Page images


go to some state. Stephen saw where he was going to: Lord Jesus receive my spirit. Lazarus was enjoying his good things in Abraham's bosom. The thief went from the cross to the Paradise of God. Thither Paul in his life went, but he has not told us what he saw or heard; but whatever it was, there was some employment for the eyes and ears, which is not a state of sleep.

Now, that this remarkable voice was no delusion, nor enthusiasm of John's mind; it is added, Yea, saith the Spirit. The Holy Ghost gave his testimony to the truth of it, and sealed it on John's heart; and assigns further the reason, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. What labours were these from which they should rest, and so be blessed. It may be said, the troubles of life, labouring in faith through them, and the trials of the world, and the corruptions of fallen nature, and the opposition of the devil, and the many discouragements that befal us in the way. All this is true, but still these are some peculiar labours, for it was always a blessed thing to die in the Lord, and to rest from such labours. There needed no new revelation; when, as old as David and Isaiah, it was known and declared, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Ps. 116. 15. And again, The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to his heart and merciful men are taken away, none considering

that they are taken from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace. Isa. 57. 1.

John says in the first verse of the text, Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Here, at that particular time, or trial of the church: then, when they rest from their labours, their labours had to do with that particular time.

Let us go back a little to the beginning of this chapter. And John looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an 144,000. He had before seen a beast rise out of the sea; dreadful and terrible he was, and in times of wordly confusion, in which times he had his standing, or place. This was the temporal power which rose in Europe at the fall of the Roman Empire in the sixth and seventh centuries. But now he saw a Lamb on the mount Zion. A mountain is firm, as well as conspicuous, being not only on a broad and sure base, but also raised to a great height. And this mount Zion stands opposed in the scripture, to mount Sinai, as mercy and truth, to justice and judgment. Both are equally firm, as God's covenants are. Paul says, one covenant is Sinai, the other we know is mount Zion, for the Lord commanded the blessing, there even life for evermore. Ps. 133. 3. But here John saw it opposed to the commotions of the world, and to the low and obscure situation of the earth, from which he saw another beast something resembling a lamb, rise-13. 11.

These 144,000 had his Father's name written in their foreheads, or bearing open and everlasting profession of God's name, thro'which they and He stood there which name is mercitul and gracious. Exod. 34. 6. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. A voice loud and sweet, flowing from the heart, not the sound of a harp, but the voice of harpers, the melody of the heart in praise: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; as it were a new song. It was new to him, and it was not: it was new, because perfect in heaven, attended by perfect spirits it was not new, as he had joined and could join at times in the lower parts of it here below. As it were a new song: and no man could learn that song, but the 144,000 which were redeemed from the earth-They were therefore gone from earth to heaven. These are they which were not defiled with women: for they are virgins-They had been preserved chaste in their affections to Jesus Christ, No seducing arts had succeeded thro' the wine of fornication. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, being made perfect in love. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb; The earliest converts to the faith. That we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures, says James

1. 18. And in their mouth was found no guile; för they are without fault before the throne of God, which can be said of no other state than heaven; for in many things we offend all, not in word only, James 3. 2. There are three distinct periods in this chapter, in which the church is represented in three very different circumstances-In the first period, described from verse 1, to 6, is the state of what is called by some the primitive church, or the effects of the first great out-pouring of the Holy Ghost. Then there is a long pause to allow for the falling away, that Paul speaks of, the departing from the faith in the latter times, when the man of sin should be revealed. At the beginning of the sixth verse, John saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven, the spiritual state or place, in opposition to the earth, or carnal and temporal politics. This was the reformation when men in gencral bad lot all fear of God, and were worshipping idols and give ing glory, not to God, but men and devils. This was attended with great violence on both sides: one side the weapons of their warfare were spiritual, on the other carnal: one inflicted temporal, the other eternal death. This gradually subsiding, there is a third period distinct from either of these introduced in the 14th. verse. Nothing so conspicuous, and wonderful, so rapid and so astonishing, as the angels flying. But a more calm and quiet state of things. The Son of Man in his members suffering in that pe

culiar manner which he did when on earth: and the world gradually ripening in two different ways, but both in wickedness, one in fleshly wickedness, or deeds of the flesh, and so described as an harvest ; the other in spiritual wickedness, or hypocrisy, and represented as a vintage. After these things follow the seven last plagues. But with these we are not at present concerned.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people. An angel is a messenger, or a minister; as the blessed angels in heaven are said to be ministering spirits. Heb. 1. 14. and to do the pleasure of God in executing his commands. Ps. 103. 21. Jesus Christ is called an angel, a messenger of the covenant, declaring, as well fulfilling, that covenant which God has made of life and peace. But this is neither of them. He is an angel or a messenger it is true. it is true. And a messenger is one that bears dispatches not in the common mode of conveyance, by post or carrier. And they are more particularly called messengers who bear secret communications from court to court of princes, or from -courts to principal persons employed under government, or who apprehend state criminals. These are called King's messengers. And whenever one passes along, great curiosity and admiration as to the nature of his dispatches are excited,

« PreviousContinue »