« PreviousContinue »
“ ceived by the ear, neither hath the eye
seen, (O God, beside thee !) what he “ hath prepared for him that waiteth for “ him."*
To two of the sons of men, however, it was given, before the canon of scripture had closed, to witness “ what eye
hath not “ seen, nor ear heard ;" namely, to him who was designated by our Lord a CHOSEN VESSEL ; and to that favoured servant who was called the BELOVED DISCIPLE. The first was the Apostle Paul, of whom Christ said that he should be " a chosen vessel to him to bear his name before the Gentiles :"+ The other was the Evangelist John, who is mentioned as “ the disciple whom Jesus LOVED."
When the Apostle of the Gentiles was, on a certain occasion, vindicating his divine mission, he noticed the manifestation which had been made to him. “I will come,” saith he, “ to visions and revelations of the “ Lord. I knew a man in Christ, about “ fourteen years ago ; such an one caught “ up to the third heaven.” “And I knew .“ such a man,” (he uses this form of speech, that he might not say, in express words, that he had been counted worthy of such an honour) “I knew such a man, how that he “ was caught up into PARADISE, and heard “ unspeakable words, which it is not lawful “ for a man to utter. Of such an one will “ I glory; yet of myself, I will not glory."* And this is all that the Apostle was permitted to say of the “ revelations of the Lord.”
* Is. Ixiv. 4.
+ Acts ix. 15.
John xxi. 20.
It hath been noticed as some argument for the truth of our Saviour's mission, that he only speaks generally of the glory of
* 2 Cor. xii. 4.
heaven, and doth not like those earthly prophets, who have sometime deluded men) give a particular description of the invisible world. Our Lord knew, that no words could convey to the mind of man, the meaning of the things to be spoken of; and that any words might convey false impressions to his imperfect understanding. Nor, it may be, was it fitting, or lawful, as the Apostle expresses it, to open to the view of a profane world, that glory which many might behold with indifference or contempt. Enough hath been said in scripture, of “ the glory that shall be revealed," for the excitement of faith and hope.
The same character belongs to the expressions of St. Paul, in regard to the heavenly scené, which he witnessed. He doth not describe particulars. “ He was “ caught up into paradise,” but he only saith, that he heard “UNSPEAKABLE WORDS,
which it is not lawful” (or not possible) " for a man to utter.” This silence of the Apostle is very expressive ; and is a token of that true humility which ever accompanies a manifestation of the love of God. For what uninspired writer, pretending that he had been caught up into the third heaven, would have refrained from telling us what he saw there?
But it was to him, " who saw the Apocalypse,” that the clearest discovery was made of the celestial state. While he was " in the isle which is called Patmos, (being banished thither by the Emperor of Rome) for the word of God, and for the
testimony of Jesus Christ;" he had a vision of the glory of heaven ; and he was commanded to reveal the particulars to the world. " What thou seest, write in a
The general purpose of this book appears to have been, to exhibit some remarkable events in the history of the Christian Church in the language of symbols ; to be a STANDING PROPHECY during its successive periods ; and which should begin to be understood, when, by the lapse of time, new evidence might be most required.
But one particular object of this book was intended for every age, and is highly important to us at this time. to establish the great truth, before recognized by Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles, namely, that Christ is God, very God, coequal with the Father; and that one of the chief employments in heaven is “ THE 16 WORSHIP OF THE LAMB."
The Apocalypse was given to complete the code of scripture, and to be a