3d intimates, that the Gospel will be preached to all nations before the end of the world*.
By the 4th we are assured, that good people, immediately after their decease, are in a state of bliss; and that their works of piety and goodness will follow them into the presence of GoD, and will, through his infinite mercy, be recompensed with eternal glory.
The 5th may be considered by us as an emblem of the DAY OF JUDGMENT. It affords a lively image of that
* See Section liii.
awful event, and of the general consternation which will seize upon all who are conscious of deserving the anger of their GOD and SAVIOUr.
6th. The person who was represented to the Apos tle's imagination upon a white horse, was undoubtedly the same whom he had before seen as the LORD*. He is here described as crowned with many crowns, in token of his universal dominion. The name was written on them, of which no man but himself knew the full im port, was, as we afterwards read, the WORD of GOD. This circumstance implies, that there are mysteries in his nature beyond the comprehension of human reason. But by this name men may honour and worship him, and he may also be addressed as KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS, since he has dominion over all the kings and princes of the earth, and all the powers of heaven. The sword in his mouth is an emblem of his doctrine, and the rod of iron signifies that he is the executor of the divine wrath. The armies of heaven which followed him denote his faithful servants, their white gare ments denote their innocence and purity.
7th. The white throne is a representation of the judgment-seat of CHRIST; the general collection of the dead from the earth, the sea, death, and hell, implies, that the resurrection will be universal. What becomes of the souls of men while they are in a state of separation from their bodies, is not particularly revealed te us; neither is it essential to our salvation to know. It is most agreeable to our idea of their spiritual nature to suppose, that from the time of their departure, they are happy or miserable, according to the lives men have led on earth; and the scripture intimates, that they are re
* See Section liii.
served for a still greater portion of happiness or misery, to which they will be consigned when they are again united to their bodies. The wicked will then be plunged into an abyss of inconceivable and eternal ruin and torment, while the good will follow their blessed Redeemer to those happy regions which, in condescension to the faculties of the human mind, are in the next extract described as a new heaven and a new earth, in the midst of which GOD will pitch his tabernacle.
Sth. In order to shew, that the Almighty would manifest his glorious presence, and renew all things in the person of his ETERNAL WORD, the vision describes him who sate on the throne, as declaring with the utmost solemnity, that He would make all things new; and, that the Apostle might know him to be the same Divine Being whom he saw in a former vision, he assured him that he was ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the end; that is, HE who had existed with the FATHER from all eternity, and who should remain for endless ages unchangeably the same.
How comfortable is our LORD's gracious promise to those who thirst after immortal happiness, and overcome the temptations of the world! How awful his threatenings to obstinate sinners!
9th. What a beautiful picture was presented to the imagination of the Apostle, of the happiness of the Saints in heaven +! "A multitude, consisting of all the wise, the holy, and the just of all nations, ranks, and conditions, joined in one blessed society, each happy in himself, and participating in the felicity of the rest."
* See Dr. Blair's Sermons, Vol. ii.
"All that is meant by the white robes and palms, we cannot at present understand; but as they are used among all nations as ensigns of joy and victory, they are undoubtedly employed here, to represent that distinguished felicity and honour to which human nature shall be then advanced."
By the answer of the Elder we may understand, that there is a state of rest and repose for all who shall patiently endure tribulation, provided they have "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;" that is, have had recourse to the means of "From that blood which was shed for the regrace. mission of sins, flow both the atonement of human guilt, and the regeneration of human nature. Human nature had fallen too low to be capable of raising itself; it could not regain its primitive innocence, and was still less capable of raising itself so high as to mingle with Angels. Heaven must either have been covered from our view by perpetual darkness, or only beheld from afar as an inaccessible region, if CHRIST had not interposed; but now it is open to all who will embrace his Gospel, and faithfully adhere to him."
We further learn from this vision, "that the manifestation of the Divine presence shall be a signal for the renovation of all things; when that Sun of Righteousness shall break forth from the cloud which now conceals him, sorrow and sin, and every evil thing shall flee before the brightness of his face: for neither guilt nor misery can remain where God dwells."
10th. This vision intimates, that the triumph of Omnipotence in the establishment of CHRIST's king. dom in heaven, according to his eternal purpose, will excite in the whole church of GoD (represented here by Elders) the profoundest veneration and gratitude.