« הקודםהמשך »
It may be asked, perhaps, Why then does he not call himself an Apostle? We ask, in reply, Why does not St. James? Why does not St. Jude? Why does not St. John himself, in his Epistles? The name John would suffice to identify him; and, by withholding the title of Apostle, and calling himself only a servant of God, and their brother in tribulations, he would show, that though he had the gift of prophecy, and was permitted to understand all mysteries, and to speak with the tongue of Angels *, yet he was not elated above measure by the abundance of his Revelations f; and the more he was exalted by God, the more he would humble himself with men. The secret of the Lord is among them that fear Him [; and mysteries are revealed to the meek .
Further: the Author of the Apocalypse, modest as he is in the description of himself, speaks, as we have seen, to the Angels of Asia with all authority: he distributes praise and blame like a Ruler and a Judge. Now, there was only one person then alive in the whole world who was entitled to use this language; and that one person was not only entitled to use it, by his double character as the last surviving Apostle, and as Metropolitan of Asia, but he was most solemnly bound to use it. By reason of his office, he was obliged, in duty to CHRIST, Who called him to it, to speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority * He was bound to be no respecter of persons; to be instant in season, out of season ; to reprove, rebuke, exhort t.
* 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2.
† 2 Cor. xii. 7.
This one person was St. John.
Again: we find that the Author of the Apocalypse, who writes to the Seven Angels, or Bishops, gives them an Apostolic Benediction,—The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen [. Such are his farewell words.
And without all contradiction (says the Apostle) the less is blessed of the better, or greater s. Therefore, again, we infer that the writer of the Apocalypse is some one greater than the Bishops of Asia. He is some one entitled to bless them. Now, there was one person in the world, and one alone, who, in a spiritual sense, was greater than the Bishops of Asia, and so was entitled to bless them, and might justly be expected to do so; and that person was St. John.
I leave it, my brethren, to you to consider the remarkable propriety which characterizes the divine selection of St. John, and particularly of St. John such as he was at Patmos, for the treatment of such sublime subjects as those which are contained in the Apocalypse.
His Gospel proclaims what a divine spirit was in Him. Who so fit as he to speak of the mysteries revealed in the Apocalypse ?
† 2 Tim. iv. 2.
* Tit. ii. 15.
He was the beloved Disciple. He had been admitted to our Lord's most private retirements; to the most solemn scenes of His sufferings and sorrow. He had been with Him on the Mountain of Transfiguration, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the High Priest's hall, and at the Cross.
All his brother Apostles had now been taken away by death. He was left the last. He was now a prisoner and an exile in a lonely island. As the winds blew, and as the waves dashed on the rocky shores of Patmos, so the storms of the world were now beating against the rock of the Church. But the aged and lonely Apostle was blessed and cheered with glorious visions. He was visited by JESUS CHRIST. The exile from the world became a citizen of heaven; and the barren cliffs of Patmos were made more beautiful than Paradise. The Man of Sorrows, Whom St. John had seen in his agony at Gethsemane; He Whom he had seen standing bound before Caiaphas, crowned with thorns, mocked by Herod, condemned by Pilate, pierced by the soldier, and dying on the Cross, was now seen by him enthroned in heaven, and adored by myriads of Cherubim and Seraphim kneeling before Him. I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last*. I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death t. He is seen chaining Satan, and casting Him into the gulf of fire. He is seen coming in the clouds of heaven to judge the world. He hath on his vesture His Name written, KING OF Kings, and LORD OF LORDS* His Kingdom is established for ever. The Voices of heaven cry, Halleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth t. They who have been slain for Him, they who have kept His commandments, are seen glorified for ever. The former things are passed away. There is no more death, nor sorrow; and God wipes all tears from their eyes . They are received into the heavenly palace, to the marriage-feast of the Son of God.
* Rev. i. 11.
† Rev. i. 18.
The Apocalypse, be it remembered, proclaims itself as the Revelation of JESUS CHRIST.
Consider how appropriate, how beautiful, how consistent it is with the affectionate tenderness of Christ for His dear and faithful servants, that He should cheer His beloved Disciple, St. John, now aged, alone, and an exile, with these glorious Visions; that He should show Himself in heaven to him who had seen Him on the cross : that He should reveal Himself to him, as He will one day appear in His awful majesty, to Judge the Quick and Dead. How significant also is it of Christ's love to His Church, sorrowing, afflicted, widowed in this world, that He should not call away His last surviving Apostle before He had revealed to him the future glorious condition of the beloved Bride, when re-united to Iler Lord in heaven !
* Rev. xix. 15.
Rev. xix. 6.
# Rev. xxi. 3.
What, therefore, my Christian friends, can be more full of comfort to ourselves than the view which this subject presents? Heaven is our home: here on earth we are exiles; we are in Patmos. Especially, in these our days, the heavens are dark; the sea is high ; the waves dash upon the rock: the floods are risen, O Lord; the floods have lift up their voice*. Ours is an age of storm. The beach below us is strewn with the wrecks—the wrecks of Empires. Yet in this dark gloom of the world, in this our solitude and exile, we may have inward peace; and light and hope and joy. If we love Christ with St. John, if we suffer for Christ with him, we too, like St. John, shall be visited by Christ. Then St. John's Visions are ours. His Revelation is ours. Our Patmos, also, becomes Paradise. And we shall pass from the storms of earth to the eternal sunshine of heaven; and from the dreary solitude of our worldly exile to the blissful mansions of our Father's House.
Let us pray.
MERCIFUL LORD, we beseech Thee to cast Thy bright beams of light upon Thy Church, that it being enlightened by the doctrine of Thy Blessed Apostle and Evangelist St. John, may so walk in the light of Thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life, through JESUS CHRIST our Lord. Amen.
* Psalm xciii. 4.