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prophetic measure ; and therefore he said, that of the day and the hour of his coming, no man knew, not even the Son, but the Father only. But when he ascended up on high, he received them as gifts for his church. And for communicating them unto his church, he chose men, to whom he might reveal them. Paul was the chosen vessel for conveying the mystery of their vocation unto the Gentiles : John was the chosen vessel for conveying the mystery of his coming unto all the church.
Now, dearly beloved brethren, think not evil, neither refuse to look at these things ; as if we disparaged the Divinity of Christ, while we thus set forth the economy of the Divine purpose, according to the order of its communication to and forth-setting by Christ. One accession was when he ascended up on high, and received in his manhood that glory and dignity which he now posseses. No one of you refuses to look at, and to believe that he ascended up into glory out of his humility, to honour out of disgrace; and that after he passed through death he received an immortal and impassable body, was seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, and now reigneth with all the attributes of the Father, who condescendeth to act as it were under, and for the Son, who heretofore having glorified the Father, is now glorified of the Father. No one hesitates to believe that Christ did receive such glory of God on the day of his ascension; that he did then receive the promise of the Spirit ; of which it is expressly said by John, “ This spake he of the Spirit ; for the Spirit was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified :" and the Apostle Peter, in the beginning of the Acts, says, " This is what is spoken of Joel the Prophet,... now Christ is ascended up on high, and hath received the promise of the Spirit, and shed down that which ye now see and hear.” If, then, Christ did receive advancement of glory, and enlargement of power in the Holy Spirit, as he himself also declares; “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;” what difficulty can any one have in believing that he received new revelations also,--for the making known of which he used two chosen instruments, one the Apostle Paul, to communicate the calling of the Gentile into the union of the body of Christ; and the other, the Apostle John, to communicate what is revealed in this book of the Apocalypse ? And I know of no other new revelations, except these two. Not only is this account of the matter necessary for the unfolding of the meaning of the words “ God gave it to him ;” which beareth, that he had not the knowledge before, as he himself declareth in the passage quoted from Mark; and likewise for the better understanding of Christ's humiliation, and the acting of God through Christ, without whom he never shall act ; but it is moreover necessary for the exposition of that beautiful passage (Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12), when, after quoting from the Ixviiith Psalm the prophecy of Christ's receiving gifts when he ascended up on high, Paul declares that these gifts which he received for men, he gave to men, in the form of apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And, accordingly, having received from God the gift of the knowledge of his own Apocalypse or manifestation, he endows an apostle with it, and gives him to the churches for their edification, being, indeed, rich only for us, wise only for us, honoured only for us. Marvellous love, grace, and condescension !
Observe now what a new dignity is given to this book, what a new importance and value conferred upon it from these considerations. It is a thing which Christ received from God after his ascension ; and which God gave unto him on express purpose to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. God enable us, his servants, to estimate the gift aright. O may the Lord turn the heart of his church to this book, and make me instrumental to remove some prejudices and false impressions from the minds of his own dear people ; and to draw many with energy to the perusal, and study, and meditation of this heavenly gift, which we may well believe hath a superiority over the other books of Scrip. ture, commensurate with the dignity and power of Christ, risen over and above Christ in flesh. If the flesh veiled his knowledge, acting like the microscope, which, while it giveth minuteness of observation, hindereth enlargement of view and distance of perception; then that which he came to know, and was capable of knowing after his resurrection, must have a compass, and range, and glory about it surpassing the other Scriptures. And this I do firmly believe, concerning the Apocalypse, that it is especially the food of the resurrection life which the regenerate have in Christ Jesus ; that as it most fully declareth the honour and glory in which God hath set his Son, our Saviour, so doth it, more than any other book of Scripture, lift the soul into the fellowship of that Divine place and dignity whereof we are promised the co-heirship at the coming of the Lord with all his saints.
2. And now for what end does he give this revelation of his own advent unto Christ? For to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. Observe here, brethren, that the object of the living God is, to make known to his servants future things ; according to that office of the Spirit, “ He will shew you things to come.' And yet this is our high offence to endeavour to understand the future. It has been rung from the one end of the island to the other, and in the schismatical, heretical, and sectarian magazines, the charge is brought and published against us, that we are a set of blasphemous persons, fools and madmen, because we study what is about to be, and endeavour to know the things that must shortly come to
pass; and yet no other reason or object is given by the living God for communicating this book to his church, but that for which we are so slandered. For this very thing, so shocking in the sight of these blind guides of the blind, God gave it unto Christ, that he miglit shew unto his servants things which are not yet come to pass.
Will any.man tell me, then, that we ought not to search into that which is future, till after it come to pass; that it is a dangerous thing for me to lead the way, for you to follow after it ? Go tell these self-sufficient babblers, that they speak against the express declaration of God's word, against the solemnity and dignity of that single end for which this book came to be made known to Christ, and by Christ to us.
And they will endeavour to frighten us with the breath of their nostrils ! Out upon such ignorance. How then, say ye, oh sons of the wise! that we are not to look out for the things that are coming to pass, till after they come to pass ? A prophecy, say they, must remain unknown to us; and was not given to be known until the event, that we might see that God knows the end, from the beginning, and that nothing comes to pass without his having foreseen it. I do not think it unworthy of God to
condescend to teach us the lesson of his fore knowledge, and this lesson prophecy doth clearly teach. But doth it teach that only? or is it given to teach that primarily ? I deny that it is. In one passage, indeed (Isa. xliii. 9), I do find God challenging the idolaters to prove their gods by this, that they can foretel future things; and I do likewise find our Lord saying (John xvi. 4), “ But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come ye may remember that I told you of them.” No doubt this is one object of prophecy, to prove that God hath in him the power to foresee and foretel; but are there no consolations of the church, no judgments of the world, no justifications of his Providence, no ends of his holiness to be attained at the same time? Is it mere power he wanteth to convince us of? Is it not rather his power to do thus and thus, to support and deliver his faithful ones, to destroy all who rise up against him? A part of the truth is not the whole of it. Neither is he wise who calleth a part the whole, but he is schismatical and erroneous. Now, that prophecy is for the knowledge of things before they happen, let all the prophets testify, who, as distinctly as words could utter it, did tell and describe every judgment, time, place, and person, and effect, before it happened. Did not Isaiah tell king Ahaz, and Jeremiah king Zedekiah, and Ezekiel and Daniel the captives, what things were to happen in their days? Did not our Lord tell Jerusalem what was to happen? Did not Paul and Peter and John tell the church what was to happen? And here is not the Apocalypse written on very purpose to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass? What do these boasters of themselves mean? What meaneth this confederacy of all orthodox and heterodox, churchman and schismatic, believers and unbelievers, gathered together to put down inquiry into unfulfilled prophecy, as the attempt of heated brains, of insurrectionary and state-troubling men. Was Lord Napier, the inventor of logarithms, such a one ? Was Sir Isaac Newton, the demonstrator of the system of the universe, such a one? Were Mede and Bishops Newton and Horsley such ones? Were Durham, and Fleming, and Johnstone such crazy and despicable fools? Ye misguided people, destroyed for lack of knowledge! It is not a cunfederacy of what ye call enlightened and intellectual men
against us, but against the prophetic word of God, which you would, in your grossest ignorance of what it contains, represent as a sealed book, as a dark riddle, as an unintelligible hieroglyphic, till after it has been accomplished and is become of little further use to the church : for certes he is but a poor churchman, aye and a poor Deist, who needs to have it continually proved to him that God doth know the end from the beginning. Nevertheless, as hath been said, we allow this to be an end, though a very remote one, of prophecy ; but the chief end we assert in the words before us, is “ to teach unto God's servants things which shall shortly come to pass." It is an end of prophecy to teach us that He who spake it was inspired of God, according as Christ declareth (John xvi. 4), “ These things I have told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I have told you of them ;” but it is likewise an end of prophecy to give to the Holy Spirit his office of teaching through the word the things which are to come, according as it is written in the same discourse, verse 13: “ Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak : and he will shew you things to come.” Now what are these men who will combine against the work and office of the Holy Spirit here declared by Christ, and the end of the Father declared in the first verse of the Revelation. They are scoffers, be they called liberal or evangelical, churchman or sectarian, catholic or schismatic, they are “ the scoffers" prophesied as being about to arise in the last times. (2 Pet. iii. 1–4): “ This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance : that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour : knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” But to put this matter still farther beyond all doubt, is it not written in the Second Epistle of Peter, i. 19 : “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a