Imágenes de páginas

earth through the instrumentality of the beast ; this instrument being destroyed, his dominion was manifested to be restricted to a certain position : out of this position, he no sooner exerts his power against the divine provision of redemption than he is immediately cast down-manifested to be exposed to that action of the revealed word, which consumes him with an everlasting burning.

Something analogous to this, we think, may be familiar to the mind of the experienced Christian disciple. While believing himself under the law, he sees the adversary of his soul in power, even in heaven. Having made greater progress in the knowledge of religious truth, but still going about to establish a righteousness of his own, under a mistaken apprehension of the gospel economy, he feels himself under the dominion of the beast and under the influence of the false prophet, forming within his own heart an image of his fancied moral perfection, to which he is ascribing the glory of his eternal salvation. Delivered from this delusion, contemplating the Word, the Lamb of God, as the King of kings and the only Redeemer, Jehovah his righteousness, he lives and reigns with Christ, (Gal. ii. 20, Rom. v. 17,) enjoying a millennial rest, in perfect confidence that the power of the adversary is confined to a position of an entirely different character from that in which, by sove

vereign grace, he has himself been placed. No sooner, however, is there a wavering of his faith in the sufficiency of his Redeemer's merits, than he sees Satan released from his confinement, and he trembles lest the provision of redeeming mercy (the beloved city) should be incapable of withstanding the power of the legal adversary, with the elements of condemnation arrayed against him. In this state of apprehension, nothing can allay his fears but a right understanding of the revealed word of God, (the fire from God out of heaven.) This understanding possessed, Satan is seen, not only as lightning falling from heaven, but also as cast into the lake of fire-as exposed to the never-ending trial of the test of divine revelation.

Although the accuser however is removed, the systems connected with his power are supposed to be still remaining. As if it were urged, that without the fear of legal condemnation, as without the motive of self-interest, the disciple would not bring forth works to the glory of God. From the necessity of impelling the performance of these works, therefore, the systems or mysteries represented by death and hell, must remain in operation.

To manifest the inconsistency of this theory with God's purpose of grace, all principles and all works of man and of human systems are represented as called into judgment, and especially the principles and works peculiar to the two systems just mentioned. All of these works or principles are judged by the law and the testimony ; those not belonging to, or emanating from, the economy of grace, being condemned to destruction, as by the fire des

tined to try every man's work of what sort it is. The law, for example, requires the love of God in the heart, as the moving principle of action; and the economy of grace was formed to implant this love of God. Every principle in accordance with this requisition, and every work proceeding from it, will be found therefore in the Book of Life, as a component part of the plan of redemption ; and every work, or device, or principle, not proceeding from this love, will be manifested to have no part in the volume of the divine purpose. Such must be the case with the systems Death and Hell, and with all their elements. As it was said of the Pharisees of old, they have not the love of God in them ; they are therefore in this judgment condemned in toto, and accordingly share the fate of the accuser himself.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed, it is said 1 Cor. xv. 26, is death. To this stage of apocalyptic narration we have now arrived. Death and hell, as well as the legal adversary, are cast into the lake of fire. The power

of Christ has been exhibited in this vision, until he is seen to have “ brought all things under his feet.” As the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, we have seen him prevailing to open the sealed book, the secret purpose of the Most High, (the mystery hid in God, Eph. iii. 9, Col. i. 26 ;) having redeemed his people by his own blood, and by the same blood overcoming the power of accusation even in the councils of heaven, (284.) We have seen him, as the Word of God, victorious over all the pretensions of the earthly system,-manifesting the power of his name, and establishing the verity of the declaration that there is no other name given amongst men by which we can be saved than that of the King of kings ; and we have seen him exalted on the throne of divine sovereignty, exercising the prerogative of judgment, and manifesting the subjection of all things to his will. We are now, accordingly, prepared to see him deliver up the kingdom unto the Father, that God may be manifested to be all in all, (1 Cor. xv. 28;) or, which is the same thing, we are now prepared to see the Lamb, the Word, and the Everlasting Father, identified as the one God over all, blessed for evermore, (Is. ix. 6, Rom. ix. 5.)

The earth and the heaven heretofore contemplated as existing having fled away, the judicial visitations of the sixth seal have terminated.

The millennial rest enjoyed by the souls beheaded for the witness of Jesus, accomplishes the promised judgment of the fifth seal.

Death and Hell are now deprived of the power given them over the fourth part of the earth at the opening of the fourth seal.

Babylon being utterly consumed-cast down never to rise again—the mercenary system is ended. The rider of the black horse, under the third seal, no more wields his balances, or makes a traffic of the means of eternal life.

The accuser (the dragon) with his vicegerent (the beast) and the prime

minister of that vicegerent (the false prophet) having gone into perdition, the rider of the fiery-red horse, under the second seal, deprived of his a great sword,” has no longer the faculty of taking peace from the earth. The conflicting elements of self-righteousness having perished with their leaders, it is no longer given “ that they should kill one another," as heretofore. The mountain of the Lord's house is now being established on the top of the mountains, (of the new earth.) “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of God from Jerusalem.” For this reason " nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," (Is. xi. 2-4.)

Of all the powers personified as combatants in the sixth chapter, the Rider of the white horse, seen at the opening of the first seal, alone remains unconquered—still conquering and to conquer; or, rather, he alone is victorious. His invincible bow, ($ 147,) wielded by his own right arm, (his righteousness,) “ has gotten him the victory.” The garment dipped in the blood of the Lamb is manifested to be the vesture of Jehovah of Hosts, (8°432 ;) the exhibition of this truth, (en forced by the sword from the mouth of the Word,) overcoming the pretender and his forces, in the field of manifestation, as the power of the dragon and his angels had been previously overcome by Michael and bis angels. The crown, the token and earnest of his success, first given to the conqueror, is now exchanged for a multitude of diadems; bis power is unlimited ; he has received the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for bis possession. His dominion extends from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, (Ps. Ixii. 8 :) wbile, with the element of divine sovereignty, he rules the nations (the Gentile principles of the worldly system) as with a rod of iron.

All elements of opposition to man's redemption, and to the glory of the Saviour, having been thus overcome ; or rather the manifestation of this triumph having been completed, it follows, as a matter of course, entire new state of things is to be exhibited ; this new exhibition corresponding with the change in the position of the disciple spoken of 2 Cor. v. 17, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature ; old things are passed away, all things are become new.” According to his advancement in faith the disciple sees himself in a new position. The reign of self within his own mind having been first terminated, he sees the enemies of his soul vanquished and overcome by the power of Christ : casting himself upon the righteousness of his Saviour, with him the old heaven and the old earth bave passed away ; he has now found a resting place, (Jer. 1. 6,) and breathes a new atmosphere

that an




V. 1. And I saw a new heaven and a Και είδον ουρανόν καινόν και γήν καιnew earth: for the first heaven and the νην· ο γαρ πρώτος ουρανός και η πρώτη first earth were passed away; and there

γη απήλθον, και η θάλασσα ουκ έστιν έτι. was no more sea.

§ 463. “And I saw,' &c.—The break occasioned by the division of chapters here is not to be noticed. The scene is a continuation of that described at the close of the last chapter. The white throne, and Him that sat upon it, is still in view ;-we have seen the fate of one class of those brought before the great tribunal; we are now to witness that of an opposite class. The difference, however, does not seem to arise so much from the character of the individuals composing these classes, as from the circumstances under which they are judged. In order to change the sentence, the whole state of things is changed—every thing wears a new aspectexcepting only the one unchangeable Being, who himself is the author of the change, and who remains still seated on his throne, (v. 5.)

We are not to suppose an interval of time between the fleeing away of the old heaven and earth, and the appearance of the new. The change is instantaneous, as in the twinkling of an eye; the disciple is seen in a new position, and the whole scheme of divine government appears in a new light. It is sufficient here to refer to the definition already given of the terms heaven and earth. We repeat only, that we suppose heaven to represent a view of the principles of divine government; and the earth a view of man's position under that government. Both of these views are afforded by the written revelation contained in the sacred Scriptures; the old views being those derived from an ordinary or literal construction of that Revelation, and the new views those obtained from a spiritual construction of it. The old heaven represented the Deity dealing with man on the principles of strict justice only ; the new heaven represents the divine government on the principle of grace. The old earth exhibited man's position out of Christ, dependent upon his own merits ; the new earth represents his position in Christ. Both the new earth and the new heaven concur in repre

senting the disciple as a new creature in Christ. The written revelation remains the same, but the construction put upon it differs ; as the apostle says,

I saw heaven new and earth new; the same things created over again, or made new; that is, contemplated in a new light: a change apparently referred to, Matt. xix. 28, as the regeneration in which the Son of man sits on the throne of his glory.

One result of this change we have already seen to be the judgment of the systems death and hell, and the condemnation of their dead works. In the new state of things, except the declaration that “there shall be no more death,” &c., (ver. 4,) they are not mentioned ; neither do we perceive any thing more said of the three other peculiar objects of divine indignation, the beast, the false prophet, and Satan ; they do not even come into remembrance. The development now making may be considered a consequence of the pouring out of the seventh vial of wrath, as well as of the sounding of the last trumpet ; but it is to be recollected that these vials were poured out upon the old earth, and not upon the new. The denunciation of the three woes was addressed to the inhabiters of the old earth, and it is to the old earth only that the seven vials were vials of wrath. In other words, a position out of Christ is obnoxious to all the elements of divine wrath ; in Christ, as we have already noticed in this connection, ($ 456,) old things have passed away, all things have become new.

"And there was no more sea.'- In the new exhibition of divine things, the symbol of vindictive justice is not called for, ($ 459.) The accuser having gone into perdition, the threatenings of judicial vengeance are no more heard; upon the new earth there is no distress of nations with perplexitythe sea and the waves roaring. In this new position, men's hearts are no longer failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth. The powers of heaven indeed have been shaken, and the old heaven has passed away like a scroll, when it is rolled together ; but now the power of the Son of man is exhibited—the great power of him who could say to the stormy billow, “ Peace, be still,” and it obeyed him. Now, then, it is for the elements of the economy of grace to lift up

their heads, for, analogous to the circumstances of the people of God, their redemption also draweth nigh ; the time has now come for a manifestation of truth ;-the old heaven and earth have passed away, but the words of him that is faithful and true cannot pass away, (Luke xxi. 25–33.)*

* We have already noticed a peculiarity in the new heavens and the new earth, spoken of 2 Peter iii. 13, that in them dwelleih a righteousness not to be found in their predecessors, ($ 456.) Connecting this explanation with the remainder of the passage in the same epistle, an apocalyptic construction may reasonably be put upon that description, also, of the change in contemplation, “ the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”

« AnteriorContinuar »