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unto me, Write, Blessed (are) the dead pavoù leyovons ypúyor. porápioi oi vexpoi which die in the Lord from henceforth: οι έν κυρίω αποθνήσκοντες απάρτι» ναι, Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do λέγει το πνεύμα, ένα αναπαύσωνται εκ των follow them.
κόπων αυτών· τα δε έργα αυτών ακολουθεί μεί αυτών.
$ 336. · Here is the patience,' &c.—This is an exclamation similar to that in the preceding chapter, both in the tenth and eighteenth verses :“ Here is the patience and the faith of the saints ;” and “Here is wisdom.” That is, we may suppose, herein is matter for the exercise of faith and patience. This we are to consider the conclusion of the third angel's annunciation ; but it may have a prospective as well as a retrospective allusion; as the angel may be supposed to know what the “ voice from heaven” is about to declare. Apparently the saints, like the souls under the altar, ($ 162,) are still supposed to be waiting the final manifestation of the truth. For the encouragement of their patience, they have the assurance that the elements of falsehood are destined to destruction, while on the other hand they are about to be assured of the blessedness of dying in the Lord : the certain privation of rest with one of class of objects, and the certain enjoyment of it by another.
· Here are they that keep the commandments of God.”—“ All these,” said the young man, (Matt. xix. 20, “have I kept from my youth ;” and yet he went away sorrowful, when called upon to part with his abundance for the benefit of others. It is doubtful whether he really had the love of God, and certainly he could not be said to have loved his neighbour as himself; he was probably, however, as near being perfect as the most selfrighteous of the present day, who value themselves upon keeping the commandments. We do not suppose those contemplated in this passage to be literally human beings, who themselves fulfil every jot and tittle of the law, and on that account may be said to “keep the commandments.”
The word w8€ (here) is not repeated in all editions after the word saints; with it, there would appear to be two classes spoken of: the saints, and those that keep the commandments ;-without it, the last term may be used as in apposition to the first. Here is the patience of the saints, that is, of those that keep, &c. The saints or holy ones we have before supposed to be (apocalyptically) elements or principles, holy, set apart, or as we may say, consecrated to that system of the worship of God, and of the salvation of man, which is the opposite of the system of the beast. These principles keep the commandments and the faith of Jesus, because they are strictly in conformity with the purport of the law and of the gospel. They constitute the same class of principles (personified) as those spoken of, Rev. xii. 17—the remnant of the woman's seed, against which the dragon went to make war; the remnant keeping the commandments of God, and having the testimony of Jesus, ($ 291 ;) the war made upon these saints or this remnant, and the flood from the accuser's mouth, intended to carry away the woman, (the true covenant,) being both exhibited in the power given to the ten-horned beast, and the influence possessed by the two-horned beast. Both of these have their period of action, but this action is declared to be limited, and the end of these evil influences is proclaimed by the third herald : which limitation and end appear to be assigned as reasons for a patient waiting for Christ ; corresponding with the admonition of Paul to the Thessalonians, that the day of Christ must be preceded by a falling away, but that this falling away is to result in the development of the mystery of iniquity ; which mystery, or that wicked, as he terms it, is to be consumed by the spirit of the mouth of the Lord, or brought to an end by the word of revelation as by fire, 2 Thes. ii. 3 and 8.
$ 337. “And I heard a voice from heaven.'-A revelation from the heavenly display ; virtually, the language of the divine plan of redemption : something not found in the earthly exhibition of that plan.
• Write.'-A direction, the opposite of that given when the seven thunders uttered their voices. Those thunders, indicative as they were of a judicial denunciation, were not intended apparently to be permanent in their utterance; the apostle was therefore forbidden to write what was announced by them ($ 229.) Here, however, as in all that pertains to the covenant of grace, there is a permanency in what may be termed the general proposition laid down ; it is therefore to be written, recorded, never to be forgotten. As it was expressed of old by the patriarch, in allusion to the same purpose of divine
mercy, and as if offering a reason for his own faith and patience: “O that my words were now written! O that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though now my reins be consumed within me,” (Job. xix. 23–27.) So also it is said, Is. xlix. 13-16, “Sing, O heavens ; and be joyful, 0 earth ; and break forth into singing, O mountains : for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. "But Zion said, The LORD hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee (written thee) upon of my hands.”
• Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth ;'—or, verbatim, Happy the dead, those in the Lord dying, henceforth. This happiness does not consist merely in being dead, but in dying in the Lord.
• that so many
The difference of position, whether living or dying, being all-important-in Christ or out of Christ. “ Know ye not,” says Paul,
of us, as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ?” And again, “For if we be planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection,” (Rom. vi. 3, 5.) And again, Rom. vii. 4, " Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ ;" and Gal. ii. 19, 20, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God; I am crucified with Christ.” So, Col. ii. 20, “Wherefore, if ye are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, [the elements of the legal system,] why, as though living in the world, [as still under a dispensation of works,] are ye subject to ordinances ?"
There is a baptism in a natural sense, and a baptism in a spiritual sense ; the first being a figure or symbol of the last. So there is a death and a burial in a natural sense, and a death and a burial in a spiritual sense ; the first being here also a figure of the last. In divine estimation, the disciple is accounted to be identified with his Saviour; to have participated in his death, sufferings, and crucifixion; which operation in the mind of God seems to be contemplated by the apostle as a baptism into the death of Christ ;* a being dead with him—a being crucified with him. So those who die in the Lord may be those who, while they are yet living in a natural sense, are accounted, in divine estimation, to have been crucified with Christ; in him, having paid the penalty of the law, and being now in him delivered from the law. In this then consists the blessedness of being dead in Christ; that it is a position in the sight of God resulting from his own act of grace, in which the disciple is exempt from the curse or penalty of the law; not that he is thenceforth without a rule of conduct, but that his motive of conduct, as we have already described, ($ 324,) is changed; for as in Christ he is dead to the law, so in Christ he is raised to a new position of lifea position of freedom ; at the same time, one of grateful obedience. There
are, it is true, in a spiritual sense, those who are dead in trespasses and sins, even while they live in a natural sense, but these are not the dead in Christ ; they are out of Christ, whether living or dying; and in that position they must be subject to all the curse and penalty of legal condemnation ; but the lamentable character of their case renders the blessedness of the opposite class the more striking. “Blessed,” says the Psalmist, " is he whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered ;” a blessed
* To this spiritual baptism allusion is made 1 Peter iii. 21, not, (as the apostle apparently intends to be understood,) the cleansing of the flesh in a natural sense, but that spiritual cleansing, through the imputed identity of the disciple with Christ, in his death, burial, and resurrection, which results in the cleansing of the conscience towards God, συνειδήσεως αγαθής επερώτημα εις θεόν.
ness which would hardly call for notice, if those were equally favoured whose transgressions were not forgiven, and whose sins were not covered.
From henceforth.' - This seems to have a reference to what had been just before declared of the destruction of the elernents of the beast's kingdom, or rather of the manifestation of their torture, and want of rest; the consequence of which exhibition is the contrary blessedness of the elements of the kingdom of the Lamb, those that die in the Lord; the exposure of error being a means of developing the truth. The voice from heaven utters a general proposition, applicable to all who die in the Lord, (whether principles or humar beinz.) Apocalyptically, it may apply to the elements of the gospel, personified as disciples, and taken as opposites of the worshippers of the beast and his image. Thus the manifestation of the torture and want of rest, peculiar to one class of doctrinal elements, is the means of bringing to light the characteristics of blessedness and rest peculiar to the other class.
$ 338. “Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours.'— This language of the Spirit seems to be uttered as a response to that of the voice from heaven; perhaps we may say, the voice from heaven is the written revelation, which shows, as in the writings of Paul, from which we have been quoting, the blessedness of being dead in Christ; while the language of the Spirit is the spiritual construction to be put upon the written revelation, showing that the blessedness of those that die in the Lord consists in the change of position before adverted to. They are happy in being taken out of a position of labour, and being placed in a position of restnot in a state of inactivity, as in the grave, but by this death itself being translated to a new state or position of life, or of being—as the apostle says, Rom. vi. 8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him ;" to be dead with or in Christ implying this consequent life with or in him—dead indeed unto sin, or as to the transgression of the law, but alive unto God—that is, living unto God, as those devoting themselves from a sentiment of gratitude to his service. This we suppose to be the rest of the dead in Christ; for the rest of mere inaction could hardly be termed blessed. A state of happiness or blessedness, implies a state of life capable of enjoying such happiness; so, if to be dead in Christ is to be blessed or happy, to be dead in Christ is also to be alive with him ; as it is said, (Col. jïi. 3,) Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. In fine, to be dead in Christ is to be brought into the position of rest; and to be brought into the position of rest, is to be brought into that of grateful devotion to the service of our heavenly Benefactor.*
· And [but] their works they follow with them.'— The position of spiritual rest in Christ is illustrated by the condition of natural rest enjoyed by the Israelites in the promised land, which however was only a type or symbol of that which we have been contemplating; “For if,” says Paul, (Heb. iv. 8-11,)“ Joshua had given them rest, (spiritual rest,) then he (God) would not have spoken concerning another day (of rest) after those things; consequently, there remaineth a sabbatism (a spiritual position of rest) to the people of God : for he (Christ) entering into his rest, rested from his works, (of redemption,) as God also rested from his works, (of creation ;) let us therefore (as followers of Jesus, the spiritual Joshua) hasten (by faith) to enter into that rest, (of Christ,) that no one fall, in or by an unbelief:'* corresponding with the typical want of faith of the ancient Hebrewsma type or example just before enlarged upon. Such we believe to be the proper construction of the original; the labour or striving contemplated by the apostle being an act of faith, enabling the disciple to apprehend his true position. Otherwise than this, he is exhorted to cease from his own work; that is, to cease from going about to establish his own righteousness,—to cease, not from action, but from acting from servile and mercenary motives. Accordingly, in the passage before us, the works of those dying in Christ, and resting from their labours, follow them, instead of going, as it were, before them. They do not constitute a condition precedent of their enjoyment of this privilege of identity with Christ; they are the thank-offerings resulting from it. The subjects of this rest are not slothful or unfruitful : they thus judge, that if one died for all, “ he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again,” (2 Cor. v. 15.) Their works evince their gratitude, and this evidence of their gratitude is the evidence of their faith, corresponding with symbolized by the Levitical Sabbath--symbolized also, we may say, by the setting apart of the seventh day from the creation of the world. So, as the Israelites could not enter into the rest of the promised land because of unbelief, the disciple cannot enjoy the rest we have described in Christ, without faith in him, (trust in his imputed merits,) as the only means of salvation. As the Israelite was prohibited even the gathering of sticks on the Sabbath, so the follower of Christ is required to renounce even the least dependence upon any work of his own, as a means of entering into the spiritual rest, (the position of rest,) provided by the work of the Redeemer. A mixture of pretensions in this respect, is of the same character as that symbolized by the mixture of abominations in the harlot's cup; the mixed composition of garments of different materials, the spotted skin of the leopard, &c., &c.
* To this position of rest we suppose allusion to be made, Heb. iv. 9: There remaineth, therefore, a rest, (oaßsariquos,) a sabbatism, (a Sabbath, in a spiritual sense,) for the people of God ;-a position of exemption from the labour of fulfilling the law,
Jehovah will not divide with another the glory of man's salvation; and to this point the symbolic representations of Scripture appear especially intended to direct our attention.
* Ηeb. iv. 8-11. Ει γάρ αυτούς Ιησούς κατέπαυσεν, ουκ αν περί άλλης ελάλει μετά ταύτα ημέρας. 'Αρα απολείπεται σαββατισμός τω λαώ του θεού. ο γαρ εισέλ. θών εις την κατάπαυσιν αιτού και αυτός κατέπαυσεν από των έργων αυτού, ώςπερ από των ιδίων και θεός. Σπουδάσωμεν ούν ειςελθείν εις εκείνην την κατάπαυσιν, ίνα μή εν τω αυτώ τις υποδείγματι πέση της απεθείας. .