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or represented it to him by signs; as in this same verse it is written, “ Which God gave unto Jesus Christ, to shew. unto his servant things which must shortly come to pass.". These words give us to know that this book was given to Jesus Christ by the Father, in order to shew the contents thereof to his servants. And what method does Christ take to shew it to God's servants? He sends his messenger, his angel, and signifies it to his servant John. So John did not receive the communication directly from Christ, but he received it through the medium of one proceeding from Christ; he received it not in the way of revelation or inspiration, but in the way of outward demonstration; it was shewn to him by his angel, and repeatedly in this book is that angel spoken of, to whom John did twice, in the height of gratitude and satisfaction, offer worship, but the angel would not suffer himself to be worshipped. I am inclined, therefore, to doubt the commonly received interpretations of the name, as if it merely signified that Jesus Christ revealed the contents of the book, because we always find that a Scripture name doth express the substance of the thing named, as all the names of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ do testify; and even those names which the authority or use of the church hath given to the books of Scripture, have in them a great propriety and peculiar appropriateness. For example, Genesis signifies the generation of things; Exodus, the out-going of the children of Israel from the house of bondage. But when God himself appropriates a name,--for example the Gospel' or 'good news,'-it then never fails to contain the very essence ‘of that which is named.
And seeing the Holy Ghost hath chosen to entitle this book “ The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” we may never doubt that there is something contained under that name beyond this which belongs to all Scripture in common, that it is revealed by Jesus Christ the Word ; and which therefore cannot serve to distinguish one book of Scripture from another.
These reasons are sufficient to make us hesitate concerning the commonly received interpretation of the name or title, and do justify a further inquiry into the subject. And, when we go to examine the proper meaning and common use of the words “ Apocalypse, or revelation, or manifestation of Jesus Christ," we find
almost invariably that they signify not Jesus Christ revealing, but Jesus Christ revealed : except in one doubtful case, they never signify Jesus Christ the Revealer, but always the revelation, manifestation, appearing, or coming, of our Lord Jesus Christ, when, from being hidden as he now is, he shall become once more and for ever revealed in the glory of His Father. There are, I suppose, not fewer than ten or twelve instances in which this expression 6 revelation of Jesus Christ” occurs in the New Testament, either exactly in the form in the text, or else in some other form and construction, and, with only one apparent, but not real exception, doth it always signify Jesus Christ the Revealed, and not once Jesus Christ the Revealer. To this solitary exception (as it is thought to be), which is found in Gal. i. 12, let us attend first: “But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation
I of Jesus Christ." This passage is commonly taken as signifying that Jesus Christ revealed the Gospel to the Apostle by direct inspiration or inward working of the Spirit; which, also, I was myself disposed to admit: but a more patient study of the passage leads me to prefer the common, and, I may say, universal meaning of the expression, revelation of Jesus Christ, “ I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but (had it) through the manifestation of Jesus Christ;" for straightway he proceeds to narrate the appearing or manifestation of Christ on the way to Damascus, which, in ver. 16, he calleth God's revealing his Son in him; signifying, as I understand, that, contemporaneous with the outward manifestation of his Son in the brightness of the heavens, God gave to the Apostle an inward manifestation of him in the Spirit according to the promise (John xiv. 22): but in both cases it was Christ that was revealed or manifested, and the Father who revealed or manifested him ; Him the subject of the revelation, not the agent revealing, which, by essential propriety, whenever the Son is the subject, belongeth to the Father, who alone giveth faith. “ The Holy Ghost takes of the things of Christ, and shews them to our souls.” In this passage, therefore, there is no support whatever for the idea that
Christ is the revealer of himself, but every support to the idea that he is the revealed one, and the Father acting by the Holy Ghost the revealer. But, though this passage had given support to the idea that Jesus Christ is the revealer, it would have availed nothing in the case before us, where the manner of communication is not by revelation of Jesus Christ, but by demonstration of an angel. God gives Jesus Christ the account of his own manifestation or appearance, He gives it in charge to Him for the use of all his servants; Jesus Christ gives it to an angel, and the angel shews it out to John, who writes it to the churches : a method of communication quite opposed to the notion, that Jesus Christ caused it to spring up in the Apostle's mind by inspiration, or whispered it into his ear by voice of speech. And when we go into details, and see what the book is made up of, we find that it is Christ revealed now as all-glorious Head of the church, in the midst of the golden candlesticks, now as the Lamb slain living in heaven, and instated by his Father in the possession of universal power and inheritance, opening the sealed book and working wonderful effects in the earth, &c. Every where it is Christ revealed, and not Christ revealing ; so that the substance of the book, as well as the style of its name or title, do repel the notion of Christ revealing, even if such a notion were found in that passage of the Galatians, which I have argued above it is not.
Now this apparent but not real exception, being taken out of the way, all is clear; and to every scholar, yea, to any unlearned but sound-minded man, I will submit the question for a decision, after having referred to some of the passages where the expression in the text “ Apocalypse of Jesus Christ”
" is used, for it is an expression of very frequent use in the New Testament. In the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (i. 7), it is thus written, “ So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The words in the original are exactly the same as the title of our book, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the doctrine taught us is, “ Ye come behind in no gift,” which the church hath received from Christ in virtue of his ascension; and ye
wait for your perfection in the day of his revelation, when we shall come with him in the full participation of his king
dom and glory. Again, turn to the Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians (i.6, 7): “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble
you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels ;"--- literally, in the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” in his being manifested, in his coming unto the earth from heaven, which we all believe in, though we may perhaps differ in respect to some of the circumstances attendant thereupon. Another advent hath always been maintained by the church ; and never otherwise than as a great fundamental doctrine of the orthodox faith hath it been held, that Christ is to come again in person to judge the quick and the dead. This event called the manifestation or revelation of Jesus Christ in the passage now before us, bears the same characters as in the book of the Revelation, for in both doth Jesus Christ, with his mighty angels, come in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel; who are punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. I next turn your attention to that passage, 1 Peter i. 7. You may read from the third verse: “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which acccording to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (it is reserved in heaven now, but is) ready to be revealed or manifested in the last time,” when the New Jerusalem cometh down from heaven : “ Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations ; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing (revelation) of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 6, 7.) Here it is declared, that in the assured falth and hope of that heavenly inheritance which is to be revealed, the church endureth all fiery trials and grievous losses which God sendeth for her probation, that she may come out of the fire like silver seven times refined,
glorious and bright, and honourable to God in the day when Christ shall be manifested with all his saints to be admired in all them that believe. In that day of the manifestation (revelation) of the sons of God (Rom. viii. 19), when we receive the redemption of the body (ver. 23), all creation is delivered from its bondage into their glorious liberty. So full is the Apostle Peter of this grand revelation or manifestation, that he makes a third reference to it in verse 13, as the bearer of especial grace and favour to the church : “ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Now, brethren, as the subject of discourse is large, I do not bring forward other instances to the same effect, but simply lay it down, that, without any exception, this expression the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the cognate or kindred expressions which occur in the New Testament are used of the coming, or appearing, or manifestation of Christ. They all bear the sense of “ Jesus Christ the Revealed;" and not in any instance can signify “Jesus Christ the Revealer.”
In all these instances, then, of Holy Scripture, the expression, Revelation of Jesus Christ, signifies his future manifestation, his future coming; being taken in the passive sense, Christ the Revealed, not Christ the Revealer. If this be the proper meaning of it in the passage before us, as sound criticism would conclude, then, standing as it doth for the title of any book, it would signify that that book was given for the purpose of informing the church, concerning the time and manner and circumstance of our Lord's glorious Epiphany. As Paul was delegated to inform the church concerning the mystery of the Gentiles being fellow-heirs with the saints, which he received according to revelation (Eph. iii. 3): “ By revelation he made known unto me the mystery :' so John is delegated to make known unto the church, the further mystery of the manifestation of Jesus Christ, after the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in ; and the title of the book should not be the Revelation of John the divine, but the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In either sense, this ought to be the title of the book, whether you understand it to be his manifestation, or that which he revealed. Which of these two, the active or passive, ought to be taken as the true sense of the words, is not