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enlightens it, and its lamp is the Lamb, denotes that it is to have no need that the unglorified or glorified saints should make laws for it, as God is to be its lawgiver, and Christ is to supply it with all the commands and counsels its exigences are to require.
That the nations are to walk by its light, signifies that they are to be guided by the teachings which Christ communicates to the glorified saints. That the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it, implies that the chiefs of the nations are to exercise their office in perfect subordination to the saints whom it symbolizes, and employ themselves in subserving the ends which they enjoin. That no one is to enter it that is unclean, or that works defilement or falsehood, indicates that sanctification is requisite in order to that relation to the glorified which admission to its gates denotes, and thence as all nations are to walk in its light, that the race is universally to be holy.
The river of the water of life, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb, is the symbol, doubtless, of the renewing and sanctifying influences by which the nations are to be imbued with spiritual life. The leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations, symbolize the means of their restoration from mortality; and the fruit of that tree, the pledge of their transfiguration to glory; for there shall be no curse any more. Every individual is to be perfectly redeemed from the dominion of sin, and freed from its penalty. That the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and that his servants, by whom are meant the nations that are healed, not the glorified saints whom the city symbolizes, shall serve him, and shall see his face, indicates that they are to yield a perfect submission to his authority, and to enjoy his visible presence.
That his name is on their foreheads, implies that they are to exhibit the clearest evidence that they are truly his children. And finally, that they are to have no need of light of lamp nor light of sun, but that the Lord God shall shine on them, as he manifests his presence to the glorified saints, and that they shall reign forever and ever, denote that they also are at length to have no need of any teacher but God, and are to be transfigured therefore to glory, like those who have been raised from death and exalted to the stations of kings and priests in his kingdom.
CHAPTER XXII. 6–21.
FINAL COMMANDS AND WARNINGS.
And he said to me, These words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show to his servants what must come to pass in a short time. And behold I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. And I am John who heard and saw these things; and when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said to me, See thou do it not. I am a fellow-servant of thee, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God. And he said to me, Thou mayest not seal the words of the prophecy of this book ; for the time is near; he that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is defiled, let him be defiled still ; and he that is righteous, let him work righteousness still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward [is] with me to retribute to every one as his work shall be. I am the Alpha and the Omega, first and last, the beginning and the end.
Blessed are they who do his commands, that the right may be theirs to the tree of life, and that they may enter through the gates into the city. The dogs are without, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and
every one who loves and practices falsehood.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And he who hears let him say, come; and he who thirsts, let him come ; he who will, let him take the water of life freely.
I testify to every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if any one add to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book. And if any one take from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book. He who testifies these things says, Yea, I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints.
That the words of the prophecy are faithful and true, denotes that they exhibit a true representation of the purposes of God,
and of the actors and events of which the world was soon to become the scene, and are to be perfectly verified.
The things that were soon to be, are the whole train of agencies foreshown in the visions, considered as one series or act, and were nigh, inasmuch as the commencement of the series was near; in the same manner as the agencies of a war and other vast successions of events that sustain an intimate relation to each other, are spoken of as one, and said to be nigh events and periods that precede them, when the first of the succession is near those events or periods.
The homage which the apostle was about to pay to the angel, was probably not of adoration, but of gratitude merely, for his condescension and benignity in showing him the great things which were soon to be, and especially the grandeurs of the reign of the glorified saints with Christ. It indicates a fervid sense of the significance of the visions he had beheld, the vastness and glory of the Redeemer's designs, the splendor of the destiny assigned the redeemed, and the beauty and blessedness to which the nations are to be exalted under his sway. The angel exhibits in his reply the spirit of the true worshippers, in contrast with the usurpers of the rights of God and their idolatrous vassals. It was God who appointed him to that work, not himself, and in fulfilling it, he acted in the same relations to him as a servant, in which the apostle himself, the prophets, and they who keep the words of the book were called to act, in fulfilling their office as his witnesses.
The injunction, thou must not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near; he that is unjust, let him be unjust still; is addressed to the prophet, doubtless, as the representative of the witnesses of God of all ages : and its import is, Thou must not withhold from the church nor misrepresent the revelation of this book, but proclaim it in its truth, representing those as unjust whom the prophecy exhibits as unjust, and those as defiled, whom the prophecy represents as defiled, and those as righteous and holy to whom it ascribes that character. The Redeemer enforces this injunction by the annunciation of his deity and title to implicit obedience, and the assurance that he is to come quickly, to retribute to every one as his work shall be.
The benediction which is next pronounced on those who obey his commands, is a benediction of those who are to live under his reign after the establishment of the kingdom of the glorified saints on earth, manifestly from the representation that they are to acquire by their obedience a title to the tree of life, and an entrance through the gates into the city. They are to follow the descent of that city, therefore, not to precede it, and to be of those who enter and dwell within it, not of those who constitute the city itself. They are to include the whole race, inasmuch as all others, the dogs, the sorcerers, the fornicators, the murderers, the idolaters, and whoever loves and practices falsehood, are to be excluded ; and, as the city is to open its gates to all nations, to be banished from the earth.
The annunciation that he who sent his angel to testify these things to the churches, is Jesus, the Messiah promised to the ancient prophets, that the Spirit and the bride say, come, and that whoever hears is to say, come, is marked by a beauty and grandeur of meaning scarcely surpassed in any other passage of the book. As the saints, who are the bride, do not in their intermediate state, address men, the invitation they utter is to be referred to their reign with Christ on earth, when they are to exercise the office of kings and priests. The passage indicates an agency, therefore, they are to exert throughout the interminable ages of redemption. The Root and the Offspring of David, the bright, the morning Star, is the incarnate Word, who is to reign and carry on the work of salvation forever and ever. The Spirit is to continue his renewing and sanctifying influence, and say to the sons and daughters of the race, as they are summoned from age to age into existence, Come. The raised and transfigured saints are to repeat the call through the flight of everlasting years, and the unglorified also, and every breast be filled and transported with a sense of the infinitude and freeness of the Saviour's grace.
The terrific threat to those who add to the prophecy, or take from it, indicates that men are to be under violent templation to reject or misrepresent it in order to evade the application of its predictions to themselves. And how needful to presumption, to party zeal, and to ambition, is the restraint it is suited to impose ! With what a perverse and daring spirit have not a few, especially of the friends of the nationalized hierarchies, set aside the obvious meaning of its symbols, and forced on them constructions the most unauthorized and unnatural, in order to escape the demonstration that the great apostate powers which it foreshadows, are those to which they belong!
I. One of the most conspicuous characteristics of the prophecy thus is, that it exhibits the true worshippers as perpetually involved, until the advent of Christ, in a violent conflict with antagonist powers. It is made a question throughout the whole period, Who shall reign? Who has the chief right of dominion over men ? Whom shall they honor as of supreme authority ? Christ claims exclusive homage on the ground of his deity, and work as Redeemer; and makes known his purpose to maintain his rights, and reward men with life or death eternal according as they acknowledge and obey him, or refuse subjection to his sway, and forewarns them that they are to be called to a severe test of their allegiance.
On the other hand, a long succession of antagonist powers dispute his rights, usurp his throne, and endeavor to compel men to make their homage of him, subordinate to their homage of themselves. The pagan rulers of the ancient empire deny his deity, and assert the divinity of their idols; and arrogating authority to dictate to their subjects whom they shall worship and with what rites, forbid the homage of him, and enjoin instead the worship of their false gods. Their successors in the ancient and modern empire, nominally acknowledge his deity and right to reign, but deny it practically, by claiming dominion over the faith and worship of their people, making his laws the subject of their legislation, and thence treating his rights as depending on their will. In like manner the teachers of the church usurp authority over his laws, arrogate an exclusive right to teach and offer a worship, and endeavor in conjunction with the civil rulers, to compel men to submit to their sway. They thus dethrone God as the object of homage, set aside the eternal Word as Redeemer, and substitute creatures and idols in their place; and by their influence the church at large is drawn into apostasy. The true worshippers are reduced to a small number, called to maintain allegiance under the greatest difficulties, and to give by the surrender of ease, property, friends, and life itself, the most decisive and conspicuous proofs of invincible fidelity. The whole host who are redeemed during this period, ascend to heaven out of great tribulation, and are crowned as victors over mighty foes.
II. This conflict is conducted in the presence of the redeemed in heaven and the angels, and engages their profoundest attention