Christian friends, I have had for some time a desire to give a course of lectures upon the Book of the Revelation and my motives chiefly are these two. In the first place, a hope that good will be done, and that we shall find it as profitable to go through this book, and to meet from week to week to contemplate its mysteries, as we do with respect to other parts of the Holy Scriptures. My second motive is this,—to lessen, if possible, what appears to me to be an erroneous impression very prevalent among good people, and among some good and honest ministers of the gospel that we have in our favoured land; and that impression is that none but learned men can understand the Book of the Revelation; that in order to enter into its mysteries a man must be a classical scholar, and must be very conversant with the original languages; that he must have read through cart-loads of books pretty well, to make himself very familiar with civil and ecclesiastical history; so that by that learning and by that knowledge of ecclesiastical history he can get somewhat at the circumstances set before us so mysteriously in the Book of the Revelation. This is the impression. But how does this sort with the Bible itself? For whom was the Bible written? Was it written for a few learned men, or was it written for the world at large? How does this book, even so early as the third verse, speak upon this matter? “Blessed is he that readeth.” That contemplates an age in which, as any one that is at all familiar with ecclesiastical history well knows, very few of the early Christians could read at all; but they were blessed with the spirit of grace and supplication; and in the view of this it says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear.”—so there were many to hear, and very few that could even read—“the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” And Malachi, when looking forward, and placing himself, as it were, in the light of the New Testament dispensation, looks at the disciples, sees them in the fear of the Lord speaking often one to another, and he says, “The Lord hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” Now what book of remembrance was written for them but the New Testament? The Old Testament is a book of prediction; the New Testament is a book of remembrance, presenting to us the great fact that Christ came, and met and fulfilled ancient prediction.
You will therefore see that not human learning, not human acquirements, but the fear of God, the knowledge of God, grace in the heart, and experimental acquaintance with God’s truth, these are the people for whom the book was written, and these are the qualifications to understand the book. Not that I would for one moment undervalue human learning, for the more learned our ministers are the better, and the more they are informed of everything pertaining to their position as ministers, so much the greater their advantage. We could not have had the Scriptures in our own language without human learning, and we could not have had the Scriptures, as they now are, translated into so many languages without human learning. But still there are many ministers and many Christians that have not had the advantage of classical education, that know nothing whatever of the original languages, having had neither time nor opportunity to acquire them. They have had to get an honest living; and they have done so, and better employed themselves than in merely acquiring a little classical knowledge. Also a large number have not had time to read history; and therefore they cannot, by means of human learning and a knowledge of history, get at the meaning of the book of Revelation. That is one reason that actuates me in this matter, because I find that with many good ministers the Book of the Revelation is almost a blank. Therefore I enter upon the subject with the hope of doing good, and of showing that while I admire human learning when it is used, and not abused—it is not to be made a parade of,—this Book of the Revelation is to be understood not by human learning; it is to be understood from two sources: the one is the Bible itself, and the other is that experience of the truth of God with which every saved soul is blessed. I therefore just observe that the principle I shall adopt in these lectures will be to take the Bible itself as its own interpreter. And as we go through the book I shall be disappointed if we find anything in it which we do not find in the Old Testament. For the Book of the Revelation is nothing else but a composition from the Old Testament; at the same time, mind, this composition is by special revelation and inspiration of the eternal Spirit of God, John being taught by the Spirit of God to gather up the great subjects of the Old Testament, as the Old Testament will be our guide in a great measure and will be the interpreter of this book, you will perceive at once that there is nothing like adopting the principle of which the poet sings, that—
“God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.”
I ought perhaps here just to say that I believe I have read most of the books that have been written by learned men upon the Book of Revelation; and many, many years ago I thought I wish I was as learned as they are; and I fell in with some of them, and thought —That must be right, and that must be right;—there was a feasibility about it. And I suppose there is hardly any learned man that has written upon this book that has not said some right things; though it does appear to me that the majority of them have made a great mistake in not adopting the principle that I have suggested,—namely, taking the Old Testament to be their guide to the interpretation of the things contained in this book. But on thinking the matter over (for of course in my position I am always thinking of the Scriptures, I may say night and day),—on thinking the matter over many years ago while going through the Book of the Revelation, I was much struck with one sentence, and that was very instructive to me, in the tenth chapter;—”As he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” I was wondering what that chapter could mean, when I came to those words,—”As he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Why, I said to myself, I have been to these learned men to get at the meaning of this book, but I have not gone to the prophets. In what part of the writings of the prophets is it that he has declared these things? I soon found out, and the book became to me a great pleasure and a great advantage; there is no book that I know of which I have read with more pleasure than the Book of the Revelation. And if we find the same subjects in this book as in the Old Testament, and we know how to understand them as we find them there, why should we be at all at a loss to understand them in this book?
Now, of course, this evening I shall have to make a few remarks by way of introduction. My intention is not to begin at the commencement of the book; I do not think it needful to go through the seven churches, because there is nothing there particularly ambiguous; but my intention is to begin at the fourth chapter, for that is, properly speaking, the beginning of the book; the preceding chapters may be looked at as an introduction. Suffice it, then, just to say, before I enter upon the part that I shall just touch upon this evening for a few minutes, that we meet with something in the very beginning of the book that ought to be very instructive in teaching us that this book must be understood mystically, and not literally—must be understood figuratively more or less all through. You are struck with this at the very beginning of the book;—you meet with seven stars; you cannot, take those seven stars literally;—you meet with seven candlesticks; and we are there told that they must be understood mystically; that these seven candlesticks represented the seven light-bearers, the seven churches that should be light-bearers; but when they put the light away, namely, God’s truth, then the Lord took the candlesticks away, as they did not need them any longer, having put away the Lord’s truth, the light. This must be understood mystically. So the Nicolaitanes must be understood mystically, meaning destroyers; and so Jezebel, also referred to in the second chapter, must be understood not literally, but mystically.
Then there is another thing before I enter upon the subject, and that is this, that most of the learned have taken the subjects of this Book of the Revelation in chronological order, as though one event in the order of time followed other events, and so I do not know where they have not been carried by taking the book chronologically; whereas we shall see as we go through it that its structure is synchronical; that is to say, that the subjects of this book are not successive, but they are ranged in columns, side by side. It begins at the beginning of the gospel dispensation, goes down some way with that; then takes up another phase of the subject at the beginning of the gospel dispensation again; and such is the structure of the book that it is not successive, or chronological, but synchronical, the subjects running side by side. There are a few apparent exceptions, and I might say real exceptions, to this rule; the general rule is that the subjects are synchronical; that is, they all set out at once, they all go on at once, and they will all terminate at once. The few exceptions to this rule will come before us as we go along; the rule is that of being synchronical, the exception is a few circumstances that must be taken chronologically.
Let us then look for a few moments at the fourth chapter. How does it begin? In a very beautiful way. John saith, “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven.” I need not dwell upon this; it is a matter too clear and simple to be dwelt upon; but still I think it is right I should say a word or two, because this door opened in heaven certainly does stand in contrast to the garden of Eden; for at the garden of Eden there was a flaming sword that turned every way. Now we know that flaming sword represents the sword of justice, that stands against every man, so that you cannot have access to God; the door, the way, is closed. But the Lord Jesus Christ came, and endured the flaming sword, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd.” So that while the fiery sword of the law turns every way to cut us off from God, Christ met that sword, and he is the way of access to God. So that when John saw a door opened in heaven, he means to say that the Lord Jesus Christ had by his mediatorial work opened a door to all that, believe in him, a door which no man can shut; for who can undo the obedient life of Christ? Who can undo the atoning death of Christ? who can alter the counsel, the mind, and the will of the great God ? He saw a door opened in heaven, and so have we, for the Saviour himself saith, “lam the door;” and it is by him that we from time to time seek access to God.
Let us go to the next step. “And the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me.” Now you well know it is usual in the Old Testament to speak of the proclamation of eternal mercy under the figure of the sounding of a trumpet. Hence the trumpet of jubilee, sounding liberty from one end of the land to the other. And this voice said, “Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” Let us see what this coming up is; lifting him up near to God, into a position in which he could see things hereafter. Cannot some of you recollect the time when the future judgments of God were so impressed upon your mind that you could be content to live no longer without Christ and without God in the world? Cannot you recollect the time when the eternal glories of Christ were first revealed to you? You saw the judgment that should overtake the one, and the mercy that should be the portion of the other; and thus he showed you things which must be hereafter. What is meant by “coming up hither”? Let us get an Old Testament scripture; for I will keep to my rule of making the Old Testament my guide. Do you not find a scripture in the Old Testament beautifully in accordance with the words there—this trumpet of the gospel bringing up the soul to God? Go to the eighty-ninth Psalm; there you find these words,—“Mercy and truth shall go before thy face,” and we know that mercy and truth are by Jesus Christ. Then it goes on to describe what the being called up into this position is: “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound;” that is, the joyful sound of mercy by Jesus Christ, in accordance with God’s truth; “ they shall walk, 0 Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” If the gospel be acceptable to you, that is a proof that you are accepted of God; and blessed are such that approve of his truth, are not offended with that. “In thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” Thus you will see that exaltation, so as to see our own future destiny, is by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; and whenever the Lord doth so raise us up, we can look forward in the light of Christ’s mediation, and see eternal joys our own. So it was with the apostle; he said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
John then describes the transforming power before he comes to the throne, and he saith, “ Immediately I was in the Spirit.” Does not the Christian know something of this? Is there not such a thing as going to the house of God dead, carnal, careless, and worldly? and when at the house of God is there not such a thing as for the minister so to hold the glass of the gospel that it reflects upon your souls the glory of Christ, the love of God, and what he has done for you, until the sympathies presented by the gospel soothe your sorrows, deathiness, and darkness away? And so the apostle saith, “We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Perhaps I ought not to have dwelt so largely upon this plain part, but my object is to show you in the very beginning that which you already, no doubt, know, that the Book of the Revelation contains as much of vital experience and as much doctrinal and practical direction to the Christian as any other book when properly understood.
We now come to the throne. John saith, “And, behold, a throne was set in heaven that is, the heavenly dispensation, including heaven and earth too; that is, Christ as he is in heaven and Christ as he is on earth, in the heavenly dispensation. “And one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone.” There are two things conveyed in this,—his being compared to a jasper, and a sardine stone. It in the first place impresses upon our minds the value of such a throne; that there is something valuable about it, something precious about it. And there is another thing you must not lose sight of,—that this scene is laid in the temple. You know where the throne was in the temple of old, that it was on the ark of the covenant, that it was the mercy-seat, and there was the shining presence of the blessed God. I think this is one thing intended, then,—the precious ness. And can you imagine anything more pleasant and precious than the reign of Christ, the reign of his grace, the reign of his mercy?
Then, secondly, it also means that this king is exceedingly rich, infinitely rich; and hence, concerning the prosperity of Christ in his reign, Solomon has a very beautiful proverb,—that “a gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it; whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth .” You will observe, therefore, that this throne is a throne of grace and of mercy to the people of God; but at the same time it is a throne of judgment and of wrath to the enemies of God; just the same as the gospel is a savour of life unto life to the believer, but it is as a savour of death unto death to the unbeliever. Therefore this throne means that there is a throne of grace established; that the Lord reigns by the preciousness of Christ, that Christ is that pearl of great price, that he is that precious stone, that sure foundation stone by which grace reigns; and he in his humiliation having overcome every foe, and brought mercy and truth together, righteousness and peace embracing each other, therefore it is that grace reigns.
Here, then, is that throne of grace to which we are to come, and here the Lord shows his glory, hears our petitions, and answers them. Daniel foresaw this throne. Let us look at the words again. “And a throne was set,”—was fixed, established. Let us have Daniel’s explanation of this. In his seventh chapter he saith, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down;” that is, as we shall find before we get to the end of this book, the thrones there mean the truths of the gospel, and they were cast down; they were cast down by the enemies; the Saviour found them cast down when he came, and they are very much cast down now. Hence you read of truth falling in our streets. “And the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow,” to denote the purity of Christ, that he had travelled through this world,—for Daniel now sees him in his exaltation, after he had completed his humiliation work;—that he had travelled through this world undefiled, that he had lived unspotted; that after the life of sorrow, and grief, and provocation he had gone through, he offered himself without spot to God; and therefore rises in all the purity in which he lived and in which he died. “Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” “And the hair of his head like the pure wool,” setting forth his glory; “his throne was like the fiery flame.” What does this mean? The throne there represents his government, that his government is as the fiery flame; that fiery flame meaning the brightness of the gospel, the living power of the gospel. “And his wheels as burning fire;” and what are those wheels but the eternal truths of the gospel, which we may well call the circles of eternity.
Such is the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel in its living power; here we have the living God denoted by this brightness. But Daniel goes on a little further; he saith, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him.” What is this fiery stream but the gospel? “Is not my word like fire, saith the Lord?” Are we altogether strangers to this? Hath not the Lord said that he will make his ministers a flame of fire? and does not the gospel sometimes come at one and the same time with an illuminating power and with a wonderfully warming power? When the Saviour began at the beginning of the Bible, went through the Old Testament, and expounded unto them all things concerning himself, did not the disciples say, “Did not our heart burn within us?” Do you not sometimes hear a sermon and say, Well, I never saw that before? and at the same time a power attends the word, there is light and heat. This is the fiery stream of the yea and amen gospel that issues and comes forth from before him. Habakkuk means the same thing when he saith, “His brightness was as the light;” and so it is. It is wonderful what we can understand by keeping close to Jesus Christ. He hath said, “He that followeth me shall not abide in darkness.” “His brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand the word “horns” there means, of course, rays of light; “and there was the hiding of his power.” Ah, how his power was hidden in the prophets, how it was hidden in Christ himself, and how it was hidden in the apostles! but while it was hidden in them, yet how it displayed itself under different circumstances, which I must not stop to mention. Thus, then, this throne means that living throne of grace where we have the living God, the living Spirit of God, the living Saviour, the living gospel, and a living people; there is no death where his throne is; he hath reigned over death, swallowed it up in victory, brought life and immortality to light. And Daniel sees two things in connection with this throne; lie sees a great number gathered in to serve Christ, and he sees the Saviour sitting on his throne, and surveying the whole human race, the whole population of the globe. He describes it thus:—“thousand thousands ministered unto him that will mean those that are gathered in. To minister unto him means to serve him; and so Daniel looked forward to the apostolic age, when thousand thousands were brought to serve Christ. How happy for us that we ourselves are brought to believe in him, to love and serve him, and to pray for the prosperity of his kingdom, and that the circles of eternity, the glorious truths of the gospel, may go burning on, in order to bring life into dead sinners, to enlighten the benighted, and to draw them to God by the Lord Jesus Christ! “Thousand thousands ministered unto him.” Then comes the whole population of the globe; “and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” Now take the seventeenth of John:—“Thou hast given him power over all flesh there is the ten thousand times ten thousand that stand before him. But when he ascended to his throne, and surveyed the whole human race; he saw you, and he saw you, and he saw all down to the end of time; and amidst the teeming millions whom he saw he distinguished his own from them all, even before they were born;—“that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” See how Daniel was led into this wonderful mystery. “Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand,” the whole human race, “stood before him;” he takes his own, leaves the others; lost, lost they must be. May that not be the lot of any one of you. Then Daniel saith upon this matter of the throne, quite in accordance with this Book of the Revelation, “The judgment was set.” That has nothing to do with the last great day; Daniel is not referring to the last great day at all, he is referring to the beginning of the gospel dispensation, that there was a certain judgment set in the beginning of the gospel dispensation:—“The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Now just look at it; in this fourth of the Revelation you get the throne; in the very next chapter you get the sealed book opened. See how Daniel and John accord; Daniel sees the throne in its brilliancy and glory, and then sees in connection with that throne a judgment set, and the books opened; John sees the throne, sees the sealed book, sees the book opened, and sees the contents of that book. Now what was the judgment set? You all know what the judgment set was when Christ began to reign. The judgment that he set was this,—that “he that believeth on the Son of God hath—the best thing that he can have—”everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son of God shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” That is the judgment; and ministers are to go forth with that decision, that “he that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life;” God is on that man’s side; “but he that believeth not on the Son of God shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on himbeing all of us by nature children of wrath, and under wrath. And so here Daniel saith the judgment was set; John saith the throne was set-; where is the difference? They both mean the same thing. Daniel saith, “the books were opened.”
As soon as ever the Saviour proclaimed the law of faith, it opened the Old Testament directly; the apostles and the rest of the early Christians could understand the Old Testament directly. But all the time men were governed by the traditions of the elders, the Old Testament was closed; it was sealed, and nobody could understand it. They had smothered the meaning by their traditions; they believed in the letter of Moses’ writings, but they did not know the spirit and the meaning of his writings. Therefore when this law of faith came in the books were opened.
Now I do not know whether I am understood or not. In the first place, then, here is Jesus Christ, who has opened the door into heaven by his mediatorial work; here is the gospel calling souls up by his righteousness into fellowship with God, and to look forward in that light to what there is yet to come; and we do from time to time look forward, and rejoice todo so; and here is a throne of grace and mercy to all the people of God, as I have described.
We will go on a little further with this throne. I shall not have time this evening to enter into what some of you perhaps expect; these things will come in as we proceed with the book. Now it is said, “There was a rainbow round about the throne.” This I need not enlarge upon; it denotes, of course, the peaceful character of the throne. In the tenth chapter the Saviour had a rainbow about his head, to denote that he is the messenger of the new, the better, the everlasting covenant. I must therefore now notice the accompaniments of the throne, for our subject this evening, strictly speaking, is the throne of God and its accompaniments. Now the first accompaniment that I notice is that “round about the throne were four and twenty seats,” literally rendered “thrones;” the original word being thrones; “and upon the seats,” or thrones, “I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” Now I believe the general view of the learned is this, and I go with them so far, though I think that is not exactly the meaning; they tell us that these four-and-twenty elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles, and that they are sitting all together before the same throne. I do not think that is the meaning, but still it is a good thought, and I like it very much. They say it denotes the unity of the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles. Well, much may be said upon this, for it is a truth that there is a beautiful unity between the Old Testament and the New Testament Church; there is a beautiful unity between Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, and all the saints down to the end of time, for these three were, as well as others, patterns of that faith by which we are saved. So that if we take the twelve patriarchs to represent the Old Testament Church, and the twelve apostles the New Testament Church, and if the twenty-four sitting together round about the throne denote the unity of the Old and New Testament Church, there is a great deal of truth in that, and it is a very beautiful truth; and, indeed, I can hardly forbear quoting a scripture or two just to show this unity.
Now take the eleventh of Hebrews,—all the Old Testament saints there lived and died by faith in the promises of God; they saw the promises afar off; they had not received them in actual fulfilment, for Christ was not yet come, but they saw them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and these all died in faith. Friends, is not this the way you wish to live by the promise of God? You cannot carry the precept out acceptably to God but by the grace of the promise. What is the promise? Why, one promise is that he will bless you with the Spirit of grace and of supplication; he shall guide you unto all truth. So that there is a beautiful unity between the Old Testament and the New Testament saints, though I do not think that this is the meaning. For myself I would rather take another circumstance as referred to here.
The twenty-four elders. Here they are clothed in white raiment, which denotes their consecration to God; having on their heads crowns of gold, denoting that they are crowned with success. The white raiment shows not only their sanctification and justification, but their consecration to God; and the golden crowns show that they are kings as well. Now where shall we go in the Old Testament to find these twenty-four elders, the typical twenty-four? If we get at the typical twenty-four, we shall very- easily get at the antitypical.
It is remarkable that they should be found in a twenty-fourth chapter;—here are twenty-four elders, and they are found in a twenty-fourth chapter. If you go to the twenty-fourth chapter of the First Book of Chronicles, you will find there that David, who delighted in God’s eternal truth, had arranged and divided the service of the priesthood into twenty-four courses; hence it is said of Zacharias in the first of Luke, that he was “of the course of Abia.” And over every course there was a chief priest, and over all these chief priests there was the high priest.
Now I consider these twenty-four elders, then, to be taken from the twenty-fourth chapter of the First book of Chronicles, and there they are priests; so these elders represent all the people of God. The new covenant does not know anything of any one class of men as priests.
The Roman Catholic ministers are called priests, to denote that they are not like the people; and the Puseyite ministers call themselves priests too; but the New Testament knows nothing whatever of any one class of Christians being priests to the exclusion of the others; for all the people of God are priests, they are all a royal priesthood, a holy nation, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. These twenty-four elders, then, represent the whole church of God in their consecration to him; and the crowns they wore denoted that they were kings as well as priests; and both these they get by oneness with Jesus Christ. They are consecrated to God by his sacrifice, and they are crowned with eternal glory by the achievement of the Lord of lords and of the King of kings. Now there were four-and-twenty thrones, for so I shall render it, and these were before the throne, and united them with the throne, to denote that all the people of God should live near to him. And if I should not be going too far in spiritualizing these seats or thrones, these seats of honour, I should take them to mean the truths of the gospel. Try it just for a moment. Take the love of God; if you can take your position there, does it not bring you near to God? What will bring you nearer to God than God’s love? Hear the language;—“I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Do we not sometimes sing upon this very subject,—
“The place of John I covet,
More than a seraph’8 throne;
To lean on my Beloved,
And breathe my final groan?”
Then, again, take election. Why, election grasps me, lays hold of me, blesses me with all spiritual blessings. Therefore him that the Lord hath chosen he will cause to draw near unto him, that he may rejoice that his name is written in heaven. Then take calling;—what does regeneration do? Why, it lifts us up from the dust and from the dunghill, brings us up into the knowledge of the Lord, and sets us as on a throne of glory. Then take the dear atonement of Jesus; does not that bring us near to God? What a lovely enthronement is that! Who can shake these eternal thrones of the elders, the ancients of Israel? Then take the righteousness of Christ; then take God’s sworn covenant, then take the promises;—these are the thrones that bring us near to God.
So, then, here are the four-and-twenty elders, representing all the people of the living God.
“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings.” What for? To strike conviction into the sinner’s mind. “His arrow shall go forth as lightning.” On the day of Pentecost God’s word fell like lightning upon three thousand, struck conviction into their consciences and souls; they were pricked in the heart. “And thundorings.” What for? Why, to alarm. So you read, in Mark 3:17, that the Saviour named James and John, Boanerges, that is, “sons of thunder.” They should not go forth crawling along, with all your refinement and careful studying of their manners and words, and all the rest of it, lest they should hurt the feelings of this refined gentleman and that refined lady. No; a man that means to be of any use must go on just as the Lord leads him, and speak out plainly, cut the sinner up, root and branch, bring forward the thunders of God’s word; and thus, where the lightning strikes, the thunder of God’s word will be heard, the thunders of Sinai will be heard, and the alarm will be kept up until the third step is taken. The lightnings to strike and to quicken, the thunders to alarm; “and voices.” After the sinner is thus struck with the lightning of conviction, and the thunders of God’s law roll over his soul, and he is made to tremble, then will come in the still small voices of the holy prophets, or the Lord by them, and say,—then comes the voice of Calvary’s cross,—“Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” As I some time ago said, that is not a.voice from Sinai, nor is it a voice from God’s throne direct, but a voice from Calvary’s cross,—“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Ah, says the sinner, I can’t believe it. But in will come another prophet, then another prophet; in will come an apostle, then another apostle, then the Lord himself, and all these voices will give the man sweet peace. Oh, he says, the lightning seemed against me, the thunder seemed against me, but now here is the voice of Calvary’s blood for me, here is the voice of eternal mercy for me, here is the voice of yea and amen promise for me.
Here, then, is a glorious throne, here is a peaceful throne; here are the representatives of the whole church, the twenty-four elders ; and here are the lightnings, the thunderings, and the voices.
“And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne,” taken from the Old Testament, you see, the seven lamps in the temple; and these are explained thus:—“which are the seven Spirits of God.” The number seven is sometimes used to denote completeness, and I think, therefore, that the seven Spirits denote the completeness of the gospel; that the Holy Spirit does not testify of an incomplete gospel, of an incomplete Christ. That is one idea, I think, meant here,—that the Holy Spirit appears in his completeness; and the other is that he who thus began this good work of striking conviction into your heart, rolling the thunders of God’s word over your soul, and then, by the voices of mercy, giving you peace, he not only ministers a gospel that is complete, but he carries on his work until it is complete; and so, by the eternal Spirit carrying on his work, you will be kept in the faith, and presented through the body of the Saviour’s death blameless, and unreproveable in his sight, at the last great day; and thus come to a completeness of light and knowledge, and in every sense completeness.