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This were indeed an insuperable difficulty, if we were constrained to hold that the dispensation of mercy towards the whole human race, under the reign of Christ and his saints, were precisely the same as that dispensation that gathered these saints out of a lost world. But that is by no means certain, nay, is not probable. The chosen of Christ—the remnant according to the election of grace, "redeemed from among men”- "the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb, are a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." They are not merely saved as subjects and servants, and restored from the moral and natural effects of the fall; but are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's only begotten Son: are not only to be partakers of his mercies, but to be partners of his throne and of his glory—to be rulers over the rest of their fellow-creatures!— made one with God in Christ, as no other creatures are. An excellency of glory, to which creation, in the utmost perfection of intellectual being, whether in man or angel, can afford no approach or resemblance. But the world over which these adopted sons of God are to reign with Christ, their elder Brother, though saved with a great salvation, in time and in eternity, may, in their measure of the gift of grace, fall very short of that glorious height of heavenly majesty to
which the elect remnant had been elevated.
It is one thing to save as pardoned subjects or as restored creatures; and another thing, to stamp with the image of the incarnate, glorified Son of God, and anoint to be kings and priests of God and of Christ—to invest with the character of the spouse of God's own Son! The very idea, indeed, of kings and priests, implies a people to be ruled, a people for whom persons invested with a sacred character are to interpose. And if the
elect saints are to reign for ever, even for ever and ever, there must always be a people, over whom they exercise the functions of their sacerdotal royalty.
Mankind, in its original creation, was a good and most excellent workmanship of the Almighty, proper to inhabit this earth, though all this earth had been a paradise, and sin and natural evil had never entered; -fit to be promoted to higher enjoyments still than flesh and blood could inherit, when the Almighty saw good to let them rest from their works and from their appointed services.
Suppose, then, the whole race of men recovered from the fall and its consequences, and for many ages under the rule of Christ and his glorified saints, answering - to speak after the manner of men- the original purpose of God in their creation, replenishing the earth and subduing it, and, for aught we know, replenishing others of the many mansions in the heavenly Father's house. Suppose all this, yet if Adam, in Paradise, could fall by the temptation and seduction of the devil, while as yet the perfection of his nature was entire and sinless, and could cast off the dominion of his Maker, so may the children of Adam, inhabiters of the then renovated world, even supposing the whole of the corruption of their nature to have been repaired. So may they be brought, by the arts of the old serpent, to engage in mad rebellion against Christ and his saints. And so it seems, from the prophecy before us, they will. Satan will deceive the last remains of Adam's restored race to their entire destruction and to his own. "They encompassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into a lake of
fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Such is the end of "the father of lies," the enemy of God and of his Christ; and such the end of the last unhappy victims of his seductions!
But what are we to understand by "the camp of the saints?" That they should be found encamped, implies a preparation against hostile attack; and the glorified saints, we may suppose, will know that they have not to wrestle, in this rebellion, with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world. What again are we to understand by "the beloved city?" Is it the new Jerusalem, afterwards described, which comes down out of heaven?- and how can that be the object of hostile attack from mortals? — or what connexion has this city with the holy mountain of the Lord's house and the city, the LORD IS THERE,* to be erected for restored Israel? And is not rather the attack here described levelled against these visible residences of God? All this is a mystery not shown as yet. But it should seem that restored Israel is now faithful with the saints; and there may be other exceptions, though Gog and Magog symbolizes the nations in the four quarters of the earth.
11. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and there was found no place for them: and I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God."
We were told before, that "the rest of the dead," as distinguished from "the dead in Christ," who rose at
"the first resurrection," "lived not till the thousand years were over." The awful season is now arrived it succeeds, as it should seem from the order of the narrative, the judgment of the devil and of the nations of living men whom he had deceived,
As GOD THE FATHER judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, we are sure that he who sitteth on the great white throne is a symbol of GOD THE SON; all judgment is committed to him "because he is the SON OF MAN." As the GOD-MAN, the King of saints, in the midst of his glorified brethren, he sits in judgment.
"And the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea."
I have no doubt the chapter should have closed here, for this is properly the end of the whole narrative of prophetic events in the book of Revelation; what follows being an explanatory vision, illustrative of what has been before mentioned.
The vision of the Revelation, therefore, closes with a symbolical representation of the final judgment,— of the general resurrection of the dead, and of the entire destruction and renewal of the earth.
The judgment here described is evidently that of
works. It is the execution of the sentence of the law of works that day of "wrath, and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God," against which, according to the apostle Paul's description, the despisers of mercy, rejecting a Saviour, and continuing in impenitency, are "treasuring up wrath."* The day which the apostle, in the opening of his Epistle to the Romans, so clearly describes, both as it will affect those who have possessed the knowledge of revelation, with their greater responsibilities, and as it will affect those who had no express revelation, with their lesser responsibilities:-" He will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law,"-" in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by" or " according to my Gospel."
It was in the prospect of this judgment that St. Paul has declared," Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world brought in guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified." And this concerns not alone them that are under the law of revelation;" for the Gentiles having not the law, are a law to themselves." "The work" or " matter of the law" is "written in their hearts." These passages and the
* Rom. ii.