« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven,
saying, Allelujah, saldation, and glory, and honour, and pow. er, unto the Lord our God. For true and righteous are his judgments, for he hath judged the great whore, which did cor. rupt the earth with her fornication, and hath adonged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Allelujah ; and her smoke rose up forever and coer.
THIS great whore, which corrupted the earth with her fornication, and which, in the 17th chapter, is called Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, is supposed, by interpreters, to be the Church of Rome. She had been the chief promoter of idolatry and superstition, which, in the language of scripture, are often stiled fornication and adultery. The 18th chapter describes the destructions of this idolatrous power, and the general lamentation, which, on that occasion, should be heard among the nations connected with her. But while those nations mourned, the church of God should give thanks, and heaven itself should join in the
praise. In our text the heavenly church is introduced, as uniting with the church on earth, in a hymn of adoration and thanks to the great Ruler of the world; for the happy revolution which he had made in favour of true religion—for the great salvation which he had granted to his suffering servants—and for the righteous punishment which he had inflicted on their implacable enemeis.
We will make some observations on this seraphick hymn which has now been read.
I. The number of the heavenly inhabitants is vastly great. John heard the voice of much people in heaven.
The angels, who kept their first state, are an innumerable company. The saints, who came out of great tribulation, are called a multitude, which no man can number. There are nations of them who are saved.
If in that period of Christianity, when idolatry and superstition most prevailed, and when the vio. lence of persecution obstructed the influence of religion, there were such multitudes brought to glory, How inconceivably great must be the final number of happy beings, when all who were saved before that period, all who have been saved since, and all who shall be saved in the unknown succession of future ages, shall be collected in the heavenly world?
The time marked in the text, is when Babylon the great, or the antichristian church, is totally destroyed. After this Satan is bound a thousand years, pure religion spreads without opposition, the nations walk in the light of God's church, and into it the kings of the earth bring their riches and their glory. If there are much people in heaven at the time pointed out in the vision, how amazing will be the number at the consummation of all things !
It must be pleasing to a benevolent mind to look forward, and contemplate the vast sum of human happiness, which shall ultimately result from the gospel. When we look around, and see errour and vice abounding many nations destitute of the gospel-among those who enjoy it, many liv. ing in direct opposition to it, and more treating it with utter neglect ; we feel a melancholy pity for our fellow sinners, who appear to be in great danger for want of the gospel, or in danger still great. er by their abuse of it. But our minds are much relieved in contemplating the brighter side of the scene, which exhibits to our view such numbers of the human race, who shall eventfully become partakers of the offered salvation. Delightful is the thought, that truth will finally prevail against errour, and virtue triumph over vice. God will gather out of his kingdom all things which offend, and them who do iniquity, and will cast them into a fur. nace of fire ; and then the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father, numerous as the stars, and glorious as the sun shining in his strength.
II. The people in heaven are much employed in the social exercises of devotion. John heard them calling on one another to “praise God,” and ascribe to his name “ salvation, honour, glory and power.”
The saints on earth are not entire strangers to this employment. They see much of God's glory displayed in his works. They behold bright discoveries of his purity, goodness and wisdom, in his word. They experience the power of his grace, and the riches of his mercy toward themselves. And in the contemplation, their hearts are often warmed with gratitude, and their lips are tuned to praise. But, compared with the heavenly state, this is a scene of darkness, sorrow and sin : Hence prayer, humiliation, repentance and watchfulness, make a great part of their work. In heaven it will be otherwise. Joy and gratitude will fill every soul;
and praise will sound through the vast assembly. They will have clear and distinct views of the divine glories and works. The mysteries which here perplex them, will be unfolded to their understanding. They will see justice, wisdom and goodness, in those dispensations which now are wrapt in clouds and darkness. They will be delivered from the incumbrance of the flesh, and from the diversions of sensible things. They will animate and warm each other by mutual zeal and love. In that numerous assembly there will be no interfering designs, jarring affections, and discordant voices. John heard the voice of much people, and their voice was one.
Praise God-Salvation and glory to him. How rarely do we find much people on earth joined together in the same mind, and speaking the same things? In civil society, men have their different worldly views ; in religious society, Christians have their various sentiments, for which they contend with too bitter zeal, and too unyielding obstinacy. How often do we see those who have covenanted to walk and worship together, dividing into parties, withdrawing from each other's communion, and judging one another, instead of provoking to love and good works !-Will it be so in heaven?-No; if it were so, heaven would cease to be itself. Love is there made perfect: It is the life and soul of happiness. There will be different degrees of perfection and glory; but there will be no envy on the one part, or pride and insolence on the other ; no unsocial passions, or malignant tongues. All voices will sweetly mingle in the praise of the common Creator and Redeemer ; the voices of that innumerable multitude will be as
We see then how the worship of God on earth must be performed, that it may rise with acceptance to heaven. It must be performed, as it is
in heaven, with social and benevolent affections. There can be no complete happiness without society. Even heaven, if we were to be there in a state of solitude, would lose much of its delight. In society there can be no happiness without union. The saints in glory, are described, as acting with one design, and praising God with one voice. There is no acceptable worship without a spirit of peace and love. We must be like minded one toward another, that we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God. By a temper of love we are to prepare for heaven ; and by union in divine worship we are to improve our love. This temper we must ever aim to carry with us into the worship of God; and with a view to strengthen and exalt it, all the parts of worship must be conducted. So capital in the Christian scheme is this grace, that we are directed, above all things, to put on charity—to have fervent charity among ourselves—to love one another with a pure heart fervently. It is by the love of the brethren, that we are to prove to ourselves that we have passed from death to life, and manifest to others that we are the disciples of Christ. While we worship God together in peace and love, we are preparing for the world of love. When we make the worship of God an occasion of disunion and contention, we pervert it to a contrary effect. To them who are contentious and obey not the truth, will be rendered indignation and wrath.
III. Here is pointed out to us one principal subject of the heavenly devotion.“Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments. This hymn of praise is sung to God, in conse. quence of his judging that idolatrous power, which had corrupted the
earth. The angels and saints in heaven are attentive to the state of the church on earth. They observe