Page images

risen and glorified one, and in us crucified with H but alive; not "we live, but Christ lives in us." John, and hence the exceeding sweetness of the writi he has given to us by the Holy Ghost, presents Divine person of the Son in life (and that in grace flesh, Divine love shewing itself, and the Father), His blessed superiority to evil, and as Divine love d adapting itself to the want and sorrow around it everything the human heart could need, yet light through. We do not get man up to heaven, so to spe in John; but we get God Himself in grace, the revealing the Father down on earth. The gospel a epistle, as we have seen, reveal this life in itself or in 1 but the gospel (for the epistle gives us the life betwe the departure and return of the Lord) gives us a hint the end, of the apostle holding on a testimony to coming of Christ. He did not say he should not di but if He would that he tarried till he came. P: might build the Church, or lay its foundation as a w master-builder; Peter teach a pilgrim how to follow H that was risen, and had begotten Him again to a live hope by it—how to follow his master through the w derness, in which, after all, God still governed. The and others, warn too of coming evils. But he w was so personally near to Christ, Jewish in his relatio ships and full of them; but in whose eyes, at the sar time as taught of God, a person who was, in Himse above all relationship, save with the Father, and wl had a place in which He could be in the Father's bosor yet walk as man, in the title and manifestation of th Son, upon earth, and withal a place in his own hear through grace, which attached him to His person, and li in it,- such an one (and such an one was John, the discip whom Jesus loved) could watch, with the power of divit love, over the departing glories of the Church on earth i the energy of a life which could not fail in it, and pass o with prophetic vision to establish the rights of the sam person (out of and on the part of heaven, yet still) o earth (rights, whose establishment should bring peace of the earth, and set aside the evil, and make these right good, where the prophet had seen them despised, in Önl


It is something given to John, of course as all the Ne Testament, for the Church, but not directly to th Church in its own natural state. The Church on eart is itself looked at as the subject of prophetic addres and as in relationship with the God of Prophecy wh governs the world, not with the Father. The Son Man who is Judge walks in the midst of the churche Grace and peace is wished from Him who is and w and was coming—from the seven spirits in which th fulness of all His attributes in government is developer and from Christ as connected with the earth, thoug risen. But the time of the Church as such is left out i this greeting of grace, i.e. the character of Christ at tha time. He is faithful witness, that He was in manifesta tion on the earth. First-begotten from the dead, He i risen (that, too, on earth, not ascended)—then princ of the kings of the earth, what He is indeed, now, in titk but one in which the passage springs over, from His resu rection to His governmental title when He comes again We have no church-relationship; but all that He was, he been, and will be, as to the earth, and what gives Hir His right in the kingdom set up in right and power o the earth.

I have no doubt there were these seven churches i the state thus alluded to; and in the language used, must keep this in mind. But I cannot think tha with this number seven, the character of the addresses and details of expression, it is possible not to see that wider sphere of thought is before the apostle's propheti eye. But subjects previously spoken of by the apostle call for our attention first. We have Christ in thre positions, or characters, in the Apocalypse. Walkin robed down to His feet in the midst of the candlesticks the Lamb in the midst of the throne; and Christ comin forth on the white horse; not to speak here of the descrip tion of the city, of which He is the light-bearer.

e It is remarkable, that in John i., when we have the name and titles of Christ so wonderfully displayed, exactly those ar wanting which belong to His place in heaven, and presen relationship with the Church exclusively. He is neithei hes of the Church, nor high priest. This is significant as to John' writings.

The character of God here is Jehovah, the Ancient of izys, who was, and who is, and is the coming One. ibis is, in fact, the character in which God is revealed, 3 the One who is to be a great King over all the earth. He was Almighty for Abraham—will be Most High over all that is. But Jehovah is His personal name, in which He takes the rule as One who had counsels, purposes, and would fulfil them by His own power, and has given the revelation of it.

As is said in Ps. lxxxiii. 18," that men may know that trou, whose name is Jehovah, art the Most High over ail the earth.” So Ps. Ixxxvii. and xci., where the three Dames are brought together so beautifully and strikingly, when the power of the Almighty is promised to secure him who knew the secret of the Most High, and it is answered (by Messias) I will take the God of the Jews; "I will say of Jehovah, He is my fortress,” the Psalm then going on, speaking in the person of the godly Jew, to celebrate the rightness of the answer; Jehovah Himself closing it with His approbation : "Because He has set His love upon me, therefore will I deliver him."

It is in this name that blessing is now wished to the seven churches which are in Asia.”

Next, we have it wished from “ the seven spirits, which are before His throne." This last word may be remarked. We are in presence of a throne on which Jehovah is, and seven spirits are before it. It is not from the Father, and from the Son, in their communion, and from the Divine nature, in its own blessedness, but from Jehovah, the Supreme Governor, upon His throne. And the spirits

, as the lamps in the tabernacle, all before the throne

. The Spirit itself has its place as the perfect development of governmental power in exercise from God. The spirits are the manifestation and display of this before the throne.

The characters of Christ are also of importance here. I have already spoken of their being in connection with the earth; but there is something more.

We have all that was needed to give the rightful place of government over the earth, with which He is here in connection. He is, but much more, He was, the faithful



witness of God upon the earth. He spoke what H knew; testified what He had seen. He declared righteous ness in the great congregation, did not refrain His lips that Jehovah knew; at all cost to Himself bore witne to what God was, made good the witness of it befor

That was an immense service. He made good th perfect witness of light in the world. “While I am i the world I am the light of the world; and God is light. And that in spite of hatred and opposition because of it So that men had to say, “ This is the message which w have heard of Him, that God is light, and in Him is n darkness at all.” And what He declared He was in mani festation, He was in every sense—a faithful Witness. Wher asked what He was, He could reply, “In nature and principle what I said unto you;” την αρχήν ό, τι λαλώ υμι (John viii. 25). His words were the witness and ex pression of what He was; and this and its rejection i just the subject of that chapter, and the proof of man guilt; they loved darkness. No doubt His witness wa a witness of life in Himself, too; for the life was the ligh of man; but this remained in abeyance, so to speak, to its revelation to us, and the part we could have in till after His death, when we have the Spirit, bloo and water (which flowed out of his side when slain, the Spirit came because he went away), as witnesses tha God hath given unto us eternal life, and that this life in His Son. The life was the light, and the light men, properly of men as such; but except a corn of whea fell into the ground and died, it remained alone. Hend He was straitened till that baptism was accomplished And the witness of all this was consequent on His deati a witness about Him rather than by Him. Hence do not speak of the witness that eternal life is given to in the Son, (that springs out of death, and as to an persons who are such, His servants are, with the Spiri His witnesses), but of Christ Himself as the faithfi Witness. There is always this necessary difference; for reconciliation, in 2 Cor. v., God was in Christ recor

d In chap. X. with the sheep the Lord speaks of eternal life but He speaks also of His laying down His as for the sheep., 1 is after chaps. viii. and ix.,; that is, rejection of word and work.

« PreviousContinue »