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nitude of his love in the joy of heaven, and the evil of its opposite. Thine eyes shall see the King in all his beauty, when thine heart shall meditate terror (Isa. xxxiii. 17, 18). For ever shall the song of praise for redemption commemorate the sacrifice it cost, and the depth of misery from which it delivered us. For ever shall we acknowledge ourselves to have been helldoomed sinners, saved by the death of God's dear Son. For ever will the blood of the Lamb, slain for us, be remembered as our title for heaven, and ascribed in glory to him that sitteth on the throne by the heavenly hosts. For ever will our joy, and the glory of our God, consist, not in forgetting that there is such a place as hell; not in the passive, self-contented, solitary feeling of mere safety in heaven; but in the thrilling, generous joy of remembering from what we have been delivered by the superabundant mercy of God in sending his own Son to die and his own Spirit to sanctify—a joy which will delight in magnifying this great salvation, and telling of all the wonderful works of God, world without end.
INTERPRETATION OF THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE
BY THE REV. EDWARD IRVING, M. A.
(Continued from vol. V. p. 325.) In our former interpretation we set forth the idea which, with many precious words of heavenly utterance, with hints and suggestions of deeper things, the Holy Ghost, declaring and approving himself by other tongues, hath at sundry times, and through several vessels, made known in the midst of us. All which, carefully noting in my memory, pondering in my heart, and applying for the opening of holy Scripture, struggling all the while against my own evil heart of unbelief, and endeavouring to attain unto the riches of the full assurance of understanding, I do now, by the grace of God, take in hand to expound for the edification of the church: in no case attempting to repeat the words spoken by the Spirit, nor the forms purely spiritual in which the truth is given forth, which our God hath taught us to be a profanation; but only desiring to render out, for the profit of others, the life and truth, the faith and hope, the love and joy and holy desire, with all the other fruits of the Spirit, produced by this heavenly food, daily ministered by our gracious God unto me and my church. So that no one will mistake or misuse these interpretations, as if they were altogether avouched by the Holy Spirit of God, placed beyond the region of doubt, and not to be questioned ; whereas, though the light came from heaven direct, it hath been refracted through the prism of my own mind, and
thereby assumed the form of my own understanding, as well as the utterance of my own fallible lips. Nevertheless I am at great pains to purify my mind from all darkness, my heart from all uncleanness, and my word from all partiality, to the end God may be more and more able to use me as a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, by whom to bring out of his treasures things new and old. With this warning, which proceedeth of my jealousy for the honour of the Holy Ghost, lest any thing of mine, liable to error, should be laid upon His responsibility, I do now gladly resume the labour of rendering out unto the church, with all faithfulness, the light of truth, which God maketh more and more to arise upon my heart.
Jesus, at the head of these sealed ones, hath the form of the Lamb, in token of his harmlessness; “ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” because the company of the sealed ones, who “ follow him whithersoever he goeth," are in like manner holy and unblameable, the sons of God, without rebuke; “in whose mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Also by this figure of the Lamb is signified the Son of Man in fleshly form--of the earth, earthly, yet holy and spotless in all manner of conversation-because it is a fleshly form of the church on earth which is the subject of the vision; a state of holy triumph over all the power of the enemy in the world, which the church shall attain unto, anterior to and in preparation for ber translation to the embrace of her holy Bridegroom in the heavens. " The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride hath made herself ready. And to her was given to be arrayed in fine linen white and clean, for the white linen is the righteousness of saints." While Antichrist, as the beast from the sea, is gathering to himself the parts and purtenances of every beast of prey, and serving himself with all the spiritual guile and working of the beast like the Lamb, which is the false prophet, possessed by Satan as an angel of light and minister of righteousness ; Christ doth take the simple and innocent form of the Lamb, and gather to himself a following of sealed ones of the like simplicity and harmlessness; who have no defence at all, but the stamp of God upon their forebeads; the seal of God, which saith, • Touch me who dare : I am God's, and God is for me; God is in me;'-While Satan gathereth to himself all powers of the creature, signified by the various composition of the beast, and all wiles and subtleties of the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places; confederating into one the
powers of fallen nature, the powers of fallen men, and the powers of fallen spirits ; Jesus doth gather into one the harmlessness and feebleness of the redeemed creation, signified by the Lamb and his virgin followers; and setting upon them the seal and stamp and effigy of God Almighty, doth plant them
upon Mount Zion, which God hath chosen for his rest; and there defieth the waters of the river mighty and strong, the peoples, the kindreds, and the tongues, where the woman sitteth. Yea, from Zion hill, the perfection of beauty and excelleney, sendeth he forth the rod of his great power, the Man Child which ruleth the earth with a rod of iron, these same virgin followers of his, to evangelize those very nations, kindreds, and tongues, whom the beast seduceth; and to make to pass over their heads the roll of judgment in the heavens; and to cause it enter into their houses and into their hearts, saying, God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship Him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Yea, moreover, sendeth He forth these lambs of his flock to blow the trumpet of Babylon's downfall, saying, “ Babylon is fallen, is fallen; that great city; because she made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” With priestly unarmed strength they compass her walls, blowing as they go the trumpet of the wrath of God, until the very air, whose prince rejoiced over her as his queen, becometh animated with the wrath of God, to shake her walls, which have braved a thousand years, and bring them topling upon their warders' heads, those warders of Babylon who should have been watchmen of Zion, and now do reap
the wages of their treason, sunk for ever in the ruins of her downfall. Yea, moreover, and these harmless followers of the Lamb, being possessed with power of God, beaming forth from their foreheads, shall go out in the majesty of truth, with powers plenipotentiary from God, wielding the thunders of heaven, and possessing the key of all the secret chambers of nature, to turn her back upon her fountains, and expose her naked channels ; to dry up and wither and destroy, whenever it liketh them, and worketh the end of their witness. And thus serving themselves with the secret key of nature's God against Antichrist, who use nature's various powers against her God, these witnesseswitnesses not unto nature, but unto nature's God-shall prove the lie of all philosophy and science and creature power, and drive back the pretensions of the man of sin; let and hinder him; and warn the world that he is a lie, and the father of it: so that the world shall be left without excuse, if they give heed to his seductions, when he re-appeareth from the hidings into which he hath been forced to flee from the presence
of these messengers of Almighty God. Such is the service for which the hundred forty and four thousand harmless ones are sealed with the name of Almighty God on their forehead.
Passing the second and third verses, on which I have nothing to say beyond what is set forth in the former interpretation (p. 318 to the end), we proceed to the description, line by line, of
these sealed ones. And, first, they are said to be those which were redeemed (had been redeemed) from the earth ; bought, “not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” But as for the rest of the inhabitants of the earth, they are every one of them deceived by the means of those miracles which the beast with horns like a lamb hath power to do in the sight of the other beast : against whose omnipotence of craftiness and delusion the omnipotence of truth and holiness, which is in the Lamb's blood, prevaileth to redeem out of the bondage of Babylon, and the image worship of the beast, and the universal a postasy of men, so many souls as in this celestial company are contained; being ransomed by the saving power of Jesu's blood, and sealed with the Father's Almighty name, against the coming on of direful judgments. They stand in place of safety; their feet upon the mount of Zion; their souls uplifted in the ecstasy of joy to the place where their Beloved dwelleth, and singing new wonders and glories of His power and love in the ears of those saints who are already gathered into glory. The last live to tell the wonderfullest tale of all, and the first are contented to sit and hear the new trophies which the Lamb is winning to himself upon the earth. Their time of telling out the burden of their gratitude and joy was when he took the sealed book, and opened its mysteries, which every creature shrunk from in fearful impotence. Then pealed forth the thunder voice of the cherubim, accompanied with the harps of the throned elders, together singing the song of their election out of all nations, to be the inheritors of the throne of the Lamb; but now sit they silent, in sympathy of soul, hearing the last company of the redeemed clothe with yet more triumphant notes the song of the actings of the Lamb'in redemption of his beloved bride. O my soul! and thy soul, O reader of these thoughts ! be lifted up unto the celebration of this last most glorious act of the redemption of the church. To us it falleth to bring in the most glorious of the trophies of Jesus, won from the deepest, most darksome dungeons of Babylon; souls snatched from the mouth of hell, opened by the beast ascending from the bottomless pit. O ye fellow-soldiers, gird yourselves, gird yourselves, to this the sternest battle of the church, and her most glorious triumph! The enemy cometh rolling in like a flood; the Spirit of the Lord lifteth up a banner against him. Gird ye, gird ye, to the battle, ye sons of the mighty. It is the night; it is the darkest, most perilous hour of the night; and our King sleepeth and taketh his rest, and his enemy cometh in to rob and pillage the treasures of his house. To you is given the honour of defending his chosen habitation; yea, of keeping watch around his bed. " Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold
swords, being expert in war : every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night” (Song iii. 7, 8).
In my former interpretation (p. 318), though I gave the song and the singing of it to the sealed ones, I spake of the voice like many waters as pertaining to the Son of Man, the voice like thunder to the cherubim, and the voice of harpers to the eldersall as it were in accompaniment of the singers—because I found these attributes apportioned in the former visions to these several possessors : but while writing the last paragraph it hath been given me to feel as if these attributes of the Son of Man, the cherubim, and the elders, were intended now to be accumulated altogether upon the company of the sealed singers, in order to set forth that whatever of might and strength and numerous harmony had been used by the church at former times was now concentrated in this last effort of the power of God and the Lamb, through the organs of living men. And it was further brought to my mind, during the meditation of what is written above, that the harpers, presented in the next chapter as standing upon the sea of glass mingled with fire, are the same virgin company of innocents, clothed with the might and majesty of the name of God; but now no longer standing on the summits of the earth, but translated into the region of the firmament above, there to sing out, through the celestial spheres, the song of their deliverance out of Pharaoh's hand, through the Red Sea of blood : for they are the witnesses who seal their testimony with their blood; the man child who overcometh by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; who love not their lives unto the death ; and now, having gotten the victory over the beast and over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, they receive into their hands the harps of God, worthy to accompany the song of God, which those sealed with the name of God alone can sing through all the compass of its various melodies, deep descending as the lake of fire, and rising high as the throne of God; falling low as the weakness of the Lamb led unto the slaughter, and swelling strong as the power of the fulness of the judgment of God Almighty. Oh! what is that song but the song of love; beginning from the turtle's lowly dying plaint, when alone he died of sorrow for his beloved mate, and passing on, through all his experience of anxiety and pain and sorrow, over her strugglings out of the darkness of corruption and death, until, being delivered and ransomed, she ascendeth in her beauty and her strength, and is received with the salutation of God himself, and the joyful acclamation of the heavenly host, The marriage of the Lamb is come.“ And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia : Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God : for true and righteous are his judgments : for he hath