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ly from man, from themselves, and all their own workings, guessings, and conceivings, which ever will attend them more or less through the six working days, until they come to the complete fabbath of rest on the seventh day, wherein they'rest * from their own works as God did from his,'* Here God becomes their all in all, their whole dependance for opening and illumination ; and therefore here the seventh seal is, opened, and the heavenly mystery disclosed.
And now, in confirmation that this is the meaning of the number feven, as comprehensive of all the seals that can possibly seal up divine truth from man,- let us observe, that when John calls upon him that has wisdom, (divine wisdom, for all else ever fails) to count the number of the beast, or the number of his name, which he expreflly says ' is . the number of a man,'t he plainly shews us that the whole, the utmost number of a man, and of all his workings, buildings, comprehendings, and conceivings, which make up the whole life, power, policy, religion, and worship of the beast, is comprehended in fixes and that there is not one seven in it all. For, says he, his nuinber is fix hundred three-score and fix, that is, 666. Here we see, that although the workings of a man may be multiplied to ten times, and even an hundred times of the six working days, wherein he rests not from his own works nor comes to the true sabbath (wherein no creaturely work is done, not even a fire of his own sparks or creaturely aniination and warmth kindled) it is all but the number of the beast or false worship, and man-made creeds and systems. On the real Sabbath, wherein the true rest froin every thing creaturely is witnessed, and God is all in all, the worship is divine; the feals are opened even to the seventh ; the mystery is seen; God
stands * Heb. iv. 10. t Rev. xiü. 18.
stands revealed to the foul; his works are known, and in the true knowledge of him, the beginning of eternal life is enjoyed even here on earth, for it is the real knowledge of God, not the ideal conceivings, that is the eternal life of immortal spirits. And until this is attained, do as much as we will in the fixes, there is the one thing needful wanting, which, while it is wanting, cannot be numbered; for indeed we can never number or perceive it clearly, truly and fully, so long as the seventh seal remains unopened to us. For until they are all opened, we Thall ever be liable to be guessing, contriving, inventing, and hewing out broken cisterns to ourselves. Many may and do Tuppose the opening of the seals is only hereafter ; but those to whom they are opening and opened, know they have their opening here in time progressively : but this is only as God is waited upon. For unless we wait upon him for the opening, we are ever liable to obscure our own minds, and cloud our understandings by our own busy workings and speculations : And therefore at the opening of the seals, chap. vi. the call, come
and fee, was divers times repeated ;- intimating that we must come quite away from our own notions and imaginations, keep a single eye to the light of life, waiting upon God in and through the divers openings-In this attentive, fingle, waiting state, deep mysteries are opened. But instead of peace to the carnal mind, the openings begin with the voice of thunder. For when the lamb opened the first seal, John 'heard as it were the noise of
thunder,' ver. 1. For terrible things in judgment accompany that abasement of creaturely pride and comprehension through which the vail is rent, and the feals that have shut up the understanding opened. • Sion shall be redeemed with judgment.'I
In this work of redemption, renovation, and re
moval Ifai. i. 27.
moval of the seals, (for it goes on gradually together) the Lord who is light in himself, and ever dwells in the light, that is, in his own effence, appears to our minds as breaking through the clouds. The clouds are in us and not in him ; and in dispelling them, that fo the seals may be opened, he appears in ways of terror and amazement to the creature, represented by the noise of thunder.' Thus we read in another place, Clouds and darkness are round about him,' and • with God is terrible majesty.'t And experience abundantly confirmeth, that, in difperfion of the clouds, he often appears in terrible majesity indeed; causing the thunders, and indeed before the whole mystery is disclosed, even feven thunders to utter their voices. Hence we find, chap. x. 1. John saw å ' mighty angel come down from heaven,' and though a rainbow was upon his head, and his face
was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire,' yet (Oh! divine instruction) he was • clothed with
a cloud.' This cloud must be removed before the whole mystery could be revealed ; and in order to it, he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion
roareth; and when he had cried, seven thunders • (note their number) uttered their voices' Less than seven would have been short of the complete rest, wherein the whole mystery is completed. But • in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when " he shall begin to found, the mystery of God should
be finished," said the holy angel, ' as he hath de• clared to his servants the prophets,' fee vet. 7. But John was commanded to seal up those things * which the seven thunders had uttered, and write • them not,' ver. 4. This I believe is often the case for a season. Some hints are allowed to be given; but as to the full declaration of divine things, it is often with the servants as with tlie mafter. • Mine hour is not yet come.'! For though the time is to come, when that which is spoken in the
13 * Psal. xcvii. 2. + Job xxxvii. 31 John ii. 4
ear,' shall be declared on the house top ;'+ yet it is not always and at all times fo to be--for it can never be with the divinely girded, limited, and directed servants of God, as with the letter-learned scribes and pharisees, whose · time is always ready.?
At the opening of the second seal, the call.. come and see, as at the opening of the first, is heard ; for the waiting frame, the single eye, is still necessary: and now a 'great sword' is given to him that fat on the red horse ; and also power was given him to • take peace from the earth,' ver. 4. Some may suppose the meaning of this opening by the red horse confined fo entirely to outward blood and bloody persecution, as to have
no relation to the state of their minds who experience the opening of the seals; but it is obvious to the enlightened mind, that many passages in scripture have both an outward or literal, and an inward and mystical meaning, and there really is a sword known, and peace taken from the earthly man in the rending of the vail and opening of the seals : a fore trial indeed to such as have not şet fully submitted to have their carnal peace in the earthly natural state broken and destroyed. But there is this comfort, that however peace is taken from this state, yet at the opening of the third seal, a charge is given, ver. 6. not to hurt the oil nor the
wine. The precious things are safe through every tumult and trial, to all who rightly endure them. But though a little hope and confolation is received, now and then by such manifestations of divine care and protection, yet new tribulations foon plunge the baptized soul into fresh, and oft times greater consternation
Thus at the opening of the next feal, his name, who rides the pale horse, is death ; and hell followed with him,' ver. 8. Oh! this death, this
wit Luke xii. 3& John vii. 6.
dying to the first nature and will ;' to the life of félf, and all corrupt and selfish desires and gratifications; it must be known and endured, that so the life, which is hid with Christ in God, may be enjoyed, which never was nor can ever be without dying with him; and here the very pains and power of hell is felt, and takes hold of the soul.
1 Thus, under the operation of this necessary
Oh! what is it that does not rise up to torment the poor soul! but all works together for the good of the faithful; no matter by what the necessary death is effected, nor by how many kinds of distress; the Lord is gracious through it all, and wounds to heal, yea, kills to make alive.
Under the operations of these various modes, or messengers of death, the language often is, Oh ! wretched man that I 'am, who Thall deliver me from the body of this death.'+ It is painful enduring the sword to wound
#Rom. vii 24.