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We see in the epistle of Paul to the Philippians chap. 2, that the position of Lord of all, which has been given to the Son of Man has been given to Him on account of His service rendered. Being in the form of God, equal to God, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. He had eternal life in Himself, He was willing to suffer all that was requisite, in order for Him to be able to show the grace of God towards poor sinners, in such sort that they may have eternal life. He is Lord of all: it is to the glory, of God the Father that this be recognized. He cannot be satisfied if everything be not subjected to Jesus. We see in the Apocalypse how He is the touch-stone of everything.
Without pretending to the possession of perfect understanding of the Apocalypse, yet it seems to me unquestionable that the idea of judgment is the prevalent thought of the book-judgment from the throne-judgment which issues from glories which pertain to Jesus as Son of God, who became Son of Man in order to die upon the Cross, and thus to make good His privilege of communicating the eternal life and glory which were distinctively His to poor sinners.
The churches come into judgment in chap. 2 and 3. From the throne where He is (chap. 4 and 5) judgment flows, and all that is on earth enters into judgment. We find in the first four seals, four judgments in providence, yet natural. In the fifth seal and in the sixth (chap. 6.) and in the 144,000 sealed from among the Jews, and in the multitude whom no man could number out of every tongue, &c. (chap. 7.), we have testimonies of judgment. He is worthy to have the 144,000 sealed, and worthy of' the blessing given to this second class. It is the testimony given ere the more solemn judgments of God are in question. All that is of earth must be judged; but Jesus, as in heaven, is worthy of a people from among Jews and Gentiles; and He will have them, and have them preserved for Him too.
In the seventh seal (chap. 8.) we have a remarkable preparation for the judgments, which being still in the range of providence are to follow. But though they be in the order of providence, their character is far from being on a level with the ordinary acts of providence: it is very much more solemn. The judgment which follows the first trumpet falls on the grass; that of the second is the mountain; the third, the star; the light is obscured in the fourth, the fifth angel (chap. 9.) introduces the three woes; subjects of the abyss; the sixth does likewise. In the tenth chapter a mighty angel comes in and thereon (in chap. 11.) Jerusalem itself again appears on the stage; and a witness to God is rendered there in spite of the opposition of the adversary. The Lord Jesus has not forgotten His title of King of the Jews, which Pilate, representative of the power of the Gentiles, put' forward so openly at the hour of the Lord's extreme humiliation. The nations must own this, and consequently their power must be set aside. After this comes a revelation of a sign in heaven, which seems to teach the public avowal on the part of Christ, that He is for Israel. It is at the time Christ quits the throne of God the Father, that Satan and them that are his are expelled the heavenly places, and that troubles begin upon the earth. They are not necessarily judgments directly from God; but God leaves the wicked to act as they will; and the evil which He will condemn becomes fully manifest, and the effects of a state of alienation from God become manifest; and that, in so gross a manner, that even the conscience of a natural man is sufficient to judge it. For God does not forget the conscience of man; and ordinarily, before He judges, evil has been recognized by man, and avowed as a thing to which man is resolutely attached. We see this in chap. 13. As God had in love presented in Jesus all the light of His love and of His eternal life, but men would none of it, so Antichrist will be permitted in his own name to show, in direct contrast to Christ, the perfection of the flesh, of which flesh Satan availed himself by means of worldliness, in order to make the Jews and Gentiles to be the murderers of the Son of Man. Power, civil and ecclesiastical, will declare itself openly against God as such, and for the Man of Sin. And if the world be there to nourish the flesh, it is Satan the God of this world, who, after all, is at the bottom as the spring of the evil, even as the evil will be the visible expression of the character of the power under which man chooses to rest. In chap. we see what is the liberty of the natural man. In contrast with all which we see in chap. 14-first, the Lamb upon the Mount, Zion surrounded with the 144,000; and then, secondly, the announcement by an angel of the everlasting gospel; thirdly, the announcement that Babylon is fallen; fourthly, a warning to man to keep separate from the Beast, etc.; fifthly, the blessedness of those that die in the Lord (ver. 13); sixthly, the reaping of the earth (ver. 14-16); and, seventhly, the vintage of the grapes of the earth.
Chap. 15. The seven angels having the seven last plagues (ver. 1); the song of the overcomers- of the Beast, etc. (ver. 2-4); the angels receive the seven vials of gold full of the wrath of God, which they pour out in chap. 16. First (ver. 2), on the earth; secondly (ver. 3), on the sea; thirdly (ver. 4), on the fresh waters; fourthly (ver. 8, 9), on the sun; fifthly (ver. 10), on the throne of the Beast; sixthly (ver. 12), on Euphrates. The way of The east is prepared (ver. 12);, the, three impure spirits go out (ver. 13, 14);-the, announcement " I come as a thief," etc.; seventhly, an earthquake, the great city divides in three parts, the cities of the nations are judged. Babylon comes into memory; the isles, and the, hills disappear. A fearful hail elicits blasphemy against God.
Chaps. 17 and 18. The judgment of the Great Whore. The two names of the city and the whore, should be noticed; because they present two phases which are found not only here in that which is evil, but a little further on in that which is good., In that which is evil, the city is first presented to us (chap. 16.); and after that the woman, but the judgment has respect to the woman as such (chap. 17.), before reference to the city as such (chap. 18.). In that which is good the order is changed. Things exterior
have precedence in the one, things interior in the other.
Chap. 19. presents us with the burst of praise on account of the judgments, and the reception of the bride of Christ; the descent of Christ, and the destruction of the Beast and of the false prophet. In chap. 20 Satan is bound (ver. 1-3). The thrones-the first resurrection-Satan loosed-Gog and Magog -Satan 'taken-the great white throne-the general resurrection.
Chap. 21. The renewal of the heaven and earth (ver. 1-8)-the state of the bride-the city during the thousand years.
Then follows the application of the return of the Lord to the servant (22:6-9); to men as such (ver. 10-16), and to the hearts 'which wait for Him (ver. 17-21) instinct with the Spirit and blessed with the position of the Bride: The description of the glory in chaps. 21 and 22 is rather that of its state during the thousand years than that which is eternal. If this manifestation is to take place before the heavens and the earth are changed, it is only so much the more evident that the object of the book is to present us, in a manner addressed to men, lust as we are, what is the manifestation of the eternal life (found in Christ) which is suitable, its proper expression according to humanity—to man found on earth. That the new heavens and the new earth are connected with those which now exist is evident: first, by the connection between those which now exist, and those which preceded them, the change of which is presented to 'us as having a correspondence with that which is to come (2 Peter chap. 3.); and also because the manifestation of the glory in the heavens not changed is, in itself, the eternal glory. If God had passed over in silence (so to speak) the millennial glory and had only given us some intimation about it while speaking to us of the eternal glory, we might have felt that this globe was not worthy to receive the glory of the Lamb: which indeed is true; but inasmuch as the glory is based upon grace, and that redemption glory is but grace seen in the presence Of God and fully sustained there by Him, He has been pleased to act in another manner. For He wills to make known the victory of Christ as well as His glory. He presents us then with the glory in its earlier manifestation, wherein it has all the traits of victory upon it and there fully explains it. The Son of Man, He who has alone been faithful to God, ought to be, and must be manifested in glory, and therein sustain all the responsibilities which man has failed under, and display in the midst thereof the glory which pertains to Him as Son of Man. The Apocalypse shows this: and it seems to me, as I have said, to be the presentation of the effects, according to God, of the various consequences (always the just expression of the divine mind), of the manifestations which divine grace has made among men of the eternal life and glories connected therewith of the Lord Jesus.
I commend my subject to my readers' best attention, and my small success in elucidating it, to the God of all grace, who delights in Christ Jesus, and in those who, through the Spirit, interest themselves in what pertains to Him.