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SECOND RESURRECTION.-THE SECOND
THE SECOND DEATH.
V. 11. And I saw a great white throne, Και είδον θρόνον μέγαν λευκών, και τον and him that eat on it, from whose face καθήμενον επ' αυτού, ού από προσώπου the earth and the heaven Hed away; and έφυγεν η γη και ο ουρανός, και τόπος ουχ there was found no place for them.
ευρέθη αυτοίς. . $ 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 seemingly 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 Wound) 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. ij. 21 : “ To bim 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. Ixxxix. 16.)
The Son of God as the Lamb had overcome, (Rev. jïi. 21 ;) by his blood he had overcome, (Rev. xii. 11 ;) and as the Word of God he 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 exhibited 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 bave 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.)
$ 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 terms the passing away or abolishing of all rule, and all authority
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 hin 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 fed 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 throne,
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 therein shall be burned up.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteous
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 manisested on the wbite 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. Ixv. 17,) “ The former [heaven and earth] shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”
Vs. 12-15. And I saw the dead, small Και είδον τους νεκρούς, τους μεγάλους and great, stand before God; and the xai tous uinpoís, éo tūtos éváriov toở Ipóbooks were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book) of life :
νου, και βιβλία ήνοίχθησαν και άλλο βιβand the dead were judged out of those λίoν ήνοίχθη, ό εστι της ζωής και εκρίthings which were written in the books, θησαν οι νεκροί εκ των γεγραμμένων εν according to their works. And the sea τοϊς βιβλίοις κατά τα έργα αυτών. Και gave up the dead which were in it; and έδωκεν η θάλασσα τους νεκρούς τους εν death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judgavı, xa ó Járatoş xal • ởons doxav ed every man according to their works. τους νεκρούς τους εν αυτοίς· και εκρίθησαν And death and hell were cast into the έκαστος κατά τα έργα αυτών. Και ο θάlake of fire. This is the second death. νατος και ο αδης εβλήθησαν εις την λίμνην And whosoever was not found written in του πυρός: οίτος ο θάνατος και δεύτερός the book of life was cast into the lake of έστιν, η λίμνη του πυρός. Και εί τις ουχ fire.
ευρέθη εν τη βίβλω της ζωής γεγραμμένος, , εβλήθη εις την λίμνην του 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