James Wells, Revelation

The subject, friends, for our address this evening is the four equestrian seals that we read of in the sixth of Revelation. There are, as you are aware, when those seals are opened, presented to us successively four horses,—the white, the red, the black, and the pale, concerning which, of course, there are very many opinions. Some have thought the four horses meant four of the Roman emperors; but that is an opinion so far off from the meaning that it is hardly worth repeating. Others, with much more feasibility, have thought that while the first represents the Saviour, the second horse, the red, represents Rome pagan; the third horse, the black, represents Rome papal; and the pale horse infidelity. These are opinions that many years ago I myself had a little inclination to fall in with. It did not strike me then that the Old Testament was the place to go to for the interpretation of this book. It did not then so powerfully strike me that as the cherubims on the mercy-seat looked one towards the other, so the Old Testament looks to the New, and the New Testament looks to the Old; and like the windows in Solomon’s temple, opposite each other, throw light upon each other, so that God’s own book is the place to go to concerning the book itself.

Now I may just, before I enter upon the subject, remind you that the Bible is both an ancient and an Oriental book, and that the Oriental usages in illustration were very different from our own. To us some of them seem far-fetched and very uncouth, but that is because we do not catch the…

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We learn from the nineteenth verse of the first chapter of this book, that John was to write the things which he had seen, and the things* that were, and the things that were to be hereafter. And the things that had been, the things that were, and the things that were to be, were the same. For what had there been before him ? Why, two things,—mercy and judgment. In all ages the Lord showed mercy to his friends and ministered judgment to his foes. And what was there in the time of John? The same things,—mercy and judgment. And what was there to be thereafter? The same things,—mercy and judgment. Therefore, when the Lord in the fourth chapter calls John up to the revelation of the things contained in this book, he saith, “Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” That, synthetically speaking, means that the things that were to come were mercy and judgment; and this book goes analytically into these two great matters.

Now the subject of our lecture this evening is the sealed book, as described in the fifth chapter. The first question is, What is that book ? how shall we find out what that book is? The answer is that we must find out what the book is by its contents. And the definition I have already given, you will see, will apply to this Book of the…

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Our theme this evening will be the crystal sea and the four living creatures, as spoken of in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation, following our last lecture.

First, the crystal sea. You read that “before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal,” because of its clearness. Now this unquestionably has a spiritual meaning; and the Old Testament will, I think, very clearly show to us that this pure sea before the throne of God represents the gospel of God. We go to the seventh chapter of the First Book of Kings, and we read there of a sea that was between the altar and the temple, and that this sea stood upon twelve oxen, and three oxen had their faces towards each cardinal point of the heavens. And if the Old Testament dispensation was a type or shadow of good things to come, then surely the Holy Spirit would not have given us all those particulars concerning the brazen sea without its having a meaning. Where shall we get the explanation? We almost instinctively run from the…

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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…

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8 Feb 2022, by

1. The Throne Of God And Its Accompaniments

2. The Crystal Sea And The Four Living Creatures

3. The Sealed Book

4. The Four Equestrian Seals

5. The Fifth And Sixth Seals

6. Consecration And Half-hour’s Silence

7. The Four Trumpets

8. The Two Apostate Churches

9. The Sixth Trumpet

10. The End Of Jewish National Time

11. Temple, Altar, People, And Witnesses

12. The Two Witnesses And The Seventh Trumpet

13. First Part Of Twelfth Chapter

14. The Dragon Defeat

15. Wild Beasts

16. Glory Of The Gospel

17. The Victory Obtained

18. The Vials Of Wrath

19. Sixth And Seventh Vials

20. The False Church

21. The Mystic Babylon

22. The Song Of The Saints

23. The Gospel Dispensation

24. Twentieth Chapter Of Revelation

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My reasons for giving and now printing the following Lectures will appear in the Lectures themselves. There is not anything that so concerns us as the Holy Scriptures; they do with us and for us what nothing else can. They make us wise unto salvation; and we cannot be too conversant with the Holy Scriptures. And knowing that it falls to the lot of many not to have very much time to search the Scriptures, I hope these Lectures may be a help to such.

This Book of the Revelation, like other books of the Bible, was intended not merely for the learned few, but for Christians at large, and comes under the same rule of interpretation as other books of the Bible, namely, that of explaining Scripture by Scripture. I may here just remind the reader to notice the structure of the book; that the subjects for the most part are ranged as it were in columns side by side, and that the inspired writer takes up one aspect of a subject and goes on with the same to the end, and then goes back again and again to the…

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