« הקודםהמשך »
Surely, I come quickly; I shall certainly come soon, for good and all, to judge the whole body of mankind at the last day, and to recompense the just, and punish the wicked. St. John answers his divine master: Be it so, O Lord Jesus: come, and grant us, your servants, the favour of enjoying you for all eternity.
REFLECTIONS ON THE SEVEN AGES OF THE CHRISTIAN
Thus have we taken a view of the whole prophetic history of the Apocalypse. We have travelled through the whole tract of duration, which reaches from the rise of Christianity to the fixed state of eternity after the close of all time. We have seen the most remarkable transactions, that take place in the Christian Church during that whole period. And thus we are arrived at last to enjoy a full view of the plan of economy which Christ, the supreme governor, observes in the administration of his Church. This plan appears truly grand and admirable. It consists of three parts, contained under the seals, the trumpets, and the vials. The trumpets exhibit to us the painful trials he thinks fit to subject his people to. The vials describe the punishments which he inflicts on their enemies. The nature therefore of both these parts of his conduct towards his Church is sufficiently clear: but that of the seals, it must be allowed, is not so obvious, and may require some elucidation. In the prelude to the seals the Lamb was introduced, all power was given him, the period of his sovereignty was opened, and his reign commenced. This clue leads us to the understanding of the general tendency of the seals. In them we see Christ proceed to the work of forming and establishing his kingdom or Church, which he carries on through all ages. But as every prince, who undertakes to conquer to himself a new kingdom, must necessarily encounter many enemies and obstacles ; so here we see enemies rise up against Christ, the prince of the Christian kingdom, and oppose his undertaking. Thus, in the first seal, Christ sets out upon his conquests to form his kingdom upon earth. The second seal shows us the rise of a body of heretics, the Arians,
Christ's own subjects, who rebel against him, and attempt to wrest from him part of his kingdom. The third seal opens to us the scene of the subversion of pagan Rome with its empire, which is the triumph of Christ over that mighty idolatrous power, and the establishment of his kingdom in its place. In the fourth seal we see again the rise of another powerful enemy of Christ, namely, the Mahometan or Antichristian empire, which deprives him of some part of his dominions for a time. The fifth seal exhibits to us the martyrs of the fifth age, who are told that vengeance will in due time be taken on their persecutors, for the spilling of their blood: and in the mean time they are clothed with the robe of heatitude. This shows Christ's economy with regard to these his faithful and valiant soldiers. Under the sixth seal we see dreadful prodigies and signs, and the heavens and the earth in confusion. By these, Christ, the bountiful King, alarms the impious and rebellious part of his people, and tries by terror to bring them back to their allegiance and duty, and to reform them into good subjects, before he comes to judge them. The seventh seal opens the scene, in which he completes his work by taking possession of the whole earth, and putting an end to all other power. In consequence of this he is acknowledged universal Lord and Master of the world, and receives the applauses and acclamations of the heavenly choirs, who sing: - The kingdom of this world is become our Lord's and his Christ's, and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Apoc. xi. 15. Thus then we see described in the seals the series of Christ's operations for the formation and establishment of that kingdom which was promised him upon earth. “I beheld,” says Daniel, “and lo one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him. And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all people, tribes, and tongues, shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power, that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom, that shall not be destroyed,” vii. 13, 14. Such in fine is the abstract of the history, that is written in detail in the book sealed with seven seals, where this new powerful King, the Son of man, had laid down before hand the whole plan of the work he designed to carry on during all future ages.
Here it may be further proper to remark, that the prophecies contained under the seals are delivered in natural historical language; whereas those under the trumpets and vials are expressed in allegories: the reason of which seems to be, that . .
the thickness of the wall, v. 17, and finds it to be an hundred and forty-four cubits, or two hundred and sixteen feet ; a cubit being the measure from the elbow to the extremity of the hand of an ordinary man, or a foot and a half nearly, which is the measure used by the angel.
V. 18. “And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper-stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass." St. John having described the dimensions of this great city, the basis of which being a square and the structure a cube, form the most elegant and most perfect figure of an edifice; he now proceeds to give us an account of the materials of which the whole is built, which are the richest that can be imagined. The wall is built of fine green jasper-stone, the colour best suited to the eye. The city itself, by which we suppose are meant the buildings of the city, is constructed wholly of pure gold as transparent as crystal.
V. 19. “And the foundations of the wall of the city, were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper : the second, sapphire : the third, a chalcedony: the fourth, an emerald:
V. 20. “ The fifth, sardonyx : the sixth, sardius: the seventh, chrysolite: the eighth, beryl: the ninth, a topaz: the tenth, a chrysoprasus: the eleventh, a jacinth: the twelfth, an amethyst." The twelve foundations that support the wall of the city, are adorned with the most shining and most beautiful precious stones, which are here particularly specified: As the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed upon them, v. 14, perhaps the qualities of each stone bear some relation to the peculiar endowments of the apostle whose name is upon it; but this relation we cannot pretend to discover.
V. 21. “And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, one to each: and every several gate was of one several pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” The twelve gates of the city in their jambs and external structure and decorations are made of so many beautiful pearls, a pearl for each gate: and the door of each gate is formed of one single pearl. And the streets and whole area of the city are paved with pure gold, transparent as chrystal. What can be more rich, splendid, or sumptuous ?
V. 22. “And I saw no temple therein. For the Lord God Almighty is the temple thereof, and the Lamb.
V. 23. “And the city has no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. For the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof." This heavenly city
wants no temple: Almighty God and the Lamb residing in it supply the place of a temple : they are always present to the blessed inhabitants, who thus see their God and Saviour face to face, and offer their homage immediately to them. Nor is there any occasion for the light of the sun or moon: the city is always illuminated by the resplendent glory and brightness of the Deity which serve in the place of the sun, and the Lamb himself is the great luminary of it, in lieu of the moon.. The same glorious perfections of this city are also painted to us in the same colours by the prophet Isaiah: “ Thou shalt no more have the sun for thy light by day, neither shall the brightness of the moon enlighten thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light, and thy God for thy glory," lx. 19.
V. 24. " And the nations* shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it.” The citizens, who shall enjoy these blessings will be selected from all the nations that have espoused the Christian law. And the kings of the earth who have truly served Christ, the King of kings, shall there offer their homage to the Almighty and to the Lamb, and lay their crowns and honours at the foot of the throne.
V. 25. “And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day : for there shall be no night there.
V. 26. “ And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it." The gates of the city will always be open, as it can suffer no danger from enemies, nor any disturbance. Nor will there be ever the least obscurity or darkness, its light, which proceeds from God and the Lamb, remaining al. ways equally intense and inextinguishable. Some of all ranks and conditions, out of all the nations of the earth, will there be found offering to the supreme Deity their glory and honour, that is, their riches, their dignities, or whatever blessings they had been possessed of in life. The same glorious things we hear from the mouth of that ancient prophet, who always spoke with rapture of Christ and his kingdom: “ Thy gates shall be open continually: they shall not be shut day nor night, that the strength of the Gentiles may be brought to thee, and their kings may be brought." Isaiah lx. 11.
V. 27. “ There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.” Such is the holiness of the place, that nothing defiled, unclean, nothing stain
* In the Greek text, " the nations of those that are saved.”
ed with the abomination of idolatry, injustice, lying or impos ture, or any other species of iniquity, can enter there. It is a mansion of bliss for those only whose names are written in the book of life of the Lamb, that is, for those only who have been called and chosen by the Lamb, and whom he has registered in his book. Such expressions repeatedly prove that the city here described is the Christian Jerusalem.
Chap. xxii. 1. “And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
V. 2. “In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Through this celestial abode runs a river of water of life, clear as crystal, which rises from the foot of the throne of God and the Lamb. On the banks of this river, as it runs through the middle of the streets, grows the tree of life, bearing twelve different sorts of fruit which ripen every month; the food of which nourishes the inhabitants, preserves their bodies from all tendency to corruption, and keeps them in full vigour and strength without the least impair for all eternity. The leaves even have the virtue of healing, or of securing the body against the least attack of sickness or disease. An emblem of this was the tree of life in Paradise. With such fruit and such water the heavenly citizens eat and drink immortality.
V. 3. “ And there shall be no curse any more: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him.
V. 4. “ And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. In this blissful habitation there will be no curse, there will be no danger of experiencing the anger of God or his punishments. He and the Lamb will fix their throne in the midst of them, to gratify them for ever with their amiable presence; while they with boundless affection will offer their praise and thanksgiving. Thus will the saints see their God face to face, and enjoy the possession of him with expressible and never-ceasing joy. And they will bear on their foreheads his name, that is, the names of God and the Lamb expressed in one name, as both are one God: and thus they will carry an honourable and distinctive mark of their having been the devoted servants of God and the Lamb.—We may observe, that in this and other places of the Apocalypse, where St. John names together God and the Lamb,