Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER IV.

1. After this I looked, and, behold. a door was opened in heaven and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

"After this I looked, and, behold. . ."-Let us too look, even if we should not behold. "Mine eyes fail with looking upward O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me." "Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness."

Far be it from me to think to unfold mysteries or interpret prophecies. But I trust that to gave in whatever ignorance on what God reveals, is so far to do His will. If ignorance breed humility, it will not debar from wisdom. If ignorance betake itself to prayer, it will lay hold on grace.

As children may feel the awe of a storm, the beauty of sunrise or sunset, so at least I too may deepen awe, and stir up desire by a contemplation of things inevitable, momentous, transcendent. "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider."

The eagle strengthened with might gazes full at the sun. Glory be to God for all His gifts to all His creatures.

But God has not bidden us be mighty as eagles, but be harmless as doves. I suppose a dove may be no more fit than myself to look steadily at the sun we both might be blinded by what would enlighten that stronger bird. The dove brings not much of her own to the sun, yet the sun caresses and beautifies her silver wings and her feathers like gold: it would be a sore mistake on the dove's part were she to say, Because I am not the eagle I am not a sun bird, and so were to cut herself off from the sun's gracious aspect.

And since five sparrows are sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God, even the least and last of birds may take courage to court the light-giving, life-giving, munificent sun.

"After this,"-after, that is, a revelation, an alarum, a Great Voice of praise and rebuke, hope and fear. Rebuke and fear should not paralyse us: they should rather rouse us to instant exertion, instant obedience, instant prayer.

O Lord our God, deliver us, I beseech Thee, from idle tremblings and abject fear. It is Thou give us grace not to be afraid, except with the fear of those who always fearing are happy. For Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

"I looked."—If we will not look, we should not behold even though a door were opened in heaven for our enlightenment. This Apocalypse is a celestial door opened to us: let us not, until we have looked, despair of seeing somewhat. looked, we shall not despair.

Having

What shall we see? As it were the company of two armies ; life and good, death and evil.

Wherefore choose life.

"Look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth." O my God, Who acceptedst Daniel when taking his life in his hand he set his face in prayer toward desolate Jerusalem, grant us such grace that night and day our eyes may be directed toward Thy heavenly Temple, and our faces set steadfastly toward New Jerusalem the mother of us all. For our Lord Jesu's sake. Amen.

"Those Seven; they are the Eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth."

Lord Jesus, by indwelling of Thy Most Holy Spirit, purge our eyes to discern and contemplate Thee; until we attain to see as Thou seest, judge as Thou judgest, choose as Thou choosest; and having sought and found Thee, to behold Thee for ever and ever.

"I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see.'

"A door was opened in heaven."-Jesus, Who hast deigned to call Thyself the Door of the sheep, lead us, I pray Thee, in and out, and provide for us pasture.

"And the first Voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me."-The Revised Version reads: "And the first Voice which I heard, a Voice as of a trumpet speaking with me, One saying. This rendering more decidedly than the other, suggests that this may be the same Voice as that former Voice which spake (ch. i. 10). St. John

was then "in the Spirit" : but now (a verse later) he says: "And immediately I was in the Spirit." Thus we see how to him that hath shall be given; how the elect go from strength to strength until unto the God of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion. And when with eyes and heart fixed on God they at length appear before Him, then shall they one by one know how His Eyes and His Heart have been and are and will be upon them continually. [This remark is made under correction, lest "Spirit" and "spirit," occasionally so printed in the two verses alluded to, should negative the thought. The Revised Version prints "Spirit" in both verses alike.]

Lord, dost Thou look on me, and will not I

Launch out my heart to Heaven to look on Thee?—
Here if one loved me I should turn to see,

And often think on him and often sigh,
And by a tender friendship make reply
To love gratuitous poured forth on me,
And nurse a hope of happy days to be,
And mean "until we meet in each good-bye.
Lord, Thou dost look and love is in Thine Eyes,
Thy Heart is set upon me day and night,
Thou stoopest low to set me far above :
O Lord, that I may love Thee make me wise;
That I may see and love Thee grant me sight;
And give me love that I may give Thee love.

"Come up hither."-Thus was St. John brought into the haven where he would be: but not to abide there. It was as when he leaned on His Master's Bosom, and after a while had to arise; as when he set off to follow, and after a while had to pause and tarry. Love laid him on his Master's Breast, love sped him along that blessed Foot-track; and equally it was love which constrained him to arise and depart from that Rest which was not at once to be his final rest, and to turn back from that "Way" which vouchsafed not yet to lead him home.

We reckon that love mighty which avails to enter heaven. How mighty must that love be which at God's behest turns back contentedly from heaven to earth!

"Come up hither."-Hither is a joyful word, but come a more joyful. Hither summons us to Mount Sion, and unto the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of Angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect :-Come calls us to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.

O Jesu, better than Thy gifts

Art Thou Thine only Self to us!
Palm-branch its triumph, harp uplifts
Its triumph-note melodious:

But what are such to such as we?

O Jesu, better than Thy saints
Art Thou Thine only Self to us!
The heart faints and the spirit faints
For only Thee all-Glorious,

For Thee, O only Lord, for Thee.

"And I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."If it be the same Voice (see ante on "And the first Voice," &c.), then is it "the Voice of my Beloved." It saith not now as in the Song of songs, "Open to Me," but rather: I have opened to thee. That first word appertains to earth and its duties, this second word to Paradise and its privileges.

O Lord, Gracious without measure, beyond all measure, Who hast said: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," if by love we now open to Thee, and welcome Thee in time's sorrowful night; in eternity's rapturous day open Thou to us, welcome Thou us, that we may enter in and go out no more. Amen.

"I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."—The personal honour thus promised is for St. John; the grace is for us all the vision is his; the revelation not his exclusively but ours also, if we are penitent and obedient. As we read elsewhere: "Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My words unto you."

O Lord, Thou hast reproved the Churches, and we have heard Thy reproof. Turn us, we beseech Thee, and teach us by Thy most Holy Spirit the meaning of Thy sacred words.

"By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us, O God of our salvation."

2. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

St. John records not "I was in the Spirit" for our discouragement. On the contrary, in his First Epistle addressing all obedient Christians he writes: "He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and we in Him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us."

"Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire."

"Behold, a Throne was set in heaven."-We have beheld earthly thrones. Righteous they may be or unrighteous, gracious or tyrannical, from of old or of yesterday; unlike each other in many ways, all alike in one way they are crumbling with this crumbling world, are finishing with this finishing time; to-day they judge, to-morrow they will be judged. For earthly thrones are probationary.

Not so the Heavenly Throne. In this He is set that judgeth right; the King of kings, Lord of lords, Judge of judges.

Yet we read: "A throne was set,"-suggesting (perhaps?) that whilst He Who sat on it was from eternity to eternity, yet that Throne itself was not from eternity although to eternity. For as we read on through this chapter of the Apocalypse, and markedly when we reach its final ascription of glory (see ver. 11), it appears as if creation were here gathered in solemn adoration around its Creator; exceeding lofty creatures being constituted the mouthpiece of all, when everything that hath or that hath not breath praiseth the Lord. And if so, that word "was set" sends thought back into that eternity uninhabited of creatures, which (so far as human conception avails) preceded creation: not the creation of our actual world merely, but the formation of that chaos out of which it was evoked, and the beginning of that pre-creation which appears to have lapsed into chaos. For send our mind back as we may through the vast antecedent unknown of remote and yet more remote possible successive creations, yet beyond the utmost bound of the everlasting hills lies the infinite eternity of God Almighty, before it pleased Him to make all things out of nothing, and to be worshipped by ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands. of thousands.

When we consider even Thy heavens the work of Thy fingers, the moon and stars which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him?

Much more when we consider Thee, what then is man?

"The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying: God be merciful to me a sinner."

"And One sat on the throne."

O God Eternal, Who causest the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth, let our prayer be set forth in Thy sight as the incense,

And be gracious unto us.

Thou Who art our Creator Blessed for ever,

Be gracious unto us.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »