« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God above. Those only that were given unto Christ, whom he calls his sheep, his chosen, his elect, and the like, are the individuals whom he will bring into glory.
The preceding clause is in opposition to the Socinian notion of redemption, which represents it as flowing from the general mercy of God, without respect to an atonement; and the one before us is no less opposed to the Arminian view of this subject, which represents the death of Christ as a sort of universal sacrifice, intended for all and every individual of the human family. The former of these views is excluded by the propitiatory nature of this death; and the latter, by the selection marked in the clauses under consideration. For if Jesus died for every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, what interpretation can be put upon the selection to which the clauses refer? He did not certainly redeem them out of these kindreds and tongues, so as to make them no longer human beings, but creatures of a different rank or order of being. The only rational and scriptural interpretation that can be put upon this limitation is, that while some are saved, others, for the display of truth and justice, are left to perish.
Redemption through Christ is not a deliverance only from that which is evil; it includes the highest positive blessedness which it is possible for finite creatures to enjoy: this is necessarily implied in its being a redemption unto God. This important idea is more fully expressed in the conclusion of the song, ver. 10. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth. Here the highest honours, together with the most lasting and precious benefits, are secured by this redemption. Those interested in it are advanced to the highest honours of royalty and of priesthood; instead of being slaves and captives, they are promoted to a throne; and instead of being far from God, they are brought so near, by the blood of his Son, that they discharge the functions of a spiritual priesthood continually before him. Few of them may be advanced to the throne of secular empire,
or exercise any sort of jurisdiction over their fellow-men; but, spiritually viewed, they are princes of the noblest spirit, and of the most dignified rank: and though they have little of outward greatness, yet in consequence of the princely disposition with which they are endowed, and the state of subjection to their best interests in which the things of the earth are placed, they may be said to reign on the earth.
It is exceedingly probable that, in this last note of their song, there is a particular reference to the prosperity of the church in the latter days. If you compare the last article in the description of the new Jerusalem, chap. xxii. 5, with the one before us, you will perceive a striking resemblance between them. Here we are told that they shall reign on the earth no definite period is mentioned; imagination, therefore, is left to conceive of a very protracted duration. If this reign were to be only for a day, or for a short season, it would hardly be an object of such importance as to be entitled to a place in this song; but if we suppose it to be for ages of ages, as will be the case in the latter days, we need not be surprised that it is inserted here. The prosperity of the church in the latter days is properly the time of the saints' reign upon earth; it is then that religion will be every where respected, and men of true piety will be promoted to places of power and trust among the nations. So much were these worshippers delighted with the prospect, they pass over all the distressing scenes which lay between the times of John and the latter days, as not worthy of being mentioned, in comparison with the glory which should be revealed, and sing only of their reigning on the earth.
From these verses the following reflections may be suggested:-1st, There is a wide difference between the present and former condition of the Saviour. He was once upon a cross, and insulted, and derided by the multitude; he is now advanced to the throne in the heavens, and is adored and worshipped by all that surround it.
2d, The exaltation of Christ has made no change upon the
spirit and disposition by which he is actuated. It is remarked by a celebrated historian, that Vespasian is the only emperor that was made better by his elevation to power. Many of the Roman emperors were celebrated for their private virtues so long as they were subjects; but they were no sooner clothed with imperial authority, than they were transformed into monsters of the most hideous description. But Jesus, who, in the days of his flesh, appeared as a Lamb, is still the same in respect of spirit and disposition. He is the same yesterday,
and to-day, and for ever."
3d, Jesus Christ is invested with a threefold office. He is here symbolized by a Lamb, which naturally reminds us of his sacrificial work, and of his priestly character; but, as this Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, he must be a king and a prophet as well as a priest. And the more attentively his mediatorial character is considered, the more will we be delighted with it, for the more must we be satisfied that he is such a Saviour as we need.
4th, Jesus Christ is a divine person. When John would have paid religious worship to an angel, he was rebuked for his idolatry, chap. xix. 10; and when Satan tempted our Lord to fall down and worship him, he repelled the temptation, like one that shuddered at the proposal. Matt. iv. 10. But here we find Jesus worshipped by the whole church. This worship is represented as paid to him in the very face of the throne; and yet he neither declines it himself, nor is there a single frown or mark of disapprobation from Him that sitteth on the throne. The consequence is unavoidable, that Jesus is the true God, and therefore entitled to receive the homage and adoration which are due to God.
5th, Saints are under peculiar obligations to praise and honour God. They are redeemed unto him by the blood of his Son, and are therefore bound to glorify him in their bodies and spirits, which are his.
6th, Finally from these verses, see the true and direct way for relief to the burdened mind. Is the soul afflicted with a
deep sense of guilt? Look to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. In his propitiatory sacrifice, it will find an answer to all the accusations of Satan, and of conscience, Rom. viii. 33, 34. Or is it afflicted with the condition of the church? Look also to the Lamb of God. He that hath purchased the church with his own blood cannot for a single moment be indifferent about her interests. 'He hath seven eyes and seven horns.' He must be well acquainted with the state of her affairs; he must see through every disguise which enemies put on: and it must be an easy matter with him, by these seven horns, to push down the wicked, and to carry all the counsels of froward men headlong. He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? Psal. xciv. 9, 10.
REV. v. 11-14. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and·
HOLY angels pry into the mystery of redemption. It affords them a wider, and even a more delightful, field of contemplation, than any other work of God. It is the chief of his ways, and cannot fail to breed admiration in the bosoms of all the intelligences that surround the throne of heaven. The more they consider it, the more they see of God in the work, and the more they are excited to wonder and adore. Hence their exercise, as described in the first two verses now before us.
The verses we have lately explained contain the song of the redeemed; and as human beings are the subjects of the saving power and kindness of Messiah, nothing can appear to be more suitable, than that they should step forward, and be the first to raise the song of praise to their Deliverer. But