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Our only hope even now is to fly for refuge to the provision of sovereign grace. We are not to flatter ourselves with the prospect of experimenting upon the issue of divine judgment first, and then, if we are unable to justify ourselves, to appeal to a promise of mercy ; but now is the day of salvation. We are already informed of the result of the trial, and have but one course to pursue—the only course to which a condemned, sentenced criminal can resort, that of relying alone upon the exercise of the pardoning power, peculiarly the attribute of sovereignty ; and this in the way pointed out by the Sovereign himself—a position very happily set forth by a truly evangelical poet :
Hark! universal nature shook and groan’d:
All joy to the believer! He can speak-
Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
my only plea, Is what it was, dependence upon thee.-(Cowper's TRUTH.)
In the narrative just finished we have seen, as a portion of the results of the great battle of Armageddon, the arrest of Satan, and his confinement to the bottomless pit for a thousand years ; and, for a corresponding period, the triumphant reign of those slain by the are for the testimony of Jesus ; extending to a stage of revelation equivalent, as we suppose, to a development of the principles and character of the Christian rest ;—this manifestation resulting from the overthrow of the beast and false prophet, and from an exhibition of the confinement of the power of the legal adversary to the bottomless pit position—the opposite of that of rest. At this epoch, the blasphemous element (sell) has gone into perdition ; the element of misinterpretation, through the influence of which an image of self-righteousness had been created as an object of idolatrous worship, is also destroyed. The fate of the image itself, we presume to be involved in that of the false construction so instrumental in bringing it into being; the existence of the one ceasing with the exposure of the fallacy of the other. The enemies of Christ, those endeavouring to rob him of the glory of his work of redemp-. tion, are thus seen to be overcome. The Word of God has conquered, and the King of kings is manifested to have trodden the wine-press alone : he is the only Redeemer, and beside him there is no Saviour,
But it yet remains to be manifested, that this only Redeemer is able to save to the uttermost; that Satan, the legal adversary of the sinner, and the powers
of death and hell, are subject to that Word by which the kings of the earth, the beast, and false prophet, are proved to have been overcome.. For the purpose of this manifestation, apparently, Satan is released, or appears as released from his bottomless pit confinement, and is permitted to rally all his remaining auxiliaries; the nations of the earth, Gog and Magog, calling in, as we may imagine, death and hell as his trusty allies. Their great and final effort is to try the strength of the beloved city, of wbich the only wall of salvation is the Lord of Hosts ; or rather, to try the strength of the wall itself. A powerful revelation of divine truth, (the word of God fully developed,)—fire from God out of heaven—destroys, entirely consumes all the forces of these adversaries; the three leaders being reserved, as it were, for a more exemplary punishment. The legal accuser, Satan, is im-mediately cast into the lake of fire, as a rebel taken in arms against his sovereign is executed without even the form of trial. He has now, like the beast, gone into perdition—his power is manifested to be entirely destroyed.
The dragon was long since overcome in heaven, in the contest with Michael and his angels; but he was suffered to exercise a certain power on
earth through the instrumentality of the beast ; this instrument being destroyed, his dominion was manifested to be restricted to a certain position : out of this position, he no sooner exerts his power against the divine provision of redemption than be is immediately cast down-manifested to be exposed to that action of the revealed word, which consumes him with an everlasting burning.
Something analogous to this, we think, may be familiar to the mind of the experienced Christian disciple. While believing himself under the law, he sees the adversary of his soul in power, even in heaven. Having made greater progress in the knowledge of religious truth, but still going about to establish a righteousness of his own, under a mistaken apprehension of the gospel economy, he feels himself under the dominion of the beast and under the influence of the false prophet, forming within his own heart an image of his fancied moral perfection, to which he is ascribing the glory of his eternal salvation. Delivered from this delusion, contemplating the Word, the Lamb of God, as the King of kings and the only Redeemer, Jehovah his righteousness, he lives and reigns with Christ, (Gal. ü. 20, Rom. v. 17,) enjoying a millennial rest, in perfect confidence that the power of the adversary is confined to a position of an entirely different character from that in which, by sovereign grace, he has himself been placed. No sooner, however, is there a wavering of his faith in the sufficiency of his Redeemer's merits, than he sees Satan released from his confinement, and he trembles lest the provision of redeeming mercy (the beloved city) should be incapable of withstanding the power of the legal adversary, with the elements of condemnation arrayed against him. In this state of apprehension, nothing can allay his fears but a right understanding of the revealed word of God, (the fire from God out of heaven.) This understanding possessed, Satan is seen, not only as lightning falling from heaven, but also as cast into the lake of fire--as exposed to the never-ending trial of the test of divine revelation.
Although the accuser however is removed, the systems connected with his power are supposed to be still remaining. As if it were urged, that without the fear of legal condemnation, as without the motive of self-interest, the disciple would not bring forth works to the glory of God. From the necessity of impelling the performance of these works, therefore, the systems or mysteries represented by death and hell, must remain in operation.
To manifest the inconsistency of this theory with God's purpose of grace, all principles and all works of man and of human systems are represented as called into judginent, and especially the principles and works peculiar to the two systems just mentioned. All of these works or principles are judged by the law and the testimony ; those not belonging to, or emanating from, the economy of grace, being condemned to destruction, as by the fire destined to try every man's work of what sort it is. The law, for example, requires the love of God in the heart, as the moving principle of action; and the economy of grace was formed to implant this love of God. Every principle in accordance with this requisition, and every work proceeding from it, will be found therefore in the Book of Lise, as a component part of the plan of redemption ; and every work, or device, or principle, not proceeding from this love, will be manifested to have no part in the volume of the divine purpose.
Such must be the case with the systems Death and Hell, and with all their elements. As it was said of the Pharisees of old, they have not the love of God in them; they are therefore in this judgment condemned in toto, and accordingly share the fate of the accuser himself.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed, it is said 1 Cor. xv. 26, is death. To this stage of apocalyptic narration we have now arrived. Death and hell, as well as the legal adversary, are cast into the lake of fire. The power of Christ has been exhibited in this vision, until he is seen to have “ brought all things under his feet." As the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, we have seen him prevailing to open the sealed book, the secret purpose of the Most High, (the mystery hid in God, Eph. iii. 9, Col. i. 26 ;) having redeemed bis people by his own blood, and by the same blood overcoming the power of accusation even in the councils of heaven, ($ 284.) We have seen him, as the Word of God, victorious over all the pretensions of the earthly system,-manifesting the power of his name, and establishing the verity of the declaration that there is no other name given amongst men by which we can be saved than that of the King of kings ; and we have seen him exalted on the throne of divine sovereignty, exercising the prerogative of judgment, and manifesting the subjection of all things to his will. We are now, accordingly, prepared to see him deliver up the kingdom unto the Father, that God may be manifested to be all in all, (1 Cor. xv. 28;) or, which is the same thing, we are now prepared to see the Lamb, the Word, and the Everlasting Father, identified as the one God over all, blessed for evermore, (Is. ix. 6, Rom. ix. 5.)
The earth and the heaven heretofore contemplated as existing having fled away, the judicial visitations of the sixth seal have terminated.
The millennial rest enjoyed by the souls beheaded for the witness of Jesus, accomplishes the promised judgment of the fifth seal.
Death and Hell are now deprived of the power given them over the fourth part of the earth at the opening of the fourth seal.
Babylon being utterly consumed-cast down never to rise again—the mercenary system is ended. The rider of the black horse, under the third seal, no more wields his balances, or makes a traffic of the means of eternal life.
The accuser (the dragon) with his vicegerent (the beast) and the prime
minister of that vicegerent (the false prophet) having gone into perdition, the rider of the fiery-red horse, under the second seal, deprived of his " great sword,” has no longer the faculty of taking peace from the earth. The conflicting elements of self-righteousness having perished with their leaders, it is no longer given “ that they should kill one another," as heretofore. The mountain of the Lord's house is now being established on the top of the mountains, (of the new earth.) “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of God from Jerusalem.” For this reason 6 nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,' (Is. xi. 2–4.)
Of all the powers personified as combatants in the sixth chapter, the Rider of the white horse, seen at the opening of the first seal, alone remains unconquered—still conquering and to conquer; or, rather, he alone is victorious. His invincible bow', ($ 147,) wielded by his own right arm, (his righteousness,)“ has gotten him the victory.” The garment dipped in the blood of the Lamb is manifested to be the vesture of Jehovah of Hosts, (3 432 ;) the exhibition of this truth, (enforced by the sword from the mouth of the Word,) overcoming the pretender and his forces, in the field of manifestation, as the power of the dragon and his angels had been previously overcome by Michael and his angels. The crown, the token and earnest of his success, first given to the conqueror. is now exchanged for a multitude of diadems; his power is unlimited; he has received the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for bis possession. His dominion extends from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, (Ps. Ixii. 8 :) while, with the element of divine sovereignty, he rules the nations (the Gentile principles of the worldly system) as with a rod of iron.
All elements of opposition to man's redemption, and to the glory of the Saviour, having been thus overcome ; or rather the manifestation of this triumph having been completed, it follows, as a matter of course, that an entire new state of things is to be exhibited ; this new exhibition corresponding with the change in the position of the disciple spoken of 2 Cor. v. 17, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature ; old things are passed away, all things are become new.” According to his advancement in faith the disciple sees himself in a new position. The reign of self within his own mind having been first terminated, he sees the enemies of his soul vanquished and overcome by the power of Christ : casting himself
upon the righteousness of his Saviour, with him the old heaven and the old earth have passed away ; he has now found a resting place, (Jer. 1. 6,) and breathes a new atmosphere