Notes on the Apocalypse gleaned at lectures in Geneva, 1842.

J. N. Darby.

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Revelation 1

The first eight verses serve as an introduction to the whole book. It is profitable, and throws light on the Apocalypse itself, to examine the peculiar character of the book, and the manner in which Jesus reveals Himself in it. There is a special blessing attached to the reading of this book (chap. 1:3; 22:7). It is a practical thing. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein."

Nothing is of more importance. The prophecies of the Old Testament strengthened the Jews in their relationship with God, and attached them to His government. Although God permits men to go their own way, led by their own passions, yet He never did, nor ever will, entirely give up the reins of government as to this world. This is what the Apocalypse shews us. All things work together for the glory of Jesus. We see in Hebrews 11:7 the effects of prophecy on faith. The faith of Abel recognises the sacrifice; Enoch walks with God. The faith of Noah condemns the world; it was not limited to the recognition of the efficacy of the sacrifice and walking with God; but Noah was warned of God of things not seen as yet, and, separated in walk from the world by this warning, became heir of the righteousness which is by faith, and condemned the world. The world put to death Jesus the heir. The church, warned of God of what is about to come to pass, knows that man in rebellion against God has no title to the inheritance of the world. The church in its suffering state does not possess it.

Christ is presented to us in the Apocalypse as the heir of the world. The church, like Noah, condemns the world, of which she is co-heir with Christ.

God is not presented as Father in the Apocalypse; this gives the character of the book. When the glory of the inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:17, 18) is treated of, Christ is presented as Man; and God, as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3:14, where the communion of the Father and of the Son is in question, He is presented as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Apocalypse, God is presented as the God who governs the world; whereas when it is the church that is in question, He is called Father. Moreover, in the Apocalypse, the subject is (not what relates to His connection with the church, but) the world, and its connection with God as Governor of the world.

2 In chapter 1 Christ is presented as man, but in glory. The communication is by an angel - not by the Spirit of revelation and of communion, making the church to enjoy the glory and fellowship with the Father and with the Son. There is a great difference between what is communicated to the church and what has the church for its subject. When the church is addressed as to what concerns herself, she is addressed according to the presence of the Spirit which puts her in communion with the Father and the Son as the church, as the family. God communicated to Abraham what concerned Sodom, so to the church what concerns the world.

Verse 1. A revelation is made to Jesus, and He communicates it to John by an angel.* It is prophecy, the testimony of Jesus (i.e., that which He gives Himself), and the word of God. The difference between the testimony of Jesus and the testimony to Jesus is of some importance in this book. It is often said that the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus; so that those who should receive that alone, and have nothing more, have the testimony of Jesus, and the word of God. In this verse the learned agree to read, not the testimony of Jesus Christ, "and of all things that he saw," but "the testimony of Jesus Christ [viz.] all things that he saw"; that is to say, the visions in the Apocalypse themselves form the testimony. This prophecy is, first, the word of God; secondly, the testimony of Jesus Christ; thirdly, a vision - "all things he saw."

{*I speak only as to the mode of communication; the whole is of course inspired.}

Verse 3. "For the time is at hand." Those things are not fulfilled. The thought of the return of Jesus was so present that the disciples thought John would not die before His coming. John closed revelation.

Malachi closed the Old Testament by the promise of Elijah. From that time all is apocryphal. There is no new revelation or communications made that would constitute the proof of a recognised relationship. So the Apocalypse, which closes the New Testament revelation, announces the coming of Jesus, and all is apocryphal until the Lord comes to receive the church.*

{*Nevertheless, although God the Father makes no more communication to the church, according to the relation of the Head of the body with the members of that body in its unity, yet He leaves here communications of the judgment He forms of the state of things which have the name of the church in the world, whatever its position or state may be. The seven churches are taken as a sample of the various states on which He bears this judgment, and thus of warning to all.}

3 God does not, in the interval, give up His people; but He makes no more revelations. Therefore He says "the time is at hand." Thus the apostles speak of their time as being the last days. All the interval until the return of Jesus is the longsuffering of God towards the world. The church is to walk by faith, and by the revelation already given.

Verse 4. John addresses directly the seven churches.

The salutation agrees with the character of the book. God presents Himself as the Eternal, as the One who reigns and rules. The Spirit is presented in a manner exterior to the relations of God with the church, as a spirit of wisdom and of light. It is the Spirit in His attributes of power and of perfection, the accomplisher of the divine will in the world. Moreover, Jesus is not presented here as the Head of the church in heaven, but as the faithful Witness, as risen, and as Prince of the kings of the earth.

Verse 6. It is the church who receives the revelation and who answers, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us to God and his Father kings and priests, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." The church cannot forget the love of which she has been the object; and she expresses her own relation to God in the scene which is about to be disclosed. Jesus is placed last (v. 4, 5) because He is one who communicates with the earth and whose of right it all is.

God is on the throne, the Spirit is before the throne, and Jesus is in connection with the earth. This is the object of the book. It is not the church which is here in the thoughts of God; she receives the communication of them. Jesus has, in spite of Satan, title to the inheritance of the world; and He lets the church into the knowledge of His counsels before the thing takes place. God communicates to Abraham what He is going to do to Sodom; and here, to the church, what He is going to do to the world, in order that the church may remain apart from all that system that leads to judgment.

4 Verse 7. "Behold, he cometh with clouds." This verse passes on to that which establishes His relation with the world the Jews included. That is the principal thought, the great subject of revelation here. The present dispensation is a dispensation of faith. The church has not seen Jesus risen; she has only seen the witnesses of His resurrection, and she must believe it on their testimony. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," John 20:29. Such is the principle on which the believer walks in the present dispensation. "Every eye shall see him" (not those only who believe); that is the character of the coming dispensation.

Verse 8. God introduces Himself, after the manifestation of Jesus to every eye, to close the testimony by the revelation of Himself - the same that He had been in the beginning, and the Almighty God; which was, and is, and which is to come; unchanged through all the changes that had taken place. But the title of Alpha and Omega, and of the Eternal, which God takes here, is the same that is given to Jesus (chap. 21:6), where the prophecy is closed. He is always the image of the invisible God, always God Himself manifested in the flesh; the One who is, who was, and who is to come; the Almighty. Also, in comparing 1 Timothy 6:14, 16, with Revelation 19:16, we see the title of King of kings and Lord of lords, which, in the first of these passages, is applied to Him "who dwelleth in the light to which no one can approach," and who shall shew Jesus, applied to Jesus in the second; and when Jesus is "shewn," He comes with the same titles which He bears who shews Him. The name of Almighty is that by which God reveals Himself to Abraham; Exodus 6:3. At the end of the verse He reveals Himself as the one who will fulfil to the Jews the promises made to Abraham. The Almighty who had made these promises is the Eternal (that is to say Jehovah, the God of Israel.)

Verse 9. It is well to notice the position of John which is connected with the character of the book. He does not exactly present himself as a member of the body, though he is so, of course; but in his actual position, viz., where the delay of the coming of the Master places the faithful, that is, in tribulation. His actual position was like that of others in the tribulation of Christ as member of His kingdom, and like Him awaiting the moment when the accomplishment of the promises of the glory should take place - "in the tribulation, the kingdom, and the patience of Christ." Such is the position of the church, which becomes her while the king is hidden in God; John 21:22. The word of God and the testimony of Jesus had placed him there, and the testimony of Jesus was peculiarly that of the kingdom. Again, observe here that the Lord's day is Sunday. The meaning is not the day of the Lord. Nor is there any doubt that the greater part of the visions apply to what precedes that coming day. The rest of the chapter shews us already the glory of Christ. Affection is inseparable from testimony to the glory of Jesus.

5 Verses 12, 13. When John turns to look at the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, he sees Jesus. He sees what characterised the Ancient of days. Daniel 7:9, 13. In Daniel, the Son of man is led to the Ancient of days, and receives the dominion. In Revelation 1:14, Jesus, the Son of man, has the character of the Ancient of days.

Jesus cannot present Himself as Man without the church and the Holy Ghost recognizing Him as God, Eternal, and Almighty, as the One who has dominion over the world. God gives us to understand His purposes concerning the world, and shews to us Jesus, who suffered, supremely exalted as Man. We see, when the Son of man is manifested in the glory (and so it was when sojourning here below), God Himself, the eternal God, as well as the man to whom all title to glory belongs. Jesus has the reward of having humbled and made Himself of no reputation for us. In Psalm 102 He says, "He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days." The answer is, "But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." John sees also the seven churches (things that are), and Christ in the midst of these churches, not as serving them. His garments descend to His feet; His girdle of gold is divine glory in judgment, not spiritually on oneself, but to be executed on others - judicial firmness. His head reveals the Ancient of days. His eyes were piercing like fire in judgment. Glory and majesty were discovered in Him, and He held the representatives of the seven churches in the right hand of His power.

Verse 16. He judges by the word of His mouth, a two-edged sword. Glory supreme shines in His face.

Verse 17. We do not find the spirit of adoption and confidence. It is man standing in the presence of the glory of Him who rules. Speaking in this character, He communicates the revelation of God to His servant John, the prophet of the church.

6 Verse 18. Jesus, the Man once dead but now alive again, conqueror of hell and of death, takes away fear from him who finds death in the presence of His divine glory.

Verse 19. We see here the division of the Apocalypse into three parts:

Firstly, The things seen, that is to say, the glory of Jesus such as we have seen it described.

Secondly, The things that are, or the seven churches

Thirdly, The things to come after them, or the prophecy; chapter 4:1.

The order of the book presents thus the Person of Jesus, Son of man in glory; the Eternal God; the churches, and Jesus as a judge in the midst of them; and then revelations concerning the world. Jesus is revealed here, not as the Head of the church, but as judge and ruler in the churches; not as the olive tree which gives the oil, or as the Head that distributes gifts, but as the Head who makes use only of threatenings and of rewards; not as servant or advocate, or shepherd of the sheep; but in a long robe, in the dignity of a judge, and like one who comes to see what light the candlesticks give.

It is important to apprehend that the general object of this book is the revelation of the relations of God, as ruler, with the world, viewed as introducing into it Jesus as heir. It will be seen how much of difficulty this removes. The understanding of the book supposes a soul established in its relations with the Father, and with the Son to whom God will reveal His purposes towards the world, as God. It would be grievous and shameful for us not to be sufficiently of the family of God to feel interested in all His glory.

<05002F>Revelation 2, 3

I avoided in my lectures saying anything on the seven churches as not being strictly part of the prophecy. For the satisfaction of my readers I shall add thereon only a few thoughts. There were doubtless seven churches thus named; but they were selected in order to present the thoughts of God to the whole church. The number seven is expressive of something spiritually complete. The seven churches are "the things which are," and "the things which are" end with the history of the seven churches. "What was to happen after these" (chap. 1:19) cannot be considered as belonging to the present time in the sense in which this expression refers to the position in which John found himself. The prophetic details were outside of that period. They were the things which were to happen after it; that is to say, the prophetic details of this book were not comprised in "the things which are" considered severally as the time present of the churches.

7 But the seven churches may be viewed under a twofold aspect. First, there were seven churches existing at that very time. But, then, the glory of Christ, judging in the midst of the churches, was certainly not confined to this; and the number seven guides our thoughts towards something which is complete. Are we then to think of all the churches at that time, or of the general history of the church on the earth? In the first place, it is the moral condition of the church, wherein that is to be found which is spoken of; and the judgment pronounced is pronounced upon such a condition, and is addressed to "all that have ears to hear," and would thus morally extend to all the churches existing at that time. But, inasmuch as it describes states distinct, differing one from the other, it is difficult to apply it to the whole church at any given period; and the thoughts are very naturally directed to periods in which the condition of the professing church may have been characterised by what is said concerning the churches placed in succession before us.

The expression "the things which are" very naturally adapts itself to this; for, as we have seen, it is difficult to apply, at any given time, seven very different states to the general condition of the church, and it is evident that the expression "the things which are" comprises more than what is understood by the seven churches in Asia. Now the state of the professing church, until it is rejected as a witness on the earth, is naturally described by "the things which are," as contrasted with the intentions of God in bringing in a new dispensation by the exercise of His power into the world. And this it is which distinguishes these two chapters from those which follow. The church is seen in a state of declension until she is spued out of the mouth of the Lord. Then comes the history of the throne. We may distinguish the seven churches of that time as presented to us historically (which do not perfectly set forth all God's thoughts) from the history of the church in general until the end: each of these things presents to us "the things which are."

8 There is here, with regard to the form of prophecy, an important observation to be made. When the people of God are more or less still recognised by Him, the prophecy is addressed to the people. When they are no more recognised of God, then the ways of God are communicated to the prophet who declares His counsels concerning the world. Thus the prophets of the Old Testament speak to the people, while the people are recognised of God. Daniel, a captive in Babylon, receives visions concerning their relations with the nations, and the history of those nations: but the prophecy is not addressed to the people. Thus also the Apocalypse no longer recognises the church upon earth in the prophetic part of the book, and is not an address to the church itself. "The things which are," and what John saw of the glory of Christ, judging in the midst of the churches, no doubt, is addressed to the churches. In the prophetic part, the testimony is given to her - is deposited with her, so to speak; but the word is not addressed to the church. The Lord had said, speaking of John, "but if I will that he tarry till I come "; John, the last of the apostles, bears personally to the churches the last testimony of Christ's relationship with them (according to their present state - a state, it may be said, of transition, and where the churches are seen quite in a new light). As a symbolical person, his testimony lasts until the church is no more recognised at all; and prophecy takes the place of communication made direct to the church, and announces the introduction of the Firstborn in judgment (judgment of the apostasy and of the world), and the events which proceed from the throne and precede His introduction. It was necessary that the church should be put aside in order to speak of those things. Otherwise everything would have been done with a view to the church herself. The Lord is seen as the Lamb in the throne at the very beginning of the prophecy, as the One who has suffered in His own Person on the earth, and not as judging in the churches on the earth.

It would be impossible here to enter in detail upon the seven churches; it would be to write a book. The varied promises, descriptive of the heavenly portion that is to come, would deserve protracted study, as well as the peculiar insignia by which Christ is designated, and the relation between the two; and also the connection of the latter with the state of the church in which they are severally found. I shall only endeavour to give a general outline, according to what we have seen. It is a state of transition. Christ is represented as a Judge in this book, judging either the churches or the world. He is no longer as the Head of the church communicating, in grace, blessings and precepts, or exhorting by the chosen members of the body, or girded with a towel washing the feet. He is judging the state of things and threatening them. At one time He threatens to remove the candlestick, when a church is not faithful to that which has been entrusted to her, as bearing testimony before the world.

9 There is another remark to be made here: God's candlestick. His government in the world was no longer at Jerusalem. God will govern the world by His Firstborn, and will prepare the way for Him by these judgments. But judgment begins at the house of God. The light - the candlestick of God - was there, and His name was upon them in the sight of the world. And whatever be its unfaithfulness, and however God may act in raising a testimony elsewhere before the world, until such a system be judged, as a system established of God, it bears its responsibility, and God acts in judgment towards it. Jerusalem was the seat of God's testimony. His candlestick had been there. I need not insist amongst Christians that the light and the presence of God were spiritually dwelling in the midst of Christians. Nevertheless, Jerusalem's responsibility and her position before the world only ceased in her destruction by the judgment of God. After this, God's candlestick, in a terrestrial sense, was in the professing church. Till then, Christians had been, to the eye of the world, a sect of the Jews. Thus we see Aquila and Priscilla at a distance from Rome, because Claudius had commanded that every Jew should depart from it. At Antioch, in the midst of the Gentiles, which was the starting-point of the labours of Paul, apostle of the Gentiles, the believers begin to have a peculiar name. They were first called Christians at Antioch; Acts 11:26.

Thus God was preparing little by little, and especially by the mission of Paul, another candlestick before the world. Jerusalem, labouring under the weight of her sins and the guilt of the blood of the Just One, by the judgments of God upon her, disappears entirely from the scene, and the professing church is the only witness for God remaining before the world. The judgment of God upon the earth consequently connects itself with the professing church. The position of the church was perhaps more happy before, when she had only to seek her blessings from house to house, (Acts 2:46), and while the temple remained the public place of the testimony of God; yet God is always faithful to His own, and wise in His ways. It is, however, under this new character that the church is considered in the Apocalypse. Christ is there judging in the midst of the candlesticks. In the prophetical part, the church is no more seen on earth. The judgments concern the world, and the events proceed from the throne on high, not from Christ walking on earth in the midst of the candlesticks, which shone very little perhaps, but which still were there.

10 Thus the addresses to the seven churches, while applying to the seven churches in Asia, and severally to any one, are applicable to the professing church so long as she retains this place manifestly on the earth. In detail it may be removed from one place and carried to another, as has been the case. We must remember also that the characteristic condition of one church may begin, and that of another still continue. Alas! the state of the church at Ephesus has continued to the end, and the candlestick will be removed. Many more sorrows have occurred in the meantime. One thing more is to be remarked. The characters according to which Christ acts in the midst of the churches until Thyatira are those found in the revelation of His glory in what preceded; chap. 1. This is no longer the case from Sardis, save the fact that He retains in His hand the authority over the churches; the seven stars are still there. But the names He takes (that is to say, the character according to which He acts, and which is the object of intelligent faith in the church) must always be looked for farther off in the knowledge of Christ. They are beyond that revelation of Himself which constitutes the basis of His relationship with the churches in the normal position which He takes towards them here.

In the church at Sardis then, the testimony of the churches, in a certain sense, begins as it were anew, while still remaining part of the whole. The Spirit repeats this characteristic trait - Jesus holds the seven stars in His right hand. But the position is less ecclesiastical, and has more of what is essential in the nature of His relation with the churches. There is an exception to be made to what has been said in the case of Thyatira. "Son of God" is not part of the revelation of Christ in the preceding chapter. But it seems to me that the apostasy in principle which characterises the church in Thyatira (association with idols, and this being tolerated) - this fact had its place when a well-known ecclesiastical relation was coming to an end. Christ is the Son of God; it is under this essential title of the glory of His Person that He laid the basis of the church, and was the object of her faith. Thus the claims of the church, as being associated as co-heir with Him, in contrast with the nations, come in entirely in their place, when the professing church was abandoning her only faith, and the hope which was hers as set apart to God. The Morning Star, the dawn of a new day, shone in the heart of him that overcame under such circumstances. (Compare chap. 22:16.)

11 These seven churches, considered as a continued series of the history of the church, would then present to us the following epochs. Her first declension already in the time of John; the time of persecution; the professing church established in the empire or in the world, and the germ of the ecclesiastical apostasy; the time of this ecclesiastical apostasy, when Jezebel is seducing and tolerated; Sardis, the time of Protestantism as a system established in the earth; the time when, deprived of strength, faithfulness to the word of the patience of Christ characterises those who knew it; the time of saying We are rich, when, in true riches, everything is wanting. This last is the final state - the lukewarmness which Christ spues out of His mouth.

Observe, that we must not look for energy producing effects, but for the effect produced by that energy. This is what God judges. He acts in energy. Thus the Reformation was the energy of the Holy Ghost; the state of Protestantism is a thing which He judges. The churches characterise the state, the position of the Christian testimony which attracts the attention of the world - the candlestick which is there to give light. If this is the case, it is evident that the study of the speciality of these churches is of the utmost interest to my reader. I earnestly entreat him to make it his study - so much the more, because the most precious traits of the heavenly joy are found therein.

I shall only add a few words more in general on the whole. The promises made to the first two churches relate to the general recompense, and are, of course, so to speak, for every Christian. The promise made to the third relates to a personal and individual knowledge of Jesus, which supposes that strength for faithfulness of walk is already found more in the faith and in the faithfulness of the individual. Jesus is known alone, and also enjoyed alone. There is in the church of Thyatira, amidst the general iniquity, a remarkable faithfulness and devotedness; and the Spirit of God, while leaving to the body the character of the candlestick, that is to say, the responsibility of witnessing before the world, distinguishes entirely those who had not taken part in this iniquity. Observe chapter 2:24, where the lesson is still stronger, or at least more clear, in all the critical editions.

12 We may observe that in the last three churches that of Sardis is threatened with the judgment of the world. (Compare 1 Thess. 5.) That of Philadelphia becomes of an inestimable price for the faithful of this time. The coming of Jesus is declared therein to sustain faith in a peculiar manner. And, finally (shewing at the same time His perfect patience, if any of His abode there still), we see in the case of Laodicea the professing church spued out of the Lord's mouth.

<05003F> 12 Revelation 4, 5

These two chapters together form a whole, a sort of preface, which introduces us into the scene where the prophet was introduced, that is to say, heaven. The prophecy, properly so called, begins only with chapter 6, at the opening of the seals.

Chapter 4 begins with the things which must be hereafter;* that is to say, after the seven churches. The things that he saw are the glory of Christ in the midst of the churches. The things which are are the seven churches. The things which must be hereafter begin when the churches are set aside; chap. 3:16; compare chap. 4:1: 19. The seven churches are a moral prophecy, containing promises and threatenings, founded on a certain conduct. The church, being judged as it were, is put aside. These letters may be applied to the church in every state thus described. They are the voice of Jesus judging the state of the churches.

{*The word "hereafter" misleads in the English translation. In the French there is no difficulty. The meaning is simply, after the things related in the account of the seven churches. It is simply "after these things." The whole phrase is this, "The things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which are about to take place after these."}

13 In chapter 4 we see the things which are to come afterwards. It is no more the things which are: these last so long as the church remains. It is from that term "which are" that the double interpretation of the Apocalypse proceeds. If the seven churches are taken as a sketch of the history of the church, Laodicea, the last one, receives this sentence - "I will spue thee out of my mouth." Consequently, the church is then no more recognised on earth; and what follows in the Revelation is the history of the government of God, and the chastisements sent on the earth from that time, until Christ comes to establish His kingdom. If the churches are taken in a literal sense, the types of the prophecy must be applied to events which have for the greater part already taken place; but in any case the church in the Revelation is neither recognised nor presented on earth from chapter 4, from the time that the scene changes, and that John, leaving "the things which are," is introduced into heaven to see "the things which are to come."

The things which are being then put aside, chapter 4 begins. As long as those things are, nothing in chapter 4 has yet taken place. In this chapter the church is always looked at as being in heaven, although she is not as yet manifested (which only takes place in chapters 19 and 20). The subject of chapter 4 is creation, and the right of God over creation.

The subject of Revelation 5 is the rights of the Lamb as Redeemer, Jesus' right of redemption. The Holy Ghost is no more presented in God's relations with His children; it is the relationship of God and of the world. Since Jesus has rights over the world, He is presented here in the throne, and God likewise is seen sitting on it. The right of God's throne in creation. The right of the Lamb in redemption. This is, as a summary, the subject of these two chapters.

Chapter 4:1. Come up hither. The earth is done with (as his place); he leaves the earth. The time will come when there shall be a throne on the earth. In the passage before us God's throne is in heaven. The throne of God was once on the earth at Jerusalem. This will take place once more, as it is said in Jeremiah 3:17. The shekinah of glory was in the temple; but from the time that Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar it entirely ceased. Then began the times of the Gentiles, and God gave the kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar.

14 At the beginning of Ezekiel the same cherubim are seen leaving the temple and the city; Ezek. 10:18; 11:23.* Jehovah stands on the threshold of the house; Ezek. 9:3 At last He forsakes the house and the city - the earthly power was given to the Gentiles; Dan. 2:37. The people having been unfaithful, God forsook His people, and from that time He has not taken again His place in the earth. The only thing God did was to present His Son as King, and as having right to reign over the Jews; but the Son was rejected. From that time God is gathering the church, the co-heirs with Christ, Christ is sitting on the throne with the Father, where He is interceding for us. When the church, viewed as a dispensation on earth, has come to an end, the throne of God becomes again the centre of relation with the earth, and God begins to intervene again directly in the world, without having yet replaced His Son on the earth. If we examine the throne (v. 2, 5, 6), we find everything ordered there according to the pattern of the temple; but the subject is here government.

{*In the main, this is true; but it seems to me that the ordinary interpretation (that God was seen as seated there at Jerusalem) is not quite correct. God sitting on the cherubim comes to judge the city. The glory of God comes from the north; it is the judgment executed by the Chaldeans; Ezek. 1:4. This glory stood in the plain; chap. 3:23. Ezekiel, carried to Jerusalem, finds again the glory there; chap. 8.}

We find here all the characters of God except that of Father. The rainbow (v. 3) is God's alliance with creation. There was no government before Noah. After the deluge, God makes a promise to bless the earth, and He sets man in power with the sword to rule and to repress evil. When the Jews were rejected, God transmitted the government to the Gentiles, who retain it until this day.

Verse 4. The twenty-four elders correspond with the twenty-four classes of priests in 1 Chronicles 24; but they are crowned. The number twenty-four represents twice twelve. One might perhaps see here the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles - the saints in the two dispensations.

Verse 5. The lightnings, the thunderings, the voices, are God's power in judgment, and in ruling, as in Sinai. The seven lamps of fire are the manifestation of God in leading enlightening, and blessing; it is the guiding power of the Holy Ghost with the elements of strength and wisdom. He discerns with a power which acts amidst what He discerns.

15 The sea of glass* corresponds with the brazen sea of the tabernacle and of the temple, where however no veil is here seen. The sea of glass is a purity that has become solid, having taken the character of a permanent state; it is no more water, that is to say, a mere way of cleansing, as on the earth in the brazen sea.

{*The glass clear as water presents holiness itself settled in an unchangeable manner. The water purified that which was defiled according to this same holiness.}

The four living creatures full of eyes are the supporters of the throne. They have significative attributes. The lion is expressive of strength, royal power. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. The resemblance to a calf recalls firmness, the solidity peculiar to the foot of the ox. The resemblance to a man's face sets forth intelligence. The flying eagle designates rapidity in judgments. It is always God in the creation. It is an allusion to Ezekiel 1; but in Ezekiel every living creature had four faces, shewing the power of providence which sees all and acts on earth.

But here we see the stability and the firmness of God's throne in heaven. We see here God's power and His claims over creation, not the agents of this power. It has not been sufficiently observed that principles of action are here spoken of, and not agents. That is the reason why the four living creatures have not been well understood.

Verse 8. We have here still all the names of God, save the one in which the church is concerned - that of Father. He is Lord God Almighty, Eternal. These are the names by which God has revealed Himself in every dispensation.* With the redeemed now He takes the name of Father. We have all that God has been on the earth with His people, and nothing else. These living creatures acknowledge God as the Holy One in all He does on earth, and they give Him glory.

{*The church is not, properly so called, a dispensation. It is the assembling together the co-heirs in unity, whilst the kingdom is in mystery. When the law ends as a dispensation, the kingdom is not yet established in power, and all is in transition. Here the saints are seen above, and the throne of God is in relation with the earth.}

Verse 9. The twenty-four elders prostrate themselves (it is positive worship), and do not, like the four living creatures, give glory merely. The church (it might perhaps be well to say the saints above; we must understand it as the twenty-four elders, including probably the faithful in the Old Testament) joins in the praises of the four living creatures, and worships God as the Creator (v. 11). It is not according to the relation between God and the church. The church here sees God as the Creator. It is important to apprehend this character of government of the things of this world. It is from this throne, as the centre of government, that everything in the Revelation comes. This throne is about to intervene in the government of the earth, and it is precisely because Christ comes to claim His rights to the government of the earth, that Antichrist is preparing to make war with Christ.

<05004F> 16 Revelation 5. We find in this chapter another truth of great moment; it is the right of the Lamb put to death, to open the book and to set all these things in motion. Verse 5. We have here the counsels of God in giving the inheritance to His Son. This book, sealed with seven seals, is the book of the inheritance (that is, of the investiture) - the description of the means used by God in order to put Jesus in possession - of His ways in judgment full of patience to the end, of which the right of redemption which devolves on Jesus forms the basis. (See Isaiah 26:5-11.) Jeremiah, in chapter 32, tells us that the purchase of an inheritance was subscribed on two books, one sealed, and the other open. The sealed book is the contract of the inheritance that is to be given to the Son. Who can unroll the events which will invest Christ with the inheritance of the earth? No one but Christ Himself. Who has a right to do it? He alone, the Redeemer, who has purchased it, who by His blood and by His power can claim and deliver everything as His own. (Compare Eph. 1.) Alas! there is no weeping now, because no one is found worthy to read the book; because one does not understand how the inheritance shall be given to the Son of man. However, the "Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Adam had a right to the inheritance, but he lost it. Christ had to redeem this right from Satan's hands. He had to pay the price: and this price was His own death, which He gave for it. He has redeemed everything for Himself. All was created by Him and for Him; but through Adam this lower creation fell into Satan's hands, who uses it to corrupt men and to keep them at a distance from God.

Verses 6, 10. In the midst of the throne and of the elders stood a Lamb as it had been slain. The Lamb had seven horns. The horns are the emblem of power; seven is the symbol of perfection. The seven horns are expressive of perfection in power; the seven eyes are the perfection of the Spirit who sees all. It is the active power of the perfect wisdom of the Lamb who acts on the earth. The Lamb is always seen as if it had been slain, and not as yet manifested in glory. Boaz had to redeem Elimelech's land, and Ruth is a type of the redeemed. Jesus, the true Boaz, the alone mighty One, redeems Ruth, His own people, and the land of Elimelech, the earth. That which gives to the Lamb the right to exercise all power is that He has paid the ransom to God. God had, as it were, lost the inheritance. But the Lamb has redeemed it to God.

17 Verse 10. The joy of those whom He has redeemed.* They rejoice because they know they shall reign on earth, according to the right of Jesus which they can claim. They see the Lamb having taken the book, and God beginning to intervene, in order to give Christ the government of the earth, and they see that they shall reign.

{*Most of the modern editions read here, after the authority of the best MSS., "has redeemed [us] . . . and they shall reign." In that case it would be the song of those that are already above, who rejoice that their brethren, who are still here in the persecution, shall be delivered and shall reign.}

Verses 11-14. The angels do not say that He has redeemed them. He only preserved them. Creation has again her voice to bless Him who redeemed her. God lives for ever and ever. Man having killed the Heir, it would seem for a while that the inheritance is his. But God lives for ever and ever. The patience of God and His goodness in the midst of evil will have been manifested. If there had been no evil, the goodness of God would never have been thus manifested. But God has overcome evil with good. The church's place is to be in the intimacy of God and to understand Christ's intentions and God's thoughts. These things have been revealed unto us by His Spirit. It is, in this sense, knowledge which distinguishes the church. Hereafter, the church will enjoy all that Christ possesses in power. These two chapters are very important for the understanding the glory of Christ and the Revelation. The glory of Christ is that which is particularly brought out by the Revelation. If the reading of this book makes the glory of Christ precious to us, our enjoyment of it will be much greater. May God shed abroad that love in our hearts and give us to delight in the love of Jesus!

<05005F> 18 Revelation 6

We have seen the character under which God is presented to us in this book. The Revelation presents God as the Most High God; we see therein the throne of God Almighty in the world. The things connected with providence are under this government.

We have seen, besides, that the Lamb has a right to the inheritance. The great object of the book of the Revelation is the Son of man invested with the inheritance which He has redeemed, and of which He has taken away the defilement. All the creation of God has been defiled. The day of atonement furnishes us with a type of its redemption by Jesus. We see in that type, first, the blood on the mercy-seat, by which alone God could enter into relation with any one; secondly, the blood on the tabernacle defiled by the sins of the people; thirdly, the confession by the high priest of the sins of the people on the head of the scape-goat. The creation is redeemed as well as the church - the church, to be co-heir with Christ; the creation, to be the inheritance. The inheritance is given to the Son of man; such is the grand subject here presented to us. He alone has the right to open the book. Redemption has given Him this right.

The Lamb begins the opening of the seals. He does not yet appear to take possession of the inheritance and to execute the judgment. He is still the Lamb in the midst of the throne, in heaven during the interval in which God takes the government, without having yet given the throne to the Son. We see what passes before Jesus takes possession of the inheritance.

Verse 1. "One of the four living creatures [beasts]," it is still providence which is in action here. These symbols are a surely defined language, as well as any other, when you have once apprehended the proper meaning of each of them according to the word of God. The application of a symbol has often been mistaken for its meaning. Thus Christ is called the Sun of Righteousness; but Sun does not mean Christ. The sun is merely a symbol of glory and supreme government. God made the sun to rule the day; Gen. 1:16. One would err in leaving out the abstract idea, and in taking the sun for Christ.

19 A horse represents that action of providence which manifests itself in the government of the earth under different forms, and more accurately the imperial power considered as the effect of the work of God, or of the agents He makes use of. It is a symbol which may be figurative of Christ, or of an emperor, or of some one else. An allusion is here made to Zechariah 1, where the horses represent empires which have exercised dominion over the Jews. The white horse is victory and triumph. I do not see Christ here. Christ is still the Lamb in the midst of the throne. We do not yet see Christ here going forth to the victory and the destruction of His enemies, which is symbolised by the white horse in chapter 19. Here we have Christ, the Lamb, still hidden in God, who begins to act. We have here the providential preparations of the divine government for the coming of Jesus.

Verse 2. The first thing manifested is a great conqueror. Verses 3, 4. The second step, in what precedes the coming of Christ, is peace taken from the earth. Verses 5, 6. Famine. Verses 7, 8. The four judgments of God on earth; Ezek. 14:21. They are the four deadly plagues which God sends to exercise His judgments. Here, it is something which stamps God's character on the state of things in the prophetic earth, and shews that He is intervening. Men should give heed to this; Matt. 24:5-8.

These calamities are the beginning of sorrows. It is in Judea that the closing scene is to take place. These plagues are in the same order here as in Matthew 24. Peace is taken from the earth, famine, pestilence, and then come earthquakes, as we shall see. In Matthew 24 the Lord is applying this to the duty of His disciples in Judea. Although there has been a partial fulfilling of this at the time when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, yet it would be impossible to apply the things which are said there to that ruin. These things evidently relate to a future event. According to Daniel, at the end of twelve hundred and ninety days, after setting up the abomination that makes desolate, happiness will come again on the earth; Dan. 12:11. But this is not yet fulfilled, nor has anything like it followed the ruin of Jerusalem. Indeed, nothing concerning the ruin of Jerusalem, by Titus certainly, answers to the details given in this part of scripture. The four deadly plagues which God sends fall on the earth, and precede the manifestation of the Son of man.

Verses 9-11. The fifth seal brings us to an important point. All the scene passes as in the temple. There are, under the altar, the souls of those that were slain like burnt offerings.* They are dead as to this world, but not as to God. God sees them and shews them alive. There will be those who will be put to death, even from amongst those who believe and bear witness that the earth belongs to God. Our testimony at present is, that heaven and everything belongs to God, and that our portion is with Jesus there. There will be quite a different testimony at the end, namely, that the earth belongs to God, and has been redeemed by Jesus. The two witnesses in chapter 11 stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth. Their testimony would be quite as complete if there were no heaven, save that the rightful Heir is there. The question will then be this, Does the earth belong to God? This is what the Antichrist and the men of the earth will not admit. The testimony is that of Elias and Moses (chap. 11:6) as to the circumstances and signs which confirm it. In the time of Elias the people were in apostasy, and in the time of Moses they were in captivity. Such will be the state of the earthly people then. There will be a testimony rendered to God's claims on the earth. Our testimony is the testimony of salvation and of the church; it is not connected with earth, although we understand what the word of God says concerning it.

{*It appears to me that they are those who suffered before the last tyranny of Antichrist. (See Revelation 20:4.)}

20 The souls cry for vengeance; it is the character of the Spirit of prophecy; it is not that of the church. She does not say, "How long dost thou not avenge our blood?" This characterises the Psalms also. Deliverance is expected from the destruction of her enemies, whilst the church's rest is by her removal from among them. The Spirit of Christ, as the King and Judge of the earth, cries for vengeance to God on the evil; Isa. 26:1, 9. The wicked has not the upper hand with me now; if he kill me, death is mine, and he only sends me where I desire to be.

"Those that dwell on the earth" is a particular expression in the book of Revelation. There are those who dwell in the heavens - it is the church.* The same is true of those who are put to death during the reign of Antichrist, or who shall have been beheaded for their testimony. "We have no abiding city here." We are like the Levites and priests without heritance in Israel. The inhabitants of the earth are the enemies of God, the race of Cain driven from the presence of God, who settled in the earth. The world was judged from the moment Christ was rejected. All those who will settle in the earth share in the curse of Cain. Man sinned against God, and the earth was cursed. But when Cain had killed his brother, he was cursed from the earth, and, driven out of God's presence, he went and built a city and settled in the earth. This is what the world does after having put Jesus to death. They that dwell on the earth are those on whom the judgment shall fall.

{*We must add here the saints of the Old Testament, and, to meet the full force of the expression, even others also; Dan. 11. But at that time all will not be in heaven; v. 11. There are those who dwell on the earth. The church is a stranger and pilgrim there, as well as all the saints who lived before the coming of Jesus. (See Hebrews 11.)

21 The souls under the altar do not doubt their possession of heaven. The expression "How long?" is a technical one, signifying either that God is chastening, or that one is enduring some evil; but also, inasmuch as it is on His own, expressing confidence that this chastisement will come to an end. It is faith in the midst of chastisement or of suffering, which is looking to God for His intervention; Isa. 6:1. It is those who are in heaven that cry for vengeance on the inhabitants of the earth.* It is altogether another position from that of the church. The current of our thoughts is altogether changed, because the government of God and His taking possession of the earth is the whole matter in question here. Verse 11. Although the time is near when all must be closed, nevertheless, there are still witnesses. Verses 12-17. There is still here an important preliminary, the sixth seal. All these things are to precede the day of Christ. But the terror of men is already so great, that they believe the day has arrived. The earthquakes indicate the breaking up of the arrangement of things on earth, an overthrow of everything. The sun (that is to say, the glory and the supreme government) loses its brightness. Everything gives way and sinks under the hand of God - even authorities established above the earth. In verse 14 it is said that every mountain was moved out of its place; and in verse 15, that they hid themselves in the mountains. One sees here that the symbols are not to be taken literally.

{*I do not think that it is the church properly so called, as a whole; but those who have lost their lives for their testimony, and, as it seems to me, more particularly during the time when, as a church recognised on earth, she is no more there. Indeed, the church, as such, is not found again till the marriage of the Lamb.}

22 In Joel 2:30 we learn that these things take place before the day of the Lord - before the execution of judgment. There are many things which precede that day, which are not even events on earth, but preliminaries in the government of God; Psalm 2:8, 12. Christ does not as yet ask of God the world for His own, His requests now only apply to the church. When He claims the earth, it is for judgment; but (v. 12) there are warnings for the kings of the earth. There the question is, not that of recognising the Son as the Saviour, but as the King who has a right to possess the earth. All who belong to Christ shall be with Him, and shall have power over the nations; chap. 2:26, 27. This power then is, not the assembling of the church together, but the exercise of the power of Him who is on the throne, and the warning in Psalm 2 is in order that the kings may be rendered attentive and submissive. Christ has not only the right of gathering souls for heaven, but also to be put in possession of the earth.

Nothing is more proper than prophecy to move the heart and to separate it from this present evil world. God lays His hand on everything that is in this world. The scene of the world is nothing, It only draws away from God, and will be the object on which the judgment of the Son of God shall fall when He comes again.

<05006F> 22 Revelation 7

We have seen the manifestation of the throne and of the power of God acting in government over the world; the right of the Lamb to intervene on earth and to open the seals; then the plagues of God preparatory to this intervention.

Chapter 7 forms a parenthesis between the sixth and the seventh seals, for God is going to intervene ill a more special and positive manner at the centre of everything, in Canaan; but He will not do anything before He has separated His Jewish people and set His seal upon them. God does not any longer confine Himself now to a beginning of sorrows, and He seals His people on earth. We see at the same time those that are sealed on earth and those that are already in heaven.

Verse 2. From the east: Christ is the dayspring. The angel ascends from the east, from whence the Sun of Righteousness is to rise on earth. It is always the day for those who are in the light. The day of the Lord is the day of judgment for those who are on earth. The day of the Lord and the coming of Jesus are two very distinct things. When the scripture speaks of the coming of Jesus, it applies the expression, not only to the day of the Lord, but also to what precedes that day, that is, to the rapture of the church, which goes to meet the Lord in the air; 1 Thess. 4:15, 17. The day for those who are of the day is the light, the blessing, when the day of Christ shall dawn on earth. We shall be like the rays of that sun; but for the wicked, that day will be their confusion. The living God is the God who has life, and not the God of judgment. The life of God is powerful, more powerful than death which Satan holds in his hand.

23 Verse 5. We have here a principle which is very precious. In all the overthrowings, in all the preparations for the judgments of God, the power of the angel, who displays God's power in mercy, is greater than the power of the angels who execute the judgments of God. The good is more powerful than the evil. That angel who holds the seal can cry with a loud voice, Do not hurt. This may be seen also in the case of Lot, who is a type of the remnant that escapes at the coming of the Son of man. The angels could do nothing to Sodom until he had left it. There is, therefore, a precedence in the attributes of God, and His mercy always goes before His justice. The first thing the angel does is to mark the servants of the Lord on their forehead, that it may be manifested to the whole world. Those that are marked are the remnant of Israel on earth; they are not the children of God (that is, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, the faithful in the present dispensation). In one sense, we ought to have the seal on our forehead, that is to say, an open confession of the name of the Lord Jesus; but as for the Christian, the seal of God is in himself, that he may have the enjoyment and the liberty of communion with the Son and with the Father. Having this seal, we are manifested in the sight of the powers in heavenly places. But here we have a seal and a manifestation on earth.

Verses 5-8. The number twelve is symbolical; it is the perfect number of those who escape of the remnant in Israel. God alone can know the number of those He seals. We have the unction of the Holy Ghost to understand all things; the seal of the Holy Spirit, in order to enjoy the communion of God, as knowing that we are His, and are assured of His favour; also the earnest of the Holy Spirit in order to rejoice in the expectation of those things that we know. This privilege is far above what we find here. Our portion is to be blessed with Him that blesses; Israel's portion is to be blessed on the earth.

24 Verses 9-12. As to the great multitude of all tongues, and kindreds, and peoples, and nations, the language they hold in verse 10 is not the expression of the enjoyment of the children with the Father.* They confine themselves to acknowledge God as the God who saves. One may be standing in the contemplation of the glory, or prostrate oneself in adoration. This is the variety seen in heaven. It is ever God and the Lamb that are spoken of here, not the enjoyment of the children with the Father. Those that are in the world do not see Him as He is. We see Him as He is in the glory of the Father. Israel will see Him in His own glory, and we shall be in that glory with Jesus, as Jesus is in the glory of the Father. The multitude here worship standing before the throne, ascribing their salvation unto God and unto the Lamb. The elders prostrate themselves apart, celebrating the glory of God Himself. What we are considering is not the sweetest thought of our relations with God.

{*This description in chapter 7 appears to me the least precise of any we have in the Revelation; but it is evident that what is said here does not amount to the normal position of the church. The elders speak of them as of a distinct class. The multitude ascribes their salvation to God, as He is revealed in the Revelation sitting on the throne. The whole chapter seems a preparation for what is going to take place, and presents to us beforehand the elect, who will be found in it, but whom God will preserve through the tribulation of that hour, from which those who keep the word of the patience of Christ shall be kept. However, this multitude is connected with the elders, but their joy is only that of consolation and of rest, and does not, beforehand, and for others, enter into the intelligence of God's ways like those in chapter 5. Neither do they sing.}

Verses 13, 14. It is one of the elders that speaks, and not one of the four living beings: because it is the heavenly joy that is spoken of here, and not God's providence over the earth. It is important to observe the variety of classes and of blessings which are found at different times in the Revelation. Those who have come out of the great tribulation are a distinct class; they are those, it seems to me, who will have gone through the events which follow, and especially who will have come out of the great tribulation foretold in Revelation 3:10.

25 The tribulation in Matthew 24:21 is more particularly connected with what will take place in Judea, or rather at Jerusalem, under Antichrist, and is applied to the Jews. Those who have come out from the great tribulation (some translate of "great tribulation," or of "a great tribulation,") are not the church properly so called; for, as is seen in Revelation 3:10, she will be kept out of it. I do not mean either, that they are the same persons as those spoken of in connection with the great tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24:15, 22, for in Matthew those persons are evidently Jews: whereas, in the chapter before us, they that came out of the great tribulation are Gentiles. "A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues." There is a certain vagueness, moreover, in the expressions; and this, it seems to me, according to the intention of the Holy Spirit. They are specially recognised of the four elders; but they do not appear to be the church, properly so called.

Verse 15. These are Jewish ideas; the presence of God in the midst of His people, serving God in His temple, contemplating the exquisite beauty of His temple and of His palace. We serve God, either in adoring Him, or in working for Him. "They serve him day and night in his temple."

Verses 16, 17. God is a tabernacle over them,* as if to solace them. The Lamb feeds and leads them. God would dispel, in the souls of those that are His, the dread of His Majesty, by the thoughts of His gentleness, His meekness. A soul that is unconverted has no idea of a God tender, gentle, who "wipes away tears." God will have us near Him, as children near their father. He loves His children enough to take notice of all their afflictions, to comfort them, and to wipe away their tears.

{*It is important to observe attentively the expression, as in fact this multitude is distinct from the twenty-four elders. No mention is made of heaven in a direct manner, save the expressions, "temple," and "before his throne."}

<05007F> 25 Revelation 8

Verse 1. There is silence, repose. Verse 2. God is announcing Himself. He is going to intervene in a more direct manner. He is announcing Himself by the trumpets. Verses 3-5. There were two altars in the temple. The temple was divided in two by the veil, which separated the holy place from the most holy. The altar of incense was in the holy place outside the veil, and outside this latter was the altar of burnt offering;* that is to say, in the world. It is in the world that Christ suffered, and that the saints suffer also. The altar of incense was in the sanctuary, and the incense ascended up to the throne of God in the holiest: the altar stood immediately before the throne. The saints are still in sorrow; their cries and their supplications ascend up before God, who begins to intervene. The cries of the saints cause God to intervene with judgment. Jesus is the angel here who presents the prayers of the saints. He does not present Himself as their Advocate with the Father, which is what refers to our spiritual state, but as calling down the judgments of God on those who oppressed them.

{*This is true in one sense, but also it was before God as in heaven. Morally speaking, no one could, as to the antitype, enter there but as new-born, and Christ lifted up from the earth was before God. The court was, in certain aspects, the court of heaven, and not the world outside. It was a place of transition. The brazen sea, for instance, which was in the court, is seen here in heaven; the souls under the altar (burnt offerings) are in heaven. Nor is there any veil here. "I, if I be lifted up," says Christ, "will draw all men unto me." He was then rejected by the earth, and (though not yet ascended into heaven) had ceased to be a living man, Messiah on the earth - lifted up to God in glorifying Him - He still was in view of man below, and thus became the perfect and attractive meeting place.}

26 Verses 6-13. We see God intervening in a positive manner, by His judgments. First trumpet. God's judgment falling on the prophetical earth; that is, on the four monarchies. The trees figure that which is elevated, eminent, lofty; the green herb is prosperity. Second trumpet. The sea, the people that are not in the prophetic earth, the mass of people

Third trumpet. The rivers: this symbolical emblem is difficult to understand easily. I have observed, I think, two things in the use that scripture makes of it. First, the people, the rivers have laid waste the land of Israel. Secondly, the principles which govern those people. The rivers represent the activity of the people under certain principles; Isa. 8:5-8. The waters of the river (v. 7), are the king of Assyria and all his glory. Thus, in Isaiah 59:19, Psalm 93:3, 4, the rivers are the people over which the Eternal has trampled, to establish His kingdom which is recognised in this psalm. "And there fell a great star." It is a power in a state of fall; the bitter waters are the corruption of the principles of the people.

27 The fourth trumpet. The sun is the supreme power and glory. The moon and the stars are subaltern glories, of an order inferior to that of the sun. The people of God are in misery, their prayers are ascending up. God intervenes and smites the earth, not yet the inhabitants thereof, but their circumstances, their riches, the things in which they delight. To-day, on the contrary, while it is yet called the day of grace, God smites in order to convert and to chastise His children, while we often see the wicked prospering greatly.

The three following trumpets concern the inhabitants of the earth; but until the fourth trumpet has sounded the judgments are only outward judgments. Even before these outward woes can come, God is marking and sealing His elect ones; these judgments do not hurt them; they fall on those who afflict them.

The heavenly people suffer with Christ for the sake of Jesus. This is something higher than suffering for conscience' sake. The kingdom of God is for those who suffer for righteousness' sake; but the reward of those who suffer for Jesus's sake shall be great in heaven. Abraham and Lot are a proof of this. Lot sees the plain of Jordan and chooses the earth. He is in outward blessing; but he is in the land of Sodom; He draws nearer and nearer to Sodom; and at last we see him an inhabitant there. Abraham is far from it; God apprises him of what He is going to do for Sodom.

The church in peace, beloved of God, and separated from the world, converses with God on what is going to happen to the world. Israel would have the world; they said, Let us kill the heir and the inheritance shall be ours. The church says with Thomas, "Let us go also, that we may die with him," John 11:16. Israel, therefore, will be in affliction, as Lot was in Sodom; but will escape as through fire. The remnant of Israel will love righteousness; but, having loved the world, suffers the affliction and the anguish of a man who finds himself where the judgments of God will fall on the world; Abraham saw afar off the smoke ascending up from the plain; but he was not there.

There are afflictions brought on through faithfulness; this is then suffering with Christ. There are others also which proceed from unfaithfulness. It is well to remark that there are blessings, through God's mercy, connected with faithfulness in a position which, by the weakness of our faith, we have been led into; but these are not the blessings attached to a simple faith. And they are accompanied with sufferings and sorrows which have more or less the character of chastisements. What concerns the judgment of the world is interesting to the church, because God communicates to her, as to a friend, what will happen to the world. Can a friend not feel interested in what his friend communicates to him?

28 It is absolutely necessary that we should renounce everything. We shall have to do so sooner or later, either with joy by the Spirit of Christ, or with shame when the judgments of God shall break every tie that is still keeping us back. We must then leave everything, or else be burnt up with Sodom. Prophecy has a special power to separate us from this present evil world, which the patience of God can bear, because He is taking His own out of it, but which is judged already nevertheless.