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CHAPTER XXI. 1-8.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH.
AND I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. And the holy city, new Jerusalem, I saw descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God with men ! and he shall dwell in a tent with them; and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; nor shall sorrow, nor crying, nor toil be any more ; for the former things have passed away. And he who sat on the throne, said, Behold I make all things new. And he said, Write that these words are faithful and true. And he said to me,
It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit these things; and I will be God to him, and he shall be a son to me. But to the cowardly, and faithless, and defiled, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the false, their part [is] in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
The heaven, earth, and sea, are undoubtedly here, as under the trumpets and vials, symbolic. The new heaven represents rulers of a new order; the new earth, subjects of a new character; and the disappearance of the sea, that the nations are no more to be excited to violent agitations by the storms of revolt, revolution, and war.
The new Jerusalem is the symbol of the raised and glorified saints, in their relations to men as kings and priests who are to reign with Christ. It does not denote a literal city manifestly, as that were to make the symbol and that which it represents, of the same species; but is an organization of rulers extending a beneficent authority and influence over those whom they govern, analogous to the shelter of a city to those who dwell beneath its roofs ; and must therefore denote the risen saints as kings and priests, as they alone are to descend from heaven to earth, and exercise a sway over men. It is accordingly expressly denominated in a subsequent vision, the bride the Lamb's wife, by whom in a former vision the risen and glorified saints are symbolized; and is shown to be their representative by the inscription of the names of the twelve apostles on its foundations. In accordance with this, it is said by the living creatures and elders, who are the symbols of the redeemed of every iribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, during their intermediate state, that they are kings to God and priests, and shall reign on the earth ; is promised by the Redeemer to whoever is victorious, that he will write on him the name of the city of God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven, which denotes, doubtless, that he shall be one of the polity which that city represents; and the saints are exhibited in the vision of the first resurrection, as raised from death, exalted to thrones, and reigning with Christ during the thousand years. It is thus shown, on the one hand, that the glorified saints are to descend and reign with Christ on the earth, and that this city symbolizes them; while on the other, no intimation is given of such a descent to our world of any other order of beings. It is indisputably therefore the representative of the redeemed who are to reign as kings and priests with Christ, in like manner as great Babylon, the antagonist city, is a symbol of the apostate rulers of the church who usurp his throne on earth. Accordingly, as the risen saints are denominated the Lamb's wife, and are said to have prepared themselves, so this city is said to be prepared as a bride for her husband.
It is denominated the tabernacle of God with men, and is promised that he will dwell in a tent with them, and that they shall be his people, and that he himself will be with them, their God; which denotes both that the glorified saints are to be visible to men, as a tent is visible to those in whose presence it is stationed, and that God is to be visibly present with the glorified saints; as his presence in the ancient temple was manifested when it was filled with the smoke and flame of his glory. Men universally are to be sanctified, to own and honor him as God, and to enjoy manifestations of his presence and favor. He is 10 wipe every tear from their eyes. They are no more to be subjected to death, nor know any thing of sorrow, mourning, or toil. All the forms of penal evil, brought on the race by the fall
, are to cease, and all things become new. It is he who is a victor that is to share in the bliss and glory of this reign with Christ. The unholy of all classes are to be excluded from it, and consigned to the abyss of misery.
How unlike his former dispensations towards men, is the sway of Christ to be during this period! How changed their condition, freed from the wants, the necessities of toil, and the inquietudes and sorrows to which they were subjected by the revolt of the first pair! How intimate the relation to him to which they are to be restored, and the intercourse they are to enjoy with the glorified saints who attend in his presence! How vast the demonstration which is thus to be made of the adaptation of their nature to his service, notwithstanding the fall; and of the lofty degrees of wisdom, rectitude, and blessedness, of which they are capable! And how suited that demonstration to vindicate his sway over them in preceding ages, and refute the accusations and misapprehensions of his government, of which men have been guilty !
The descent of the city is to take place at the commencement of the millennium, manifestly from the representation that the marriage of the Lamb was come, and that his wife had prepared herself, immediately after the destruction of great Babylon, chapter xix. 7, 8; from the exhibition of the risen and glorified saints as seated on thrones and reigning with Christ during the thousand years; and from the representation of the beloved city as on earth at the revolt of Gog and Magog, after the close of the thousand years.
That there is to be no death, sorrow, mourning, nor toil, during that period, is consistent with the destruction of Gog and Magog, inasmuch as their revolt is to take place after the millennium is closed.
CHAPTER XXI. 9-27. XXII. 1-5.
THE NEW JERUSALEM.
And one of the seven angels who held the seven vials, which were filled with the last seven plagues, came and talked with me, saying, Come, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me in Spirit on to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Its splendor was like a most precious stone, as a crystal jasper; having a great and high wall, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed which are of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: on the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates; and the wall of the city having twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me held a measure, a golden rod, that he might measure the city, and its gates, and its wall. And the city lies a quadrangle, and its length is the same as its breadth. And he measured the city with the rod, to twelve thousand furlongs. The length of it is equal, and the breadth, and the height. And he measured the wall of the city, a hundred fortyfour cubits man's measure, which is the angel's. And the superstructure of its wall was jasper, and the city pure gold, like pure crystal. And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone. The first foundation, jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald ; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius ; the seventh, chrysolite ; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates, [were,] twelve pearls. Each gate was of one pearl; and the broad place of the city was pure gold, as translucent crystal.
And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty is its temple, and the Lamb. And the city has no need of the sun, nor the moon, that they may enlighten it, for the glory of God enlightens it, and its lamp [is] the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. And its gates shall not be shut by day, for there is no night there. And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. And nothing shall enter it that is unclean, and that works defilement and falsehood, but they only who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
And he showed me a river of water of life, pure as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the midst of the broad place, and on each side of the river, [was) the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, according to each month yielding its fruit, and the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more.
And the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face, and his name [shall be] on their foreheads. And there shall be no night any more, and they shall have no need of light of lamp, or light of sun, for the Lord God shall shine on them, and they shall reign forever and ever.
As the city is the symbol of the Lamb's wife, the raised and glorified saints adopted as joint-heirs with Christ, exalted to thrones and associated with him in his reign on earth, its descent to the earth symbolizes their descent from heaven after their juslification and investiture as kings and priests in his empire. The
splendor of the elements of which it is built, denotes the beauty of their persons and the perfection of their character; its magnitude immensely transcending the vastest extent over which the unaided eye can discern the most brilliant objects on the surface of the earth, the incomprehensible greatness of their multitude ; and the regularity of its form, the harmony of its parts, and its massiveness and strength, the symmetry of their relations to each other, the unity of their spirit, and the energy of their sway.
That the length of the city is equal, and its breadth and its height, denotes not that its length, breadıh, and height are the same, but simply that its length is the same at all points, its breadth the same at all points, and its height at all points ihe
The gates symbolize the access to the glorified which the nations are to enjoy. That they are distributed equally to the several sides, indicates that they are to be accessible alike to the nations wherever they may reside; that there is to be no night there, that they are never to be without the visible presence of God; that its gates are never shut, that the nations are to enjoy uninterrupted access to the glorified; and that an angel is stationed at each gate, that that access is to be subject to conditions, and regulated by an exalted order assigned to that office.
The twelve tribes of the sons of Israel are the symbols in the vision of the sealing of all the branches or families of pure worshippers. The inscription of the names of those tribes on the gates, denotes, accordingly, that all branches of the unglorified race are to have access to the glorified saints, but each
with a part or division peculiarly appropriated to themselves; as in a walled city inhabited by different tribes, the inscription on separate gates of the names of the several tribes, would imply that cach tribe was to pass through the gate distinguished by its
In the temple in Jerusalem, the mercy-seat, the symbol of the throne of God in the scene of the visible displays of his presence, was in the holy of holies wholly withdrawn from the sight of the worshippers, and beheld only by the high priest, once a year. That there is no temple in the new Jerusalem, denotes, therefore, that the presence of the Redeemer is to be visible to the worshippers at large, not, as under the Mosaic dispensation, veiled from their sight.
As the sun and moon are symbols of the supreme legislative and executive rulers in a state, that the city has no need of the sun nor the moon that they may enlighten it, for the glory of God