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In this as in the former chapter, the prophet dwells with rapturous delight on those scenes of never fading happiness which the saints made perfect enjoy in the presence of God and the Lamb, with many particulars which demand our
Verse 1: "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." The prophet, in allusion to the first paradise, where sin entered into the world, and death by sin, calls our attention to this new paradise, where sin cannot enter. In this happy region, sin can have no dominion; therefore, its waters, or the precepts to which its inhabitants adhere, are as a pure river, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Verse 2: "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." At first view, this verse seems to contain an impossibility. But when we consider what the tree of life is, the difficulty ceases. The tree of life is the law or commands of God. These were broken by the disobedience of the first Adam, but fulfilled by the perfect obedience of the second. Had Adam lived in a state of innocence, he would
have partaken of the tree of life, and have lived forever. But the command was, thou shalt not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which implies thou shalt not, or cannot, be both saint and sinner. By his disobedience, he and his posterity fell from that state of innocence and purity in which he was created, and could not regain the tree or law of life, as it was guarded by the flaming sword of God's justice.-Gen. 3: 24. Thus, by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.-Rom. 4: 16. Therefore it is God's mercy through Jesus Christ, which again opens the door of paradise, and gives his saints a right to the tree or law of life, by his mediatorial office.
By cleaving to the tree or law of life, it causes the saint to bear twelve manner of fruits, such as faith, hope, charity, chastity, patience, temperance, meekness, humility, mercy, grace, peace, and joy. It yields these fruits every month, which shows a continual increase of grace, and perseverance therein. Its leaves, or good works, are also manifest in the lives and conduct of the saints, and have a happy effect in heating or converting the nations. These heavenly perfections are the same in substance with our Savior's instructions: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."-Matt. 5: 16.
Verse 3: "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: "
Verse 4: "And they shall see his face and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
Verse 5: "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."
In these verses, we see the happy state or consequences foll wing from obedience. I do not here mean perfect obe
dience in this life, for by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.-Eph. 2: 8, 9. But help must be upon one who is mighty to save, and he in this life has graciously promised to aid and assist us. By these means, our poor endeavors are accepted of, through his righteousBut in this new and heavenly state, obedience arrives to perfection; and St. John assigns the reason: And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their fore heads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light; and they shall reign for ever and ever." Verse 6" And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done."
Verse 7: "Behold, I come quickly blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
In these two verses, we may observe,
First, an assurance is given, that the sayings of this book are both faithful and true that they may be relied upon. Second, that he had this extraordinary knowledge sent to him from him who knew all things, even God, whose servant he was.
Third, the speedy execution of them, in their appointed time.
Fourth, a blessing is pronounced on those who keep or treasure up the sayings of this book.
Verse 8: "And I John saw these things and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things."
Verse 9: "Then saith he unto me, see thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the proph
ets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."
In these two verses, we have,
First, the prophet's declaration, that he hath seen and heard these things, as if he had been personally present; by which we may learn, that it was by the operative power and influence of God that he attained to this knowledge; it being now above eighteen hundred years since he wrote this book; and many of his sayings are not yet accomplished, nor can any man tell when they will be.
Second, that he fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed him these things; as if this knowledge was given by him alone.
Third, the same angel said unto him, See thou do it not; by which we may see that this angel was not the primary cause of John's knowledge, and should not be adored as such.
Fourth, the same angel declares, I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book; all of which prove that this was an angel or ministering spirit sent to John, and was one of his brethren the prophets.
Fifth, John was, by the same angel, directed to worship God; by which we may understand, that God alone is the great First Cause of all things, and that he only is the object of worship and adoration.-Isa. 44.
This doctrine is strongly supported through all the writings of Moses, and particularly in the first commandment. All the old prophets maintained it, and Jesus Christ acknowledged him as his heavenly Father, and offered up his prayers to him as such.
Peter and Paul call him, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.-See 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Cor. 11:31; and Phil. 1: 3. And among the Christian converts, it was the first article of their faith, to believe that Jesus Christ was raised
from the dead by the mighty power of God.-See Acts 2:24; 3: 15; 4: 10; 10: 40; and also Rom. 10: 9, and Eph. 1: 20. Paul assures Timothy, that there is one God and one Mediator.-1 Tim. 2: 5.
I must here observe, that the phrase "God our Savior' was well known among the primitive Christians, as it pointed out the mighty power of God in the incarnation and atonement of Christ Jesus. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, "For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."—Rom. 1: 16. And again, he shows that Christ is the power and wisdom of God unto them which are called.-1 Cor. 1:21. That the manifestation of the Spirit is the gift given to every man to profit withal, St. Paul proves at large. See 1 Cor. 12. Peter proves the Holy Ghost to be the gift of God.-See the case of Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8: 18-23. See also the case of Cornelius.-Acts 10: 45. James proves that every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.-James 1: 17. The Redeemer says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6: 14. These words prove the operative power or gift to come from God; and also the reviving and efficacious power of the Mediator. The parable of the talents proves the gifts of God to man, and the dangerous consequences of our not employing or improving these spiritual gifts,-Matt. 25,—and holy John, in these two verses, gives a demonstrative proof that it is not the gift, but the giver, that is to be worshipped and adored by all rational intelligences.
Verse 10: "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand."
Verse 11: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is right