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Such events are not to be contemplated merely as things political; but as the works of the Almighty, in vindication of his justice and of his grace, and in faithfulness to his word. This gives to saints a new interest in those events, while their faith is invigorated, and their warm devotion and confidence in God excited. They hence learn and feel that God is indeed a wall of fire round about Zion; that they who be with us, are more than they who be with the enemy! that the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob our refuge !-that he will indeed "create on every dwelling place of Mount Zion, a cloud and smoke by day, and a fire by night; and on all the glory shall be a defence." The histories recorded in the Old Testament are of this kind; such as the deluge ;-the burning of Sodom ;-the bringing of Israel from Egypt;-the scene at the Red Sea; -events of Israel in the wilderness, in Canaan, in Babylon; numerous protections of the church, and judgments on her enemies;—these furnish sources of rich Christian instruction and consolation. And no less will the events predicted in the Revelation do it, when duly understood; particularly the protections of the church, and the terrors of divine wrath on her enemies, through the period of the Christian dispensation, and especially near the Millennium. These, when seen in their true light, and duly improved, will nourish and enrich the faith and confidence in God of his dear people. And for these purposes the prophecies of the Apocalypse should not fail of being studied and improved.

With this conviction, I have for many years desired to become myself acquainted with the true sentiments of the Revelation; desiring, that the vail which has so long lain upon it, may be in a greater degree removed; and that the intelligent and practical improvement may be made of this closing part of the Bible, which the importance of the subject most clearly demands. Most of the expositions, in this key, of events which were antecedent to the sixteenth century, essentially agree with the most approved commentators. Relative to events since the early part of the sixteenth century, particularly the five first vials, and the synchronical predictions of the judgments which fulfilled them; in these things, my path has been new. antecedent scheme of the vials has been satisfactory to


intelligent readers; and my views of these particulars have had the approving testimony of the best of men.

It will be seen that I have not cumbered my pages with the views given of many writers on the various subjects; nor with any refutations of those I do not approve. This would have but perplexed common readers,―rendered my book unwieldy, and provoked altercation. It is enough for me, after examining all, to give the result of my own judgment on each point; and others may do the same.

If my views are expressed as though I believed them; I yet lay no claim to infallibility. To err, is human! and it would be like a miracle, if in such a course as I have been led to take, there should be no error. But the events of Providence, for twenty years, have been such as to confirm me in the essential correctness of the views which I had formed before that period. Several circumstantial errors I have discovered and corrected. I have felt the impropriety of venturing too minutely on the circumstantial parts of future scenes. This has been one sad error of writers on the prophecies,-seeming to wish to be prophets, instead of being simply expounders of prophecy. If a degree of this has crept into some of my past writings; I have since designed to set a double guard against its creeping into my present pages. May the subjects of the Revelation be examined with that prayerful, candid, and diligent attention, which their solemnity and magnitude demand. And may it be done with that aid of the divine spirit, that holy unction of grace,—without which, this part of our holy oracles, and the whole Bible itself, will be but a dead letter, a savour of death!



Ver. 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

This book is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, because Christ, as the Head of the church, gave it to man. The Father is spoken of as having given it to Christ, in allusion to the official inferiority of Christ to the Father; he having engaged, in the covenant of redemption, to operate as Mediator between God and fallen man, and thus to occupy a sphere of subordination to the Father in the great work of redemption. May this distinction be ever remembered, that this inferiority of Christ to the Father is not one founded in the nature of Christ, or in any want on Christ's part of being possessed of real, proper, and infinite divinity; but is founded in his undertaking in the work of man's salvation, according to the following inspired testimony: "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man." To Jesus Christ, in this his state of official inferiority, God gave this blessed book, as the finishing part of his holy book of grace to man. And Christ communicated the same to his beloved disciple John, by a heavenly messenger.

The angel Gabriel had, ages before, been sent from God on a similar message to the prophet Daniel; Dan. ix. 21-27. And the prophetic parts of the Revelation may, in a sense, be called a new and enlarged edition of

the prophecy of Daniel, with liberty of paraphrase; especially as it related to events future of the period in which John lived.

This Revelation was communicated by one who is called an angel-a heavenly messenger-as the term here imports. A human spirit, sent from heaven on this message, as well answers to the term angel here, as would an intelligence of a superior order. The term imports, one who brings a message. "One employed to communicate news, or information from one person to another at a distance." On which account, a minister of the gospel is called an angel of his church; Rev. ii. 1. The word angels, when found in the plural, signifies (at least usually) the superior order of intelligences in the invisible world. But when used in the singular number, to denote a bearer of tidings from heaven, it may mean one from that superior order, or one of the glorified saints. Should one of the latter be sent on a divine mission, the word angel would as fitly apply to him, as to one of the superior order. For the name imports simply, one sent on a message: which may, for aught we know, be a glorified saint.

Some have hence been of opinion, that the messenger here sent with the Apocalypse to John, was the prophet Daniel. In favour of it, they adduce what he says, ch. xxii. 9, when John (supposing him to have been Christ) falls down to worship him, the angel says, "See thou do it not! for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book; worship God!" They suppose we learn from these words that he was one of the prophets; and they think none so probable as Daniel, the " man greatly beloved," and who had been blessed as being inspired to predict various of the same great events found in the Revelation, and of which the Revelation seems to be an inspired commentary. And his keeping the sayings of this book, may seem to indicate such an interest in them, as one would naturally have who had been the honored instrument of their being first revealed! Such conceive that Daniel was sent from above to give an enlarged view of his own former prophecies. Moses and Elijah had before been sent from heaven to converse with Christ on the mount of transfiguration: and Daniel might

be sent on the present message. But a belief or disbelief of this is of no great importance to us.

The object of this message is to us of deep interest :— "to shew unto his servants things that must shortly come to pass." Those the Saviour calls (ver. 19) "the things which shall be hereafter." These must mean the line of events then future, in which the people of God would have a deep interest. What these things are, must be decided by the facts that are revealed; and not by the caprice of any man. None can have a right to say, they must mean only several great events; as the overturning of the Jews, and of Roman paganism! These events no doubt are given; but by no means exclusively. Many other things then future, would be found to be of no less interest to the church, and equally entitled to consideration. Human wisdom must here be exercised, and yet only in humble reliance on divine; "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." No doubt the great course of events, concerning the church, in which she would have a special interest even to the end of the world, will be found to be included in the "things that must shortly come to pass,” and “the things which shall be hereafter."

This history of events (if it may be so called) beforehand declared, and given in language deeply figurative, must be construed by pious and sound discretion, taking into view the language of prophecy, and the analogy of things. The chief object of the Revelation is, not to reveal things done in heaven, but things done on earth; and this information is to be most piously, gratefully, and obediently received.

Ver. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

We have here the duty and encouragement of this study; and the rich benefits to be derived from a due and pious attention to this book. The remotest events to occur on earth, might be said to be at hand, at the period in our text; such is the shortness of time, compared with eternity. And the phrase implies that the events are to be studied, and kept in mind, while yet future.

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