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Rev. chap. iv. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven : and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone : and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats ; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices : and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the Seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal : and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within : and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to
And when those beasts give glory, and honour, and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
It having been my endeavour, on a former occasion, , to show that the Apocalypse, or Revelation, is rightly received as a divinely inspired work of the Apostle and Evangelist St. John, I would now propose to offer some remarks on the peculiar relation in which this Book stands to the rest of the Sacred Volume of the Old and New Testament.
Here, first, let us observe one of its most important characteristics, which we may be allowed to call its finality.
The Apocalypse reveals to us the future. It discloses to us the History of the Church, even to the Day of Doom. It places us not only before the Tribunal of Christ, but in the Heavenly City. It displays to us not only the armies of Satan leagued against the sacred camp, but it opens the doors of his dark prison-house. Not only does it teach us, that all things which we now see will have an end; but it shows what that end will be.
In this respect the Apocalypse is invaluable.
Some, my brethren, you are aware, there are, in these our days, who venture to affirm that Christianity is only a provisional and temporary dispensation; that it is but one link in the chain of truth; that it is only a transitory stage, a moving scene in God's Revelations: and that as it has superseded Judaism, so, in its turn, it may be expected to give place to some other Religion.
Others, again, imagine that Christianity, like human science, admits of discoveries : that the Faith originally taught by Christ and His Apostles, and, as St. Jude says *, once for all delivered to the Saints, may be developed in greater fulness, and expanded in wider amplitude; and that it is the privilege, nay and even the duty, of Reason and Philosophy, as some pretend, or of a self-styled infallible Church, as others no less confidently assert, to give due extension and adequate perfection to the unchangeable Word of God and to the everlasting Gospel of Christ!
But all these proud and presumptuous imaginations are put to flight by the Apocalypse.
This Divine Book teaches us that we are not to look for any new Religion; nor for any new form of Christianity. It opens to us a view,' as in an unbroken avenue, of the whole interval between Christ's First Advent as a Saviour, and His Second Advent as our Judge; and it declares that the Gospel, first preached by Him eighteen centuries ago, is the Code of Faith and Duty by which He will judge us all at the last day.
To those, then, who present us with new religions, or with new forms of Christianity, we reply, Look at the Apocalypse. Its counsel to the world, in the great concern of Religion, is, not to find out what is new, but to maintain what is old. Its exhortations are, Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life* Do thy first works. Remember thy first love t. Strengthen the things which remain. Hold fast that which thou hast f. Behold, I come quickly. I will put upon you s none other burden, but that which ye have already, hold fast till I come ; and he that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power; and I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches ||
* Jude 3.
Thus we are taught by St. John, in the Book of Revelation, that Christianity is the consummation of Religion; and that the Religion of the Apocalypse is the consummation of Christianity.
Again: in another very important sense the Apocalypse has a final character. The Apocalypse is the work of St. John. St. John, the last surviving Apostle, was specially employed by Christ to complete and canonize the Sacred Volume.
* Rev. ii. 10. # Rev. ii. 4, 5. # Rev. iii. 2, 3. 11.
$ “Nisi quod ab Apostolis præceptum est.” Berengaudus ad Apoc. ii. 25.—Bede, Explan. Apocalyps. in cap. ii. Non mittam super vos aliud pondus, &c.] Non patiar vos tentari supra id quod potestis sustinere. Attendite, inquit, a falsis prophetis. Non enim ego vobis novam mitto doctrinam ; sed quam accepistis, servate in finem.
|| Rev. ii. 25—28.
This fact is carefully to be borne in mind. It is one of the principal clues to the right Exposition of the Apocalypse.
The New Testament, like the Old, consists of two parts. The Old is divided into the Law and the Prophets ; the term Prophet being used in its general sense, to describe one who is commissioned by God to declare His Will, whether it concern the future or the present. In the same manner the New Testament may be regarded as composed of two portions, one Historical, and the other Prophetical. The Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles form the Christian Pentateuch: the Epistles and the Apocalypse constitute our Prophetical Pandect.
The former may be called the Evangelical, and the latter, the Apostolical, Canon. And it is to be remembered, that the same Apostle and Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple St. John, was employed by our Blessed Lord to complete and authenticate both : the first, by His Gospel, and the second, by the Apocalypse.
And since the New Testament is the consummation of the Old ; therefore, in the concluding words of St. John's Gospel *, and in those final sentences of his Apocalypse, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book t, both alike expressive of completeness and finality, Our Blessed Lord, acting
Chap. xx. 3. xxi. 25.
† Chap. xxii. 18—21.