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idolatrous city, which has been destroyed. They are both of them exhibited, first as women, then as cities; which symbols are convertible* But the first woman is an impure harlot. The second is a virgin bride, fit for her Lord. . The first city is idolatrous, and wicked, a very Babylon; the second is “ the holy city,” the new Jerusalem t, under which symbol she is more especially represented in the remaining part of this chapter.
Ib. And the sea is no more.] Some of the commentators have perplexed themselves to find a particular representation signified in this passage, under the emblem of the sea. It seems to me, that none such is to be looked for. The Heaven, the Earth, and the Sea, (with, sometimes, the rivers and fountains,) in Scriptural idea, compose the world . These all pass away; "all "things are made new." The old translation stands corrected so as to accord with this notion; yet not for that reason; but because the language of the original seemed evidently to require it...
Ver. 3. And I heard a loud voice out of heaven, saying—] Preparatory to almost every change which has taken place in this prophecy, for the advancement of Religion and the consequent happiness of man, songs of joy, from the sacred chorus in heaven, have proclaimed the revolution, before it has been exhibited in the scenery. The Heavenly Jerusalem is descending, and soon will be seen from a nearer point of view. Meanwhile, the happy change is sublimely described: the heavenly voice expresses most eloquently that divine
* See notes, ch. xvii. 1; xix. 7, 8. † See note, ch. iii. 12.
See note, ch. viii. 7. “In six days, the Lord made heaven and “ earth, the sea, and all that in them is :" Exod. xx. As these compodent parts are mentioned at the creation, so again at the dissolution, of the world.
state of felicity, to which redeemed man may, by the grace of God, attain. It is beyond the power of human imagination to comprehend the particulars in which it consists. It is therefore described only by negatives. -There shall be no sorrow, no pain, no death; -none of those evils which embitter this mortal life. And this description is confirmed by the great Judge and Creator, who sitteth upon the throne ;-"behold,” says he, “ I make all things new.”.
Ver. 5. Write : for, these words are true and worthy of belief.] At the conclusion of the vision which contained the judgment of Babylon *, the angel, who accompanied the prophet during that vision, had addressed him in nearly the same wordst. But the present scene is that, in which the Son of God, who had appeared at the commencement of the prophecy, addresses the prophet for the last time. He addresses him from his glorious throne; where, having judged the dead, and caused the old heavens and earth to vanish away, he creates a new heaven and a new earth, and therein a new and heavenly city, to be the blissful habitation of his servants. He now therefore renews his command to the prophet, to write what he had seen I. And he assures him, and through him, the Church, that these visions are to be believed, and to be relied upon as the words of God. He then declares the prophecy to be brought to its conclusion. It concludes with the new creation. The enemies of Christ are now finally subdued. Their opposition was the grand argument of the book. It ends when this resistance is no more. The triumphant Messiah concludes his address, as he had begun it, (in chapter i. 8. 18.) with such a representation of his eternal power and glory, as must induce his followers to trust in him. He then renews his promises of inestimable rewards *, to those who shall diligently seek them, and his denunciations of eternal punishments, to those who pursue the wages of sin. The sins specified in the 8th verse, are such as have been noted and explained in the progress of this work. But it may be asked, why are the cowardly enumerated in the catalogue of sinners ? Can a man help the fearfulness and timidity of his nature? Is not courage, in a great degree, a constitutional virtue? To this it may be answered, that every Christian, in the language of the Scriptures, and especially in that of this book, is accounted a soldier of Christ. As such, he is engaged to fight (and he undertakes this warfare solemnly at his baptism) against the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are the agents of iniquity who oppose the Messialı, in these prophetical visions ; the dragon, and the beasts. And the courage required to resist these, is far from being corporeal and constitutional. For in this cause, the weak and timid sex have produced as many champions and conquerors, as the sex accounted most valiant and robust. Resolution to resist temptation, and to follow faithfully the great Captain of Salvation, through difficulties and trials, is, more or less, in the power of every one; and what is deficient in human infirmity, will be made strong, and equal to that which is expected from it, by the grace of God. Therefore “ the cowardly and faithless” are properly classed together in this passage, and with the sinners, who are of that kind and description which was seen to apostatise from the Christian Religion, in times
* Ch. xix. 9. + See the note, which is intended to shew their purport,
As in ch. i, 19.
of temptation and persecution ; especially during the prevalency of the Gnostic doctrines, which encouraged all these enormities, and had begun to exhibit its evil tendency when this prophecy was published *.
* Mosheim, de Reb. Christ. ante Const. Mag. Sæc. ii. sect. xli.