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the same, grinding at the same mill, walking together in the same field, and sleeping in the same bed. From which I am led to believe, that at the time of our Lord's coming every other anchor of the soul shall have failed men in the antecedent or accompanying perils, and this only shall be holding against the stream-tide of infidelity and wickedness. I believe, though this be not the place to demonstrate it, that the hope of the Lord's instant coming shall distinguish all who in that day shall obtain redemption. And if so, we may well understand how much blessedness resteth upon the reading of this book. Let it be remembered that this book, though it contain many precedent and consequent events, hath yet as its avowed and capital object the very event of Christ's coming, which like a pearl of great price it doth set and enclose in a splendour of circumstance worthy of its grandeur, and which are to be the harbingers and attendants of its noblest state: and being so, I think that amongst the rest might well stand blessings upon that book which alone should preserve the glorious advent from entire oblivion. If now any one be puzzled to comprehend how this blessing should attend upon all times and persons in the ages which have occurred since it was written, they will be relieved by considering that the book doth dress out the glorious event unto the faith of men, without reference to time or place; and that every one who apprehendeth it with faith hath the blessing, whenever that blessing shall in time and place be manifested: all the generations that have passed, as well as the generation that then is. It is no part of the revelation of Jesus Christ to make manifest the very day or time of his coming, which were to destroy its efficacy, but to give forth its glorious certainty together with all the blessedness unto all things, and especially unto the church attendant thereThe other consideration which leads to this same interpretation of the blessedness, is, that in this book this expression," Blessed is he," hath in it a sort of formal application to the time of the coming of the Lord. For examples, take these:- Rev. xiv. 13: "Blessed are the dead from henceforth." Now the very next action is Christ's coming in the clouds to gather his people out of the earth before the vintage of wrath. Rev. xvi. 15: "Behold I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his gar
ments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." And im mediately vengeance is done upon Babylon. Rev. xix. 9: "Blessed are they which are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb," which is the New-Jerusalem estate when Christ is with his church on the earth. Rev. xxii. 7: “ Behold, I come quickly blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." How blessed? by being admitted to that marriage-supper; by being found keeping their garments; by being gathered with the sickle of him who sits upon the cloud, into the garner of God. Now, believing brethren, think you what a sanction this is; what a blessing is here held out to your constant perusal and faithful keeping of the sayings of this book. It is your ark of salvation against the stormy winds and sapping streams of infidelity which are overthrowing the house of those who will not rest on this only foundation. Justification by faith is become any thing, and every thing, but that which it is in the Gospel and the articles of the church. And of the Spirit as a Person, and the Servant of the Man Christ Jesus, we may say with the Samaritans, " we have not even heard whether there be a Holy Ghost:" and of the Trinity it may be no longer spoken or preached, but with, an aspect of profound ignorance and devout helplessness: and of the sacraments it is monstrous to speak otherwise than as empty signs; and every thing else most precious in our doctrine is worn away by the spirit of infidelity and one only rough hard truth remaineth, which no metaphysics can adulterate; That Jesus Christ is to come again in flesh, and take the government of the world upon himelf. Yet in this one seed of truth there is a pregnancy, that will restore all the rest from the shadowy emptiness into which they have been brought. Therefore "blessed is he that readeth, and they who hear the words of this prophecy and keep the sayings that are written in this book; for the time is at hand. Behold, I come quickly, blessed is he that keepeth the words of this prophecy."
2. The second sanction which I propose to all men for perusing this book, is the sanction of the knowledge, the saving knowledge which they will assuredly derive from it. And this I build upon these words: "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand" (xxii. 10). I believe, upon this solemn attestation of God, that the
Apocalypse is not a sealed book; and that all the doctors of the church, with all the enemies of Christ to help them, cannot seal it: and as an unsealed and unsealable book I take it up to read it; surely believing that-let wise men and prudent men say what they please, and do what they pleaseit is a book unsealed and open, a patent book to the babes in Christ Jesus, which no power earthly dare, which no power in hell can, and which no power in heaven will seal. And this assurance I receive from God as a great, a very great boon; knowing that it was not wont to be so with the prophecy in the old time concerning which it is said by the mouth of Daniel xii. 4, "Shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end:" and again, ver 9, "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." With this compare the corresponding passage of the Apocalypse now before us: "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand. He that is unjust let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; to give unto every man according as his work shall be." (xxii. 10, 11.)
Of the cominand not to seal the prophecy of this book, I have to say simply, that I believe it is effectual, like every other word of God; and that the sayings of this book neither are nor can be sealed to him that believeth, aye and never have been sealed to any believer. Sealed indeed they have been, and still are, to many called believers, and as such regarded by those who measure themselves by themselves; but nevertheless they are not sealed. Let God be true, and let every man be a liar: let God be Almighty, and let all creatures be as nothing before him. And seeing he hath said, "Seal not the book," I say, 'It is not sealed, and cannot be sealed;' and the same will maintain against all doctors, councils, and assemblies of the church. Without any apparatus of commentators or accomplishment of learning, a believer should go to and read it, using for his keys these two-faith and hope; faith that it is an open book, and hope that it is a book full
of blessing. But if men, instead of serving themselves with these blessed keys, will go about to believe that the book is dark and obscure, and without commentators unintelligible; then what shall I say, but that, denying God's asseverations and holding him a liar, they will reap a harvest of lies into their own bosom; and come forth from their studies more perplexed and entangled than they went into them? And is not this the case with most of the commentators who hath entered upon it, with almost every Christian who reads it? There lurketh in the background of their minds a feeling that it is a forlorn hope to which they are giving themselves,-a set of desperate men who have adventured upon a desperate undertaking. And what can such a spirit of contradiction to God's commandment obtain for itself, but confusion worse confounded, darkness that may be felt? Is God thus to be mocked, who hath said, "Seal it not ?" and who is he that bath said, Seal it?' Out upon you, ye men-worshippers! Ye Goddespisers! How dare you take upon you to call that book a mystery which God hath named a revelation; that book a lock which God hath named a key; that book a sealed book which God hath written unsealed for ever?
While I thus rebuke the spirit of scepticism with which this book is read, even by the faithful and holy, and am zealous for God's service, and for the church's good, I am far from encouraging rashness in myself or in any one. this we are well defended by the next sanction, which is that of fear, contained in xxii. 18, 19. I do not say that every one, or any one, is to be let into the whole matter contained in this body of Christian prophecy. But I do say, that it is the open book of church-prophecy, out of which every Christian will obtain that insight into the future hopes and expectations of the church which is needful for his soul's salvation. It is one thing to open the door of a spacious temple, and another thing to say that every one who enters therein shall be able to comprehend the whole Divinity who is worshipped there. But because no one person can with his mind attain unto the vastness of the revealed Godhead, any more than with his body he can fill the arched, vaulted, amplitude of a spacious temple, is the temple therefore to be shut; or rather, are not its doors to stand for ever open, a symbol of
the ever-approachable God? So open I the door of the Apocalyptic visions, and ensure every believer that therein he shall find ample light, revelation, information, and enlargement to his soul, in all the things which concern the glory of God and of the living Christ. We appeal to our future discourses, for the proof whether this book is opened or sealed, is manifestation or concealment of the great mystery of God in Christ; whether it be an eye-glass through which to look upon the Scriptures, or itself a dark chamber which needeth illumination. Who will illuminate the illumination of God? Who will reveal the revelation of God? He who undertaketh such a task doth darken counsel by words without wisdom. We go to the perusal of it as a book which hath already opened to us many mysteries, which hath been to our soul light and not darkness; which hath unfolded itself to our faith in God's most holy declarations; and we ask our readers not to look upon us as the openers of a mystery, but as the setters forth of a revelation; not as prognosticators of future uncertainties, but as the preachers of the great certainty-the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
While thus I solemnly and soberly, though most earnestly, and as some may think unguardedly, do present this book as full of light and of knowledge, and bearing to the future the same relation which the sun in the heaven doth to darkness; and do exhort every one with such deep conviction of its blessed light to peruse it, in the perfect assurance of being enlightened in the knowledge of the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; I guard every one from thinking that he comprehendeth all the light which is therein, though I urge him onward to the apprehension of still more and more. It is the chart of the church, whose bark has been beating these two thousand years upon the stormy waves. As she is driven hither and thither, if she look into this divinely constructed chart, she will discern that all her passages of peril have been foreseen and provided against. It will save us; and if another generation is to follow, it will save them; and so on till Christ come. But what a thing it is to lock the chart up in concealments tenfold, and let the ship drive upon shoals and quicksands! This is what your doctors and divines do, who seek the honour to themselves