« הקודםהמשך »
he always proceeds to speak of them in the singular number, to show the unity of Godhead. . V. 5.“ And night shall be no more: and they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever.” We saw above, xxi. 23 and 25, nearly the same things applied to the city, which are here promised to the inhabitants, who will never more be troubled with the vicissitude of day and night, but will be cheered with perpetual day. Nor will they want a sun, a lamp, or any other created light; because the Almighty himself will enlighten them with the glory and lustre of his divinity, and they will reign with him in an ocean of happiness for ever and ever.
Thus we have seen a full description of the heavenly Jerusalem, that is, of the triumphant state of the Christian Church, which, when once begun, will last for evermore, the saints here will be filled with all those gratifications that can soothe and make happy the soul and body. Both these component parts of the human individual, as they concurred to advance the glory of God in the world, so they will have both their respective objects of delight and happiness. But it must here be observed that, though our explication has been most literal, we cannot pretend to determine how far the prophet's glorious description of the heavenly city is to be understood in the literal, how far in the allegorical sense. We are certain that the happiness of the saints will be complete, but it is not allowed to man to investigate the particulars of that future state; for “ eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor. ii. 9. To return to the text, St. John says:
V. 6. “ And he said to me: “ These words are most faithful and true.” Here is the seal put to the whole preceding account of the heavenly Jerusalem : The angel gives testimony that it is most faithful and true, or that it will certainly take place, as God's word and promise cannot fail. This conclusion is always subjoined to those parts of the prophecy which treat of the ultimate state of man, namely, a happy eternity. Then is added,
V. 6. “ And the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show his servants the things which must be done shortly.” That is, God who inspires the prophets or is the author of all prophecy, has vouchsafed to send his angel, St. John the Baptist, to signify the preceding prophecy of the
Apocalypse to his servants, agreeably to what was notified in the very beginning of it, ch. i. 1. Here then seems to terminate the prophetical history of the Christian Church We have seen her described, in her rise, in her progress, and in the principal events that related to her. The whole course of her existence and transactions was aptly divided into seven ages, the last of which shows her triumphing in heaven, and crowned with immortal glory.
CONCLUSION OF THE APOCALYPSE.
The remaining part of the Apocalypse contains several useful admonitions which claim our attention, and with them the book concludes.
Apoc. xxii. 7. “ Behold I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book.” Here Christ himself speaks: Behold I come quickly, to execute the things delivered in this prophecy: therefore blessed is he who keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book, or who attends to what is contained in this book, and takes warning and in struction from the important events therein described. The same admonition had been given at the beginning, i. 3; a repeated argument of the extraordinary usefulness of this book.
V. 8. “And I John, who have heard and seen these things." Here St. John speaks : I John am the person that heard and saw all these things : by which declaration he gives testimony of having received from the angel the whole preceding prophecy. And then he proceeds,
V.8. And after I had heard and seen, I fell down to adore before the feet of the angel, who showed me these things:
V. 9.“ And he said to me: See thou do not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the words of the prophecy of this book. Adore God." St. John offers, as he had done before, xix. 10, his homage of gratitude to the angel, St. John Baptist, who had "shown him these things." The angel refuses it, and tells him to offer his adoration and thanks to God, who is the au
thor and giver of this prophecy. The angel furthermore plainly insinuates, that he has no title to the apostle's thanks, nor is he of a nature superior to the apostle: for he tells him, he is his fellow-servant, having been formerly so on earth; and fellow-servant of his brethren the prophets, that is, of the ministers of Christ's Church: and fellow-servant of them that keep the words of the prophecy of this book, that is, of all the faithful Christians from the beginning of Chrisi's Church to the end of time.
V. 10. “And he saith to me: Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand." The angel, or perhaps Christ, says to St. John: Seal not the words of this prophecy of the book; leave the book open, that every one may read it, and be informed of the contents; because the time is at hand for their accomplishment to begin, or which is already begun, and which will continue successively, till the whole be completed.
V. 11. “He that hurteth, let him hurt still : and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is just, let him be justified still: and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still."
That is, the unjust and the wicked, who are obstinately so, may make haste, says Christ, to complete their injustice and iniquity: and the just and the holy should endeavour to hasten their steps in sanctifying and perfecting themselves more; for,
V. 12. “Behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.” Behold, I shall soon summon them by the writ of death, to appear be- . fore me, says Christ, and shall reward these according to their merits; and those, the impious, I shall punish in the rigour of justice, according to the measure of their iniquity. Let us then be prepared for the summons.
V. 13. “ I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the teginning and the end." Christ here attributes to himself the same divine qualities, which were assumed by Almighty God. Chap. xxi. 6. I am, says Christ, the beginning and the end. I existed from all eternity, and shall exist to all eternity. I am the creator of the universe, the conservator of it, and shall put an end to it. “I am the first and the last," as he had before said, Chap. i. 17. I am prior to all mankind, they die and return to dust, but I am living for ever and ever. Tam the first founder of the new Church on earth, and I shall be the last and eternal reward of the same. V. 14. “Blessed are they, that wash their robes in the
blood of the Lamb:* that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.
V. 15. “ Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie." Christ continues to speak, and pronounces blessed those Christians, that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb by suffering martyrdom, or by preserving themselves clean from the filth of sin, and by the observance of his commands. These will be entitled to be admitted through the gates into the city, that is, into the mansions of the Christian heavenly Jerusalem; where they will have a right to the tree of life, to eat the fruit of immortality. But all those others will be excluded from this heavenly city, who, after the nature of snarling dogs, calumniate and slander their neighbour; also, all sorcerers, unchaste, murderers, idolaters, and those that love and make lies, or impostors and teachers of false doctrine.
V. 16. “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches.” Jesus Christ here speaks and says: I have sent my angel, John the Baptist, to deliver to you, John the Apostle, this my revelation, and to give testimony to it; that you may transmit it in an authentic manner to the seven churches of Asia, and they to others.-Christ continues,
V. 16. “ I am the root and stock of David, the bright and morning star." I am the root and stock or stem that spring from David: I am that son of David, of whom it was said: “ The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke i. 32, 33. To me then were decreed all power and dominion: and from me flow the divine blessings to all nations, both of redemption and future immortality. These are my rights. I am also the bright and morning star; the true morning star that shines so bright above all other stars, and that “enlighteneth every man that comes into the world.” John i. 9. “I am that star, the Orient, that enlighteneth them who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.” Luke i. 78, 79. I am the bright morning star, that guides mankind to the gate of heaven. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John xiv. 6.—Christ continues,
V. 17. “And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth,
* In the Greek, " that observes his commandments.”
let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Spirit or Holy Ghost, who directs the Church, and the bride of Christ or the Church herself, cry to me, saying: Come, hasten the general judgment, put an end to the labours of your servants, and admit them into the heavenly city. Whoever heareth this cry of the holy Spirit and the Church, let him also say: Come. Let every one join in the same request, because it is for the ultimate and greatest blessing. And if any one thirsteth after the water of life, after the glory which I give, let him come and meet me, let him hasten to me in fervour and sanctity. And he that will, let him take the water of life freely; he that desires to drink of the water of life, and will take the pains to come at it, may have it freely or gratis, without money, without any other price but faith and good works, both which proceed from the gratuitous gift of my grace: for “ without me you can do nothing." John xv. 5: when I crown your merits, I crown my own gifts. The same invitation to eternal beatitude, which alone will satisfy all our desires, Almighty God formerly gave by his prophet Isaiah: “ All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money, make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk, without money, and without any price," lv. i.
V. 18. “For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.
V. 19. “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.” Christ had said just before, v. 16, that he had sent his angel to give testimony to his prophecy; and therefore he here denounces a severe punishment upon all those, who shall presume to add any thing to, or detract from, this prophecy of the Apocalypse. Hence it appears, with what respect and caution it ought to be read and handled. And indeed whoever has studied the Apocalypse with attention, must have observed the precision of it to be such, that a word cannot be added or retrenched without danger of derogating from the sense.
V. 20. “ He that gives testimony of these things, saith: Surely, I come quickly: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Christ here gives testimony of these things, that is, he bears witness and gives his sanction to all that is written in this prophecy: and then concluding, proclaims for the third time: