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which they occupy and intend. And finally, every subject creature, every thing which God created and made, whether in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, express their gladness and their mirth on this grand and solemn occasion, saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever.” Such is the wonderfully sublime scenery with which the second portion of this book, which concerneth the future, is introduced. The vision of the throne and the Lamb, contained in these two chapters, standeth to the latter part of the book in the same relation in which the vision of the Son of Man and the candlesticks in the first chapter standeth to the former part of the book ; the one being the introduction to the things that are, the other being the introduction to the things that are to be hereafter. They are emblematical features, to which reference is continually made from those two parts of the book, at the head of which they severally stand. And as the one manifestly concerneth the church only, the seven stars which are the ministers of the churches, and the seven golden candlesticks which are the churches, revealing Christ in his office as Head of all the churches ; so doth the other as evidently refer to the whole creation, visible and invisible, rational and irrational, of God ; seeing the creatures do all take such a deep interest in the transaction, and express such lively joy on beholding the Lamb put into possession of that mysterious book, which, somehow or other, reacheth its powerful effect from the centre to the extremest bound of creation. Now as to what the exact significancy of that mysterious transaction may be, this is not the place particularly to inquire ; but the simple contemplation of the august assemblage, as it is arranged in its order before the eye of the seer, suggesteth some ideas which every one without inquiry must at once assent to. Suppose there was a grand assemblage, as in the days of old, of the strength and glory of the kingdom, upon some of the ancient moats (as the moat of Urr), artificially cut for the high occasion, and that you, being present, did behold one throne, magnificent above all, in the centre, and a majestic person seated thereon; and encircling it around you saw twenty-four inferior thrones, whereon sat most venerable persons, clothed with robes of office and crowned with crowns of dignity, which ever and anon they acknowledged to be derived from the great majesty of the central throne, and on him dependent. Suppose, moreover, that closer to him still, and in his very bosom and upbear. ing his person, as Aaron and Hurr upbore the hands of Moses, you saw four others of mysterious appearance, through whom the voice of the throne came forth, its thunderings also, and its lightnings, and all its expressions whatsoever: and, finally, that, engirdling the sacred throne around, and as it were guarding them from offence, and waiting to execute their high commands, you beheld an innumerable host of equal and undistinguished people; what would you say concerning such a sight, and how would you interpret it? You would say, this sublime throne in the centre holdeth the king of kings, and these are his inferior kings. With respect, however, to these four living ones in his throne, no similitude on earth could explain it ; but we shall find ample explanation of it in holy Scripture, proving that they represent the church in its priestly character, upbearing the throne of the Eternal, as the four-and-twenty crowned elders represent the same church fulfilling the kingly office unto the Eternal, who is the Father represented under the symbols of Christ : and the innumerable angels standing around are the subject people, the ministers of the kingdom, as it is said, * the angels are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation.” So much doth the dumb shew and inactive scenery of the vision declare unto every contemplative mind-namely; that God in his kingdom over all is served by subordinate thrones, they that sit on which declare themselves to be redeemed men (v. 9), and hath in the bosom, and for the strength and very consistency of his throne, others who likewise declare themselves to be redeemed men; while the angels, and the other works of creation besides men, do stand at a wider distance from the throne, and occupy the place of the indiscriminate multitude. This, I say, is declared by
I the simple beholding of the economy and order of the heavenly council. And when from this we turn ourselves to consider the action which is done, several things sug. gest themselves at once to every thoughtful mind. The book in the right hand of the Great King is the one prize and guerdon which God challengeth all creation, visible and invisible, to come and take; but they dare not even look upon it, so utterly foiled are they by the challenge ; till one, a Lamb that had been slain, but living still, who is seen every where up and down in the midst of the throne, and in the midst of the four living ones, and in the midst of the four-and-twenty elders, being the living principle and vivifying heart of them all, doth take individual place and enter into action immediately after the proclamation of this challenge, and the astonished terror of all created beings and things on the hearing of the same: but he, the Lamb, moving forward, takes the book and doth with it according to his will. This demonstrates, First, that he is Head Person of heaven, above them all in strength and power, able to take up the challenge at the bare mention of which the hosts above fainted with weakness : Secondly, that this book, whatever it is, doth invest hin with a supremacy over the redeemed church, the unfallen angels, and all creation whatsoever; which do concur in one grand demonstration of fealty and homage, celebrating him and worshipping him, with what strains they celebrate and worship God himself who sitteth on the throne. These things, and much more, come directly and openly out from the scene and act placed under our eye in these introductory chapters. Then in the sixth and seventh chapters we have the effects which come upon the earth from his opening the several seals of the book, into which we cannot now enter particularly; but this is apparent upon the face of the narrative, that it ends in the expulsion of all the kings and mighty men and chief captains of the earth, from their delegated seats and places of authority under Christ, being terrified to death under the sixth seal, and full of awful apprehension of the seventh, they are utterly made away with (Rev. xix. 18, which, though in a different place, referreth to the same event as is referred to in vi. 15-17), in order to make room for Christ and his saints raised in the first resurrection, who possess for ever the thrones of the earth (xx. 4); being the fulfilment of that whereof their souls in glory were assured, so soon as ever he received the book (ver. 10): " And we shall
reign on the earth.” The action of opening the seals we can say, therefore, hath for its object the dispossessing of the present rulers of the earth, and the bringing in of the redeemed saints to rule and to possess it. It is, therefore, the revelation of Christ, invested by His Father with the inheritance, and by successive demonstrations of his right, chasing out the usurpers, until, the devil himself being ejected, Christ, with his saints, do take the kingdom and the dominion under the whole heaven, to hold it for ever. Concerning the sealed nation, which is preserved in the direful destruction of nations, we discourse not at present, but shall shew, that while the severe parts of the vision hath respect to the the ten Papal kingdoms of Christendom, this gracious part hath respect to the Protestant kingdom of Great Britain, which is held up by this sealing for an example to all kingdoms to continue faithful, and so to escape the overwhelming deluge of the wrath of God and the Lamb. For how long, and to what extent, we shall afterwards discourse: but we observe at present, that, without an instance presented to all nations of God's grace and preservation in the judgment, the righteousness of God in not confounding the innocent with the guilty would not have been shewn forth ; but it would have seemed one indiscriminate act of destruction, freezing hope, and fixing action in the obduracy of fate. The latter part of the viith chapter, doth bring us back to the vision of the heavenly throne, no longer planted in the heavens, but abiding amongst men (ver. 15). And before it there is the great multitude of the nations, gathered out of the tribulations of Papal persecution, which answereth to the church in the wilderness, and keeping the feast of tabernacles with joy and gladness, in commemoration of that glorious land into the possession of which they have been brought, after their long and wearisome wanderings. So that doubt remaineth not that the viith chapter brings us down to the end of the Papal persecutions, as the iiid chapter brings us down to the end of the Pagan persecutions; and that the viiith chapter, which, as well as all from the iv th, concerns the things that are to be, must go back again to the time of Constantine, and reveal Christ acting in some other aspect, unto some other end, yet subordinate to that of his being the great heir of the earth, which is doubtless the one grand object of the second part of the book, concerning future things.
The great use of this vision is, therefore, to teach the kings and magistrates of the earth, under whom they exercise authority, and for whom. And how find we them? giving ear to the revelation contained in this vision ? Would it were so. But, alas ! this nation, which stood out for Christ, the Prince of the kings of the earth, against the pope, who usurpeth that Divine prerogative, hath at length succumbed. And what now is the language of the nations? We are independent of the Prince of the kings of the earth ; and bring every thing to pass, or not to pass, as we please, according to our might, wisdom, and policy. And even churchnen, certainly all sectarians and schismatics, do uphold that kings derive their
power from the people, and for the people hold it; and further, with most open throat they do proclaim and promulgate forth that religion hath nothing to do with politics, and politics nothing to do with religion, and that any question, because it is political, ceases therefore to be religious. Ignorant panders to arbitrary irresponsible government, or to popular anarchy, study this vision of the Apocalypse, and be wise. Ah me! what an awful thing it is, that they should put in contrast the political and the religious, and by this most arrant blunder or knavery should have succeeded in advancing servants of the pope, who hath his authority from the devil, to equal power and trust with servants of the true Protestant church, which hath her authority from Christ the Son of the Most High God ; all proving, even to our consternation, the immense ignorance, the direct error, and the fatal measures which the church hath fallen into on the subject of this great vision, which revealeth Christ as the Prince of the kings of the earth. And I hesitate not to confess, that one of the principal objects which drew me to this city at the present time, was to shew out the principles of this great subject, to proclaim in the ear of the drowsy church, and rebellious nation, the rights and titles of my Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, who hath purchased the earth and the world by his perfect righteousness and spotless sacrifice upon the cross; and