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her present condition. Yet can I not enter upon this work of interpreting this oft.interpreted book, without a solemn act of prayer to God, that he would prevent me from adding out of my own ingenuity any thing to that which is contained therein. I do most solemnly disclaim all inventions of my own; I
pray that nothing whatever may be taken on my authority: for me to desire to have authority over the conscience of any one, for you to give me such authority, is so far forth to incur the guilt here denounced. By the solemnity, by the fearfulness, by the terrors of this sanction, I do entreat every one who heareth these discourses, and any one who now shall read them, to look upon me in no other light than as a reverent inquirer into the meaning of God's word, and a patient, painful preacher of the same.
The second part of this sanction is the proper safeguard against the fearfulness to inquire, and backwardness to know, which might be produced in timorous and doubting minds by the first. For now Christ denounceth against those who take away from the words of the book of this prophecy; and as if this were the more perilous side, it is protected by a threefold denunciation : “God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." I cannot help observing what an entireness this bespeaketh in the very words of Scripture, and how it confirmeth the doctrine of verbal inspiration. Also how it should guard us against wresting the words of Scripture to make them suit an hypothesis. I have no hypotheses to support. I want to discover Christ, not the measures and proportions of any scheme. I desire to teach the church whatever pertaineth to the person and dignity of Christ ; his actions as King within the veil, and his coming forth from it in the glory of his Father. So far only shall I look into the scheme and structure of the book as is necessary to reveal that unity in it which belongs to the unity of its subject, which is the manifestation of Jesus Christ. Now, who are guilty under this second sanction? They are most guilty who doubt or deny, or go about to cast suspicion upon the Divine authority of the book altogether : and these are far more numerous than the church dreameth of. If they durst speak out,
they would be found a great multitude. What but rooted infidelity can make the great body of ministers and people, especially ministers, smile within themselves, perhaps openly rail, when they hear of any one setting himself in right earnest to the work of expounding it?- I set it down, secondly, as bringing a man under this charge,when he careth nothing for it whatever, gives his soul no concern about the book or its expounders, and assumes to himself many airs of a wise and spiritual man, because he rather takes his texts and his readings from the Gospels and the Epistles. What, ye scorners ! is it not Scripture ? How dare ye,
in the name of the living God, thus pitch one part of his word against another in vain and wicked emulations ? I cannot excuse or indulge this spirit in any man, much less in a minister of God. I am no accuser-general of the church ; but I am a maintainer of God's most holy cause, against all the church if need be: and I do before God's tribunal impeach such ministers of the Gospel, and members of Christ's church, as do undervalue this book, as guilty of taking from it its essential value, not abstracting a few words, but abstracting the pith out of every word. And I appeal to honest men, whether it be not to destroy this book for all good, and to defeat God's end as far as they can, thus to go about to withdraw men's hearts from it, and rail against those who would draw them to it. God is very merciful, or else he would not endure so much. Further, they are guilty of taking words from it, who, in order to make it answer an hypothesis, will explain away the plain meaning and power of its simplest expressions: as, for example, when the saints in glory sing, “ And we shall reign with thee on the earth; and when it is said, that there is a first resurrection, and that the souls of the martyrs live and reign with Christ on the earth; and when it is said, that God dwelleth with men, and that Christ cometh at a certain time and place, and in a certain order of events; and all this is studiously denied and explained away. The very words of this prophecy are defended with awful sanctions, and let them he most sacred. Rather a thousand times let me err in keeping close to the words, than once in departing away from them. These are very grave and solemn considerations ; but I feel that it is good to have brought
them all before our minds in full array. Oh, how this book stands up the rebuke of the church and of the land ! No wonder Christ's advent is forgotten : the way in which this book has been treated is sufficient to account for it. If any one ask by what connection the crime of adding to or of taking from the words of the book of this prophecy is connected with the penalties of all the Apocalyptic plagues, of losing place in the book of life, and the holy city, and other the Apocalyptic promises, I refer to what I have already said upon this subject under the sanction of blessing ; and, without repeating, do simply add, that the connection between this book and the things pertaining to the coming of Christ, is exactly the connection between word and deed, between faith and works. If we believe not the word, the work we shall not have ; if we value not the word, we shall not have the work to value : the despising of the word is the despising of Him that gave it; and this he will not bless, but, contrariwise, will
This Apocalypse is to the Christian church, what the Law of Moses was to the Jewish state; and these two verses are like the curses pronounced upon Mount Nebo, or rather those declared in the Song of Moses. In the neglect of it our enemies have got the mastery over us, and we are in bondage. Whenever it hath been observed again, like the book of the Law under king Josiah, then we are favoured once more; and when it drops into oblivion, darkness cometh up and covereth the church. This, in one word, is my view of the Apocalypse ; that it was intended to be at once the chart, and the pole-star, and the light of the Christian church, over the stormy waves of time, until the Great Pilot, who walketh upon the waters and stilleth the waves, should again give himself to the 'sinking ship, and make her his abode, his ark, his glory for ever and ever.
CONCLUSION. I do not say that it is a thing in the power of any one man to accomplish, even though strengthened to the uttermost by the Holy Ghost; but I do believe that the Holy Ghost will strengthen some men in this generation, whom for that end he may choose, and by them will open unto the church this book, after another manner than hath ever yet been
done. Hitherto it hath been studied with a view chiefly to the church, or to the world ; and in this respect it hath * been singularly blessed to the church, by opening her eyes to the discernment of that apostasy which so long ruled like God over the earth. From the earliest times, Rome was discerned to be the Babylon of this book, and even in the darkness of the middle ages, there were men who knew and preached the Pope of Rome to be the beast.
It is recorded of our First Richard, that, when detained in Sicily, he and another of the kings engaged in the same crusade, heard a famous friar preach, that the Pope was the beast of the Apocalypse ; but it was reserved for the time of the Reformation, and especially in Scotland, to demonstrate the abomination of Rome out of this book. I believe that in the Church of Scotland there have been written upon it more commentaries than in all the Protestant churches besides; and I may say, it is the only church in which the Apocalypse is as much, if not more, used by the common people, and by the ministry, than any other book of Scripture. And this view of the book, as it bears upon the church visible, is beginning to arm the servants of the Lord against the infidelity which by an hundred channels is hastening to overspread the church; and, what is better, it is beginning to open once more to us the object, the glorious object of our hope, --which is, the advent and kingdom of our Lord. But all these services which this book hath rendered, and is rendering to the church, are little compared with what it will do, when opened with the higher aim which we have now before us, of discovering therein, the offices, and the glories, and the future purposes and performances of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the church shall set themselves, --when the church shall by God be stirred up,—to work in this mine, as at the Reformation they wrought in Paul's Epistles; there will arise upon her vision such a coming glory, her Lord will present himself to her love and confidence, in such transcendent beauty and majesty, that the primitive times themselves will not surpass, if they equal
, the devotedness of those who are nourished with that precious food which this book contains. The Reformation made good the perfectness of Christ's sacrifice. In Scotland it went a little further, and made
good Christ's headship of the church; and this was enough for the labours of one generation, who expected from their successors a continuance and enlargement of the work. But, alas! their successors converted the work which had been done into an idol, and worshipped it. The landmarks of doctrine which the Reformers drew, to mark off the clear ground which they had won from the abyss of Papal error, they expected that their posterity would have extended more and more into the waste, until they had reclaimed the whole sum and substance of Christian truth. But, alas! how otherwise hath it been! Not only hath no further encroachments been made upon the realms of the old anarch, but even that truth which we had attained to, hath been almost reft away from us, by Arminian errors, or by, a system of fatalism and necessity, a doctrine of right and property, of selfishness and personal safety, falsely called Calvinistic, but of which Calvin is one of the ablest confuters. We have lost the idea of the church, we have lost the idea of the sacraments, we have lost the idea of a redemption of love, as a basis of an election of grace; a common redemption, as the basis of a particular election and, in a word, we are fallen as far beneath the Reformers, as they were beneath the primitive church in every thing except the doctrine of justification by faith. There, I may say, the Reformers were on a level with the primitive church. But this precious jewel of the Reformation hath almost perished in our hands; so that, in my judgment, the Evangelical method of preaching justification by faith, is a more subtile form of error than the high-church method of preaching justification by works of morality; or the Papal method of preaching justification by merits of saints, and pilgrimages, and severities, and other self-inflicted acts of the will. But into these things I enter not, nor would have named them, save to express my conviction that something must be done, or else the church, and the faith also, of which it is the pillar, will go to wreck. And I believe that something is, the exposition of Christ's person and offices and coming, which are all-inclusive and all-comprehensive. He is the Applier of his own sacrifice ; he is the Head of the church ; he is the Prince of the kings of the earth; he is the Contender against the apostasy,he is the Destroyer of it; he is the bringer in of the Millennium, and he is the