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which the angel however refuses to accept, giving for reason, that he is a fellow-servant of the apostle and of the apostle's brethren who bear testimony to Jesus Christ. This speech evidently agrees with the character of the Baptist, but not with that of a real angel. Then St. John is told to adore God, as the author of all prophecy: after which the angel adds : for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, that is, the testimony which you give to Christ by suffering for his holy name and the profession of his doctrine is of equal value with the spirit of prophecy, by which I reveal to you these future events.
Though the divine incomparable revelation, here imparted to St. John, seemed in this place to terminate, as having carried on the history of the Christian Church from its birth to its triumphant state after the resurrection, yet we see further discoveries communicated, and new scenes shown to the apostle. He has described to us the wreck and dissolution of the world, the resurrection of mankind, the judgment passed upon them, with the punishment of the wicked and the recompense of the good. The prophet now proceeds to lay before us a series of new pictures, the objects of which are of so uncouth a nature, so different from any thing we are acquainted with, that it is beyond the power of man to explain them to full satisfaction. The first of these pictures he exhibits to us is the following:
Chap. xxi. 1. “And I saw, says he, a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven, and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more.” Here is a total change in our system of nature. The earth, that was, the heaven or sky, with its atmosphere, its clouds, &c. had passed away and vanished; but now a "new heaven and a new earth” appear. The same we are taught by St. Peter; “ We look," says he, “ for new heavens and a new earth, according to his promises in which justice dwelleth.” 2 Ep. iii. 13. This new heaven and new earth are not of new creation, but the former heaven and earth, purified by fire, renewed by the hand of God, and made much more perfect, “ not other heavens and another earth,” says St. Jerom, “but the former ones changed into better.” In Isai. Ixv. And St. Gregory the Great, speaking of the same, says: “ Others are not to be created, but these same renewed.” Lib. xvii. Moral. in Job. c. 5. This sentiment is founded on Scripture. The psalmist represents the heavens and the earth growing old and wearing away like a garment, and then to be changed. “In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest : and all of them shall grow old like a garment: and as a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed.” Ps. ci. 26, &c. Solomon also seems to assure us, that every thing shall remain that has been created : "I have learned," says he, " that all the works which God has made, continue for ever." Eccl. iii. 14. Upon which St. Gregory the Great's comment is: “they will pass, as to their present figure or appearance, but as to their substance they will remain for ever." Lib. xvii. Moral. in Job. c. 5. St. Austin tells as, that "by the change of things the world will not entirely perish or be annihilated. Its form or external appearance will be changed, but not its substance." Lib. xx. de Civ. c. 14. And again more amply: “The figure of this world will pass away by the general conflagration.—The qualities of the corruptible elements, of which our world is composed, which were proportioned to our corruptible bodies, will be entirely destroyed by the fire : and the substance of those elements will acquire new qualities which will be suitable to our immortal bodies: and thus the world, by becoming more perfect, will be proportioned to the then improved state of the human body.” Ibid. c. 16. After the same manner speak St. Justin, St. Basil, and other holy fathers. Hence we may conclude that our new world, as to its substance, will be the same as the old; but its qualities will be totally altered, so as to be no more pernicious to the human body, offensive to the senses, or obnoxious to unseasonable vicissitudes. Every part will then appear bright, glorious, pleasing to the senses, and inspiring happiness. They will form as it were a paradise. Whether the superior heavens, that contain the sun, moon, and stars, will undergo the same change, is uncertain ; and the writers on this subject are divided in their opinions.
St. John adds in this place a particularity worthy our notice; and the sea is now no more; being perhaps wholly dried up, as to its fluidity, by the fire; and its component solid parts reduced into the same state with the rest of the terrestri. al globe. Thus the sea will be no more, as being of no further use. This entire suppression of the sea may give a reason, why the angel, whose feet were as pillars of fire, when he announced the end of the world, stood with his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the land, Apoc. X. 1, 2. The right foot denoting a greater power of strength, which is here required to consume water, so much more opposite in its nature to fire than dry land.
The scene of nature being now totally changed, and the new heavens and the new earth being formed, St. John proceeds,
Chap. xxi. 2. “And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God." Here our prophet begins a new period, which is, the period of eternity. He had hitherto related the history of the Christian church in a regular course from its first rise to its passing away with time itself and with the destruction of the world. He does not however stop here, but eagle-like, with a new flight carries us into the regions of eternity, and shows us a sketch of the glorious state the blessed will enjoy during that endless period. The account of this new period St. John now begins, and for that reason says not simply, I saw, as is usual with him: but I John saw, in the same manner as he began the first part of his history, with, “I John, your brother--was in the spirit on the Lord's day,” &c. Apoc. i. 9, 10. From what we have seen it appears, that St. John's prophecy is almost confined to the history of the Christian Church, but that he has nevertheless gone beyond that boundary, in the instance of relating to us the general judgment of all mankind. In like manner he is now going to describe the heavenly triumphant state of the whole Church of God, that is, of the whole body of the saints. But we must here take notice of the plan which he follows, which is, to divide them into two societies. The first is of the saints that lived in the ages prior to Christianity, and who worshipped the supreme Deity in the unity of Godhead. The second society comprehends all Christian saints, who adored God in Trinity of persons. These observations premised, we now return to the text. .
Chap. xxi. 2. “And I John saw,” says he, “the holy city the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
V. 3. “And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people; and God himself with them shall be their God.
V. 4. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.
V. 5. “And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new."
This holy city, this new Jerusalem, that is seen descending from heaven, from God, and appears so bright and shining, like a bride dressed up to meet her husband, is the heaven or the glorious and happy mansions of all the saints that existed before our Saviour, or that lived under the law of nature and the Mosaic: and it is new in allusion to the former Jerusalem which had been their habitation on earth. This heavenly Jerusalem may therefore be styled the patriarchal and Jewish Jerusalem. We shall see in the sequel the Christian Jerusalem. This new city of the blessed is seen coming down out of heaven from God, to the new earth where it fixes, to show that now heaven and earth are joined, and that heaven is there wherever God is. To express the extraordinary degree of light, with which this heavenly city will be illuminated, Isaiah says: “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days," XXX. 26. The expressions that follow in verse 3: "behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them,”' &c. apparently belong to the Jewish and patriarchal ages, and frequently occur in the Old Testament, and particularly in the ancient prophets ; which shows that this is the patriarchal and Jewish heavenly Jerusalem. The holy inhabitants of this city will be blessed with complete felicity, arising from the presence of God dwelling with them, and will experience no more sorrow nor any other misery, v. 4. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne, (God,) said : Behold I make all things new.” The prophet Isaiah had said nearly the same things: “ The Lord,” says he, “shall cast death down headlong for ever: and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from every face,” xxv. 8. And,“ Behold," says God by the same prophet, “I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former things shall not be in remembrance, and they shall not come upon the heart. But you should be glad and rejoice for ever in these things, which I create : for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and the people thereof joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying,” lxv. 17, &c. The Almighty makes all things new to these blessed beings, a new Jerusalem or seat of bliss, a new state of existence quite different from what it had been in this world: all is now happiness, glory, and exultation.—St. John proceeds,
V. 5. “And he said to me: write, for these words are most faithful and true.” Here is the sanction of the Almighty. He gives testimony to the truth of what has been said of the happiness and glory of the Jewish and patriarchal Church in heaven, and he professes to be faithful in the execution of these promises.
V. 6. “ And he said to me: It is done. I am Alpha and Omega : the beginning and the end.” The Almighty again speaks, and says: It is done; time is past and eternity is begun. I am Alpha and Omega : the beginning and the end: I framed the universe, I destroyed it, and renewed it at my pleasure: All mankind received their existence from me, and they ultimately return to me to be rewarded or punished: I called the patriarchs, and I chose the Jews, I was their God, and of all the just of those ages, and I shall be their God and reward for all eternity. The Almighty proceeds,
V. 6. “ To him that thirsteth I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely.
V. 7. “ He that shall overcome, shall possess these things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
To those that shall have thirsted, says God, after the water of life, after heavenly beatitude, and endeavoured to deserve it, I will give it; and my gift will be free or gratuitous, because human merit can never equal the reward which I be- . stow, nor is there any human merit without the concurrence of my grace.
I shall give them plentifully to drink of this water of life, by replenishing them with that abundance of sweet satisfaction, which surpasses all conception. “They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house,” says the psalmist; "and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure,” Psalm xxxv. 9. And whoever shall have overcome, v. 7, that is, whoever shall have courageously fought in the cause of religion, or who shall have preserved himself free from idolatry, injustice, and works of iniquity, and shall have walked in the observance of my precepts, he shall inhabit this city, this mansion of immortality, and shall possess for ever the ineffable blessings of felicity that abound in it, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Such will be the happy state of the courageous and zealous servants of God. · V. 8. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abomina