Page images

are declared to be mysteries by God himself, in the sacred scriptures. They are great mysteries under the moral government of God. That a religion so true, so pure, fo excellent as the Christian, should be neglected, misunderstood, and despised by so many; that so few, comparatively speaking, should be renewed by the Spirit of God in the Spirit of their minds; that the Jews, the antient people of God, should remain so long in a state of infidelity ; that those who profess a great regard for Moses and the prophets should not believe in Jesus, of whom Moses and the prophets testified ; that they should for so long a time remain distinct from all the nations of the earth, and yet live in no country as a distinct nation; that it should be so many hundred years before all the Gentile nations should be converted to that divine religion, whose very doctrines prove it to be of God, and which calls upon men only to be wise, to be good, and to be happy, whilst it offers them the best means and aids for becoming fo; that such a hierarchy of superstition, idolatry, worldly pomp, and perfecution as the church of Rome exhibits, hould arise in the world, bear the name of Chris. tian, and continue for so many hundred years; that after so many hundred years, the overthrow of that hierarchy, the bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles, the conversion of the Jews, and that uncommonly great influence of the Spirit of

God God upon the minds of men, in renewing them, making them clearly perceive the truth and excellency of the gospel of Jesus and heartily embrace it, should all happen at the same time, are great mysteries. These are mysteries under the moral government of God. These are mysteries, at many of the reasons of which we might hazard many probable conjectures, if to do so were right; but all the reasons of which shall fully appear to no man, until the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when this mystery of God shall be finished. When Antichrist shall be finally overthrown,when the fullness of the Gentiles shall be brought in, the Jews, seeing that Christ's kingdom is triumphant over the Roman empire and all the other kingdoms of the world, shall receive him as their spiritual king; and when the religion of Jesus, in its scriptural and divine purity, shall become universal and triumphant in the world, then shall it clearly appear, that all these mysteries arose from the wiseft and best reasons. Then shall the contemplation of these predictions and events improve the heads and the hearts of men, and fill their mouths with songs of praise to that God, all whose works, even the most mysterious, are done in wisdom. .

That the mystery of God should not be finished till the voice of the seventh angel, is a declaration exactly agreeable to the predictions of the prophets who wrote on this subject, before John wrote this book. Thus, Daniel chap. vii. 23.-27. exprefly declares, that it shall be a time and times and half a time, from the day in which the saints of the Most High shall be delivered into the hands of the last head of the Roman government, to the day, in which the mystery of God shall be finished, that is, the space of 1 243 years. It shall afterwards be Mewn in its proper place, that that space of time shall run down exactly to the days of the voice of the seventh angel. The same thing is fore. told by the apostle Paul in Rom. xi. 25,-26. and in 2 Theff.ii. 1,-10. Let us here observe and admire the exact correspondence among the writers of facred fcripture; a correspondence which proves, that they all wrote under the inspiration of the fame unerring spirit of God; a correspondence, which, by comparing one of them with another, leads the candid and studious mind to their real mean



Verses 8th, 9th, 10th. And the voice which I heard from heaven, spake unto me again, and said, Go, and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea, and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he faid unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it


Thall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

John is commanded to take the little opened book which is in the hand of Christ, and eat it up. And he takes it, and eats it wholly up. As the food of the body must be eaten before it can afford any nourishment to the body; hence, to store up and digest knowledge in the mind, which is the food of the foul, is expressed in the symbolical language by eating. This fymbol is very common in prophetic writings, and its meaning is uniformly the same. To eat words, is to know their meaning, store them up in our memory, and apply them to their proper use. Jerem. xv. 16. “ Thy words “ were found, and I did eat them.” To eat a roll or book, is to study it diligently, store up its meaning in our memory, and digest it fully : Ezek. iii. 1. “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat " that thou findest; eat this roll, and go and speak .“ unto the house of Israel.”

When all the fix preceeding seals were open. ed in their order, John saw what was written up. on those parts of the roll, which were unfolded


by the opening of these seals, and he related exactly what he had seen written upon them. When this seventh seal was opened, he read and considered this little book, digested fully its meaning, and narrated the contents of it, at great length, in symbolical language, in many of the following chapters of this book.

When he eat this book, it was sweet as honey in his mouth; but it was afterwards bitter in his belly. The acquisition of knowledge is pleasant. There is a natural curiosity in man, which makes him pry into futurity with keenness and pleasure, and renders every discovery pleasant at first, merely because it is new. Great are the charms of novelty to a mind so constituted, that what it knows bears little proportion to what it knows not. But, after it is attained, the knowledge of futurity is often distressing to the mind. The knowledge of all the calamities and vicissitudes of his life at one view, before they actually approached him, would distress and overwhelm the strongest of men. The foreknowledge of the wickedness which, to such a degree, and for so great a length of time, should prevail in the world, under the reign of superstition, idolatry, and tyranny, of the persecutions and calamities, to which the saints, of whom the world was not worthy, Mould be exposed so long, must certainly imbitter and distress the mind of John. The


« PreviousContinue »