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is to build, and serve on the holy mountains of. Jerusalem :
4. “ And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
Compared with the last chapter of the prophet Isaiah, I understand this of the blessings enjoyed by men in the flesh under the reign of Christ and of his saints. The wiping away the tear - the removing of sorrow, and of pain and death, is descriptive of the improved condition of humanity: thus will he comfort the nations upon earth. With respect to the inhabitants of the holy city, they are glorified spirits, many of them long since removed from the fear of these things, - no longer lower than the angels. Mortality has been swallowed up of life. They are the instruments under their great Head of conveying these blessings to Adam's restored race; whose image once they bore, though now the Lord from heaven is the origin of their new being.
5. “ And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write, for these words are true and faithful. 6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And I will give unto him that is athirst of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake
• See the last chapters of Ezekiel, particularly chap. xxxvii, 26, 27. Compare Jer. xxxi. 33.
that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Before a particular description of the holy city is afforded, this general application of the subject is given; an application which is meant to speak to the church in its present militant state, even to us for whom this book is written. The happy change for which the Redeemer's people are waiting, is promised and pledged with the strongest assurances,- He that is “ the Author and Finisher of our faith” speaks to us as God. The emphatic words, IS DONE," seem to me to refer to those fixed decrees of the Almighty, which give a present certainty and reality to things yet future. Thus his people" are saved and called by a purpose and grace of God given us in Christ before the world began:” and we are said even now to “ sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” So is He " Alpha and Omega.” And we have been again and again told, that those who shall inherit this holy city are those“ who were written in the book of life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.”
But does the question arise in the heart of man, What shall I do to be saved? - How shall I know that I am one of those whose names are in the book of life? The language of the Almighty Saviour meets that question :
“ I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
How clear is the statement here of practical religion ! Is the sinner brought to a true sense and deep feeling of his need, and does he submit to the righteousness of
God his Saviour? The spiritual endowments which are destined to convey eternal life, are freely and graciously vouchsafed to him; and, animated by the Spirit of Christ, he overcomes by faith : “ For this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Every act of faith is a conquest over the world, - it places the empire of things unseen in the room and stead of the dominion of the things that are seen.
Again, would we know who they are that shall not inherit the kingdom of God, but be cast into the fire of hell,- for in the present dispensation there is no middle state? We are told,“ the fearful and unbelieving."
. These words are to be taken in connexion with each other. They express the timidity of unbelief, - where, for want of trust in God, the professor shrinks from his profession, as the soldier deserts his colours. The mind gives up its hope in the hour of danger, because destitute of confidence in God. Such is the meaning of the phrase in the other two passages of Scripture * where it occurs. The remaining characteristics need no explanation.
By faith, which includes a trust in God, it is the uniform testimony of Scripture, sinful man is saved. If he believe not, he dies in his sins, and the wrath of God abides upon him., He accepts not the medicine of life. But of some characters - persons living in the sins above specified - there can be no question about their unbelief. A more obvious mark of reprobation is enstamped upon them - their notorious and allowed sins persisted in to the last. It may, indeed, be said of some of the redeemed of Christ, “ and such were some of you :" but it can be said of them also, “but ye are washed, but ye
* Matt. viii. 20; Mark, iv. 40.
are sanctified, but ye are justified by the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
We are now called to behold more nearly the emblem of the holy city mentioned above; the habitation of glorified saints, who are the sons of God, being the children of the resurrection, and who, manifested with their King, are to bring such blessings to men,- for men in the flesh are also now to be the people of that God who owns and shows these risen saints as his sons :
9. “And there came to me one of the seven angels, which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.”
This circumstance, that one of these seven angels should be the apostle's guide on this occasion, strongly confirms the interpretation, that the descent of the holy city is at the commencement of the thousand years, in immediate sequence to the pouring out of the vials that these angels had in their hands.
We shall recollect that, in the first verse of the seventeenth chapter, after the fall of the great Babylon had been symbolized in its chronological order, one of these same angels takes the apostle aside, to show him more distinotly the judgment of the great whore, and a new emblem of the woman riding on the scarlet beast is presented to his view. So now, in the part of the vision before us, after a prophetic history of the church in its millennian state, from its first commencement to its absorption in the everlasting glory, the sacred vision leads us to fix our attention to a more enlarged emblem of this BRIDAL CITY, and of the blessings it diffuses on mankind. “ Come here,” the angel says, " and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." In the seventh verse of the nineteenth chapter also, that is, immediately in connexion with the triumphs of the heavenly hosts which were sung on the fall of the mystic Babylon, we had notice, -“ the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride has made herself ready.” This could hardly be interpreted, “ has made herself ready to be manifested a thousand years hence ;” but rather, ready now to receive her Lord. So that I conceive there can be no doubt, but that, what we are now going to contemplate, is a figurative description of that beloved city which the risen saints, who reign with Christ for a thousand years, inhabit; and which they inhabit at the commencement of the second advent, not, for the first time, after the thousand years are ended :
10. “ So he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God."
This seems to describe the city as having existed before with God in heaven: and we shall not fail to recollect, on this occasion, the manner in which the Scripture speaks of the hopes of an ancient patriarch :“ He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," –“But now they desire a better country, that is a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”* And also Paul's contrast between the “ Jerusalem that is above, the mother of us all," and “ the Jerusalem that then was, and was in bondage with her children." And thus again the common hope of the