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God the Holy Ghost in this Chapter finisheth the Subject of all the Prophecies; and with it, the whole Canon of Scripture. The Lord gives the Church a further Account of the Holy City. Here is spoken of, the River of Life, and the Tree of Life; and the Lord's Promise, of coming quickly. A gracious Invitation at the End, to all the People of God. A solemn Caution, not to add to, or take from, the Things written herein.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
With what a blessed fulness this Chapter opens! A river of water of life. Not a stream, not a pool, which might be subject to dry; but a river. And not only a river, but of water of life; giving life wheresoever it shall come. And what can this prefigure, but the everlasting, ever-living, and ever-flowing love of Jehovah, in his three-fold character of Persons; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? And what, a thought it is, to refresh the soul of a child of God this river hath been running in love to the Church in Christ from all eternity. Yea, there never was a moment in the eternal world, call that moment in the language of eternity by whatever name you may, in which it can be said that God began to love the Church, For this Would imply a change in God. A thing impossible. Hence, if it be asked, when God's love to the Church began; it must be said, from the same time God began to be; even from all eternity. Reader pause, and ponder well this love of God; and then look at this river so running from out of the throne of God and the Lamb!
But though running from all eternity, and to all eternity; yet you and I could trace nothing of it, until by the washing from it, in regeneration, we were quickened into spiritual life to behold its pure and living streams. It ran, hidden from all view, in the secret purposes of God, until by rising above ground in the time-state of the Church, it ran down from the first opening of creation, through redemption in Christ's blood; and the water of regeneration by the Holy Ghost, and all the streams, made glad the city of God, Ephesians 1:7 ; Titus 3:3-5 ; Psalms 46:4 .
The properties of this river are most blessed. It is said to be pure. And, as it flows from God, how shall it be otherwise than pure; and how sure to make clean all hearts wheresoever it comes. It is said to be clear as crystal. Yes! everything is clear in divine truths, when God is the Teacher. God the Father gives clear revelations of his Son, Ephesians 1:0 . God the Son maketh himself known to his people otherwise than he doth to the world, John 14:0 . And God the Spirit taketh of the things of Christ, and showeth to the people, when giving testimony in the heart of the child of God to the Father's revelation of Jesus. Reader! do not fail to observe that this river was seen by John proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. This proves the existence of Three Persons in the Godhead. For when Christ spake of the Holy Ghost, as being, given to the Church, he described him as rivers of living Water, John 7:37-39 . Here then we see it. This river proceeded from God and the Lamb. And let not the Reader overlook the blessed qualities of this river. It is a River, full, pure, clear, yea, the water of life; giving life wheresoever it comes. Blessed be God for opening to the Church's view, through John, a sight of this river. And, Reader! if a sight of it be blessed; what must an enjoyment of it be! the blessedness to drink of it, to wash in it, and to have everlasting life from it, in the united mercies of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There can be no doubt, but that Jesus himself is the Tree of Life. He is in the midst of the street, for he is the Center of everything that is blessed. He is the middle Person of the Godhead in his divine nature. And he is the Mediator between God and man in his human nature. And he is in the midst of the street in standing up to mediate in his Church between a living God and dying sinners, while his people are unregenerated, and dead in trespasses and sins. He is also on either side of the river, for he is with the spirits of just men made perfect; and He is with his redeemed, here below, which have not yet passed the river Jordan, the river of death. He is, as his type Joseph represented him, a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall, Genesis 49:22 .
But, Reader! look at Jesus as the Tree of Life. Yea, let you and I beg of God the Holy Ghost, that we may not only look at him, but that he will lead us now by faith, before the Lord calls us home in reality, to go and sit down in this paradise of God, under Jesus, the Tree of Life. Jesus is suited both for shelter and for food. Be hath everything in him, that can answer all our wants. Like some rich tree, in the midst of a desert, so is Christ, in the desert of this world, a luxuriant Tree, whose branches shelter us from the heat, or storm, and at the same time will yield us fruit, to refresh us. And he is the Tree of Life, for there is life in no other, and his people have no life but in him. He saith himself, because I live ye shall live also, John 14:19 . And as he first gives life, so he preserves it. He is an Ever-green. Yea, this scripture saith, that he beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth fruit every month; and even the very leaves have a medicinal healing quality in them. Reader! can your heart be insensible to these things? Jesus is the Tree a Life. He is so, to both Churches. Here on earth, and there in heaven; being on either side the river. He bears twelve manner of fruits, that is, all variety, he hath pardon, mercy, peace, grace, love, strength, comfort, deliverance in temptations, recoveries in back - slidings, helps in times of need, preparation for ordinances, and blessings in the use of them. And every month, yea, every day, the Lord brings them forth. And even the very leaves of providence shall have a somewhat in them to heal. Oh! thou dear Lord give me to sit down, day by day, under thee, as the Tree of Life; and ere long, sure I am, I shall sit down, to rise no more, under all thy wide-spreading branches of all fullness, in thy paradise forever!
(3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.
The first of these verses becomes a blessed confirmation, that Christ hath redeemed his Church from the curse of the law, being made a curse for her, Galatians 3:13 . Here, in this triumphant state of the Church, Christ reigning with his saints, nothing can enter to corrupt. No serpent, for the devil, who entered the first paradise of Eden, is at this time, when Christ is with his Church, in hell. No beast, nor false prophet, for they are both in the lake of brimstone and fire. Hence there can be no more curse. Oh! the blessedness of this Church of God! And, as a further confirmation, God's people are sealed. God's throne, and the throne of the Lamb, is in it. God enlightens it. They see his face. And he sees theirs, and his name is in their foreheads. And it is again repeated, God and the Lord are their light.
(6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (8) And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. (9) Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
I beg the Reader to be very particular in observing, the different speakers. Here, we have the Person, from whom John was now receiving intelligence, concerning the Church, in her happy state, declaring that what he had delivered, were faithful, and true sayings. And he saith, as plain as words can make anything, that the Lord God of the holy Prophets, that is, Christ Jesus, had sent his angel, meaning himself, to show these things unto his servant John. But you will say, how is this proved? I answer. In the opening of this book, (and the opening, from beginning to end, is like a letter, but one thing,) the very first verse, like the direction to a letter, runs thus: The Revelation of Jesus Christ - mark that! - which God gave to him to shew unto his servants (meaning the Church) things which must shortly come to pass. Now mark And he sent and signified it, by his Angel, unto his servant John. Now, if ever anything of plain, common sense, is to be found, it is here. God the Father gave to his dear Son a revelation, to come forth, and communicate. This Jesus hath done. And he sent, and signified it, by a messenger, or angel, to John. So then, this messenger, this angel, was the person, which this Lord God of the holy Prophets, Jesus Christ, sent to inform John. And John was so much struck with the account, that in the moment of the exstacy of his mind, he would have worshipped the angel. But the angel suffered him not. And he gave this reason. I am thy fellow servant; that is a fellow servant of God, and of the Lord God of the Prophets, Jesus Christ: worship him!
But perhaps it will he said by some, is there not some little difficulty in this sense, in respect to the words in the seventh verse, behold I come quickly! blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. To which I answer, No! Nay, so far from it, they are rather a confirmation. The Angel reminds John of what had passed at the opening of the interview, between Jesus and John, as related in the first Chapter (Revelation 1:1-3 ), Jesus had before said, behold I come quickly, Revelation 3:11 . Therefore, the Angel repeats those words, to remind John of what Christ had said. And also to remind him, of what John had himself said, concerning blessedness, to those who kept the sayings of the prophecy of this book. Revelation 1:3 . Hence, therefore, it is as plain as words can make it, that this Angel now conversing with John, was a fellow servant with John and not Christ and therefore, he could be no object of worship.
(10) And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. (11) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Here I conceive Christ himself becomes the speaker. And, indeed, at this verse, opens, in some measure, a new subject. We hear no more now to the end of the Chapter, of the Church of Christ in the Millennium-state. But now here is a charge given by Christ, that this book of prophecy shall be an open book, and not sealed. As if the Lord would have all the Church acquainted with it, from generation to generation.
And I pray, the Reader to observe in further confirmation, that this decision of Christ, of the filthy and unjust, and on the other hand of the righteous and holy, continuing forever unaltered, proves the Almightiness of the speaker, in this final sentence, (for who but the Lord himself could so decide?) and confirms, that this thousand years reign of Christ having began, admitted of no alteration. The subject is solemn, but it is most awfully true. The miserable in eternity, if they were relieved from their misery, cannot be altered from their nature, which is the cause of their misery, and therefore, continuing unchanged in nature, they must continue unchanged in pain, So sure, so certain, is that saying, of the Lord by Abraham, between the two worlds, between the two natures, the two seeds of Christ, and the serpent, there is a great gulph fixed, Luke 16:25-26 . There can be no passing from one to another. Neither, if there were, would this soften the evil. All the principles in nature; fire and water, heat and cold, life and death, are not more opposed than Christ and Belial; the children of the evil one; and the children of the kingdom!
(12) And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (13) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
If we needed any additional testimony in proof of the God HOOD of Christ here we have it very blessedly. In the old Testament scripture, we find the Lord, more than once informing the Church, of his coming to their comfort. Thus for example, he saith by the Prophet. Behold! the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him, behold his reward is with him, and his work before him, Isaiah 40:10 . And again, Behold! the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, say ye to the daughter of Zion, behold thy salvation cometh, behold his reward is with him, and his work before him! Isaiah 62:11 . And here we find similar language, as also more than once, in this blessed book of God. Revelation 3:11-20 . And when we add to these testimonies, that it is Christ that is to be the judge both of quick and dead, that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; what higher testimonies can we have that it is the Son of God all the way through, who, in our nature was, and is the visible Jehovah, and that He; and He only, is the Lord administrator, in all the departments of divine government, Acts 10:42 ; John 5:22 .
(14) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
The blessedness pronounced on the Lord's people and the misery: on the ungodly, are strongly marked in these verses. Doing the commandments of God, as a right to the Tree of Life, is a comprehensive way of speaking, which includes in it an union with Christ, and a communion in all that belongs to Christ. When Christ was preaching in the days of his flesh, and had just mentioned of the sealing of the Father, the Jews put the question to him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God, to which Jesus made this remarkable answer! This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent, John 6:27-29 . A belief in Christ, when that belief is inwrought by the Holy Ghost in the soul, will he followed with all the blessed effects, and fruits of obeying Christ's commandments. But, where there is no work of God the Spirit in the soul, there can be no obedience to the commandments in the heart. Hence it is said, that without are dogs and sorcerers, and persons of all uncleanness, having never been renewed.
It is a sweet testimony of an union with Christ, when we derive all grace for obedience, from Christ. Jesus imparts everything suited to his members; and for this plain reason, because He is the head of all fullness. So that when Christ gives out of his fullness, while the advantage is theirs, the glory is His. When a child of God is first quickened, is it not Christ's Spirit quickening? When a child of God is led on in the way of grace, is it not Christ's grace, made sufficient for him, and the Lord's strength made perfect in his people's weakness. And what a fullness of glory for this communication, from the fullness of his grace, will be accumulated in that day, for Jesus's everlasting crown of Mediator majesty; when Christ shall have the full ascription of glory, from the whole body of his members, and they are all come to this perfect man, Christ Jesus, according to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ! Ephesians 4:13 .
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
As we are here drawing nigh to a close, the Lord Jesus doth here again as he did at the beginning, take to himself his own sovereign power and Godhead, and saith, I Jesus have sent mine Angel. And who but God sends Angels? Oh! how sweet are these accumulated testimonies of Christ's Godhead, to the people of God. How overwhelming to Christ's enemies? But Jesus adds another. He calls himself the root and the offspring of David. A circumstance impossible, upon any principle of common sense, but as God and Man, (as Christ indeed is,) in one Person. For, as God, he is the root of David and of all things. And, as man, he is the offspring of David, after the flesh, 2 Timothy 2:8 . But suppose for a moment, his Godhead was not, how could he have been the root of David. Take away his manhood, and how could he be the seed of David. Oh! blessed testimony, as Jesus himself stated it to the Pharisees of old, Matthew 22:42 to the end, compared with Psalms 110:1 ; Romans 1:4 ; 2 Timothy 2:8 . Beautiful is the similitude the Lord makes of himself to the Morning Star. For, as the root of David, in the old testament-dispensation, and long before he arose in his incarnation as the Sun of Righteousness, he shone bright and glorious like a star of the fast magnitude, and as the sure pledge of day in the firmament of the scriptures, both by David and the other Prophets. And to this hour he continues in his morning risings, as the day dawn, and day star in the hearts of his people. So that this is a sweet figure in the morning planet of our Jesus, when in the wintry days, he ariseth as the sure harbinger of the Sun of Righteousness, which will follow.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
I do not wish to be considered as speaking decidedly upon the subject, but as it strikes me, this is God the Holy Ghost making a response to Christ, and the Church following the same, and the looker on, and him that heareth, catching the sound from the same words, as Jesus had so graciously uttered them; and echoing the invitation. When Jesus saith, Behold I come quickly, the Holy Ghost saith, Even so, COME, Lord Jesus, and the whole Church the Bride, being quickened and regenerated, are longing for his coming. And the hearer of the promise, is included in the same, he longeth for it. Yea, the thirsty, and whosoever will, whomsoever the Lord hath put a thirst for Christ in the heart, and a willingness in the soul to receive Jesus, all join in the fervent cry. The water of life is a river, open, free, full, and everlastingly running. All shall be welcome to take their fill from it, if Christ by his grace, be welcomed in their hearts to fill them.
I cannot allow myself to pass away from this most gracious verse, before that I have called upon the Reader to observe with me, a certain interesting point concerning it, which may not perhaps before have arrested his notice. But it is worthy our closest remark, that in the last public sermon the Lord Jesus ever preached, and which was at the Jewish passover, he closed all he had to say, in words similar to those with which the Holy Ghost hath closed the canon of scripture. I n the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, John 7:37 . And here we find the Holy Ghost sealing up the last of his blessed scriptures, in words to the same effect. So that here is Christ at one time, and the Holy Ghost at another, both engaged in the same thing. So earnest is Christ, when on earth, and when in heaven, as well as the Spirit, that his Church shall hear his voice, and be on the lookout for his coming.
(18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: (19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Here is a solemn testimony, and of Christ himself, the faithful And true witness, and delivered in the most decisive manner possible that the adding to, or taking from the words of the prophecy contained in this book, shall bring on the utter ruin, and everlasting misery of any and everyone so offending. And the reason is very obvious. Christ is God's witness, and his own. He hath delivered the whole truths necessary to salvation. He hath confirmed it in all ages, by Prophets and Apostles, by miracles and signs, and, above all, by his death, resurrection, and return to glory, and by the sending down the gifts of the Holy Ghost. And in the hearts of his people he hath given yet further confirmation, by the regenerating and quickening influence of God the Spirit. So that, attested by such evidences, for any man to call those words of Christ in question, to prevent or mutilate, to gainsay or resist, cannot but bring down the just judgment of God. Lord! give grace to thy people, to receive with meekness thy engrafted word, and to esteem it more than their necessary food.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
This is a most gracious repetition of Jesus's promise to his Church. It ought to be often in our thoughts. The Lord was then at the door of departure. He looks back once more. Before be takes a farewell, he sets his seal to his testimony, and, in his very last words, puts a surely to his often before repeated promise, and saith, surely I come quickly! And God the Holy Ghost by John, in the name of the Church, makes answer to his gracious promise, and saith, even so come Lord Jesus! Oh! precious Lord! is it not as if to say, though I leave off speaking publicly to the Church; I do not leave you in private. My heart, my affections are with you. I wilt come again, and take you to myself, that, where I am, there you may be also. Surely I come quickly! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
John closeth all with the sweet apostolical benediction. The grace Of OUT Lord Jesus Christ be with you all Amen. Reader! this is among the greatest of all blessings, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, including, as it doth, the Father's love, and the Spirit's fellowship. All grace can only be in Christ. And all grace only from Christ. And all the actings of our faith upon grace, from the grace given us by Christ. Oh! then, for the Lord, to give out largely, fully, daily, and momently to his people grace, that of his fullness we may all receive, and grace for grace. Once more, may the Lord both say it and confirm it, the grace Of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen.
BLESSING, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Lord! upon the bended knee of thanksgiving and praise, let all thy Church praise thee, for this among all thy other unnumbered mercies, that thou hast given to thy servant John, this precious portion of thy sacred word, to show unto thy Church things which must shortly come to pass. Blessed be the Lord for the accomplishment of such parts, as have been already fulfilled, and of others that are now fulfilling in the earth. And do thou, Lord, give thy servants grace, to wait in full exercise of faith and hope, the accomplishment of all that remains to be fulfilled. And since thou hast caused it to be left upon record for the encouragement of the faithful, saying, blessed is he that read eth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, Revelation 1:3 . Lord! I beseech thee, let these blessings be my portion, that I may both read, and hear, and keep those glorious truths, by thy grace in my heart.
Let the blessed prospect of this reign of Christ in his Church, comfort and encourage all thy people. And while here below, let the souls of thy redeemed both drink and be satisfied with the streams of that river, which make, glad the city of God. Oh! for grace, to sit down oft by faith, till the Lord shall take my soul home to sit down forever in full enjoyment, under the Tree of Life. Precious Lord Jesus! be thou my Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all my spiritual joys. Thou that art the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star; be thou my all in all, in life, in death, in time, and to all eternity. Blessed be the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for all the fulness of blessings, and Jesus, and all his fulness in blessings, both for the life of grace that now is, and for that life of glory which is to come.
And be thou thanked with all the love and affection of a brother, faithful John! for thy tenderness to the Church in Jesus, and for all thy ministry and labor of love. We regard the servant while we bless the Master. And blessed be our God and Savior, for calling thee to the ministry, highly honored Apostle of our God! When Jesus shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all that believe, how will Jesus our God and Savior shine in all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, encircled with all his Apostles and Prophets, and Martyrs, and the redeemed out of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues, who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Oh! for the poorest and unworthiest of all the Lord's redeemed ones, to be found in the throng, and to join the hymn of salvation and praise, with all the Church of God forevermore.
And now, Reader, in folding up the whole of my Poor Man's Commentary, while I lay low in the dust before God, under a conscious sense of unworthiness, and my continued short comings, I desire to set up a renewed Ebenezer to the praise of his grace, who hath hitherto helped me, and borne with me, all the way through, in the many years since first I entered upon it, to the hour of writing with my pen the last line of it. The more I contemplate the subject, the more I stand amazed at the Lord's goodness, and my undeservings.
I know not whether, after all my endeavours and earnest desires to exalt the adorable name of Jesus, I have succeeded so far, as that the Reader may perceive, that this is the sole object I have all along had in view. To speak of Him as He really is, I know, is impossible. Neither men nor angels are competent to this service. For, of Him it must be said, without any strain of language, THERE IS NO END OF HIS GREATNESS. But, I have only labored so far and in the best manner I have been able, to hold up, and hold forth, the Lord Jesus Christ as God's Christ, and as the sole perfection of all his people. Oh! that the Lord by his grace, may so seal Him in my heart!
And now, Reader, farewell! I hope the Lord hath pardoned, and will pardon all the errors of this Poor Man's Commentary, and that you will pardon them also. And having said this, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build his whole family up, and to give them an inheritance, among all them which are sanctified. Amen. To the one only God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be endless praises. Amen, and Amen.
PLYMOUTH, CHARLES VICARAGE,
April 13, 1816,
Once more made memorable in being my birth day, counting Sixty-three years of the Lord's grace, and my sins.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany