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state; for John, in the next verses, carries us into the eternal state of the righteous.
12th verse, "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the ear and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.” Nothing can be more evident than that John here saw the whole family of the redeemed, as they will be after the first resurrection; for he gives the several situations of every part of the whole family as they actually were, that is, in body, or the situation of their bodies at that very time when he was writing, “ every creature," that is, in person, in their bodies, as they will be after the resurrection; not all mankind, as some vainly suppose, but those who are redeemed, or who may hereafter be redeemed, “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” See our text. If it had been “all nations,” &c., he would not have said, 6 out of,” &c. Therefore we must take the whole in connection. But John saw every creature whose bodies then were some of them in heaven, as Enoch and Elijah; every creature who was then alive on the earth, like himself and brethren; every body of the saints that had slept and been buried under ground, or in the sea, and all the saints who were yet in the loins of their fathers. In one word, he saw the whole general assembly, and church of the first born, whose names were written in the Lamb's book of life. These four beasts are the same living creatures which Isaiah saw when he had a view of the glory of God. Isa. vi. 1-3, “In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he
covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Ezekiel also saw the same living creatures that Isaiah calls “seraphims,” and John “four beasts.” Ezekiel calls them 6 cherubims." See Ezek. i. and x. chapters. John says, Rev. iv. 8, “ And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him," the same as Isaiah's 6 6 seraphims." These wings are the graces of the Spirit, as is strongly implied by Ezekiel i. 12, “ And they went every one straight forward; whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.” “With two they covered their face”_humility and repentance; “ with two they covered their feet”—that is, they walked by two of the graces, faith and patience, faith in God and patient in tribulation; "and with two they did fly hope and love. They “ mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint," says the prophet Isaiah, xl. 31. And again John says, they were “full of eyes before and behind, and they were full of eyes within;" showing that they would have just views of sin, of God, and his word, and of themselves: they could look back and see their sins, and the pit from which they had been delivered, and with gratitude remember their Redeemer. They could with eyes of faith look forward and believe in the promises of God, and have a view of the glory that shall be revealed at his second coming. With eyes within, they could look into their own hearts, and see the remaining corruption and hidden depravity that lie lurking in every corner of the soul, and by this means put off the old man with his deeds. They are represented by John as being praying souls, “ and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints." Every one had these vials, says John. How then, I ask, can the prayerless man or woman think to join this celestial throng? · Having every one of them harps ;” showing that all of them would have new hearts, be born of God; so they would be enabled to sing in the New Jerusalem state the new song.
These are the characters and persons which John saw
represented by the four and twenty elders and the four beasts. I shall now,
II. Show what we may understand by the new song, and the occasion of it.
The prophet John had been led by the angel through seven different stages of the church, by the vision of the mystery of the seven stars and seven golden candlesticks, under the name of the seven churches of Asia, which ought to be understood symbolically down to the time when the judge stands at the door ready to enter in to the supper of the great God, when all wicked flesh will be destroyed, and till the marriage supper of the Lamb arrives, when all the righteous will be raised, enter into the glorified state, and live and reign with him on earth. Then it is perfectly natural that after we had read the history of the church through all her trials, persecutions, and imperfections, we should be led to see her deliverance on the other side of the banks of Jordan, or beyond the power of death, and to hear a part, at least, of that new song which no man can sing unless he is redeemed from the earth.
In the second and third chapters of Revelation, we have the history of the church, as I have endeavored to show in my lectures on the churches. In the fourth and fifth chapters we have à view of the glorified state, and the characters given of those who will enjoy the privilege of that state, the song which will employ the golden harps, and the place where. The characters I have already given. The song is represented as a new song. It is new because it is sung only in that state where all things are made new. See 2 Pet. iii. 13,“ Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Rev. xxi.5, “ And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Now John saw, in Rev. iv. 2, the same throne, and him that sat upon it, and in the verse above quoted he speaks as though he had mentioned before “him that sat upon the throne.” And as he has not mentioned him in this language in any other place, we may have strong reason to believe that the time and subject matter is the same in the 4th chapter of Revelation as in the 21st
chapter. Again: we are expressly told that no man could learn the new song, but those who are redeemed from the earth, Rev. xiv. 3. And redemption from the earth is no where spoken of until the resurrection of the body. Christ says, in Luke xxi. 27, 28, “ And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” And Paul says, Rom. viii. 23, “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies. In this state they can sing, " For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” It is also a holy song; for they cry," and rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” The church in this state are not all holy; they have but a faint view of the holiness. of God's character, his law or government; neither could they endure the sight; for when God has seen fit to reveal a small part of his holiness, men have fainted under it. Isaiah cried out, “ Woe is me.” Ezekiel fell upon his face, Ezek. i. 28. Daniel's comeliness was turned into corruption, so that he retained no strength, Dan. x. 8. Therefore it is evident that this holy song can only be sung in a state of immortality, when we shall be holy, even as God is holy. This new and holy song will not cease, for they rest not day and night, which proves it to be in the eternal state. And the dress and crowns of the elders, “ clothed in white raiment," and they had on their heads crowns of gold," and they "cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power" all proves that the new song is sung after the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ; for Paul tells us, that a crown is laid up for him which the righteous Judge shall give him at that day; and not only him, but to all them also that love his appearing. So neither the elders nor the beasts can sing this new song until the New Jerusalem is formed, their bodies redeemed from the earth, and they brought into the eternal state of the
righteous. It will not be sung until the last child is born into the kingdom — the last enemy conquered the elect gathered from the four winds of heaven, and the cap stone brought forth, when the heavens will ring with this general chorus. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty : blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever; and the four beasts will say, Amen."
III. I shall now show the reign spoken of in our text, and the place where.
There is much speculation at the present day on the reign of Christ on the earth, which is promised in his word, and in the text. Some have supposed that it would be purely spiritual, by the Holy Spirit's influence, when all, or a large share of mankind who then should be on the earth, would be regenerated and become the subjects of his spiritual kingdom ; that there would be no tempting devil to deceive, nor any kingdoms on the earth, but what would be subject to Christ's spiritual reign, and the church would enjoy a long Sabbath of rest; and the long-desired period of some who profess to be the servants of Christ would come; when church and state would be united, and war would cease to the end of the world, and the world would increase in riches, arts, and science to an amazing degree, beyond any thing we have yet conceived; thousands would inhabit the earth where there are but tens now, and man would live to a good old age, and nations be born in a day. This theory is the inost rational one I have been able to discover, aside from the glorious reign of Christ with his people in a state of immortality.
To the above theory I have many scriptural objections. Although the advocates of this theory call it spiritual, yet a large share, if not all, are temporal blessings of this kingdom, and are exactly the same that the Jews believed they should possess at Christ's first coming. Again: they must suppose, if this be true, that the rulers of the world must all be Christians, or professedly 80. Then what must we say to Christ's words, “ My kingdom is not of this world" ? and again, “In the