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The difference of position, whether living or dying, being all-important—in Christ or out of Christ. “ Know ye not,” says Paul, “that so many of us, as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ?” And again, “For if we be planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection," (Rom. vi. 3, 5.) And again, Rom. vii. 4, “ Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ ;” and Gal. ii. 19, 20, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God; I am crucified with Christ.” So, Col. ïi. 20, “Wherefore, if ye are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, [the elements of the legal system,] why, as though living in the world, [as still under a dispensation of works,) are ye subject to ordinances ?"
There is a baptism in a natural sense, and a baptism in a spiritual sense ; the first being a figure or symbol of the last. So there is a death and a burial in a natural sense, and a death and a burial in a spiritual sense; the first being here also a figure of the last. In divine estimation, the disciple is accounted to be identified with his Saviour; to have participated in his death, sufferings, and crucifixion ; which operation in the mind of God seems to be contemplated by the apostle as a baptism into the death of Christ ;* a being dead with him—a being crucified with him. So those who die in the Lord may be those who, while they are yet living in a natural sense, are accounted, in divine estimation, to have been crucified with Christ; in him, having paid the penalty of the law, and being now in him delivered from the law. In this then consists the blessedness of being dead in Christ; that it is a position in the sight of God resulting from his own act of grace, in which the disciple is exempt from the curse or penalty of the law ; not that he is thenceforth without a rule of conduct, but that his motive of conduct, as we have already described, ($ 324,) is changed; for as in Christ he is dead to the law, so in Christ he is raised to a new position of lifea position of freedom ; at the same time, one of grateful obedience.
There are, it is true, in a spiritual sense, those who are dead in trespasses and sins, even while they live in a natural sense, but these are not the dead in Christ ; they are out of Christ, whether living or dying; and in that position they must be subject to all the curse and penalty of legal condemnation; but the lamentable character of their case renders the blessedness of the opposite class the more striking. “Blessed,” says the Psalmist, “ is he whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered ;" a blessed
* To this spiritual baptism allusion is made 1 Peter iii. 21, not, (as the apostle apparently intends to be understood,) the cleansing of the flesh in a natural sense, but that spiritual cleansing, through the imputed identity of the disciple with Christ, in his death, burial, and resurrection, which results in the cleansing of the conscience towards God, συνειδήσεως αγαθής επερώτημα εις θεόν.
ness which would hardly call for notice, if those were equally favoured whose transgressions were not forgiven, and whose sins were not covered.
• From henceforth.'— This seems to have a reference to what had been just before declared of the destruction of the elements of the beast's kingdom, or rather of the manifestation of their torture, and want of rest; the consequence of which exhibition is the contrary blessedness of the elements of the kingdom of the Lamb, those that die in the Lord; the exposure of error being a means of developing the truth. The voice from heaven utters a general proposition, applicable to all who die in the Lord, (whether principles or human beings.) Apocalyptically, it may apply to the elements of the gospel, personified as disciples, and taken as opposites of the worshippers of the beast and his image. Thus the manifestation of the torture and want of rest, peculiar to one class of doctrinal elements, is the means of bringing to light the characteristics of blessedness and rest peculiar to the other class.
$ 338. “Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours.'— This language of the Spirit seems to be uttered as a response to that of the voice from heaven ; perhaps we may say, the voice from heaven is the written revelation, which shows, as in the writings of Paul, from which we have been quoting, the blessedness of being dead in Christ; while the language of the Spirit is the spiritual construction to be put upon the written revelation, showing that the blessedness of those that die in the Lord consists in the change of position before adverted to. They are happy in being taken out of a position of labour, and being placed in a position of rest— not in a state of inactivity, as in the grave, but by this death itself being translated to a new state or position of life, or of being—as the apostle says, Rom. vi. 8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him ;” to be dead with or in Christ implying this consequent life with or in him—dead indeed unto sin, or as to the transgression of the law, but alive unto God—that is, living unto God, as those devoting themselves from a sentiment of gratitude to his service. This we suppose to be the rest of the dead in Christ; for the rest of mere inaction could hardly be termed blessed. A state of happiness or blessedness, implies a state of life capable of enjoying such happiness ; so, if to be dead in Christ is to be blessed or happy, to be dead in Christ is also to be alive with him ; as it is said, (Col. iii. 3,) Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. In fine, to be dead in Christ is to be brought into the position of rest; and to be brought into the position of rest, is to be brought into that of grateful devotion to the service of our heavenly Benefactor.*
* And [but] their works they follow with them.'—The position of
* To this position of rest we suppose allusion to be made, Heb. iv. 9: There remaineth, therefore, a rest, (oapariguos,) a sabbatism, (a Sabbath, in a spiritual sense,) for the people of God ;-a position of exemption from the labour of fulfilling the law, spiritual rest in Christ is illustrated by the condition of natural rest enjoyed by the Israelites in the promised land, which however was only a type or symbol of that which we have been contemplating ; “For if,” says Paul, (Heb. iv. 8–11,)“ Joshua had given them rest, (spiritual rest,) then he (God) would not have spoken concerning another day (of rest) after those things; consequently, there remaineth a sabbatism (a spiritual position of rest) to the people of God : for he (Christ) entering into his rest, rested from his works, (of redemption,) as God also rested from his works, (of creation ;) let us therefore (as followers of Jesus, the spiritual Joshua) hasten (by faith) to enter into that rest, (of Christ,) that no one fall, in or by an unbelief :'* corresponding with the typical want of faith of the ancient Hebrewsma type or example just before enlarged upon. Such we believe to be the proper construction of the original; the labour or striving contemplated by the apostle being an act of faith, enabling the disciple to apprehend his true position. Otherwise than this, he is exhorted to cease from his own work ; that is, 10 cease from going about to establish his own righteousness,—to cease, not from action, but from acting from servile and mercenary motives. Accordingly, in the passage before us, the works of those dying in Christ, and resting from their labours, follow them, instead of going, as it were, before them. They do not constitute a condition precedent of their enjoyment of this privilege of identity with Christ; they are the thank-offerings resulting from it. The subjects of this rest are not slothful or unfruitful : they thus judge, that if one died for all," he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again,” (2 Cor. v. 15.) Their works evince their gratitude, and this evidence of their gratitude is the evidence of their faith, corresponding with symbolized by the Levitical Sabbath-symbolized also, we may say, by the setting apart of the seventh day from the creation of the world. So, as the Israelites could not enter into the rest of the promised land because of unbelief, the disciple cannot enjoy the rest we have described iu Christ, without faith in him, (trust in his imputed merits,) as the only means of salvation. As the Israelite was prohibited even the gathering of sticks on the Sabbath, so the follower of Christ is required to renounce even the least dependence upon any work of his own, as a means of entering into the spiritual rest, (the position of rest,) provided by the work of the Redeemer. A mixture of pretensions in this respect, is of the same character as that symbolized by the mixture of abominations in the harlot's cup; the mixed composition of garments of different materials, the spotted skin of the leopard, &c., &c.
Jehovah will not divide with another the glory of man's salvation; and to this point the symbolic representations of Scripture appear especially intended to direct our attention.
* Ηeb. iv. 8-11. Ει γάρ αυτούς 'Ιησούς κατέπαυσεν, ουκ αν περί άλλης ελάλει μετά ταύτα ημέρας. 'Αρα απολείπεται σαββατισμός τω λαώ του θεού. “ο γαρ εισέλ. θών εις την κατάπαισιν αυτού και αυτός κατέπαυσεν από των έργων αυτού, ώςπερ από των ιδίων και θεός. Σπουδάσωμεν ούν ειςελθείν εις εκείνην την κατάπαυσιν, ίνα μή εν τω αυτώ τις υποδείγματι πέση της απεθείας. .
the proof of faith alluded to by the apostle, James ii. 18: "Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” Such we suppose to be the operation of faith with enlightened followers of Christ; and, apocalyptically, we take the elements of doctrine opposed to those of the beast's kingdom to be of a corresponding character.
V. 14. And I looked, and behold, a Και είδον, και ιδού νεφέλη λευκή, και επί white cloud, and upon the cloud (one) sat tip reqéhny zatyuevov čuolov vių av 90like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a
που, έχων επί της κεφαλής αυτού στέφανον sharp sickle.
χρυσούν και εν τη χειρί αυτού δρέπανον οξύ. . $ 339. And I looked, and behold;'or, I saw, and lo!—This turn of expression is the same as that used at the commencment of the chapter ; it appears to indicate a new scene, or a certain change of scene. The apostle had been contemplating the action, and had heard the messages of three angels or heralds, uttering their respective annunciations,—the approaching development of the gospel mystery, the fall of Babylon, and the final trial of the worshippers and servants of the beast. That vision had closed with a didactic enunciation of a general proposition, an inference from what had just before been revealed; something in the manner of an epilogue or com mentary-the moral of the narratives and descriptions just finished. In which view, perhaps, it may be taken out of the general rule as applicable to principles, so as to apply it directly to the circumstances of disciples; as if it were said, “ Hear the sum of the whole matter : Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, &.c.” A new spectacle now presents itself.
'A white cloud.'—A very different exhibition from that which engaged the apostle's attention, when he stood upon the sand of the sea. Clouds we have supposed to be symbolic of the figurative language and illustrations of Scripture revelation, ($ 18.) Dark clouds are such as scarcely indicate the Saviour; the rays of the Sun of righteousness being hardly perceptible in the picture presented. The legal dispensation itself considered a cloud of this description. A bright cloud, however, we may consider such a symbolical exhibition as admits of strong indications of the light of divine righteousness; indications of the approaching manifestation of him who is a sun and shield. The gospel, so far as it is expressed in figurative language, may be considered a bright cloud. This Apocalypse, misunderstood, or but imperfectly understood, may appear a dark cloud; whereas, whenever it is properly and spiritually understood, it will appear indeed a white cloud. "And upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man.'-One
appearing in the form of a man ; as he who, although so identic with God that he thought it not robbery to profess himself equal with the Father, took upon himself the form of a servant, and became in fashion as a man, (Phil. ii. 8.)
may be The same form was seen, Rev. i. 13, in the midst of the golden candlesticks. It was seen too in the fiery furnace by the king of Babylon, Dan. iii. 25. The same form was also seen by Daniel in the night visions ; one like the Son of man, to whom was given dominion and glory, and a kingdoman everlasting dominion not to pass away, and a kingdom never to be destroyed, Dan, vii. 13 and 14. This form also was seen by the prophet to come with the clouds of heaven. Of the same it is said, Rev. i. 7,
Behold, he cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him : and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” So Jesus himself speaks of his own coming, Matt. xxiv. 30: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven : and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;" and Luke xxi. 27, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power
and great glory.” So it was said of the same Son of man, Acts i. 11, when a cloud received him out of the sight of his apostles, “ This same Jesus, which taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner (that is, in a cloud) as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Perhaps we may say, as in a natural sense he was taken up from his followers in a material cloud, so in a spiritual sense he is to manifest himself in the cloud of symbolic revelation : being manifest the second time to the eye of faith without sin unto salvation, as the Lord our righteousness, the overcoming principle—the principle of sovereign grace. The apostle may be said to have seen in vision this second coming of the Son of man, as he unveils himself in effect in this Apocalypse from amidst a cloud of figurative representation.
$ 340. “Having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.'-This crown, it will be observed, is of the kind allotted to conquerors at the games, as a token of victory. The crown is of gold, as the composition of the spiritual crown is of truth. The truth, as it is in Jesus, wherever it is seen, manifests him to be the victor, having led captivity captive, Eph. iv. 8; as in the great contest between Michael and the dragon, or between the element of propitiation and that of accusation. That contest in heaven has terminated, but the corresponding contest on earth, between the elements of truth and falsehood, remains to be brought to a close.
The termination of this latter contest is now about to be exhibited under the figure of a harvest and vintage; the destruction of the kingdom of the beast, the fall of Babylon, and this harvest and vintage, being figures nearly equivalent in their results.
The portion of the vision in this and the subsequent verses of this chapter, appears to correspond with the description given of the end of the world, Matt. xiii. 37-43, except that, in that account, the Son of man is said to send forth his angels to reap; while here, he is exhibited as coming himself