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SERMON CXXV.

LECTURES ON THE APOCALYPSE.

No. XIII.

REVELATION, CHAP. xiv. 1-13, INCLUSIVE.

In reading the ancient prophets, you must often have observed that the annunciations of judgments about to descend upon the guilty, and predictions full of terror, are frequently succeeded by the most bright and rapturous visions of the peace, the purity,

, and final triumphs of Messiah's kingdom. This is the case also with the apostle John: to dispel the gloom that must rest upon the minds of the pious from the view of those deep corruptions of the church that are foretold in the preceding chapters, he here teaches us that notwithstanding the fury and the subtlety of Antichrist, not one of God's sealed ones shall perish: he points us to the high joy and everlasting glory in which their sufferings shall terminate; he shows us the gospel universally diffused, and the enemies of the Redeemer consigned to eternal wo.

Such is the great design of the verses that have been read to you. Let us consider them in detail.

I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion,

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and with him a hundred, forty and four thousand, having (his name and to oro pe autou rau. This is found in the best manuscripts, and is inserted by Griesbach,) his Father's name written in their foreheads.Sion, where the ancient temple stood, where God specially dwelt and peculiarly manifested himself, is used sometimes to express the church, and sometimes to denote hea

In this last sense, it is to be understood in this place: because these happy beings were seen, and their song was heard, before the throne of God, and before the living creatures and the elders: but these are all uniformly represented in these visions as being in heaven. In this celestial Sion, John with rapture, again beheld the Lamb; the Saviour who died as our sacrifice; but who, “ though he was dead, is alive again, and ever liveth” to protect and bless his people. He is surrounded by the one hundred and forty-four thousand, on whose foreheads the name of God is impressed. You immediately perceive that there is here a reference to the seventh chapter, where one hundred and forty-four thousand were sealed as the peculiar and purchased possession of Jesus, as under his divine protection and special care; and to be secured by him amidst all the corruptions of the church, and thejudgments to be

poured out upon the world. Those who were thus 6sealed to the day of redemption,” by the conferment of the Holy Spirit of promise, (which as clearly distinguished them in the view of God, as an external mark impressed upon their foreheads would point them out to their fellow-men,) now appear with their Redeemer, safe and happy, rejoicing in his faithfulness and in the fulfilment of his promises. One hundred and forty-four thousand, a definite for an indefinite number, are said thus to be sealed; one hundred

and forty-four thousand appear in the New Jerusalem; not one of the real children of Jesus is lost; not one of the sealed ones was led to renounce him : in the darkest times, exposed to persecution or seduction, they were all upheld by their heavenly Friends and they now are with him, partaking of his glory and his joy, and expressing their attachment and dependence.

While gazing upon the splendour of these holy, happy, exalted beings, the apostle heard them burst forth into one general concert, grand and deep, solemn and majestic, awful, yet harmonious; while at intervals, were heard shouts of joy, loud as the roaring of the mighty billows of the ocean, or of peals of thunder. “I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder : and I. heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.” Such will be a great part of the occupation of the glorified: they will praise God day and night for ever : thus we behold them employed in all the celestial visions with which John was blessed. They have doubtless many occupations and sources of joy of which we know little : they dwell together in society; they contribute to each other's delight; they contemplate God, his perfections, and his works, and continually acquire new knowledge on these subjects: but though employed in these and numberless other ways, they forget not to praise the Lord with burning love, and in the most exalted strains. They see him; and the full view of divine excellence and glory, awakens all their powers, enlarges their hearts, and compels them to burst forth into praise. They have different and inconceivably deeper views of the mercy of God, of the

grace of the Redeemer ; and their praises cannot continue, as ours too often are, low, dull, and inter

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rupted. Their souls are full of love, and their praises must be ardent, vigorous, and powerful, as this principle from which they spring.

Brethren, if we hope for heaven, let us now engage in this delightful work of praising God. If we are real believers, we belong to the same society with those who are thus occupied in glory: we must here be fitted for heaven; we must have our hearts here tuned to praise, or we shall never be employed in it hereafter. Those works for which praises are chiefly sung by the church triumphant, were wrought in this world, and surely should not be forgotten while we are travelling through it. Let me add a remark of the excellent Jon. Edwards, on this verse: " It is an appointment of God that we should not only praise in our prayers, but that we should also sing his prais

This was a part of divine worship, both under the Old Testament and the New: this was the

practice of Christ and his disciples; this is the command of the apostles; and this is the employment of heaven. If then, there be any of the godly who neglect this duty, I would desire them to consider how inconsistent such a neglect is to their profession, and to their state, and to the mercies which God has bestowed: having received so much from him, can you content yourselves without singing the praises of your Heavenly Father and glorious Redeemer? And parents should be careful also that their children should be instructed, that they may be capable of performing that part of divine worship.”

You must acknowledge, my brethren, that these remarks of the venerable Edwards, are not unnecessary for ourselves.

The song which was sung by the sealed ones was now, in opposition to the song on creation and providence; in opposition to the song of the Old Testament saints, who could not speak of redemption accomplished, because of its excellence, and because the pleasure derived from it will never diminish. Alas! while in this distant world we cannot conceive its loftiness and sweetness; " none could learn that song but the one hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.As even in this world, none can properly praise God for redemption, except those who partake of it; “ as the stranger" to vital piety has no communion in their spiritual “ joy," so even real believers, while in this state of darkness and imperfection, can scarcely imagine the sublime raptures, the ecstatic hymns of the spirits of the just made perfect.”.

The peculiar character of these happy ones who dwell with Jesus, is then given us : “ They are virgins and undefiled." You well know, my brethren, that in consequence of the strictness of that covenant, into which God deigns to enter with his church, and which is represented as a conjugal relation, idolatry and apostacy are spoken of under the figure of impurity or adultery. This is true, not only with respect to the Jewish church, but in the seventeenth chapter of this book, the apostaţized and idolatrous Christian church, is termed " the mother of harlots.” These had not joined in these corruptions : they had in the midst of the general depravity, maintained the pure gospel; and to it, their doctrines and worship were conformed.

On earth “ they followed the Lamb:" while others were “wondering after the beast,” they obeyed the commands and imitated the example of the Redeemer; not abandoning him in public nor in private, in prosperity nor in adversity. And now in heaven

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