« AnteriorContinuar »
the merits or righteousnesses of Jehovah alone constitute the defences, be a sufficient refuge from the wrath to come.
We suppose the saints here, or holy ones, to represent holy principles, (elements of this economy of grace,) these being the subjects of attack, on the part of the adversary and his forces. This economy of grace we presume to be termed the beloved city, because this plan of sovereign mercy is that in which divine goodness takes peculiar delight. As it is said, Ps. cxlvii. 10, 11," He (the Lord) delighteth not in the strength of the horse; he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man"—he is not pleased with any means of salvation or deliverance other than those of his own providing: "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." The visitation of wrath is represented as his strange work, (Is. xxviii. 21.) while, on the other hand, it is declared he delighteth in mercy. For the same reason, apparently, Christ himself is declared to be the beloved Son of God; not merely that he is divine, or that he is an only Son, but that he is the means of redemption-the instrument of mercy, in which God delights. He is beloved on account of his office; on account of the functions of sovereign grace fulfilled in him. In other words, the work of redemption itself is God's delight. He delights in being a Saviour, a Redeemer. The economy of grace is that over which he rejoices, and for this reason it is termed beloved. The legal dispensation was something going first into operation from necessity—as it was said, perhaps typically, concerning the first wife of the patriarch, (Gen. xxix. 26,) "It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born"-something resulting from the nature of things. The gospel dispensation, on the contrary, is something freely given, or, rather, something adopted of choice, and therefore an object of delight with him by whom it has been thus prepared.
Such being the beloved city and its camp, it is here represented as in a state of siege,-encompassed with armies. It is a town without walls, as supposed at present. Its only reliance is upon Jehovah of hosts; He is its only wall, its only defence. As we might say of the gospel plan of salvation, it depends entirely upon the element of divine sovereignty to sustain it. "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man"-" All nations," says the Psalmist, "compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them," (Ps. cxviii. 8, 9.) We suppose the cases to be analogous; one representing the position of the disciple himself, the other the position of that plan of salvation upon which the disciple rests his hope. If the beloved city fall before its enemies, the last hope of refuge for the sinner flying from offended justice is cut off forever.*
* This favoured city represents, no doubt, the same object as that symbolized by the holy city, (Rev. xi. 2,) although under different circumstances; and also as that
$454. And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.' So it is said, (Ezek. xxxix. 6 and 9,) " And I will send a fire on Magog. . . . . and they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the hand-staves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years." The instrument of destruction in both cases is the same-the element of fire-the same consuming element as that which destroyed the harlot-the great commercial city-(the mercenary system.)
The conflict here represented is between the exhibition of truth and that of error, the beloved city and the camp of the saints being figures of the plan of salvation as set forth in the gospel; the hosts of Gog and Magog, on the other hand, representing the innumerable multitude of errors opposed to the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. The fire is the word of God— the revealed word, understood in its proper spiritual sense. Coming down from heaven, is its revelation; and coming immediately from God, may indicate this peculiar revelation to be that of the element of divine sovereignty, a truth overcoming all opposition. Or, perhaps, to be more definite, we may say, heaven is the written word; the fire out of heaven is the true or spiritual sense educed from this written word. The spiritual understanding (Col. i. 9) is the gift of God; for which reason it is represented as fire coming out of heaven, from God. On this occasion this fire may apply particularly to that portion of truth which counteracts the delusion of the accuser. The truth that God is a sovereign, and that this sovereignty is the principle of his government, once fully manifested puts an end to all cavilling on the subject of redemption by grace. He has a right to do as he pleases with his own-every thing is his; as he is the only creator and preserver, so he is the only possessor and proprietor. There are none that can say unto him, What doest thou? The question of what he ought to do cannot be mooted. The only question to be asked is, What is his will? or, What has he declared to be his will? and, whatever that will may be, the only language for the creature to hold is, Let that will be done. No sooner, then, does God reveal, in a manner not to be misunderstood, the fact that salvation by grace is his will, than the plan of salvation represented by the beloved city is safe; every element hostile to it is devoured or consumed; the armies of the aliens are put to flight. As the blood of the Lamb (the element of divine propitiation) overcomes the dragon and his angels, (the elements of the law,) so the fire from God out of heaven, the
spoken of, Rev. iii. 12, (the city of my God;) but otherwise, this is the first intimation we have had of a city, the opposite of the great city, Babylon, just destroyed.
manifestation of the truth as it is in Jesus, overcomes (devours) every principle of error.
'And the devil which deceived them was cast into the lake,' &c.—The perverted views or errors, termed the nations, are represented as being all entirely destroyed. The verb employed is one signifying to eat, combined with an intensive; the same verb as that rendered (Rev. x. 9) by eat up; and the same verb as that employed to express the intention of the dragon towards the male-child, (Rev. xii. 4,) to devour or to destroy it altogether. These errors, therefore, may be supposed to be completely annihilated. Nothing remains of them after the exhibition of truth here contemplated. It is not so with the leader of the hostile band: he, too, is exposed to the destructive action of fire, but he is not supposed to be annihilated. His destruction is represented as something continually and perpetually in operation. He is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone: the element of sulphur being that giving perpetuity to the fire of the lake. The accusing spirit, the legal adversary, may thus be said to be ever in view. Those who are saved will have in contemplation, throughout eternity, the danger from which they have escaped-the adversary from whose power they have been preserved. Such contemplation, we may take it for granted, is necessary, and will be forever necessary, to perpetuate the gratitude of the redeemed for the great salvation they enjoy. Throughout eternity the ransomed sinner will never forget the justice of his condemnation, and the freeness of that grace by which he has been saved from wrath, and made an heir of immortal happiness.
'Where the beast and the false prophet (are).'—This seems to be added to remind us that the lake of fire is the same in both cases. It is something capable of acting upon the subjects represented by the beast and false prophet; and as these two elements are evidently things of a figurative character, so the lake into which they are cast is something of a like charac ter; and, consequently, the torment of Satan here spoken of, must be of the same description as that undergone by these two first principles of error.
And shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever:' or, as it might be rendered, And they shall be tormented, &c.; all three of them.We were before told that the beast and false prophet were cast into this lake, but it was not then said for what purpose; now we have the further information that they, together with the adversary, are to be exposed to a continual and perpetual trial, or torture, as by fire-the fire of the Word of God; corresponding with the construction we have uniformly put upon the terms faoavico, facariouós, and upon the figures of sulphur and fire, and day and night.
THE SECOND RESURRECTION. THE SECOND JUDGMENT.
THE SECOND DEATH.
V. 11. And I saw a great white throne,
Καὶ εἶδον θρόνον μέγαν λευκόν, καὶ τὸν and him that sat on it, from whose face καθήμενον ἐπ ̓ αὐτοῦ, οὗ ἀπὸ προςώπου
the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανός, καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς.
§ 455. And I saw,' &c.-Comparing the commencement of this verse with the reference to him that sat on the throne, in the fifth verse of the next chapter, we perceive that the remainder of this chapter, together with the first eight verses of the next, constitutes the relation of one scene; the same throne, and the same occupant of the throne, being present throughout.
This is the second judgment scene described in this chapter, but, besides the figurative interval of a thousand years, it differs very materially from the preceding. In the first exhibition the apostle saw several thrones, seats, or tribunals, and, as implied, as many judges, or occupants of the seats, to whom judgment was given. But before these tribunals the combatants on the side of the conqueror only appeared; the functions of the judges seem-ingly being confined to the allotment of rewards to these followers of the victor. The remainder of the dead (those slain by the sword of the Word) are expressly declared not to have been resuscitated at that time, nor were they to be so till after the expiration of the thousand years; but as their resurrection at the end of that term is apparently implied, we may presume them to be now appearing at the second judgment. In the present exhibition there is seen but one throne or one tribunal, and but one judge. To him judgment is not said to be given. He is himself the source of judgment—the fountain of justice. Nor is it only one class of objects that is here said to be judged; although the fate of but one class is set forth in this chapter.
A great white throne.'-A white throne is nowhere else mentioned in the Scriptures; but the term white appears to be so universally applied in the Apocalypse, in connection with some manifestation of divine righteousness, that we feel no hesitation in considering the throne here described as a representation of that moral perfection which manifests the supremacy of the divine character; the white throne, like the white horse and the white cloud, symbolizing that divine righteousness which constitutes at the same time the glory of the saints and the element essential to an exhibition of the sovereign power of Jehovah in the work of salvation.
'And him that sat thereon.'-The apostle seems intentionally to avoid stating who sat upon the throne, as if this were a mystery not yet fully developed. There can be no doubt but that this throne and its occupant
are those described Rev. iv. 3, the mode of manifestation only being different. As it is said, (Ps. xlvii. 48,) God sitteth on the throne of his holiness; so we may say here, God is manifested upon the throne of his righteousness-that is, of his own righteousness-that righteousness by which he sustains himself, (Is. lix. 16;) allusion being made to the same throne in the promise of the Saviour, Rev. iii. 21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit upon my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne." The follower of Jesus is exalted by God's righteousness or holiness, and not by his own-corresponding with the assurance of the Psalmist, "In thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted," (Ps. lxxxix. 16.)
The Son of God as the Lamb had overcome, (Rev. iii. 21;) by his blood he had overcome, (Rev. xii. 11;) and as the Word of God be had overcome, (Rev. xix. 21 ;) and now the apostle sees the same divine Being on the great white throne, manifested to be identic with the Father-exalted and upheld by the same righteousness.
This exhibition of sovereignty, and of the Lamb or Word of God as the supreme Judge, may be considered virtually a result of the defeat of the accuser and his forces, of that of the beast and of the kings of the earth, as well as of the destruction of Babylon, and of the fiery trial to which the beast and false prophet and accuser are perpetually exposed. The fact of this sovereignty must have been always the same, in the nature of things; but there is a gradual development of the truth. The extreme hatefulness and fallacy of the mercenary system must be exhibited before the claims of self-righteousness can be manifested to be groundless; these claims must be shown to be extinguished before the power of the accuser can be manifestly overcome; the complete subjugation of the accuser's power must be exhib ited before the supremacy of Christ's righteousness can be exhibited; and the predominance of the merits of Christ (the righteousness of God in Christ) over every other principle opposed to the salvation of the sinner must be shown, before the power of divine sovereignty can be exhibited. A gradual development of this kind is indicated by the apostle Paul, (1 Cor. xv. 23-25,) "Each in its own order, (as the passage might be rendered ;) first Christ, then those that are of Christ at his appearance: then the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and to the Father; when he shall have caused to pass away all rule, and all authority and power; for he must reign [his merits must be manifested to predominate] till he hath put all enemies under his feet: the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
This crisis we have the more reason to believe to be apocalyptically reached in this passage, as we find the destruction of death (the last enemy) to be one of the results of this second judgment, (v. 14.)