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their hundreds and thousands after them! It is almost incredible, when we take into view the light and knowledge under which we live; but all go to prove that Christ is nigh, even at the door.
In reviewing our subject, we learn by the events of the Sardis church, and by the admonitions given, our duty to guard against the introduction of errors into the church, and to strengthen ourselves in the truth; and likewise of being active in all the duties of religion, that we may not only have a name to live, but have the life and power of the gospel, that we may resist all the temptations and fiery darts of the enemies of the church.
By the church of Philadelphia, we learn that if we keep the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, he will keep us from those trials and judgments which he sends on an ungodly and rebellious people, and that God has opened a door for the spread of the gospel, which no power on earth will be able to shut, until the angel standing on the sea and on the land, shall swear that time shall be no longer. We also learn the importance of having brotherly love and perseverance in holy things, that no man take from us the crown which is laid up for those that love God, and which will be given to them who remain steadfast in Christ Jesus at his coming, which is promised quickly to this church.
By the Laodicean church, we learn the important lesson that we cannot serve two masters; we cannot love the present evil world, and at the same time be the servants of God; that to be lukewarm in religion is to be cast out of his presence, and call down the vengeance of God's final judgment upon our heads, and, while we may Hatter ourselves that we are righteous, find to our ever lasting shame, that we are wretched, miserable, poor blind, and naked.
Think, O think, my dear friends, you that are trusting in your own goodness, when that day of justice shall come, and the faithful and true witness shall stand against you, when your goodness shall pass away like the morning cloud, and the righteous Judge shall pronounce
the dreadful sentence, Depart - what must be your feelings! The world, which you here worshipped, is burning up; the friends with whom you here associated are gone to meet the Lord in the air, or are sinking with you into endless and hopeless misery. The Savior, whose name you are now ashamed to own, or whose righteousness you think you need not, is now your Judge, seated on a great white throne, from whose face the heavens and the earth shall flee away. Think, 0 sinner! where wilt thou be found !
REV. v. 9, 10. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the
book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast 'redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.
There is such harmony, beauty, and knowledge in every part of the word of God, that the Bible student, whose heart is interested in the same, has often, while reading, been led to stop and admire the order, wisdom, and light which burst upon his enraptured vision, at the unfolding of the figures and truths which until that moment, perhaps, lay in darkness, doubt, and obscurity, and seemed to be wrapped up in a mysterious veil that almost makes the reader quail, and come to the conclusion that he is treading on forbidden ground; but, perhaps, in an unexpected moment, the inspired penman, seemingly having anticipated our ignorance or darkness, throws out a spark of that live coal which had touched his lips, and our darkness is dispelled, ignorance vanishes before the fulness of knowledge of the word of God, and we stand reproved and admonished for our stupidity and ignorance in the figures and truths before explained. Our text is a brilliant spark of that fire which is upon the altar between the cherubims, and gives us a clear ray of light to discover the allusion of the figures contained in the fourth and fifth chapters of this book. It is conveyed unto us by way of a chorus, like the angel's
song at the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem of Judea. It explains to us in a divine song what the four beasts are, and gives a key to unlock the mystery of the twentyfour elders, and clearly shows who opens the seals of the book. I shall, in illustrating this subject, inquire
1. Who they were that sung this new song ;
I. We are to inquire who are the singers in this grand chorus. The prophet calls them" the four beasts,” or, as it might have been more properly translated, four animute beings; and the four and twenty elders,” he also calls them “saints,” See the 8th verse, “ And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials fúll of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.” Then comes in our text, “ And they sung a new song," &c. The four beasts is a figurative representation of the whole New Testament church, not only in character, but in chronology, representing the four different stages of trial through which the church should pass in her pilgrimage in the wilderness of this world, before she would enter the visible kingdom of her glorious Redeemer, the New Jerusalem, and reign on the earth. And every individual Christian, who may live any length of time after his conversion, passes through some or all of these states of trial. The four and twenty elders are the twelve patriarchs, which are sometimes called prophets, and the twelve apostles of the Lamb. For it is said, we are built on the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone; and figuratively it may represent the faithful and true ministers of Jesus Christ, the same as the twenty-four courses of the priesthood under the Jewish economy. See 1 Chron. xxiv. 7—19. And the four beasts are typified by the four grand divisions of the Jewish camp under Moses. The first, on the east, was 1.0 follow the standard of Judah; that on the south side, and second in the march, was the standard of Reuben; on the west side, Ephraim, and his, was the third standard in the march; on the north side was Dan's
standard and Dan brought up the rear in the march of the Jews through the wilderness. What their several standards' were, I cannot tell, except that of Judah, which marched in front, immediately after the ark, which in all probability was a lion. And our “first beast" under consideration was “ like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third bea had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” These represent the four grand divisions of the gospel church. The first represents the church in the apostolic age, when the church went forth, bold as a lion, preaching and proclaiming the gospel among all nations. The second state or division of the church was the times of persecution and slaughter by the Roman emperors, represented by the calf. The third state of the church was in Constantine's day, when the church enjoyed privileges as a man, and became independent, and like a natural man, proud, avaricious, and worldly. The fourth and last state of trial was when the anti-Christian beast arose ; and, under the scourge of this abomination, the church having two wings given her, like the wings of an eagle, she flew into the wilderness, where, a place being prepared for her, she is nourished from the face of the serpent a thousand two hundred and threescore days, Rey. xii. 6, 14.
This of course would include the whole Christian church until Christ's second coming, when anti-Christ will be destroyed, and the church delivered from all her foes, and brought into her New Jerusalem state, where John now sees in his vision the whole family of the redeemed, singing the grand chorus as in the verses following our text. “ And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders ; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousands and thousands of thousands.” In this vision John has the same view which Daniel had in his vision. See Daniel vii. 10. Daniel saw the same throne, and the same numbers stood before it; which proves, almost beyond a doubt that Daniel's vision carries us into the eternal, immortal, and glorified