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leopards,” from the abodes of destructive vices and squalid wretchedness. Come, drink of this river which makes "glad the city of our God.” Its waters flow by your side. They are “nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart,” whosoever you are, and wheresoever you may be. 'Tis life to drink! 'Tis death
. to refuse !
I observe, fourth, that the water of the river is clear as crystal. It is a delightsome condition to which you are called, when invited to come to these waters, to partake of the life which is there,—the life of the Spirit of Life! What so delightsome to the eye as cloudless brightness ? “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun!” As that tiny cloud on a summer's eve, floating in happy repose, reflects and rejoices in the light of the sinking sun, so the soul of the sanctified one, refreshed and replenished, rejoices with heavenly joy in partaking of this water of life, clear as crystal. Thus the seventy elders on the heights of Sinai, brought near to the God of Israel, and permitted to eat and drink in His presence, saw “under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the very body of heaven in his clearness."
The Spirit of God is the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.” His revelations of Him, and of all truth concerning Him, are “clear as crystal.” In the river of the water of life, there are no dangerous depths, no deadly reptiles, no defiling things. All is translucent and pure; not even the minutest atoms, as seen floating in the sunbeam, or embedded in the amber, can be discovered, to tarnish the crystal purity of these living waters. In these waters there are revealed wonders of grace and glory, bright and manifold :—the everlasting love of God, who spared not His well-beloved Son, but gave Him to the death for us all; the advent of Christ, according to the eternal purpose of the Godhead ; his obedience, sufferings, death, resur
1 rection, and all the glory which followed; the gift of the Spirit and His effectual operation in applying the work of Christ-in accomplishing the purpose of the Father; the mystery of God in His dealings with His people—their creation in Christ, their adoption, sanctification, preservation, deliverance, and eternal glory. Standing on the banks of this river, “clear as crystal,” and beholding with delight and wonder the exceeding glory of its perfections, the soul is forced to exclaim, “O the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”
II. The throne with its occupants—“ The throne of God and of the Lamb." I observe
First, that in the vision there was but one throne. When Solomon desired to show special honour to his mother, hə caused a seat to be set for her at his right hand. The king sat in regal splendour and dignity on his own throne, and his mother by his side on hers. But in this vision we have not two thrones, but one only. It is the “ the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The throne, also, “of the Lamb and of God.” Such was the sight upon which the eye of the beloved disciple was made to rest. We ask, had Heaven always seen it so ? In the Court of the Highest, had the display of majesty been always after this fashion ? Let Scripture answer. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Then it was “the throne of God and of the Word.” “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Every good conferred – intellectual, moral, physical — emanated from Him; to Him all was to be traced as the source. It is the same throne, and the same occupants, which appear to John in this vision. The changed condition of man, whose “light” He once was, has given occasion to a new manifestation of the glory of the Eternal Word. Darkness had fallen on men, and though the light shined in darkness, the darkness comprehended it not. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, and some beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. He was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. Through death He destroyed him that had the power of death. He spoiled principalities and powers, triumphing over them in His cross. Thence He ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. He overcame, and sat down with the Father in His throne. There John beheld Him the Lamb who had been slain, but was alive for evermore. The throne in the vision was the “ throne of God and of the Lamb!”
Second–The throne had but one river. God and the Lamb have but one Spirit. The relation of the ever blessed Spirit to the Father and the Son, is described in the volume of the book, by the term “proceeding" from them. The relation, so described, has existed in the persons of the Godhead from eternity. Before
any part of creation was called into being, it was so. Although the universe had never been formed, it would have been so. Creation was not the occasion of the mysterious relation subsisting between the persons of the triune Jehovah. Nor was the redemption of man the occasion of it. It was not an expedient intended to meet either case. Essential to the Divine nature, the grand distinction of that ineffable glory, the relation has been from eternity and is unchangeable unto eternity. But Creation gave occasion for the manifestation of this glory of the person of God; so also did Redemption. Both reveal the character of Him who is over all, blessed for ever, and therefore make known the distinctive relations, offices, and operations of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God writes His “ name” on all His works, and His works are done that He may on them inscribe that “name.” Whether, therefore, we examine the wonders of creation and providence, or the still more glorious wonders of redemption, we shall find that the record is uniform in its terms. It always declares that God the Father purposes and appoints all things, that God the Son executes and sustains all things, that God the Spirit sanctifies and perfects all things; and yet, so as not to interfere with the truth of the unity of the Godhead, or to assume that what one person does, the other does not. When the Son assumed our nature—when He took upon Him the “seed of Abraham” in fulfilment of God's eternal purpose as to the salvation of a lost world, in the subordinate capacity in which He then appeared He required special qualifications for the office which He filled. Those qualifications were communicated by the Spirit. Whether we speak of the body prepared for Him, of the grandest development of His mental and corporeal powers, of the wisdom which distinguished Him in all His life, or of the patient submission which He manifested before His baptism, and entry on His public ministry,-equally true is it, that the communications of the Spirit, without measure, alone supplied the qualifications by which He peformed His active ministry upon earth ;—the power which He exercised in working miracles, the divine richness of His doctrine, His constancy in enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, His willing obedience unto death without the faintest sinful emotion or action, His triumph on the cross; and His resurrection and ascension. . And not less true is this, when we speak of the authority and government which He exercises in heaven for accomplishing, to its final issues, the great work of His mediatorial reign. In Him the Spirit dwells as the Head of the Church. So He is the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and from this fulness we all receive. God Himself is the eternal Fountain of all blessing. The eyes of all wait on Him, and He supplies them. That fountain which was justly closed to us by sin, has been opened again by the meritorious and mighty interference of Him whom the Father hath sent. It has pleased Him that Christ should be the fountain of all blessing to angels and to men. The occupants of the throne are the Father and the Son. The Spirit glorifies the Son. He does so by receiving of His, and by conveying, communicating, applying, and making effectual and available the blessings of His fulness, according to His will, to the objects of His love. The Spirit is the river proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. The Father's eternal love provides the floods of grace; the merits of the Son, as Mediator, secures our righteous claim to them; the offices of the Holy Ghost make believers to partake of them. Behold the council of the undivided Godhead — the unity of operation, with the distinctiveness of persons ! Ever blessed Fountain! Ever blessed Opener of that Fountain ! Ever blessed River, by which the treasures of the Fountain are conveyed to us! Who would not adore this thrice-glorious name—who would not worship at the footstool of this throne !
And so it is that grace reigns. Grace is sovereign. Grace is on the throne. The triune Jehovah is the God of grace. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The law once reigned as the way of life, ere sin entered. It still reigns, but not as the way of life to sinners. It is weak, through the flesh, for that high end. But what the law could not do for that reason, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin (as a sin-offering), condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in sinners who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. What grace is here! It reigns—it abounds—and that even to the chief of sinners, yet “not of works, lest any man should boast,” but of free favour of rich, unchallengeable mercy,
And this great salvation is a public good. The throne which the vision reveals is the throne of the God who made each of
it is the throne of the Lamb who is the propitiation not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world, -not the Jew only, but also the Gentile, the Barbarian, the Scythian, the bond and the free! The River is not a private aqueduct; it flows not through some conserved limits, within which the privileged few only are permitted to appear. It is a river which has flowed from the beginning, which has not been fenced off nor enclosed, -neither, indeed, can or shall be, and which shall continue to roll its ever-increasing volume, onwards and onwards, through every land,-open and free to all who will partake of it. This we proclaim! The Spirit and the Bride have said “Come ;” and the sin of all invited hearers of the Gospel is, that they have hitherto refused to come; that they have rejected Christ and His fulness; that they have done or are doing despite to the Spirt of Grace. Return; come!
How full of comfort is the state of those who have closed with the offer of the Gospel, and have been made partakers of the pure “river of the water of life, clear as crystal !” Their salvation is of God. Their security is His eternal throne. He that would destroy their hope must overthrow that throne. Nothing short of this can avail to injure them.
“Ho ! ye that thirst, approach the spring
Where living waters flow :
Without a price, may go."