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passed through a certain change, he is now to exhibit merits upon the existence of which his salvation depends, his motive of action, as before, must be selfish and mercenary. He must be occupied in serving himself, while he professes to serve God. To convince the believer of this error, the nature of divine wrath must be so exhibited as to manifest the entire nothingness of any pretensions to a goodness or merit of his own,-as much so subsequent to his conversion as before ;-the only righteousness equal to the wrath of God, being that of Jehovah himself: which also, in the nature of the case, can be obtained only by imputation. All other pretensions must be proved to wither and perish in comparison with this; the Sun of righteousness acting upon them as with a burning heat.
The disciple cannot worship (serve) God in reality, so long as he supposes himself to be the author of his own eternal happiness, so long as he supposes his position to admit of his walking in the light of a righteousness of his own creation. He must be made to feel, to realize, that his only hope and trust is in the imputed righteousness of Jehovah, or he cannot possess that pure motive of gratitude for the gift of eternal life, which is an essential ingredient in the worship of God. The wrath of God must be so exhibited as to show the entire destitution of any element of righteousness where self is in any degree the object of reliance. The kingdom of the beast must be manifested to be full of darkness.
377. Men are generally willing to admit themselves to be sinners, they talk much of the frailty of human nature, and self-righteousness is almost universally a topic of reprobation. But a prevailing error with all mankind, and perhaps especially with those who profess Christianity, appears to be, that, whatever their imperfections, as they call them, may be, there is in something that they do, or that they may do, a redeeming quality-something which, even in the sight of God, is to operate as an element of atonement or of propitiation. Every one has something of this kind, which may be termed his great river—his great resource for eternal life: his candour, his honesty, his inoffensiveness, his works of penitence, his moral reformation, his observance of ordinances, his holiness, his zeal, his benevolence, or his liberality. This is, indeed, but a part of the system of self—the kingdom of that despot is within us, and Babylon maintains her dominion in the heart; and her pleasant, her fructifying river,* as she vainly boasts of it, is one of the last objects of self-dependence ever to be surrendered. This error, however, must be removed, before the sovereignty of God and the freeness of his salvation can be exhibited. So long as the disciple is governed by the influence of self or of selfishness he cannot serve God, in the strict sense of the term; that is, acting from the motive of serving God,
*Euphrates,, Frugifer, sive fructificans aut crescens-fruitful, growing, &c.— (Leusden.)
and not of that of serving himself. So long as his design is to propitiate the favour of his supreme Judge, by works of his own performing, he is unable to act with any other view than that of promoting his own interest, while the tendency of his pretensions to effect such propitiation is to rob his divine Redeemer of the glory of his salvation. The Euphrates with every one must be dried up ere the elements of gospel truth can take their proper place in the understanding; and this operation can only be performed by a due exhibition of the wrath of God, showing the utter inadequacy of any such human provision as an element of eternal life.
We do not pretend to point out what particular gospel doctrines are figuratively spoken of as the kings from the rising of the sun; but if we are right in ascribing the primary allusion to the two kingly powers, Media and Persia, we may suppose these powers to represent the two peculiar doctrines of Christianity, supposed on a former occasion ($322) to be falsified or simulated by the false prophet, and, thus counterfeited, to be symbolized by the two horns of the beast from the land-the weapons by which the worship of the beast and of his image may be said to be enforced.
Nor do we pretend to define further than we have done, ($365,) the doctrines or elements of doctrine represented by the unclean spirits from the mouths of the dragon, beast, and false prophet. Their real character will be better ascertained when they are seen in operation, striving to prevent the manifestation of the truth in the person of Him, who is to exhibit himself as the overcoming principle of sovereign grace, the Lord our righteous
The last class of errors in the way of the worship of God is that occasioned by the medium through which religious truth is contemplated-a medium upon which apparently the preservation of Babylon, or the cohesion of the parts of this great city instrumentally depends, and upon which also depends the foundation of every erroneous system of salvation. The true worship (service) of God calls for the purification of this medium. HE cannot be worshipped without it—the rules of exegesis, spiritually speaking, are to be changed, (whatever commotion it may occasion,) in order that the kingdom of the beast, the reign of self, may be entirely overthrown and the mercenary system of Babylon entirely destroyed. We think this process will be equivalent to that of substituting, as Paul terms it, the spirit for the letter.
$378. This change also is to be brought about by a just exhibition of the wrath of divine justice; showing that nothing short of an entire and perfect righteousness can meet the requisitions of the law-consequently that the means of salvation must be entirely of God; that, as he will not share his glory with another, so he will not admit of the admixture in the smallest degree of any merits of man with those of his Redeemer as the means of salvation.
The fall or division of Babylon appears to be the principal feature in the effects resulting from the action of the seventh vial upon the air; so we suppose the last and perhaps the greatest error to which the disciple is liable, and perhaps, too, that into which the whole Christian world may most easily fall, is the attempt to mix the merits of man with those of his Saviour-to rely upon a righteousness partly of the Creator, and partly of the creature; a mixture involved in the name of the great city Babylon, and a mixture especially represented by her cup of abominations, which we shall hereafter have occasion to notice.
So long as the disciple's motive of conduct is to mingle in the cup of salvation some holiness or goodness of his own, as forming a portion of his claim to eternal life, he cannot serve or worship God in the proper sense of the term; for his motive must then be to serve himself, as much as if his salvation depended entirely upon it. The only difference between this mixed motive, and that which is professedly selfish, is, that there is an odious hypocrisy in one which is not to be found in the other. The disciple professes to have the glory of God only at heart, when it is really his own interest and his own glory that he is studying. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, said Jesus; no man can serve two masters; so no one can at the same time act from a motive of serving God, and from a motive of serving himself. If the last motive come into consideration, the first is necessarily excluded. It is true that a dogma of the church, sanctioned perhaps for ages, ex cathedra, pronounces the chief end of man to be, "to glorify God and enjoy him for ever." But it is plain that there are here two chief ends, instead of one. The only chief end of man must be to glorify God; this is the only pure motive of conduct; to be actuated by the motive of promoting one's own enjoyment is to act with the purpose of serving one's self, not God. Hence the necessity of an implicit reliance upon the divine purpose of grace, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, to enable the disciple to give himself entirely to the chief end of his being-that of glorifying his Creator and Redeemer-that of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Man is required to love his neighbour as himself—it is permitted here, to divide the affections. But God is to be loved with the whole heart and mind and strength; not even self is to come in here for a share of this love. The love of God must be the only motive of conduct, or God is not worshipped as his temple service requires; and it is for this reason especially, we may say, that no mixed system of salvation is admissible, and that such mixture, however highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God.
"Whom the Lord loveth he rebuketh," (Rev. iii. 19.) The admonitory instructions of this book are intended for those to whom they are addressed— disciples, not unbelievers,-the seven churches, the objects of the Saviour's peculiar care. It is for the disciple who believes himself most loved to lay
these admonitions most to heart; to apply these tests to his own views, and to his own motives of conduct. So we may say of Christian communities: We are not to cast our eyes around the whole visible church, as it is termed, to apply the criterion of divine worship here given to the trial of portions of Christendom apparently least favoured of God, and most estranged from the truth; we are to apply the standard of judgment to our own views, and the test of motives to that scheme of doctrine we are ourselves, as sects or denominations, most disposed to advocate.
THE HARLOT IN THE
WILDERNESS. THE BEAST WITH HEADS AND TEN HORNS.
Vs. 1, 2. And there came one of the
seven angels which had the seven vials,
and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been
made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
Καὶ ἦλθεν εἷς ἐκ τῶν ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλων τῶν ἐχόντων τὰς φιάλας, καὶ ἐλάλησε μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ λέγων· δεῦρο, δείξω σοι τὸ κρίμα τῆς πόρνης τῆς μεγάλης, τῆς καθημένης ἐπὶ τῶν ὑδάτων τῶν πολλῶν, μεθ ̓ ἧς ἐπόρνευσαν οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἐμεθύσθησαν οἱ και τοικοῦντες τὴν γῆν ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς.
§ 379.' And there came one of the seven angels,' &c.-If this be the first ($145) of the seven angels, it must be the one the pouring out of whose vial resulted in a grievous sore upon the men having the mark of the beast; but perhaps either of these angels may be supposed, with equal propriety, to be instrumental in making the exhibition about to be described. The contents of this chapter, in its relation with the preceding portion of the Apocalypse, may be considered a species of episode; the attention of the reader or spectator being called off for a time from the thread of the main narrative to something requiring a separate illustration. On the effusion of the seventh vial, a dissolution of the great city took place, and Babylon came in remembrance before God. The questions naturally occurring then, we may suppose to have been, What great city is this? What was particularly the criminal character of this Babylon, for which she is made to partake of the cup of the wine of the fierceness of God's wrath? and, What is to be understood by her thus coming in remembrance before God? An answer to these inquiries is furnished in what we may here call the vision of the harlot.
'Come hither,' &c.-Comparing this passage with that of Rev. xxi. 9, 10, we cannot but be confirmed in the supposition already suggested, ($331,) that this HARLOT is an opposite of the bride, the Lamb's wife; as the great city Babylon is an opposite of the New Jerusalem. The contrast to be met with in the two figures will aid us in arriving at an understanding of the illustrations intended by both of them.