Page images

judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white : for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriagesupper

of the Lamb” (Rev. xix. 1-9). What a diapason is this, whose first deep note of anguish and sorrow burst from the broken heart of Jesus upon the cross; whose last full trumpet note of triumph is sounded forth in these words, which fill the bounds of the creation of God! Methinks also that other notes of this song of God are found in other parts of this book, parallel in respect of time with that now before us. Such is that upon the sounding of the seventh angel, when there were great voices in heaven, saying, “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever;" and that other, upon the casting out of Satan from the heavens, in virtue of the faithful testimony of the Man-child company, when " I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens,

that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath; because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. xii. 10–12). But from these enjoyments let us return to our labour of interpretation, which, though a labour, is yet a labour of love.

The next feature in the description of the hundred forty and four thousand, is expressed in these words : “ These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins ;” whereof the meaning is reflected to us at once from these words of chap. xvii. 1, 2: “Come hither: I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore, that sitteth upon many waters; with whom

and ye

the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” But these servants of God have not been so polluted, having clean escaped the pollutions of the apostate church, through the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The remnant; all they who, having come out from under the oppression of the harlot city, do likewise escape the judgments which the Lord hath decreed against her. In the words under consideration, however, it is not Babylon herself, the great whore, but the women or churches who are virtually her daughters, though they know and acknowledge it not. These women I believe to be the churches of this and other lands, which, under their several pastors, have sold themselves again into the bondage of Babylon, from which they had been redeemed. Of whom it may

well be said, " It had een better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and, the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter ii. 21, 22). The women, I say, with whom these virgins have not defiled themselves, are the harlot churches of this and other lands; out of whose foul embrace these saints of God having been delivered, do keep themselves pure and holy unto the Lamb, following Him whithersoever he leadeth. It is so beyond a question, that the great body, almost the whole, of the churches of Christ in this land, where I believe the sealing chiefly proceedeth, have within these few years declared themselves to be haters of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, denying his work in the flesh, his work in the Spirit, and the hope of his coming in glory to reign on the earth. In Scotland, where the discipline of the church, openly exercised, gives open manifestation of the spirit actuating the body, it hath been clearly made to appear that hardly one minister within the land hath boldness to set the word of God in its place of sovereign judgment over the words of men, but do allow those faithful witnesses whom God hath raised up to be smitten and cast forth without mercy, and almost without a hearing; and I believe it to be fully as bad, if not worse, with the church in England under the established forms, and also with the Dissenting churches both in England and in Scotland. There may be found here and there a solitary exception. I know not one pastor, or one church, of a truly faithful uncompromising character, which hath not either been cast out, or against which proceedings are not already begun. These churches, leaning either upon Articles as their foundation, or upon confederacies of living men, are the women from whom these sealed ones must keep themselves holy and pure. They must not call

themselves by their names, they must strike no covenant with them of any kind, they must come out from them and be separate, that the Lord their God may dwell amongst them. Those to whom God is discovering the wickedness and miserable. bondage of that minister and church with whom they worship and communicate, ought to lie open to the light, and manifest it forth in love of the brethren, by a faithful testimony to the things which God revealeth in their heart; and if they be restrained of this liberty of love, and forbidden to believe or utter the faithful and true testimony of Jesus, they must not keep silence, but only be the more bold to convince the gainsayers. For I hold it to be both the indefeasible right and the bounden duty of every man to give thanks unto the Lord, to call upon his name, and make known his deeds among the people : a man may not hide the doings of the Lord within his own heart; he hath a dispensation of the Gospel committed to him; he must not lock


the secret of salvation from the ears of any perishing sinner, or the blood of that man is on his head. Ah! it is thus that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and we must not love our lives unto the death. Then shall it come to pass that the whale shall vomit forth Jonah, when the beast is disturbed by the living prophet in its bowels. The churches will cast out the children of God, with their gold and silver, and their precious stones, as Egypt thrust Israel out. And when the spoiler hat! us been spoiled of all her heavenly treasures, of all her holy relics truly so called, of all the precious remnant, she shall be given up as a prey to the king of Assyria ; according to the name of the prophet's child, “Maher-shalal-hash-baz, in making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey.The reinnant being thus separated from the defilement of the churches, must not thereupon think that they are free from Babylon, which they will find ensphering them like the air, and entering into them in every breath of life. Slight indeed and few are the bands of Babylon which the pastor of a church knitteth upon the people, compared with those which are woven into the finest tissues of the mind and of the heart, as well as the strong bands and confederacies of social life in the evil heart of unbelief, which will not admit the word of God till it be reduced to the measure of our own desires and hopes and opinions. In the heavenly regions of the mind, which Satan hath filled with twilight, wherein do fit about the shapes of fear; in the home and house of familiar affections, where the flesh doth make her sanctuary of love, for self to worship and to be worshipped in ; in the fields of daily labour and business and pleasure and profit and ambition : ah me! in these intwining, interlacing threads and webs and nets and mazes of human life, as it existeth amongst us, admired, adored, and consecrated

[blocks in formation]

by a lying church ; praised in psalms and hymns fresh flowing from the souls of earthly men ; ministered to by a thousand priests, in the presence of applauding congregations :-oh! here, here, is the Babylon that I have to fight against, within myself and round about me; every where hindering me from entering into my high calling; leading me to doubt the words of my God, and to interpret them according to a fashion of thought and speech, and not by the jots and tittles in which they are written, by the Spirit of imperishable truth by which they are to be interpreted. Ah! he doth greatly deceive himself who thinketh that by being cast out of the visible church he is escaped altogether from the fowler's snare and the noisome pestilence. The flesh he beareth about with him is the strength of the pestilence, and the mind in which he rangeth is the domain of the airy fowler ; and from them both is there no deliverance, save by the faith of Him who from flesh and mind of man expelled both the noisome pestilence and the fowler's snare. Which faith of Jesus—our Samson Agonistes, our Wrestler strong, our Deliverer from the pit and the fear and the snare—if a man holdeth fast and liveth upon, then shall that man, to his amazement, find his mind freed from the shapes of fear, and filled with heavenly forms of truth; his flesh and heart freed from the perilous load of disease, and filled with the streams of holy love. Ah! this defilement with women is in the soul; it is the seduction of the heart: it is that st which a man knoweth when he is in love (not when he loveth, but when he is in love) with any woman-a condition not known till it be felt-an all-possessing, all-engrossing affection, stronger than death, and more devouring than the grave. Oh! he is led captive, like the young man in the twilight by the harlot, who goeth out to meet with him. “ He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life” (Prov. vii. 22, 23). Such I believe to be the spell-bound condition of all Christendom, save those whom God is disabusing and undeceiving, and preparing for the seal of the Father. I had no notion of it. I thought, I vainly thought, that because the ministers of the churches were waned from their strength, Babylon was therefore fallen from hers over the hearts of men; but now I see that the snare, and the fear, and the pit, and the seduction, and the lie, and the bonds, and the fetters, are all but omnipotent over the people; and nothing can deliver them but the preaching of Christ's crucifixion of the flesh by abiding in the flesh, and his working resurrection life in us by his coming in the Spirit.

“For they are virgins.”—These virgins, presented to us here under the figure of the number one hundred and forty-four thou

sand, are but the parts and members of that woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and having on her head a crown of twelve stars; pregnant with, and about to give birth to, the man child which is to rule all nations with a rod of iron (chap. xii.). And their virginity hath respect unto the harlot churches, and not unto the unmarried state; for truly they are the bride of the Lamb, following him whithersoever he leadeth ; married to him as a chaste virgin, and even now big with the hope of the ruler of the nations, the man child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. What was personally fulfilled in the blessed virgin is to be ecclesiastically fulfilled in these one hundred and forty-four thousand, who shall give birth to the Emmanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh, in the holiness and power of the witnesses. But first the church must return to virgin purity, putting away the defilements of the flesh and the spirit, the harlotry of the world and the chief men thereof: which God is even now accomplishing by the faith of Christ's holiness in our flesh through the Spirit, and our holiness in the same flesh through the same Spirit. The faith of this truth will bring the church back again into the holiness of Christ's flesh ; whereupon she shall be meet mother of that Emmanuel, or man child, or manifestation of the Father and Son by the Spirit in the church, which is to accomplish the great and mighty work of God in these latter days. I believe that, as the Virgin Mary gave birth to the Son of God in the flesh, who manifested forth the grace and truth of the Father, but executed no judgment and inflicted no wrath ; so the one hundred and forty-four thousand virgins shall give birth to the spiritual Emmanuel, which is the rod of God's great power to smite the nations withal : and this I durst not have said, unless the Spirit, who teacheth all things, had said it to me and to many; nor durst I have believed it, unless I had seen that the xiith chapter of the Revelations is intended to teach it; where the seed of the woman, the man child, consisting of many persons, who overcome, is caught up to the throne of God, thence to wield the thunders of its power against the dragon and his angels, and cast them down from heaven. Thence stepping back to the original prophecy of the virgin and the virgin's Child, as contained in the viith, viii th, and ix th chapters of the prophecy of Isaiah, we have been taught to believe that the prophecy therein expressed had but its germinating accomplishment in the work of Jesus in the days of his flesh, and shall have its full accomplishment in these our days, by the sealing of these virgins, and their bearing of the man child ; who shall have in him both the Father and the Son, to put forth in the sight of men the glorious attribute of both. Though the life of the Son of God in the flesh was virtually Satan triumphed over, yet 'really and actually it was Satan bruising the heel of the

« PreviousContinue »