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settled, and thus defended, and thus secured, shall Gog and Magog come up (Ezek. xxxviii.); that is, the head of the Greek Church, with the remains of the first three of Daniel's kingdoms, and a portion of all peoples; and around Jerusalem shall be fearful slaughter (Zech. xii., xiii., xiv.), in which the Jews shall mightily prevail ; but yet not without sore experiences of the Lord's anger against them, for their continued unbelief, and their blasphemy against his holy Name, in Jesus, and in Him alone honoured, whereby shall come that purgation of them at the last, mentioned in all the Prophets. (Isa. Ixvi. 17; Zech. xiii. 8, 9: Ps.c. 11.) But in the article of their utmost need, when the power of the enemy shall swell up, even to the brim; when the sorrows of death shall compass her about, and the floods of ungodly men shall make her afraid; then shall he bow the heavens and come down, and he shall send down his arrous and scatter them; he shall shoot out his lightnings, and discomfit them.”
Then indeed shall He be manifested in the clouds of heaven; then indeed shall all nations wail because of him : for he cometh to the earth, as it is written (Zech. xiv. 4), * And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west,...... the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Now if all the saints come with him, then is it necessary that they should already have been all removed, from amongst the living, and from amongst the dead, that with him they may come.
And this leads me to explain the only thing which remains towards a complete elucidation of this difficulty. It is my opinion, and I almost give it as my belief, that when the sign of the Son of Man appears, and these great calamities of war and catastrophes of nations begin their disastrous course, under that banner of the man of war, Christ, being there present, and therein acting, though as yet not apparent, his saints will be there along with him ; for he is now ruling the earth with the rod of iron, and breaking the nations in pieces as a potter's sherd.” (Psal. ii.) In which act of judgment upon the apostate kings and judges of the earth, he expressly and in the same terms promiseth, that every one who overcometh shall have a part, “ He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations : and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers : even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. (Rev. ii. 26-29.) And in the xixth chapter, where this same breaking of the confederate kings is set forth, he comes attended with the armies which were in heaven. And the same truth, that the saints shall judge the earth, is taught in the Psalms, and in the Prophets, and by the Apostles. Now, if these things be so, it follows of necessity that his saints, who are in their graves, and who are on the earth, must revive; the former by the first resurrection, and the latter by the change from corruptible to incorruptible flesh, which answereth to the first resurrection (1 Cor. xv. 51; 1 Thess. iv. 15): that is to say, the first resurrection, and the change of the living saints take place before the in-falling of the judgments upon the nations, and before the time when the sign of the Son of Man appeareth in the heavens. And seeing that this will take place, before any of the stupendous events which are as it were, done in the presence of Christ, and his church, manifesting their power out of the cloudy pillar, or whatever His sign may be, it will come without premonition, or warning of any kind, and therefore may be well likened to a thief coming in the night: as it is Rev. xvi. 15, before the outpouring of the seventh vial, which is the vial of the judgments.
And so those who are looking for Christ, shall be taken to himself from the judgments to come. They shall meet him in the clouds, where he is in his sign, and there shall they be with him in the clouds, ruling the nations with a rod of iron, and breaking them to pieces like a potter's vessel. And so, the shutting up of Noah in the ark by God's hand, and the taking of Lot out of Sodom by the angel's hand before he could bring any judgment, and the deliverance of the church out of Jerusalem, shall all have their proper antitype in the deliverance of those who sigh, and who cry against the abominations of the earth, and their removal unto the Lord, who shall confer with them as he did with Abraham of old before bringing the judgment, and by their means shall execute the judgment as it is written in the cxlix th Psalm: " Let the saints be
joyful in glory; let them sing upon their beds. Let the praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hands, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishment upon the people. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron: to execute the judgment written. This honour hath all his saints. Now if this removal from the midst of the judgments be the thing which we have to look for; if the first resurrection, and the changing of the living saints be thus to take place before the great stream of visible judgment comes rolling on; then how watchful we should be night and day, morning watch, noon, and even-tide, to keep our garments, lest we walk naked, and they see our shame ; lest we who have been preaching the advent of Christ be left behind amongst the foolish virgins, when our more faithful sisters are admitted to the marriage supper. O my soul, be watchful! O my brethren, be watchful! O my flock, be watchful! O my mother church, be watchful! O all ye churches, be watchful! Watch ye all, and pray always ; that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke xxi. 36.)
It is remarkable, and well worthy of notice, that both these utterances of the glory and the advent express their own fulness and completeness, their own certainty and sufficiency, by a solemn, Amen; and this last declaration concerning his advent, by a reiterated confirmation, Yea, amen; a form of confirmation not often found in holy Scripture, and indeed once only that we know of, and that in this book, -and, which is still more remarkable, when speaking of the same subject of the advent, Rev. xxii. 20: “ Surely, I come quickly. Amen: yea, come, Lord Jesus." This doth clearly indicate a certainty, a soul-satisfiedness and delight, to have been in the Apostle's mind, whenever he touched the theme of the second advent. To me it is a very sublime thing to see the Amen, and the Yea, amen, following each its burst of ravished feeling, as if each time the Apostle had emptied out his soul in utterance, and satisfied his soul in devotion; and having nothing to add, sealed up the sum with the solemn Amen, and Yea, amen. O to these believers, a doxology was a going forth of the whole soul in praise, and an aspiration for the advent was a going out of the whole soul in hope, and the exhausted and satisfied spirit breathed over it the final Amen.
With respect to the next verse, which, according to the common arrangement, I have taken in as part of John's preface or superscription to the visions which follow, I have felt at a loss to determine whether it should so stand or be considered as a part of the first vision ; the commencement of it spoken by the Lord, who appeared as the Son of Man, walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks; and upon the whole, I am rather inclined to prefer the latter connection. It seems to me, that the seer having brought his preface to a close, with that solemn invocation of the Lord to come, and being thereby lifted up into a very sublime mood of spirit, doth without remembering the circumstances of time and place, recal the kindred mood of sublimity to which the trumpet voice did exalt him when he heard it utter these words sublime :-“I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Then, recovering himself as it were from the transports of his mind, or being recalled thence by the necessary demand that came upon him to describe the voice and
person which he heard, he remembers that he ought first to describe his own place and condition and circumstances at the time of the revelation. Attracted always to his Lord, and withdrawn from the thoughts of himself, ever seeing the Divine before the human, the supernatural before the natural, he is caught away to the remembrance of his Lord's description of himself; and having delivered himself of this, he falleth back to the less noble, yet necessary mention of his own conditions. According to this notion, the 8th verse will stand at the head of the first vision as its sublime commencement, -the glorious prelude, as it were, of the grand, various, and comprehensive piece which is to follow. This view is the more confirmed, if we adopt the text of Griesbach, who makes no hesitation in rejecting these words of the 11th verse, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and —"; for upon the supposition that his judgment is correct, there would in a manner be a necessity for considering the 8th verse as the opening of the vision; for otherwise there would be no de
scription or explanation of the person seen in the vision. If the first clause of ver. 11 is to go out of the text, then verse 8 must be regarded as the opening of the vision, and verses 9 and 10 as a note of explanation introduced by the way. Nevertheless, though I incline to this arrangement of the context, I have included the 8th verse in the subject of my present lecture, because it consists entirely of names of Christ, which is ihe proper subject of this lecture, which I shall conclude with a full explanation of the mystery of the Christ contained in these words : “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord; which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
What is rendered in our version Alpha and Omega, is in the original no more than the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. These letters were used for counting as well as for writing; and on this account, Christ's calling of himself the Alpha and the Omega hath been by most interpreters supposed to signify merely the beginning and the ending, or the first and the last. And by such interpreters, the second appellation beginning and ending is considered as the explanation of the first. To this interpretation, I have no objection, so far as it goes ; but I rather incline to believe, that more is contained in the two appellations, than that the one should be a mere explanation of the other. A is the first letter of the alphabet, and 22 is the last, which contain between them all the signs whereby speech of God or man is recorded. When Christiherefore saith,“ I am the Alpha and the Omega,” he seems to me, to claim to himself to be the whole recorded Word of God, to be that which is written of, to be the whole truth, which hath been and is capable of being uttered by humanı speech, or expressed by letters, the symbols of speech. While I give this enlargement to the usual interpretation of this symbol, I do not deny the other, wbich, I am well aware, was become a kind of proverbial expression with the rabbies; who, when expressing from the beginning to the ending, were wont to say, from Aleph to Tau. But still, as letters can only by a secondary application be the symbols of number being in their primary application the symbols of speech, I think it the more worthy interpretation to suppose that Christ here meaneth, that he was the