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[It is the gospel which holds forth Christ in all his characters
It is by the gospel that he communicates out of his fulness
Thousands in all ages of the church have experienced its illuminating, sanctifying, and saving efficacy
Let us then attend with diligence and constancy to the word preached
Let us improve it to the obtaining of a deeper sense of our own indigence
Let us be led by it to Christ, that we may participate his blessings-).
VIII. THE DOXOLOGY OF THE REDEEMER. Rev. v. 11–13. I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels
round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing: And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. WE know at present but very little of the blessedness of heaven
Yet the word of God enables us to form some faint conception of it
St. John draws aside the veil, and reveals to us I. The assembly which he saw • The inhabitants of heaven are composed of angels, and glorified saints
[The angels are those who,“ kept their first estate” from which others fell
The saints are spoken of under two characters, “ the beasts, or living creatures,” and “the elders”—
The former are supposed to represent the ministers of Christ and the latter, the members of the church
a In the peculiar qualities of the four living creatures an allusion is probably made to the talents requisite for the ministerial function. The preacher of the gospel ought to be bold, patient, compassionate, and discerning. Rev. iv. 7.
b They are 24, probably in allusion to the 12 patriarchs and 12 apostles, who were the heads of the Jewish and Christian, i. e. of the universal church.
They all together compose one body in number under Christ -] Their number exceeds all computation :
[The way to heaven has always been a “ strait and narrow way”—
Yet from the death of Abel their number has been continually increasing
Their collective number is inconceivably greatd-]
[They are represented as standing nearest to the throne . They begin the song, v. 5, 9, 10. and the angels join in chorus, v. 11-13.]
There is perfect harmony throughout the whole assembly II. The object they adored • Many deny that Christ is a proper object of worship But he has ever been worshipped in the church
[Paul prayed to him, and received an answer from him.
Stephen addressed him, as Christ himself had before addressed the Fatherm
The offering of prayer to him characterizes every true. Christian-] And he is the object of universal adoration in heaven
[He is the person described in the text and context, v. 6, 8, 9, 12.
The description given is applicable to him alone-] He is expressly joined with the Father as an equal ob. ject of worship
[The terms used are the same, and they are addressed alike to both
The worship they offer him is such as is proper to God only III. The adoration they offered him
The heavenly hosts do not offer blind and ignorant devotions
They proclaim the Redeemer's worthiness of divine honour
(Stronger expressions of adoration are no where offered to the Father
• Eph. i. 10. d Dan, vii. 10. Rev. vii. 9. € 2 Cor. xü. 8, 9.
i Cor. i. 2. VOL. I.
Rev. vii. 11. 6 Acts vii. 59. i John i. 29.
The accumulation of words expresses the fervour of their heartsk_
Their view of his essential glory must convince them of his worthiness
But they most admire him in his mediatorial character
The angels, though not interested as we, gladly unite their praises-]
They all join in this unitedly, and with a loud voice
[Those from earth, and sea, &c. are the spirits of departed saints
All seem to vie with each other without one discordant voice-] INFER 1. How great is the privilege of the saints!
[The saints are even now joined to this blessed assembly
They have the same views of Christ's worthiness and glory
They are engaged in offering the same praises and adorations
They are daily growing in a meetness to join the saints above
How glorious, how desirable is this privilege Let all seek it by faith in the Lamb that was slain-] 2. How astonishing is the folly of the unregenerate!
[This blessedness is offered to all who will believe in Christ
Yet the unregenerate “ make light of it”
But would they think it so contemptible if they had such a vision of it as St. John had?
Would they despise it if they could see the state of the damned as contrasted with it? May God convince them of their guilt and folly!-] 3. How inconceivably glorious must Heaven be!
[Here the felicity of the saints is often great”— But hereafter it will transcend our utmost conceptions"
Let us frequently rehearse here, that we may be more fit to perform our part on the theatre of Heaven--]
k To explain each word would destroy the energy of the whole. 1 Heb. xii. 22, 23.
m Gen. xxviii, 17. n Here our views are dim (“ by faith,”) our company few, our associates polluted, our capacity small, our difficulties great, our alloy inseparable, our intermissions frequent, our declensions lamentable: but there we shall see Christ as he is, together with innumerable hosts, each of them shining as the sun; our powers will be wonderfully enlarged; we shall serve him with perfect ease and readiness; and our bliss will be pure and unmixt, without inter, mission or end, yea, continually, eternally progressive.
IX. THE REFLECTIONS OF A PENITENT, &c.
Jer. xxxi. 18—20. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.
THERE is a wide difference between ostentatious sanctity and true piety
Hypocrites always endeavour to attract the attention of the world
The true penitent, on the contrary, affects privacy and retirement
Though cheerful before men, his sorrows are deep be. fore God
Were his groanings overheard by the world, he would probably be made an object of pity or derision
But God beholds him with pleasure and complacency —
Ephraim, or the ten tribes, are represented in the text as penitent
The secret working of their minds is here opened to our view
This accords with the experience of every repenting sinner
God declares how acceptable such repentance is in his sight
The passage naturally leads us to consider 1. The reflections of a true penitent
We first see the state of his mind in the beginning of his repentanceHe reflects on his incorrigibleness in the ways of sin
[Men seldom turn to God, till subdued by heavy affiictions
• Isa. Ixvi. 2.
Nor does the rod at first produce any thing but impatience
The penitent calls to mind his perverseness under such a state
He compares his conduct with an untamed heiferb
He laments that there is such enmity in his heart against God] He pleads with God to turn and convert his soul
[He feels the necessity of divine grace to change his heart
He therefore cries to God, “ Turn thou me"-
We next see the state of his mind in the progress of his repentanceHe reflects upon the progress he has made .
(He has felt very pungent grief on account of his iniquitiesd—
Through the remonstrances of his conscience he has been “ ashamed”
He has been “even confounded” by discoveries of his own corruptions
His constitutional propensities, which were the reproach of his youth, are still his burthen, and his grief ] But he gives the glory of his advancement to God alone
[He had cried to God for the gift of converting graceHe now acknowledges that grace to have come from God
He ascribes his deeper insight into the corruptions of his own heart to the illuminating operations of God's spirit
Thus he adopts from his heart the confessions of Job, and of Pauls-]
b The bullock, while unaccustomed to the yoke, rebels against the will of his master: though nourished and supported by him, it will not subserve his interests: when chastised, it rebels the more; yea, repeated strokes serve only to inflame its rage, and to call forth its more strenuous resistance: nor will it ever submit, until it be wearied out, and unable to maintain its opposition. Thus the sinner generally fights against God.
c John vi. 44. This is the import of that significant action of “smiting upon the thigh:” see Ezek. xxi. 12.
© The expressions of his grief rise in a climax; he repents, he smites on his thigh; he is filled with shame; he is confounded before God. This, though an afflictive progress, is a salutary and blessed experience; as it argues deeper self-knowledge, and an increasing view of the purity of God's law. f Job xl. 4.
81 Cor. xv. 10.