Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

DISCOURSE XX.

THE THIRD GENERAL DESCRIPTION, CONTINUED : OR, THE LAM's

COMPANY.

Chap. xiv. 1-5.

UNLESS we consider the whole of the fourteenth chapter as a continuation of the thirteenth, we cannot be said to have a third general view of the rise, reign, and overthrow of popery; for the whole of the thirteenth chapter is taken up with a description of its rise and reign, and nothing is said in it of its downfall. Nor is any thing said of the state of the church of Christ during these “ forty and two months,” save that the beast “ made war” with its members and “ caused them to be killed.” But if the four: teenth chapter be considered as a continuation of the subject, we have then a complete view of it, and a most animating description of the state of the church of Christ during the “forty and two months" or 1260 years, in beautiful opposition to the beasts and their followers.

1 And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

The first of the beasts was a monster, having seven heads and ten borns; a compound of the leopard, the bear, and the lion. And as to the last, though in respect of its horns it was like a lamb, yet it had nothing of the lamb in its nature.

What a charming contrast is here; not only between the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdoms of this world, but between a compound of hypocrisy and malignity, and the religion of Jesus Christ. There was sommething like a lamb: but lo, here is a Lamb !

One of the beasts is described as rising out of the sea, and the other out of the earth ; but the Lamb as standing upon a mountain. “Standing" is a reigning posture. Dan. xi. 3. He had been slain, but now “stands up, and rules with great dominion.” It also denotes that the party is not only unvanquished, but triumphant. It might have been supposed that from the rising up of these beasts the Lamb should have found no place to exercise his gov. ernment among men : but he stands bis ground, and bas bis followers, as the beasts have theirs. His kingdom was never overturned, even in the most corrupt ages.

The place on which he stood was " Mount Sion." This is his proper ground, as much as Babylon was of the other. In his church even upon earth, and amidst the sharpest persecutions, the Lamb standeth upon the mount Sion.

The company said to be with him are the same that were seal. ed in Chap. vii. This sealing was prior to the papal apostasy, and contained an assurance that God would preserve himself a people under it; and lo, after all the ravages of the beasts, here we find them ; not in Babylon, but with the Lamb in Sion. The followers of the beast were designated by his mark and the number of his name ; and the followers of the Lamb “ have bis Father's Danae written in their foreheads." These are the same with the two witnesses, and the woman that fled into the wilderness : they denote the Israel of God; and were that to an apostate church which the twelve tribes who served God day and night were to an apostate world.

In reviewing the dark ages of popery, we are apt to think there could have been but few wbo clave to the truth in those times : but if the Christian world were again put to such a test of

[ocr errors]

their sincerity, it were well if the number of the faithful proved greater than in those days. "MEDE (says Bishop NEWTON) hath observed from good authorities, that in the war with the Waldenses and Albigenses there perished in France alone a million; from the first institution of the Jesuits to the year 1480, that is, in little more than thirty years, nine hundred thousand. In the Netherlands alone the Duke of Alva boasted that within a few years he had despatched to the amount of thirty-six thousand, and those all by the hand of the common exccutioner. In the space of scarce thirty years the inquisition destroyed by various kinds of tortures one hundred and fifty thousand. Saunders bimself, a popish writer, confesses that an innumerable multitude of Lollards and Sacramentarians, were burnt throughout all Europe ; who yet he says were not put to death by the Pope and Bishops, but by the civil magistrates.” That is, the secular beast did the work, and the ecclesiastical only “caused” it! These, and many more whose names will appear another day, composed the company who stood with the Lamb.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of niany waters, and as the voice of a great thunder : and I heard the voice of har. pers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as is were a ner song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders : and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth.

But hark! A sound is heard--It is from a great distance-It is like the roaring of the sea, or the rolling of thunder - It is the sound of a multitude-There is music-It seems like a new song -It is the moving of God's host !-What can be the meaning ? If I mistake not, this is a description of the same event which is signified in the first general view by the resurrection of the witnesses, and in the second by the victory of Michael and his angels over the Dragon and bis angels ; that is to say, The Reformation of the sixteenth century. The song intimates that something has occurred which furnishes matter for rejoicing. A new song commonly supposes a new or recent deliverance; and to what event during the 1260 years can this be applied, unless it be to the Reformation? It was then 'that the army of the Lamb felt its ground, and gloriously triumphed. That which at a distance was only “as it were” a new song, on drawing nearer, proved to be one in reality, and one that none but the redeemed could unite in. The joy attending the Reformation would be confined to the faithful. As to worldly men who engaged in it, they would rejoice only as their temporal interests were promoted by it : and as to the devotees of the beasts, they would deplore the dangers of the church : but they who had been reclaimed from the apostasy of their species, and preserved from that of professing Christians, would enter into the spirit of it. lo them it was the triumph of faith. The blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony would be the burden of the song.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women ; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoeder he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile : for they are without fault before the throne of God.

The Lamb's company are here particularly characterized. First, By the things from which they had been preserved ; Damely, spiritual fornication and adultery, into which the generality of professing Christians had fallen. Secondly, By the course they had pursued. They followed the Lamb whithersoever he went: in his doctrine, worship, afflictions, spirit, and conduct, he was their example. Thirdly, By the distinguished blessings conferred upon them. They were " redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb.?' They were the travail of his soul, in which he was satisfied. In them appeared the efficacy of his death; while others, though calling themselves Christians, still continued under the worst of bondage. And as in the law of the first-fruits a part was accepted for the whole ; so when that which called itself the church apostatized, those who continued faithful were accepted as the Christian church, or reckoned as the Lord's portion. Fourthly, By their sincerity and purity. “ In their mouth was found no guile; for they were without fault before the throne of God." While

« PreviousContinue »