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Hence, the argument of Paul with the Thessalonian disciples : We are not of the night, nor of darkness, therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Being thus children of the day, thus clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ, it became them to walk consistently for his sake who died for them, that his name might be glorified ; thus judging, as he elsewhere expresses it, that He who died for all, died that those which live, might live not to themselves, but to Him who died for thein.
V. 21. The grace of our Lord Jesus “Η χάρις του κυρίου Ιησού Χριστού μετά Christ (be) with you all. Amen. πάντων των αγίων. .
$ 551. The grace,' &c.-We do not suppose this verse to form a part of the narrative of the vision, or to be uttered in vision. That narrative is now closed ; the apostle has gone through with the account of all that he saw and heard ; and he now transmits this account to those for whose edification it was intended, without any comment of his own, other than this apostolic benediction, as it is usually termed.
The word be is supplied in our common version, no verb being expressed in the original. If we suppose is to be understood instead of be, the reading will be equivalent to a declaration, that the grace referred to, Rev. i. 4, has now been fully exhibited. As if it had been said, in reference to the completion of this unveiling of the Lord our righteousness, Behold, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you ; or, is now set before you. This grace we suppose to be the same as that referred to, Acts xv. 11, as the means of salvation for Jew and Gentile; the same that is spoken of, 2 Cor. vii. 9: “ For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich ;" this grace of Christ consisting in the substitution of himself in behalf of the sinner; an act entirely of free, unmerited favour, and for that reason strictly entitled to the appellation of grace.
This grace of our Lord Jesus Christ constitutes, we apprehend, the gift by grace, spoken of and enlarged upon, Rom. v. 15-21: “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as by one that sinned, the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation ; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one's man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offence of one (judgment came) upon all men to condemnation ; even so, by the [imputed] righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For, as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign (predominate) through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Such is the arrangement (dla tnxn) of grace, and this we suppose to be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, here referred to ; either as that which has been set before those to whom the Apocalypse is addressed, or as that grace in which the apostle prays that they may all participate.
Some of the Greek editions read with all, others with you all, and some, as that from which we copy, with all the saints or holy ones. If this last be correct, the language of this verse not being the language of vision, we suppose these holy ones to be disciples, so termed on account of their position by adoption in Christ; whereas, the holy ones of the vision we have taken to be principles of the economy of grace personified. The term holy, however, has in both cases the same meaning ; it is a term of position, not of innate quality. Adopted in Christ, the disciple is accounted holy, or set apart; as the vessels of the temple were holy, not by any peculiarity of their composition, but by the use to which they were appropriated. This distinction cannot be too much insisted upon, as the disciple can no more depend upon a quality in himself called holiness, or upon a holiness of his
than he can upon a righteousness of his own; and it is especially to set forth these truths and their opposite errors, that Jesus Christ here reveals himself; while it is these errors of an adulterated faith that militate most with a just exhibition of sovereign grace.
$ 552. In reading any book of importance, our first inquiry is to know what the author purposes to show. When we have finished the perusal of the work, we very properly look back to ascertain whether the end proposed has been accomplished. We think the portion of the inspired writings recently the subject of our inquiries, under a spiritual construction, fully equal to abide the test of such an examination.
The work is entitled, by its divine Author, the unveiling (apocalypsis) of Jesus Christ : that is, as we have considered it, the revelation of his character, offices, and doctrine—the unveiling of the anointed Saviour, ($ 2.) This is the purport or design of the whole book.
The source whence this revelation is derived having been stated by the apostle in the commencement of the first chapter, it is said, in allusion to
that source, (Jesus) “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him," &c.; leaving the inference to be fairly drawn, that the coming spoken of consists in the unveiling now about to be made ; that it is in the symbolical revelation here made that Jesus is to be seen coming as in the clouds, ($ 17.) It is on account, too, of this revelation, apparently, that certain legal elements and principles of self-righteousness are represented as mourning or wailing-tribes of the earth, opposites of the sealed ones represented by the one hundred and forty-four thousand of the twelve chosen tribes. This, then, is the general proposition of the work :—that the unveiling of Jesus Christ about to be made is something equivalent or analogous to his coming in the clouds; and that its nature or tendency is such as to cause, figuratively speaking, the mourning or lamentation of all elements of doctrine opposed to the truth of salvation as it is revealed in him.
The vision commences with what John saw in spirit, witnessing the day of the Lord, ($ 24,) or its equivalent. Here Jesus is first seen as one like unto the Son of man. To the apostle who had been literally the bosom companion of the Son of man, this appearance was sufficient to identify the form he saw with that of his beloved Master. He had been his companion while on earth, he had seen him on the cross, he had seen him in the
grave, he had seen him risen from the dead, and he now saw him clothed with a perfect and complete righteousness of his own-girt about with truth, the Ancient of days, the possessor of the sword of the Spirit, and of the keys of the mystery of death and hell, and the supreme overseer of the churches.
In the introductory addresses dictated to the apostle, the reason is givers for the revelation about to be made. Certain errors exist, calling for a peculiar manifestation of truth-a manifestation spoken of by Christ as his coming quickly or suddenly. The churches, or their angels, are to be supposed ignorant of the predetermined purpose of the Lord to come, or of his actual coming. This event is therefore spoken of to them as something contingent : “ Repent, and do thy first works, or else I will come.” The speaker, however, knew that they would not repent—that the errors in question would demand the threatened correction ; consequently, with him there is no uncertainty as to the actual taking place of this coming. The form of the announcement, however, serves the purpose of indicating the design of the advent, viz., that of correcting certain errors of doctrine; and it is important for us to keep this design in view, that we may better understand the revelation about to be made. The erroneous views to be corrected we suppose to be those of a self-righteous character, tending to create the belief that man (the sinner) is to overcome the requisitions of the law by some works, merits or propitiation of his own. To correct this misapprehension, the principle or power really overcoming, and upon which alone dependence is to be placed, is set forth as that to which certain very peculiar elders may
promises are made ; in order, perhaps, that we may recognize the principle by understanding the fulfilment of the promises made to it.
Here is another stage in the process of revelation. We are introduced to a new character, The Overcoming, (é vixõv, or, as we have proposed to denominate it, ó hóyos ó viz@v,) and we are somewhat at a loss to conceive what part this overcoming principle can take in the unveiling of the anointed Saviour. We are, however, to keep the personification in mind throughout the remainder of the vision, watching its progress, and judging finally of the sense in which the promises made to it may be said to be fulfilled.
$ 553. The fourth chapter affords an exhibition of the attributes of the Deity, such as we may suppose them to appear prior to the revelation of the plan of salvation. The elements of truth peculiar to that plan exist, but they are not yet revealed. The four living creatures and the twenty-four
be considered the depositaries of this secret; but the mystery itself, in the nature of the case, can be made known only through a certain instrumentality. This mystery (the divine plan of redemption, or perhaps the plan of divine government) is represented (chap. v.) as a sealed book in the right hand of the Most High. The only instrumentality by which it can be unfolded is the propitiatory power peculiar to the plan : the Lamb, as it had been slain, alone is able to open the book. Here we advance another important step in the unveiling of Christ : knowing him to be the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, we recognize him in the power now prevailing, or overcoming, to open the book. Having arrived at this point, we are to bear in mind that whatever is revealed or unveiled concerning the Lamb is a revelation of Jesus Christ himself.
The first revelation made by the Lamb, in opening the sealed book, (chap. vi.) is that of a power going forth overcoming and to overcome, or that he may overcome, (vizõv xai iva vizhor,) and, apparently, in order that he may obtain the reward promised to him that overcometh. Thus far, however, the combatant is seen to have received only the crown promised the overcoming in the epistle to the church of Pergamos ;—the white borse upon which he is mounted, and the bow with which he is armed—the sustaining power of divine righteousness and the overruling power of the covenant of grace, (the promise of mercy, $ 147,)-indicating the means by which his final victory is to be obtained.
We seem to lose sight of this Conqueror for a great part of the subsequent narrative, but we leave him in the midst of a victorious career; his operations are continued, although presented to us under different figures, and he again appears to manifest his triumphant progress at the close of the revelation.
The opening of the three subsequent seals exhibits the existence of three other powers destined to come into collision with the rider of the white horse.
The fiery-red colour of the horse of him to whom the great sword is given, corresponds with the colour of the great red dragon, the antagonist of Michael. The mercenary character of the rider of the black horse calls to mind the commercial spirit of Babylon; and Death and Hell (sustained by the green horse) are expressly mentioned as terminating their career on the exhibition of the great white throne. We may presume, therefore, all three of these combatants to be understood as operating throughout the vision, till overcome by the rider of the white horse: indeed, their functions may not differ from those of the three spirits, unclean as frogs, ($ 365,) out of the mouths of the dragon, of the beast, and of the false prophet, engaged in summoning the kings of the earth to the great battle of Armageddon.
The opening of the fifth seal shows the state of suspense in which certain elements of truth are held pending the contest finally to result in the manifestation of their correctness.
The opening of the sixth seal reveals the consternation figuratively incident to all principles of error, or of self-righteous doctrine, in consequence of the unfolding of this great mystery of salvation : at the same time it exhibits (chap. vii.) the opposite figurative rejoicing of the principles of truth in anticipation of the same development; while it shows (by what is related of the four angels holding the four winds of the earth) the true cause of the prevalence of error in the earthly system, viz., a privation of the spiritual sense of the written word.
The opening of these six seals affords a general view of the position of things—a glance at the whole field of action, the different elements in operation, their beginning or going forth, and their end; for we suppose the close of the sixth and the close of the seventh chapters to present scenes parallel, as to the progress of the narrative, with the state of things depicted at the conclusion of the twentieth and in the former part of the twenty-first chapters.
$ 554. The opening of the seventh seal (chap. viii.) affords a new series of representations; not the exhibition of new things, but further particulars of what has been already revealed in substance.
The day of the wrath of the Lamb has been already spoken of as come ; we are now to learn in what the exhibition of this wrath consists : this knowledge comes to us as the results of the voices or sounds (revelations) of seven trumpets. Various self-righteous and self-justifying principles, figuratively spoken of as inaterial objects, are represented as exposed to certain tests showing their true character. The trees and grass of the earth are burned up; pretensions to human merit wither for want of root; the sea becomes blood, and human means of preservation from the vindictive wrath represented by the sea (ships) are proved to be worthless. Fountains and rivers (human means of atonement) become bitter, incapable alike of promoting purification or of preserving life · the sun, moon, and stars of