Page images
PDF
EPUB

5 and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were

6 ended. This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is he that hath a part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are fulfilled, Satan shall

8 be loosed out of his prison, And shall go forth to deceive

already raised. And I saw the souls of them who had been beheaded—'With the axe; so the original word signifies. One kind of death, which was particularly inflicted at Rome, is mentioned for all: for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God—The martyrs were sometimes killed for the word of God in general; sometimes particularly, for the testimony of Jesus: the one, while they refused to worship idols; the other, while they confessed the name of Christ: and those who had not worshipped the wild beast nor his image—These seem to be a company distinct from those who appeared, chap. xv. 2. Those overcame, probably, in such contests as these had not. Before the number of the beast was expired, the people were compelled to worship him, by the most dreadful violence. But when the beast was not, they were only seduced into it by the craft of the false prophet; and they lived—Their souls and bodies being re-united, and reigned with Christ—Not on earth, but in heaven. The reigning on earth, mentioned chap. ix. 15, is quite different from this: a thousand years—It must be observed, that two distinct thousand years are mentioned throughout this whole passage. Each is mentioned thrice; the thousand wherein Satan is bound, ver. 2, 3, 7, the thousand wherein the saints shall reign, ver. 4—6. The former end before the end of the world; the latter reach to the general resurrection: so that the beginning and end of the former thousand, is before the beginning and end of the latter. Therefore, as in the second verse, at the first mention of the former, so in the fourth verse, at the first mention of the latter, it is only said a thousand years: in the other places, the thousand, ver. 3, 5, 7, that is, the thousand mentioned before. During the former, the promises concerning the flourishing state of the church, chap. x. 7, shall be fulfilled. During the latter, while the saints reign with Christ in heaven, men on earth will be careless and secure.

V. 5. The rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years—Mentioned ver. 4, were ended—The thousand years in which Satan is bound, both begin and end much sooner.

The small time, and the second thousand years, begin at the same point, immediately after the first thousand. But neither the beginning of the first, nor of the second thousand, will be known to the men upon earth, as both the imprisonment of Satan and his loosing, are transacted in the invisible world.

By observing these two distinct thousand years, many difficulties are avoided. There ie room enough for the fulfilling of all the prophecies, and those which before seemed to clash are reconciled: particularly those which speak, on the one hand, of the most flourishing state of the church, as yet to come; and, on the other, of the fatal security of men in the last days of the world.

V. 6. They shall be priests of God and of Christ—Therefore Christ is God: and shall reign with him—With Christ, a thousand years'

V. 7. And when the former thousand years are fulfilled, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison—At the same time that the first resurrection begins. There is a great resemblance between this passage, and chap. xii. 13. At the casting out of the dragon, there was joy in heaven, but there was wo upon earth: so at the loosing of Satan, the saints begin to reign with Christ; but the nations Rn earth are deceived.

Vt 8. Ani shall go forth to dtttivt tht nations in thtfonr evrntr« of the earth the nations, which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose 9 number is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city: and fire came down from

10 God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where both ' the wild beast and the false prophet are: and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat thereon, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled

12 away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw

(That is, in all the earth,) the more diligently, as he hath been so long

restrained, and knowcth he hath but a small time; Gog and Magog— Magog, the second son of Japhet, is the father of the innumerable northern nations toward the East. The prince of these nations, of which the bulk of that army will consist, is termed Gog by Ezekiel also, chap, xxxviii. 2. Both Gog and Magog signify high, or lifted up, a name well suiting both the prince and the people. When that fierce leader of many nations shall appear, then will his own name be known: to gather them—Both Gog and his armies. Of Gog little more is said, as being soon mingled with the rest in the common slaughter. The Revelation speaks of this the more briefly, because it had been so paiticularly described by Ezekiel. Whole number is as the sand of the sea—Immensely numerous, a proverbial expression.

V. 9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth—Or the land, filling the whole breadth of it, and surrounded the camp of the saints—Perhaps the Gentile church, dwelling round about Jerusalem, and the beloved city—So termed likewise, Ecclus. xxiv. 11.

V. 10. And they—All these, shall be tormented day and night—That is, without any intermission. Strictly speaking there is only night there. No * day, no sun, no hope!

V. 11. And I saw—A representation of that great day of the Lord, a great white throne—How great, who can say? White with the glory of God, of Him that sat upon it, Jesus Christ. The apostle does not attempt to describe him here, only adds that circumstance, far above all description: from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away—Probably both the aerial and the starry heaven, which shall pass away with a great noise: and there was found no place for them—But they were wholly dissolved, the very elements melting with fervent heat. It is not said, They were thrown into great commotions, but they fell into dissolution: not, they removed to a distant place, but there was found no place for them; they ceased to exist; they were no more. And all this, not at the strict command of the Lord Jesus, not at his awful presence, or before his fiery indignation; but at the bare presence of his Majesty, sitting with severe, but adorable dignity on his throne.

V. 12. And I saw the dead, great and small—Of every age and condition. This includes all those who undergo a change equivalent to death, 1 Cor. xv. 51. And the books—Human judges have their books written with pen and ink. How different is the nature of these books! Were opened—O, how many hidden things will then come to light! And how many will have quite another appearance, than they had before, in the sight of men? With the book of God's omniscience, that of conscience will then exactly tally. The book of natural law, as well as of revealed, will then also be displayed. It ia ■at said, The books will be read: the light of that day will make them visible the dead, great and small, standing before the throne: and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life;' and the dead were judged out of the things that were written in the books,

13 according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were therein; and death and hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every one

14 according to their works. And death and hades were cast

15 into the lake of fire: this is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire.

CHAP. XXI. 1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were g passed away: and there was no more sea. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her

* Mai. Hi. 16.

to all: then particularly shall every man know himself, and that with the utmost exactness. This will be the first true, full, impartial, universal history. And another book —Wherein are enrolled all that are accepted through the Beloved; all who lived and died in the faith that worketh by love: which is the book of life, was opened—What manner of expectation will then be, with regard to the issue of the whole?

V. 13. Death and hades gave up the dead that were in them—Death gave up all the bodies of men, and hades, the receptacle of separate souls, gave them up, to be re-united to their bodies.

V. 14. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire—That is, were abolished for ever. For neither the righteous nor the wicked were to die any more: their souls and bodies were no more to be separated. Consequently neither death nor hades could any more have the being.

CHAP. XXI. Ver. 1. And I saw—So it runs, chap. xix. 11, xx. l, 4, \\ in a succession. All these several representations follow one another in order. So the vision reaches into eternity: a new heaven and a new earth—After the resurrection and general judgment. St John is not now describing a flourishing state of the church, but a new and eternal state of all things; for the first heaven and the first earth—Not only the lowest part of heaven, not only the solar system, but the whole ethereal heaven, with all its host, whether of planets or fixed stars, Isa. xxxiv. 4, Matt. xxiv. 29. All the former things will be done away, that all may become new, ver. 4, 5, 2 Pet iii. 10, 12, ore passed away—But in the fourth verse it is said, are gone away. There the stronger word is used: for death, mourning, and sorrow, go away together; the former heaven and earth only pass away, giving place to the new heaven and the flew earth.

V. 2. And I saw the holy city—The new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, are closely connected. This city is wholly new, belonging not to this world, not to the millenium, but to eternity. This appears from the series of the vision, the magnificence of the description, and the opposition of this city to the second death, chap, xx, n, 12, xxi, 1, 2, 5,8,9, xxii, *, Coming down—la the very act of descending.

~~ 3 husband. And I heard a loud voice out of heaven, saving. Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will pitch his tent with them; and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their

4 God. And he shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall sorrow, or crying, or pain, be any more; becsuse the former things

5 are gone away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith to me,

6 Write: these sayings are faithful and true. And he said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that thirsteth,

7 of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be to him

8 a God, and he shall be to me a son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

V. 3. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God—So shall the covenant between God and his people, be executed in the most glorious mauner.

V. 4. And death shall be no more—This is a full proof, that this whole description belongs not to time, but eternity: neither shall sorrow, or crying, or pain, be any more; becanse the former things are gone away—Under the former heaven, and upon the former earth, there was death and sorrow, crying and pain, all which occasioned many tears. But now pain and sorrow are lied away, and the saints have everlasting life and joy.

V. 5. And he that sat upon the throne said—Not to St. John only. From the first mention of him that sat upon the throne, chas, iv. 3, this is the first speech which is expressly ascribed to him. And A*—The angel, laith to me, Write—As follows, These sayings are faithful and true—This inclndes all that went before. The apostle seems again to have ceased writing, being overcome with eestasy at the voice of him that spake.

V. 6. And he—That sat upon the throne, said to me, It is done—All that the prophets had spoken; all that was spoken, chap. iv. 1- We read this expression twice in this prophecy; first, chap. xvi. 17, at the fulfilling of the wrath of God, and here at the making all things new: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the begiuning and the end—The latter explains the former, the ever,luting; / will give to him that thirsteth—The Lamb saith the same, chap, sxii. 17.

V. 7. He that overcometh—Which is more than he that thirsteth, shall inherit these things—Which 1 have made new. / will be his God, and he shall be my ran—Both in the Hebrew and Greek language, in which the Scripture* were written, what we translate shall and will are one and the sameword. The only difference consists in an English translation, or in the want of knowledge in him that interprets what he does not understand.

V. 8. But the fearful and unbelieving—Who, through want of courage and faith, do not overcome, and abominable—That is, Sodomites, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters—These three sins generally went together, their part is in the lake.

9 And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven phials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride,

10 the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11 Having the glory of God: her window was like the most precious stone, like a jasper-stone, clear as crystal,

12 Having a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and the names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children

13 of Israel: On the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west

14 three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and upon them the twelve names of the twelve

15 apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had

V. 9. And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven phials— Whereby room had been made for the kingdom of God, saying, Come, I will shew thee the bride—The same angel had before shewed him Babylon, chap, xvi. 1, which is directly opposed to the New Jerusalem.

V. 10. And he carried me away in the Spirit—The same expression as before, chap. xvii. 3, and shewed me the holy city Jerusalem—The old city is now forgotten, so that this is no longer termed The New, but absolutely Jerusalem. ©, how did St. John long to enter in! But the time was not yet come. Ezekiel also describes the holy city, and what pertains thereto, chap, xl—xlviii. but a city quite different from the Old Jerusalem, as it was either before or after the Babylonish captivity. The descriptions of the prophet and of the apostle, agree in many particulars: but in many more they differ. Ezekiel expressly describes the temple, and the worship of God therein, closely alluding to the Levitical service. But St. John saw no temple, and describes the city far more large, and glorious, and heavenly, than the prophet. Yet that which he describes is the same city; but as it subsisted soon after the destruction of the beast. This being observed, both the prophecies agree together, and one may explain the other.

V. 11. Having the glory of God—For her light, ver. 23, lira. lx> 1, 2, Zech. ii. 5. Her window—There was only one which ran all round the city. The light did not come in from, without through this. For the glory of God is within the city. But in shines out from within to a great distance, Ver. 23, 24.

V. is. Twelve angels—Still waiting upon the heirs of salvation.

V. 14. And the mall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb—Figuratively shewing, that the inhabitants of the city had built only on that faith, which the apostles once delivered to the saints.

V. 15. And he measured the city twelve thousand furlongs—Not in circumference, but on each of the four sides. Jerusalem was thirty-three furlongs in circumference: Alexandria thirty in length, ten in breadth: Nineveh is reported to have been four hundred furlongs round: Babylon four hundred and eighty. But what inconsiderable villages Were all these, compared to the New Jerusalem? By this measure is understood the greatness of the city, with the exact order and just proportion of every part of it: to shew figuratively, that this city was prepared for a great number of inhabitants, how small soever the number of real Christians may sometimes appear to be: and

« PreviousContinue »