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of steering the church by rudder and compass of their own learning and prudence Away with such opposers of the glory of my God and of his church, and of this blessed open and unsealed book! Come one, come all who have faith in God's word; read this unsealed book with me, and see whether it require man's authority, man's wisdom, man's scholastic learning, to find in it that knowledge of the future coming of Christ, which their worldly apparatus of wisdom and prudence hath only served to hide from them. “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
I do most stedfastly believe therefore, that all the ignorance which at this day resteth upon
the church concerning the great hope of Christ's coming, and the signs of the times in which we live ; and the apostasy of Rome, and the infidel antichrist, and the speedy destruction of both, and the first resurrection, and the kingdom of the saints upon the earth, and every thing else most concerning to this weary and sorrowful earth, ariseth from the indifference, and apathy, and self-sufficient ignorance in which they stand to this book, which is the chart of the church's perilous voyage, and the light of a Christian's prospects into the future. And therefore I do place the hope, yea, and the certainty of knowledge, as another great encouragement for the believer to attend me in my prelections upon this book; which is not darkness, but light; which is not doubt, but certainty; which is not speculation, but most true knowledge to every one who believeth. How man desireth to be taught insight into the future! It is by far his noblest desire. It is not to be rebuked, but to be encouraged, and to be guided. This office belongs to God, and to him alone (Isa. xliii.); prophecy is his method of enlightening it. And should the light itself be darkness, how great is that darkness? But, believe God rather than man, if you are not already sunk in unbelief. Believe that the prophecy is a light in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise on your hearts. Go then with this book in your hand, and know as much of the future prospects of the church, as God hath seen it good to give unto us. How much light of knowledge of things to come there is here, I say not; but this I say,
that all which there is, is here, and nowhere else. Therefore come here to seek and find it. Study this book for that most precious knowledge, the knowledge of the future ; which it is vain to say you care not about: for about it man must care ; and either by man must he be nursed into all error, or by God guided into all truth, through the only appointed means of his prophetic word.
3. And now I come to speak of the third and last sanction with which God hath sought to protect this book from neglect and contempt, and preserve it in the reverence of his church; which is the sanction of fear addressed to such spirits as are not to be moved by sanctions of blessedness and of knowledge. It is written in these fearful words, with which the mighty God doth as with a thunderbolt close and clasp the awful volume : “ For 1 testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall
his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (xxii. 18, 19). Now being a man of Aesh and blood, and no devil incarnate, I stand in awe of these fearful words. I have looked on fearful sights without trembling, and heard the threatenings and denunciations of many an enemy without dismay; but I tremble and exceedingly quake before these words of the living God. And I would rather face the legions of hell in full array, than meet the Word coming against me with the terrors of this accusation : Oh, man! thou didst add to the words of the prophecy of this book, therefore unto thee be added all the plagues that are written in this book ;' or of this other accusation : Oh, man! thou didst take away from the words of the book of this prophecy; and from thee shall be taken away thy part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. I say I am not an incarnate devil, but a man in flesh and blood ; I am not a hardened and annealed infidel, but a hunible and faithful believer of God's word, to every jot and tittle: and, being so, I
read this with deep emotion, and can say from my heart, Oh God, I tremble at this thy word.—Let us now lay open this sanction.
And, first, oh ye dreamers ! who think that ye are safe in neglecting the Revelation about which so much stir is beginning to be made, who hug yourselves up in your great wisdom not to search into mysteries, and flatter yourselves that it is safest to be indifferent ; know of a verity, that if God stand to his word, ye are standing in a most perilous condition. For, through your neglect, you do not take away a part, but you take away the whole of what is written in it. So far as your faith goes, it is no part of it; so far as your influence goes, you withdraw it from the faith of others. What can you expect, oh ye despisers ! oh
ye self-satisfied worshippers of your own ease and prudence ! your ease is disease, your prudence is imprudence, you are treasuring up unto yourselves the wrath and indignation of your God. Find me such an awful sanction as this appended to any other book of Scripture if you can. That which our Lord addeth to the Law and the Prophets (Matt. v.) is strong, but this is fearful. It is much, to be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but, ah, how much more is it, to have all the plagues and judgments of antichrist and of the devil himself added to us! And yet such a spell hath bound both men and ministers fast, that they cannot, they will not, be roused to the scrupulous and exact consideration of this book, but will treat the most of it as an inscrutable mystery, which is more honoured in the neglect than in the meditation of it. Oh! I could stay and weep when I think upon the cold heedlessness with which my brethren in the church have treated my endeavours to awaken them to the sense of this book's awful importance. Even at best they consider me as a harmless enthusiast, a heady speculator ; but many of them do regard me as a misleader of the people. It is vain that I cry out on every occasion, Not me, but my subject, oh, my brethren! Not me, but my Lord ; not me, but your own salvation. Time after time I lift up my voice to move them to give heed to this book; but heed to it they will give none. Haply they take a text from it for the splendour of its diction, to form the basis of some spiritual interpretation or misinterpretation; haply to repel and gainsay all interpretation; haply to put another fold around the mass of prejudice and neglect with which these people already cover it. I see the dead sleep in which the church is sunk: and I must do my office as a watchman, though I should speak like Isaiah to the heavens and the unconscious earth ; for I do soon expect my Lord to arrive, and demand of me an account of my stewardship. Oh, my Lord, I willingly serve thee, and I patiently wait for thee: help me to be faithful. Oh! help me to be faithful amongst so many faithless.
The two verses in which this sanction of fear is written are spoken by the Lord Jesus himself, who is the speaker both in verse 16 preceding, and in verse 20 following them. He who had received it from the Father would well honour and guard his Father's gift: He who knows the sacredness of the Father's word, and loveth not that the church should incur his Father's displeasure, would fain by timeous warning prevent the evil, and therefore doth in his own person utter the fearful sentence upon those who dishonour this book; and with those lips which shall hereafter when he enacteth the Judge, carry the sentence into execution. Now it is a threatening, then it shall be a judgment. He uttereth the threatening to every one who heareth the prophecy of this book; not ministers only, but people also; every one to whose ears it
any way be brought. And the first part of the sentence lies against every one who shall presume to add any thing to this complete code of Christian prophecy; which is a book in itself complete, a full orb of truth, that may not be increased nor impaired. Our gracious God perceiving how Satan would in all ages tempt men to take unto themselves authority as prophets, and even to personate Christ himself—as almost every impostor, and arch-heretic, and mystagogue hath done-doth by this word warn all against the awful consequences of such presumption, and doth defend the church against receiving any of their prognostications or pretensions. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is all that hath been, is all that ever will be given to the church upon the subject of his coming again, and I may say upon the subject of future things. And, therefore, let no one hang dreaming on, as if his coming again would be ushered in by some
fresh heraldry, and the world duly warned thereof. In these twenty-two chapters, the whole manifestation is contained. Therefore let us make the best of it: and if any one come to us in his own name, pretending to other revelations than those herein contained, let us denounce against him the terrors of this .curse. Now I ask if this book itself were impenetrable and impervious to the sight of sanctified men, then what a case were we in ! Deprived of all further light, and having none given to us, we must stumble onwards darkly, and that day overtake us as a thief in the night : whereas of the church, it is said, that day shall not come upon them as a thief, because they are children of the light and of the day.-Now lest, haply, any one should be deterred from coming to peruse and to understand this book by the fear of adding something to it of his own ; while I would have a careful watch upon my lips and heart not to do so, I have no fear that the ground on which I tread is dangerous. It is holy, but it is not dangerous. I have great faith and entire contidence in the Holy Spirit, that when I am seeking to know the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, he will not lead me into error. I am jealous over my own proud imaginations and empty thoughts; but I know that the Holy Ghost is not to be resisted or overcome by them. My wandering propensities are not so strong but that God can bring me back to the Bishop and Shepherd of my soul. The teaching of the Spirit is not honoured by doubting him. If we abstain from reading the Apocalypse, because of the false interpretations which have been made of it, we should likewise abstain from reading the rest of Scripture, because of the heretical opinions which have been grafted thereon. It is a remark of Sir Isaac Newton, that no one has devoted himself earnestly to prophecy without having been honoured to bring something to light. And it might be added that the one thing which every one is made instrumental in bringing to light, is that which the church in his generation most needeth, and for which God stirred up his servant to inquire. And if, as we see, there be now awakened in the church, a lively interest in the study of prophecy, we may rest assured that it will lead to discoveries most profitable to