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reference to the past may be known. But the patience of the reader must be farther taxed, and, in the past history of our sinful race, a bloody record must be farther unfolded, and corroborative illustrations have first to be drawn from other prophecies, before we can speak of the times and of the seasons : and even then it must be left solely to the events themselves, viewed in direct conjunction with the predictions, to resolve whether any of the times, or periods, that were appointed and determined, have already been accomplished.
The invasion of Greece by Xerxes, first specially noted, and the spiritual supremacy conferred by the imperial authority of Justinian on the Pope, are events of which the importance may perhaps have fixed their respective dates on the reader's recollection.
The law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, and the predictions contained in the Book of Daniel prepare the way for entering on the solemn theme--not to be rashly mooted or irreverently touched-the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
The opening scene of the Apocalypse is worthy, as words can be, of the “ Revelation of Jesus Christ.” All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. The reign of sin for a season must finally give way to the ultimate and universal establishment of the kingdom of God and of his Christ. Having finished the work on earth which his Father had given him to do, he ascended up on high, and he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. He is not straitened as to the mode of communicating them. While he dwelt among men he had many things to say unto the apostles, which, at that time, before his death, resurrection, and ascension, they were not able to bear; and he gave them the promise of the Spirit of truth to guide them into all truth, and to shew them things to come. And after Christ had re-ascended into heaven, and Jerusalem had been destroyed, and the foundation of his church had been laid, ere the last of the apostles had left the earth, the Lord himself appeared to the beloved disciple, (who tarried till he came,) and personally revealed,—that the pen of an apostle might write-what should befall his church, and what should happen in the world, till the conflict between light and darkness should be over, when no revelation should be needed any more to shew upon the universe that against his church all the gates of hell cannot prevail-and when his redeemed shall finally enter into the city which hath no need of the sun to shine in it; for the glory of God does lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
John, an exile in Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ, was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and he heard behind him “ a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Oinega, the first an | the last; and what thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia.” Turning to see the voice that spake with him, he who before had leaned on the bosom of Cirist, on beholding his glorious body, fell at his feet as dead. Touched by his hand, he revived. " And he laid his right hand upon me," siith the apostle,“ saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last : I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold l. am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." —Rev. i.
The second and third chapters of the Revelation contain the things that were written to the seven churches of Asia, or the things that were. The character of each of the churches is described, as they were all respectively known to him, who looks not on the outward appearance, but whose eyes are as a flame of fire, before which all things are naked and open. A promise of life and of glory, to him that overcometh, was affixed to that which was written to every one of the churches. And a warning, truly prophetic, was given according to their need.
“ After this,” a revelation of a higher order, shewing the things which must be hereafter, was communicated to the apostle, and is continued to the close of the Book, which seals up the sacred canon.
Futurity is impenetrable by human wisdom: and the purposes of Jehovah are not to be fully scanned by man. The fale of kingdoms is as a sealed book
which no mortal can open. It was partially unfolded to the prophets, who testified of Jesus; and we may now read the history of many a nation, as from the beginning it was written in the Book of the Lord. But the Spirit was only given by measure unto them, and the law itself was a schoolmaster to bring men unto Christ. , Of all that were born of women there had not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding, said the Son of God, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And at the close of the apostolic age the gift of inspiration was consummated by a more glorious vision than any prophet of Israel ever witnessed ; and the fate of the church and of the world, till the final consummation of all things, was disclosed to the last of the apostles by the immediate revelation of Jesus Christ, in a manner which beggars the imagination of Pindar and of Homer, and shows that the fabled transactions of heathen deities were but the human mimickry of things divine. But no man hath seen God at any time, or can, while a mortal, see him. And sensible images, such as can be looked on, are needful to convey to our feeble capacities some faint apprehension of the glory which we now cannot adequately conceive."
The incantations of pagan orgies, and the ambiguous responses of the Pythian oracle, originated in the frenzies of a troubled brain, or the fraudulent inventions of a deceitful heart, to make gain of the folly of mankind. Nor can credulity, whether it be rational or wild, trace them to a higher source than the agency of demons. But they are no more to be compared to the oracles of the living God, than the top of Olympus to the throne of the Eternal. The prophets of Israel spake as the Spirit gave them utterance ;. and, true as their word hath proved, is the fact, that they were inspired by the God of truth. Yet high as their office
was, beyond any that had ever before been delegated to mortal, it was only to bear testimony to Jesus and to prepare the way of his gospel. Fully to show forth the final triumph of the cross, and to impart to men “the Revelation of Jesus Christ," was the more glorious privilege of the Son of Zebedee : and, in a manner unparalled in holy writ, after hearing the voice of Jesus, and recording what the Spirit said unto the churches, John thus continues the narration.
• 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 show 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 living creatures full of eyes before and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had a face as a man, and the fourth living creature 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,