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On all these accounts the Saints in light may be justly said to have " come out of much tribulation." While they lived on earth this was their state.
In addition to the common evils of life to which all persons are liable, they had these sources of affliction and trial peculiar to themselves. Through much tribulation” they passed into their present state.
Let us now see what that state is. This is the next thing suggested to our consideration in the text.
II. The Blessedness to which, in the vision, the people of God are advanced.
They had been in tribulation : but they are in it no longer. They are now in glory. They are described as clothed in white raiment, and having palms in their hands. These things are the emblems of victory, and imply that they are now triumphing over every enemy, and made more than conquerors through Him who hath loved them. Their Blessedness is represented in the text as consisting in several particulars.
They are before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.”
Though the true Christian must pass through much tribulation on earth; yet let it not for a moment be supposed that He
has not even here a portion, and a large portion of happiness too.
If he has sorrows and trials peculiar to himself, he has joys also, with which a stranger intermeddleth not. The Service of God is to him a source of real pleasure. In a sense of the divine presence and favour, he often experiences the purest satisfaction and delight. And when at times the Lord lifts up upon him the light of his countenance, he rejoices indeed with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But after all, these are but earnests and foretastes of that happiness which awaits the Saints hereafter. The sight which they here obtain of God, the fellowship which they maintain with Him, and the pleasure which they find in His service, are nothing compared with the glorious vision of Him, the uninterrupted communion with Him, and the unutterable joy in serving Him, which they will experience in heaven. For there, as we are told in the passage before us, “ They are before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple, and He that sitteth on the Throne shall dwell among them.” All the sacred pleasures and delights which they enjoyed on earth, are now increased a thousand fold. Him, whom they here saw through a glass darkly, they now see face to face. Interposing clouds no longer exclude from their sight Him whom
their soul loveth. All is light and joy. Their sun will no more go down. Corruption no longer clogs and defiles their services. For ever freed from every taint, from every remainder of sin, they now love God with all their soul, and serve Him incessantly with all their might. They now do His will, as they once longed and prayed to do it; they do it as it was always done in heaven, with joy and fervency, without intermission or distraction. Therefore are they blessed.
2. Another particular of this Blessedness consists in their total deliverance and exemption from all these causes of anxiety and distress, to which they were exposed on earth. “ They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat."
Here perhaps they might have « hungered and thirsted;" they might often have been in need ; they might have wanted many of the comforts and conveniences, and occasionally even the necessaries of life. Like Lazarus, they might have been fed only with crumbs; nay, like him, they might also have been “ full of sores.” They might have been afflicted with pain and sick. ness. They might have suffered much and long from an infirm and disordered body. But now all their troubles are at an end.. They shall hunger no more ; they shall thirst no more. They shall never again experience
either want or suffering. In short, as we read in the text, “ God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Here they may have shed many tears. But in Heaven they shall shed no more. Here they may have gone forth weeping. But there they shall never weep any more. Nay, they shall be above measure compensated and comforted for all the tears which here they may have shed. « God will Himself wipe away all tears from their eyes.?
Like a kind and loving Father, He will console his afflicted children, and will give them double for all their sufferings. They have sown in tears, but they shall now reap in joy. Their present joy and happiness shall far exceed all their past afflictions, shall abundantly make amends for them, shall for ever efface the recollection of them. Their former tribulation, like their sin, shall not be found: it shall be remembered no more.
3. A third particular of their Blessedness. consists in that never-failing supply of every enjoyment and felicity, which a Saviour of infinite power and love shall be able to bestow on them, and to make them capable of partaking. He loved them, and guarded them, and fed them on earth. He led them into green pastures beside the still waters. He gave them such supplies of grace, and peace, and joy, as were then best suited to their state and capacities. But now He will
supply them without measure and without limit. « The Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." Here He employed his under-shepherds to tend and feed his flock. But there He will tend them in person, and He Himself will feed them. Here He furnished them with a stream of living water, which sometimes flowed in a less and sometimes in a larger quantity. But there He will lead them to the fountains themselyes: to those inexhaustible sources of bliss and joy which are at God's right hand for evermore, and of which they may drink for ever without being wearied, satiated, or cloyed. Their delights will be always new, increasing, and satisfying. Their cup will be full. Their hearts will be overflowing with love and joy; their souls unspeakably happy for ever and ever.
Such is a brief view of that Blessedness, to which the People of God are advanced, when they have come out of their much tribulation on earth.
Let us now consider,
III. The Process through which this change in their condition has been wrought.
This Process is thus described in the text. They have , washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."