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REV. XX. 11–15.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before
God; 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 which were in it; and
death and hell delivered up the dead which 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."
WHEN St. John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, in the reign of the Emperor
Domitian, it pleased the Almighty to bring before him certain visions of the great and final prophecy of the Church of Christ. These visions were recorded by the Apostle, and addressed in the form of an Epistle to the seven Churches of Asia. Many parts of this Epistle have received various interpretations, by various learned divines, because much of the prophecy being yet to be fulfilled, it cannot in all points receive any exact interpretation. There can, however, be no point of difference respecting the warning that this Epistle necessarily conveys to the Church of God. Here is an Apostle exiled in solitude to an island, before whom it pleases God to introduce visions of the most awful and impressive character. St. John sees clearly into the future events of Providence. The Asiatic persecution: the general view of Providence in the government of the Church and the world: the awful punishments, which will follow the Popish persecutions of the Church; and the papal persecution itself; the conversion and the gathering of the Jews,
and lastly the final triumph of Christianity.
The vision that we are desirous of introducing to your notice, is one of the greatest importance. It followed that relating to the final defeat of Satan, the great enemy of mankind. But first hear St. John's own account of the manner, in which these visions appeared to him. "I, John," says he, "who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and what thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia ; and I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son Man, clothed with a garment down to the
foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen! and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter."
Now, no man could have recorded this description, unless he had actually been in a state of Divine vision. There was an awfulness in the sight which only could have reconciled the mind of the Apostle, by its being assured, that the form before
him was the Son of God. "I am," said he, "the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.' At this assurance St. John was afraid; he fell upon the earth as dead. "Fear not," said the Divine form, "Write the things which thou hast seen.” The Apostle soon recognised the divine vision, and received assistance to perform so necessary and important a work.
Several visions, as we have observed, appeared to St. John during his banishment in the solitary island. The one, which is contained in our text, demands our present consideration.
"And I saw a great white throne," says the Apostle," and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." This vision represented to St. John the general resurrection. "The great white throne" was emblematic of the majesty, dominion, and power, which will then be manifested in Christ, "who sat thereon, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;" and this denotes the entire dissolu