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$ 456. 'From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.'-This figure probably corresponds with what Paul terins the passing away or abolishing of all rule, and all authority and power. So we may say a manifestation of Christ as Jehovah our righteousness causes an entire change in all previous views of divine government, not even admitting of their continuance. And as such a minifestation necessarily draws a line of discrimination between all that is true and all that is false in matters of religious doctrine, it is virtually a judging of these things; corresponding with the description in this passage of the great tribunal and its action-the great white throne and him that sat upon it, from whose sight even the heaven fled away.
It was said, Rev. vi. 14, that the heaven departed, or was rolled up (161) like a scroll, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places, and (xvi. 20) every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. In the change now spoken of, the whole earth is said to flee away; the representation differing in degree, but being the same in kind. We think the epoch in all these relations may be considered the same; the development of the truth only being progressive. At first the confidence of the sinner in earthly means of refuge (§ 161) is shaken; mountains and islands are moved out of their places, and the refugees are flying from rock to rock, and from mountain to mountain, but they still call upon these vain objects of trust for shelter from the wrath to come. We next see a shaking of the whole earthly system, involving a dissolution of the mixed or mercenary scheme of salvation: every island has fled away, and the mountains are not found, the hail sweeping away the refuge of lies;-the various shifts and devices of self-confidence are manifested to be mere illusions. And lastly, the whole scheme of man's dependence upon any works or merits of his own, even the supposition of his being so placed under the law, is shown to be incapable of withstanding the judgment of Him who sitteth upon the
Not only the earth, the heaven also is seen to flee away; as it is said, Heb. xii. 26, (in allusion to Haggai ii. 6, and Is. xiii. 13,) "But now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven" and as it is predicted, Is. xxxiv. 4, " And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine," &c.; and, 2 Peter iii. 10, 13, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are
Nevertheless we, according to his
therein shall be burned up. promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
In this last quotation we find a key to the reason why the heavens as well as the earth are thus the subjects of change, viz., that in the old heaven, as well as the old earth, righteousness does not dwell. They cannot withstand the searching eye of Him who sits upon the throne, because in them no righteousness is found-they do not furnish it; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.
The only true righteousness is that of Jehovah himself. There is no other, in the strict sense of the term. Consequently, any plan of salvation, any exhibition of the position of man, or of the government of God, deficient in showing God's righteousness to be the only righteousness-the only means of justification-must be incapable of meeting the approbation of the omniscient Judge and Sovereign. Every plan or scheme, without this requisite, must flee, as it were, from before his face. Such we suppose to be the earth and heaven spoken of in the description of this apocalyptic judgment. They are exhibitions of man's position, and of God's scheme of government, (including his plan of redemption,) of which the righteousness of God, as the only means of salvation, does not form an essential part. For this reason, there is no place for them, so soon as Jehovah is manifested on the white throne of his own righteousness; as if it were argued, Since the Supreme Being himself must be sustained by his own perfect righteousness, how can man be exalted, sustained, or even saved by any other righteousness?
It may be difficult to define precisely the distinction between the exhibition designated as heaven, and that designated as the earth; but it is very plain, from the manner in which the apostle Paul uses these figures, that he applies them both to a change from the legal to the gospel dispensation, as he says, in connection with the quotation we have just now made, (Heb. xii. 27,) "And this, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
We suppose the things which cannot be shaken to be the things of the kingdom of God-the principles of the economy of grace, as they have existed in the divine mind from all eternity, and as they are revealed in the sacred Scriptures when these Scriptures are spiritually understood. All things short of these must be designed only for a temporary purpose—they were made to be shaken, and made to be changed. Such was man's original position by nature, and such was the legal dispensation; and such must be any view even of the gospel dispensation, or of the whole word of revelation, not according with a just view of divine sovereignty, and of man's entire dependence upon the unmerited favour of his Redeemer.
We presume, of course, the heaven here seen to pass away, not to be the heaven into which John was permitted to enter in vision, nor that denominated by Paul the third heaven; both of these corresponding appa
rently with the new heaven mentioned in the next chapter. Something analogous to the Jewish idea of three heavens, one above the other, we suppose to prevail throughout the Apocalypse-three successive exhibitions of the truths of revelation; the last, or spiritual, corresponding with the Jewish ethereal region, being that which is to remain; the others, as of a temporary and earthly or mixed character, are destined to be changed, dissolved, or to pass away. We judge of the meaning of this term, as in other cases, according to the circumstances and connection in which it is used.
Whatever difficulty there may be in arriving at an exact analysis of this passage, as heaven and earth comprehend all visible objects, to speak of these as having fled away, must be equivalent to a representation of the disappearance of all previous views of the subject under contemplation, (the subject comprehended in the unveiling of Jesus Christ;) these old views cannot withstand or abide (Mal. iii. 2) the manifestation now made. The whole construction of the revealed word being changed, there is no longer room for them; as it is said in the next chapter, with reference to the same change, "The former things have passed away," and as Paul expresses it, Heb. x. 9, "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second;" with this difference, however, that this last passage refers to the fact itself of the substitution of the new economy for the old or legal dispensation, while the language of the Apocalypse refers to a manifestation of this fact, through the right understanding of the revealed word—an understanding effecting such a change of views as to be compared to a perfect oblivion of the past (Is. lxv. 17,) "The former [heaven and earth] shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."
Vs. 12-15. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is (the book) of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead ed every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of
which were in them: and they were judg
Καὶ εἶδον τοὺς νεκρούς, τοὺς μεγάλους καὶ τοὺς μικροίς, ἑστῶτας ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου, καὶ βιβλία ἠνοίχθησαν· καὶ ἄλλο βιβλίον ἠνοίχθη, ὅ ἐστι τῆς ζωῆς· καὶ ἐκρίθησαν οἱ νεκροὶ ἐκ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τοῖς βιβλίοις κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν. Καὶ ἔδωκεν ἡ θάλασσα τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὐτῆ, καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἔδωκαν τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὑτοῖς· καὶ ἐκρίθησαν ἕκαστος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν. Καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἐβλήθησαν εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρός· οὗτος ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερός ἐστιν, ἣ λίμνη τοῦ πυρός. Καὶ εἴ τις οὐχ εὑρέθη ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ τῆς ζωῆς γεγραμμένος, ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρός.
§ 457. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ;'—or, according to our Greek edition, stand before the throne.' The difference is not material, except that, as we apprehend, the Deity himself is not yet
supposed to be fully revealed, as the occupant of the throne; this is to be gathered from the subsequent narration. The Rider of the white horse, the King of kings, the Word of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, after having brought all enemies under subjection, may be now considered manifested upon this tribunal of judgment. On this account, we think our Greek to be here the correct reading.
In the commencement of this chapter, (v. 5,) after speaking of the souls of those slain by the are, the remainder of the dead were said not to live again until the termination of the thousand years. The narrative then continues without interruption; in the course of which the thousand years is represented as having terminated; and in the twelfth verse, after the intervening of six verses only, the dead are described as seen standing before the throne. This closeness of connection seems to leave us no choice, but to suppose the dead thus seen to be the remaining ones of the dead mentioned in the fifth verse; and these, for the reason given, (§ 449,) we suppose to be the dead slain in the great battle of Armageddon by the sword of the Word the dead who did not rise till after the expiration of the thousand years.
Those reigning with Christ during the thousand years cannot be the dead now seen, for, having had part in the first resurrection, having been pronounced blessed and holy, and having been declared exempt from the power of the second death, they must have been justified, and therefore no longer the subjects of judgment. Those overcome in the second campaign, (the attack upon the camp of the saints,) are said to be all destroyed by fire from heaven; and the action of fire appears to be uniformly in Scripture the figure of a final destruction. In addition to this, the terms "small and great" correspond with the description given of the forces of the beast, among whom there appears every variety of rank and grade; while the forces of Satan, in the assault upon the beloved city, are mentioned only as the nations of the earth.
These dead, then, appearing at this second judgment, we apprehend to be the component parts of the forces of the kings of the earth, and of the followers of the beast, including perhaps some of them coerced into the service of the blasphemous despot; that is, they are the inhabiters of the earth the dwellers upon the earth-those against whom, with a certain exception, the three woes were pronounced. Apocalyptically, we suppose them to be all the elements or principles peculiar to the earthly system.
All these followers of the beast, with the kings of the earth, were slain by the sword out of the mouth of the Word, and their flesh was given to the birds; but, notwithstanding this, it is implied that, like human beings slain in battle, they are capable of being resuscitated, and of appearing in judgment their destruction on the field of Armageddon was not final.
Their leader, however, (the beast,) with his aid, (the false prophet,) met with a different fate: they were both of them cast into the lake of fire, whence we do not afterwards hear of their being delivered, even for a
As among the inhabiters of the earth, there were apparently some that did not worship the beast, and that did not receive his mark, (Rev. xiii. §, and xvii. 8,) so it seems to be implied that, amongst those now said to be standing in judgment, there are some (exceptions to a general rule) to be found in the book of life-the trial itself turning upon this issue.
§ 458. And the books were opened: and another book was opened;' or, And books were opened.'-There being no article in the original in connection with the word books, we may understand it or not, as accords best with the sense. If understood, we seem to be directed to some books previously mentioned; and in this Apocalypse we meet with no allusion to any other books than that opened by the Lamb, and the little book swallowed by the apostle, together with the book of life, (Rev. iii. 5, xiii. 8, and xvii. 8,) and this book of Revelation itself; or, if we retain the article, we may suppose the books to designate the books of the Old Testament, received by the Jews as canonical, comprehending the law and the prophets to the time of the restoration. As the term is used in Ezra vi. 1, "Search was made in the house of the books," (margin :) and Dan. ix. 2, "I understood by books ;" that is, of course, the sacred books, called, amongst the Jews, probably by way of distinction, the books.
Written without the article, however, we may suppose an indefinite plural to be put here for the dual number, (as in the use of the word times, Dan. xii. 7, and Rev. xii. 14;) the books opened being two books, and these two books, the law and the testimony, pre-eminently criteria in matters of doctrine;-as it was said of all pretensions to an interpretation of the divine will, Is. viii. 19, 20, "When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits," &c. "Should not a people seek unto their God?" "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
It will be perceived that, as we do not suppose this judgment scene to represent literally the trial of human beings, so neither do we suppose these books to represent records of the actions of such beings: they represent only something analogous to such records, and to things pertaining to such a trial. Elements of doctrine, compared with the law and the testimony, or with Moses and the prophets, are represented as human beings, tried by what is written of them in certain books of record.
Corresponding with this view, we take the other book-the book of life-to represent the gospel; or, rather, all that belongs to that plan of salvation of which we have an account in the gospel. This book of life, we