« PreviousContinue »
ledge of this kind. He, whose eternal interest is truly settled, will study the prophecies to the advantage of his soul's concerns, where the unconverted speculator only satisfies vain curiosity. A child of God is, as it were, at home in the heavenly economy of his father's house, has a right to employ himself on these subjects, and knows, how to do it in a manner becoming his kingdom. 4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace
be unto you, and peace, from him which is, which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits
which are before his throne ; 5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful wit
ness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and
his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever
and ever-Amen, Thus runs the saluting benediction of this book, which according to the oriental manner of writing, always made the beginning of an address or letter, to a child, friend or superior. It was customary with the apostles, to salute the churches with grace and peace; these gifts being the principal of all spiritual possessions. To enjoy the grace of God, and that peace which passeth all understanding, is already true happiness in this world and the earnest to qur inheritance of the purchased possession in glory. Ephes. i. 14. But this salutation here surpasses all the former apostolic benedictions. They salute from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ; but here: Grace and peace from Him, which is-was-andis to come from Him, who only hath absolute immortality, and is the sole cause of all existence in heaven and earth; who was the Judge of the Antideluvian world, of Sodom, the Egyptians, and all the enemies of Israel during all former ages; and the preserver of Noah, Lot, Abraham, and all his people under the old covenant; and who is to come now, to subdue all his enemies, and finish the mystery of God on earth.
And from the seven spirits which are before his throne. It is the Lord Jesus that has the seven spirits of God, chap. iii. 1. By which we are to understand the Holy Ghost in his sevenfold influence and attraction on the Church of Christ. They are not instruments of spectators here ; they give grace and peace, and the expression, spirits of God, denotes their excellency. Zech. iii. 1. iv. 10. Isaiah xi. The number seven is the number of perfection in the kingdom of God. Rev. v. 6. and the summit of misery in the regions of darkness. Lukeviii. 2. xi. 26. Prov. ix. 1.
Verse 5. And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness. The heavenly Hero of the new covenant is here described, as to the excellency and loveliness of his character. He is the faithful witness, for he attested the truth, which he was sent from heaven to promulgate to an erring and ungrateful world, and sealed his doctrine with his death. He is the first begotten of the dead, because he became the first fruits of them that slept, and rose previously to them all from the grave to a glorified state, and to eternal life; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence to his spiritual body, the church. Coloss. i. 18. He is the Prince of the kings of the earth. The word ägxwe here should not be translated Prince, but Supreme Potentate—for wherever it occurs, it always implies the highest authority, power, or excellence in that connexion; and with the orientals it de. notes the first fountain, author and origin of life, light, power, &c. The meaning is, that he is a superior personage, possessed of absolute rights, supreme power and authority over all the generations of men. Ps. Lxxxix. 27. : He loved us, for the Word was made flesh, and laid down his life a ransome for all. By his atonement to the Father, we are washed in his blood; and all those, who
thus receive him by faith, possess a pre-eminence in comparison to the children of this world, like kings, compared to their subjects, and priests according to the Mosaic institution, with unconsecrated men. Yea, they not only enjoy such prerogatives in the Church of Christ now, but also have reason to expect an inheritance in his kingdom
about to be established on earth, Matt. v. 5. xix. 29. · · Mark X. 29. in which they shall be a holy priesthood after the order of Melchisedeck. 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye
shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.
Even so, Amen. 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,
saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which
is to come, the Almighty. Thus ends the introduction, and the body of the Revelation commences with the following portion. In these two verses the Lord expresses the principal objeet of the whole prophecy; which is to prove: that He is, was, and cometh as the Alpha and Omega, the true and eternal Word of God, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Coloss. ii. 3. The phrase to Axaíto 12 is
has only twenty-two letters, according to which the ancient Jewish doctors divided their Scriptures into twenty-two books, and expressed the whole canon, by mentioning the first and last letter of their alphabet, which are above in Hebrew and Greek. When therefore the Lord here saith, I am Alpha and Omega, the sense is, that He is the heart of the Old Testament, and the chief object of its promulgation. The word Almighty in the original is Tavtoxgatwe which signifies, the source and fountain head of all power and authority.
All shall see and bewail him! All the posterity of Abraham, and of those which pierced and crucified him, Zech.
xii. 10; all the tribes of nations covering the face of the earth. Behold! he cometh, not as formerly in a state of humiliation, but now becoming the captain of our salvation—he cometh in glorious majesty, as a reward for the travail of his soul. • 9. I John, 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 Christ. 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard
behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the
laşt: and, what thou seest, write in a book and send it unto the seven Churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadela
phia, and unto Laodicea., Here the seer of heavenly visions, the tender, lovely apostle John, describes his own person to all the churches, that it was he, whonf they well knew as their brother in Christ, their associate in this persecution, a joint heir in the kingdom of God, and who had persevered with Christ in all his trials. His object in making himself known is, to procure the necessary authority for this prophecy, and settle its canonical dignity in the churches for ever.
In the year '95, the Roman emperor Domitian, commenced a violent persecution against the Christians, during which . St. John was carried from Ephesus to Rome, where he was thrown into a chaldron of boiling oil, and afterwards banished to the isle of Patmos. Here he remained until the year '97, when the Roman senate, after the death of the emperor, annulled all his decrees, he also returned to Ephesus in the 90th year of his age, and yet lived seven years in peace, to A. D. 104.
The isle of Patmos is one of the Sporades in the Archipelago, about thirty miles in compass, very barren, full of
lived seven Ephesus in the annulled all ,
rocky mountains, without wood, and at present in the hands of the Turks. On this island the holy apostle received the Revelation, during his banishment. If he stood on one of those high sind solitary mountains, from which there is an unbounded prospect, full of isles, ocean, and land, his mind must have been naturally disposed to deep and sublime contemplation. For here to the East, he had Asia minor, and the seven churches; between East and South, the Holy Land, though out of sight; towards south, Egypt; towards West, the ocean, Greece and Italy; between west and north, Macedon, Greece or European Turky, and further off Hungary and Germany. In almost all these countries there now were Christian churches planted, and thousands of fellow sufferers for the cause of Christ. They were precious jewels in his sight. He loved them as his own soul_his heart bled for them in this calamity-he often poured out his soul before the throne of grace, for their preservation and prosperity-he had so Jong laboured for their instruction and comfort, and now was separated from them all, solitary, and without any human assistance in his old age.
Here, on the Lords day, he received the Revela: tion; which was either a Sabbath, or more probably the day of our blessed Saviour's resurrection. The apos• tle knew that on this day all Christians were engaged in
divine worship, and no doubt was himself wholly absorbed in prayer and heavenly meditation. The circumstances of that time tended much, to augment the zeal and feryour of his devotion. Paganism swayed the sceptre—the Christians were cruelly persecuted, and all prospects for the future prosperity of the Church seemed enveloped in thick darkness. The ways of the Lord had become inscrutable and mysterious to the most sagacious foresight of mortals, and his whole soul thirsted for knowledge. Thus was his mind exalted to a state of heavenly visions, and prepared to hold converse with angels in light.