Page images

which were most distant, and yet hostile to the Church. On all these prophecies, evidently not yet fulfilled, little can be conjectured with safety. They are to be handed down to the Church of the latter days, even as those prophecies, which we have seen fulfilled have been delivered to us; and with this consolation, that this "overflowing of iniquity," whenever it arrives, shall be miraculously and completely terminated. (Ezek. xxxix. 6; Isa. xlvii. 13, 14; xxxiii. 14.) And this is the last successful effort of Satan against the Church. He is then consigned to his eternal prison.



The Judgment.

CHAP. XX. ver. 11 to the end.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.


13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

THE Christian Church being now triumphant over its enemies, and the instigator of all mischief being

1 See Mede's Works, p. 280; Abp. Newcome on Ezekiel xxxviii. 2; also Lowth on the same passage.

himself eternally banished, there is no more warfare to relate. Nothing remains but to describe that general judgment, which shall render to every man according to his works; when, immortality succeeding to mortality, death, that "last enemy, shall be destroyed." (1 Cor. xv. 26.) The appearance of the great Judge, before whose " presence the earth and the heaven are seen to flee away;" at whose approach, the former scenery, (as described in ch. iv. &c.) vanishes, and the process of the tribunal, by which the books of crimination and of life are opened, are shortly and sublimely related: and the language, though figurative, being conformable to other passages foretelling this great event, is of easy and obvious interpretation. We may perhaps except from this description ver. 14, wherein death and hell are said to be cast into the lake of fire, called the second death. But this second death will be found explained in note, ch. ii. 11.



The New Creation.

CHAP. XXI. ver. 1-8.

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down

1 Compare Mal. iii. 16, iv. 1; Job xxi. 30; Ps. ix. 17; Dan. vii. 9; xii. 2; Isa. xxviii. 14-19; Matt. xiii. 41, 42; Mark ix. 44; 1 Cor. xv.; Phil. iii. 21; 1 Thess. iv. 16; 2 Thess. i. 7-10; 2 Tim. i. 10; Heb. ii. 14; 1 Pet. iii. 7, 10; Jude 14, 15; also Rev. i. 14, 18; ii. 5; iv. 2, 3; ii. 11; vi. 8; with the notes thereon.

from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall 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. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things And he said unto me, Write; for these words are true and



6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death.

Ver. 1. And I saw a new heaven, &c.] The general judgment having taken place, and the heavens and earth passed away, as described in ch. xx. 11, and also by St. Peter, (2 Pet. iii.) there follow (as mentioned also by the same apostle,) "new heavens and a new earth," foretold likewise by Isaiah, (ch. lxv. and lxvi.) to which St. Peter seems to refer, as to a prophecy unfulfilled. But the apocalyptic prophecy does not rest only upon the general assurance given by former prophets; it proceeds to a more particular description. It presents to us "the new city, the New Jerusalem," " the bride, the spouse' of Christ. Under these images, which are perfectly concordant with many other texts of Scripture, (see Eph. ii. 19, &c.; Gal. iv. 26; Heb. xii. 22, &c. ; viii. 2; ix. 11; xi. 10; 1 Pet. ii. 5; iii. 13, &c.; 1 Cor. iii. 9.) is represented that assembly of the saints, purified from sin; that glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle," which is here co

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

trasted with the great, the impure, 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, under which symbol she is more especially represented in the remaining part of this chapter.

Ib. There was no more sea.] This should be translated 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 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

1 See notes, ch. xvii. 1; xix. 7, 8.

2 See note, ch. iii. 12.

3 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 component parts are mentioned at the creation, so again at the dissolution, of the world.

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 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, (ch. xix. 9,) the angel, who accompanied the prophet during that vision, had addressed him in nearly the same words.' 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. 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

1 See the note, which is intended to show their purport.
2 As in ch. i. 19.

« PreviousContinue »