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It is the cleansing efficacy of the atonement of Jesus which enables his followers to participate in every other benefit conferred by sovereign grace: it is this, indeed, which brings them into the position of such participation; the blessedness of him whose transgressions are forgiven covering, we may say, the whole ground of eternal happiness. To take of the water of life is, then, to partake of the marriage feast-to accept of the means of salvation offered in the gospel: one simple figure put for the whole. To take of the water of life, is to cast one's self entirely for redemption upon the merits of Christ; trusting for acceptance with God, solely to a participation in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
This participation is now offered, and what is peculiar in the offer is, that the benefit to be conferred is freely given, gratis, entirely as a gift; no equivalent being exacted for it, no condition being prescribed;—corresponding with the language of Paul, Rom. iii. 24, "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." The only question we have to ask is, To whom is the offer made? and the answer is, To all desiring to obtain the favour. The invitation to drink is to all who are thirsty; the offer of the life-giving supply is to all who feel their need of it, and desire to partake of it.
There may be those who thirst, but who do not desire to take of the proffered supply; they feel their want, but they prefer depending upon other resources. There is within them a proud spirit of self justification and vainglory, which speaks to them in the language ascribed to the king of Assyria, Is. xxxvi. 16: "Make with ine a covenant, and come out with me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree; and drink ye every one of the waters of his own cistern.”
With the atonement of Jesus before them, they prefer seeking out some propitiation of their own providing an almost unaccountable perversity, alluded to by the prophet, (Jer. ii. 12, 13 :) "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord: for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters," (rejecting the atonement of Christ,)" and have hewed out for them cisterns," (in devising means of propitiation of their own,) "broken cisterns, which can hold no water."
There are others, however, who both thirst (feel their need of an atoning sacrifice) and earnestly desire (will) to partake of the proffered benefit: "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks," says David, "so panteth my soul after thee, O God! My soul thirsteth for God; for the living God," (Ps. xlii. 1, 2 ;) "O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee. My soul thirsteth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is," (Ps. lxiii. 1, 2.)
This thirsting for God, as expressed in the Psalms, we presume to be the thirsting and desiring of the Apocalypse; corresponding with the chain
of identity already alluded to. The river of the water of life (the means of atonement) being the distinguishing element of the holy city, (the divine purpose of grace,) the holy city or bride being identic with the Lamb, and the Lamb identic with God, to thirst for God is equivalent to thirsting for the water of life.
§ 542. The words of the last two verses, we suppose to be addressed directly to every human being interested in the great salvation, constituting the subject of this revelation. The veil is now laid aside, and Jesus no longer speaks through his angel; what he says, accordingly, is to be taken as directed to all his followers-to all who look for him, (Phil. iii. 20 ; Heb. ix. 28.) His language is figurative, as it was in the invitations quoted from the gospels; and his allusions refer to the exhibition of the Spirit and the bride, just completed; but the address may be considered an application of the whole revelation to the case of the sinner individually, and to that of all collectively, before whom this portion of Scripture may be placed.
As if it had been said, by way of objection, 'If the Lamb's wife (the new Jerusalem) be not the whole multitude ('Exxλŋoía) of disciples themselves, but only a representation of the assemblage of doctrinal principles involved in the divine purpose of grace, what interest have we (disciples) in that which is set forth as identic with the Lamb?'
In anticipation of this objection, we may suppose it to be now said by the Saviour, Behold, the plan of salvation is here set before you, under the figure of the splendid city you have been just contemplating; all its provisions and advantages being equivalent to, and comprehended in, what is represented by the river of the water of life :-to trust in the refuge represented by the city, is to take of the water of life. The exhibition of divine mercy is, itself, an invitation to accept of it; and this invitation is accompanied with the assurance, that what is sought for is freely given. Come, for all things are ready. Behold, I create all things new; and in this new creation, otherwise represented as the new Jerusalem, consists the preparation for your eternal salvation.'
Surely, it is not for the sinner to say, Because I do not myself constitute an element of this new creation, this city-the bride-I have no interest in it! On the contrary, the language of common prudence must be, 'If such be the preparation, such the arrangement of sovereign grace, shall I reject or lightly esteem it? If the atonement of Jesus offered in my behalf be here represented as the aliment of eternal life; if his righteousness be the wall of salvation; if the riches of his merits be the ransom of the soul; if, in him I have an access unto God; if such be the purpose of infinite wisdom and mercy, how can I do despite to this spirit of grace? How can I trample under foot such means of reconciliation, or count the provisions of such a covenant an unholy thing?'
Such, we think, are the considerations suggested by a just application of these invitations to the whole subject of the Apocalypse; according as they do with the earnest entreaty of the apostle, (2 Cor. vi. 1, 2:) "We then beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain; for He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Μαρτυρῶ ἐγὼ παντὶ τῷ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου του θεὸς ἐπ ̓ αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμέ του· ἐάν τις ἐπιθῇ ἐπ ̓ αὐτά, ἐπιθήσει ὁ νας ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ· καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφέλη ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων τοῦ βιβλίου τῆς προφή ofτείας ταύτης, ἀφελεῖ ὁ θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας, τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τῷ βιβλία τούτῳ.
Vs. 18, 19. For I 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
§ 543. For I testify,' &c.-There is some difference here in the Greek editions, some of them omitting the word rúg, (for,) and employing the simple verb μαρτυρῶ, (I testify,) and others, reading Συμμαρτυροῦμαι γὰρ πατὶ azovori, which may be rendered, For I testify, together with him that heareth. This testimony, according to the last reading, would seem to be given in connection with the invitation to come and take of the water of life freely; as if it were added, for nothing militating with this free participation of the water of life shall be admissible in the construction of this revelation.
The other, however, is said to be the better reading, (Rob. Lex.) I witness to the hearing. In either case the hearing is the hearer just before instructed to say, Come; these hearers, as we suppose, being put for teachers or doctrines, virtually urging the invitations of the gospel upon all who need the salvation. The word man is supplied by our translators; the terms any and every would apply to angels as well as to men, and to doctrines (26701) as well as to human beings. The substance of the testimony, however, is the same, viz. that nothing is to be added to, or taken from, the words of this prophecy or interpretation of the divine will, (§ 69.)
This notice was intended primarily, no doubt, to protect the integrity of the text; which seems to have been preserved by it undisputed, with very trifling exceptions, in a remarkable manner:* the ultimate object, we think,
* Even the misconstruction of these verses may have been the means of preventing many alterations, interpolations, and excisions, which a pious officiousness would have otherwise undertaken; if only from a well-meaning effort to make that plain which was certainly obscure. So the misapplication of the book to temporal objects secured for the first manuscripts an early attention, a critical examination, frequent collation, and a jealous watchfulness, the advantages of which might not have been otherwise enjoyed.
was to protect the construction, as above suggested; that no principle or expression should be accounted admissible which might take from the freeness of the salvation offered, or add a condition or burden inconsistent with the invitation to take of the water of life gratis. The nature of the threatened penalties must be sufficient to show, that doctrines or principles are contemplated as obnoxious to them, and not human beings. "If any man (any one) shall add to (put upon, 707) these things, God shall add to him (¿719ýou in' avròv, put upon him or it) the plagues written in this book." The plagues or blows (7λnyás) written in this book, are the seven plagues of the seven vials-the grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, the bloody sea, the fountains and rivers of blood, the scorching of the sun, the torment peculiar to the kingdom of the beast, the drying up of the Euphrates, the irruption of the spirits unclean as frogs, the earthquake and the hail, and the dissolution of the great city: add to these the plague of the scorpion locusts and the scorpion tails of the Euphratean horses, the plagues which the two witnesses were empowered to inflict, the plagues to which Babylon was subjected, and the plague inflicted upon the head of the beast. These are all "the plagues written in this book." We have examined them severally, and, however defective our definitions may have been, it is evident that these plagues or blows are of a figurative character; symbolizing different tests by which the fallacy of erroneous systems and doctrinal principles is to be exposed. Corresponding with this construction, we presume the admonition or caution contained in the verses upon which we are now commenting to be equivalent to the declaration, that all false doctrines or principles introduced into this revelation, or brought to bear upon it, will be subjected to the tests just enumerated; their fallacy and inconsistency being exhibited by the same process.
§ 544. And if any man [any one] shall take away,' &c., God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and (from) the things which are written in this book;' or, as we might render the Greek of some editions, If any one take away from the sayings of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away the part of him (or of it) from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, (and) of the (things) written in this book; or, from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, written in this book. According to the first reading, the things written, &c. constitute a third figure; according to the last reading, the words, "written in this book," being in the genitive plural in the original, apply to the tree and the city, also in the genitive, and together requiring the participle agreeing with them in the genitive plural. We are inclined to prefer this reading, because it accords with the construction of the preceding verse. The plagues are designated as those written in the book; and, corresponding with this, the tree, or book of life, and the city, are also designated as those "written in this book." The difference, as we understand the figures, is not very
material. The tree of life, and the book of life, and the holy city, we sup pose to represent the same divine purpose-different illustrations of the same word of God, the divine plan of redemption, which also constitutes the things written in this book of Revelation. They are all equivalents, although affording a variety in their mode of exhibiting the same truths. To take the part of a doctrine or principle out of, or away from, either or all of these illustrations or exhibitions, is to show that it has no share in them. So any doctrine or principle taking away from the substance or from the purport of this revelation any portion of its truths, will be shown to have no part in a true exhibition of the divine plan of mercy.
This book (the Apocalypse) we assumed, in the first instance, and we think it will so appear to be, an unveiling or revelation, in a spiritual sense, of Jesus Christ himself, especially as the word of God, the purpose of sovereign grace, or divine plan of mercy. Any doctrine, principle, or construction, tending to engraft upon this revelation matters entirely of a different character, civil, political, or ecclesiastical, or tending to represent this divine purpose as a plan of salvation partly of works and partly of grace, or entirely of works instead of grace, is a doctrine or construction adding to or laying upon this book things which do not belong to it; consequently, such doctrine or construction must be eventually exposed to certain tests of truth, illustrated by the plagues written in this book. As, for example, the plague to which the harlot was finally exposed was that of being destroyed by the ten horns; the action of the law showing the utter destitution of the harlot-system of any righteousness or means of justification. The plague by which Babylon was finally destroyed was fire-the fire which is to try every work-the test of the written word by which every doctrine or construction is to be tried; the false doctrine or interpretation being destroyed, although the teacher himself may be a subject of mercy-saved indeed through that very plan of sovereign grace which, through ignorance, he may have been the instrument of misrepresenting.
The taking away that which belongs to this book, we suppose to be something of the same character. In effect, the two figures are nearly convertible. To apply any portion of the things written in this book to a wrong object, is to take them away from their true object, and consequently to diminish the number of principles or elements of truth applicable to the true design of the revelation. As the two errors are thus interchangeable, so the figures representing the penalty are interchangeable. The effect of subjection to the tests or plagues being that of depriving the false principle tried of its part, or rather of any part, in the true exhibition of God's purpose of redemption.