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all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, even so, Amen.
The inspired writer here looks forward over all intervening space, to the solemn and affecting period when all mortal scenes shall be closed, when that opposition to the cause of Christ, of which his book was particularly to treat, shall reach its termination, and when the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory to judge the world in righteousness.
V. The last part of the introduction contains a confirmation of this prediction, and in fact of the truth of the whole book.
8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
This close of the introduction is highly worthy of our observation. The Apostle, in order to confirm the faith of the churches to whom he was writing, both in what he had said, and what he was about farther to say on the subject of his revelation, here introduces the Lord Christ as speaking by his own majestic voice, and declaring himself to be the First and the Last; the Lord Jehovah who is, and who was, and who is to come; the eternal, the unchangeable, the almighty author, supporter, and disposer of all things. That these are the words of Jesus Christ himself, is so evident, that not the least appearance of a reason can be assigned, why they should be understood as spoken by the Father. None, indeed, will deny these words to be the language of the Saviour, except those who refuse to honour the Son, even as they ought to honour the Father that sent him. The author of this book does not intend to enter into arguments and proofs on this and other subjects. The nature of his work will not admit it. What appears to be the truth to his own mind, supported by the most pious, judicious, and elaborate commentators, will be as
serted, without noticing a variety of opinions and objections, which would only tend to distract the attention, and perplex the mind of the reader.
Such is the sublime introduction to this wonderful book, which, though pregnant with mysteries, is pregnant also with instruction. Everlasting thanks be to God the Father, that he gave the revelation to his Son Jesus Christ. Eternal gratitude be to the Son of God, that he gave it to his servant John, for the use of the Church to the end of time. May every reader of this work obtain the blessing promised to those who read, and hear, and keep the words of this prophecy! May the view exhibited to our eyes in the opening of this mysterious book, lead us to contemplate the divine glory of the Father, and of his only begotten Son, who is the “ brightness of “ that glory, and the express image of his person; and of the Holy Ghost, who is here represented by
seven spirits before the throne !” May we especially contemplate the essential divinity of the eternal Son, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the Almighty! May we gratefully reflect on that infinite condescension, which inclined him to undertake our salvation, and on that astonishing love, which engaged him to “ wash us from our sins in his own blood !” Having fled for refuge to this gracious and almighty deliverer, may we by faith be looking for “ that “ blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of our
great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,” who, in the appointed period, will “ come in the clouds, and
every eye shall see him!” May the writer and the reader be found among his faithful followers, and be “ numbered with his saints in glory everlasting!" Amen.
The Appearance of Jesus Christ to the Writer of the
Chap. i. 9–20.
THE SECOND DIVISION of the book, describing the august appearance of Jesus Christ to the Apostle, with the symbols of his power and majesty, is contained in the remaining part of the first chapter, from the ninth verse to the end.
9. I John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10. I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, What thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me; and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as SNOW; and his eyles were as a flame of fire; 15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace ; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword :
and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet, as dead : and he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last : 18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter ; 20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches ; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. TRITO
The Apostle has here related the manner in which he received the revelation he was about to deliver ; and it is observable that he only calls himself the brother of the believers to whom he wrote, without mentioning his apostolical authority, though he was the only one of the Apostles that survived at this time. He styled himself also their“ companion in “ tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of “ Jesus Christ.” He was at this time in Patmos, a small, mountainous, and thinly-peopled island in the Ægean sea, about forty miles from the continent of Asia. Thither he was banished by the Emperor Domitian, for his adherence to Christ, and for preaching the word of God; where, according to the records of history, he was confined to the mines, and compelled to labour in them. In this painful state of banishment, he manifested no dissatisfaction, he made no complaints. On the contrary, though a persecuted sufferer for Christ, and a companion in tribulation with his afflicted brethren, he enjoyed those divine consolations which were neither few nor small, and was favoured with “ the reve“ lation of Jesus Christ." While he was in this state of exile, he “ was in the spirit,” or brought under the miraculous impulse of the spirit of prophecy, as were Ezekiel, Daniel, and others of the prophets, when “the visions of the Almighty were is made known unto them.". This was on the Lord's day, the day which the church of Christ kept holy in commemoration of his resurrection from the dead. Being cast into a trance or ecstacy, the Apostle heard from behind him“ a great voice as of a trum“pet ; saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first “ and the last : and what thou seest write in a book, “ and send it unto the seven churches which are in “ Asia ; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto “ Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, “ and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Turning to see from whence this awful voice proceeded, he “ saw seven golden candlesticks," answerable to the seven churches to which he was ordered to write, and “ one like unto the Son of Man” from whom the voice came. This august personage was the Lord Jesus Christ, with whom the Apostle had been well acquainted during his incarnation on earth. He had not only seen Jesus in his ordinary bodily form, but also in his glorified appearance on the heavenly mount, and at his ascension. There is, therefore, a peculiar propriety and force in the language of the Apostle, who had previously been an eye-witness of the glory of Christ, asserting that he saw one like the Son of Man. But the appearance of the Saviour on this occasion, seems to have been more transcendently glorious than the Apostle had witnessed on any former occasion. He viewed him now in all the resplendent majesty of the great High Priest appointed over the house of God.
The person of the divine Redeemer in this vision
“ like the Son of Man,” probably retaining some resemblance of his former appearance in the flesh. He was clothed after the manner of the Jewish priests, with a garment down to his feet, an emblem of his mediatorial righteousness and royal priesthood. This vesture was girt around his breasts with a golden girdle ; which may denote the cordi