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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Revelation 22

Verse 2


Revelation 22:2. 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.

THE Scripture represents divine truth to us in terms accommodated to our low and carnal apprehensions. We know nothing on earth so attractive to the eye as pompous palaces, fraught with exquisite workmanship of every kind, and especially of rare and precious stones, and enlivened with the gayest scenes which art and nature can produce. On this account St. John adopts these images to convey to our minds an idea of all that is great and glorious in heaven; having described which as a city unparalleled for beauty, he proceeds to tell us of a river, clear as crystal, that waters it; and of a tree of most wonderful qualities that adorns it.
It is our intention to shew,


What we are to understand by the tree of life—

It should seem that the tree mentioned in the text alludes to the tree of life which was created by God in Paradise—
[Some have thought that St. John alludes to the trees which are mentioned in Ezekiel’s vision [Note: Ezekiel 47:12. Dr. Kennicott’s Dissertation on this subject is extremely ingenious; but one of his strongest objections to the Author’s view of it seems wholly obviated by the explanation of Genesis 3:22-24, given in this Discourse. The Author does not judge it necessary to assign all his reasons for differing from such great authority, though he did not think it expedient wholly to omit them.]: and it must be confessed that there is a striking coincidence of expression in the two passages: but the river of which Ezekiel speaks, and the trees growing on either side of it, represent the Gospel, producing life and fruitfulness wherever it flows: whereas the tree, mentioned in the text, is expressly called “the tree of life;” and is spoken of as growing in the midst of Paradise. Now this is the exact description given us of the tree of life which was formed in Eden [Note: Genesis 2:9.]: to that therefore we rather suppose the reference to be made; and this idea is confirmed by various other passages, which we shall have occasion to notice.]

In this view Christ himself is intended under this figurative representation—
[The tree of life in Paradise may be considered as typical of Christ. It was a pledge to Adam, that, if he continued obedient to the end of the time appointed for his probation, he should live for ever. And the reason of his being driven afterwards from that tree by cherubims with fiery swords, was, that he might be compelled to seek those other means of acceptance which God had ordained, and which were shadowed forth by the tree of life [Note: Genesis 3:22-24.]. As God in later ages destroyed Jerusalem, that his people might not be able to offer their former sacrifices, and might thereby be shut up, as it were, to that great Sacrifice which the others typified; so God dealt with our first parents in the instance alluded to. Christ is to fallen man, what the tree of life was to man in innocence; he is, under the covenant of grace, what that was under the covenant of works; that ensured life to obedience, and Christ secures it to faith in his name. He is God’s pledge to us, that, if we believe on him, we shall be saved [Note: John 11:24-25.]: yea, even to those that are in heaven he must be considered as the pledge of their everlasting stability, since it is of his fruit that they eat [Note: Revelation 2:7.], and their life is altogether bound up in him [Note: Colossians 3:4.Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:10.].]

That all may be persuaded to pluck the fruits of this tree, we proceed to shew,


Its transcendent excellence—

It is not in beauty only that this tree excels, but in usefulness. It surpasses all others,


In its fruits—

[So abundant are its fruits, that all in heaven, and all on earth, may eat of them; yea, if there were as many worlds as there have been, or ever shall be, individuals in the world, there would be sufficient for them all. But its fruits are also various: other trees, however fruitful, bear but one kind of fruit; but this bears “twelve manner of fruits:” whatever is suited to our different appetites, is to be derived from him: pardon, peace, love, joy, holiness, and whatever else a devout soul longeth after, it is all to be found in him, and to be enjoyed through him. Besides, it has this surprising quality, that its fruitfulness is continual: “In every month” we may behold him laden with fruit, as well in the depths of winter, as in the midst of summer; in seasons of the deepest adversity, as well as under the sunshine of prosperity: there never is a moment wherein we shall meet with such a disappointment as Christ experienced [Note: Matthew 21:19.]: we may at all times go and “sit under his shadow, and find his fruit sweet unto our taste.”]


In its leaves—

[The leaves of other fruit-trees are, for the most part, worthless: but those of this tree are medicinal, and of most astonishing virtue; they are designed on purpose “for the healing of the nations.” There is no wound, however deadly, but the application of a leaf from this tree will heal it instantly. As a sight of the brazen serpent cured the wounded Israelites, and a touch of our Lord’s garment the diseased woman [Note: Num 21:8-9 and Matthew 9:20-22.], so will the efficacy of these leaves be made apparent, whensoever they are applied. Nor is it one single wound that they will cure, but the whole soul, however infected in every part: as the tree, cast into the waters of Marah, healed the fountain itself, and rendered all its streams salubrious [Note: Exodus 15:25.], so will a single leaf of this tree restore the most diseased soul to purity and peace. To every believer God will surely make known himself by that name which he has assumed for our encouragement, “I am the Lord that healeth thee [Note: Exodus 15:26.].”]

From hence we may learn,

What use we should make of Christ now—

[We cannot but feel, if we be not altogether “past feeling,” that we stand in need of a Saviour. And behold, what a glorious salvation God has raised up for us! Should we not then apply to this Saviour? Has the Sun of Righteousness arisen with healing in his beams [Note: Malachi 4:2.], and shall we not go forth to his light? Is there balm in Gilead, is an almighty Physician there [Note: Jeremiah 8:22.], and shall we not seek the healing of our wounds? Shall the tree of life be accessible to us at all times, yea, shall the flaming sword be driving us to it instead of from it, and we not go to apply its leaves and eat of its fruit? Let us, whether dying of the wounds of sin, or agonizing through the fiery darts of temptation, go to Christ without delay; for surely virtue shall come forth from him, and heal us all [Note: Luke 6:19.]. If he submitted to suffer for us that he might “heal us by his stripes [Note: Isaiah 53:5.],” and reconcile us to God by his death, “much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life [Note: Romans 5:10.].” We may consider him as God’s pledge to us, that, where he is, there shall also his servants be; and that, because he liveth, we shall live also [Note: John 14:19.].]


What enjoyment we shall have of Christ hereafter—

[The words immediately following the text further confirm the sense given to the text itself. Sin entered into Paradise, and a tremendous curse followed it: but into heaven no sin, and therefore “no curse shall ever come:” nothing shall invade the peace, nothing disturb the security, of those who inhabit that glorious city: while the tree of life continues there, all that eat of its fruits are kept from a possibility of falling. O blessed state! All feasting upon the glories of Jesus; and eternity the duration of their bliss! May we all arrive at that Paradise of God, and unite with all the choir of heaven in singing, “Salvation to God and to the Lamb for ever and ever.”]

Verse 14


Revelation 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.

IN the inspired volume we do not find such a rigid adherence to systematic accuracy as the jealousies of controversial writers have subsequently introduced. The expressions which were used under the legal dispensation have been sometimes adopted also under the Christian dispensation; and the law of faith been delivered in terms nearly assimilated to those which were characteristic of the law of works. For instance, on one occasion, when a young man asked of our blessed Lord, “what he must do to obtain eternal life;” our blessed Lord answered, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments [Note: Matthew 19:16-17.].” Now, if this direction be taken without due explanation, it will altogether invalidate the Gospel of Christ, and supersede entirely the whole work which our blessed Saviour came from heaven to accomplish for us. The answer was given in order to convince this self-deluded man, that he neither had kept the Commandments, nor could keep them, perfectly; and that, consequently, he must seek for salvation in the way provided for him in the Gospel. In like manner, the passage which I have just read to you must also be explained according to the analogy of faith. If we were to interpret it as importing, that our obedience to the Ten Commandments would entitle us to heaven, we must set aside all that the holy Apostles have written, and go back to Moses as our only instructor; or rather, I must say, we must consign over to perdition every child of man; since God has declared, that “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified [Note: Romans 3:19-20.].” To prevent any such fatal mistake, I will unfold to you,


The true nature of evangelical obedience—

When the commandments are mentioned, we are apt to confine our attention to the Decalogue, i. e. to the Ten Commandments which were written by God upon tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai. But to us, under the Gospel, is another commandment given, and which is called in Scripture “The law of faith [Note: Romans 3:27.].” To “do God’s commandments” then, we must,


Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—

[The same inspired writer, who speaks to us in the text, says, “This is God’s commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ [Note: 1 John 3:23.].” In truth, till we have obeyed this command, all other obedience, except so far as the mere letter of the commandments, is impracticable; and, if rendered ever so perfectly, would be utterly ineffectual for our salvation. All spiritual obedience is the fruit of faith. We have no strength for it, till we have believed in Christ. It is only by grace received from Christ that we can perform any thing that is truly acceptable to God. A tree destitute of roots might as well produce its proper fruits, and in a perfect state, as we obey the law without the communication of grace from Christ to our souls. He himself has said, “Without me ye can do nothing [Note: John 15:5.].”

But, supposing we could of ourselves obey the law, even in its utmost extent, which not the most perfect man that ever lived could do, seeing that “in many things we all offend [Note: James 3:2.],”) still we never could atone to God for the sins we have already committed: “after having done all that was required of us, we should still be only unprofitable servants [Note: Luke 17:10.].” And therefore we must come to God through Christ, relying wholly on the merits of his death, and pleading only his perfect righteousness as the ground of our acceptance before God [Note: Philippians 3:9.]. Till we have obeyed this command, we are under a sentence of condemnation; which can never be reversed, but through faith in Christ [Note: John 3:18; John 3:36.].]


Comply with the whole of His revealed will—

[The law of the Ten Commandments is not made void by the Gospel, nor is one of its requirements lessened in any degree. We are as much bound to love God with all our heart and soul, and to love our neighbour as ourselves, as Adam was in Paradise: nor if we have truly believed in Christ, shall we wish any one of its demands to be lowered. We shall see that law to be “holy, and just, and good” in every respect; and we shall pant after, and labour for, a perfect conformity to its every requirement. We shall not be satisfied with a literal observance of its precepts: we shall aspire after the highest possible attainments; and strive, according to our ability, to be “holy as God is holy, and perfect even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect” — — — At the same time, our dependence will not be on our own obedience, but on the finished work of Christ; from a full conviction that there is “no other foundation on which any man can build [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:11.],” “nor any other name but His whereby any man can be saved [Note: Acts 4:12.].”]

Having shewn what evangelical obedience is, let me point out to you,


The blessedness attached to it—

To understand this aright, we should look to Adam in Paradise—
[He, whilst he continued in a state of innocence, had liberty to eat of the tree of life, which was to him a sacramental pledge, that, when his obedience should be completed, he should enter into the Paradise above. But when he had sinned, he was debarred from all access to the tree of life; because it could no longer be available for the benefits which, during his state of innocence, it assured to him. He might have ignorantly had recourse to it still as the means of life, if he had continued in Paradise: and therefore God drove him out from thence, and placed cherubims with a fiery sword at the gate of Eden, to prevent him from making any such rash attempt; that so he might be shut up to the salvation which was now revealed to him through the promised Seed [Note: Genesis 3:22-24.].

Now the privilege which he forfeited is, through Christ, renewed to us: or rather, I should say, the privilege which he enjoyed in the shadow, is now imparted to us in the substance. He possessed his by obeying the commandments written on his heart; and we enjoy ours by obeying the commandments revealed to us in the Gospel. He possessed not his by any claim of merit, but by the free and sovereign gift of God: nor do we obtain ours but in a way of sovereign grace. Yet, as in his case, so in ours, the work and the reward are inseparable: and the very “right” conceded to him by works, is vouchsafed to us by faith. The very word which we here translate “right,” is, in another part of the same author’s works, translated “power:” “To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [Note: ἐξουσία.].” There is between this passage and our text a perfect identity of import. In both cases, access to Christ, as the tree of life, was given by faith; and that access to Christ, and consequent participation of his benefits, was a pledge of eternal life.

True, in order to a full enjoyment of the final reward, there must be, as in Adam’s case, an obedience also to the moral law. But, in both cases, the reward is ultimately and equally of grace. What would have been vouchsafed to him without a Mediator, if he had continued obedient to God’s commands, will be vouchsafed to us through a Mediator, notwithstanding our past disobedience; provided we comply with the requisitions of the Gospel, by a life of faith, and by a life of holiness.]
In both cases, obedience is equally a condition of eternal life—

[Persons are apt to take offence at the word condition. But the word is proper or improper, according to the sense we annex to it. Strictly speaking, obedience would not have given to Adam in Paradise any claim to heaven, any further than heaven had been promised to him as a reward, in the event of his continuing faultless throughout the whole period appointed for his probation. But to a person seeking salvation by the law, it would actually give ground for boasting, because he would demand salvation as a debt. But under the Gospel, however obedient we be, our hope of salvation is founded on Christ alone; and to all eternity must the glory of it be given to him alone. Hence, when we speak of obedience as a condition of eternal life, we mean no more, than that without it no salvation can be attained; obedience being the necessary fruit of faith, and the only possible evidence of our meetness for heaven. In this, its true and only proper sense, we most cordially adopt the language of our text, and say, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to eat of the tree of life, and enter in through the gates of the city.” Whatever was accorded to Adam in Paradise, during his obedience to the law, shall be vouchsafed to us, if we be obedient to the Gospel. Was he strengthened and comforted by the tree of life? so shall we be, by a life of faith on Christ Jesus, who is the tree of life which beareth twelve manner of fruits—the summer-fruits of prosperity, and the winter-fruits of adversity, according as the necessities of his people shall require. And, as the heavenly Paradise would have been his; so will that city, described in the foregoing chapter, be ours, with the freest participation of all its riches and of all its honours.]

Application—To all then I say,

Perform your duties—

[Come to Christ, every one of you, as sinners, that you may be saved from wrath through him——And endeavour to live altogether to His glory, shewing forth, in all things, your faith by your works — — —]


Enjoy your privileges—

[Go to the tree of life; take of it freely; and eat of it every hour of your lives. You are told, that “the very leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations.” What then shall its fruits be? Verily, a life of faith in the Son of God, as having loved you and given himself for you, shall richly supply your every want; and be not a pledge only, but a foretaste also, of heaven itself. And go now, and survey the heavenly city, its foundations, its walls, its gates of pearls, its very pavement of the purest gold: it is all yours; yours by “right,” by title, by the strongest of all possible claims—the promise and the oath of God. Live in expectation of it now, and you shall soon enjoy it for evermore.]

Verse 16


Revelation 22:16. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

THE Revelation which had been made to John, contained predictions of an uninterrupted series of events from that time even to the end of the world. They had indeed been made to him through the instrumentality of an angel: but they were nevertheless as certain, as if they had been delivered immediately by God himself; seeing that the angel had received his commission and instructions directly from Jesus, who is “the Lord of the holy prophets [Note: Compare ver. 6. with the text.].” It seems to have been with a view to assure John, together with the saints in all succeeding ages, of the truth and certainty of all that had been spoken, that Jesus gave this description of his own character: in which we may see,


His personal character—

That Jesus was “the offspring of David,” is obvious enough—
[He was to be so according to the Scriptures [Note: Isaiah 11:1.]: and that he was so, both by his father’s and his mother’s side, the genealogies that are given of him expressly affirm [Note: Matthew 1:0 and Luke 3:0.]. Indeed Divine Providence so ordered it, that, in consequence of a taxation decreed throughout the Roman Empire in the time of Cζsar Augustus, his reputed father was under the necessity of going up to Bethlehem, to be taxed there: by which means there was a public enrolment of the name of Jesus, (who was born there at that time,) as belonging to the house and lineage of David [Note: Luke 2:1-6.].”]

But He was no less “the Root” also of David—
[How this could be, was but little understood, till after the day of Pentecost. Jesus did indeed often speak of himself as God; but still his Disciples did not clearly apprehend his meaning. Yet that the Messiah, who was to be “a Child born and a Son given,” was also to be “the Mighty God,” even “God with us,” was fully and distinctly revealed in the prophetic writings [Note: Isa 9:6 and Isaiah 7:14. with Matthew 1:23.]. But the most learned of the Jewish Rabbins, when a remarkable prophecy to this effect was adduced from the Psalms by our blessed Lord, were unable to solve the difficulty proposed to them: they could not explain how David’s Son could possibly be David’s Lord [Note: Psalms 110:1. with Matthew 22:41-46.]. Nor can our modern Socinians ever return a satisfactory answer to our Lord’s question; which can only be answered by acknowledging, that Jesus is God as well as man; the Creator of all things in his Divine nature, though himself a creature according to his human nature. It is in this sense that he was “the Root,” at the same time that he was also “the Offspring,” of David: and to this agree the most decided testimonies of Holy Writ [Note: John 1:1; John 1:14.Romans 1:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Romans 9:5.] — — —]

Our Lord proceeds to mention,


His official character—

The voice of prophecy announced him as “a Star that should come out of Jacob [Note: Numbers 24:17.].” But in our text he designates himself as “the Morning star.” Now it is the office of the morning star, not merely to give light, as others do, but to usher in the day: and in this particular view the title assumed by our Lord should be exclusively considered. We observe then, that,


By his first rising in the world he introduced the Gospel day—

[Previous to his appearing, there were some faint glimmerings of light, by means of the types and shadows of the Mosaic law: but as soon as he entered on his ministry, he diffused a light around him; dispelling the mists by which the Pharisees had obscured the law, and exhibiting in his own person a perfect pattern of that obedience which the law required. By his death he accomplished the prophecies, and shewed more clearly what were the designs of God respecting the redemption of the world: and by his resurrection and ascension, and sending down the Holy Ghost to testify of him, he gave to the benighted world the light of perfect day. Then he appeared as “the Day-spring from on high [Note: Luke 1:78.],” even as “the Sun of Righteousness, that had arisen with healing in his wings [Note: Malachi 4:2.]”]


By his rising in the heart he now introduces the day of salvation into the soul—

[That there is to be a manifestation of Christ to the hearts of men, different from any thing that is vouchsafed to the unregenerate soul, is certain [Note: John 14:21-23.]: and St. Peter speaks of it expressly as “the day-star arising in our hearts [Note: 2 Peter 1:19.].” What kind of a manifestation this is, may be conceived from the history of Zaccheus, to whose soul it was made, and who experienced the instantaneous benefits arising from it [Note: Luke 19:5-6; Luke 19:9.] — — — This change was by no means peculiar to him; it is wrought in all who truly embrace the Gospel [Note: Acts 26:18.], though, in respect of suddenness, it may greatly vary. The distinguishing effect of this manifestation is, that the glorious character of Christ, which was before hidden from our eyes, is now distinctly seen [Note: John 1:4-5; John 1:9; Joh 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 4:6.]; and he is embraced, as the most valued treasure of the soul [Note: Philippians 3:7-8.], the ground of ineffable and eternal joy [Note: 1 Peter 1:8.].]


By his present light he gives us an assured prospect of yet a brighter day even in this world—

[It is certain that there is a day approaching, when the light now vouchsafed to the Church shall be greatly increased; when “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of many days [Note: Isaiah 30:26.].” This will surely take place in the Millennium, when “the Lord will bind up the breach of his ancient people the Jews, and heal the stroke of their wound.” Then the whole Gentile world also shall be made to behold his glory: and “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as completely and as deeply as the waters cover the sea.” This idea seems to be peculiarly referred to, inasmuch as the morning-star is the sure forerunner of a brighter state under the influfluence of the rising sun. In this view, all that has hitherto been done for the Church shall be only as the drop before the shower, seeing that the whole world shall form, as it were, but one great temple, which “God himself will fill with his glory, and the Lamb shall be the light thereof [Note: Revelation 21:23.].”]


By his appearing at the end of the world, he will introduce eternal day—

[He tells us that at that period he will “give to his obedient people the Morning star [Note: Revelation 2:28.].” Yes, he will come again in his glory, and in all the brightness and majesty of the Godhead: and then will all remaining darkness be for ever banished. Now we “know but in part,” and “see but as in a glass darkly: but then shall we see face to face.” Then all the mysterious designs of God from the beginning will be brought forth to light, together with the reasons of all his dispensations: then will all the perfections of God shine forth with united splendour, not only in the work of redemption as wrought out by Christ, but in the salvation of every individual amongst his people. And how will the wisdom of a life of godliness then appear! — — — Then indeed will be consummated the happiness of man; and God be glorified in all.]


To those who have never yet beheld the glory of Christ—

[As in the days of his flesh, so in this day, it is not every one to whom the light comes, that duly apprehends it [Note: John 1:5; John 1:10-11.]. Satan is yet successful in blinding the eyes of many [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4.]. If you have never yet seen Jesus as “fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely,” this is your unhappy state. O pray then that God would open your eyes, and “call you out of darkness into his marvellous light!” Till then you can have no real fellowship with God, nor any hope of acceptance through the blood of Jesus [Note: 1 John 1:6-7.].]


To those who profess to know and love him—

[Happy is it for you if your profession be justified by your actual experience. But you must remember, that there are many who “say, they are in the light, and yet are in darkness even until now;” yea, they “walk in darkness, and know not whither they go, because that darkness hath blinded their eyes.” Would you know, who are in that state: I answer, All they who, in the midst of a profession of religion, are indulging any of those tempers that are contrary to love and charity [Note: 1 John 2:9-11.]. Hear ye this, O ye censorious and uncharitable, ye proud and envious, ye fretful and passionate professors! Talk not of the light ye have in your heads, whilst there is such darkness in your hearts. You must be able to say of your tempers, as well as of your principles, “The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth [Note: 1 John 2:8.].” If you cannot appeal both to God and man for the truth of this, deceive not your own souls: for if you are children of light indeed, you must walk in the light, “even as Christ himself walked [Note: 1Th 5:5-8. 1 John 2:8.].” But, let such a change be wrought in your whole spirit and conduct, and Christ will surely “give you the morning star,” even the full enjoyment of his presence and glory in the eternal world.]

Verse 17


Revelation 22:17. 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.

RICH beyond expression are the blessings held forth to us in the word of life: and as free as light are the invitations given us to partake of them. Not only in the epistles to the seven Churches, and in the other parts of this prophetic book, but throughout the whole Scriptures, is every possible encouragement afforded to the sinners of mankind, to repent of sin, and to “lay hold upon the hope that is set before them” in the Gospel. And here, in the close of the inspired volume, are invitations to us reiterated from every quarter, that we may be prevailed upon to accept of mercy, ere the door of mercy be for ever closed.
Let us consider,


The blessings to which we are invited—

They are here designated by “the water of life.” We will notice them,



[The source from whence this water flows, is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. In the very chapter before us, “the pure river of the water of life” is said to “proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb [Note: ver. 1.].” As in the wilderness, the water gushing from the rock that had been smitten supplied the necessities of all Israel; so the Lord Jesus Christ, when smitten with the rod of the law, poured forth the waters of salvation for the benefit of the whole world [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:4.]. He is “the fountain of living waters [Note: Jeremiah 2:13.];” and whosoever cometh to him, may drink and live for ever. In the chapter before our text, the Lord Jesus Christ declared this to the Apostle John: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely [Note: Revelation 21:6.].” In the days of his flesh, he spoke repeatedly to this effect. To the Samaritan woman, of whom he had asked a draught of water, he said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water [Note: John 4:10.].” On another occasion, when the people had, according to custom, drawn water from the pool of Siloam, he stood in the place of public concourse, and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink: and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” This latter expression is then explained by the Evangelist, who adds, “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive [Note: John 7:37-39.].” Now here we have, in a general view, the import of the expression in my text. The Holy Spirit is that water of life which Christ is empowered to bestow: and wherever that blessed Spirit is imparted, there is within the person’s own bosom a principle of life, seeking for vent in all suitable expressions of duty to God; or, as our Lord elsewhere expresses it, “there is within him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life [Note: John 4:14.];” to which the Holy Spirit, in all his tendencies and operations, leads us to aspire.]


More particularly—

[Three blessings in particular I will specify, as granted by our Lord Jesus Christ unto all who come unto him; namely, pardon, and holiness, and glory.

The Lord Jesus will in the first place bestow the pardon of our sins. He is said by the prophet to be “the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 13:1.]:” and all who come to wash in that fountain are cleansed from all their sins. In it even “sins of a crimson dye” are made “white as snow [Note: Isaiah 1:18.]:” as it is said, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin [Note: 1 John 1:7.].”

For the purposes of sanctification also shall this gift be bestowed: for, by the Prophet Ezekiel, he says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and to keep my judgments to do them [Note: Ezekiel 36:25-27.].”

Eternal glory also will he confer upon them: for, when they have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” he will “lead them unto living fountains of waters [Note: Revelation 7:14; Revelation 7:17.],” and will cause them to “drink of the rivers of pleasure” which are “at God’s right hand for evermore [Note: Psalms 36:8; Psalms 16:11.].”]

Let us now turn our attention to,


The invitation itself—

Here we cannot but notice the very peculiar urgency and freeness of it—


The urgency, to overcome reluctance—

[“The Spirit says, Come.” The Holy Spirit of God has undertaken the office of revealing Christ to men, and of bringing sinners to Christ for the remission of their sins [Note: John 16:8; John 16:14.]. He descended visibly on the day of Pentecost for these ends; and by the ministry of the Apostles, as also by his operation on the souls of men, wrought powerfully upon multitudes, whom he “made willing in the day of his power,” and effectually subdued to the obedience of faith. Thus at this time also is he carrying on the work that has been assigned him in the economy of redemption. In the written word, he speaks to us: by the ministry of his servants, he pleads with us: by the convictions which he fastens on our mind and conscience, he strives with us individually; if by any means he may constrain us to accept the blessings offered to us in the Gospel. His voice to us every day and hour is, “Come,” come to Christ as the Saviour of your soul.

“The Bride also says, Come.” The Bride is the Church, “the Lamb’s wife,” who has experienced in her own person all the blessedness of that salvation which she is so desirous of imparting to all around her. The Church of old addressed her Lord, saying, “Draw me, and we will run after thee [Note: Song of Solomon 1:4.]:” that is, ‘Draw me, and I will not come alone: I will surely labour to the utmost of my power to make known to others the wonders of thy love, that they also may be partakers of my felicity, and unite with me in honouring and adoring thee.’ Thus the Church does in every age. She is “the pillar and ground of the truth [Note: 1 Timothy 3:15.],” supporting it firmly in the world, and exhibiting, as by public inscriptions that are visible to all, the glory and excellency of the Gospel salvation. She then unites with the Spirit of God in saying to all around her, “Come:” Come to Jesus and see what a Saviour he is. See in me what he both can and will do for you also; however far off you may now be, you may draw nigh to him with a full assurance of acceptance with him; and though now “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, you may become fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God [Note: Ephesians 2:19.].”

“Let him also that heareth, say, Come.” Those to whom the foregoing invitations are announced, should unite their efforts to make them known, and to induce every creature under heaven to accept them. Think not, brethren, that you have performed your duty when you have heard these invitations from the lips of your minister; no, nor when you have yourselves complied with his advice. You are all to be preachers in your own circles; all to repeat to your friends and relatives, your families and dependents, the glad tidings which you hear of a free and full salvation; and, with one heart and one voice, should join in saying to all around you, “Come, come, come.” This was the conduct of Andrew and of Philip, when they had found the Saviour [Note: John 1:40-41; John 1:43; John 1:45.]; and this must be the conduct of us all, in our respective spheres.]


The freeness, to counteract despondency—

[We are all invited to “take of the water of life freely.” If we are “athirst,” we are the very persons whose names, if I may so speak, are especially written on the cards of invitation. Indeed, if our names had been expressly recorded in this passage, we should not have had a thousandth part of the assurance of God’s willingness to accept us that we now have; for there might be other persons of our name: but no mourning penitent in the universe can err in tracing his name in the designation that is here given.
It may be, however, that some may say, ‘I am not sufficiently athirst to be able to appropriate to myself this character. I should be glad indeed to obtain mercy of the Lord; but I do not pant after it as the hart after the water-brooks, and therefore I have not in myself the qualification that is here required.’ To counteract such desponding fears, the Saviour says, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” If you have not all the thirst that you can wish, have you the inclination? have you the desire? Then you are the person invited: and you must not dream of staying till you can bring certain qualifications along with you, but come and take these blessings “freely, without money and without price [Note: Isaiah 55:1.].”]

To impress this subject the more deeply on your minds, let me address a few words,

To the reluctant—

[Many are the excuses which you urge for your declining the invitation sent you in the Gospel: and to you they appear perhaps sufficient to justify your refusal. But your Lord and Saviour will not be deceived: he sees the radical indisposition of your mind to the blessings which he offers you; and will say of you, as he did in reference to those of old, “They shall never taste of my supper [Note: Luke 14:16-24.].” You may be offering a variety of pleas: but he will put the true construction on them all, “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life [Note: John 5:40.].” O think, how bitterly you will regret your present conduct, when you shall see unnumbered myriads, who were once as far off from him as you now are, sitting down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and you yourselves be cast out into outer darkness! What weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth will you then experience to all eternity [Note: Matthew 8:11-12.]! How will those words sound in your ears at the last day, “Often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not [Note: Matthew 23:37.]!” Do but reflect on this one moment,—“I would; and ye would not.” Verily, that reflection will constitute the very summit of your misery in hell. I pray you, hold not out any longer against the urgent invitations which are now sent you; but come unto the Saviour, and accept the rest which he has promised to all that are weary and heavy-laden.]


To the desponding—

[What can the Saviour add to convince you of his willingness to accept and bless you? Perhaps you will say, ‘I have tried to come to him, and I cannot: and I have tried so long, that I think it in vain to entertain a hope of final success.’ Is this the case? Then hear what the Saviour says to you by the Prophet Isaiah: When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them: I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water [Note: Isaiah 41:17-18.]. Now I cannot conceive a case more desperate than that which is here depicted: The person is in himself “poor and needy.” (There you will easily recognize your own character. He has “sought for water,” even for the waters of salvation. (That represents what you also profess to have done.) He has “found none.” (There is your unhappy lot painted with the utmost precision.) “His tongue faileth for thirst;” so that he is ready to sink in utter despair. (What can you add to that, to bring it home more fully to your own case?) Yet this is the very person for whom God has reserved his blessings, and to whom he engages to impart them. ‘But I am in such a state, that it is almost impossible to deliver me: you might as well expect a river to be running over the highest mountains, as for the waters of salvation to reach me.’ Is that the case? says the Saviour: then “I will open rivers in high places; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” See here, my brethren, what wonderful condescension there is in your Lord and Saviour, that he will so describe your case, that it should not be possible for you to fail in recognising your own character, or to doubt any longer his ability and willingness to save you. Take then this passage; and rely upon it; and plead it with him; and expect the accomplishment of it to your own soul. Then shall “your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon-day [Note: Isaiah 58:10.].” You shall find that the Saviour is not “a fountain sealed [Note: Song of Solomon 4:12.],” but “a fountain opened [Note: Psalms 36:9. Joel 3:18.];” and “out of that well of salvation you shall drink water with joy” for evermore [Note: Isaiah 12:3.].]

Verses 18-19


Revelation 22:18-19. 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: 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.

THE voice of inspiration carrying with it the authority of Jehovah, it might be expected that persons, eager to establish particular sentiments of their own, or to draw disciples after them, would profess to have received revelations from heaven, that so they might obtain a more entire and extended influence over their adherents. To prevent such impositions under the Mosaic dispensation, God said to the whole of Israel, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it [Note: Deuteronomy 4:12.].” In like manner, at the close of the Christian dispensation, our Lord directed his servant John to record this solemn declaration: “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: 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.”

In its primary sense, this declaration seems to refer to the particular book which contains the Revelation of St. John: but, as this book completes and closes the sacred canon, I consider the warning as extending to the whole of the New Testament Scriptures; and as making known to us,


The perfection of the Scriptures—

That may be considered as perfect, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be withdrawn. Now the Scriptures, in this view of them, are perfect: for there is nothing in them either superfluous or defective. They are perfect,


As a revelation from God—

[That they might discover to us many things which are at present either altogether hid, or but obscurely revealed, is certain; but they have made known to us all that we are concerned to know; and the secret counsels, which, if revealed, would have only administered to our pride, are better hidden from our view. Indeed, God has hidden many things on purpose, that, whilst we behold much which he alone could reveal, we may be constrained to humble ourselves before him as creatures who are altogether indebted to him for all the light they enjoy, and dependent on him for the instruction which they hope yet farther to receive. In the Holy Scriptures, Jehovah displays, as it were, before our eyes, all his glorious perfections, and opens to us his eternal purposes, especially respecting the redemption of the world by the incarnation and death of his only-begotten Son. In them too, the person, work, and offices of Christ are all set before us; and that with such plainness that we cannot err, and with such a weight of evidence that we cannot doubt.]


As a directory to us—

[In this view also they are perfect: for whilst, on the one hand, there is nothing revealed for the mere purpose of gratifying our curiosity; so, on the other hand, there is nothing withheld that could in any way conduce to the welfare of our souls. Respecting the whole of spiritual life, we have all the instruction that can be desired. The manner in which that life is imparted, and carried on unto perfection, is so fully delineated, that there is nothing wanting either for our direction or encouragement. And for our behaviour towards men, there is a path marked out for us in general principles, which are applicable to every situation and circumstance in which we can be placed; and it is yet further traced out to us in examples, which serve to illustrate every virtue which we can be called to exercise. Nor have we any cause to complain that the rules were not more minute and numerous: for to have made a specific rule for every possible case would have been of no service, because the Scriptures would have been so voluminous, that a whole life of study would not have been sufficient to make us acquainted with them: but by laying down a few general principles, and embodying them in living examples, God has given us all the information that we can need. In every relation of life, whether as husbands or wives, parents or children, masters or servants, magistrates or subjects, we have rules laid down for us, from which we cannot greatly deviate, if only we implore of God the guidance of his good Spirit. Only “let our eye be single, and our whole body will be full of light.”]
In the prohibition to add to, or take from, the Holy Scriptures, we also behold,


Their sanctity—

Nothing can exceed the strictness with which the smallest alteration of God’s blessed word is forbidden—
[If we add to the inspired writings, God will lay on us all the plagues which are there denounced against sin and sinners: and, if we take from them, “God will take away our part from the book of life,” and never suffer us to taste any of those blessings which they hold forth in rich abundance to the upright soul. In many other places we read of specific judgments denounced against sin; but in no place are the denunciations of God’s wrath so full and comprehensive as in the passage before us. It was necessary that a fiery sword should be thus waved before our eyes, to prevent us from trespassing on that hallowed ground: and though some slight alterations might seem allowable for the purpose of accommodating the expressions of Scripture more to our own apprehensions or desires, yet will God on no account suffer us to suppress or add one single word.]
Nor is the severity of the prohibition at all more alarming than the occasion requires—
[In no other way can we offer a greater insult to God, or do a greater injury to man, than by erasing what God has spoken, or by obtruding any conceits of our own under the sanction of his authority. If we presume to leave out any thing which God has revealed, what is it but an impeachment of his wisdom in revealing it? And if we presume to add any thing to his word, what is it but a denial of his goodness, in withholding from us information which he ought to have communicated? And both in the one case and the other, it is a most impious imposition upon man, whom we defraud by our concealment of the truth, or deceive by substituting our own fallible dogmas in the place of it.
When Moses made the tabernacle, this solemn injunction was repeatedly given to him; “See thou make all things according to the pattern shewn to thee in the mount.” And it would have been at his peril to have deviated in any respect from it; because the whole structure, together with all the furniture thereof, was typical of things which were to be more fully revealed under the Christian dispensation: and any departure from the instructions given him would have destroyed the beauty and harmony of the whole. So will it be at our peril to change or modify any part of that system which God has revealed in his word. We must take the whole simply as we have received it, and not in any respect presume to be wise above what is written.]
The prohibition to alter the Scriptures yet farther marks,


The reverence due to them—

If we are not to change the word of Scripture, neither are we to elude its force. On the contrary, we are to maintain the strictest jealousy over ourselves, that we make not any portion of the inspired writings void, but that we adhere to them with the utmost possible fidelity,


In our exposition of their import—

[It is perfectly surprising to see with what unhallowed boldness many will put their own construction upon God’s blessed word, denying its plainest import, and annexing to it a sense totally contrary to its most obvious meaning. To what a fearful extent this liberty has been taken by Papists is well known: but, to the shame of Protestants, I must confess, that in this guilt they also participate to a great extent. Nor do I here speak of those only who fearlessly expunge those parts of Scripture which are hostile to their views, but of those adverse parties in the Church, who, whilst they profess to reverence the whole of the inspired volume, wrest and pervert its plainest assertions, in order to maintain a system of their own. This it is that has introduced endless dissensions, divisions, and bitter animosities into the Church of Christ. Men have adopted sentiments of their own, instead of submitting to be taught of God; and then they have laboured, by forced constructions and ingenious criticisms, to make the Scriptures accord with their views. The different parties all see and condemn this disingenuousness in their adversaries, whilst yet, without remorse, they practise it themselves. In truth, so fettered are the great mass even of teachers themselves by human systems, that there are scarcely any to be found, who will dare to give to the whole of Scripture its true import, and to bring forward in their ministrations all that God has spoken in his word: and so vitiated is the taste of the generality of their hearers, that scarcely any would be found to approve of this fidelity, even if it were exercised towards them. The pious reformers of the established Church were of a different mind; they have faithfully declared to us the whole counsel of God: but amongst their degenerate children there are few who follow their example; almost all having ranged themselves as partisans of opposite and contending opinions, instead of conforming themselves simply to the declarations of Holy Writ. But I hope the time is not far distant, when all the articles of our Church will be equally esteemed, and every truth of Scripture be impartially brought forward in our public ministrations.]


In our submission to their authority—

[To every part of God’s blessed word we should bow with meek submission; not regarding any doctrine as “an hard saying,” or doubting the truth of it because it exceeds our comprehension. We are but children; and, as children, we should receive with implicit reverence whatever has been spoken by our heavenly Instructor. And if with simplicity of mind we receive the first principles of the oracles of God, we shall have our understandings progressively enlarged, and be gradually guided into all truth. In relation to those things which we do not at present understand, we should be content to say, “What I know not now, I shall know hereafter.”
So likewise, in reference to the commands of God; no one of them should be considered as “grievous,” but all be viewed as “holy, and just, and good.” To explain them away, or to lower them to the standard of our own attainments is criminal in a high degree. We should have no wish but to be conformed to the mind and will of God, and to have our whole souls poured, as it were, into the mould of his Gospel. As far as respects the impiety of the act, it matters very little whether we change the words or the sense of the Holy Scriptures: in either case we greatly offend God, and entail on ourselves all the judgments that are denounced against us in the text.]


[The words immediately following my text may well serve to enforce every word that has been spoken. It is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who “testifies of these things,” and who, to impress them the more deeply on our minds, says, “Surely I come quickly.” He will come quickly: and whatever he has spoken shall surely come to pass; not one jot or tittle of it shall ever fail. We may now take away from his word, or add to it, as seemeth us good; but in that day his word shall stand; and his judgments be dispensed in perfect accordance with it. We may deceive others by our perversions of Scripture, and may even deceive ourselves: but him we cannot deceive: nor, when he shall pass sentence on us for our temerity, shall we be able to elude his vengeance. I pray you then to regard the Scriptures with the veneration that is due to them. Imagine not that they were given us for the purpose of displaying our skill in controversy; though I deny not but that we ought to combat error, and to contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints: but the inspired volume is holy ground: and we should “put off our shoes,” as it were, whenever we enter upon it, and implore help from God, that we may be enabled to “receive it with meekness as an engrafted word,” and find it effectual to save our souls.]

Verse 20


Revelation 22:20. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

IN the Book of Revelation is contained a series of prophecies, from the apostolic age to the end of the world. To them must nothing be added: from them must nothing be withdrawn. To alter any thing contained in them is at the peril of our souls. In perfect agreement with them will every event be found at the last: the Church will triumph; her enemies will be put to shame; and the Lord Jesus Christ, into whose hands all things are committed, will be glorified in all. Speedily, too, will this desirable result appear: for “He who testifieth of these things,” even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Judge of quick and dead, says, “Surely I come quickly.” And his beloved Apostle, to whom he had revealed these things, welcomed the glorious consummation, saying, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Now, in these words we see Christ’s coming to judgment,


As a period to be expected—

Of this period the whole Scriptures testify—
[In the Old Testament indeed, little, in comparison, is spoken of it: yet we can have no doubt but that it was known, not only to the descendants of Abraham, but even before the flood: for St. Jude tells us, that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied respecting it, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all [Note: Jude, ver. 14, 15.].” In the New Testament it forms a very prominent part of the inspired records; continual reference being made to that period, and the circumstances that shall then take place being fully developed. The person of the Judge, the manner of his advent, the establishment of his tribunal, the solemnities of his judgment, the final sentence which he will pronounce, and the eternal states of men fixed in perfect accordance with it, are all described, with a minuteness which places every thing, as it were, before our eyes, and enables us to anticipate with certainty the whole process [Note: Matthew 25:31-34.] — — —]

And it is now fast approaching—
[Time, in our eyes, appears long: but “with God, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Our blessed Lord, when on earth, spake of it as near at hand. St. Paul adverted to it in such strong terms, that he was misunderstood by many, whose misconceptions he afterwards removed by a more plain and full declaration respecting it. Since the period that this revelation was given to John, above seventeen hundred years have elapsed: so that, if at that time it could be said by our Lord, “Surely I come quickly,” much more must it be true at this day. Even in reference to the general judgment, it is true; because the time that shall intervene before it, is no more, in comparison of eternity, than the twinkling of an eye. But, in reference to individuals, it is true, even in the most obvious and literal sense: for our time is only like a shadow that departeth, and hasteth away like the eagle in its flight. “Surely,” my beloved brethren, as it respects every one amongst us, “the Judge is at the door.” For aught that we know, we may this very day or hour be summoned into his presence, and receive at his hands our final doom — — —]
Yet, awful as the future judgment will be, we may well contemplate it,


As an event to be desired—

Not that it is desirable to all: for, when it shall arrive, many will call upon the rocks to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them from the presence of their Judge. To those only can it be an object of desire, who are “prepared to meet their God.” For this high attainment three things are requisite:


A view of salvation, as wrought out by Christ—

[The proud self-righteous moralist can never desire that day. He may indeed so harden himself in unbelief, as to feel no dread of judgment; and so deceive his own soul, as to think that the issue of it will be favourable to him. But he cannot look forward to that event with real satisfaction. He knows not what it is to be “looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of Christ.” He has no solid ground of hope: when he reflects candidly on his state, he cannot but feel some secret misgivings, that all will not be well with him; and, consequently, he cannot really desire that day: on the contrary, it would be a satisfaction to him to be informed that there should be no discrimination of persons, and that all should sleep a perpetual sleep.]


A hope of salvation, as obtained through Christ—

[It is not a mere knowledge of the Gospel that will bear up the soul in the prospect of that great event. There must be in us some consciousness that we have fled to Christ for refuge, and laid hold on the hope that is set before us. It is a small matter to us that Christ has come into the world, and died for us, if we have not somewhat of a well-grounded hope of an interest in him. When we can see the promises as freely made to us, and are enabled to rest upon them, then may we look forward with composure to the dissolution of our earthly tabernacle, and to the transmission of our souls to “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:1.].”]


An earnest of salvation, as already enjoyed in Christ—

[This is given to many of God’s favoured people: and, though I say not that it is necessary to saving faith, I must say, that without it no man can cordially adopt the language of my text, and say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” We must have some assurance of our acceptance with God, before we can really desire to enter into his presence; and some sense of an interest in Christ, before we can truly “love his appearing.” But if “the Spirit of God bear witness with our spirits that we are his children,” then may we number death amongst our “treasures [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:22.],” and “desire to depart, that we may be with Christ.” Then may we adopt the triumphant language of the Apostle, and say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” for then our great enemy is slain, and “God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ:” yea, “death is swallowed up in victory [Note: Isaiah 25:8. with 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.],” and heaven itself is commenced in the soul.]

Observe, then—

How sad is the prospect of those who are yet in their sins!

[Whether ye will believe it or not, know assuredly, that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming quickly, to call you into judgment: and to him shall ye give account, not only of your words and actions, but of the most “secret counsels of your hearts.” How terrible is this thought to those who have never repented of their sins, nor ever sought for mercy through the Redeemer’s blood! I would that I might prevail upon you, my beloved brethren, to lay to heart this awful consideration, whilst it may yet avail for your good. But let death once execute his commission, and drag you to the judgment-seat of Christ, and all your future regrets will be in vain: your sentence will then be pronounced upon you, and your doom be sealed for ever — — —]


What a sweet reality is there in religion!

[See what the Gospel can effect—can effect even in this present life! what peace it can bring into the soul; and what an assurance respecting its eternal interests! I will not presume to say that it will open to a man the book of God’s decrees, and shew him his name written in heaven; but it will give him a confidence respecting the issue of the future judgment, and a joyful anticipation of eternal blessedness. Only therefore seek an acquaintance with the Lord Jesus, and an experience of his love; and then may you look forward to his advent with exceeding joy, and welcome it as the consummation and completion of your bliss.]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 22". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.