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“ proof, for correction, for instru&tion in righteous. * ness; that the man of God may be perfect, tho“ roughly furnished unto all good works;" Chriftians are required to hear it with fincerity and attention ; for “ faith cometh by hearing, and hear“ ing by the word of God.” We must not only read, ftudy, and hear, but we must also keep the sayings of this book. By them we must regulate our conduct. By them we must prepare to meets in a proper manner, the various events predicted in this book, as they shall occur to us in ihe course of divine providence.
“ For the time is at hand." Though this book contains a long connected chain of predictions of future events, some of which were at a great many hundred years distance from its date, yet the first events in that chain were to happen very soon, even in that year in which it was written. That they have done so shall appear as we proceed in this commentary. As such is the nature of this book, and as the men now living must foon meet with some of the events, which it predicts, they shall most certainly consult their own duty and happiness, by studying and practising the sayings which it contains.
From the nature of this book, as a closely connected chain of predictions, the motives in this verse, to read, hear, and obey, the things that are written therein, are equally strong in every age, as they were at the time the apostle wrote them; or rather they
grow stronger and stronger every day. As a pro: phecy it must be studied with candour, knowledge, and diligence, otherwise it cannot be understood. As a chain of prophecies, respecting a chain of ea vents, which reaches from the Apostle's days to the end of this world; some of the events must be at hand in the present, and in every present age.
At this time, 1700 years from the date of the prophecy, many of the events predicted have taken place; so that, by them, much additional light is thrown upon this book. Before the present time; much more than the half of the prophecies contained in it have been accomplished; so that the greateft part of the book is now in the situation of a prophecy fulfilled ; the meaning of which may, therefore, be fully and minutely discovered. By comparing the facts as recorded in authentic history, with the correspondent predictions in this book; we may clearly see the meaning of those already accomplished, obtain a convincing evidence of the inspiration of this book, and of scripture in general, be fully satisfied of the omniscience of God, and of his moral government in the world, obtain a just view of the nature of Christ's kingdom, and percieve much light reflected upon those parts of this propheey, which are not yet accomplished.
Ver. 4, 5.-John to the feven churches
which are in Afia: Grace be unto you, and peace from him who is, and who was, and who is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne: and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.
As the apostles addressed their epistles to some particular church or person, so John addresses this book to the seven churches which were then in Asia Minor. In the 11th verse of this chapter Jesus expressly commands John to write this book, and to send it to the seven Christian churches in Afia. It was, therefore, necessary that he should address it to them. Without such a command, it was very proper and natural for him to address this book to these churches ; because a part of it consists of a particular epifle to each of these seven churches, contained in chapters fecond and third : and to whom is it so proper to address a letter as to the person, or collective body to whom it is written?
As Joho was in a state of banishment, this book might have been soon destroyed by his persecutors, had it remained in his own custody; and, at any rate, it would not have been of use to the servants of God, if it had not been communicated to them. It was therefore proper that he should address it to some Christian church or churches; and to none was it more natural for him to have done so than to those in Asia Minor, for he had resided for a considerable time at Ephesus, and superintended the church there, which was one of them, and all the seven were at a small distance from the island of Patmos, where he wrote this book.
Like the other apostles, in their epistolary addresses, he prays for grace and peace to those churches. By grace we are to understand, the free favour of God to pardon their fins, and to renew and perfect their natures: and by peace, peace with God, peace of mind, and peace with man; the natural consequences of that grace. These blessings he prays for them from God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the only source from which we are taught by the gospel of Jesus, to hope for that grace and peace. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, he describes by a kind of circumlocution; or rather, according to the idiom of prophetic writing, he gives them fymbolical names, evidently expressive of the names which are given to them, in common or alphabetical language. As we proceed, we shall meet with symbolical names, uniformly in this book in place of literal ones, and for this obvious reason, that the book is written in the symbolical language, which is the language of prophecy. The nature of the symbolical language
- hall shall be explained in our commentary on verses 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, of this chapter.
God the Father is stiled, " him which is, and ço which was, and which is to come:" A description exactly expressing that self-existerice, independence, omnipresence, and eternity, which are fig. nified by Jehova, the incommunicable name of God. The Holy Spirit is stiled “ The seven spirits which are before his throne." In the symbolical language Seven signifies Holy and perfect. It fignifies Holy in allusion to the seventh part of time having been consecrated as a holy Sabbath to the Lord. This was the case not only at the creation of the world, when “God blessed the seventh day * and sanctified it;" but under the Mofaic dispenfation, God said “ Remember the fabbath-day to “ keep it boly, fix days shalt thou labour, and do .“ thy work : but the seventh day is the fabbath of
“ the Lord thy God" The seventh year was holy as the Sabbatical year, and seven times seven years were to be counted to mark out the holy year of Jubilee. The number seven too was very common in the sacrifices and purifications among the Jews, in order to ceremonial holiness. It shall afterwards be fhewn, in its proper place; that these Sevens, which run through the Old Testament scriptures, and through this book, have a reference to the seventh Chiliad, (or seventh thousand years) of the world; which shall be the Millennium or great