Page images

of God and the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth! And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season, until their fellowservants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."* This little season is now past. They rest in the departed state no longer: they are no longer numbered with them that sleep in the dust of the earth: they live and reign with Christ, and see-while they follow him, as shown in a vision before, upon their white horses his judgment upon their once mighty adversaries.

But though the noble army of martyrs are first specified, these are not all for whom the thrones are set. John saw also "the souls which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their forehead or in their hands." These, too, live and reign with Christ, and this clearly ascertains that all the faithful, all the elect people of God, do now live and reign with Christ. Because it is expressly said, chap. xiii. 8, where the same corruptions are symbolized by the same emblems: All that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth."

[ocr errors]

This is again repeated, chap. xvii. 8:—“ And all they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."

Chap. vi. 9.

From hence it is manifest, that the trials and corruptions to which the professed church has been in every age exposed, have been sufficient to sweep before them all that were not chosen of God; but that none of these have been seduced either by the devil or the world. "The redeemed from among men,- the forty and four thousand, --the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb, are not defiled with women;" that is to say, they were free from the corruptions of the times in which they lived, they had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name. †

[ocr errors]

Now it is evident, as has been intimated before, if none but the elect escape, these mysterious terms must take in all manner of corruptions, essential ones at least, of these latter times, and not merely such as are commonly esteemed papistical and Roman Catholic. There are "divisions" also, and there are "heresies" also, among the Protestant and reformed churches, whereby "those that are approved are made manifest:" and with us, as with them that worship the image, it is "the foundation of God alone that standeth sure, having this seal; the Lord knoweth the mthat are his; and let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from evil.”

According to our Lord's declaration, the very elect, in these latter times, would be deceived, if it were possible. If not by the great Antichrist-the consummation of the deceiver's artifice - by some of the "many" "false Christs" and "false prophets," all of whom, in the view of Scripture, belong to one great apostasy, and to the same rebellion against the light.

[blocks in formation]

This is strictly agreeable to the representation of St. Paul, where he shows, by the Spirit, "the working of Satan" in these latter ages. It is "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." And mark, in the following verse, how "the election" are contrasted with "them that perish,"—just as in these passages of the Revelation which we are now reading:-" But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."

We come, then, to this twofold conclusion,- that the delusions of Satan are every where so strong that all but the very elect will be deceived and perish; - that if those who obey not the truth worship not the beast or his image, they receive, in some way or other, his mark upon their foreheads or on their hand. There are but two parties in the professing world; those that receive their Father's seal and his name on their forehead, and those that receive the mark of the beast; as it is mysteriously represented:-if not on their forehead, yet in their hand. And we may safely distinguish these two parties, as the passage we just quoted has distinguished them :the one "receive the love of the truth that they may be saved," and, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of that truth, they are saved, the other " have not this love of truth;" they believe it not, but have pleasure in unrighteousness; they are given up to a strong delusion,

and believe a lie; and this lie, whatever it is, and this unrighteousness which is beloved, of whatever kind it may be, is a mark of the beast; and if you see it not on the forehead, declared with boldness and effrontery, you will discover it in the dealings of the hand. We may say, then, respecting the prize that awaits them that overcome all these delusions and corruptions, the "election have obtained it, and the rest are blinded!"

And it is clear, from the passages we have compared together, that "all the elect of God," or, which is the same thing, all that are saved through sanctification and belief of the truth, have part with the holy martyrs in the first resurrection,- are among those for whom these thrones are prepared.. Indeed, the promise of the kingdom and of "the crown of righteousness" is every where in Scripture addressed generally to all the faithful: "Such honour have all his saints." Let me quote especially Rev. ii. 26:-" He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers : even as I received of my Father." And chap. iii. 21:— "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down. with my Father on his throne." Compare John, xvii. 22: -"And the glory that thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." Who these are that are distinguished, every where in this chapter of St. John, from the world, we cannot be at a loss to discover. The second, the ninth, the four


teenth, and the twentieth verses, render this plain. But it is acknowledged that, as yet, the world knows not the children of God, "because they knew not Him." It is declared, however, that the whole creation waiteth for THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD.* And this is the glory that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Christ."

We are here, then, reading of the common hope and expectation of all the faithful people of God. They all live and reign with Christ a thousand years. It follows:

"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

That a proper and not a figurative resurrection is intended in this place, if the analogy of prophecy had not made it plain, might be demonstrated from this verse. It must be admitted, unless the resurrection be denied altogether, that the living of the rest of the dead here mentioned-supposing them the same as those mentioned in ver. 12, of which no reasonable doubt can be raised-is a true and literal resurrection. Of course, then, the living of the dead before spoken of- those that are counted "blessed and holy as having part in the first resurrection," in distinction from that, the second resurrection,-must be real and literal also. If the one is figurative, the other must be figurative too; and if the one be literally true, so is the other, by every example of the language of prophecy which is at all applicable to the case. We learn, then, from this passage, that a period of a thousand years

Rom. viii.

« PreviousContinue »