An Examination of the statements made in the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," by B. W. Newton; and an enquiry how far they accord with Scripture.

J. N. Darby.

<08001E> File section  3.

The author is pleased to say, "Hence the connection of the rainbow with the throne of the Lord God of Israel." But where is it said, "the throne of the Lord God of Israel"? Or what shews that this heavenly throne was that of the Lord God of Israel, unless the fact that there is but one God, and so it must be the same? But such a reason is trifling with Scripture. On the statement as to the church I have not much to remark, but that "knowing as we are known" has nothing whatever to say with "participating in the counsels of the Most High," which Scripture never says, and I believe to be impossible. These counsels may be revealed to them; but God does not take counsel, as if anything were undetermined in His mind. Nor do I see how the fact of the analogy of the twenty-four courses of priests connects them with Israel, so as to prove that Israel is not forgotten.

60 That the twenty-four elders allude to the twenty-four courses, I believe, and in general all the vision to the state of things in the temple, as is quite clear; but to make out of this figurative allusion that they are therefore really Israel's priesthood in the world to come, without any allusion of Scripture to it, is building without any foundation. The vials were the prayers of the saints - it is never said of Israel, nor is it said to be during the time of glory. The Lamb is yet in the throne above. As to 1 Chronicles 25, it is Levite service, not priestly at all. There is no scripture quoted or alluded to, on which to ground it; and a figure drawn from facts is surely not a warrant for actual relationship with those from whom the figure is taken: and this is all that is to be had for the large system here presented, which is to unite heaven and earth.

As to the thunder and lightning being not the millennial relation but the present, there is nothing yet which proves it to be either. This book is evidently written for persons long and carefully imbued with the ideas it contains, or it would be impossible to advance so many things without any proof. We have seen this as to Israel's priesthood, stated without a symptom of proof. Here we are told that the glorified are to be manifested on mount Zion: this is assumed and reasoned from. It may be so, but cannot be assumed. I believe it to be a total mistake. At all events there is no proof.* But as to present relation, if the churches are present relation (which, as to period, they are stated to be), then the throne - I have to repeat - cannot be; because this vision is said to be of things after the others.

{*We shall see how far this holds good with other statements further on.}

But we now arrive at statements of the most unaccountable character, which suppose a confusion of mind scarcely possible to conceive in one guided by the Holy Ghost. "The appearance of the jasper and the sardine stone attaching to Him who sat on the throne, has taught us the source of all our excellency and glory. The elders represent one form under which that glory will be exhibited"; "the cherubim symbolise another." What glory? The divine, as a jasper and sardine stone? By itself this might pass; for we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and the city had the glory of God. I draw attention to it merely that we may see on what ground we are entering - participating in the divine glory as seen in the throne itself.

61 But before these we have two other symbols, we are told: "one indicating the nature of a power with which we are to be invested; the other, the essential purity that will attach to our new condition of being. The first of these is represented by the seven lamps of fire, burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God." They represent the Spirit "as subserving the government of the throne of God" - not as He acts in strict co-equality. Yet "nothing, perhaps, amongst all the attributes of God, is more wonderful than this Omnipresent control; all the merely executive agents of His government being subordinate thereunto," etc. "When we consider … that the universe, morally as well as physically, is under a superintendence," etc.; "it gives a view of Almighty and Omnipresent power, more wonderful, perhaps, than the original power of creation, or that whereby He continually upholds that which He hath created. This power is at present possessed and exercised by the Lord Jesus; for He hath the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; but His saints do not possess it yet. At present His divine power is given to us only so far as is necessary for present purposes of life and godliness. But since it is said in the scripture, that we are 'the fulness of him that filleth all in all,'* and that we are to be made 'like him, and joint-heirs with him,' and since the Lord Jesus has Himself said, 'the glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one,' it cannot be doubted that the church will participate in this branch also of His glorious power." And that there is no mistake in this attribution of Almighty Omnipresence to the church, we are told that all the merely executive agents of His government are subordinate thereto: for such we could well suppose the church to be according to this power, as angels are now, or even more exaltedly (though they are said to be equal to the angels, Luke 20:36). But it is distinguished from this; and in the note we are told the difference, that this power in the whole universe is "in Him essentially and inherently; to us it will only come by communication."

{*This is an utter misapplication of the passage. The church is said to be His fulness as the body of the head - "like Him" in personal glory, having the image of the Second, as we have of the first Adam. "When he appears, we shall be like him." It is what we shall be, not the possession of divine attributes. And when He speaks of glory given, it is given to Him; but He upholds all things by the word of His power; and in or by Him all things consist.}

62 I have given this long quotation, and I shall add little comment. It is not strict co-equality of the Spirit; but it is an "attribute of God" more wonderful than creative power, or that by which He upholds the universe. It is the universality of Omnipresent control, or Almighty and Omnipresent power. The saints do not possess it yet, but they will participate in it. What is co-equality of the Spirit, if it be not in the attributes of Godhead? And are you, saints of God, prepared to accept - to admit of - such statements as these? Do you thus interpret "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is"? What shall I say? Nay, I leave it to yourselves. For how should we reason on the attribution of Almighty and Omnipresent power, to which all executive agents of His government are subordinate, to the church; and that in a chapter in which it is said that, yet imperfect, her grace and glory can only be said to be "in no little measure" consummated? If anything were needed to complete this confusion it would be the connection of the notes of the preceding chapter, where we are told, that, in the thought of impending conflict, "we may remember the seven Spirits of God, that their power has not ceased to be supreme, and that benediction, as from them, has been pronounced over us." Yet, though supreme, and exercising power greater than creation, it is not co-equality with the Father and the Son. Alas! what is the confusion of man's mind when it deals thus as human mind with Scripture?

63 Nor is this all. It is brought yet again most definitely out. "But there is yet another character of power, which the church is to exercise, in the glory" (page 51 - though this follows on partaking of the glorious power of the throne. "Admission into the counsels of God is represented by the throned elders - Omniscient power of superintendence, by the seven spirits; but the execution of the will of God, and the omnipotent power, necessary to such execution,* is also committed to the redeemed." I know not what more power should be committed to them than Almighty power, which they had already in the seven Spirits, or what else should be necessary. And indeed I know not (though I really feel almost afraid to reason on such statements, lest the reasoning on them might take the character of the folly of bringing man's mind into such subjects, and I should do what the author has done, though only to refute it - for there are some things which to refute is as foolish as to state); yet I know not why it should be said, "the will of God," when they participate in the counsels of the Most High (page 45). Let the reader only weigh all this. The author insists on it, "nor," says he, "is it conceivable that the saints should be joint-heirs with Christ, without being invested with this character of power."

{*Were the angels, too, omnipotent - those ministers of His who did His pleasure? And we are said to be "equal to angels," Luke 20:36, though exalted above them, through union with Jesus. Cannot Almighty power go with the agents of His will? Does it not do so now, even with poor, feeble saints, where they do it?}

Nor is this all. "That the cherubim symbolise the redeemed, is manifest," etc. "The vision of Ezekiel affords the fullest description of that power which the cherubim denote." The author then quotes the description, not of Him seated above, but of the cherubim, and adds, "Nothing can be more significant of the resistless course of Almighty power. These terrible wheels - combining the movements of four, without losing the unity of one, etc.; nowhere absent, but everywhere present, in the perfectness of undivided action; afford the mysterious, but fitting symbol of the omnipotent agency of Him, before whom all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?" Is this the power which the cherubim, the redeemed, denote? We read (page 53), "Their agency in the earth has for the present ceased," and "we may see the necessity for such a power, and the high calling of the church, in being entrusted with its application." "The various characteristics of this power are denoted by the forms of the four living creatures," etc. A reason is then given for the change of form from Ezekiel, which I leave to any one to explain; and after describing their characteristics, we are told that "as such," they "will apply to the earth and to the universe the wisdom of the elders [!!] and the throne." Is it possible that saints can have read such a passage as this, and not hid the book from them? "Of the elders and the throne!" and the elders are themselves. But no observation ought to be made on such a passage as this. And all this is to be saved by the confession that, though it may seem to exalt the creature almost into co-equality with God (no wonder, when they possess attributes more wonderful than creative power, and that it is their wisdom as well as that of the throne they apply), yet that, for all that, they worship Him that sits there. In possession of wisdom and power, blessed in himself, and a source of divine blessing to others, man will yet render homage to Him from whom all things proceed!

64 Glorious as these cherubim, however, were, the exaltation of the elders was higher. Still they worship. They may be a higher symbol, but it must be remembered that they are the symbol of the same redeemed church: so that, even in this respect, all is confusion here. The church has been taken from its proper blessed glory and joy as the bride of Christ, to reduce it to a vague uncertain position of identity with Zion and Israel; and hence, to satisfy the cravings of the mind (or rather to shew its wanderings), all this exaggerated statement is to be made, outraging every truth, and making every feeling of the soul shrink, not only from this, but from afterwards approaching the question of what these symbols do mean, for fear of being drawn into the vortex.

And now let me ask this question of the reader, Was there reality in the vision of Ezekiel? that is, was there the exercise of judicial power in Jerusalem, of which he saw the symbol in the throne of Jehovah in vision? If there was, then, was it the church of the redeemed that then exercised the divine power? or were there eyes in others who are to be deprived of them? The church was not there. Nor were the cherubim the executors of anything. A man took a coal from between the cherubim, and certain agents of judgment smote those that another had not marked. The cherubim did nothing of all this.

Further: the cherubim did not then (chap. 11) go up to heaven, though this is a common mistake. Nor were they (though that be equally common, and one into which I dare say I may have fallen myself) the throne of God at Jerusalem. See Ezekiel 1:4. It would seem from that to be providential judgment by the means of Nebuchadnezzar. Compare Jeremiah 1:13, 15 - a prophecy referring to the same period in general, though there were several successive invasions. That the church may be the instrument of His power is very likely: but partaking of Almighty omnipresent power is quite another thing.

65 Another example of the entire uncertainty of exegetical interpretations, introduced to serve the moment's purpose, or deny those of other brethren, is afforded here. Generally the human face in the cherub has been interpreted of intelligence. Here, page 55, we are told "the human face" "represents not, I think, intelligence," - "but that sympathy with humanity," etc. Of the locusts we are told, page 108, "Their having the faces of men (the same characteristic as we find in the cherubim) marks, I suppose, the wisdom and sagacity with which they carry on their hellish counsels." The reference of the cherubim is the author's own.


It is a remark, I think, of Lord Bacon's that if one were to tell a falsehood to one's self often enough, we should believe it at the year's end: how much more when error comes from those we are accustomed to respect, and falls in with our natural wishes and feelings. "The throne, surrounded by the symbolic glories we have been considering, is intended, through all the deep darkness and sorrow of the present dispensation, to stand before us a sure sustaining object of faith." Abstractedly, no doubt, the throne of God does so, though much more to us a Father's love.* But this does not hinder its being true that the revelations here made are, according to the author, all entirely future. The throne here displayed has never acted at all up to this time. And, according to the word, all the events were subsequent to what is stated as to the churches, which are Christ's relationship to the excellent body, the church, according to the author. It is future glory too, according to him, that is revealed: so that it is not the throne as acting now. Further, while it shewed the church in its high and distinctive future glories, "our future exaltation,"** yet the object also was to give us instruction essential to our testimony and service upon earth among men - precise and definite instruction through John to the churches upon the earth. Now what is the instruction as to service? Or when, save the two witnesses, is there any service of the church, or of any saints at all, spoken of in the Revelation; and that precisely and definitely? For that is what a book, we are told, is the symbol of. Not one word of proof or example is given as bearing out this assertion.

{*The throne, I apprehend, is little spoken of in direct known addresses to the church.}

{**This is really all confusion, because the throne is surrounded with future glories, and yet is the throne of the present dispensation. It presents the church symbolically in glory, and gives Christ the titles which belong to His connection with Israel in a yet unasserted title; and yet it is hence that precise and definite instruction is given to the church for its present testimony and service. This has been in a measure felt by the author, though laboriously sought to be got over: for, after stating that it is not Christ's church title, but a new relationship, he says, "yet it is not difficult to see the reason why He should be here introduced as the Lion of Judah." Having mingled and confused all the relationships of Christ and the throne with the church and Israel, the reasons for that must be given: but the simple scripture does not need these reasons, nor this justification. He who was on earth the Lamb, and was withal the Lion of Judah, was thus identified and recognised in His own Person in the throne on high. Hereafter He will be known as Offspring of David too.}

66 But again, "Hidden in the throne had been one who, now for the first time appeared, and assumed a new relation to Him who sat upon it" - first appeared, that is, in the heavenly vision; for He had been seen in another way among the churches. But if it was a new relation, it was not a relation to the churches at all. It is in vain to say that this was an anticipation of the millennium;* because in the same character He opens all the seals, which are "this period," the "church period," and contain precise and definite instruction to the churches upon the earth. But how to the churches on earth, if it was, as indeed it really was, a new relation that the Lord was in; and instructions, moreover, for testimony and service? And when the author speaks of a new relation to the throne; was He in a new relation to the throne without its being new towards the earth and the saints? That cannot be, because it was a new intermediate relation. And it was a new relation It is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David No doubt that it was the same person as the Lamb slain, and all-important that we should know it; and no doubt this knowledge was communicated to the churches. For things to come belong in knowledge to the church. It was to Abraham that the knowledge of what was to happen to Lot at Sodom was given, not to Lot, nor because Abraham was there, or to be there, but because he was the friend of God. But this new relationship was not established with the churches, though communicated to them. If people choose to call it the church, it is the church on entirely a new footing, and in a new relation, after the Lord has done with the churches and His excellent relation to the body.

{*If so, it was not the throne which was the sustaining object of faith during this dispensation.}

67 Further, it is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David - that is, Christ's name in relation to the earth and Israel in power.* So also, on the other hand, it is not yet His millennial relation on earth, because then He takes the additional character of "Offspring of David" - that is, as actually coming, as may be seen at the close of the last chapter of this book. Judgment and righteousness (page 58) are to be exercised in the earth, and Judah be saved, and Israel dwell safely; but this is not Christ's relation to the churches, nor to the church. So that it is not His relation to the churches, for it is a new relation. It is not His millennial relation, for then He is Offspring of David; and yet the throne in which He is found is the stay of faith during the present dispensation. Nor is even "Lamb slain" properly His relationship with the churches. He is, as such, the foundation of reconciliation with God, and the taker away of sin from before Him; but it is not His relationship with the churches.

{*A title, as the writer himself says (page 59), "yet unasserted."}

I pass on to page 60, where I read, "The book taken from the throne reveals the manner in which God is about to enforce the title of His Son as the Lion of Judah, and to manifest that He is indeed the root of David." Now, is this to be done connectedly with God's relationship to the church? Clearly not, save as being with the Lord in heaven. Is it precise and definite instructions for the church's service? It may be revealed to the churches. But are they the objects of its revelations, when God is enforcing this new relation, and manifesting that Christ is the Root of David? Is that the church period? Yet this, by the author's own statement, describes the contents of this book. It is clear the church's portion and place is when God does not enforce this title, nor manifest that Christ is the Root of David. The church suffers with Him, when His title is not enforced. It is the "contrariety of all things in the earth to this His title,* and the consequent necessity of enforcing it by Almighty power, that will bring on the coming judgments of the throne." But is it not the plainest first principle on this subject, that if we suffer with Him, from this very contrariety or contradiction of sinners when His title is not enforced by judgments from the throne, we shall reign with Him?

{*After all, this is not the ground of the church's suffering, properly speaking. It is as Saviour and Son of God that the church knows and declares Him, and suffers for Him; though the other be fully owned. But the-writer always brings down the church to the earthly title of Christ. It is characteristic of the book, and that to which the saints have to give heed.}

68 "It was only for a moment that the Lamb assumed this intermediate place between it (the throne) and the creature." What place? "The effectual communicator of the blessings which will flow from the love, and from the glorious power of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth?" Does He assume this place in this chapter 5, or anything like or about it? That He will have it is certain. That there is here and often in this book an anticipation of the results actually to be produced by subsequent events I do not at all deny. But that it is a celebration of a millennial state of things, or that a millennial song is sung, or that Christ, even for a moment, assumed a millennial position, or that there is a word about Israel, is entirely false and contradicted by the statement of the chapter. "The Lamb had" not "taken His place between the throne and the creature, as the connecting link of blessing." Where is there one word about it in the chapter? He will do so. That they may anticipate it from seeing Him may be possible, as I may do in thinking of Him now, and with a nearer approach to it; but He took no such place.

These are the words of Scripture: "And he came, and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. And when he had taken the book," etc. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God," etc. Now, is that a millennial song, when the thing celebrated is the title to open the book, all the contents of which are to be accomplished before the millennium begins? Is the Lamb seen here as "the effectual communicator of the blessings which flow from the love, and from the glorious power of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth," even in earnest, when the contents of the book, not yet opened, were the actings of God upon the throne for Him before He left it or took His place as such? When the throne from which He received it is one from which proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices? If the preceding* "chapter" (and it is the same throne) "had been describing the millennial relation of the throne to things below, and not its present relation, we should not have seen this Sinai character of awful majesty attached to it"; nor "if Israel and the earth had been reconciled to God." (Pages 46, 47.) Whereas, when from this very throne, the Lamb takes the book which describes the judgments which are to flow from it, during the very period thus insisted upon as not millennial, "Israel is supposed to be reconciled" (page 61).

{*See pages 46, 47.}

69 It is in vain to say, The presence of the Lamb supposes the state of millennial reconciliation, because the "awful names" given Him are to be enforced by the "coming judgments of the throne," and these judgments are what He is here receiving the communication of, in (as the author reminds us in a note) a bitter book. There is nothing about a link of blessing. That every creature owns His glory, when He appears, is quite true; but His relation is not as a link of millennial blessing then; nor is millennial blessing the thing celebrated in the song, but His worthiness to open the book, which is not millennial.

Again, in the note we read, "the prayers of the saints (i.e., Israel)." Why? This has been stated three or four times, and to be believed because it is said, if the reader pleases. No word or hint of proof is given. "Who are reigning": where is Israel said to reign as such? Where is this oft-repeated statement, "The church discharging its priestly functions?" When men are sufficiently imbued with a system, they may receive these notices of it. But those who hold to Scripture must be excused if they do not receive an immense system because it has been repeatedly asserted without proof pretended even to be given. It is very convenient to say "saints, i.e., Israel." But can any reasonable man be expected to receive things stated in this way? I would urge the saints who really believe that Scripture is the only source of truth, to ask themselves in reading the book we are examining, every time they meet with any statement, where the Scripture proof or authority alleged for this is. They will soon see how many have such authority even advanced for them.

I will close the examination of this chapter, by asking, Is it an interpretation which can be received for a single instant, which takes the proof of the actual reigning of Israel, being in view, as anticipated, from a passage thus presented: "Thou art worthy to take the book … for they [Israel] are reigning"? Yet this is what is presented to us in these "Thoughts." I add (as to the criticism In the note "This is the right reading: Thou hast redeemed us to God - and hast made THEM" etc.), that the "US" here insisted on, is rejected by Griesbach as absolutely spurious,* and by Tischendorf, though admitted by Scholz. Mr. Tregelles, who generally approves Tischendorf, admits it, but without giving any authority for it in the margin. The only ancient MS of the three which remain** (which MSS Mr. T. says are worth all the modern ones) rejecting it. Now I would only ask, When Griesbach and Tischendorf reject, Scholz, without quoting his authorities either, followed by Tregelles doing the same thing, receive, the word "us" (but both the latter giving as against it the best and only ancient MS, of which we have the reading here); what is the warrant, under these circumstances, for this short and conclusive dictum - "The right reading of this passage is"? It may be all very right; but things cannot be settled in that way. It is a most royal road, to critical certainty. And this word, thus uncertainly supported, is the only proof given (page 51) that the cherubim symbolise the redeemed. They may: I do not here decide; but on what a basis it rests, on the author's statements!

{*[So it was marked in Griesbach's manual edition, Leipsic, 1805, and thus it is represented in some reprints; but in his critical edition it stands only as questionable. - Ed.]}

{**Unless one is here uncollated: no one cites it. The passage is wanting in the third. I will venture to make this remark on Mr. Tregelles's book. As far as I can judge, the preface is the clearest and most satisfactory statement, as to the materials of an examination of the text of the Revelation which we have. But having generally given the cursive manuscripts in classes, and merely the numbers which agree, no one can form a judgment for himself, unless he assume the system of recension adopted by Mr. T. His judgment may be very good; but the reader is disabled from judging for himself. Another defect, as to convenience of reference, is, that the hiatuses in C (which no one can be well expected to carry in his memory) are not stated in the margin; so that the reader cannot judge whether it be silent or adverse. In the present case Tregelles's note is a transcript of Scholz's, which states the authorities against, but nothing more.}


The author insists that the words "Come up hither" do not refer to being seated in heavenly places in Christ, nor to a future translation of the church. That it is not as to John personally one or other is clear; but this is not the question, but whether he is not therein brought prophetically to view events from the position in which the church would view them as so placed. I do not here decide the question; I only state it, because his allusion to John's personal condition and conduct entirely falsifies the question. If John was taken there to be instructed, and these instructions are for the church, is not the church to view the things he speaks of from the same point of view? Or why is he set to instruct the saints from this point of view, if it is not theirs when the things arrive, though always prospectively profitable? I repeat, I do not decide this question: I only disencumber it of the fallacy of his argument.

71But the following note really goes too far. "It is immaterial whether the Greek be translated 'hereafter' or 'after these things.'" Is this really to be said, that it is immaterial whether a passage of Scripture be translated right or wrong? Whichever be the right translation, it cannot be immaterial; because it is not immaterial to translate it right. But, moreover, it is so little immaterial here, that the whole structure of the book depends upon it; and if the exact translation be given, the whole system of these "Thoughts" is entirely subverted. The words are "after these," which plainly signify "after these things." There can be no disputing about the plain meaning of the words. They are used in the Revelation continually in this sense, and all through the New Testament; and I find no case in which they are used, without reference to some previously stated fact or time, after which certain things happened. This might be translated very commonly "afterwards." This would be the ordinary English word in a great many cases. In a few "hereafter" may be used, where there is no subsequent limit put to the second period.

Thus, if speaking of present things actually existing, I should say "now," or "already" and "hereafter." Now, or already, you are guilty of such or such things, and hereafter you will do yet worse; because I mean thereby, after these that you are now doing. But then it always supposes an existing state of things, after which the things subsequently stated take place - never the general English idea of "hereafter," referring to a distant future, with a length of time elapsing before that future arrives. The preposition meta means sometimes things co-existent with* others, sometimes things immediately consequent upon the cessation of the others** As Tregelles translates it "hereafter," I thought there might be some special idiom, and I had the LXX and other lexicons also searched by a friend: but there is nothing whatever to modify the usual sense of the words.

{*It is then used with the genitive.}

{**Then (as here) with the accusative.}

72 Further, in this particular case we have a special guide to the employment of these words, because they form a distinct division of the book. The division I allude to is admitted in page 37 of the "Thoughts": indeed, no one can deny it. It is found (chap. 1:19), "Write the things which thou hast seen" - contained in chapter 1; "the things which are" - contained in chapters 2 and 3; "and the things which shall be after these things" - i.e., which are future to the things which are: the seven churches; at the close of which (related and judged in chapters 2 and 3) John is caught up to see the things which are to happen afterwards.

The form of the Greek in chapter 1 is stronger even than if the words in question were found alone. The things which are, and the things which are going to happen afterwards, after these. But if this be so, and the seven churches be the relation of Christ to the body gathered out of the nations, then the things which happen after are not during the period of that relationship. The system of argument followed in these "Thoughts" depends on the period treated of in the prophetic part of the Revelation being the church period. But if the seven churches give us Christ's relationship to that body, as previously stated by the author, then the words "after these" (afterwards) shew that the prophetic part refers to what is subsequent to that period. In a word, his system is founded on the prophetic period and the church period being the same. The words "after these" are a positive declaration that they are distinct, and that the prophetic period is subsequent to that treated in chapters 2 and 3, and denominated "things that are," the only direct mention of the church, considered as on earth, in the Revelation. In the prophetic part it is only seen as in heaven above. If it be "hereafter," then it is merely that the things there related were after John's time. Is this immaterial? Or can the divisional structure of the whole book, relative to the very point in debate, be immaterial to the argument?

Next as to the throne. We are told it was something then existent, and not future: but inasmuch as the symbols which surrounded it pointed onward to yet future glories, these chapters have a prophetic character indirectly attached to them. If this merely meant that God had an eternal throne, but that its character here was prophetic, this might be all very well. But in the next note we have an application of this which throws all into confusion, the object being, as may be seen in reading the note, to connect the throne with this dispensation. But before I enter into any detail, I would ask, Is it not singular that, to give the vision of the throne of this dispensation, we have first the throne "in itself," as it is "unchanged throughout all dispensations," and surrounded by symbols which do not belong to it in this? The throne by itself belongs to none, or (if you please) is unchanged throughout all. Its relative character must then be determined by the symbols attached to it. But these pointed onward to future glories. It is thus indirectly prophetic when the symbols are separately and abstractedly considered. They were anticipative, and of the next dispensation, as is clear according to the "Thoughts" (see page 61, in the text and note). The symbols themselves then do not belong to this dispensation. Indeed this is clear, for the church (the elders) are in heaven. Nor does the throne belong to it.

73 But the symbols "will not be attached to it in the same manner" in the next dispensation: which in several respects is quite true. But then, would not the natural conclusion be that, if the symbols do not belong to this dispensation at all, but are prophetic of future glories, and yet that they are not attached to the throne in the same manner as they will be when the next dispensation is established, the throne represents a peculiar state of things, and belongs properly to neither? Is it not (seeing that the symbols are confessedly in themselves not indicative of this dispensation, but prophetic of future glories, and that the throne belongs to none) - is it not strange from those premises to draw the conclusion? "The vision of the throne, therefore, must be regarded as peculiarly belonging to our present dispensation. It is only indirectly prophetic when the symbols are separately and abstractedly considered." And what if considered as characterising the throne, which in itself is unchanged throughout all dispensations? But it may be added, "the Sinai character of the throne" has to be considered as well as the symbols. Be it so. Is the Sinai character of the throne what characterises our dispensation? Is this its relation to the church? Or is the church really to have no place at all in considering our dispensation? Take the Hebrews. Is Sinai the character given to the throne there as we view it? (See chaps. 4 and 12.) It is all very well to say, "a character it may well retain whilst Israel and the earth remain unreconciled by the blood of sprinkling." But what is this but to put the church and church-relationship wholly out of view as characterising the "church period" and "our dispensation"?

74 The church is seen exclusively in heaven in the prophetic part of the Revelation. It is not seen, save after chapter 19, in its millennial state. The throne has a judicial character, governing and plaguing the earth. What am I to conclude? That it is the church dispensation? or something special?

The statement of the unchangeable throne, however, is full of confusion, because all the titles, the revelation of which distinguished dispensations, are given as the titles of the unchangeable throne, and declared to be the same one as the other. Now, they are just what distinguish the relationship, as the symbolic circumstances and the Sinai character do here the peculiar position which it takes. The eternal throne, we are told, of Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, the covenant God of Israel.

Now, that the one true God was all this is well known: but the revelation of these names was what constituted the difference of dispensation. "I appeared," says God, "to your fathers, by my name God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them." Now He takes this name as the covenant God of Israel. At Sinai the legal covenant connected with it is sealed by blood. As "seen by Isaiah and Ezekiel," it was not a heavenly throne. In Isaiah, "His train filled the temple," which is now no longer owned. In Ezekiel, He is the God of judgment against that temple. For His throne was not there, but came there. And now the throne was found in heaven. The throne was supreme and immutable power in government: but its relationship varied. These variations are what are called here the unchanged throne, throughout all dispensations; and that which is Sinaical in its character, and clothed with a glory confessedly future, is said to be peculiarly belonging to our present dispensation. But when we find this Sinai character connected with the expression "after these things," speaking of the churches, or "things that are," does not the character of the throne become most peculiar and significant?

75 That the throne was then existent (that is, the throne of God simply as such) nobody doubts at all. But this proves nothing. It is a mere sophism, because the throne will be connected in the mind of the reader with that throne, and thus that throne attached to the present period or dispensation. But let him remember that the existence of the throne is alike true of all dispensations, and before and after all. The question is, Was that throne, i.e., the throne in that state, existent? because otherwise it has nothing to do with dispensations at all. It is "unchanged throughout all."* It is not revealed by itself. It is clothed with prophetic glories, and we must not consider, in order to judge of dispensations, either the throne by itself, "for it is unchanged through all," nor the symbols by themselves, but the throne clothed with these symbols, and these symbols connected with the heavenly throne - that is, the church in heavenly glory, the Lamb in the throne, etc., and yet the throne having a judicial Sinai character (i.e., a character which does not belong to the next dispensation, and is not its relationship with the church in this). The church indeed being seen, not as its object at all, but enthroned around it, or in, and in the circle of it, if we so apply the cherubim also. But to judge of the throne by separating the symbols from it, is to separate it from what characterises it here. Nor is anything gained by what is called its Sinai character, i.e., that it is actively judging the world, and enforcing the awful names of Lion of the tribe of Judah, and Root of David, because that certainly is not its character as belonging to the present dispensation. It evidently has its own proper character, such as is nowhere else found; which is not millennial with the world, and is not its relationship with the church.

{*The question clearly is, not about the existence of God's throne, but to what period the vision applied.}

As to the opposition between government and worship - that it is a court of government and not of worship - all that can be said is, while the government part is fully admitted, that it is not the fact; of which any one can satisfy himself by reading the book. That government is the predominant thought, most have long seen. The added thought, that it is not worship too, is clearly entirely false, as these very chapters particularly demonstrate; their chief subject being worship as soon as the throne is manifested. Government, though the throne be set for it in this new peculiar character, not being exercised at all. If in "this dispensation it is otherwise," it is clearly not otherwise here; so that it is not this dispensation that is in question.

76 When it is stated that the court of regal government will finally be identical with the temple, the answer is, It is not so stated in Scripture. Zion is not the temple, and Zion is the holy hill on which the decree has set the Son. That He is a priest upon His throne is another matter, but that is before the Possessor of heaven and earth. That does not set the throne in the temple.

What the following statement (page 66) may mean, is hard to tell: "The seat of His universal government cannot be symbolised by the temple, until Israel and the earth are reconciled through applied redemption." And what is it symbolised by in this vision? Is not that seat symbolised by the temple?

"The contrast between the court of government and the temple is clearly sustained in the Revelation." That is a strange note to append to Revelation 4 and 5. I can only ask the reader to read the chapters.

"It is whilst in the court [what court?*] that John sees the vision, in which vision the temple, the earth, the sea, are all equally employed as symbols of something external to the place in which he was." In vision he was in heaven. It was said, when the door was opened in heaven, "Come up hither," and the throne was set in heaven. As far as one can speak of a man in vision being anywhere, he was there where he saw these things. Nothing is said of any court where he was. He was in heaven, where all this was, and he saw it. There was no veil to distinguish the holy and holy of holies, nor is this distinction maintained here. The prophet was near enough too to converse with the elders. I hardly know whether the confusion or the unsustained character of the assertions is more remarkable in this note.

{*I suppose the court of government is meant. It was so much more natural, in reading the symbols found in this chapter, to suppose it the court of the temple, if in any, that I did not know what to think.}

I have only to repeat here that "fellowship with divine glory," and the church being "the fulness of him who filleth all in all," are not at all the same thing (the latter being the description of the church as the body of Christ); nor is all fulness dwelling in Him the same as filling all in all. The former relates to His Person; the other refers to the place He has actually filled as mediator, as may be seen in Ephesians 4.

77 As to the note on "They sung* a new song" - its contents have already been discussed, as to the new song being millennial. It is added now for the first time, "It is plain that Israel is meant by the saints … because it is said they are reigning, or shall reign," etc. Neither Israel nor the saints were reigning when the book was opened: that is a clear case, if it be a future thing. Are not the saints to reign over the earth? - the heavenly saints? They are a kingdom and priests, Why is it so plainly Israel to the exclusion of those who need encouragement as being yet under trial in this book? And where is kingship on earth said to be the privilege of Israel? That they will have great privileges, I do not doubt, and be a royal nation: but I do not know where it is said that they are to reign on the earth. The nearest statement is, "Instead of thy fathers, thou shalt have children, whom thou mayest make princes in all lands"; but it is never said anywhere in Scripture that Israel shall reign on the earth. Kings are to be their nursing fathers, but their reigning is never spoken of.

{*It ought to be, "they sing."}

But there is another point here. The author rests on the words "on earth," putting them in italics - "kingship on earth." "We are kings: but we suffer, instead of reigning on the earth." But here he is simply and entirely wrong. The translation in a general sense might be borne with as it stands, taking the earth as the subjected object of government. But when the word "on" is insisted on as distinctive, the answer at once is, It is not the meaning of the Greek word. Hence Mr. Tregelles has very properly translated it "over" in this passage.* Yet this, which is simple error, is the basis of the very important interpretation given to the passage. Moreover, the least attention to the system of the author will shew that it is an essential link of it. It has been already stated four or five times (no proof of it being given) in the previous pages we have examined, as necessary to the understanding of the order and relationship of the different parts of what he calls the Israel of God. The church in heaven being Israel's priests, and Israel thus united and brought into the same body, though in an inferior position, and enjoying, through the intercession and priesthood of the church, communion in all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, and so standing "in all the full excellency of the heavenly calling manifested on earth." Now this connection of Israel and the church standing in a priestly place is found to rest on a complete error in the use of a Greek preposition.

{*Any Greek scholar who has paid a little attention to the point, would know that epi, with words of government or rule, used with accusative, genitive, or dative, is connected with the subject of rule, and not the place of rule. I refer to the following passages as illustrating this: Matthew 2:22; Luke 1:33; chap. 19:14, 27; Judges 9:8, 10, 12-15, 22; 1 Samuel 8:7, 9, 11 (LXX); Matthew 24:47; Luke 12:44. Indeed, with a genitive it has itself the sense of being set over anything, as those set over affairs. The contrast of en reigning in a place, and epi, over a people or land, may be seen in 2 Samuel 5:5. As to epi, "over," all Samuel, and still more Kings and Chronicles, afford instances without end. Genesis 36:31, of en. See Vol. 13, p. 131.}

78 As to the mediate place. It is a very strange assertion, that opening the book was a sign that there was some one worthy to communicate blessing. No doubt opening a book may look like communicating its contents; but how communicating blessing? Is not worthiness to receive and open, a common identical title in the passage? And how to communicate blessing, or (as is said, page 61, of its "understood meaning") "the effectual communication of the blessings which will flow from the love and from the glorious power of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth," when page 7, "the chief subject" of chapter 6, i.e., the opened book, is the infliction of divine chastisements on the earth, until they are consummated by the day of the wrath of the Lamb?" Or how indeed did He appear as communicator, when (pages 74, 75) "the Lamb opened the seals, not to fulfil the events declared under them, but to instruct us prophetically concerning them?" Or, after all, what is a mediate place between receiving and communicating? Or what is there about all. this in the chapter, contradictory as it all is? The taking the book, that was in the right hand of power of Him that sat on the throne, called forth the song of those in heavenly places seen in their glory, because the glory and person of Him who took it to receive and develop the accomplishment of God's counsels were brought before their eyes. That He will be the effectual communicator of blessing no one doubts; but there is nothing about it here. And the reason of His title to receive and open the book is quite another reason, that is, His having accomplished the redemption of those who sing.

79 As to the vials.* 2 Chronicles 4:22 only says, the basons were of pure gold; and where they are mentioned elsewhere, all that is said is "and he made an hundred basons of gold." From the place they are mentioned in, and the materials, it may be supposed that they were somewhere in the holy place; but there is no kind of connection with the altar of incense whatever. It is elsewhere that that is mentioned, and these hundred basons are connected with other things. Nor does the author venture to state why they "answer to the vials." Incense, of which the vials were full, was put in another kind of vessel called censers.

{*The Greek word phiala is indeed used in 2 Chronicles 4:22, by the LXX, of the hundred golden basons made by king Solomon. But these bowls are never connected in the Old Testament with incense, nor even with what men used to take fire from the altar with to put the incense on. It is employed for the Hebrew word used in Numbers 7 several times for the silver bowls offered by the princes; Exodus 38:3. (LXX ch. 38:34, Ed. Bos.) Bowls of brass connected with the brazen altar; the same in Numbers 4:14. In Amos 6:6, when used for a drinking bowl the LXX translation is quite different. In 2 Chronicles 4:22 (21), the Septuagint seems to give another word; but a little attention will, I think, make it plain. The word labides is placed by the Complutensian edition, after luknoi. Of this there can be very little doubt, seeing it is the term used for a part of the luknoi in the description, Exodus 37. (LXX 38:20, or Compl. 24.) There is no word for this in 2 Chronicles 4:22 in Hebrew; the Septuagint adds it. This being so, phialai corresponds with the usual Hebrew word. The general expression of phialai is borrowed possibly from Solomon rather than others. But they had no particular connection with the altar of incense. The censers, or vessels used for that, are translated by the LXX as purcia, as in Exodus 38:3 (35). The same thing is in Exodus 27:3 as to both words. They are used to contain the plagues oftener than prayers. See chapters 15-18, ch. 21:9.}

As to the note at the close, stating "they are reigning," it seems to me absurd; because the song celebrates the opening of the book, when most certainly they were not reigning. Griesbach and Scholz both give "they shall reign" (the latter citing the authorities for both readings together, without distinguishing them). As to the evidence of these different readings, it is this. Two of the three ancient MSS are here wanting. One has not this passage: the other, if it has, is not cited. The one uncial MS which remains reads "they reign," with fifteen others, and some versions. Eighteen MSS read "they shall reign." Tischendorf reads "they reign" - Knapp, "they shall reign." When the writer states that it is not found in any ancient MS, he goes farther than he is warranted. There are but three. One has not this place in it at all, being imperfect, and the other is not cited at all.

80 There is one thing, curious enough, as to the exactitude and authority of these criticisms, namely, that in the beginning of this note, the MS "A" has no authority whatever; at the end, it is almost conclusive. The statement of the friend alluded to, we are told, leaves little doubt that the reading "they are reigning" is the correct one. That on which the author rests, leaving all other authorities out, is, that it has the authority of the Alexandrian MSS (read MS), whereas the other reading is not found in any ancient MSS. In the beginning of this short note we are told that there is no doubt that the correct reading is "thou hast redeemed us," etc. The unlearned reader will be surprised to hear that this same Alexandrian MS is against this reading. It is conclusive at the end of the note, under the same circumstances (that is, the silence of the other two); on the other side, it is totally rejected at the beginning, where no authority at all is cited against it; that is, a certain MS called "A" rejects the word "us." But "us" is retained as of undoubted authority, though not found in any ancient MS either. This same MS reads "they are reigning," and then it is conclusive, though a majority of other MSS read "will reign." It can hardly be of no authority, and of all but conclusive authority, in the same note. Yet, as we have seen, a whole edifice of interpretation, a complete system, as to the church's priesthood, and Israel's place, is founded on all this. Do not let the reader complain of my plunging him into criticism: I engage him to keep out of it. But when vast systems of interpretation are based on assertions made about them as of undoubted authority, one may be forced to enquire whether such assertions are well founded, because they have an imposing air with many who have happily no idea of distrusting them.


To the statements in the introductory part (page 69), though they be not quite exact, taken in a general way, I have no objection. Generally speaking, from chapters 6 to 18 inclusive, the prophecy does treat of God acting for Christ; the subsequent part, of what occurs after Christ is sent forth. The period thus noticed is not the whole of our dispensation, nor even here stated to belong to it. The fact merely is stated, that this part of the Revelation treats of God acting for Christ; the other, of events after Christ is sent forth. Indeed the statements would seem to distinguish this as a peculiar period. The author says, "events which are brought to pass during the time that the throne of God is acting for Christ." Now, as the whole period and series of events is future,* this future period seems designated as the time during which the throne of God is acting for Christ. Such is clearly the case. It is the revealed period in which God is so acting (treated as future in page 37) as characterising the present period in page 11. I could only say, generally speaking, because it is quite clear that the end of chapter 11 closes the whole history, and goes far beyond the period here spoken of; and begins with the marriage of the Lamb, which is not an event after Christ is sent forth. When we come to details, these distinctions will be important; but do not affect the general statement, that the subjects referred to are those of these two parts.

{*See "Thoughts," page 37.}

81 But then the statements in page 70 are altogether contradictory and untrue. I supposed at first the author must mean the whole prophetic part, but he is precise, and says, that from chapters 6 to 18 the last forms of evil are described, etc. But how, if this part be only "the throne of God acting for Christ," and Christ "waiting till His foes shall be set as a footstool for His feet," can it be also "then by the mission of His Son"? Again, if it be the second part that gives events after that mission, how are found in the first "the aspects of the blessedness and glory, both in earth and heaven, which will, as soon as the hour of Satan's triumph is over, attach to those who share the resurrection glory of the Lord Jesus"? If these are the subjects of the first part, then it is not merely events brought to pass during the time the throne of God is acting for Christ. Further, the mission of Christ is neither the throne acting for Him, nor events that occur after His mission.

But there is another more material objection to this statement. It involves (as so many others that we have seen) most important, and, I believe, entirely false views, assumed without the reader's being the least aware of what he is adopting. It reveals, we are told, "various aspects of the blessedness and glory, both in earth and heaven, which will, as soon as the hour of Satan's triumph is over, attach to those who share the resurrection glory of the Lord Jesus." Now what does this mean? Who are they that in earth share the resurrection glory of the Lord Jesus? I am aware that it is stated farther on, that Jerusalem on earth is in the full excellency of a heavenly calling. And this, unsaid but quietly assumed here, prepares the mind for such statements. But where, I ask here (from chapters 6 to 18 inclusive), are those spoken of who in earth share the resurrection-glory of the Lord? Or what is the blessedness in earth of those who share it (if this is the turn given to this passage), so stated in these chapters? One hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel are sealed to be spared. But where is blessedness and glory on earth spoken of in these chapters, unless the writer would apply the rest of the great multitude to earth, which he does not? And if on earth, how do they share the resurrection glory of the Lord? All this just goes to efface the proper heavenly distinctive glory of the church; and no one can have read the book attentively, without seeing that this is its constant and unvarying purport. I would draw the reader's attention to this. It is evidently of the last importance. And I would ask him what is the meaning of blessedness and glory in the earth of those who share the resurrection-glory of the Lord Jesus; and where he finds that in Revelation 6 to 18 inclusive.

82 Next, as regards the order of arrangement. There are several separate visions. This I do not contest at all. But that Christ's mission is referred to (that is, if the author means by the Spirit of God) as then just arrived but not entered upon, I deny altogether. The only passages which can be alleged in proof are, first, the close of chapter 6; and secondly, chapter 11:15-18. The first is the fear of the wicked in the earthquake, and not the revelation of God at all, nor in any circumstance or prophetic date, whether of narration or fact, possibly to be connected with the actual coming of Christ; because all the circumstances are quite different from the account the Spirit gives of His coming; and the seventh seal is not opened. The second passage which may be referred to is chapter 11:15-18, where the voices in heaven, on the seventh woe-trumpet sounding, celebrate the earthly kingdom of Christ as come, and all the consequences from that time onward. This does indeed, as has been stated, actually close the mystery of God; but the only thing that is not referred to in it is Christ's mission. And it speaks of our Lord and of His Christ as having the kingdom. The events which follow are declared, but not the mission; and even this not at all in a revelation by vision, but in the celebration, anticipative as to the facts, of the kingdom by voices in heaven. And it is quite evident to me that the connected historico-prophetic narration of God's dealings closes entirely here. That which follows is made up of distinct visions as to special points at the close; but of this more hereafter.

83 Next: "Blessing is mentioned first," we are told, "prior to the events of evil and of judgment by which it is preceded and introduced." This, which is a very ancient remark on the Apocalypse, I do not contest neither. The use that is made of it, to deny narrative order, I affirm to be entirely unfounded. How does it militate against any orderly narration, if I say, See the happy and blessed order and prosperity of that family; and now I will shew you all the discipline and trial they went through in order to arrive at it; and then give their previous history in orderly narration? It would be a very simple and consistent method. The question is a question of fact. The reasoning to subvert it, a priori, is perfectly futile. That God, who knows the end from the beginning, may encourage the saints by shewing the result before He makes them go through the difficulties of the way, is most possible, and I believe constantly true. He stated that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. Yet, I suppose, we have an orderly narration of what passed from that day out in Scripture until it be accomplished. Nor does this declaration militate against its historical order. As I have said? there is not the slightest force whatever in this reasoning. Its aim is evident, but it has no force.

Then as to the facts by which it is sought to prove it. Chapter 17, we are told, is earlier than chapter 13. Now let me put this case. I am giving the history of all the revolutionary war. I give a long account of all that passed in France - Buonaparte's victories in Italy, etc.; I come at last to his subversion of the Romano-Germanic empire by his victories over Austria. In order to make this understood, and its importance appreciated, I give an account of the origin and formation of this system, its place in Europe, and in general history; and, having brought it down, together with perhaps a similar account of the Italian States, to the period at which I had arrived in the general history, I resume the thread of the narrative, and complete what referred to all thus brought under view. Would it be said, because of this, that my narration was not orderly? Is it not the universal practice, when a general history bears on particular subjects? Can it be otherwise, if a history is complete? And, as "we know in part," is it not the way to be expected, though the writer be the Spirit of God Himself? And it is just what is found in the book of Revelation. If it were asserted that the same order of narration continued from chapters 6 to 18 without interruption, then indeed what is remarked of chapters 17 and 13 might have some weight. But who has asserted this? No one but the author himself. And having given to understand that chapter 6 to 18 is one complete whole, he shews that it cannot be a whole of orderly narration. But then the proof given is merely a mistaken assertion of the author assumed to be true.

84 I surely do not believe that the reward given to prophets and saints precedes the destruction of Babylon and the mission of Christ; but this does not hinder my finding orderly narration. Let us examine the facts.

I have a succession of events: seven seals, one after the other, and seven trumpets in order: and before the last of these, I am told (in connection with a parenthetical little book which is opened, of which the close is clearly marked) that in the days of the seventh angel, who is about to sound, the mystery of God should be finished. The seventh angel does sound, and the time for closing the mystery is come. Hence the voices in heaven celebrate all connected with closing the mystery, and the orderly narration is interrupted - the general scheme of the history being complete. A vast power* (as important as all the rest of the history, and whose parasitic roots, as we learn from a Thessalonians 2, had been planted in Christianity from the days of the apostle - at least what prepared its way) was to be unfolded as that on which the judgments, celebrated in general at the close of chapter 11, were especially to act. Hence the history of this as a distinct power in all its bearings is given, and the historical order of narration of course interrupted.

{*This supposes 2 Thessalonians 2 to be the first beast. It is rather to be taken as the second or two-horned beast; but this does not affect the argument.}

Chapters 12 to 14 give us this history complete, and the dealings of God in the world connected with it. It is a distinct vision and hence the order of date must be confined to the subject treated, and can at most only be compared with what is in another vision. But it has its own order within itself, closing with the vintage of God. Then we have another sign in heaven, introducing the seven vials, which are the wrath of God on the earth not the history of the beast, though the beast be found there. This was needed to complete the materials of this history. Just as I might relate the state of the provinces of France in the history I have supposed, after giving the public European history of the revolutionary body.

85Lastly, chapters 17 and 18 do not profess to be history or narration at all, but description of a particular object of judgment, whose details had not yet been entered into; only the fact of its judgment had been mentioned in its place in the two previous statements of the course of final events. Now the details are entered into, of what it was, its relationship with other objects of judgment, and the circumstances of the judgment itself. Just as I might describe Paris, its circumstances, vanity, objects of art pillaged elsewhere, and its siege, in the history I have supposed. The same thing occurs after the completion of the history of, and subsequent to, Christ's coming: after the marriage of the Lamb, the coming of the King of kings - the destruction of the beast - the binding of Satan - the millennium - the loosing of Satan - the judgment of the dead - and the close of all things. In a word, after the series of events given from chapter 19 to the end of chapter 21:8 inclusive, a description is given of the heavenly Jerusalem, and its relation with the earth (as before of Babylon, and her relation with the beast, and in the same manner). But all this does not touch the orderly narration, where orderly narration is professed to be given, as it surely is, as description is professed to be given in another part; and to take events out of the descriptive (professedly descriptive) part, in order to compare them with others in the narrative part, to disprove the order of narration, because the chapters of description come after the narrative ones, is simply confusion and nothing else. Yet it is of this the writer says "I wish it to be especially noticed, that these instances prove that the Revelation is not a consecutive history; and therefore any system of interpretation that regards it as a consecutive history, whether of events yet future, or of events past, must be erroneous." And all this confusion is the more unreasonable, because it is based, not upon the statements of others, but upon the author's own assertion that chapters 6 to 18 is one complete part, taken together; and on this he argues to prove that others must be in error.

86 There is this peculiar to the Revelation, and this only - that, the subjects being moral, the descriptions and account of judgments are of as great consequence as all the history; and, we may almost say, of even more consequence than the narrative part. But this changes nothing of what I have said. On the contrary, it is very important to have the narration, to give the order, to put each thing in its place, and shew the general relationship of events. This is the division I should make in the book. First, in general, chapter 1; then chapters 2 and 3; then chapter 4 to the end. Then, in detail, chapters 4 and 5; then chapters 6 to 11. There the general history closes,* but none of the facts of the seventh trumpet are given in prophetic vision. Then chapters 12 to 14; then chapters 15 and 16; then chapters 17 and 18. Thereon the scene changes, but the event is taken up,, and we have chapters 19 to 21:8. Then chapter 21:9 to 22:7; when the closing remarks and testimony commence, and complete the book.

{*I believe there is consecutive order in chapters 11 and 12 in this way. Chapter 12 takes up from its origin, and pursues in its conduct, what becomes the object of judgments which happen under the seventh trumpet, and so falls into the general narrative. But then it was quite important enough to give it a history apart, as it was of Babylon afterwards; because these evils and judgments at the close, which take place under the seventh trumpet, forming the latter part of the Revelation (beginning with chapter 12), are really the most morally important of the whole book.}

We come, in page 74, to the chapter (6) before us. "Its chief subject is the infliction of divine chastisements on the earth, until they are consummated by the day of the wrath of the Lamb." This is a most inaccurate account.

Four riders on horses go forth: three of whom, at any rate, bring chastisements on the earth. The opening of the fifth seal lifts up the veil to shew us martyred souls who yet must wait for the execution of vengeance, till others are killed as they; of which, note, nothing at all is said. Then there is an earthquake, but nothing at all said of the day of the Lamb's wrath, but by the terror of the kings, etc., of the earth. That it is not the undescribed day of Christ is clear, because the state of the kings of the earth, etc., is described, and it is entirely contrary to the description the Spirit of God has given of their state at that day, at the close of chapter 19, where they make war haughtily and boldly with the Lamb, and are slain, and did not hide themselves from His wrath at all: they had been given over to believe a lie. The effect of fear upon unbelieving man is confounded with a revelation of the Spirit of God. It is, moreover, revealed that these signs come before the great and terrible day of the Lord. It is these signs that alarm them, and not the actual arrival of the day, nor consummation of wrath by it.

87 And here let me recall what was said, that opening the book was a sign there was some one worthy to communicate blessing. It was surely a strange book to open to prove that.

We again also see the unsuitableness of the song as celebrating the opening the book, and Israel's actual reigning at the same time. But further, "The final triumph is first announced." What final triumph? I admit that God can give anticipative views of blessing before the sorrows that introduce it. But that we have had, according to the author (and I am not combating the general idea), in chapters 4 and 5 already. But after that has been done, and we have seen the resulting glory, and we are come to a systematic succession of events of an active character, numbered 1, 2, 3, etc., of an analogous nature - to say that the first of these means the result of all, seems utterly unreasonable. The resulting glory we have had: we have now events opened, and active agents in the scene. The first seal is opened, and the first beast says "Come and see," and there is a rider on a horse. The second is opened, and the second beast says "Come and see," and there went out another horse; and so on. This second horse the author would persuade us is the first, and the first the last of all. Is this a reasonable interpretation?* The fact of the seals being opened in vision changes nothing of their being events to be fulfilled, though not then fulfilling. So that announcing or fulfilling makes no difference: they were announced as to be fulfilled.

{*I would here ask in passing, what proof there is that this horse and his rider is Christ at all. I see none whatever. It seems to me much more like some imperial conquest, providentially permitted of God (perhaps of Antichrist himself, before he assumes that character). This question does not apply particularly to Mr. N.'s system.}

88 But this, though it seems to me unreasonable, is comparatively immaterial - a point in which any might err in interpretation. But what follows (page 77) is surely very serious in its character, and is the settled leading principle of the book. "Neither is He yet surrounded by the risen church, as 'His fellows,' partaking in His glory." That is admitted, of course. "Jerusalem does not as yet stand as the 'Queen at his right hand, arrayed in gold of Ophir,' i.e., in the full excellency of a heavenly calling, maintained and manifested on the earth," etc.

What is then the heavenly calling? It is clear it is not a calling to heaven at all: for this glory is on earth. It is glory terrestrial, at the time all things are gathered together in Christ in heaven and earth. If the earthly Jerusalem (if such a contradiction in terms can be stated) is "in the full excellency of a heavenly calling," how is it heavenly? Because, remark, it is not suffering for it. We have the heavenly calling now; because, though on earth, our hopes, joys, place, when Christ comes in glory, are with Him there. We suffer on earth because we have this heavenly calling. But this will not be the state of things then. It is with Jerusalem and her inhabitants the result on earth of Christ's coming in glory. And how is that a heavenly calling? Can the full excellency of a heavenly calling be maintained and manifested on the earth? and if so, what is a heavenly calling? For, I repeat, it is not now the manifestation of its power in suffering, in following Christ crucified. That may manifest in spirit the power and excellency of a heavenly calling, because all is dross and dung for the sake of it; but that is not the case here. It is the actual result of Christ's triumph and coming on earth, for those who have not suffered with Him by faith in the heavenly calling and glory. And how can that be a "heavenly calling," and its "full excellency"? Is it not destroying the very idea and meaning of it, and bringing all down to earth, and levelling all to that measure and standard? I ask any saint, is the state of Jerusalem on earth the measure for his soul of the full excellency of the heavenly calling? And if not, what is this but to lower and degrade the church to the place and level of what is earthly - of those who have not suffered with Him in His rejection?

It will be said, perhaps, It is distinguished from sharing His glory as His fellows. No doubt it is not said that the earthly Jerusalem is in heaven with Him: I suppose that would hardly be expected to be received. But their sharing His glory as His fellows, together with what is yet more blessed - being one with Him in love in the Father's presence, and being His bride when He holds the kingdom - that is the heavenly calling in its chief parts. And how, if it be distinguished, is Jerusalem on earth said to receive it?

89 Nor am I aware that the eternal state is ever spoken of as the heavenly calling (supposing now that there is no difference when that eternal state comes, between those who have been in Christ's glory, and those who have been His subjects on earth during the millennium); I am not aware that it is even particularly connected with heaven more than earth. God is all in all, the kingdom being delivered up. The tabernacle of God is with men. But there is nothing ever spoken of as distinctively heavenly. The heavenly calling is an expression used in the Hebrews to contrast it with the earthly promises made to the Jews, which will be accomplished in the Jerusalem glory, which is here stated to be the full excellency of the heavenly calling. The same contrast between the promises to Israel and our portion, I have no doubt, is urged in John 3, when (having referred to the necessity of regeneration for the enjoyment of earthly things with God, as they had been revealed in prophecies which the master in Israel ought to have known) the Lord says, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" and then at once refers to the cross, the lifting up of the Son of man - taking Him (and us with Him) out of these earthly things.

Thus what is properly and distinctively our calling is entirely effaced and set aside in these statements. The earthly Jerusalem being on earth when enjoying present glory, not suffering for hoped-for glory, in the full excellency of a heavenly calling maintained and manifested on earth. We have already seen the expression - The blessings on earth of those who share His resurrection-glory - an expression entirely incorrect, or extraordinarily ambiguous, and entirely destitute of foundation in the chapters from which it is alleged to be drawn, in which there is nothing about blessing on earth at all.

But there can be no doubt as to the general purport of the writer to exalt Jerusalem on earth to the full level of our calling now. Those familiar with the question will well remember the passage often urged to shew this, "We are partakers of their spiritual things." But to insist only on what is found in this book, I shall produce here from other pages in it the statements of the writer, shewing that it is not because of an isolated passage of doubtful meaning, that this view is attributed to him.

90 Thus page 138: "Our mother is not Babylon, but that divinely ordered system of truth and power, which though now not known as having form or comeliness is yet to be paramount in the earth, and to reign, beautiful in holiness, supreme over all nations. 'I saw a woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.' Such is the vision of her coming glory in the earth [note, he is speaking of "our mother"]; and faith even now recognises her as this. This is our parent - the system to which we belong, and to which, in the midst of all the brightness of Babylon's rising greatness, we give the homage of our hearts; and will, through God's grace, constantly adhere. Our estimate of its excellency will of course vary, according to the singleness of our hearts, and the integrity of our faith and knowledge: but in proportion as we are able to look on into the future, and consider the period when Christianity shall, in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, be supreme in the earth, we may see the reason for the glory of the symbols wherewith this chapter commences." Is it to glory in the earth that the homage of our hearts is given? or is Christianity supreme in Mount Zion, and Jerusalem here below, our mother? Where then is the heavenly calling? or why such avoiding of the simple and blessed statement of the apostle, that Jerusalem which is above is our mother?

Again (page 142), We need not marvel, therefore, if Christianity "be here presented, as if bearing the name of Zion." (We may remark in passing that it is not at all so represented: the writer is commenting on chapter 12.) "How indeed could it be otherwise? For when that holy blessed system of truth and power, for which we and all saints have from the beginning suffered, and which now we name Christianity, shall at last arise into its destined supremacy in the earth, it shall be identical with Zion, arising in the moral grace and dignity of its high calling in the earth." (This expression is the more remarkable - "high calling in the earth"; because high calling, as anyone acquainted with the Greek Testament knows, is calling above, up out of the earth, our calling, 'above' - ano). "Christianity can never have its rightful pre-eminence until the hour comes for the mountain of the Lord's house to be established in the top of the mountains, and to be exalted above the hills (mountains and hills are the emblems of authoritative power); when many people shall go and say, 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he Will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' The mountain to which we by faith are already come," etc. "So that the identification between ourselves and Zion will need no proof." Are the promises to Israel - of its latter-day glory, the "Come ye, and let us go" - our hope? the rightful pre-eminence of Christianity - of that "which we now name [what an expression!] Christianity"? Do "we belong" to Zion on earth?

91 It will be seen further on, that Zion itself, literal Zion, is said to be the church's place, as holding power on earth; that the saints, in an earthly state, are as "really blessed" as those in the heavenly; and, on the other hand, that "a heavenly as well as an earthly character is given to Zion." But all this in its place. It is merely the general statement that I would place before the reader now. One quotation more will suffice for this purpose.

"There is, however, one blessed point of contrast between the system of God's city, Jerusalem, and this. When Babylon's system is separated from its city, it perishes - and perishes for ever. But, when Jerusalem's system is separated from its city, as it even now is, it does not perish. It is indeed outcast in the earth - no eye but the eye of faith recognises its beauty: but it exists, and there are some eyes that see it, and some hearts that love and cleave to it - and they shall continue to cleave to it, until the hour comes for it to be united to its own city, and to be exalted in the earth." Now what I would ask here is this: Is Jerusalem on earth the "own city" of the system to which my heart cleaves - to which yours does, reader - or Jerusalem above? Is it earthly Jerusalem's system to which you belong? If not, where is all this leading you? Certainly not, as to your mind at least, to heaven. Heaven and the heavenly calling cannot be denied, but it is assiduously made "our high calling in the earth." I have given those long quotations to shew that it is not a casual expression, but a regularised system: no matter of inference, but of elaborate statement, and diligent repeated assertion, that Jerusalem on earth is the own city of the system to which we belong - that our high calling is a calling in the earth.

Having made the matter of fact plain, I do not reason on it much here; I prefer leaving it to the reflections of the reader It will recur again in its effects and bearings on other points I pursue now the chapter.