Volume 11


J. N. Darby

Page: 177

Direct testimony to the existence of a Jewish remnant with Jewish hopes, sanctioned of the Lord, having been published elsewhere, and the doctrine of the church also having been briefly brought out, as connected with the Lord's coming, the object here is to examine, in a supplementary notice, some difficulties which a serious mind might find in the suggestions of those who oppose the rapture of the church. It is true that if the statements of Scripture be adequately weighed, and the truths which have been drawn from it received into the heart, the answer to all these difficulties is already possessed; or if we be unable to explain these objections, they have no force against the direct proofs Scripture gives of the truth, save to prove our own incapacity to solve them.

Thus it is insisted on, in the pamphlet before us, pages 13, 14, that we wait with the world for the appearing of Christ." In 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-4, after speaking of the day of the Lord coming on the world as a thief in the night, the apostle adds, 'But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.' The natural inference being, that the day of the Lord will come simultaneously upon the world and the church; only it will find the latter prepared for it, while it will be destruction to the former." Now, take the plain expression of one passage which sums up the declarations of many, "when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." It at once shews that, whatever may be the divine reasons for referring us to the Lord's appearing, as a time of blessing, or in connection with our responsibility (and Scripture does both), it is perfectly certain that it is not meant that we shall not be with Christ before He appears, nor that we shall be personally on earth as others are, so that He will appear to us and the earth at the same time. This we know to be false doctrine; because the word tells us that we shall then appear, or be manifested, along with Him.

+An attempt to answer the questions, "May the coming of the Lord be expected immediately? and Will the translation of the church be secret?" By George J. Walker. London: Whittaker and Co.

[Page 178]

But we learn more as to the teaching of those who would persuade us of it. The aim of that teaching, its direct and necessary tendency, is to destroy our distinctive relationship with Christ, and to connect us with the world, reducing us to the lowest possible level of hope which can be true for one who is not actually lost. Our proper heavenly connection with Christ is lost. This aim is accompanied by so obvious a loss of all spiritual intelligence, such an obliteration of the positive teaching of Christ and the Holy Ghost, that it becomes at once evident, to those not under its influence, what its source is.

Nor can anything be more groundless than the special objections. The first is a very favourite one of this school "It [i.e., the view combated]

takes away from us our direct and full interest in considerable portions of the gospels, and almost the whole of the Apocalypse; for these are regarded as strictly and properly belonging only to certain parties, Jews and Gentiles, which will come under the divine dealings after the removal of the church," etc. (pages 5, 6). To talk, then, of robbing us of much in the gospels and the Apocalypse is, we repeat, the more absurd, since the special privilege of the heavenly saints is to know what does not concern them. In virtue of this, they are "friends," not because of having external signs given. To encourage the weak faith of the tried Jewish remnant they were really given, as will appear more clearly when we come to examine Matthew 24, and kindred Scriptures. But it is a hollow and false principle that the gift of a revelation to any one implies that he will be in the circumstances described: least of all is it true of the church, to which all Scripture is given. But thence to argue that we must be there, that this or that prediction is about us, is as unreasonable as contrary to fact. Yet ought the church to have an understanding of all, for "we have the mind of Christ." The Lord's grace communicates to us what concerns others, and sometimes that we may intercede for others. Thus it was with Abraham: the Lord revealed to him what did not concern himself. Did Abraham lose by the Lord's communicating to him what concerned Lot? or would he have gained by imagining that it was about himself? Was Enoch worse off than Noah because the one declared what was coming on the world, not on himself, and was translated before there was a sign of the judgment, while the other received a warning of what concerned the circumstances he was in, so that, moved with fear, he gave heed and was saved through the deluge of waters? So with the church in the Revelation. None can deny that there is absolute silence as to the church (we do not say saints) on earth when the terrible judgments, symbolised by seals, trumpets, and vials, issue from the throne. Churches are spoken of before Revelation 4, and they are addressed after the visions close in Revelation 22. For no doubt the church ought to be the vessel of divine testimony as to what is coming, as Enoch was, and ought to be in the place of intercession, as was Abraham; but the church is outside the scene of judgment in the Revelation, as both these types were in Genesis.

[Page 179]

But the second objection surrenders, in fact, the principles of which the first complains so loudly; for it is owned, though it seems reluctantly, that there are passages in the gospels (and so much the more in the Revelation) where the apostles are not our representatives. Thus, while we are privileged to profit by Matthew 10, it is plain that the commission there given is, in important respects, the reverse of our service as Christians now. It is only through the Holy Ghost enabling us to compare aright scripture with scripture, that we can discern what concerns a Jewish remnant of old or by and by, and that which describes or supposes our position. The author asks somewhat triumphantly in page 7, "Do they represent us, and listen for us, at the sermon on the Mount, at the last supper, at the concluding discourse in John; and yet represent another set of people in Matthew 24, and Luke 21? Are we on church ground with Martha and Mary at Bethany; and in company with the Jewish remnant when we place ourselves with the disciples on the Mount of Olives? (Matthew 24: 3)." Now, so far are the distinctions in question of an arbitrary nature that the argument used to expose them demonstrates their reality. For imbedded in the sermon on the Mount are words of our Lord which apply far more closely to Jews or the remnant than to the church. (See Matthew 5: 25; 6: 12, 13, 33, etc.). And as to the prophetic discourses in Matthew 24 and 25, it carries on its front and within its own compass, the clearest evidence of these distinctions. For in the early part the Lord speaks of the temple and its destruction, of the abomination of desolation, with express reference to a prophecy which professedly relates to the Jews and the remnant up to the last days. But this is not all. What has this character and is connected with Jerusalem, Judea, and that nation, is plainly distinguished from the parables which relate to Christians during the absence of the Lord (viz., the household servant, the virgins, and the talents). These last are not Jewish, but in some respects in marked contrast with what precedes, as well as with the closing sketch in Matthew 25 which gives the Lord's dealings with the Gentiles on His return as King. To deny these distinctions, then, is ignorance, and nothing better.

[Page 180]

Nobody affirms that the church existed as a fact at the last supper in Jerusalem, or when the Lord uttered His discourses, etc., in John 13-17, or at Bethany; but it is abundantly clear that these scenes contemplated much which was afterwards verified in the church, and outside the remnant, while the remnant had special provision for it made in Luke 21. Nothing simpler than what the writer seeks to mystify.

Again, in this late defence of the system which denies the distinct portion of the church and its rapture previous to the Lord's appearing, the time of vengeance in which even the Jewish remnant is desired to flee -- the time of visiting the unbelief of the nation with anguish and trouble unheard of; in a word, the most awful chastisement for unfaithfulness the world ever saw -- is confounded with the privilege of suffering for Christ by faith! "A further objection to it is the extraordinary result, that the church will be removed from the earth at the very time of all others when we should think its testimony would be most needed, and when suffering will be most glorious [!!]

. Surely, of all others, the church of Christ is best fitted to be confronted with the great Antichrist and his followers. Strange, indeed, should its martyrology break off at that critical period! Strange if tribulations, closely linked in the apocalyptic visions with the brightest glories of heaven, should be reserved for another than that body, which for nearly two thousand years has been associated in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ!" (Attempt, page 7.) Can ignorance of God's ways be shewn more painfully than this confusion of suffering with Christ, and suffering fearful penalty for having slighted Him and His will?

The last of these general presumptions is that Scripture intimates delays and impediments to the coming of Christ (pages 7, 8); and it is argued, that if to know what shall befall others be a privilege, still more what personally affects ourselves. Can anything exceed the blindness here manifested as to what spiritual privilege is? Is knowing what applies to ourselves the proof that we are friends of God? After Abraham had promises relative to himself and his seed, the Lord says, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" And what did He make known to him? What concerned himself? No; but what concerned Lot, of which there was no need. Lot heard in due time what concerned himself. So, says the Lord, in a scripture which the writer cites in the same paragraph, "I have called you friends, for whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you." I tell a man what concerns himself as a matter of business or duty; I tell my friend what my heart is interested in, whether it concerns him or not, because he is my friend. (Compare Ephesians 1: 8-10.) How entirely this system destroys spirituality and divine intelligence!

[Page 181]

And here we would say a word on the practical effect as indicative of the real character of these views. We are told that it is impossible rightly to be expecting the Lord from day to day; and this because all the predicted signs must first come to pass. Now, we ask any serious Christian, if this be not in direct contradiction of all the teachings and warnings of Scripture (those passages excepted whose proper application is in debate)? Does the Lord direct us to be habitually waiting and watching always for Him? Be it Christian or Jewish remnant that it refers to, does He not insist earnestly upon it? and that in such an hour as those He addresses think not, the Son of man cometh?

Further, the whole order of God's dealings is subverted. "We do believe the church and the remnant to be on earth together," etc. (page 39). That is, they believe that the full explicit revelation of the church, wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile but all one, and a recognition, on the part of God, of a body of persons as to whom He sanctions hopes exactly contrary to this (furnishing inspired terms for the expression and encouragement of them), will go on together on the earth. As an analogy to this, the state of the disciples during Jesus' life, and the condition of the church afterwards, and the case of the disciples of John (Acts 19), are brought forward. That is, the progress of the same saints out of Jewish thoughts into a church standing by the coming of the Holy Ghost, in the former case, and the instant cessation of the Jewish state of hope because of the Christian revelation, when it came to their knowledge, in the other, are alleged to be analogous to the simultaneous sanctioned subsistence of the two contradictory states at the same time. The value of the reasoning here is a specimen of the superficiality of this publication.

[Page 182]

Another sample of the extreme levity and carelessness of the writer is this: "To say that while we are here, it [the Apocalypse]

is of use to us, is to plead for a very secondary concern in it" (page 6). The view of the writer is that its warnings are to be of use to the church when it is in the circumstances referred to. Is it not evident, then, according to the author's theory, that this destroys its usefulness as to at least eighteen hundred years and more of the church's history? The necessity of being in the time of its fulfilment to make it useful, destroys its constant use for the church; whereas the knowledge of its application to a body traversing the time of trial, after the church's rapture, makes its usefulness apply to all, though its accomplishment is for others. If men must be in the circumstances to render it useful, the Apocalypse has had, on the author's shewing, no utility yet. 2 Peter 1: 19, which he quotes, is strongly against his arguments, besides being altogether misinterpreted. The point here is the excellence of the prophetic word as a lamp, till a light still better dawns on the heart. The apostle does not mean till the day of the Lord actually come upon the world, but till the heart is imbued with daylight, and the morning star arise therein (i.e., till the saint is awakened to the heavenly hope, apart from the events of prophecy).

The parable of the tares of the field (Matthew 13) is the first of the special scriptures adduced as positively adverse. "'Both grow together until the harvest' (verse 30); a statement clearly decisive of the whole question, for unbroken certainty cannot possibly be more plainly expressed" (page 9) ... "and at one definite point of time, the harvest, or the end of the age" (page 10). The short answer is, that the harvest is not one definite point of time. "In the time of harvest," it is written, "I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." First do this, and then that. In other words, it is a period in which different events take place, the order and meaning of which is exactly what is in question. It is also alleged (page 9), that "gathered together" is the same as "rooted up." But it is no such thing: quite a different word is used for rooted up. Again, "gathering together," or up, is said to be removal from the field by reaping or plucking up, that is, the end of present existence -- a very singular explanation. We all know such is not the effect of reaping. The removal of the wheat from the field is expressed in quite a different way. Indeed the tares are never said to be removed from the field at all, and notoriously, if we turn to the thing prefigured, they will be judged in the field when the harvest comes, and to this the parable looks on. In truth, the subject is the field, as to which there is one only exception -- "Gather the wheat into my garner." The thorns, we read elsewhere, will be utterly burned in the fire in the same place. The tares are gathered together to be burned -- clearly declaring that the gathering together is not the final judgment.

[Page 183]

Further, none can read the parable and its explanation without seeing that they describe different scenes, as is always the case in such prophetic statements, because public results before men explain what is parabolically stated when the results are not there. Thus, gathering the wheat into the garner is not shining forth as the sun, nor is gathering into bundles to be burnt the same as gathering out of the kingdom and casting them into the fire. Note here, that the uniform testimony of Scripture is that the saints will appear, or be manifested, when Christ appears for judgment. (Colossians 3; Revelation 17: 14; chapter 19.)

Hence the gathering the wheat into the garner must be before the gathering evils out of His kingdom and casting them into the furnace of fire. The making the heavenly saints to remain on earth while the judgment is being executed, is against the universal statement of all scripture. And this is what is alleged. For if the gathering the tares in bundles to be burned be the same as their final burning (an allegation indeed manifestly absurd), then their complete judgment takes place before the saints are taken into the garner; "the end of present existence" as regards the tares is before the saints are with Christ. Further, the righteous shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father is clearly not in the present age, which the harvest of judgment closes. It is the new age, while the gathering into the garner is part of the harvest or end of this age. The harvest, then, or end of the age, is certainly not one point of time. The Lord Himself states a "first" in what happens. The only question then is, Does the rapture of the saints take place before the execution? All Scripture answers, Yes. They come with Christ to judgment: they appear with Him in glory. The order of the parable and its explanation is, first, gathering the tares in bundles, then the wheat is put into the barn; and when it comes to the execution of judgment the tares are gathered out of the kingdom and burnt, and the righteous shine forth as the sun.

[Page 184]

One point of the old system is avoided. It used to be maintained that when Christ rose up from the Father's throne the present age closed. But the parable of the tares described the end of this age. Hence the judgment of the earth was before Christ came at all, and the catching up of the saints too. The absurdity of this was evident, and it is now avoided; but the elements of the error remain -- only concealed. The harvest is made one definite point of time as the end of the age. If it be not Christ's rising up, it must be the moment of His executing judgment which closes it.

Where are the heavenly saints then according to Scripture? The wicked are punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. When this judgment is executed, are the saints still unchanged on the earth or already caught up? If still unchanged on the earth, and the resurrection yet to come, then is there a negative to all these statements together: "The Lord shall come with ten thousand of his saints"; "The Lord thy God shall come and all his saints with thee"; "They that are with him are called and chosen and faithful"; "The armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean"; "When Christ, our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." But Scripture declares these things positively. That is, the saints must have already been caught up to meet Him. But if so, the whole proffered explanation of the parable of the tares is false, and hangs on the blunder of interpreting the gathering of the tares together in bundles to be burned as meaning their actual burning, accompanied by the contradictory allegation that the harvest is one definite point of time. That anyone should not see clear on such points is evidently to be borne with. We are all ignorant on many points.

On 2 Thessalonians 2 the less may be said, because it has been already entered into in a previous paper.+ But it is well to note it as an additional specimen of this writer's reasoning. He says in page 15, "Surely the terrors of the day of the Lord are for His enemies, and the enemies of His people. How then could those terrors be present, and those enemies be unchecked in their cruel persecution of the Thessalonian saints? Could these saints have had such a notion?" Now the reasoning against the fact of the day's being there is most just. The only misfortune is that it is the apostle's own reasoning with the Thessalonians, because they thought the day was there, as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2: 2, and as the writer quotes Mr. Alford, explaining it in the same page. "Its object is to make it clear to them that the day of Christ ... was not yet come."

+See "What Saints will be in the Tribulation?" page 110.

[Page 185]

As to what is insinuated on Daniel 7, and the endeavour to connect the Son of man with the kingdom after the blasphemies of the little horn, the way of putting the matter is incorrect, and, to say the least, the one-sided result of prejudice. For the account of the reception of the kingdom is not merely after the horn's blasphemies, but after the beast's judgment and destruction for those blasphemies. So that if it were just to apply the passage to the remaining of the church on earth during the whole career of Antichrist, the passage would equally prove that the church was on earth after the destruction of the beast. That is, the whole argument and application of the text is entirely groundless; for the heavenly saints come with Christ to judgment. The prophecy speaks of the earthly kingdom, first of the beasts, and then of the Son of man. The place or portion of the church is not touched on at all in the statement. It is the kingdom under the whole heaven; while the following explanation of the prophecy (as all Scripture), declares that judgment is given to the saints of the Most High. It is but an additional proof how the whole tenor and bearing of Scripture is lost by such as maintain this system. If we enter into details, we shall find that the thrones were set before the judgment begins, and indeed in order to it.

As to the argument on Luke 19: 11-27, in page 11, viz., that we are not to look for the Lord as our immediate hope now, because there was a premature expectation of the kingdom during His ministry on earth, it has really no force, nor even sense. Some then expected Messiah to appear in glory and deliver Israel. The Lord shews that, being rejected, He must go to the Father, receive a kingdom and return, and that meanwhile His own servants were to serve Him. Does this prove that His servants are not to expect Him now more than the Jews then? Strange reasoning?

[Page 186]

Passages, such as John 16: 2-4, which speak of trials and persecutions for the saints, need not be rested on. It was not the best, but one of the strongest reasons for looking for Christ continually, who was to take the saints out of trouble. The sufferings of the disciples would make them desire His coming.

If we turn to the epistles, another class of texts, to which reference is made (page 12), is that which involves responsibility in connection with Christ's appearing. In order to understand such passages as 1 Timothy 6: 14, some remarks are needed. The rapture of the church has nothing to do with responsibility; it is the fulfilment of the highest blessings of sovereign grace -- Christ's coming to take us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. Now, none but Paul ever speaks of the church save the Lord Himself prophetically (Matthew 16, 18), or the historical facts that He added to it, etc., in the Acts. It was a mystery hidden in God; it is not named in the epistles but by Paul, for we do not speak of allusions to a local church or churches. Various privileges of its members individually may be, but however strange it may appear to some, in the epistles none ever speaks of the church itself, nor names it, but Paul. Hence none speaks of the rapture but he; for this is connected with its known privileges. Where the coming of Christ is spoken of elsewhere, it is spoken of as the time of judgment; or of the display of the effect of righteousness and of glory in the saints; or as a general expectation connected with the ways and government of God -- a very distinct thing from the privileges conferred by sovereign grace. The judgment connected with Christ's coming includes the judgment of, and retribution to, the saints, because this is a part of His display of government, and not the portion of the saints given them in sovereign grace in Christ. By the deniers of what is called the "rapture," all this is mixed up together, for the counter-scheme is one of unmingled darkness.

Now, as regards the world, this manifestation for judgment is Christ's coming. The term coming, or presence, embraces all that passes in connection with His return from the moment of His entrance into the created universe, be it heaven or earth. As regards the world, His coming may be called His appearing, His manifestation, the appearing of His coming, or His revelation. It has all these titles. The saints joining Christ is never referred to anything but His coming; for when He appears, they appear with Him.

[Page 187]

Do they not wait for and love His appearing? To be sure they do. This removes evil and destroys the power of evil on the earth; in this they appear with Him in glory. The whole display of God's glory in righteousness, and its fruit, blessing and power, takes place then; and those who groan under the sense of a creation subjected to the bondage of corruption rejoice in the thought of its deliverance. The entire scene will be changed by Christ's taking the power, Satan being bound, and the rule of goodness and righteousness established. The saint cannot but delight in the thought of the setting up of the kingdom, the glory of Christ, and the blessing of man and creation. That everything should be ordered according to Christ's will is the joy of the heart. It is the time of the divine blessing in government. Oppression will cease, peace and true liberty will reign without evil, all God's promises be fulfilled, His goodness satisfied, and Christ glorified. As regards the government of this earth, it is what our hearts as we walk on it, and what we in our nature, as creatures belonging to it, must desire. We love His appearing -- the rising of that Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings. That we shall not be those subject to this government, to the rightly taught soul, enhances the joy of it, though, on the principle of wretched selfishness, which characterises the system we are combating, this may seem to enfeeble its interest for us. On any ground, we shall not be the subjects of that government, because we shall be glorified.

But which is most blessed -- the family in misery which is relieved, or he who has a share in relieving, and participates in grace in the joy of it? No properly ordered heart can doubt a moment. All love His appearing, for Christ will have His rights, and the dreary scene through which we pass will (blessed be God) brighten up under the rays of the Sun of righteousness, as a morning without clouds, as the clear shining after rain. As to our own portion, indeed, the appearing of Christ is the time of our being manifested in glory with Himself. But, doubtless, the loving His appearing looks to more than this. It is the substitution of the blessed reign of Christ for the power and dominion of Satan in a world which is God's, but now oppressed -- the taking of His just place in the universe by Christ Himself.

[Page 188]

But the being caught up to meet the Lord in the air is for our own proper and higher blessing; it is in order to be for ever with the Lord. There the apostle closes all he has to say to it. But in all that respects the government of God, the appearing or the manifestation of Jesus in this creation is the thing referred to. Hence our loving His appearing is a test whether we delight in His authority and the divine blessing, or whether we find our pleasure where Satan is prince. Hence also, when our responsibility is in question, as this relates to government and reward, the appearing is always referred to. Christ will take account with His servants as well as with the world. But the difference is in every way evident. We all go up together: there is no distinction. The life and righteousness of an apostle are the same as mine. We shall all be conformed to the image of God's Son, that He may be the firstborn among many brethren. But the Thessalonians will be Paul's crown, not ours; and every man will receive his own reward, according to his own labour. Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it.

Other objections are founded on the declaration that Peter would die (John 21: 18, 19; 2 Peter 1: 14-16); Paul's expecting his own death, and predicting evils that should arise, and especially in the last days. One thing is clear about Peter's death -- it can have no possible force now. But this remark has not all its force, if we do not perceive that it required a particular revelation that a person was to die: otherwise it was said, "we which are alive and remain," and that by the apostle confuting this thought when it was in question; but of this anon. So the word "If I will that he tarry till I come" was interpreted. It required a particular revelation to point out a particular event as intervening, and when that has intervened, the general truth flows on in all its force. That is to say, the rightness of the general expectation is largely confirmed by a person's death, before Christ's coming, requiring a revelation to have it supposed possible. It was an event, too, which might have happened at any time after the church's expectation had in fact been fully brought to light. The only word at all applicable to delay even then is "when thou art old"; it is in comparison with "when thou wast young" -- a proof he was no longer so -- sufficiently vague to leave all open. But further, the church, probably, was very little or not at all cognisant of it. When Peter was in prison (Acts 12), they thought his death might well happen then. When Peter refers to it, he does so as imminent. As to the expression "after my decease," the expectation of the Lord's coming never enfeebled the most assiduous care of the church, while waiting for Him, but just the contrary. Nor certainly can the case apply now. Again, what is more material to remark, it was never given as a sign to the church, but as a testimony to one individual. There is no proof that the church had the least knowledge of it before it was past. It certainly was not addressed to the church by the Holy Ghost before, for John's gospel was given after Peter's death -- and this is the grand point.

[Page 189]

As to the predictions of the last times, the case is even stronger; for the Holy Ghost has declared by John that they were come. That is, the expectation of Christ was constant then. The word of God gives us, in its own contents, the ground for constant expectation now, for it declares the last hour or time come before John was gone. At first, the expectation was constant; next, as time went on, and in fact faith and hope fuller, particular events were noticed as immediately imminent. Paul says, in Philippians 2: 17, that he was a victim on whom aspersion had been made already. Would this be ground for delaying hope or awakening it? Peter announces that his decease was just at hand, John that the last time was already there, and these are alleged as reasons why we should not expect Christ! None of the cases were ever given to the church in any sense as signs. Before the announcement was given to the church by John that Christ had said it to Peter, Peter was long dead and gone. No: they were no signs, and have no application at all now; and what came on to be revealed as a necessity for the church, for its seeing the evil of the last days, the Holy Ghost has taken care to tell us is arrived. How wise are the ways of God! He establishes, as a doctrine, the expectation. Particular revelations are given to individuals, and they speak of them only when they are close at hand, God knowing well that there would be this delay. When the church needs it, He warns them of evil and dangerous days, but takes care, before His instruction closes, to keep one there to tell us they were come. And this is alleged as a reason for our not waiting for the Lord! No: we must get down to another and an earthly hope before signs come in or are applicable to us. The virgins in the parable did sleep, and the saints have slept, but they went out to meet the Bridegroom at the first, and awaited nothing else: when divinely aroused at midnight, they were to go forth to meet Him, and not to await aught else but Him.

[Page 190]

The case of the Thessalonians is exceedingly strong. They so expected Christ to come in their life-time that they were uneasy if a saint died. Paul relieves them from this anxiety by telling them the dead in Christ would be raised. But does he correct their expectation as an unfounded one, saying, Signs must be fulfilled, all should die, and I know not what? Far from it. He shews the dead will have part, but strengthens their hope and associates himself with it, saying, "We which are alive and remain." Unbelief and Satan may seek to divert from this; the Holy Ghost sanctions and insists on it when the question is raised.

Such are but a few of the proofs the publication affords of the absence of spiritual intelligence inseparable from the system it maintains, as well as of the utter futility of its reasonings. Hence it was not thought worth while to answer it, save briefly. It professes to review the question, but is little more than a re-assertion of Mr. Newton's prophetic theory, as it seeks also to accredit his "Thoughts on the Apocalypse." Now every reader ought to know that it is hard to say whether the absurdities or the blasphemies of that book are the more glaring, and that its system is inevitably identified with a false doctrine of as audacious dishonour against the Lord Christ as ever was known. Here are some of the proofs from the first edition, 1843.

Page 45, speaking of the elders it is said, "their eldership and proximity to the throne of the Most High, are sufficiently plain indications of their being called into participation of His counsels."

Pages 48 et seqq. "Nothing perhaps amongst all the attributes of God is more wonderful than this universality of present control, all the merely executive agents of His government being subordinate thereto ... 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 ... but His saints do not possess it yet ... But since it is said in Scripture that we are the fulness of Him that filleth all in all ... it cannot be doubted that the church will participate in this branch of His glorious power" -- that is, have almighty and omnipresent power.

[Page 191]

Page 51. "But there is yet another character of power which the church is to exercise in the glory. 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. This is a third sphere of their glory. They are represented in it by the living creatures, or cherubim."

Thus, the church will be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Is not this open blasphemy? The last form of power, for which he refers to Ezekiel, is thus described: "Nowhere absent, but everywhere present, in the perfectness of undivided action: afford the mysterious but fitting symbol of the omnipotent agency of the power of Him, before whom all the inhabitants of the earth are reported as nothing," page 52. "And when we consider what the state of the earth will be when that period arrives ... we may see the necessity for such a power, and the high calling of the church in being entrusted with its application to the circumstances of a terrified but delivered earth," pages 53, 54.

So in page 55, still speaking of the church as the cherubim, "as such will apply to the earth and to the universe the wisdom of the elders and the throne." "And although all that we have yet seen in this chapter appears to exalt the creature almost into co-equality with God, yet we find His due supremacy most carefully maintained. The glorious power of the cherubim does not prevent their giving all glory, and honour, and thanks to Him that sat on the throne; nor does the higher exaltation of the elders prevent them from falling down before Him that sat on the throne, and worshipping," etc. But can the nauseousness of blasphemy be carried farther than when, in ascribing omnipotence and omnipresence to the church as executive power, it is declared that they apply the wisdom of the elders and the throne, setting the elders (i.e., the redeemed) before God Himself? It would be hard to find, in the wide circle of what printing has given to the world, such pages as 48-55 of Mr. Newton's "Thoughts on the Apocalypse."

For recklessness of assertion, for self-contradiction, for pseudo-criticism, we might produce a host of examples, if need were. And this is the book sought to be anew accredited by the publication under review. We enter no further into its character here: but is it not painful to see a certain class of Christians greedily receiving this mass of unscriptural fancies and follies, which, alas! have an object behind them, viz., the blotting out of Christ's various glory, and the denial of the true place of the church as His body and bride? On the side of truth such a work would not have been borne an instant. It contradicts itself, parades bad Greek, details gross absurdities and bold statements, without the smallest proof; but all this fades away before the real blasphemies which we have noticed lying on the surface. One of the phenomena of the human mind is its disposition to receive error rather than truth. It likes error. And when imagination would be detected in a book pleading for truth, it is passed by in its most unbridled form, and even like when it is employed to teach error. It is a humbling fact. One only can deliver from its power.

[Page 192]

The effort to re-accredit the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," which contains such blasphemies, and identified as it is with yet worse, cannot be too strongly and earnestly denounced. It is perhaps not wrong to add that the attempt has been made by one who has distinguished himself by another pamphlet written to prove the resurrection of brutes and dedicated to a dead cat. There is no wish to do more than allude to such a fact; but many things help us in judging how far the guidance of God's Spirit is with a man.

[Page 193]


The book is prophetic: it does not deal with the church in respect of itself, as in relationship with God, save incidentally in the preface (chapter 1: 5, 6), and conclusion. (Chapter 22: 16, 17.) It is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The address, though of grace and peace, is governmental. Thus it is from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come (not from the Father as such), and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the First-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth, i.e., not mere Messianic glory, yet connected with earth, in life, resurrection, and rule. The mention of Him draws out, by the way, the church's, or Christian's, own consciousness and feeling as to Christ. This is followed by the testimony of what He is to the world, and to the Jews, at His coming in judgment. Then we have the personal seal of the eternal glory. And so the whole book, in its relationships and results. The word of God and the testimony of Jesus applies both to prophecy and to Christianity, though not properly to the church; for Scripture looks at testimony continuously, as in Hebrews 1, 2; or separately from what went before, as in the epistle to the Ephesians.

Next, we have the vision of Christ, revealed in the midst of the churches, governing them. There are two parts in the description -- what is personal, and what is relative; the former, in verses 13-15; the latter, in verse 16. Personally, He is a Son of man, not now a servant at His work: His garment is the long flowing robe, and not tucked up. His girdle is divine righteousness as such. Verse 14 marks Him as Ancient of days. His eyes search, His eyelids try, the children of men in the power of judgment. His feet, as seen here, represent judgment, not abstractedly divine in the sanctuary, but applied down here to the ways and dealings of men -- to sin, in government, and this with a peculiar character. Ezekiel 1: 7 and Daniel 10: 6 (different in the English version) are the same; but we have here "passed through the fire." I apprehend it means here that the application of righteousness in judgment to man was according to the full absolute trial of the fire of God (i.e., judgment allowing no evil). Governmental judgment has not this character exactly. Brass is not used for immediate divine righteousness -- i.e., intrinsic divine righteousness as such, remaining immutable in itself; to be met and satisfied, no doubt, by what is suited to it, but not exercised. This last is in power and ways. But in Christ, this last had all the perfectness which that fire, which consumes all dross, has or can have. In the relative characteristics, we have maintenance, by His power, of all the subordinate administrative power of the churches; judgment, according to and by the power of the word, of what had possessed that word, and the manifestation of supreme sovereign power, as regards the whole world.

[Page 194]

Human nature fails before this, but while the First and the Last, God Himself, Jehovah, He was also the Living One -- not the power of death -- for His servants: He had gone through death and destroyed it, and was alive for evermore. Life was His, and not only so, but life after death and resurrection, after His going through that which man was subject to; and He has thus the keys of power over death and hades. Christ was to be revealed in this way, then the present existing things, and the things after them.

In Ephesus, we have the great principle of His government in, and survey of, the professing church. He has the seven stars and walks among the candlesticks. The principle of departure from first standing is taken as the general ground; the result of faithfulness is also individual -- he eats of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of the God of Jesus (read "my God" in verse 7), while the general fact of judgment is threatened -- the candlestick removed. It is in every respect the great general principles of departure and judgment, though there was still much good.

The Smyrna state is clear. Christ, who was before all, and will be after all, and in this present world, has overcome death, sustains faith in the midst of needed persecution, and promises the crown of life. It is the title by which He met the withering of fleshly life in the apostle before His glory. Note, the profession of hereditary religion accompanies persecution -- the trial was external, and the blessing here is general; they were to hold good their faith among the polluted.

Next, in Pergamos, we have the searching judgment by the word, where corruption was allowed. So the blessing is distinctive also. Next we have -- not trial by God's word, revealed truth, but -- the Lord's searching of all that is within the heart: His eyes as a flaming fire; and the governmental judgment. And this closes the public history of the church in general. And the morning star, and the coming, and Christ's kingdom, are brought in as the object of hope. Nor is there here invitation to repent. In the first there was. In the persecuted church there is encouragement. In the third there was. In this fourth the bad had space to repent, and did not. "Behold, I will cast," and "I will kill," is absolute.

[Page 195]

The church of Sardis clearly begins afresh. Christ has the seven stars. They are His; but He does not say He holds them in His right hand. And He has the seven Spirits -- a point not noticed yet, but which marks that whatever the state of the church, He has the full supply of gift -- the Spirit, in all competency to act and glorify God. But I think it looks out beyond the former church. It is irregular, but a competency above order, and a competency proper to Him personally. Hence it will be found, as each characteristic of Christ in the last three churches, to reach over into the coming scene, i.e., the characteristic itself. They are none of them mentioned in the description of the Son of man. They are new objects and grounds of faith; not the regularised characteristics for ecclesiastical dealing, or of that revealed use.

Hence, if not faithful, Sardis is not judged as the church, like Thyatira, but treated as the world. The overcomers have the general result of righteousness, not being out of the book of life, and being confessed individually before the Father, as they had confessed Christ before the world. In Philadelphia, all ecclesiastical pretension is against them. But Christ's personal sovereign title to shut and open is for them. They have to keep the word of His patience. All this is unecclesiastical. Christ waits for His enemies to be made His footstool. In this respect He continues even His life on earth. So do the saints. They walk in the midst of a corrupt closing dispensation, keeping Christ's word. Hence the word "my." Laodicea goes further. For Christ takes up the witness in the new creation, instead of the church, which He rejects. Divine righteousness must be had -- saints' righteousnesses, according to God's purity, and true discernment from God, known only through Christ. He has not ceased to love the church, and looks for zeal and repentance. The kingdom is all that is here promised. The different place of the warning in the last three has been noticed.

As to the sequel, I do not see how it can be questioned that we enter on a different sphere of prophecy in chapter 4. I do not mean merely that it is the third division, as often remarked; but that chapters 2 and 3 were the judgment of the church on earth, and this is not. The world is dealt with from the throne, not on earth either, but in heaven. When this is the case, the saints are seen there. It is not merely that the blessing is anticipated before the judgments come, through which the blessed have to pass; but the body of saints is seen enthroned, encircling the great throne of God before any history of judgment begins at all. And the sources of all are revealed in this place They are associated with the throne in its then place and character It is not Christ's throne on which they sit They are enthroned and crowned priests and kings before the government revealed in the book begins. And it is not the revelation of any place acquired or reached through them, as may be said in chapters 7 and 15. Before the Lamb has taken the book to bring about circumstances to go through, they are associated with the throne The throne itself is very clearly the throne of divine government and providence; and that set in majesty of judgment, but connected with the first creation. The rainbow is round it. It is not a throne approached with blood -- the golden throne. And the living creatures, though in the midst of the throne, can be apart from it But it is a heavenly throne. Jehovah-Elohim-Shaddai is celebrated.

[Page 196]

The elders worship Him as Creator and Sovereign. It is His throne of government (in the first creation), and they can sit on thrones, but in heaven. They are in rest as to judgment, and active in worship. Though the living creatures were in and around the throne, next it thus, the elders as to place are first mentioned as morally associated with the throne. On their own thrones they were part of the scene The creatures are only part of the character of the throne Reasons for praise are here with the elders only. The creatures' part is the unceasing celebration of what He is.

Chapter 5. We have now competent power to act on the unfolding of divine purpose. In the centre of all God's ways of power and providence was the Lamb as slain. He could open the purpose of God's right hand of power. Other saints are here with prayers yet to go up The creatures and elders fall down before the Lamb. I should leave out "us" in verse 9, and naturally read "them" instead of "us" in verse 10, as Tischendorf, etc., unless perhaps "they reign." Here, if connected with "living creatures," these give reasons for worship also, the angels do not. Then note the living creatures put their amen to this ascription of power and glory. The twenty-four elders worship; I doubt a little the worshipping, etc. (verse 8), of the living creatures; but in chapter 19: 4 they do. In chapter 5: 14 "him that liveth," etc., is to be left out. The living creatures, join with Amen. The elders worship. All may own the Lamb by falling down. It is all most due and right, but the intelligent song is morally, I think, with the elders: they sing (not "they sung"). It is in the main (besides the Lamb's glory, having perfect power and the eyes of the Lord which run through the earth) the interest of the heavenly saints in, and their connection with, the earthly ones, and the same place as to the kingdom. In what follows, to the end of chapter 11, we get the general history, and in the earlier part of it, in parenthesis, the special final history of the beast, so as to get its place in the series. Remark, we have not yet the offspring of David. Only the Lamb is Lion of the tribe of Judah; but it is redemption out of all nations which gives a title to take the book and open the seals.

[Page 197]

But I suspect there is something more as to creatures and elders. It is not till the Lamb has taken the book that the creatures get their place with the elders. Now it has been long remarked that the creatures are the symbols of providential power (attributes in exercise), and that the instruments may be angels as in this world and saints in the world to come. Now it will be remarked that, before the Lamb appears on the scene and takes the book, there are no angels who praise, and the creatures, while celebrating the character of God -- expressing it, are not associated with intelligent praise and worship. Now this is always their proper office and character; but when the saints take this office, they are also the intelligent worshippers, though remaining another aspect of them. Hence, before the Lamb is in the scene and has taken the book, they are completely distinct, and no angels are spoken of; when He has, they are connected, and the angels are distinct. Still the creatures say Amen to creature-praise, and the elders worship. In point of fact, after Christ has risen up and taken the church up, the angels expel the dragon from heaven; but in power connected with the Lamb, here held up to view, the saints must be associated. When in chapter 19 the Lord is coming out, the elders have the first place, for that is the first heavenly part and place, the governmental attributes relating to the inheritance and the earth. So they have in chapter 7: 11.

[Page 198]

A question arises out of the change of reading in chapter 5: 9, 10, whether the redeemed are a distinct set, or the redeemed in general. The saints, whose prayers are offered, are earthly -- that is clear. But I have been rather disposed to think verses 9 and 10 are general. The Lamb has wrought this work. But "to our God" is a difficulty in this view, and the prayers of others must be considered.

Then, after the general history of public judgments, after conquest, etc., we have the souls under the altar -- martyrs in general, I conceive, though this is a very important point as to the structure of the book. They are owned (for there is a break in God's ways here), but must wait for judgment; but all is broken up in order of existing powers, so that a way is made to the accomplishing prayers.

But special things, a scene of special dealings and judgment, were first to come in, yet part of the general history (i.e., not the beasts of chapter 13). But before this new scene is opened, the perfect remnant of Israel is sealed. The angel came from -- was connected with -- the dawn of the new day upon the earth. I cannot think that "before the throne and before the Lamb" is physical locality, but moral. The angels do not stand round the white-robed multitude. I apprehend they are the delivered saints on earth, who are perfectly secured and sheltered for ever -- God dwells among them; His tabernacle is over them. I do not say they are seen on earth, for I do not think so, any more than the woman in chapter 12: 1; yet her history is on earth, but in both cases in the purpose and mind of God. God views them thus, and their place is moral. They are never "around the throne,"+ which is remarkable; nor are they seated as the elders; nor do they give motives for praise as they do. Their salvation is of and from the throne before which they stand. They have known God and the Lamb only there. There is, however, I apprehend, victory. They have come out of the great tribulation. They are not those born in the peace of the millennium So that they have a place before the throne, as then set, and serve him inside, and with a knowledge not possessed by merely millennial blessing. There is no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem. It is not the Son of David, or of man, who feeds them, but the Lamb on the throne; and they are before God on the throne. They have an inner place and better knowledge than the millennium. The elders can explain for them -- are interested, so to speak, in them -- though they are not in their place. There is a connection with Christ, to the elders' minds, which themselves do not fully understand -- something as if they said "When saw we thee?" Compare chapter 14 for a somewhat analogous class, though there we are not in the general history. They have heavenly connection, though they are not in heaven.

+See Notes, Revelation 4: 3, in New Translation, New Testament, by J. N. Darby.

[Page 199]

Chapter 8. I suppose to be general judgments on the Roman Empire. In chapter 9 we begin more special dealings of God: the first woe-trumpet on the rebellious part of Israel, then an inroad of eastern cavalry-characterised nations, but in the Roman Empire. (See, for the Roman Empire being characterised by a third part, chapter 12: 3, 4.) But men do not repent. Then before the third woe a more special and peculiar subject is parenthetically introduced. From chapter 8, the ministrations, as noticed long ago, are angelic in character; previously, from chapter 5, the actings of the Lamb: I suppose the latter connected with the throne in heaven, the former with administration towards the earth, before the Lamb takes His title as King of kings and Lord of lords. As such we again find the Lamb. This, if just, is a help to the interpretation and moral placing of these two parts. Hence we have a step lower down, and John takes the book from the angel (Christ), not the Lamb from Him that sits on the throne. This is no sealed book of counsels and universal ways towards Gentiles, but the open dealings of God with Israel and the earth again, not providential, but in already revealed circumstances, God's known ways on earth. We are here, then (chapter 11), on direct Jewish ground; the inner remnant are owned, the general outer body given up to be profaned by Gentiles. It is not, I judge, locally, though speaking of Jews and Jerusalem, but morally, that the distinction is made. It is trodden under foot forty-two months.

Some have put the twelve hundred and sixty days of verse 3 after this. Now, though I admit the possibility of recurring to a previous dealing of God, it seems to me forced to attempt it here with the meaning of the Greek translated "And I will give," Revelation 11: 3. This is important in another point of view; because, in this case, there is only one half-week here, as in Matthew 24; for the city's being given up to be trodden down forty-two months, and twelve hundred and sixty days following after in which it still is, does not well hang together. It is not sufficient, I think, to say, The first period was characterised by this, without testimony, and the last half-week by testimony, not by this, because forty-two months is an exclusive measure of time. If so, as in Matthew 24, we are in general time up to the last half-week -- no commencement here, but the conclusion marked. Then I hardly think, if the forty-two months came after the twelve hundred and sixty days, the beginning of treading down by the Gentiles could be celebrated as the coming of the worldly kingdom of Christ. The witness, however, goes farther than the Jews; it maintains (as must be in them) the claims of God over the earth -- His ruling title there.

[Page 200]

We have worshippers in an earthly way, and witnesses or prophets. They are like Moses and Elias in testimony -- in the midst of a captive people and an apostate people. They act in power like them -- shutting heaven, as Elias, and turning waters into blood, as Moses -- over heaven, the waters, and the earth, but in view of the earth. But they are only witnesses (testifying what is fulfilled in Zechariah). The power of evil, the beast from the abyss, overcomes and kills them (properly it is the great street of the city). But they go to heaven and judgment strikes the city; names of men fall; the remnant own the God of heaven, not of the earth -- the new testimony.

Note, there is the completing the testimony; till then they are safe. They of the nations kept their bodies -- ready to go up. This closes the second woe. The time is thus placed; and this seems to me to conclude a second half-week, because the forty-two months must be within the second woe; and if the third woe gives the last half-week, we have three halfweeks -- two closed by the end of the second woe, and one forming the third. It can hardly be said that verse 2 is not within the closing of the second woe.

Note here, "the kingdom of our Lord." It explains the reign for ever. It is the establishment of God's government in contrast with man's misrule. So in Revelation 11: 16, we have "before" (enopion) the throne. This partly shews its moral force, for they were "round" the throne; chapter 4: 4. We have in chapter 11 the elders in their own distinctive place again as intelligent worshippers, not the living creatures. See chapter 19: 4. They only give an amen to the voices in heaven. Both are there; only elders, 15 we have remarked, first. They are noted here, too, as sitting before God on their thrones. But the setting up the governmental power of God draws them to prostrate worship, as the celebration of creative glory had done in chapter 4. The whole scene is judging the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, and destroying them that corrupt and destroy the earth. It is thus the whole scene of judgment of the kingdom -- not the destruction of the elements, but judgment of all living corrupters of every sort.

[Page 201]

We now come to the direct and complete development of the parenthetical matter of chapters 10 and 11. We get the counsels and thoughts of God, not the history of His ways and man's conduct, but His view of what He was bringing about, and the formal design of Satan to oppose it. This is connected with His covenant with Israel. The ark of His covenant was seen in His temple, which was opened in heaven. He was going to act openly on the earth in connection with the covenant with Israel, and first we have the heavenly aspect of it all before the history. That is to say, Jerusalem or Israel viewed according to God's sure counsel, clothed with supreme authority, all legal ordinances under her feet, crowned with perfect administrative subordinate authority. Of her the Man-child that was to govern all was to be born (i.e., Christ and the church in Him). Opposed to this is Satan's power in the Empire of Rome. This empire is looked at, however, not historically, but as the power of Satan. But the Child was not yet set up in power, but caught up to God's throne -- hidden there. The woman's (Israel's) place is in the wilderness, driven out in desolation, but kept of God for twelve hundred and sixty days.

Next, we begin our history from heaven downwards. The dragon is cast out thence, but into this earth -- he becomes a mere earthly power. The heavens are set free, the accuser gone, and those who suffered in connection with his and their place are there freed from all his efforts. He then begins to attack the woman (now seen historically on earth). She flees from him three and a half years into the desert, is saved from his pursuit, and he turns to persecute the godly of her seed. Here I certainly think we have still only one half-week. The woe on the earth, on the heavens being set free, is not, I judge, the coming of the worldly kingdom. Divine power was set up in heaven, to the exclusion of the accuser, and in favour of the heavenly people. But the. earthly kingdom of the dragon came; not the judgment and worldly kingdom of Christ.

[Page 202]

In chapter 13 we get the earthly agent of Satan, the Roman Empire; but not as a direct subject in its heathen character, but in its blasphemous one; still it is viewed as being the last of the four empires that came out of the sea, but with ten horns and seven heads, and embracing characteristically the other three. The slain head had been slain, and continued "as if slain," but had been healed. This is part of his character, shewing previous existence and history of a beast who now rises, to whom the dragon gives his authority. But the world would be infidel in it, and take up, independent of Christianity, the admiration of that power which would have destroyed Christ in its imperial character. Blasphemy is the new character of the beast, and he continues in this character forty-two months -- half a week, not a whole one. He blasphemes God, and in the shape of His name, dwelling-place, and the dwellers in heaven. This is characteristic. The church, as a heavenly thing, could not be endured. But it intimates that in the close, historically, the church is already caught up. He can only blaspheme them. But he makes war with the saints on earth (i.e., who are not dwellers in heaven). The dwellers on earth worship him, save the elect remnant. I apprehend this latter is more universal in character; while the saints he overcomes are active in witness, more or less, and answer to the saints of the high places (Daniel 7) whom he wears out. Though more generally expressed here, they are the understanding ones of Daniel 11; not the church, but not merely faithful, but aware of God's title and ways, as the Most High, and their testimony obnoxious to the beast. Hence they are slain and go up -- though they do not dwell there. The changing times and laws is the Jewish part, and not brought in here; but the period is the same. And the two former parts of Daniel 7: 25 are found here (read "written from the foundation of the world"). As yet, God not being come in in judgment, submission, not actual resistance, is the patient path of faith. He will bring judgment on the persecutor. The rest of the chapter and chapter 14 do not offer, I think, much difficulty. We have active satanic agency, bearing the form of Messiah's power, and ministering to the first beast's throne and blasphemous claims.

Chapter 14 is the work of God in this time -- the perfect remnant of Jewish sufferers preserved under the beast's reign; the gospel of the kingdom and coming judgment before that judgment is executed; the fall of Babylon; the warning as to the beast, and the lot of those who worshipped him; the judgment of the earth, sparing many, and of the vine -- the religious corporate character of evil connected with the apostasy of Israel and Antichrist, sparing none. It is the utter destruction of apostate religiousness in the earth -- the vine of the earth. The judgment of the beast as such is not here.

[Page 203]

I apprehend the beginning of chapter 15 is anticipative, as the judgments are made manifest. But they are what follows (verse 5), it is the naos, holy place. "Tabernacle of testimony" is the word used by the LXX for the tabernacle of the congregation. So Stephen in Acts. What follows is the inauguration of it (like Exodus 40: 34, and 1 Kings, or 2 Chronicles). But here it is the smoke of glory and power, wrath being to be executed as from it. Still God takes His place -- though not Himself -- by His presence. This and chapter 16 come in before chapter 14: 8. Chapters 12 to 14 have no date till Satan is cast down, and the last half-week. That casting down changes the whole character of the working of evil. Note, these last chapters are testimony or conflict, and the ways of God when He does not execute judgment, though ending in the Son of man's doing so. Evil has the upper hand as far as man can see. Deliverances, then, are by special or providential interventions. The ark of His covenant was then securing through the power of evil; but not judging. Chapters 15 and 16 are the judgment and wrath of God -- not yet the Lamb. And they act (not on the power of Satan as an adversary, but) on men and the world and what is worldly, as such, according to responsibility to God. You get God's doings in chapter 14 in the period; and the closing judgment by Him to whom definite judgment is committed. God's ways in His government of the world are only noticed in recital (verse 8).

In chapters 12 to 14 the people are secured; and the world, till the Son of man comes, has its way. The ark of the covenant is seen, ordered and sure, but not made to grow. The men of Belial are taken at the end. In chapters 15 and 16 there is no ark of the covenant, but the house filled with smoke, so that none can enter; but it is glory and power active in wrath. In both we have to do with relationship with Israel, and the world; only as yet from heaven, not from Jerusalem on earth. In the first, directly with the Jews -- their whole state is unfolded; in the last, the judgment on the proud of the earth, who leave no place for them, have displaced them, and in wickedness taken their place. The earth and everything in it is providentially judged.

[Page 204]

I have nothing particularly new to remark on chapter 18, only the time is drawing on close, "has drawn near," 1 Peter 4: 7. In chapter 18 I apprehend the fall is before the violent throwing down, but immediately preparatory to it, a total degradation of its state -- a final call to God's people to come out of her, to avoid her sins and imminent plagues. I apprehend there will be some strange union under secular influence connected with the false Messiah (see Revelation 13 and 2 Thessalonians 2 for extent and association too) between idolatrous Romanism and idolatrous Judaism. The Jews only, I apprehend, are His people here. The ark of the covenant has appeared, but it would have a moral application whenever Babylon was spiritually discerned, as even now are there many Antichrists. She was now in her last stage, her sins had reached unto heaven, and God had remembered her iniquities. So in Jeremiah 51: 9, where also her fall precedes her being taken. The last verse shews the religious character, answering to Jerusalem in the Lord's time. She has taken in a worse way Jerusalem's place.

In chapter 19 it is, first, heavenly (not church) worship; i.e., not of intelligence of divine ways, but celebration when divine judgments are made manifest. It follows chapter 15. Hence it is entirely God's judgments. The Lamb is not yet spoken of. The twenty-four elders and four living creatures only add their amen, worship, and hallelujah. Here it is a universal summons to praise of every one that fears God, for He reigns as Jehovah-Elohim-Shaddai. This must be connected with chapter 11: 17, and helps to a date, and Psalms 95-98. This introduces the marriage of the Lamb (His wife being already made ready). This closes thus far the divine communications. It is on the assertion of the truth of them here, and chapter 22: 6, on the reigning of the saints, that John was going to worship. Read, "The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus"; i.e., this book was the same service and had the same object as John's own, who was in Patmos for it. These were all in heaven.

Now heaven is opened, not on Jesus -- not to the spiritual man -- but for Jesus, who, with the name taken to Laodicea only there in witness), comes to judge and make war. He was characterised by the garment dipped in blood. He is the Word of God. Verse 15 is not solely or properly applicable to the destruction of the beast and false prophet (though they may come under it as first opposing the other). It is the place Christ is taking in the world to introduce His kingdom. The beast and the false prophet and their armies gather themselves together to oppose this. They are therefore first met, themselves cast into the lake of fire, and their armies become the mystical supper of the great God for the fowls of the air, slain by the judicial authority of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords. The dragon was then laid hold on and bound for a thousand years in the abyss -- then to be loosed for a little season.

[Page 205]

I have nothing new to add here, save that, if the thought of there being only one half-week be just, the slain for the testimony of Jesus are a general class, and those who do not worship the beast belong to the half-week. Indeed this makes it simpler.

In chapter 21: 1-8 there is, remark, no dispensational name. In the description of the city, which follows, we have the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. It is a dispensational state.