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upon the earth ; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” Again, to distinguish the true servants of God—“And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps. And they sung, as it were, a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." And again, in the 22nd chapter“ Ye shall see his face, and his name shall be in your foreheads.”
The whole intent of this phraseolgy seems to be to convey to our minds the idea that in God's temple above, the conquering Christian shall be so recognised and acknowledged as never to give room for the least doubt or misapprehension. It is a portion of the Christian's experience in this world to be sometimes perplexed and distressed as to his acceptance with God. He sees through a glass darkly, and his views of the divine glory and presence are ofttimes clouded. He is, it is true, by the change and sanctification of his heart, a child of God; for, says St. John, speaking in the character of true believers—“Now we are the sons of God." But still he is not established in a state free from doubts and fears. The promise that when raised to be a pillar in the temple of God the name of God should be written on him, intimates that his sonship will then be established beyond all possibility of doubt and beyond all reach of clouds; that his access to his heavenly Father shall be free and unrestrained, and that he shall ever be recognised as an heir of light and salvation. It is more than probable, however, that by the use of the term, "I will write on him the name of my God,” it is intended to convey the evangelical idea, that the conquering Christian, when, after the day of his trial, he will be admitted into heaven, will ever remain as a signal monument of the mercy and goodness, and patience, and holiness of God; for under these various attributes the name of God, or God himself, is frequently declared in Scripture.
4. The fourth particular of the promise is “And I will write upon him the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down from heaven from my God.” The ancient custom is here still alluded to, and the unity of the figure is preserved. On the triumphal pillars was generally written the name of the conquerors, and sometimes, in the glorious times of Rome, the victors took the names themselves of conquered countries. You will all recollect, I
presume, to mention but one instance, Scipio was called Africanus. In relation to this portion of my text, I will endeavour to explain the peculiarity of the terms, and then we shall get at their special import“I will write upon him the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem.” Carry along with you the idea that the language is all highly figurative. The term, New Jerusalem, expresses the Church triumphant in heaven; and it is called new, because the old Jerusalem is put in Scripture to signify the Church militant on earth; thus in Hebrews_“Ye are come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The temple at Jerusalem was the place in which God graciously condescended to dwell, and consequently Jerusalem is figuratively put to describe Heaven, or the place in which dwells the full glory and majesty of the eternal Godhead. It is further called new, not in relation to itself, for it is the city which hath foundations eternal in the heavens, but in relation to us who have never seen it. Now of this heavenly city the phrase is used—“which cometh down from heaven from my God;" a phrase which has baffled the perfect comprehension of all commentators. I shall offer you that explanation which seems most consistent with the other Scriptures. As heaven is a state rather than a place, so in these terms there can be applied no local motion, as some have supposed. The term, “cometh down,” may allude to the splendid vision which was seen by John, as related in the 21st chapter—"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no
more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. This, however, itself, affords no explanation. The term, “cometh down from heaven,” most probably means that the state of glory reserved for the conquering Christian had for the most part been hitherto concealed, but that beginning to be known or more clearly revealed, at the coming of Christ, its joys and hopes and reality of eternal bliss became gradually opened and expanded to the view by the preaching of the Gospel; for it is in the Gospel that life and immortality are brought to light. There is a peculiarity in the term, cometh. Not has come already, or will come in future, but which cometh ; which is constantly opening in the revelation of its divine realities, its splendours becoming more bright and clear as the day of its approach comes nearer. It is further said “ which cometh down from heaven, from my God;" which is meant to intimate that the whole preparation is of God; that for all the blessedness and glory of the eternal state we are indebted to the sovereign grace and mercy of the Father, manifested in the reconciliation of sinners through the atoning blood of the Son, and their preparation by the grace of the eternal Spirit. Now the whole meaning design
ed to be conveyed in this most splendid and overpowering imagery is, that the conquering Christian shall be, throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, the inheritor of a state of glory which is utterly indescribable, prepared for him by the loving kindness of God our Father; that considering heaven as the peculiar residence and city of God, he shall participate in all its rights and privileges; he shall mingle in all its social intercourse, and join with all the whole hosts of heaven in its ceaseless and hallowed employments. I will not pretend, my brethren, to carry out the ideas here opened. Failure would be as certain as the attempt itself would be presumptuous.
There joys unseen by mortal eyes,
Or reason's feeble ray ;
Unconscious of decay.
Lord, send a beam of light divine,
To guide our upward aim;
Our languid hearts inflame.
Then shall, on faith's sublimest wing,
Our ardent wishes rise,
Immortal in the skies.
And here, my brethren, I am constrained to rest this portion of my discourse; for I have already occupied more of your attention than I had anticipated, and the most important parts of this discussion are untouched. Yet as I leave off in this place, for though the important array of practical remarks will for the most part be left for the subsequent occasion, I cannot consent to leave any topic without at least some few hints adapted to experimental purposes,