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Verse I. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the
Lamb. 2. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the
river was there, the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month : and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
This chapter discovers another glorious fountain of heavenly felicity, which shall be enjoyed both by the citi. zens of New Jerusalem, and by the inhabitants of the new earth. It is represented as a pure river of water of life, and under the emblem of a tree of immortality. This figure is of very ancient date among the Eastern sages, and was well known in the days of our Saviour, as I siall presently show. The ancient Chaldean geography conceived water to be a celestial element, proceeding immedia ately from the throne of Ormuzd, which had its first sourse for this earth upon the holy mountain Albordj, right in the middle of the world. There they imagiued, was the fountain of immortality, the mother of all streams, which flowed, pregnant with every germ of life, around the earth, over all the nature of Ormuzd, animating trees, animals and men. Out of the midst of this fountain of life, they conceived the tree of immortality to grow, the king of all trees; the vital juice of which they imagined would give life to the dead at the last day.t This seems to be
Zend Avesta T. III. p. 633. Ardoviss. 695. Hom, arbres
the figure which our Lord had in view in the following passages. If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink ; thou wouldest have asked, and he would have given thee living water. Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall ne.ver thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Joh, iv, 10. 14. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John vii, 37. 38. The word belly in this last passage, is a miserable translation of the original xordia, which properly signifies conceptaculum aquarum, a reservoir, a receptacle of water, as our Lord has explained it himself, Joh. iv, 14. Thus Aristotle (Meteorol. c. XIII, p. m. 26) calls the great abyss xo121c.
The pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, represents the Holy Ghost, streaming forth his gifts and graces, as the fruits and benefits of Christ's redemption ; which is thus exhibited on account of its quickening, refreshing, purifying and satiating virtues. This inexhaustible fountain proceeds from the throne of the Father and of the Son, in the midst of the holy city, and diffuses life and happiness over all the city and the new earth. It opens a new fountain in every inhabitant, according to their capacities of receiving it, from whom it again springs up into everlasting life. Let the reader compare Ezek. XLVII, 1–12. Gen. II, 10. Zech. IV, 8 ; where he will also meet with the trces which bear their fruit every month.
In the midst of the city near the fountain, and here and there along the river on either side, St. John beheld umbrageous groves, all plants of the tree of life which was in paradise, whose virtues are to renew health and strength, and endow with immortality. They appear to be twelve kinds of trees, all of the same species, which no doubt, differ in some of their virtues, as they are said to
bear twelve manner of fruits every month. Their leaves are for the healing of the nations inhabiting the new earth, who being yet in a state of imperfection, and in institutions of moral improvement and discipline, may feel a want of strength, and require quickning both in body and soul. These are invigorated by the leaves of these trees, while the citizens of New Jerusalem probably enjoy their yet more powerful and celestial fruit.
To enter upon a more minute investigation of this mysterious subject, in order to point out the specific meaning of every particular will be, perhaps, neither prudent nor safe. Let us strive to enter in at the strait gate of repentance and faith in Christ our Saviour, and we sh all see it and rejoice full of joy exceedingly,
Verse 3. And there shall be no more curge : but the throne of God
and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve
bim. 4. And they shall see his face ; and his name shall be in their
foreheads. 5. And there shall be no night there ; and they need no cand
le, neither light of the sun , for the Lord God giveth them. light : and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Though the nations on the new earth are only, as yet, in a state of moral improvemeut, for a higher degree of felicity held out to them ; yet as the principle of a divineand spiritual life is laid in all their souls, and no further temptation exists, but on the contrary the most powerful means, and inducement for constancy and faithfulness, there will be no relapse or apostacy, and consequently no curse or anathema, by which any are exiled. This will much less be the case among the citizens of New Jerusalen. All will serve the Lord Jesus, who is the universal Monarch upon the glorified earth, governing in the namo of his Father, and those who have qualified themselves shall assist him in his government to all eternity. The inhabitants of the city shall sce his face, and enjoy the im.
mediate fruition of his personal glory and felicity ; they shall bear his nime in their foreheads, as his own chosen people, their physiognomy expressing their state of sanc. tification, and all the Christian virtues.
The holy prophet is never weary to repeat, that the divine city has no need of the sun, inoon, or candle, and that there shall be no night there. New Jerusalem will shed its illuminating beams throughout the newborn and glorified system, by reflecting the irradiating glory of the triumphant, triune God, from the centre of the city. Thus St. John finishes his prophetic account of the new heaven and new earth, together with his sublime and majestic description of new Jerusalem ; and what now follows is the conclusion of the whole book.
Verse 6. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true :
and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be
done. 7. Behold, I come quickly : blessed is he that keepeth the
sayings of the prophecy of this book.
This is the conclusion of the glorious Apocalypse, the last book of all revelation from God to man.
The angel. who has all along shewed St. John these great and marvelIous scenes, foreknew the fates of its contents in future times of infidelity, and that its canonical authority and divine inspiration would be called in question by the selfwise of this world ; and therefore assures the apostle of its divine origin, credibility and truth. He testifies that he has been faithful in accomplishing his mission to him, and through him to the whole Church of Christ ; that he has neither added any thing of his own, or taken away from the words of the Lord, but delivered a true account ás he received it. He confirms his testimony by assuring us, that the Lord God, Jesus Christ, the God of the
&pirits of the prophets,t who inspired and directed theni in ancient times to reveal his will to the children of men, had also sent him to shew unto his servants all these things, which the Church of Christ would experience, in a pressing succession of events from that time. To be convinced of the divine inspiration of the Apocalypse, let the unprejudiced mind consider this whole series of prophecies and their accomplishments in past ages ; if after such a faithful rescarch he is still doubtful, he has reason to suspect his mind for the necessary abilities, or his heart for a latent disposition to infidelity.
Verse 7. Behold, I come quickly : blessed, &c. From the time of John, the Lord was making preparations for his second Advent, through all the scenes exhibited in this prophecy, until he actually appears. Those who believe this prophecy, and observe his advice annexed to alınost every trying period as a rule of conduct, are pronounced blessed ; because they will prepare for those trying seasons before hand, and when they shall have arrived, will enjoy the advantage of the Lords counsel in directing their path, which will not be the case withi such as neglect this prophecy. How then can Christians, and ministers of the Gospel be inattentive to this book, and even dissuade others from reading and studying this valuable prophecy, in direct contradiction to the advice and command of the Lord? How dare they rob themselves and others of the instruction, comfort and advice contained in it? They who have so many reasons to try all means, and lay hold of every opportunity to win souls for Christ, and guard against the enemy of the Church.
Verse 8. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when
I had heard and seen, I feel down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Et Dominus Deus spirituum prophetarum, as the Valgate reads; which reading also Griesb. and Bengel. prefer.