AS ALSO THE NUMEROUSNESS OF ITS INHABITANTS; AND WHAT THE TREE AND WATER OF LIFE ARE, BY WHICH THEY ARE SUSTAINED.
'Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.'-Psalm 87:3
'And the name of the city from that day shall be, THE LORD IS THERE.'-Ezekiel 48:35
London: Printed in the year 1665
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR
Reader, it will require the utmost effort of your powers of faith in perfectly well authenticated history to believe an almost incredible fact, but which certainly took place in England, under the reformed church in 1665. It is, however, true, that a number of eminently pious, loyal, sober, industrious citizens were immured, by the forms of law, within the walls of a small prison on Bedford Bridge, over the river Ouse, for refusing to attend the parish church or join in the service prescribed by Acts of Parliament, according to the Book of Common Prayer. The Ruler of the universe deigned to approve their conduct, and to visit these prisoners with his peculiar approbation. He made their prison a Bethel, the house of God, and the very gate of heaven-thus richly blessing their souls for refusing to render unto man the things that are God's.
On the Lord's day they were in the habit of uniting in Divine worship. Their prison chamber had received no prelatic consecration, but God was in their midst to bless them. It happened one morning that it came to the turn of a poor itinerant tinker, of extraordinary ability, to address his fellow-prisoners-he had neither written nor even prepared a sermon, and felt, for a time, at a loss for a text or subject. At length, while turning over the sacred pages, his eye was directed to the description of the Holy City-New Jerusalem, which in the latter day will gloriously descend from heaven. His soul was enlarged and enlightened with the dazzling splendour of that sacred city-his heart, which had felt 'empty, spiritless, and barren,' was baptized into his subject-'with a few groans, he carried his meditations to the Lord Jesus for a blessing, which he did forthwith grant according to his grace, and then the preacher did set before his brethren the spiritual meat, and they did all eat and were well refreshed. While distributing the truth, it did so increase in his hand, that of the fragments he gathered up a basket full, and furnished this heavenly treatise.' Such, in substance, is the author's interesting account of the circumstances under which he wrote this book. He adds, with humility, that the men of this world would laugh, in conceit, that one so low, contemptible, and inconsiderable should busy himself with so hard and knotty a subject, but humbly hopes, that though but a babe in Christ, these truths were revealed to him. To the real followers of the lowly Jesus, the poor carpenter's son, 'who had not where to lay his head'-of whom the Jews said, 'How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?' (John 7:15)-despised by princes, prelates, scribes, and Pharisees-to such, the poverty, the occupation, and the want of book-learning of our author needs no apology. It is all-sufficient to know that he was mighty in the Scriptures, and deeply taught of the Holy Spirit. These are the only sources of information relative to the New Jerusalem; and in this treatise the author has richly developed the treasures of the Bible in reference to this solemn subject. To the same prison discipline to which we are indebted for the Pilgrim's Progress, we owe this, and other of the labours of that eminent servant of Christ, John Bunyan. Little did the poor tyrants who sent him to jail think that, in such a place, he would have this blessed vision of the heavenly city, or that his severe sufferings would materially aid in destroying their wicked craft.
The subject is one of pure revelation. The philosopher-the theologian-the philologist-the historian, and the antiquarian, are utterly unable to grapple with that which is here so admirably handled by a poor unlettered prisoner for Christ, who, from the inexhaustible storehouse of God's Word, brings forth things new and old to comfort the pilgrim, whether in a prison or a palace, and to enliven his prospects on his way to this celestial city. The New Jerusalem is a sublime object, and we are bound humbly to adore that majestic mercy which has condescended to give us such a glimpse of the glory which, in its unbounded extent, passeth all the powers of our earth-bound souls to conceive.
It is a city whose builder and maker is God-perfect as his infinite wisdom-strong as his omnipotence-eternal as his existence. Who by searching can find out the perfections of the Almighty-they can only be traced by his revealed will, and with our poor powers, even then but faintly. No man ever possessed a more intimate knowledge of the Bible, nor greater aptitude in quoting it than Bunyan: he must have meditated in it day and night; and in this treatise his biblical treasures are wisely used. He begins with the foundation of the walls, and shows that they are based upon the truths taught to the twelve tribes, and by the twelve apostles of the Lamb. All these truths are perfectly handed down to us in holy Writ, alike immutable and unalterable. Cursed are they that add to that book, either by tradition or by the imposition of creeds, rites, and ceremonies, and not less cursed are they that take from it. These solid foundations support walls and gates through which nothing can enter that defileth. It is a pattern to the church on earth, into which none should be admitted but saints, known from their conversation as living epistles. 'Not common stuff, not raked out of the dunghills and muck heaps of this world, and from among the toys of antichrist, but spiritual, heavenly and glorious precious stones.' This city has but one street, showing the perfect unity among all its inhabitants, and it is only under the personal reign of Christ that uniformity can exist. The divisions among Christians arise, as Bunyan justly concludes, from 'antichristian rubbish, darkness, and trumpery.' The cause of all the confusion is the lust of man for domination over conscience, the government of which is the sole prerogative of God, and this is strengthened by the hope of passing through time in idleness, luxury, and honour, under the false pretence of apostolic descent transmitted through ceremonies worse than childish. In our Lord's days there was union among his disciples, as there must be under his personal reign in the New Jerusalem. But in the times of the apostles the disciples were divided-one was of Paul-another of Apollos, and others of Cephas. The Holy Ghost issued laws to regulate the church in their disputes-not an act of uniformity, but an injunction to the exercise of mutual forbearance, 'Who art thou that judges another man's servant.' 'Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind' (Rom 14:4,5).
After viewing the spiritual unity of the inhabitants of this wonderful city, we are introduced to its temple. How vast the edifice, to contain the millions on millions of worshippers-every inhabitant being present in the general assembly and church of the first-born! Utterly beneath our notice are the most magnificent temples raised by human ingenuity and vanity, when compared with that of the Holy City. Its foundation, the immutability of God-its extent, his divine immensity-its walls, the omnipotence of Jehovah-its treasury, the unsearchable riches of Christ-its worshippers, the countless myriads of the nations of those that are saved-its duration, ETERNITY. It is the inheritance of the Son of God, Jehovah Jesus, and is worthy of HIS inconceivable majesty. In all the multitude not one hypocrite will be found-not one sleeping worshipper-no wandering thought-no fear of sin or of Satan and his persecuting agents-death itself will be dead and swallowed up in life and immortality-all are pure-clothed in white robes-the palm of victory in their hands-singing the glorious anthems of heaven. O my soul! who are they that are thus unspeakably blessed? Shall I be a citizen of that city? God has told us who they are-not those who have been cherished by the state-clothed with honour, who have eaten the bread of idleness. No. 'These are they which came out of great tribulation' (Rev 7:14). From all kindreds, nations, sects, and parties-they who obeyed God and not man in all matters of faith and holiness-those who submitted to the Saviour, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. How vile is that sectarian spirit which in cold blood consigns all but its own sect to eternal misery. How strange the calculation of that Jewish Rabbi, who, dooming to miserable and eternal slavery all but his own little party, gives to every Jew two thousand eight hundred souls to be tormented and tyrannically used as slaves. The bitter sectarian who thus judges that all not of his own party shall be destroyed, will do well to listen to the voice of truth, 'With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.' All these absurd and wicked feelings are fast wearing away before the advancing spirit of Christianity. When the leaven of Divine truth shall have spread over the whole earth, antichrist will finally fall-then shall this New Jerusalem descend from heaven, and become the glory of the earth. How distant soever that period may seem, it is irresistibly hastening on. Since Bunyan's days, persecution has hid its ugly head-North America, which was then a land of darkness, is now widely covered with gospel blessings-slavery is coming to an end-India, the islands of the Pacific, and the vast territories of Australia, are yielding their increase. A few more centuries of progression, increasing in its ratio as time draws to a close, will hasten on the coming of our Lord.
The growth in grace of every Christian goes on thus gradually. Bunyan draws a beautiful picture of this from Ezekiel 47:3-12. It is so slow as scarcely to be perceptible, and one proof of its growth in our hearts is a doubt as to whether we are progressing at all. The more the light of heaven breaks in upon us, the more clearly it displays our sinful follies. According to the prophet, the waters rise higher and higher, but so slowly as to elude observation, until we find that they have risen from the ancles to the knees, and at length they rise and leave no standing for the feet-the earth recedes with time, and the soul enters upon the ocean of eternal grace and glory. The time is coming when we shall no longer worship in temples made with hands, neither in the mountains of Samaria, nor in the temples of Jerusalem, or Rome, or London. 'The cloud-capt towers-the gorgeous palaces-the solemn temples-yea, the great globe itself, shall dissolve, and, like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind.' Or in language far more solemn and striking, because they are the unerring words of truth, 'The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up.' Then shall the Holy City-the New Jerusalem-descend from heaven, and all the ransomed of the Lord shall find in it a glorious and everlasting habitation.
Bunyan published this Book in a very small 8vo of 294 pages. It was never reprinted separately from his other works, and even in them it suffered from serious omissions and errors. It is now accurately printed from his original edition. The copy in Dr. Williams' Library, Redcross Street, is remarkably fine and clean, a present, most probably, in the first instance, from the author, having an inscription on the fly leaf, apparently in Bunyan's autograph, 'This for my good and dearly beloved frend mistris Backcraft.' It has a false title, bearing the imprint of 'London, Printed for Francis Smith, at the Elephant and Castle without Temple Barr, 1669.' The editor's copy, soiled and tattered, cost him twenty shillings, a striking proof of its rarity. This has the original title, with the real date, 1665, but without a printer's or publisher's name-from which it may be inferred that no one dared to patronize the labours of the poor prisoner-a circumstance tending to make the book more prized by the lovers of Christian liberty. The four dedications are singular, and truly Bunyanish.
THE EPISTLE TO FOUR SORTS OF READERS
I. TO THE GODLY READER.
Friend,-Though the men of this world, at the sight of this book, will not only deride, but laugh in conceit, to consider that one so low, contemptible, and inconsiderable as I, should busy myself in such sort, as to meddle with the exposition of so hard and knotty a Scripture as here they find the subject matter of this little book; yet do thou remember that 'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are' (1 Cor 1:27,28). Consider also, that even of old it hath been his pleasure to 'hide these things from the wise and prudent, and to reveal them unto babes' (Matt 11:25, 21:15,16). I tell you that the operation of the Word and Spirit of God, without depending upon that idol, so much adored, is sufficient of itself to search out 'all things, even the deep things of God' (1 Cor 2:10).
The occasion of my first meddling with this matter was as followeth:-Upon a certain first-day, I being together with my brethren in our prison chamber, they expected that, according to our custom, something should be spoken out of the Word for our mutual edification; but at that time I felt myself, it being my turn to speak, so empty, spiritless, and barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speak among them so much as five words of truth with life and evidence; but at last it so fell out that providentially I cast mine eye upon the eleventh verse of the one and twentieth chapter of this prophecy; upon which, when I had considered a while, methought I perceived something of that jasper in whose light you there find this holy city is said to come or descend; wherefore having got in my eye some dim glimmerings thereof, and finding also in my heart a desire to see farther thereinto, I with a few groans did carry my meditations to the Lord Jesus for a blessing, which he did forthwith grant according to his grace; and helping me to set before my brethren, we did all eat, and were well refreshed; and behold also, that while I was in the distributing of it, it so increased in my hand, that of the fragments that we left, after we had well dined, I gathered up this basketful. Methought the more I cast mine eye upon the whole discourse, the more I saw lie in it. Wherefore setting myself to a more narrow search, through frequent prayer to God, what first with doing, and then with undoing, and after that with doing again, I thus did finish it.
But yet, notwithstanding all my labour and travel in this matter, I do not, neither can I expect that every godly heart should in every thing see the truth and excellency of what is here discoursed; neither would I have them imagine that I have so thoroughly viewed this holy city, but that much more than I do here crush out is yet left in the cluster. Alas! I shall only say thus, I have crushed out a little juice to sweeten their lips withal, not doubting but in a little time more large measures of the excellency of this city, and of its sweetness and glory, will by others be opened and unfolded; yea, if not by the servants of the Lord Jesus, yet by the Lord himself, who will have this city builded and set in its own place.
But, I say, for this discourse, if any of the saints that read herein think they find nought at all but words, as many times it falleth out even in their reading the Scriptures of God themselves, I beg, I say, of such, that they read charitably, judge modestly, and also that they would take heed of concluding that because they for the present see nothing in this or that passage, that therefore there is nothing in it: possibly from that which thou mayest cast away as an empty bone, others may pick both good and wholesome bits, yea, and also out of that suck much nourishing marrow. You find by experience, that that very bit that will not down with one, may yet not only down, but be healthful and nourishing to another. Babes are more for milk than strong meat, though meat will well digest with those that are of riper years. Wherefore that which thy weakness will not suffer thee to feed on, leave; and go to the milk and nourishment that in other places thou shalt find.
II. TO THE LEARNED READER.
My second word is to my wise and learned reader.
Sir,-I suppose, in your reading of this discourse, you will be apt to blame me for two things: First, Because I have not so beautified my matter with acuteness of language as you could wish or desire. Secondly, Because also I have not given you, either in the line or in the margent, a cloud of sentences from the learned fathers, that have, according to their wisdom, possibly, handled these matters long before me.
To the first I say, the matter indeed is excellent and high; but for my part I am weak and low; it also deserveth a more full and profound discourse than my small pats will help me to make upon the matter. But yet seeing the Lord looketh not at the outward appearance, but on the heart, neither regardeth high-swelling words of vanity, but pure and naked truth; and seeing also that a widow's mite being all, even heart as well as substance, is counted more, and better, than to cast in little out of much, and that little too perhaps the worst, I hope my little, being all, my farthing, seeing I have no more, may be accepted and counted for a great deal in the Lord's treasury. Besides, Sir, words easy to be understood do often hit the mark, when high and learned ones do only pierce the air. He also that speaks to the weakest, may make the learned understand him; when he that striveth to be high, is not only for the most part understood but of a sort, but also many times is neither understood by them nor by himself.
Secondly, The reason why you find me empty of the language of the learned, I mean their sentences and words which others use, is because I have them not, nor have not read them: had it not been for the Bible, I had not only not thus done it, but not at all.
Lastly. I do find in most such a spirit of whoredom and idolatry concerning the learning of this world, and wisdom of the flesh, and God's glory so much stained and diminished thereby; that had I all their aid and assistance at command, I durst not make use of ought thereof, and that for fear lest that grace, and these gifts that the Lord hath given me, should be attributed to their wits, rather than the light of the Word and Spirit of God: Wherefore 'I will not take' of them 'from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, -- lest they should say, We have made Abram rich' (Gen 14:23).
Sir, What you find suiting with the Scriptures take, though it should not suit with authors; but that which you find against the Scriptures, slight, though it should be confirmed by multitudes of them. Yea, further, where you find the Scriptures and your authors jump, yet believe it for the sake of Scripture's authority. I honour the godly as Christians, but I prefer the Bible before them; and having that still with me, I count myself far better furnished than if I had without it all the libraries of the two universities. Besides, I am for drinking water out of my own cistern; what God makes mine by the evidence of his Word and Spirit, that I dare make bold with. Wherefore seeing, though I am without their learned lines, yet well furnished with the words of God, I mean the Bible, I have contented myself with what I there have found, and having set it before your eyes,
I pray read and take, Sir, what you like best;
III. TO THE CAPTIOUS READER.
My third word is to the captious and wrangling reader.
Friend,-However thou camest by this book, I will assure thee thou wast least in my thoughts when I writ it; I tell thee, I intended this book as little for thee as the goldsmith intendeth his jewels and rings for the snout of a sow. Wherefore put on reason, and lay aside thy frenzy; be sober, or lay by the book (Matt 7:6).
IV. TO THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, &c.
My fourth word is to the lady of kingdoms, the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, and the abominations of the earth.
Mistress,-I suppose I have nothing here that will either please your wanton eye or go down with your voluptuous palate. Here is bread indeed, as also milk and meat; but here is neither paint to adorn thy wrinkled face, nor crutch to uphold or undershore thy shaking, tottering, staggering kingdom of Rome; but rather a certain presage of thy sudden and fearful final downfall, and of the exaltation of that holy matron, whose chastity thou dost abhor, because by it she reproveth and condemneth thy lewd and stubborn life. Wherefore, lady, smell thou mayest of this, but taste thou wilt not: I know that both thy wanton eye, with all thy mincing brats that are intoxicated with thy cup and enchanted with thy fornications, will, at the sight of so homely and plain a dish as this, cry, Foh! snuff, put the branch to the nose, and say, Contemptible! (Mal 1:12,13; Eze 8:17). 'But wisdom is justified of all her children' (Matt 11:19). 'The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee' (Isa 37:22), yea, her God hath smitten his hands at thy dishonest gain and freaks (Eze 22:7-11, &c.). 'Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all ye that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her; that ye may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations, that ye may milk out and be delighted with the abundance of her glory' (Isa 66:10,11).
1. Solomon Jarchi. See Allen's Modern Judaism, p.275.
2. By 'idol' is here meant human wisdom and school learning, which the men of this world adore, and laugh in conceit at the attempt of one who did not possess it to expound the mysteries of the Revelations-forgetting that they can only be spiritually discerned.-Ed.
3. Where the Bible and uninspired authors agree, believe the truth simply for the Bible's sake. How properly jealous was Bunyan as to the supremacy of God's authority.-Ed.
4. See Isaiah 36:16. The fountain of living waters, and not the broken cisterns alluded to in Jeremiah 2:13.-Ed.
5. Commentators differ as to the meaning of 'put the branch to the nose,' Ezekiel 8:17, but all agree it was some well known mode of expressing contempt for God and his worship.-Ed.
THE HOLY CITY; OR, THE NEW JERUSALEM
By John Bunyan
Revelation 21:10-27; 22:1-4 "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal: And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof and the wall thereof. And the city lieth four-square, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper, and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved, shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all day by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 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. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads."
In my dealing with this mystery, I shall not meddle where I see nothing, neither shall I hide from you that which at present I conceive to be wrapt up therein; only you must not from me look for much enlargement, though I shall endeavour to speak as much in few words, as my understanding and capacity will enable me, through the help of Christ.
In this description of this holy city, you have these five general heads:
FIRST, The vision of this city in general. SECOND, A discovery of its defence, entrances, and fashion, in particular. THIRD, A relation of the glory of each. FOURTH, A discovery of its inhabitants, their quality and numerousness. FIFTH, A relation of its maintenance, by which it continueth in life, ease, peace, tranquility, and sweetness for ever. To all which I shall speak something in their proper places, and shall open them before you.
But before I begin with any of them, I must speak a word or two concerning John's qualification, whereby he was enabled to behold and take a view of this city; which qualification he relateth in these words following:
Verse 10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.
The angel being to show this holy man this great and glorious vision, he first, by qualifying of him, puts him into a suitable capacity to behold and take the view thereof; 'He carried me away in the spirit.' When he saith, He carried me away in the Spirit, he means he was taken up into the Spirit, his soul was greatly spiritualized. Whence take notice, that an ordinary frame of spirit is not able to comprehend, nor yet to apprehend extraordinary things. Much of the Spirit discerneth much of God's matters; but little of the Spirit discerneth but little of them: 'I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ; I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able' (1 Cor 3:2).
'And he carried me away in the spirit,' &c. Thus it was with the saints of old, when God had either special work for them to do, or great things for them to see. Ezekiel, when he had the vision of this city in the old law, in the captivity at Babylon, he must be first forefitted with a competent measure of the Spirit (Eze 40:2). John also, when he had the whole matter of this prophecy revealed unto him, he must be in the Spirit; 'I was (saith he) in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet' talking with me, &c (Rev 1:10,11). Whence note again, that when God calls a man to this or that work for him, he first fits him with a suitable spirit. Ezekiel saith, when God bid him stand upon his feet, that the Spirit entered into him, and set him upon his feet (Eze 2:1,2).
'And he carried me away,' &c. Mark, And he carried me [away] &c. As a man must have much of the Spirit that sees much of God, and his goodly matters; so he must be also carried away with it; he must by it be taken off from things carnal and earthly, and taken up into the glory of things that are spiritual and heavenly. The Spirit loveth to do what it doth in private; that man to whom God intendeth to reveal great things, he takes him aside from the lumber and cumber of this world, and carrieth him away in the solace and contemplation of the things of another world; 'And when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples' (Mark 4:34). Mark, and when they were ALONE; according to that of the prophet, 'Whom shall he teach knowledge, and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts' (Isa 28:9). Whence observe also, he is the man that is like to know most of God, that is oftenest in private with him (Luke 2:25-38). He that obeyeth when God saith, Come up hither, he shall see the bride, the Lamb's wife. For 'through desire a man having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom' (Pro 18:1).
'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain.' Thus having showed his frame, and inward disposition of spirit, he now comes to tell us also of the place or stage on which he was set; to the end that now being fitted by illumination, he might not be hindered of his vision by ought that might intercept. He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain. Thus did God of old also; for when he showed to Moses the patterns of the heavenly things, he must ascend to the Mount Sinai (Exo 19:3). He must into the mount also, when he hath the view of the Holy Land, and of that goodly mountain Lebanon (Deu 32:49). Whence we may learn that the things of God are far from man, as he is natural; and also that there are very great things between us and the sight of them: none can see them but such as are carried away in the Spirit and set on high.
'...To a great and high mountain.' This mountain therefore signifieth the Lord Christ, on which the soul must be placed, as on a mighty hill, whereby he may be able his eyes being anointed with spiritual eye salve, to see over the tops of those mighty corruptions, temptations, and spiritual enemies, that like high and mighty towers are built by the wicked one, to keep the view of God's things from the sight of our souls (2 Cor 10:5,6). Wherefore Christ is called the Mountain of the Lord's house, or that on which the house of God is placed; he is also called the Rock of ages, and the Rock that is higher than we. 'The hill of God is' an high hill, as Bashan; 'an high hill, as the hill of Bashan' (Psa 68:15). This is the hill from whence the prophet Ezekiel had the vision of this city (Eze 40:2); 'And upon this rock [saith Christ] I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' (Matt 16:18).
[FIRST. The Vision of the Holy City in General.]
'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem.' Having thus told us how, and with what he was qualified, he next makes relation of what he saw, which was that great city, the holy Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, in the language of the Scripture, is to be acknowledged for the church and spouse of the Lord Jesus; and is to be considered either generally or more particularly. Now as she is to be taken generally, so she is to be understood as being 'the whole family in heaven and earth,' (Eph 3:15); and as she is thus looked upon, so she is not considered with respect to this or that state and condition of the church here in the world, but simply as she is the church: therefore it is said, when at any time any are converted from Satan to God, that they 'are come unto Mount Zion, 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 first-born which are written in heaven; to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus, -- and to the blood of sprinkling' (Heb 12:22,24).
But again, as Jerusalem is thus generally to be understood, so also she is to be considered more particularly: 1. Either as she relates to her first and purest state; or, 2. As she relates to her declined and captivated state; or, 3. With reference to her being recovered again from her apostatized and captivated condition. Thus it was with Jerusalem in the letter; which threefold state of this city shall be most exactly answered by our gospel Jerusalem, by our New Testament church. Her first state was in the days of Christ and his apostles, and answereth to Jerusalem in the days of Solomon; her second state is in the days of antichrist, and answereth to the carrying away of the Jews from their city into Babylon; and her third state is this in the text, and answereth to their return from captivity, and rebuilding their city and walls again: all which will be fully manifest in this discourse following.
[This city is the gospel church returning out of antichristian captivity.]
Besides, that this holy city that here you read of is the church, the gospel church, returning out of her long and antichristian captivity; consider,
First, She is here called a city, the very name that our primitive church went under (Eph 2:19); which name she loseth all the while of her apostatizing and captivity under antichrist; for observe, I say, all the while she is under the scourge of the dragon, beast, and the woman in scarlet, &c. (Rev 13), she goeth under the name of a woman, a woman in travail, a woman flying before the dragon, a woman flying into the wilderness, there to continue in an afflicted and tempted condition, and to be glad of wilderness nourishment, until the time of her enemies were come to an end (Rev 12).
Now the reason why she lost the title of city at her going into captivity is, because then she lost her situation and strength; she followed others than Christ, wherefore he suffered her enemies to scale her walls, to break down her battlements; he suffered, as you see here, the great red dragon, and beast with seven heads and ten horns, to get into her vineyard, who made most fearful work both with her and all her friends; her gates also were now either broken down or shut up, so that none could, according to her laws and statutes, enter into her; her charter also, even the Bible itself, was most grossly abused and corrupted, yea, sometimes burned and destroyed almost utterly; wherefore the Spirit of God doth take away from her the title of city, and leaveth her to be termed a wandering woman, as aforesaid. 'The court which is without the temple [saith the angel] leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months' (Rev 11:2). 'The holy city shall they tread under foot'; that is, all the city constitutions, her forts and strength, her laws and privileges for a long time, shall be laid aside and slighted, shall become a hissing, a taunt, and a byword among the nations. And truly thus it was in the letter, in the destruction of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon and his wicked instruments, by whose hands the city was broken up, the walls pulled down, the gates burned, the houses rifled, the virgins ravished, and the children laid dead in the top of every street (2 Chron 36:17-21; Jer 52; Lam 1; 2; 3; 4). Now was Zion become a ploughed field, and Jerusalem turned to heaps; a place of briars and thorns, and of wasteness and desolation (Micah 3:12; Isa 7:23,24).
Second, The phrase also that is joined with this of city doth much concern the point; she is here called 'the new and holy city,' which words are explained by these, 'prepared as a bride and adorned for her husband.' The meaning is, that she is now got into her form, fashion, order, and privileges again; she is now ready, adorned, prepared, and put into her primitive state; mark, though she was in her state of affliction called a woman, yet she was not then either called a city or a woman adorned; but rather a woman robbed and spoiled, rent and torn among the briars and thorns of the wilderness (Isa 5:6; 42:22; 32:13,14). Wherefore this city is nothing else but the church returned out of captivity from under the reign of antichrist, as is yet farther manifest, because,
Third. We find no city to answer that which was built after the Jews' return from captivity but this; for this, and only this, is the city that you find in this prophecy that is nominated as the antitype of that second of the Jews; wherefore John hath no relation of her while towards the doom of antichrist, and no description of her in particular until antichrist is utterly overthrown; as all may see that wisely read (Rev 17-20).
[Why the church is called a city.]
'And showed me that great city.' The Holy Ghost is pleased at this time to give the church the name of a city, rather than any other name, rather than the name of spouse, woman, temple, and the like-though he giveth us her under the name of a woman also, to help us to understand what he means; but, I say, the name of a city is now the name in special, under which the church must go, and that for special reasons.
First. To show us how great and numerous a people will then be in the church; the church may be a woman, a temple, a spouse, when she is but few, a handful, but two or three; but to be a city, and that in her glory, it bespeaks great store of members, inhabitants, and citizens; especially when she goeth under the name of a great city, as here she does. He 'showed me that great city.'
Second. She goeth rather under the name of a city, than temple or spouse, to show us also how plentifully the nations and kingdoms of men shall at that day traffic with her, and in her, for her goodly merchandize of grace and life; to show us, I say, what wonderful custom the church of God at this day shall have among all sorts of people, for her heavenly treasures. It is said of Tyrus and Babylon, that their merchandize went unto all the world, and men from all quarters under heaven came to trade and to deal with them for their wares (Eze 27; Rev 18:2,3). Why thus it will be in the latter day with the church of God; the nations shall come from far, from Tarshish, Pul, Lud, Tubal, Javan, and the isles afar off. They shall come, saith God, out of all nations upon horses and mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem. 'And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord' (Isa 66:19-23). Alas, the church at that day when she is a woman only, or a temple either, may be without that beauty, treasure, amiableness, and affecting glory that she will be endowed with when she is a prosperous city. His marvellous kindness is seen 'in a strong city' (Psa 31:21). In cities, you know, are the treasures, beauty, and glory of kingdoms; and it is thither men go that are desirous to solace themselves therewith. 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined' (Psa 50:2).
Third. It is called a city, rather than a woman or temple, to show us how strongly and securely it will keep its inhabitants at that day. 'In that day shall this song be sung, -- We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks' (Isa 26:1). And verily if the cities of the Gentiles, and the strength of their bars, and gates, and walls did so shake the hearts, yea, the very faith of the children of God themselves, how secure and safe will the inhabitants of this city be, even the inhabitants of that city which God himself will build,' &c. (Deu 9:1,2; Num 13:28).
Fourth. But lastly, and more especially, the church is called here a city, chiefly to show us that now she shall be undermost no longer. Babylon reigned, and so shall Jerusalem at that day. 'And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion, the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem' (Micah 4:8). Now shall she, when she is built and complete, have a complete conquest and victory over all her enemies; she shall reign over them; the law shall go forth of her that rules them, and the governors of all the world at that day shall be Jerusalem men. 'And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the south. And saviours shall come up on mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's' (Obad 20,21). 'For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. -- And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more' (Micah 4:1-3). There brake he 'the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; God will establish it for ever' (Psa 48:1-8). For observe it, Christ hath not only obtained the kingdom of heaven for those that are his, when this world is ended, but hath also, as a reward for his sufferings, the whole world given into his hand; wherefore, as all the kings, and princes, and powers of this world have had their time to reign, and have glory in this world in the face of all, so Christ will have his time at this day, to show who is 'the only Potentate -- and Lord of lords' (1 Tim 6:15). At which day he will not only set up his kingdom in the midst of their kingdoms, as he doth now, but will set it up even upon the top of their kingdoms; at which day there will not be a nation in the world but must bend to Jerusalem or perish (Isa 60:12). For 'the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him' (Dan 7:27). 'And his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth' (Zech 9:10). O holiness, how shall it shine in kings and nations, when God doth this!
[This city descends out of heaven from God.]
'He showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.' In these words we are to inquire into three things. First. What he here should mean by heaven. Second. What it is for this city to descend out of it. Third. And why she is said to descend out of it from God.
First. For the word heaven, in Scripture it is variously to be understood, but generally either materially or metaphorically; now not materially here, but metaphorically; and so is generally, if not always, taken in this book.
Now that it is not to be taken for the material heavens where Christ in person is, consider, that the descending of this city is not the coming of glorified saints with their Lord; because that even after the descending, yea and building of this city, there shall be sinners converted to God; but at the coming of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his saints, the door shall be shut; that is, the door of grace, against all unbelievers (Luke 13:25; Matt 25:10).
Therefore heaven here is to be taken metaphorically, for the church; which, as I said before, is frequently so taken in this prophecy, as also in many others of the holy scriptures (Rev 11:15; 12:1-3,7,8,10,13; 13:6; 19:1,14; Jer 51:48; Matt 25:1, &c.). And observe it, though the church of Christ under the tyranny of antichrist, loseth the title of a standing city, yet in the worst of times she loseth not the title of heaven. She is heaven when the great red dragon is in her, and heaven when the third part of her stars are cast unto the earth; she is heaven also when the beast doth open his throat against her, to blaspheme her God, his tabernacle, and those that dwell in her.
Second. Now, then, to show you what we are to understand by this, that she is said to descend out of heaven; for indeed to speak properly, Jerusalem is always in the Scriptures set in the highest ground, and men are said to descend, when they go down from her, but to ascend, or go up when they are going thitherwards (Eze 3:1; Neh 12:1; Matt 20:17,18; Luke 19:28; 10:30). But yet though this be true, there must also be something significant in this word descending; wherefore when he saith, he saw this city to descend out of heaven, he would have us understand,
1. That though the church under antichrist be never so low, yet out of her loins shall they come that yet shall be a reigning city (Heb 7:6,13,14). Generation is a descending from the loins of our friends; he therefore speaks of the generation of the church. Wherefore the meaning is, That out of the church that is now in captivity, there shall come a complete city, so exact in all things, according to the laws and liberties, privileges and riches of a city, that she shall lie level with the great charter of heaven. Thus it was in the type, the city after the captivity was builded, even by those that once were in captivity, especially by their seed and offspring (Isa 45); and thus it shall be in our New Testament New Jerusalem; 'They that shall be of thee,' saith the prophet, that is, of the church of affliction, they 'shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in' (Isa 58:12); and again, they that sometimes had ashes for gladness, and the spirit of heaviness instead of the garment of praise, 'they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations; for your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion,' &c. (Isa 61:3,4,7). Thus therefore by descending we may understand that the church's generation shall be this holy city, and shall build up themselves the tower of the flock (Micah 4:8).
2. When he saith, This holy city descended out of heaven, he would have us understand also what a blessing and happiness this city at her rebuilding will be to the whole world. Never were kind and seasonable showers more profitable to the tender new-mown grass than will this city at this day be, to the inhabitants of the world; they will come as a blessing from heaven upon them. As the prophet saith, 'The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people, as a dew from the Lord; as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men' (Micah 5:7). O the grace, the light and glory that will strike with spangling beams from this city, as from a sun, into the farthest parts of the world! 'Thus saith the Lord, as the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them all: I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my' holy 'mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon [where the sweet roses grew, (Cant 2:1)], shall be a fold for flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me' (Isa 65:8-10). 'In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land' (Isa 19:24). 'And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong' (Zech 8:13). 'As the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore' (Psa 133:3).
Third. And now for the third particular, namely, What it is to descend out of heaven from God.
1. To descend out of heaven, that is, out of the church in captivity, 'from God,' is this: The church is the place in which God doth beget all those that are the children of him; wherefore in that they are said to descend out of heaven 'from God,' it is as if he had said, the children of the church are heaven-born, begotten of God, and brought forth in the church of Christ. For 'Jerusalem which is above is the mother of us all' (Gal 4:26). 'The Lord shall count when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there' (Psa 87:5,6).
2. When he saith he saw this Jerusalem come out of heaven from God, he means that those of the church in captivity that shall build this city, they shall be a people peculiarly fitted and qualified for this work of God. It was not all the children of Israel that had their hand in building Jerusalem after the captivity of old; 'their nobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord' (Neh 3:5). Also there were many of Judah that were sworn to Tobiah, the arch-opposer of the building of the city, because of some kindred and relation that then was between them and him (Neh 6:17-19). And as it was then, so we do expect it will be now; some will be even at the beginning of this work, in Babylon, at that time also some will be cowardly and fearful, yea, and even men hired to hinder the work (Neh 6:10-12). Wherefore I say, those of the church that at that day builded the city, they were men of a particular and peculiar spirit, which also will so be at the building of New Jerusalem. They whose light breaks forth as the morning, they that are mighty for a spirit of prayer, they that take away the yoke, and speaking vanity, and that draw out their soul to the hungry; they that the Lord shall guide continually, that shall have fat bones, and that shall be as a watered garden, whose waters fail not, &c. (Isa 58:8-14). Of them shall they be that build the old wastes, and that raise up the foundations of many generations, &c. It was thus in all ages, in every work of God, some of his people, some of his saints in special in all ages, have been used to promote, and advance, and perfect the work of their generations.
3. This city descends or comes out of heaven from God, that is, by his special working and bringing to pass; it was God that gave them the pattern even when they were in Babylon; it was God that put it into their hearts while there, to pray for deliverance; it was God that put it into the hearts of the kings of the Medes and Persians to give them liberty to return and build; and it was God that quailed the hearts of those that by opposing did endeavour to hinder the bringing the work to perfection; yea, it was God that did indeed bring the work to perfection; wherefore she may well be said to descend 'out of heaven from God': as he also saith himself by the prophet, I will cause the captivity of Judah, and the captivity of Israel to return, and I will build them as at the first (Ezra 4:1-4; 7:27; Neh 2:8-18; 4:15; 6:15,16; Jer 33:7; 32:44; Eze 36:33-37; 37:11-15; Amos 9:11).
Lastly, When he saith he saw her descend from God out of heaven, he may refer to her glory, which at her declining departed from her, and ascended to God, as the sap returns into the root at the fall of the leaf; which glory doth again at her return descend, or come into the church, and branches of the same, as the sap doth arise at the spring of the year, for indeed the church's beauty is from heaven, and it either goeth up thither from her, or else comes from thence to her, according to the natures of both fall and spring (Cant 2).Thus you see what this heaven is, and what it is for this city to descend out of it; also what it is for this city to descend out of it from God.
[This city has the glory of God.]
Ver.11. 'Having the glory of God.' These last words do put the whole matter out of doubt, and do most clearly show unto us that the descending of this city is the perfect return of the church out of captivity; the church, when she began at first to go into captivity, her glory began to depart from her; and now she is returning again, she receiveth therewith her former glory, 'having the glory of God.' Thus it was in the type, when Jerusalem went into captivity under the King of Babylon, which was a figure of the captivity of our New Testament church under Antichrist, it is said that then the glory of God departed from them, and went, by degrees, first out of the temple to the threshold of the house, and from thence with the cherubims of glory, for that time, quite away from the city (Eze 10:4-18; 11:22,23 &c.).
Again, As the glory of God departed from this city at her going into captivity, so when she returned again, she had also then returned to her the glory of God; whereupon this very prophet that saw the glory of God go from her at her going into captivity, did see it, the very same; and that according as it departed, so return at her deliverance. 'He brought me to the gate,' saith he-that is, when by a vision he saw all the frame and patterns of the city and temple, in the state in which it was to be after the captivity. 'He brought me to the gate -- that looketh toward the east, and behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east'-the very same way that it went when it was departed from the city (Eze 11:23). 'His voice was like a noise of many waters, and the earth shined with is glory. It was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city, and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face, and the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east; so the Spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house' (Eze 43:1-5).
Thus you see it was in the destruction and restoration of the Jews' Jerusalem, by which God doth plainly show us how things will be in our gospel church; she was to decline and lose her glory, she was to be trampled-as she was a city-for a long time under the feet of the unconverted and wicked world. Again, she was after this to be builded, and to be put into her former glory; at which time she was to have her glory, her former glory, even the glory of God, returned to her again. 'He showed me,' saith John, 'that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.' As he saith by the prophet, 'I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies, my house shall be built in it' (Zech 1:16). And again, 'I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem' (Zech 8:3).
'Having the glory of God.' There is the grace of God, and the glory of that grace; there is the power of God, and the glory of that power; and there is the majesty of God, and the glory of that majesty (Eph 1:6; 2 Thess 1:9; Isa 2:19).
It is true God doth not leave his people in some sense, even in the worst of times, and in their most forlorn condition (John 14:18), as he showeth by his being with them in their sad state in Egypt and Babylon, and other of their states of calamity (Dan 3:25). As he saith, 'Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come' (Eze 2:16). God is with his church, even in her greatest adversity, both to limit, bound, measure, and to point out to her quantity and quality, her beginning and duration of distress and temptation (Isa 27:7-9; Rev 2:10). But yet I say the glory of God, in the notion of Ezekiel and John, when they speak of the restoration of this city, that is not always upon his people, though always they are beloved and counted for his peculiar treasure. She may then have his grace, but not at the same time the glory of his grace; his power, but not the glory of his power; she may also have his majesty, but not the glory thereof; God may be with his church, even then when the glory is departed from Israel.
The difference that is between her having his grace, power, and majesty, and the glory of each, is manifest in these following particulars;-grace, power, and majesty, when they are in the church in their own proper acts, only as we are considered saints before God, so they're invisible, and that not only altogether to the world, but often to the very children of God themselves; but now when the glory of these do rest upon the church, according to Ezekiel and John; why then it will be visible and apparent to all beholders. 'When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall APPEAR in his glory' (Psa 102:16), as he saith also in another place, 'The Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee' (Isa 60:1-2).
Now, then, to speak a word or two, in particular to the glory of God, that at this day will be found to settle upon this city.
First. Therefore, at her returning, she shall not only have his grace upon her, but the very glory of his grace shall be seen upon her; the glory of pardoning grace shall now shine in her own soul, and grace in the glory of it shall appear in all her doings. Now shall both our inward and outward man be most famously adorned and beautified with salvation; the golden pipes that are on the head of the golden candlestick, shall at this day convey, with all freeness, the golden oil thereout, into our golden hearts and lamps (Zech 4:2). Our wine shall be mixed with gall no longer, we shall now drink the pure blood of the grape; the glory of pardoning and forgiving mercy shall so show itself at this day in this city, and shall so visibly abide there in the eyes of all spectators, that all shall be enflamed with it. 'For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name' (Isa 62:1,2). And again, 'The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God' (Isa 52:10; Psa 98:2). At that day, the prophet tells us, there shall be holiness upon the very horses' bridles, and that the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar, and every pot in Jerusalem shall be holiness unto the Lord (Zech 14:20,21). The meaning of all these places is, that in the day that the Lord doth turn his church and people into the frame and fashion of a city, and when he shall build them up to answer the first state of the church, there will such grace and plenty of mercy be extended unto her, begetting such faith and holiness and grace in her soul, and all her actions, that she shall convince all that are about her that she is the city, the beloved city, the city that the Lord hath chosen; for after that he had said before, he would return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem (Zech 8:3), he saith, moreover, that Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 'And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of thee' (Deu 28:10).
Second. As the glory of the grace of God will, at this day, be wonderfully manifest in and over his city; so also at that day will be seen the glory of his power. 'O my people,' saith God, 'that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rock, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt,' that is, shall persecute and afflict thee, as Pharaoh served thy friends of old; but be not afraid, 'For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction: and the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him, according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt' (Isa 7; 10:24-26). The sum is, God will, at the day of his rebuilding the New Jerusalem, so visibly make bare his arm, and be so exalted before all by his power towards his people, that no people shall dare to oppose-or stand, if they do make the least attempt to hinder-the stability of this city. 'I will surely [gather, or] assemble, O Jacob, all of thee,' saith God: 'I will surely gather the remnant of Israel -- as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of the fold; they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them, they have broken up [the antichristian siege that hath been laid against them], they have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it, and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them' (Micah 2:12,13). 'Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds are called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion, and for the hill thereof' (Isa 31:4). 'The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies' (Isa 42:13). But 'not by might, nor yet by power,' that is, the power and arm of flesh, but by the power of the Word and Spirit of God, which will prevail, and must prevail, to quash and overturn all opposition (Zech 12:8; Zeph 3:8; Joel 3:16; Zech 4:6).
Third. [The glory of his majesty.] When God hath thus appeared in the glory of his grace, and the glory of his power, to deliver his chosen, then shall the implacable enemies of God shrink and creep into holes like the locusts and frogs of the hedges, at the appearance of the glory of the majesty of God. Now the high ones, lofty ones, haughty ones, and the proud, shall see so evidently the hand of the Lord towards his servants, and his indignation towards his enemies, that 'they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, -- and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth' (Isa 2:19,21).
Where the presence of the Lord doth so appear upon a people, that those that are spectators perceive and understand it, it must need work on those spectators one of these two things;-either first a trembling and astonishment, and quailing of heart, as it doth among the implacable enemies (Josh 2:8-13), or else a buckling and bending of heart, and submission to his people and ways (Josh 9:22-25). As saith the prophet, 'The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee, and all they that despised thee shall fall down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee The city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel' (Isa 60:14). As Moses said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord your God shall lay the fear of you, and the dread of you, upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you' (Deu 11:25).
At this day the footsteps of the Lord will be so apparent and visible in all his actions and dispensations in and towards his people, this holy city, that all shall see, as I have said, how gracious, loving, kind, and good the Lord is now towards his own children; such glory, I say, will be over them, and upon them, that they all will shine before the world; and such tender bowels in God towards them, that no sooner can an adversary peep, or lift up his head against his servants, but his hand will be in the neck of them; so that in short time he will have brought his church into that safety, and her neighbours into that fear and submission, that they shall not again so much as dare to hold up a hand against her, no, not for a thousand years (Rev 20:3). 'Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be builded on her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry; and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; and I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small: Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them' (Jer 30:18-20).
[The light of this city.]
Having the glory of God. 'And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.' Having thus told us of her glory, even of 'the glory of God,' how it at this day will rest upon this city, he now comes to touch a second thing, to wit, 'her light,' and that in which she descends, and by which, as with the light of the sun, she seeth before her, and behind her, and on every side. This therefore is another branch of her duty; she in her descending hath 'the glory of God,' and also 'the light of a stone most precious.'
Ezekiel tells us, that in the vision which he saw when he came to destroy the city-which vision was the very same that he saw again at the restoring of it-he saith, I say, that in this vision, among many other wonders, he saw a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness about it, and that 'the fire also was bright, and that out of it went forth lightning'; that 'the likeness of the firmament upon the -- living creatures, was as the colour of the terrible crystal'; that the throne also, upon which was placed the likeness of a man, was like, or 'as the appearance of a sapphire-stone' (Eze 1:4,13,14,22,26). All which words, with the nature of their light and colour, the Holy Ghost doth in the vision of John comprise, and placeth within the colour of the jasper and the crystal-stone. And indeed, though the vision of John and Ezekiel, touching the end of the matter, be but one and the same, yet they do very much vary and differ in terms and manner of language; Ezekiel tells us that the man that he saw come to measure the city and temple, had in his hand 'a line of flax' (40:3), which line John calls a golden reed; Ezekiel tells us that the river came out of, or 'from under the threshold of the house' (47:1); but John saith it came out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Ezekiel tells us that on either side of this river grew ALL trees for food (v 12); John calls these ALL trees but ONE tree, and tells us that it stood on both sides of this river. The like might also be showed you in many other particulars; as here you see they differ as touching the terms of the light and brightness that appears upon this city at her rebuilding, which the Holy Ghost represents to John under the light and glory of the jasper and crystal-stone; for indeed the end of Ezekiel's vision was to show us, that as when the glory of God departed from the city, it signified that he would take away from them the light of his Word, and their clearness of worship, suffering them to mourn for the loss of the one, and to grope for the want of the other; so at his return again he would give them both their former light of truth, and also the clearness of spirit to understand it, which also John doth show us shall last for ever.
'...And her light was like unto a stone most precious...' This stone it is to represent unto us the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose light and clearness this city comes out of Babylon; for, as he saith, she hath the glory of God, that is, his visible hand of grace, power, and majesty, to bring her forth; so she comes in the light of this precious stone, which terms, I say, both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Peter do apply to the Lord Jesus, and none else; the one calling him 'a precious corner-stone,' the other calling him the 'chief corner-stone, elect and precious' (Isa 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6). Now then when he saith this city hath the light of this stone to descend in, he means that she comes in the shining wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and influences of Christ, out of her afflicted and captivated state; and observe it, she is rather said to descend in the light of this stone, than in the light of God, though both be true, because it is the man Christ, the stone which the builders rejected, 'in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,' of whose fulness we do all receive, and grace for grace; 'for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell' (Col 2:3; John 1:16; Col 1:19. See also Acts 2:33 and Eph 4:10-13).
This showeth us, then, these two things-
First. That the time of the return of the saints to build the ruinous city is near, yea, very near, when the light of the Lord Jesus begins to shine unto perfect day in her. God will not bring forth his people out of Babylon, especially those that are to be the chief in the building of this city, without their own judgments. 'They shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion' (Isa 52:8). As he saith also in another place, 'The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and health the stroke of their wound' (Isa 30:26). 'And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly' (Isa 32:3,4). The Lord shall be now exalted, and be very high, for he will fill Zion with judgment and righteousness, and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times (Isa 33:5,6). When Israel went out of Egypt, they wanted much of this, they went out blindfolded, as it were, they went they knew not whither; wherefore they went not in the glory of that which this city descendeth in; as Moses said, 'The Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear, unto this day' (Deu 29:4). But these shall see every step they take; they shall be like the beasts that had eyes both before and behind: they shall see how far they are come out of Antichrist, and shall see also how far yet they have to go, to the complete rebuilding and finishing of this city.
Second. This showeth us how sweet and pleasant the way of this church will be at this day before them. Light, knowledge, and judgment in God's matters doth not only give men to see and behold all the things with which they are concerned, but the things themselves being good, they do also by this means convey very great sweetness and pleasantness into the hearts of those that have the knowledge of them. Every step, I say, that now they take, it shall be as it were in honey and butter. 'The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy [see v 2] upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away' (Isa 35:10). As he saith, 'Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built; O virgin of Israel, thou shalt again be adorned with tabrets, and shall go forth in the dances of them that make merry.-For thus saith the Lord, Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child together; a great company shall return thither' (Jer 31:4,7,8).
By these words, the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth, he would have us understand thus much-
1. That the way of God shall, by the illuminating grace of Christ, be made so pleasant, so sweet, and so beautiful in the souls of all at that day, that even the blindest shall not stumble therein, neither shall the lame refuse it for fear of hurt; yea, the blind, the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth shall, though they be of all in most evil case to travel, and go the journey, yet, at this day, by reason of the glorious light and sweetness that now will possess them, even forget their impediments, and dance, as after musical tabrets.
2. This city, upon the time of her rebuilding, shall have her blind men see, her halt and lame made strong; she also that is with child, and her that travaileth, shall jointly see the city-work that at this day will be on foot, and put into form and order, yet before the end. 'Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee,' saith the Lord to his people, 'and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out, and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you, for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord' (Zeph 3:19,20).
'And her light was like unto a stone most precious.' In that he saith her light is like unto 'A STONE MOST PRECIOUS,' he showeth us how welcome, and with what eagerness of spirit this light will at this day be embraced by the Lord's people. 'Truly the light is sweet,' saith Solomon, 'and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun' (Eccl 11:7). And if so, then how beautiful, desirable, and precious will that light be, that is not only heavenly, and from Christ, but that will be universal among all saints, to show them the same thing, and to direct them to and in the same work. The want of this hath, to this day, been one great reason of that crossness of judgment and persuasion that hath been found among the saints, and that hath caused that lingering and disputing about the glorious state of the church in the latter days; some being for its excellency to consist chiefly in outward glory; and others, swerving on the other side, conclude she shall not have any of this: some conceiving that this city will not be built until the Lord comes from heaven in person; others again concluding that when he comes, then there shall be no longer tarrying here, but that all shall forthwith, even all the godly, be taken up into heaven: with divers other opinions in these matters. And thus many 'run to and fro,' but yet, God be thanked, knowledge does increase, though the vision will be sealed, even to the time of the end (Dan 12:4). But now, I say, at the time of the end, the Spirit shall be poured down upon us from on high (Isa 32:15); now 'they also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding' (Isa 29;24); the city shall descend in the light of a stone most precious. The sun will be risen upon the earth, when Lot goeth from Sodom unto Zoar (Gen 19:23).
Now there shall be an oneness of judgment and understanding in the hearts of all saints; they shall be now no more two, but one in the Lord's hand (Eze 37:19-21). Alas! the saints are yet but as an army routed, and are apt sometimes through fear, and sometimes through forgetfulness, to mistake the word of their captain-general, the Son of God, and are also too prone to shoot and kill even their very right-hand man; but at that day all such doing shall be laid aside, for the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9,13). Which knowledge shall then strike through the heart and liver of all swerving and unsound opinions in Christ's matters; for then shall every one of the Christians call upon the name of the Lord, and that with one pure lip or language, 'to serve him with one consent' (Zeph 3:9). It is darkness, and not light, that keepeth God's people from knowing one another, both in their faith and language; and it is darkness that makes them stand at so great a distance both in judgment and affections, as in these and other days they have done. But then, saith God, 'I will plant in the wilderness,' that is, in the church that is now bewildered, 'the cedar, the shittah tree, the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree together; that they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the holy One of Israel hath created it' (Isa 41:19,20). And again, 'The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, and the pine tree, and the box together,' to beautify the house of my glory, and to 'make the place of my feet glorious' (Isa 60:13).
Never was fair weather after foul-nor warm weather after cold-nor a sweet and beautiful spring after a heavy, and nipping, and terrible winter, so comfortable, sweet, desirable, and welcome to the poor birds and beasts of the field, as this day will be to the church of God. Darkness! it was the plague of Egypt: it is an empty, forlorn, desolate, solitary, and discomforting state; wherefore light, even the illuminating grace of God, especially in the measure that it shall be communicated unto us at this day, it must needs be precious. In light there is warmth and pleasure; it is by the light of the sun that the whole universe appears unto us distinctly, and it is by the heat thereof that everything groweth and flourisheth; all which will now be gloriously and spiritually answered in this holy and new Jerusalem (2 Thess 2). O how clearly will all the spiders, and dragons, and owls, and foul spirits of Antichrist at that day be discovered by the light hereof! (Rev 18:1-4). Now also will all the pretty robins and little birds in the Lord's field most sweetly send forth their pleasant notes, and all the flowers and herbs of his garden spring. Then will it be said to the church by her Husband and Saviour, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell' (Cant 2:10-13). You know how pleasant this is, even to be fulfilled in the letter of it, not only to birds and beasts, but men; especially it is pleasant to such men that have for several years been held in the chains of affliction. It must needs, therefore, be most pleasant and desirable to the afflicted church of Christ, who hath lain now in the dungeon of Antichrist for above a thousand years. But, Lord, how will this lady, when she gets her liberty, and when she is returned to her own city, how will she then take pleasure in the warm and spangling beams of thy shining grace! and solace herself with thee in the garden, among the nuts and the pomegranates, among the lilies and flowers, and all the chief spices (Cant 7:11-13).
'Even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.' These words are the metaphor by which the Holy Ghost is pleased to illustrate the whole business. Indeed similitudes, if fitly spoke and applied, do much set off and out any point that either in the doctrines of faith or manners, is handled in the churches. Wherefore, because he would illustrate, as well as affirm, the glory of this Jerusalem to the life, therefore he concludes his general description of this city with these comparisons:-I saw, saith he, the holy city, the Lamb's wife; I saw her in her spangles, and in all her adorning, but verily she was most excellent. She was shining as the jasper, and as pure and clear as crystal. The jasper, it seems, is a very beautiful and costly stone, inasmuch as that, above all the precious stones, is made use of by the Holy Ghost to show us the glory and shining virtues of the Lord Jesus in this New Jerusalem; and yet, behold, the jasper is too short and slender to do the business, there must another stone be added, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Yea, saith the Lord Jesus, her checks are like rows of jewels, and so are the joints of her thighs; even like the jewels that are 'the work of the hands of a cunning workman' (Cant 1:9,10; 7:1).
The crystal is a stone so clear and spotless, that even her greatest adversaries, in the midst of all their rage, are not able justly to charge her with the least mote or spot imaginable; wherefore when he saith, that this city in her descending is even like the jasper for light, and like the crystal for clearness; he would have us further learn, that at the day of the descending of this Jerusalem, she shall be every way so accomplished with innocency, sincerity, and clearness in all her actions, that none shall have from her, or her ways, any just occasion given unto them to slight, contemn, or oppose her. For,
First, As she descends, she meddleth not with any man's matters but her own; she comes all along by the King's highway; that is, alone by the rules that her Lord hath prescribed for her in his testament. The governors of this world need not at all to fear a disturbance from her, or a diminishing of ought they have. She will not meddle with their fields nor vineyards, neither will she drink of the water of their wells: only let her go by the King's highway, and she will not turn to the right hand or to the left, until she hath passed all their borders (Num 20:18,19: 21:22). It is a false report then that the governors of the nations have received against the city, this New Jerusalem, if they believe, that according to the tale that is told them, she is and hath been of old a rebellious city, and destructive to kings, and a diminisher of their revenues. I say, these things are lying words, and forged even in the heart of 'Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions' (Eze 4:7). For verily this city, in her descending, is clear from such things, even as clear as crystal. She is not for meddling with anything that is theirs, from a thread even to a shoe-latchet. Her glory is spiritual and heavenly, and she is satisfied with what is her own. It is true, the kings and nations of this world shall one day bring their glory and honour to this city; but yet not by outward force or compulsion; none shall constrain them but the love of Christ and the beauty of this city. 'The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising' (Isa 60:3). The light and beauty of this city, that only shall engage their hearts and overcome them. Indeed, if any shall, out of mistrust or enmity against this city and her prosperity, bend themselves to disappoint the designs of the eternal God concerning her building and glory, then they must take what followeth. Her God in the midst of her is mighty, he will rest in his love, and rejoice over her with singing, and will UNDO all that afflict her (Zeph 3:17-19). Wherefore, 'associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word and it shall not stand; for God is with us' (Isa 8:9,10).
What work did he make with Og the king of Bashan, and with Sihon, king of the Amorites, for refusing to let his people go peaceably by them, when they were going to their own inheritance (Num 21:22-35). God is harmless, gentle, and pitiful; but woe be to that people that shall oppose or gainsay him. He is gentle, yet a lion; he is loth to hurt, yet he will not be crossed; 'Fury is not in me,' saith he; yet if you set the briars and thorns against him, He 'will go through them, and burn them together' (Isa 27:4). Jerusalem also, this beloved city, it will be beautiful and profitable to them that love her; but a cup of trembling, and a burthensome stone to all that burden themselves with her; 'all that burthen themselves with it, shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against her' (Zech 12:2,3).
Again, she will be clear as crystal in the observation of all her turns and stops, in her journeying from Egypt to Canaan, from Babylon to this Jerusalem state. She will, I say, observe both time and order, and will go only as her God doth go before her; now one step in this truth, and then another in that, according to the dispensation of God, and the light of day she lives in. As the cloud goes, so will she; and when the cloud stays, so will she (Rev 14:4; Exo 40:36-38). She comes in perfect rank and file, 'terrible as an army with banners' (Cant 6:10). No Balaam can enchant her; she comes 'out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all spices of the merchants' (Cant 3:6). Still 'leaning upon her beloved' (Cant 8:5). The return of Zion from under the tyranny of her afflictors, and her recovery to her primitive purity, is no headstrong brain-sick rashness of her own, but the gracious and merciful hand and goodness of God unto her, therefrom to give her deliverance. 'For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon [that is, the time of the reign of Antichrist, and his tyranny over his church] I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place' (Jer 29:10). 'Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for [spiritual] wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all' (Isa 57:11; Jer 31:12).
[SECOND. A Discovery of its Defence, Entrances, and Fashion in Particular.]
Verse 12. 'And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.' These words do give us to understand, that this holy city is now built, and in all her parts complete, they give us also to understand the manner of her strength, &c.
'And had a wall.' Having thus, I say, given us a description of this city in general, he now descends to her strength and frame in particular: her frame and strength, I say, as she is a city compact together: as also of her splendour and beauty.
And observe it, that of all the particulars that you read of, touching the fence, fashion, or frame of this city, and of all her glory, the firs thing that he presenteth to our view is her safety and security; she 'had a wall.' A wall, you know, is for the safety, security, defence, and preservation of a place, city, or town; therefore it is much to the purpose that in the first place after this general description, he should fall upon a discovery of her security and fortification; for what of all this glory and goodness, if there be no way to defend and preserve it in its high and glorious state? If a man had in his possession even mountains of pearl and golden mines, yet if he had not wherewith to secure and preserve them to himself, from those that with all their might endeavour to get them from him, he might not only quickly lose his treasure, and become a beggar, but also through the very fear of losing them, even lose the comfort of them, while yet in his possession. To speak nothing of the angels that fell, and of the glory that they then did lose. I may instance to you the state of Adam in his excellency; Adam, you know, was once so rich and wealthy, that he had the garden of Eden, the paradise of pleasure, yea, and also the whole world to boot, for his inheritance; but mark, in all his glory, he was without a wall; wherefore presently, even at the very first assault of the adversary, he was not only worsted as touching his person and standing, but even stripped of all his treasure, his paradise taken from him, and he in a manner left so poor, that forthwith he was glad of an apron of fig-leaves to cover his nakedness, and to hide his shame form the face of the sun (Gen 3:7). Wherefore, I say, John speaks to the purpose in saying she had a wall; a wall for defence and safety, for security and preservation. Now then she shall lie no longer like blasted bones in an open field or valley; that was her portion in the days of her affliction (Eze 37:1,2).
[The wall of the city.]
'And had a wall.' It is said of old Jerusalem, that she had a wall and a wall, two walls for her defence and safety (Jer 39:4; Jer 52:7); which two, in my judgment, did hold forth these two things. The one, their eternal preservation and security from the wrath of God, through the benefits of Christ; and the other, that special protection and safeguard that the church hath always had from and by the special providence of her God in the midst of her enemies, Wherefore one of these is called by the proper name of salvation, which salvation I take in special to signify our fortification and safety from the wrath of God, and the curse and power of the law and sin (Isa 26:1; Acts 4:12). The other is called, A wall of fire round about her; and alludeth to the vision that the prophet's servant was made to see for his comfort, when he was put in fear, by reason of the great company of the enemies that were bending their force against the life of his master (Eze 2:5; 2 Kings 6:17).
But now in those days, though there were for the defence of the city those two walls, yet they stood a little distance each from other, and had a ditch between them, which was to signify that though then they had the wall of salvation about them, with reference to their eternal state, yet the wall of God's providence and special protection was not yet so nearly joined thereto but that they might, for their foolishness, have that broken down, and they suffered to fall into the ditch that was between them both (Isa 22:10-12). And so he saith by the prophet, 'I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard [that is, to this city for the wickedness thereof], I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down' (Isa 5:5-7). Which hedge and wall could not be that of eternal salvation, for that stood sure, though they should be scattered among the nations 'as wheat is sifted in a sieve' (Amos 9:9). It must therefore be the wall of her special preservation in her outward peace and happiness, which wall was often in those days broken down, and they made havoc of, of all that dwelt about them.
But now touching the safety of New Jerusalem, the city of which I here discourse, she is seen in the vision by John to have but one only wall; to signify that at this day the wall of her eternal salvation, and of God's special providence to protect and defend her, in her present visible and gospel glory, shall be so effectually joined together, that now they shall be no more two, that is, at a distance, with a ditch between, but one sound and enclosing wall; to show us that now the state of this Jerusalem, even touching her outward glory, peace, and tranquility, will be so stable, invincible, and lasting, that unless that part of the wall which is eternal salvation, can be broken down, the glory of this city shall never be vailed more. Wherefore the prophet, when he speaks with reference to the happy state and condition of this city, he saith, 'Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise' (Isa 60:18); as he saith also in another place, 'Thine eye shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken' (Isa 33:20). The walls are now conjoined, both joined into one; the Father hath delivered up the great red dragon into the hand of Christ, who hath shut him up and sealed him down, even down for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-3). Wherefore from the Lord shall there be 'upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all her glory shall be a defence' (Isa 4:5). And 'in that day shall this song be sung: We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks' (Isa 26:1,2). The same in effect hath our prophet John, saying 'I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem,' descending out of heaven from God, 'prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, -- The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them: -- 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' (Rev 21:1-4).
'And had a wall great and high.' These words, great and high, are added for illustration, to set out the matter to the height; and indeed the glory of a wall lieth in this, that it is great and high; the walls of the Canaanites were terrible upon this account, and did even sink the hearts of those that beheld them (Deu 1:28). Wherefore this city shall be most certainly in safety, she hath a wall about her, a great wall: a wall about her, an high wall. It is great for compass, it incloseth every saint; it is great for thickness, it is compacted of all the grace and goodness of God, both spiritual and temporal; and for height, if you count from the utmost side to the utmost, then it is higher than heaven, who can storm it? (Heb 7:26) and for depth, it is lower than hell, who can undermine it? (Job 11:8).
Great mercies, high mercies, great preservation, and a high arm to defend, shall continually at this day encamp this city: God himself will be a continual life-guard to this city; 'I will encamp,' saith he, 'about mine house, because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth; and no oppressor shall pass through them any more; for now have I seen with mine eyes' (Zech 9:8).
[The gates of the city.]
'And had twelve gates.' Having thus showed us her wall, he now comes to her gates; it had gates, it had twelve gates. By gates in this place we are to understand the way of entrance; gates, you know, are for coming in, and for going out (Jer 17:19,20); and do in this place signify two things. First, An entrance into communion with the God and Saviour of this city. Secondly, Entrance into communion with the inhabitants and privileges of this city; in both which the gates do signify Christ: for as no man can come to the knowledge and enjoyment of the God, and glorious Saviour, but by and through the Lord Christ; so no man can come into true and spiritual communion with these inhabitants, but by him also: 'I am the way,' saith he, 'and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me': and again, 'I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture' (John 10:1-9; 14:6).
'And had twelve gates.' In that he saith twelve gates, he alludeth to the city of Jerusalem that was of old, which had just so many (Neh 3: 12:37-29); and are on purpose put into the number of twelve, to answer to the whole number of the elect of God, which are comprehended within the number of the twelve tribes, whether they are natural Jews or Gentiles; for as all the godly Jews are the seed of Abraham after the flesh, though to godly, because they are the children of the flesh of Abraham; so all the godly Gentiles are the children of Abraham after the spirit, though not by that means made the children of the flesh of Abraham. They both meet then in the spirit and faith of the gospel, as God saith to the Jews, 'when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord,' that is, become godly, and receive the faith of Christ, let all his males be circumcised, and then let them come near, and keep it, &c. (Exo 12:48). For they that are of faith, are the children of faithful Abraham, who is called the very father of us all (Gal 3:7; Rom 4:16). Thus you see all the godly come under the title of the children of Abraham, and of the Jews; and so under the denomination also of being persons belonging to the tribes, the twelve tribes, who answer to those twelve gates. Wherefore the Psalmist minding this, speaking indefinitely of all the godly, under the name of the tribes of Israel; saying, 'Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together, whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord' (Psa 122:2-4).
But again, though I am certain that all the Gentiles that are at any time converted, are reckoned within the compass of some of the tribes of Israel, to which the gates of this city may truly be said to answer; yet the gates are here in a special manner called by the name of twelve, to answer to the happy return and restoration of those poor distressed creatures the twelve tribes of the Jews that are scattered abroad, and that are, and for a long time have been to our astonishment and their shame, as vagabonds and stragglers among the nations (Hosea 9:17), there to continue 'many days, without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an ephod' (Hosea 3:4). That is, without the true God, the true Saviour, and the true word and ordinances; after which, saith the same prophet, they shall even in the latter days, that is, when this city is builded, return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall then 'fear the Lord and his goodness' (Hosea 3:5). This the apostle also affirmeth, when he telleth the believing Gentiles that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: which Israel in this place cannot by any means be taken for the Gentiles that are converted, for this Israel must be rejected until the bulk of the elect Gentiles be converted; besides he calleth this Israel by the name of Israel, even while unconverted; but the converted Gentiles still Gentiles, even when converted: he calls this Israel the natural branches, but the Gentiles wild branches; and tells us further, that when they are converted, they shall be grafted into their own olive tree; but when the Gentiles are converted, they must be cut off of their own stock and tree: read Romans 11 throughout. Wherefore, I say, the gates are called twelve, to answer these poor creatures, who at this day shall be awakened, and enlightened, and converted to the faith of Jesus. These gates in another place are called a way, and these Jews, the kings of the east; and it is there said also, that at present this way doth want preparing; which is as much as to say this city wants setting up, and the gates want setting in their proper places. Wherefore, saith John, the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates, that is, destroyed the strength and force of the Roman antichrist-for the river Euphrates was the fence of literal Babylon, the type of our spiritual one-which force and fence, when it is destroyed or dried up, then the way of the kings of the east will be prepared, or made ready for their journey to this Jerusalem (Rev 16:12). Of this the prophets are full, crying, 'Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people' (Isa 57:14). And again, 'Go through, go through the gates, prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the high way; gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy salvation cometh; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out; A city not forsaken' (Isa 62:10-12). All which doth most especially relate to the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, who in great abundance shall, when all things are made ready, come flocking in to the Son of God, and find favour, as in the days of old.
[The angels at the gates, what they are.]
'And at the gates twelve angels.' By angels in this place, we are to understand the messengers and ministers of the Lord Jesus, by whom the mystery of eternal life and felicity is held forth and discovered before the sons of men; and thus this word angel is frequently taken in this prophecy (Rev 1:20; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7; 14:6).
'And at the gates twelve angels'-
In these words, then, there are two things to be considered. First. Why they should be called twelve. And, Second. Why they are said to stand at the twelve gates of this new and holy city.
First. They are called twelve, to signify two things.1. The truth of their doctrine. And, 2. The sufficiency of their doctrine and ministry for the converting of the twelve tribes to the faith of Christ, and privileges of this city.
1. For the truth of their doctrine: for by twelve here he would have us to understand that he hath his eye upon the twelve apostles, or upon the doctrine of the twelve, the apostolical doctrine. As if he should say, This city, the New Jerusalem, shall be every way accomplished with beauty and glory; she shall have a wall for her security, and twelve gates to answer the twelve tribes; yea, and also at these gates the twelve apostles, in their own pure, primitive, and unspotted doctrine. The Romish beasts have corrupted this doctrine by treading it down with their feet, and have muddied this water with their own dirt and filthiness (Eze 34:17,18). But at this day, this shall be recovered from under the feet of these beasts, and cleansed also from their dirt, and be again in the same glory, splendour, and purity, as in the primitive times. It is said that when Israel was passed out of Egypt, beyond the sea, they presently came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, &c., and that they encamped by the waters (Exo 15:27). Which twelve wells did figure forth the doctrine of the twelve apostles, out of which the church, at her return from captivity, shall draw and drink, as out of the wells of salvation. Now shall the wells of our father Abraham, which the Philistines have for a great while stopped; now, I say, shall they again be opened by our Isaac, his son; and shall be also called after their own names (Gen 26:18). This is generally held forth by the prophets, that yet again the church shall be fed upon the mountains of Israel, and that they 'shall lie down in a good fold, and a fat pasture'; yea, 'I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God' (Eze 34:14,15).
2. As by these twelve we are to understand the truth and purity of the doctrine of the twelve, so again, by this word twelve, we are to understand the sufficiency of that doctrine and ministry to bring in the twelve tribes to the privileges of this city. Mark, for the twelve tribes there are twelve gates, for every tribe a gate; and at the twelve gates, twelve angels, at every gate an angel. 'O Judah,' saith God, 'he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of thy people' (Hosea 6:11). And so for the rest of the tribes; before Ephraim and Benjamin, and Manasseh, he will stir up his strength to save them (Psa 80:2). 'I will hiss for them,' saith God, 'and gather them, for I have redeemed them; and they shall increase as they have increased: and I will sow them among the people, and they shall remember me in far countries, and they shall live with their children, and return again; I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria, and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and place shall not be found for them' (Zech 10:8-10).
[Second.] But to come to the second question, that is, Why these twelve angels are said to stand at the gate? which may be for divers reasons.
1. To show us that the doctrine of the twelve is the doctrine that letteth in at these gates, and that also that shutteth out. 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted,' saith Christ, 'and whosesoever sins yet retain, they are retained' (John 20:23; Matt 18:18). And hence it is that the true ministers, in their right administration, are called porters; because as porters stand at the gate, and there open to, or shut upon, those that make an attempt to enter in (Mark 13:34); so the ministers of Christ, by the doctrine of the twelve, do both open to and shut the gates against the person that will be attempting to enter in at the gates of this city (2 Chron 23:19).
2. But again, they are said to stand at the gates for the encouraging and persuading of the tempted and doubting Jews, who at the beginning of their return will be much afflicted under the sight and sense of their own wretchedness. Alas! were it not for some to stand at the gates of this city for instruction, and the encouragement of those that will at that day in earnest be looking after life, they might labour as in other things for very, very vanity; and might also be so grievously beat out of heart and spirit, that they might die in despair. But now to prevent this for those that are in the way to Zion with watery eyes, and wetted cheeks, here stand the angels, continually sounding with their golden gospel-trumpets, 'Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good, and his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth' for ever, even 'to all generations' (Psa 100:4,5). As he saith again, 'And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcast in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem' (Isa 27:13).
[The names written on the gates.]
'And at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.' Thus it was in the vision of the prophet, when he was taking a view of the pattern of this city: 'And the gates of the city,' saith the angel to him, 'shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel' (Eze 48:31). Which saying John doth here expound, saying, the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel were writ or set upon them.
This being thus, it cleareth to you what I said but now, to wit, that the gates are called twelve, to answer the twelve tribes, for their names are written thereon. This must therefore, without all doubt, be a very great encouragement to this despised people; I say great encouragement, that notwithstanding all their rebellion, blasphemy, and contempt of the glorious gospel, their names should be yet found recorded and engraved upon the very gates of New Jerusalem. Thus then shall the Jews be comforted in the latter days; and truly they will have but need hereof; for doubtless, at their return, when they are thoroughly sensible of the murder they have committed, not only upon the bodies of the prophets and apostles, but of the Son of God himself, I say this must needs, together with the remembrance of the rest of their villainous actions, exceedingly afflict and distress their bleeding souls. For 'the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping; they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward' (Jer 50:4,5). Mark, 'going and weeping'; there will not be a step that these poor people will take in the day of their returning, but will be watered with the tears of repentance and contrition, under the consideration of the wickedness that, in the days of their rebellion, they have committed against the Lord of glory. As he saith also by another prophet, 'I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon, and the land shall mourn' (Zech 12:10-12).
Wherefore, I say, they both have and also will have need of twelve gates, and on them the names of their twelve tribes, with an angel at each, to encourage them to enter this holy and goodly city; and to tell them that yet he counts them his friends in whose house he received the wounds in his hands (Zech 13:6).
But again, As by the names of the twelve tribes written on the gates, we may see what encouragement the Jews will have, at their return, to enter in at them; so we may also understand that by the names of the twelve tribes here written, God would have us to perceive how all must be qualified that from among the Gentiles at this day do enter in at these gates; namely, those, and those only, that be cut out of their own wild olive tree, and transplanted among the children of Israel, into their good olive tree. Such as are Jews inwardly, the Israel of God, according to the new creature, they shall enter, for the holy Gentiles also, by virtue of their conversion, are styled the children of Abraham, Jews, the chosen generation, the peculiar people, the holy nation; and so are spiritually, though not naturally by carnal generation, of the twelve tribes whose names are written upon the gates of the city (Gal 3:7; Rom 2:28; 1 Peter 2:9,10). 'And it shall come to pass,' saith the prophet, 'that in what tribe the stranger,' that is, the Gentile 'sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God' (Eze 47:23). Thus the Jews and Gentiles shall meet together in the spirit of the gospel, and so both become a righteous nation; to both which the gates of this city shall stand continually open; at which also they may with boldness demand, by the faith of the Lord Jesus, their entrance, both for communion with the God, grace, and privileges of this city, according to that which is written, 'Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in' (Isa 26:2). Thus much of the number of the gates, and now to proceed to the order of them.
[The order of the gates.]
Ver.13. 'On the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.' I shall not speak anything to the manner of his repeating of the quarters towards which the gates do look; why he should begin at the east, then to the north, afterwards crossing to the south, and last to the west; though I do verily think that the Holy Ghost hath something to show us, wherefore he doth thus set them forth. And possibly he may set them thus, and the west last, not only because the west part of the world is that which always closeth the day, but to signify that the west, when Jerusalem is rebuilded, will be the last part of the world that will be converted, or the gate that will be last, because longest, occupied with the travels of the passengers and wayfaring men in their journey to this Jerusalem. But I pass that.
From the order of their standing, I shall inquire into two things. First. Why the gates should look in this manner every way, both east, west, north, and south? Second. Why there should be three, just three, on every side of this city? 'On the east three, on the north three, on the south three, and on the west three.'
First. For the first, the gates by looking every way, into all quarters, may signify to us thus much, that God hath a people in every corner of the world. And also, that grace is to be carried out of these gates by the angels in their ministry into every place, to gather them home to him. As it is said of the living creatures, 'Whither the head looked they followed it, they turned not as they went' (Eze 10:11); so whithersoever the gates look, thither the ministers go, and carry the Word, to gather together the elect. He 'sent them two and two before his face, into every city and place whither he himself would come' (Luke 10:1; Matt 28:19; John 11:52).
Again, the gates, by their thus looking every way, do signify to us, that from what quarter or part of the world soever men come for life, for those men there are the gates of life, even right before their doors. Come they from the east, why thither look the gates; and so if they come from north, or west, or south. No man needs at all to go about to come at life, and peace, and rest. Let him come directly from sin to grace, from Satan to Jesus Christ, and from this world to New Jerusalem. The twelve brazen oxen that Solomon made to bear the molten sea (1 Kings 7:23-25), they stood just as these gates stand, and signify, as I said before, that the doctrine of the twelve apostles should be carried into all the world, to convert-as in the primitive times, so now at the building of New Jerusalem-and to bring in God's sheep to the fold of his church. Now, I say, as the Word is carried every way, so the gates, the open gates, look also into all corners after them, to signify that loving reception that shall be given to every soul that from any corner of the whole world shall unfeignedly close in with grace, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, therefore, men 'shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God' (Luke 13:29; Psa 107:1-3).
[Second.] 'On the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.' Having thus showed you in a word, why they stand thus looking into every corner or quarter of the world, I now come to show you why there must be just three looking in this manner every way.
1. Then, there may be three looking every way, to signify that it is both by the consent of the three persons in the Trinity, that the gospel should thus every way go forth to call men, and also to show you that both the Father, Son, and Spirit, are willing to receive and embrace the sinner, from whatsoever part or corner of the earth he cometh hither for life and safety. Come they from whence they will, the Father is willing to give them the Son, and so is the Son to give them himself, and so is the Spirit to give them its help against whatever may labour to hinder them while they are here (John 3:16; Rev 21:6; 22:17).
2. In that three of the gates look every way, it may be also to show us that there is none can enter into this city, but by the three offices of the Lord Jesus. Christ by his priestly office must wash away their sins; and by his prophetical office he must illuminate, teach, guide, and refresh them; and by his kingly office, rule over them and govern them with his Word (Heb 7:5; John 13:8; Acts 3:22-24; Isa 40:10,11; 9:6,7; Psa 76:1-3; 110:3).
3. Or, by three gates, may be signified the three states of the saints in this life; an entrance into childhood, an entrance into a manly state, and an entrance into the state of a father of the church (1 John 2:12-14). Or, lastly, the three gates may signify the three-fold state we pass through from nature to glory; the state of grace in this life, the state of felicity in paradise, and our state in glory after the resurrection: or thus, the state of grace that possesseth body and soul in this life, the state of glory that possesseth the soul at death, and the state of glory that both body and soul shall be possessed with at the coming of the Lord and Saviour. This was figured forth by the order of the stairs in the temple at Jerusalem, which was first, second, and third, by which men ascended from the lowest to the uppermost room in the house of God; as he tells us, 'They went up with winding stairs' from the first into the second story, and from thence by them into the third (1 Kings 6:8). Thus much for the wall and gates of New Jerusalem.
[The foundations of the wall.]
Ver.14. 'And the wall of this city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' In these words we have two things considerable:-First. That the city-wall hath twelve foundations. Second. That in these twelve are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
First. It hath twelve foundations. This argueth invincible strength and support. That wall that hath but one foundation, how strongly doth it stand, if it be but safely laid upon a rock, even so strongly that neither wind nor weather, in their greatest vehemency, are able to shake or stir it to make it fall. But I say, how much more when a city hath foundations, twelve foundations, and those also laid by God himself; as it is said concerning the worthies of old, they 'looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God' (Heb 11:10).
'And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' The wall, you know, I told you, is the wall of salvation, or the safety of the church by Jesus Christ, to which is adjoined, as the effect of that, the special providence and protection of God. Now this wall, saith the Holy Ghost, hath twelve foundations, to wit, to bear it up for the continuation of the safety and security of those that are the inhabitants of this city; a foundation is that which beareth up all, and that upon which the stress of all must lie and abide. Now, to speak properly, the foundation of our happiness is but one, and that one none but the Lord Jesus; 'For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor 3:11). So then, when he saith the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and that in them also are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, he doth not mean that this wall had twelve Christs for its support, but that the doctrine of the twelve apostles is that doctrine upon which both Christ, and grace, and all happiness standeth firm and sure for ever. And to signify also, that neither Christ nor any of his benefits can be profitable unto thee, unless thou receive him alone upon the terms that they do hold him forth and offer him to sinners in their word and doctrine. If 'we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you,' saith Paul, 'than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed' (Gal 1:8,9).
[Second.] 'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' 'And in them their names.' This makes it manifest that by the foundations of this wall, we are to understand the doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lord Christ, for their names are to it, or found engraved in the foundations. Thus it was with the doctrine which was the foundation of the Jewish church; the first pattern being delivered by the man Moses, his name was always so entailed to that doctrine, that at last it became common, and that by Divine allowance, to call that doctrine by the name of Moses himself. 'There is one that accuseth you,' saith Christ, 'even Moses in whom ye trust' (John 5:45). And again, 'For Moses of old hath in every city them that preach him' (Acts 15:21). The same liberty of speech doth the Holy Ghost here use in speaking of the foundations of this wall, which is the doctrine of the twelve. And in that he calleth the doctrine by the name of foundations, and leaveth it only with telling us the names of the twelve apostles are engraven in it; he expects that men should be wise that read him, and that they should be skillful in the word of righteousness, if they come up clearly to the understanding of him.
'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.'
Thus you see that the twelve apostles, above all the servants of Christ, are here owned to be the foundations of this wall; and good reason, for they, above all other, are most clear and full in the doctrine of grace, and all doctrines pertaining to life and holiness. 'In other ages,' saith Paul, it 'was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit' (Eph 3:5). Moses was not fit for this, for his was a more dark and veiled administration; while Moses is read, the veil is over the heart, said Paul (2 Cor 3:13-15). Neither was any of the prophets fit for this, for they were all inferior to Moses, and were, as it were, his scholars (Num 12:6,7). Nay, John the Baptists is here shut out;-for the 'least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he' (Matt 11:11).
The apostles, above all other, were the men that were with the Lord Jesus all the time, from the baptism of John, even until the time he was taken up into heaven; they saw him, heard him, and discoursed with him, and were beholders of all the wondrous works that he did; they did eat and drink with him after his passion, and saw, after he was risen, the print of the nails, and the spear with which he was pierced, when he died for our sins (Luke 24:39,40). And because they had seen, felt, and at such a rate experienced all things from the very first, both touching his doctrine, miracles, and life, therefore he said unto them in chief, Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the utmost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8,21; 13:31; 10:39; 51:32; 1 John 1:1-3).
Further, The apostles were in that marvellous manner endued with the Holy Ghost, that they out-stript all the prophets that ever went before them; neither can I believe that in the best of times there should be any beyond them; yet if it should so fall out that a dispensation should come in which they should have, as to the pouring forth of the Spirit, their equals, yet it could not follow, that therefore the gospel should be offered in other terms than they at first have offered it, especially besides what hath been said of them, if you consider to them it was said, 'Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven' (Matt 18:18). They, as to their doctrine, were infallible, it was impossible they should err; he that despised their doctrine, despised God himself. Besides, they have given in commandment that all should write after their copy, and that we should judge both men and angels that did, or would do otherwise (1 Thess 3:8; Gal 1:8).
Timothy must have his rule from Paul, and so must holy Titus. All which, if we consider it, the Holy Ghost speaks to the purpose, in saying that in the twelve foundations are found the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. They are called the chief, and such as have laid the foundation, and others build thereon, and that as no men have laid the foundation but they, so none can lay even that foundation otherwise than they afore have laid it (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11,12; 1 Cor 3:6-11; Heb 6:1-3).
[Consideration from these words.] 'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' These words, then, teach us two things worthy of our Christian consideration.
First. That God hath given to every man a certain and visible mark to aim at for his salvation, or to build his soul upon, namely, the doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. For in that he saith their names are in the foundations, it is better for us, all things considered, than if he had said in them was the name of God himself; that is, it is more easy to see this way, through the mist of our carnality, what the mystery of his will should be, which is, that we receive Christ according to their doctrine, words, writings, epistles, letters, &c., their names, I say, being there, God counts it as the broad seal of heaven, which giveth authority to all that doctrine whereunto by themselves they are prefixed and subscribed; not where they are writ by others, but by themselves. I say, as the token of every epistle, and of their doctrine for truth, the which Paul insinuates, when he saith that his hand is the token of every epistle (2 Thess 3:17; Gal 6:11). As he saith again, Am I not an apostle? (1 Cor 9:1). And again, Behold, I Paul, have written unto you; I Paul (Gal 5:2), I, an apostle, I, a wise master-builder, I, who am in my doctrine one of the foundations of the wall of salvation, I have written unto you (1 Cor 11:5). And, as I said before, there is reason it should be thus: for as he who was the foundation of the Jewish church, even Moses, received the pattern of all his order from the mouth of the angel in Mount Sinai, so the twelve received their doctrine of faith and manners, the doctrine of the New Testament, from the mouth of the Son of God himself, as from the mouth of the angel of the everlasting covenant, on the mountain of Zion (Acts 7:38; 1:3; Matt 28:19).
Second. In that he saith the names of the twelve are in the foundations, this shows us the reason of the continual standing of this Jerusalem; it is built upon the doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and standeth there. For, observe, so long as he sees this holy city, he sees her standing upon these foundations; but he saw the city till she was taken up, therefore she continued as being settled for ever upon them. Indeed, the primitive city, or first churches, was built upon these foundations, and had also, so long as they there continued, sufficient supportation and upholding by that means (Eph 2:20-22). But then, as I have showed you, the wall of her salvation, and the wall of God's special protection, stood at a distance each from other, and were not so conjoined as now they will be. Wherefore they then, to answer the type, did fall into the ditch that was between, and through their foolishness provoked God to remove the wall of his outward protection and safeguard from them, whereupon the wild beast, Antichrist, got into his vineyard, making havoc of all their dainties. But mark, this city is not so, the walls are now conjoined, and for ever fastened upon the foundations, therefore it abides for ever, and ascends higher and higher; yet not from the foundations, but by them into heaven: 'Behold,' saith God, 'I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me' (Isa 49:16).
[How we are to understand the word TWELVE.]
'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' This word twelve must be warily understood, or else the weak will be ready to stumble and take offence; wherefore, to prevent this, consider,
First. The twelve must be them twelve that were with the Lord Jesus from the baptism of John until the day in which our Lord was taken up (Acts 1:22).
Second. These twelve are not neither to be considered simply as twelve Christians, or twelve disciples; but as their witness of the Lord Jesus-they being with him from first to last-were a twelve-fold witness of him in all his things; a twelve-fold seeing with their eyes, a twelve-fold hearing with their ears, a twelve-fold handling also with their hands, and feeling of the Son of God. As one of them said, 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, -- and our hands have handled of the word of life: -- that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us,' &c. (1 John 1:1,3). Now this being thus, it followeth that the doctrine of the other apostles, as of Paul and Barnabas, was still but the doctrine of the twelve; their doctrine, I say, and no other. Wherefore, as Ephraim and Manasseh were dissolved into the twelve tribes, so these two, with all other the apostles of Christ, are dissolved into the number of the twelve, because their doctrine is only the doctrine of the twelve; for they centre in their doctrine; their length, and breadth, and depth, and height being the doctrine of the twelve. So, then, the names of the twelve being found in the foundations of this wall, it argueth that that doctrine is only true that is the doctrine of the twelve eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus. And again, that at the day of Antichrist's fall, this doctrine shall be in its former purity, and bear the sway, and for ever hold up the wall of safety for the inhabitants of New Jerusalem. And indeed this doctrine, that the doctrine of the twelve is that upon which eternal safety is built and stands, is so true, that it must not be varied from upon pain of eternal damnation. Here centered Luke the Evangelist, here centered Jude, here centered the author to the Hebrews, yea, here centered Paul himself, with all the Old and New Testament. The doctrine of the twelve must be the opener, expounder, and limiter of all doctrines; there also must all men centre, and ground, and stay. A man may talk of, yea, enjoy much of the Spirit of God, but yet the twelve will have the start of him; for they both had the Spirit as he, and more than he. Besides, they together with this, did feel, see, handle, and receive conviction, even by their very carnal senses, which others did not; besides, their names also are found in the foundations of this saving wall, as being there engraved by God himself; which putteth all out of doubt, and giveth us infallible ground that their doctrine is only true, and all men's false that do not keep within the bounds and limits of that (Luke 1:2; Jude 3,17; Heb 2:3,4; 1 Cor 15:1-9; 9:1; Gal 1:1,2; Eph 3:5; 1 Cor 4:9).
To conclude, here are yet two things worthy of noting-
The first consideration is, that by the names of the twelve apostles being in the foundations of this wall, and the names of the twelve tribes being upon the gates of this city, it giveth us to consider, that at the time of the building of this city the Jews and Gentiles shall be united together, and become one body; which very consideration must needs be to the Jews a great encouragement to have in mind at their conversion (Rom 11: 1 Peter 1:1). For it plainly signifieth that our New Testament preachers shall carry in their mouths salvation to the Jews, by which means they shall be again reconciled and made one with the Lord Jesus (James 1:1; Acts 13:16,26; Rom 1:16; 2:10).
The second consideration is, that at the day of New Jerusalem, there shall be no doctrine accepted, nor no preachers regarded, but the doctrine, and the preaching of the doctrine of the twelve; for in that he saith that in them are found the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, he doth implicitly exclude all other, of whatever tribe they pretend themselves. It shall not be then as now, a Popish doctrine, a Quaker's doctrine, a prelatical doctrine, and the Presbyter, Independent, and Anabaptist, thus distinguished, and thus confounding and destroying. But the doctrine shall be one, and that one the doctrine where you find the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 'If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine that is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing' (1 Tim 6:3,4).
Thus you see the doctrine of the twelve is that which letteth souls into this city; and that the same doctrine is the doctrine that keepeth up the wall of their salvation about them, when they are entered in within the gates.
[The measuring line, or golden reed: what it is.]
Ver.15. 'And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.'
Now, having passed the relation of the wall, gates, and foundations, he comes to the measuring line, to see how all things lie and agree with that. Under the law, I find that all things pertaining to the worship of God were to be by number, rule, and measure, even to the very tacks and loops of the curtains of the tabernacle. Now the rule or lien by which all things were then squared, it was the laws, statutes, and ordinances which were given to Moses by the Lord in the Mount Sinai, for thither he went to receive his orders; and according to the pattern there showed him, so he committed all things by writing to them that were to be employed in the workmanship of the holy things pertaining to the rise and completing of the tabernacle, and all its instruments (Exo 20:21; 24:1; 25:40; Deu 30:10; 31:20-26).
Now, when this rule was thus received, then whosoever observed not to do it, he was to fall under the penalty that by the same law also was prescribed against the offenders and transgressors (Num 15:30,31). I find also, that when the temple was built in the days of Solomon, all things were then done according to the writing that David made, when the hand of God was upon him, when he made him understand all the work of this pattern (2 Chron 3; 4; 1 Chron 29:3-7; 28:19).
Thus again, when Josiah went about to bring to pass the reformation of the church of the Jews, and their instruments of worship, after their revolting, he goeth to the law of God, and by that understanding what was out of order, and how to put all things into order, he so did reduce them to their former manner. The same way also went Ezra and Nehemiah at the rebuilding of the temple and city after the captivity (2 Kings 22:8-13; Ezra 7:14; 8:34). From all which I conclude, that the reed, the golden reed, that here you read of, it is nothing else but the pure and unspotted Word of God; by which both the city, gates, and wall of this Jerusalem are regulated. Which word, by the holy prophet, is also compared to gold, and is said to be above 'much fine gold' (Psa 12:6; 19:10).
I find in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, that the angel that there is said to measure the city, which was a type of our Jerusalem, he appeared with a line of flax in his hand, to measure the pattern withal (Eze 40:3); which very phrase doth show us that this was but the type, and an Old Testament business; but John hath his in a New Testament style, and that in the most excellent manner of language, to signify that his city, or the city that he hath the vision of, is to be the end of all types and shadows, and the very perfection of them all. Wherefore he tells us also, that the line or reed by which this city is builded and squared, it is not now a line of flax, but a reed of gold, a golden reed; to signify not a word of the law and letter that had to do with shadows, but the New Testament, and ministration of the Spirit, which hath to do with substance, and the heavenly things themselves (Heb 9:23).
[The city measured.]
'A golden reed to measure the city,' &c. I told you at the first that this city was the church of God that should be in the latter days; but yet not the church disorderly and confusedly scattered here and there, without all visible order and discipline, but the church brought into exact form and order, lying every way level and square with the rule and golden reed of the New Testament of Christ; wherefore he calleth it a city, a city under rule. Thus it was in the type; for when Solomon's temple was to be builded, and the city in after times, it was not enough that they had stones and timber, but every one of them must be such stones, and such timber, and must also come under the rule and square of the workman; and so being fitted by hewers, saws, axes, and squares, they were fitly put into the building (1 Kings 5:17,18; 7:9-12; 1 Chron 22:2). By this, then, we may see with what a holy, exact line, rule, and order, this church and city, at this day, will be compact and built; the members must be all such as shall be made fit for the city of God by the hewing words of the prophets (Hosea 6:5). They must join in Christian communion also according to the golden reed of the New Testament, and ministration of the Spirit. Indeed, all the time of the reign of Antichrist, the church, as she was a holy temple in the Lord, so she was measured with reference to the truth of her grace, and invisible condition (Rev 11:1,2); but as she is to be a city, so she then is to be trodden down, and to lie without all form and order; but when Antichrist is dead, she shall again come into mind, be considered, reared, built by measure, and inhabited. And observe it, as the rule of the carpenter is of use in building, from the first appearance of the laying of a stone in order, even till it be in every point and part complete, so the golden reed with which the angel is here said to measure the city, &c., is to be of use from the first foundation even to the laying of the last stone thereof; as was also fore-showed by the man that is said to measure the pattern of this, in Ezekiel (Eze 30-48).
'And he measured the city.' That is, he measured the church in her constitution and fellowship. Now when God is said to measure, he is said to measure sometimes in judgment, and sometimes in mercy; sometimes to throw down, and sometimes to build up and establish. Sometimes, I say, he is said to measure in judgment, with intention to throw down and destroy. Thus he measured the city before she went into captivity, and the ten tribes before they were carried away beyond Babylon, because they lay cross to his word, and had perverted that which was right, &c. (Isa 28:17,18; Amos 7:7-9). But when he is said to measure the city in this place, it is that she might be built and set up. Wherefore, as I said, the line or golden reed that is now stretched forth to measure this city, it is to the end that all things may be in right form and order, 'fitly joined' and knit 'together, -- by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love' (Eph 4:16; Col 2:19).
Again, By measuring the city, he would have us to understand that all her limits and bounds were now apparent, that all things, even the church and all the world, were made to see their own compass. For as God in the days when temple worship only was on foot, would not lose a form or ordinance of all the forms and ordinances of his temple; so when city-work comes up, he will not lose an inch of the limits, and bounds, and compass of his city, she shall be full as large, and of as great a compass every way, as is determined of her; as he saith by the prophet, 'All the land, saith he, shall be turned as a plain (this is that which a little before is called the new heaven and a new earth); that is, there shall be a smooth face upon the whole earth, all snugs, and hubs, and hills, and holes, shall now be taken away, even 'from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem: and it [the city] shall be lifted up and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananiel, unto the king's wine presses' (Zech 14:10). The four places here mentioned in this verse, they do seem to be the four corners of the city of old; at which places the city bounds were set; and in which very circle the prophet tells us, but with gospel language, she shall be settled again.
[The gates measured.]
'And he measured the city,' and the gates thereof. This was figured forth by the vision in Ezekiel, for in it he saw the angel go from gate to gate, and saw him take the exact and distinct measure of every one thereof; nay, not only of them in a general way, but of the thresholds, the porch, the posts, and the faces of their entrances; he measured also every little chamber that was above upon the gates, with all the spaces that were between (Eze 40).
Now by gates, I told you, we are to understand the Son of God, as he is the way to the Father, and to the privileges of this city. Wherefore when he saith he measured the gates, it is as if he had said, he measured the entrance, strength, and goodly countenance of him, with the mansions of glory that are to be enjoyed by every one that entereth in hereby; for the porch, posts, face, entrance, and chambers of the gate in Ezekiel, they signify the entrance, strength, shining countenance, and resting places that every one shall find in the Lord Jesus that entereth in by him; and to measure all these, it is in substance but this, to set them forth, and out, in their full force, glory, largeness, beauty, and profitableness, in the view of all; for I told you at the first, the golden reed is the Word of God. Now the city and the gates thereof, are said to be measured by this golden reed: which, I say, can be nothing else but an opening of all the excellencies of Christ, as he is the gate of the sheep, even by the full sway, power, majesty, and clearness of the Word. The Lord help us! Christ, as he is the door to God, and to all gospel-privileges, is now strangely handled, and so hath been of a long time among the sons of men; some of them making him the very in-let to all the vile and abominable crew in the world, counting all that are pliant to their ungodly humours, the saints of the Most High, and Christ the door and gate through whom they have right to enter; and to whom belong the delicates of the precious things of God, even those which he hath most choicely laid up and reserveth for none but those that unfeignedly turn from iniquity, and walk with him in the newness of the Spirit. Others again do shut up the gates against the godly, labouring with might and main to hinder those that labour to enter, that fain would do it unfeignedly (Matt 23:14; 2 Chron 29:7). Others again do labour all that in them lies to deface the gates, to take away their beauty: like him that took the gold from off the doors and gates of the temple (2 Kings 18:16). Rendering Christ a low and carnal business, &c. But at the measuring-day, at the day when the golden reed shall be the alone rule: then you shall see this city, and her gates discovered in their own glory, holiness, and beauty. For though in our affliction under antichrist, our temple and instruments of worship, with the city, wall, gates, and the like, have been much defaced, even our doctrine of faith and worship, and have been much trod and trampled under the foot of the uncircumcised, yet all shall be recovered and brought into order again by the golden reed of the word of God. Which thing was figured forth to us by the good man Ezra the scribe, who at the restoring of Jerusalem took review of all the things pertaining to the city, both touching its branches and deformity, and also how to set all things in order, and that by the law of God which was in his hand, even according to the writing thereof (Ezra 7:14; 8:34; Neh 8:9). And whosoever doth but read the history of Ezra and Nehemiah throughout, they shall find that by the Word of God they brought all things to pass; all the ordinances of the house and city of God into their right and holy order. And indeed the measuring of the city and of the gates thereof, which is Christ the way, it can be nothing else but a bringing of them by the right understanding and opening of the Word into their proper places and excellencies, both for comers in, and goers out, according to the commandment (Eze 40:4; 43:7-12). For, to speak properly, Christ in his love, grace, merits, and largeness of heart, to let souls into communion with God and all happiness, is in all these things unsearchable, and passing knowledge, being filled with these things beyond thought, and without measure (Eph 3:8,18,19; Col 1:9; John 3:34).
[The wall measured.]
And he measured the city, the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. In that he saith, he measured the wall also, it is to show us that all things now are according to the rule of the Word: the inhabitants are according to the Word, the entrance is according to the Word, yea, and so is the safety of it also, even a fence to fence them from their enemies; even a fence on every side, that they may be at ease and rest, and be no more a tossing to and fro. 'O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest,' saith he, 'and not comforted, [I will do many good things for thee] -- In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee' (Isa 44:11-14).
Touching the wall, what it is, I have spoken already; therefore here I speak only to the measure of it, which measure is only the fulfilling all those promises and engagements of God that are made to New Jerusalem, for her safety and continual defence; and that not only in her own eyes, but in the eyes of all her beholders. Then shall that saying be with gladness in the mouths of all the inhabitants of this Jerusalem, 'We were bondmen, yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem' (Ezra 9:9). Which wall, I say, shall be so conspicuous to all the adversaries of this holy and beloved city, that the greatest of them shall not once dare to peep or mutter against her any more. 'God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together, they saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail' (Psa 48:1-6). As it is said of the building of the wall after the captivity: when the enemies and all the heathen saw it was finished, 'they were much cast down in their own eyes' (Neh 6:15,16).
The regulating of this city by this golden reed, and the measuring the gates and wall by this word, when finished, will then cause all that have skill in singing the Lord's songs, and of lifting up the praises of God in this city, to gather themselves together to sing, and to praise, and to say, Bless ye the name of the Lord, for his mercies endure for ever: for then will they purify the people, this city, with the gates and wall thereof (Neh 12:27-47).
Wherefore in the mean time, between this and the building of this city, let Jerusalem come into your mind, and walk about her, 'go round about her,' inquire by the Word what God hath said of her state, strength, safety, ease, peace, and blessed tranquillity in the latter days, 'tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generations following' (Psa 48:12,13).
[The form and measure of the city.]
Ver.16. 'And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs, the length, and the breadth, and height of it are equal.'
'And the city lieth four square.' These words do open unto you the matter yet more, to wit, that now both the city, gates, and wall were exactly in their visibility according to the Word, lying even every way with that golden reed: for by four square you are to understand perfection, or an answering the figures that of old did figure to us the completeness and perfection of the New Testament order.
For if you search the Scriptures, you will find that especially the great and principal instruments of God's worship in and under the law, their perfection was what here you read to be the perfection of this city, even a four square. As for instance, The breastplate of judgment, on which were engraved the names of the children of Israel, its exact point of perfection was to be a right four square. The ten bases also, that were to be for bearers to the lavers in the temple, they were to be four square: the altar of burnt-offerings likewise, with the altar of incense, their perfect pattern was that they should be four square. The inward court, and outward court, with the posts of the temple, and tables on which they were to slay the sacrifices, they were all four square. Yea, the city in the type, in the vision of Ezekiel, was seen to be of the same frame and fashion every way, having just twelve gates, and on each of the four sides three gates. Wherefore, when he saith the city lieth four square, it is as if he had said she lieth even with the pattern or golden reed of the Word; even, I say, both in her members, doctrine, worship, and manners: for the things afore hinted unto you do hold forth all these particulars (Exo 28:15,16; 39:8,9; 27:1; 38:1; 37:1; 1 Kings 7:27,28; Eze 43:1318; 40; 41:21; 48:30-34).
'And the length is as large as the breadth.' This explaineth the matter yet more fully and distinctly; for as to the things that I made mention of before, though they were to be made four square, and that their perfection lay exactly in that form, yet these squares did not lie in their height and depth, but in their length and breadth, just as you read here of the square of this city. As to instance: The altars, though they were five cubits long, and five cubits broad, yet but three high (Exo 27:1; 33:1; 1 Kings 7). So the bases, they were a cubit and an half broad, and a cubit and an half long, yet but half a cubit high; the tables also on which they slew the sacrifices, they were a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, yet but one cubit high (Eze 40:42). Which things being thus, you see the reason of his saying 'the length is as large as the breadth.'
Now by length and breadth here, we may yet observe another mystery held forth unto us; for by the breadth is held forth the perfection of the rule, or law to which all Christians ought to yield their hearty obedience: his commandment is exceeding broad (Psa 119:96). The breadth of which is signified, I say, by the breadth of those things that before you see to be the instruments of the worship of God. Now, as by breadth we are to understand the perfect latitude and compass of the commandment; so by length we are to understand the answerableness of the obedience of the inhabitants of this city; for indeed the perfection of Christian obedience lieth in an answerableness to the will of God; as it is said of the father and mother of John the Baptist, they walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6). And of Anna, that she continued without ceasing in the service of God in the temple day and night (Luke 2:37). This is to be as long in our obedience, as the law is broad in commanding. The law commands right obedience, and the Christian giveth it; the law commands continual obedience, and the Christian giveth it; the law commands universal obedience, and the Christian giveth it. He giveth it all these sorts of obedience, 1. By the person of Christ, for he is his righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). He giveth it all these, 2. With the consent of the mind (Rom 7:16). And 3. He giveth it all these obediences in the love of the Spirit, which the apostle calleth the fulfilling of the law, that is, an answering the breadth of its command by the length of obedience (Rom 13:10). Wherefore when he saith the length is as large as the breadth, he would have us understand how perfect in holiness these blessed souls will be at this day; and indeed, this is it that is by God expected to be in this city at this day. As the angel with his measuring-line said to Zechariah, I am going 'to measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof' (Zech 2:2). To see whether their doctrine be pure, and whether their obedience be answerable.
'And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.' These latter words do refer us to a distinct measure from that which went before; the former measure pointing at the breadth of her commandment and the length of her obedience, but this at the glory and fulness of her mansions and portions; for after he had said the city lieth four square, and that the length is as large as the breadth, which is the full and complete effect of that first measure, he comes over again with another measuring, saying, 'And he measured the city, -- twelve thousand furlongs'; as who should say, he measured the city, gates and wall first, and found them all exact, and according to the golden reed; and after he had so done, he measured the city with the reed twelve thousand furlongs.
'He measured the city with the reed'; that is, he measured out to the city, he measured for the city, for its lot and portion, twelve thousand furlongs. Which very thing you find in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel; for after ha had measured the city, the vessels, with the instruments of worship, I say, when he had done this, he comes again with an afterwards, to measure the city, her portions and mansions (Eze 47:1, &c.). Wherefore I say, these words do refer to her portion that she is to enjoy of her God, as the former referreth to her duty and obedience.
Now that which maketh me conclude that this latter measure is a measure distinct from the former, and that it relateth neither to the exactness of rule, nor the completeness of obedience, but only to the largeness of the portions that God will allot for thy sons and daughters, thou city of God; it is,
First, Because this is the biggest measure. For I find, by considering the Scripture, that as the persons and things pertaining to the worship of God were to go according to the rule of this golden reed, so also the portions that pertained to the persons worshipping were to go by rule and measure also, as here he saith he measured also the city, or to it, with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. And hence it is that our grace is called the measure of grace, and that our glory is called a weight of glory (Rom 12:3; Eph 4:7; 2 Cor 4:17).
Now I say, I find that our portions do go always under the biggest measure; the spoons, cups, flagons, snuffers, basons, candlesticks, and pans, which were the instruments of worship, were not so large as the chambers in the temple, and the compass of the holy land, which were the mansions and [the] portions of the church. See Joshua 15-16; John 14:1-3.
Secondly, I take the twelve thousand furlongs to signify portions, rather than worship or worshippers; because, as to the nature of it, it most exactly agrees with the portions that are measured out to this city by the angel before Ezekiel, which is a measuring forth so much land for the portion of the prince, so much for the portion of the priest, and so much for the portion of the twelve tribes. Yea, the very phrase, twelve thousand furlongs, also implieth such a compass of ground, by which we find the holy land hath been measured (Eze 45-47; Luke 24:13; John 6:18).
Lastly, I take it to be this also; because I find not in all this description of this holy city that any place doth give us that ground to speak to her measure of portion as this; and it would seem strange to me that the description of this city given by Ezekiel should be more complete than this that is given by our prophet John; for Ezekiel doth most amply set forth her portions, even distinctly, for prince, priest, and the tribes in particular. This therefore is to be understood of the portions of the city which John did see were measured out unto her immediately after he saw the breadth of her rule and the length of her obedience. Only consider that Ezekiel measureth by reeds, not counting by furlongs; but John, though he measureth by reeds, yet counteth by furlongs.
But now, though the Holy Ghost is thus pleased to speak of the portions of the saints in the New Jerusalem, as if he intended chiefly that their portion should consist in outward happiness, and in the enjoyment of such and such a portion or compass of ground: yet consider that these are but metaphorical and borrowed expressions, spoken to our capacities, under which is indeed included the nature of our blessed and spiritual food and nourishment. You know it is usual for the Holy Ghost in Scripture to call the saints sheep, lambs, heifers, cows, rams, doves, swallows, pelicans, and the like; and also to call their food, their spiritual and heavenly food, grass, provender, wheat, wine, oil, grapes, apples, figs, nuts, and the like also; all which are but shadowish and figurative expressions, even as this of the measure of the twelve thousand furlongs (John 10:15,16; Amos 4:3; Jer 31:18; Cant 2:5; Eze 34:14; Zech 10:1; Isa 30:24; Micah 4:4). And observe it, that which John saith here is twelve thousand furlongs, Ezekiel tells us it lieth on this side and on that side of the bank of the river of the water of life (Eze 47:8,9). Now I think there is none so much void of understanding as to think this water of life is anything else but the precious grace of God, in and through the Lord Jesus. Wherefore the ground or measure for portions, it is nothing else but our spiritual and heavenly food, even spiritual grace, and gifts, and comforts, that the holy ones of this city shall most plentifully partake of and enjoy. And so indeed the prophet also saith, speaking of the portions of the holy land for this city. 'The increase thereof,' saith he, 'shall be for food unto them that serve the city, and they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the twelve tribes of Israel' (Eze 48:18,19). Out of the twelve tribes, that is, out of the twelve thousand furlongs, which is the portion of the tribes. This is according to the saying of the prophet David, 'He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters' (Psa 23:2). And again, 'For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters' (Rev 7:17). 'For your shame, ye shall have double; and for confusion, they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double; everlasting joy shall be unto them' (Isa 61:7).
Thus you see the measure of the city, gates, and wall, and the effect of that; and thus you see also the measure of the portion for the city, with what it is: wherefore it remaineth that we see what is to be the effect of that also.
'And he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs, the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.' Before he told us that the length was as large as the breadth, which I then told you did signify the nature of her rule and the measure of her obedience. But now he adds and saith, that both in length and breadth and in height she is equal. Wherefore in that he adds at last a squareness of height to her squareness of length and breadth; and also in that he adds it not before he had told us of the measure of her portions, he would have us to understand that as the rule in which this city shall walk shall be complete, and as her obedience to that rule shall be complete, so her enjoyment of God and his grace at that day shall be proportionable also. She is square in her rule, square in her obedience, and square in her enjoyment of God and his goodness: the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. Indeed the Scripture saith, that in keeping his commandments there is great reward (Psa 19:11). And again, 'This man shall be blessed in his deed' (James 1:25). This showeth unto us then what glorious days these will be to the house and city of God, even days in which saints shall see the mind of God clearly, have hearts to do it completely, and have continually the answerable enjoyment of God and spiritual happiness. Now will his paths drop fatness with a witness! (Psa 65:11). And now will he meet 'him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways' (Isa 64:5). And the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. Wherefore the prophet in the vision of the measures of the portions doth observe that there was a squareness in them, as well as in their ordinances and obedience: and hence it is that he tells us that every little chamber was one reed broad and one reed long (Eze 40:7). And again, the oblation, that is, the portion for the tribes, shall be five and twenty thousand (Eze 48:20). By five and twenty thousand ye shall offer the holy oblation FOUR SQUARE, with the portion of the city.
Again, In that he saith the length and the breadth, and the height of it are equal, he showeth us how fit this city at this day will be even for the kingdom of heaven and glory. For observe, that as the rule, obedience, and comforts of God, do make this city a square city, both in height, and length, and breadth; so the holiest of all, which was a type of heaven (Heb 9:24), was of the same fashion also. It was twenty cubits high, and twenty cubits long, and twenty cubits broad: the length, and the breadth, and the height of it were equal (1 Kings 6:20; 2 Chron 3:8: Eze 41:4).
Wherefore, as now the will of God will be done, according to the petition, 'on earth as it is in heaven' (Matt 6:10); so will this city be at this day fit to enter into the holiest place; even as fit as one four square is to shut into another. Here is a four square city for a four square heaven; and the length and the breadth of it are equal. Wherefore it is upon this account that this city, at her appearing, is said to be adorned and prepared as a bride is for her husband, which we all know is the most perfect and completest attire that is possible to be got. And therefore it is, again, that at the coming of the Lord those that go in with him to the marriage are said to be ready beforehand (Rev 21:2; Matt 25:10).
Ver.17. 'And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits.' This measure of the wall that here he maketh mention of is also distinct from the former measure, where he is said to measure the city, gates, and wall; and it refers to such a wall, or to such a part of the wall in such a place. For I find that though the wall of this city in general is that which shall encompass the New Jerusalem round, yet this wall is in some place, and for some reason, of another manner and measure than the wall is in general, as it compasseth round the city, which part of the wall is called the broad wall, the wall upon which even half of the people might walk complete at once (Neh 3:8; 12:38).
But to trace out the business in the type, and so to come to its answer in the antitype; I find that a little distance from Jerusalem there was a place called Tophet, which place was counted profane, unholy, or defiled (2 Kings 23:10). I find also that this unclean, unholy place, was a figure of hell itself (Isa 30:33). Now mark, I find by the Scripture that against this Tophet, this unholy and profane place, was the broad wall of the city for the defence of the sanctuary erected, and reared up. He measured, saith the prophet, by the four sides, and it had a wall round about, five hundred reeds long, and five hundred reeds broad, 'TO MAKE A SEPARATION BETWEEN THE SANCTUARY AND THE PROFANE PLACES' (Eze 42:20). Which wall could not be that wall which compasseth the city, because it was but five hundred reeds long: for take the measure of this wall in its largest measure, and it is, if you count a reed for that which we count a pole, but twelve furlongs, which compass will scarce go round many market towns; especially if, together with this, you consider the breadth of the wall, whose breadth is as large as its length; wherefore now there is not room enough for a city so big as a cottage to stand in the midst thereof. I speak this, to show you that the wall in this place is not the wall that goeth round about the city, but the wall that is placed just between the sanctuary and Tophet, or hell itself. Now though Ezekiel and John do differ touching their count about the thickness of this wall, it is not so much to signify the walls are not one and the same, as to show us that the one, to wit, Ezekiel's wall, was to encompass a worldly sanctuary, but John's to encompass a spiritual and heavenly; wherefore Ezekiel's must be of so many reeds long to go round about the material sanctuary, as a type; but John comes more to the spirit of the matter, and showeth us what the sanctuary, wall, and the like should mean; for by sanctuary we are to understand, even in the Old Testament, a place of safety and security, which was a type of Christ (Eze 11:16; Heb 6:18). Now in that Tophet did stand against the sanctuary in the letter, it signifies that hell itself is bent against all those that take shelter in Christ; but to no purpose, for in the very face of Tophet, even between it and our place of sanctuary, is fixed an invincible and impregnable mighty wall, to keep in safety those that have fled to Christ for shelter. Now I say, in that John tells us this wall is an hundred and forty-four cubits, and waives the manner of the measure of Ezekiel, it is to show us that this wall is for the safety of the hundred and forty-four thousand that have taken sanctuary in Christ, that is, all the holy and truly gracious souls that are with him on the Mount Zion, having his Father's name written in their foreheads (Rev 7; 14:1-3). Both numbers, I say, being twelve times twelve, implying a sufficient safety for all that are sincerely and truly gracious.
And now to bring down the matter to our New Jerusalem state: for though it be true in all ages, that there is between those that have taken sanctuary in Christ, and the bottomless pit, an invincible and mighty wall of grace and heavenly power, and of the merits of Christ, to save to the uttermost all and every one that are thus fled to him for safety (Heb 7:25,26), yet there is something in it more than this, for those that come into the days and state of the New Jerusalem. For, I say, this wall being it that makes a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place in general, and yet being spoken of as a thing extraordinary, and accompanying the state of this new city only, it implieth that at this day the saints shall have that shelter by this wall from all the force of hell, and the damned spirits that now from Tophet afflict them, that they never had before. And therefore you find at the beginning of the thousand years, which, as I conceive, is the time of the building of this city, a mighty angel is said to come down from heaven to lay hold of the dragon, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, and to bind him a thousand years; which done, he casts him into the bottomless pit, and there shuts him up, to the end he should deceive the nations no more (Rev 20:1-3). The effect of which will be not only a delivering of the saints from outward persecution, but also from being any more assailed with either wicked and erroneous doctrine, or fierce and fiery darts from the prince of darkness, which now many of them are so much annoyed and afflicted with; now the church will be free from those hellish suggestions to blaspheme, to despair, and the like, that her members do yet most dreadfully and sadly meet with. For observe, this old tempter is said to be tied up, or to be cast into the bottomless pit, first as he is a dragon, under which name he goeth in this book, in his persecuting the church (Rev 12). Secondly, he is said to be shut up, as he goeth under the name of a serpent, under which name he went when he fomented his devilish and damning seducing doctrine to our first parents; the which the Spirit expressly seems to relate unto, and therefore calls him that old serpent; that old serpent that deceived us at the first (Gen 3:1-5). Thirdly, he is said to be shut up also, as he goeth under the name of the devil, and Satan, under which name he goeth commonly in the New Testament, when he provoketh and stirreth up our lusts, and when he labours to drive us into all manner of unbelief, distrust, despair, and so consequently into murmurings and blasphemy against God (Matt 4:1,5,8; Luke 4:2-6; Acts 5:1-3; Eph 6:11; 2 Cor 2:7,11). Wherefore, I say, that at the day that this wall is set up in all its glory, and when it performs every part and piece of its office to the full, then shall Satan be bruised under our feet indeed, and then shall Jerusalem be called the joyous city, and her people a joy; for her former sorrows shall be past and forgot (Rom 16:20: Rev 21:4).
If thou still objectest: But I have yet an evil heart, and therefore if I be not rid of that at that day, should I live till then, why though there should be no devil to afflict me, I shall feel and meet with sorrow and trouble enough. I answer thee: First, I dare not say that at this day thou shalt be in every sense without thy evil heart in the midst of all this glory, tempted soul. Yet I say thus much to thee-
First. Where there is no devil to tempt, though the saints will yet be imperfect, and come short of a glorified state, yet they, by his absence, will be delivered from many dreadful, vexing, and burning, and hellish darts, that will otherwise confound and afflict the soul like arrows whose heads are poisoned. Christians have a great deal of ease, when God doth, even at this day, withhold the devil for a season, though yet they have their own lusts, over they have when the devil and their own lusts are suffered to meet and work together. Yea, the Lord Jesus himself, who had no sin, yet in the temptation was fearfully handled and afflicted with the devil, though all the while, I say, he kept him at staves end, and did not suffer him in the least to annoy his person; and therefore it is said that when he was in the wilderness, in the conflict, the angels came to minister to him (Mark 1:12,13; Col 2:14,15). At the time of his agony also-in which agony, doubtless, Satan had a great hand to afflict him-you see his complaint, how that he was sore amazed, and exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, being so laden with heaviness and sorrow that he was scarce able to stand or wag under the burden of it (Luke 23:44; Mark 14:33,34). Satan, even from himself, besides the workings of our own lust, doth do us wonderful injury, and hits our souls with many a fiery dart that we think comes either from ourselves, or from heaven, and God himself; but not by this wall, this broad wall, this sorrow will be cut off.
Secondly. Again, when Satan is thus tied up, we shall, together with this mercy, receive such a plentiful pouring forth of the Holy Ghost, that though there will remain in us still remainders of our corruptions, yet, by the plentiful indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and the joy and peace and heavenly sweetness thereof, these things shall lie like lean, withered, blasted things. The reason of that power and that strength, that our lusts have to this day in our hearts, it is because they are so lean, and thin, and weak in the things of God. Strong grace makes corruptions weak, and strikes them thorough, laying them at the point of death, always gasping for life. Thus it was with Moses, he had such grace in his soul, and such communion with God, that though he had yet a body of sin within him, it was a rare thing for him to see his wretchedness (Num 11:14,15); that is, to see it pert, lively, and powerful in him. Indeed God saith, that upon the land of his people shall come up briars and thorns; 'yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city; because the palaces shall be forsaken, the multitude of the city shall be left, the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field,' &c. (Isa 32:13-15). And then 'the Lord shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David, and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them' (Zech 12:8). 'The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity' (Isa 33:24).
'And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.' 'According to the measure of a man.' The man Christ Jesus. For the measure of this city, or the golden reed with which this city is thus measured, it is his, his word and law of the New Testament. All judgment is committed into the hand of the Son; and God 'hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man' (John 5:27; 12:48).
'According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.' This angel is one of the seven that had the seven last plagues to execute upon the man of sin (Rev 21:9), and yet he saith the measure is according to the measure of a man; the meaning is that the city, the New Jerusalem, is to be built according to the word of Christ; but yet by his word as it is in the hand of his angels, that is, his messengers and servants; of which servants, the chief will be those that are his instruments to pour forth the seven vials full of the seven last plagues upon the Antichristian harlot. For they, with their plagues, will both destroy what standeth in implacable opposition, and will subject the rest, and bring them into a correspondency with the word and will of God, as I have showed. Whence note, that they of his servants that God shall use to pour forth his last and most dreadful plagues upon the whore, they are they that God will use to show us the pattern of this holy city. Or thus, they that can tell how to plague the whore, they can tell how to measure this city. 'The righteous men, they shall judge them,' that is, the Antichristian harlot, with her wicked and adulterous daughters, 'after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands' (Eze 23:45).
Thus much touching the frame of this city, its walls, gates, and foundations, with the measure of each. And now it remains that I speak of the glory of them.
[THIRD. A RELATION OF THE GLORY OF THE CITY, ITS WALLS, GATES, AND FOUNDATIONS.]
Ver.18. 'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.'
[The glory of the walls.]
In these words you have a discovery of the glory, both of the wall and city itself; and that, as you see, under the notion of two choice metaphors. The wall is jasper, the chief of stones; and the city is gold, the chief of metals. 'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper, and the city was pure gold.'
This jasper is that stone, in the light of which this city is said to descend, as in the light of a stone most precious. Now, as there he saith she descended in the light of this stone, so here he saith this stone is the wall thereof. 'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper.'
This therefore confirmeth unto you what I said of the wall before, to wit, that it was the salvation of God through Christ; wherefore, learn this by the way, that this city shall not be at this day in her own keeping, but in the keeping of Jesus Christ. He with his benefits doth compass her round, and by him alone she lieth down in safety. Wherefore it is from this consideration that God doth say by the mouth of the prophet, I will give them within my house, and within my walls, 'a place and a name better than that of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off' (Isa 56:5).
'And the building of the wall,' &c. By this word building, we are to understand both the materials of the wall, the manner of their placing, and the instruments that God will use for the setting up thereof. Now, to speak properly, this wall being the Lord Jesus Christ himself in his precious merits, benefits, and offices, the builder hereof must needs be God himself, for he it is that hath made this Christ for us a safeguard and defence, by making of him our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, by which he doth encompass us round on every side, and that at every moment to deliver us from the power and destruction both of sin, death, the devil, and hell (1 Cor 1:30; Heb 11:10; 3:4).
But again, the building here spoken of is a building of this wall after the destruction of Antichrist, and so long after Christ was sent, and made these things in his own person, to his beloved and blessed church. Wherefore the building of this wall that is here spoken of, it must be understood of the recovering again the purity of those doctrines, in which the Lord Jesus, with all his benefits, is found and made ours, for our everlasting defence and safety. For we find that the king of Babylon, who was a type of our Antichrist, when he came up against Jerusalem, the type of our primitive church, he brake down their city, destroyed their walls, rifled their houses, and killed their children; whose steps, I say, our Antichrist follows to a hair, in treading down the primitive church, corrupting her doctrines-which are her safeguard and wall-also robbing and spoiling the houses of God, and killing his children with a thousand calamities; turning all the heavenly frame and order of church government into a heap of rubbish, and a confused dunghill (Psa 74:4-7).
Wherefore the building again of this wall is to be understood of the recovering, and settling, and fastening the doctrines of Christ, as afore, in which doctrines he in all his benefits is wrapped and held fast for ever. I say, a recovering of them, and setting him up again in his primitive and pure glory, of being our priest, prophet, and king in his church, and a giving unto these offices their own proper length, breadth, height, and depth, letting them rule in all their force, glory, and majesty, and authority, for then will be golden days, and not till then; then, I say, when the several offices of the Lord Jesus do rule in their own nature and largeness of authority, both in the church and in the world (Zech 9:7,8; 14:9; Rev 11:15).
Alas! this wall is yet unbuilt, the offices of the Lord Jesus do not yet shine in that purity, nor so stand in their proper places as they shall do at the coming in of New Jerusalem. The wall lies yet but as a heap of rubbish; the offices of the Lord Christ are to this day by many preachers confounded, and removed to and fro, even like loose and rolling stones. These offices, also, are by others attributed to Antichrist, and his children of iniquity; but at this day the nations shall know themselves to be but men, and the doctrines of Christ shall be set again in their own places (Eze 28:2,3; 2 Thess 2:4). Now shall every going into this city, and every going out thereof, stand where it ought; and now shall every tower and fortress on this wall be placed as in the days of old; which towers and fortresses are the glorious names and attributes of the Father and Christ; for the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous flee into it, and are safe. And again, thou hast been a shelter to me, and a strong tower from the enemy. Wherefore now, I say, shall the name of God, as Lord of all, and Father of his church, with the names of the Son, as Head, Saviour, and King of kings, be as the bulwarks to this city (Cant 1:10), to which shall be added all the promises, consolations, encouragements, &c., in the blessed book of God, out of which this city continually shall suck the milk and nourishment of the unsearchable grace of God to them (1 Peter 2:1,2). To all which shall be added many new pieces of timber in the wall, for so it was in the type at the rebuilding of the city (Neh 2:8). By which new pieces I gather, that the special providence of God, and his protection, shall be at this day so fastened in this wall for the complete delivering of this city, both from hell and earth, that she shall stand in full force, safety, and peace, even till the heavens and the earth shall be no more. Now, when this wall is thus set up, even every truth and office of Christ in its own true natural force, about this city, and when God, in his special and most endeared affections, shall engage himself, even everlastingly, to keep this city safe from all storms and tempests, and trouble, and sorrow, then shall these citizens, as a sign of their conquest both of hell and the world, even set up their banners on the several towers of this wall, and the standards that belong to the tribes thereof; then, I say, 'we will rejoice in thy salvation,' O Lord, 'and in the name of our God will we set up our banners' (Psa 20:5). And then shall the inhabitants of the world both wondering and tremblingly say, 'Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?' (Cant 6:10). O the names of God, of Christ, of his offices, and the power of his grace and promises! How will they shine? In what glory will they appear? They will be even as a wall of fire round about Jerusalem; and will not be, as now, in the mind and thought of the people as the white of an egg in the mouth, without taste; but shall be, and appear in their own brightness, sweetness, and grace. 'For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty? corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids' (Zech 9:10). 'In that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength, and my song, he also is become my salvation' (Isa 12:1,2).
For the workman, I am sure, God is the principal, as I said before; but yet he will do it by instruments, through the guidance of his Spirit. The building of the wall of old was of God; but so as that he did it by the hand of Nehemiah and his companions. I do observe, in the completing of the city of Jerusalem of old, that there was first altar-work, then temple-work, and after that the building of the wall and completing the city. Altar-work, I say, was the first which was reared, and on which there were offered, according to the law and holy custom, the sacrifices and offerings both morning and evening, as every day required. 'But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid' (Ezra 3:1-6). These altar-men were those also that afterward built the temple; but yet by them was first of all repaired the altar, to signify that the first work that will be on foot at the beginning of the return of the Christians from out of Antichristian Babylon, it will be to find out altar-work, that is, the priestly office of Christ, and to offer by him the prayers and supplications of the church continually (Acts 19:9). Wherefore these altar-men, or these men in their altar-work, did figure out for us our famous and holy worthies, that before us have risen up in their place, and shook off those relics of Antichrist that entrenched upon the priestly office of our Lord and Saviour, even worthy Wickliff, Huss, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and the blessed martyrs in Queen Mary's days, &c., with the rest of their companions. These, in their days, were stout and valiant champions for God according to their light, and did upon the altar of God, which is Christ our Lord, offer up many strong cries, with groans and tears, as every day required, for the complete recovering of the church of God; the benefit of whose offering we have felt and enjoyed to this day; but by this the foundation of the temple was not yet laid (Ezra 3:6).
Now after these arise another people, not another with respect to Christianity, but with respect to further light. These men, though they keep the continual offerings upon the altar, as the other did, yet they are men also that are for temple-work; wherefore these begin to search out the foundations of the temple of God, that they may rear up the house, as well as build up the altar. These be they that are for having the church a select company of visible believers, walking in the faith and holiness of the gospel, which believers are for separating from the unconverted and open profane, and for building up one another an holy temple in the Lord, through the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). I say, a temple, or house, or church, separate and distinct from that confused heap of rubbish and carnal gospellers that everywhere, like locusts and maggots, crawl up and down the nations (Rom 1:7; 2 Cor 6:14-16; Acts 2:40; Eph 2:21,22; 1 Cor 5:11-13). These were figured forth by Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people of the land that are for working and labouring in this service of temple-work (Haggai 1:12; 2:1-5).
Again, As there is thus altar-work and temple-work to be done by the saints when they are coming out of spiritual Sodom and Egypt; so, at the end of these, there will be city-work on foot also. Which city-work will chiefly consist in setting up the wall and gates for defence, and of building themselves houses or mansions of rest and refreshment after all their hard usage under the tyranny of the man of sin, that son of perdition (Isa 65:19-21). Which city-work will be then completed, when the church of Christ hath obtained a complete conquest and victory over the world, and hath got her enemies and them that hate her, to lie at her feet, and to lick the dust of the soles thereof (Isa 60:14). For, as I have told you already, temple-work, yea, when that is complete in the work, yet there may be great havoc made of the church of Christ (Rev 11:1-3). At which time also, city-work may be trampled under the feet of the wicked and uncircumcised Gentiles; but when the city is built, then Zion is become a stronghold, and about all her glory shall be a defence (Isa 4:5). Then she either draweth and allureth her adversaries to entreat her kindly, and to count it their honour to be under her protection, as did the Gibeonites; or else she breaks, and bruises, and subjects them to her by her power and authority (Josh 9). 'The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour' (Psa 45:12). 'In the last days,' saith the prophet, 'it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come and say, -- Let us go up unto the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks'; that force and power that they used formerly to destroy the church of God, now they shall use it to do her service, even to break up the clods of the hearts of sinners, and to prune and dress the house of God, and vineyard of Jesus Christ; 'nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'; for the word of the kingdom of peace shall bear sway. 'And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem' (Micah 4:1-3,8). This is city-work, and as to the glory, peace, and deliverance of the church, it is the chiefest of all other, because it is not only most excellent for concourse and multitude, but, I say, for preservation and safety; and that not only to keep the worshippers, if they keep their order, but to keep the order and worshippers both in order and continual safety, that they may be for ever in the purest order. But now, though at the completing of this wall, and the building its towers, when they are finished there will be great peace; yet all the time that these things are doing, before they be done, let the workmen look for opposition, taunts, underminers, and a thousand tricks for the hindrance of it (Neh 4:1-11; 6:1-14). For the streets of the city shall be built, and the wall, 'even in troublous times' (Dan 9:25).
'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper.' Of jasper only; for as by building is showed unto us the manner of the work, so by jasper is showed unto us the matter itself; the matter therefore must be, JASPER, Christ only, his Word, offices, and glorious brightness only; for indeed, whatever the special grace, protection, and providence of God will at this day be over this city, yet it shall be every whit of it according to Christ; that is, both of him, for him, and by him, as the fruits and effects of his suffering, bloodshed, and merits. 'Therefore,' saith God, 'will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and was numbered with the transgressors' (Isa 53:12). O holiness, how will it shine both in kings and nations, when God doth this!
[The glory of the city.]
'And the city was pure gold.' Having thus given us a discovery of the glory of the wall, he now comes to show us the glory of the city that is within the wall. The city, saith he, is gold, it is pure gold. This was figured out by the golden candlesticks belonging to the tabernacle and temple among the Jews, which candlesticks did then present unto us the worth and use of the church of Christ (Exo 25:31-36). 'The seven candlesticks are the seven churches,' saith the Lord Christ himself (Rev 1:20). Now the city here spoken of is the church in her highest and greatest glory. Its state was also figured out by the temple itself, whose beams, posts, walls, doors, and the like, were most famously covered over with gold (2 Chron 3:5-7). It was also, though but leanly, represented to us by the golden state of old Jerusalem in the days of Solomon the king, in which state gold was so plentiful in the midst thereof, that silver was nothing counted of among the citizens there in those days, but was as common as the stones in the street of the city (2 Chron 9:13-22,27).
'And the city was pure gold.' I find by the search of the Scriptures, that there are divers sorts of gold in the world; there is the gold of the land of Havilah (Gen 2:11); the gold of Parvaim (2 Chron 3:6); the gold of Ophir (Job 22:24); the gold of Sheba (Psa 72:15); and the gold of Uphaz (Jer 10:9). Now seeing he saith the city is gold, yet not distinguishing what gold, or which, we may suppose in this place he means gold of all these sorts; and indeed it is most agreeable to this text thus to judges. For the church at this day shall be made up of the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad, and of the Gentile nations both far and near; who, as they now lie, are, for ought I can learn, at as great a distance, and as remote from one another, not only in knowledge and affections, but touching the places of their abode, as are the golden mines out of which the gold that I spake of before is digged and fetched. Thus shall gold, the golden saints of God, at this day be gathered out of the several golden mines of the world, and be brought to King Solomon, the Son of David, our Lord Jesus, to Jerusalem, with which he will build him a golden shining city, the joy of all the world.
'And the city was pure gold.' Gold is the choice and chief of all metals, both for worth, colour, and virtue; wherefore, when he saith, 'The city is gold,' you may conceive how rich and shining, and virtuous this city will be; the riches of the whole world will be here, the beauty of the whole world will be here, and the virtue of the whole world will be here; I mean spiritual riches, beauty, and health. Wherefore the rest of the world at this day will be but as a crushed bunch of herbs in which is no virtue; or like a furnace full of dross, out of which the gold is taken; or like an old, crazy, and ruinous house, from which is departed all health and happiness; and indeed much like to this is that saying of the prophet, to wit, that at this day the whole circumference of the world that is without the walls and privileges of this city, it shall be but like an old ruinous house, in which dwells nothing but cormorants, bitterns, owls, ravens, dragons, satyrs, the screech-owl, the great owl, the vulture, and the like most doleful birds. All their princes shall be nothing, saith the prophet, and when they call their nobles to the kingdom, none shall be there. In their very palaces shall be thorns, and nettles, and brambles; for all among them that are princes and nobles indeed, will have packed up, and be gone for Jerusalem (Isa 34:10-17). So that the world, I say, will be left empty, void, and stripped both of treasure, beauty, and health, at the day of Jerusalem's building again. But O how melancholy a forlorn, beautiless world will this be at this day! It will be only the place of 'dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie' (Rev 22:15). It will now be the very emblem of hell, as the church at this day will be the emblem of heaven. Wherefore, as the church, as I showed you before, will be most fit for her putting on of immortality and incorruption, so the world will at this day be most fit to be swallowed up of the lake and bottomless gulf. All things that are good and worth anything shall at this day be found only in the city of God. The gold will be in Jerusalem (Zech 14:14; Rev 18).
Again, In that this city is here called by the name of gold it is to show us how great pains, and travel, and charge the Lord Christ hath been at to get so great a treasure together. Gold is fetched from a far country, and that with great pains, charge, and difficulty (2 Chron 9:10). The gold wherewith King Solomon made his drinking vessels, it cost a three years' journey to obtain it. So the saints also, those golden vessels wherewith is made this golden city, they cost Christ a three days' travel in the heart of the earth, even sweatingly under the wrath of God, to obtain them, and thus to build this city with them (Luke 22:44; Mark 12:40).
Further, In that he saith this city is gold, he would have us to consider what the state of the church was before she came into this happy condition, to wit, an afflicted, tempted, and tried condition. Gold, as it comes from the mine, it cometh commixed with its dust and ore; wherefore the goldsmith hath a burning furnace wherein he having put it, doth with the fire purge and take away the dross and dust from among the metal itself; into which furnace he puts it once, twice, thrice, and again to the end it may at length be thoroughly cleansed and purified from its dross. Now all this befalleth the people of God; they are thrown into the burning fiery furnace of affliction and temptation, and there they are tried, purged, and purified (Isa 31:9). As the Lord also saith by the prophet, 'I will try them as gold is tried, and will refine them as silver is refined' (Zech 13:9). Yea, 'I will melt them and try them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my people' (Jer 9:7).
Lastly, When he saith this city is gold, he also thereby insinuates how invincible and unconquerable a spirit the people of God are possessed with. Gold is a metal so invincible and unconquerable, that no fire can consume it; it may burn it indeed, and melt it; the dross indeed doth consume and give way to the power of the fire, but the gold remains, and holds its ground; yea, it gets ground even of the furnace and fire itself; for the more it is burned and melted, the more it recovers its colour, and the more it shakes off its dross and dishonour. Just thus it is with the people of God, and hath been so even from the beginning: the more they oppressed them, the more they grew (Exo 1:12). The truth of which will be proved with a witness, when God comes to set up this city Jerusalem: his church hath been now for many hundred years in the king of Babylon's furnace; all which time she hath most gloriously endured and withstood the heat; and at last when the fire hath done its worst against her, behold there comes out a city of gold. A type of which was the state of the three children, who though they were cast into the fire bound and in disgrace; yet came out in the liberty and grace of the Son of God (Dan 3:23-26). Wherefore let her be bold to say, even before she comes out of the fire, When I am tried, 'I shall come forth as gold' (Job 23:10).
'And the city was PURE gold.' These words, PURE GOLD, clear up what I said already. Pure gold, or gold upon which the fire hath done its work. The church in the fire of persecution is like Esther in the perfuming chamber, but making fit for the presence of the king; which fire, when it hath done its work, then she comes into his presence in clothing all of gold (Esth 2:10). 'The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold.' And again, 'At thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir' (Psa 45:9,13). Wherefore he means by pure gold, gold out of the fire, gold on which the fire of persecution and temptation hath done its full and complete work.
'And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.' By glass, in this place, we are to understand the Word of God, as both James and Paul do testify (James 1:22-25; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Cor 13:12). By clear glass then, we are to understand the Word in its own nature and purity, without the corruptions and traditions of men. Wherefore, when he saith this golden city was like unto clear glass, it is as if he had said she is even with the Word and law of her goldsmith, in all her matters. The Word is a golden reed, this city a golden city; and that, a golden city, taken out of the furnace of affliction, and therefore like to the golden reed. 'And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.'
[The glory of the foundations.]
Ver.19, 20. 'And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.'
Thus having showed us the glory of the wall, and of the city, he now comes to show us the glory of the foundations. The foundations you know, I told you before, they are the twelve apostles in their doctrine, or the primitive doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Now the great business in this place will be to show you the garnishing of these foundations, and also the mystery and order of the lying of the foundations, for their glory lieth in both.
As for the garnishing of these foundations, it is, and will be at the day of New Jerusalem, two-fold, and the first is with beautiful gifts and grace. Thus were the apostles of old adorned, and thus shall their doctrine again be garnished. I know that the doctrine of the twelve hath been always accompanied with goodly gifts and grace, from the first churches quite down, that is, according to the measure of light they appeared in, and according to the dispensations of God in the times of antichrist. But yet the glory that this doctrine had in these latter days, I mean since the apostacy, it was nothing in comparison of the glory and splendour that will be in them in the day when this city is built and complete. Wherefore you find, that though all along in antichrist's reign, the gospel of grace hath shone, and given light to the saints and people of God in all their travels and afflictions; yet the shining of it at that day was much opposed and eclipsed by the smoke of the bottomless pit: as he saith, 'There arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit' (Rev 9:2). In which days, I say, abundance of the light, heat, and operation of the gospel was diminished and taken off, so that but little of the power or glory of it hath been either felt or seen from that time to this very day. This is that God spake of by the prophet Amos, saying, 'I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.' All which he explaineth in the next words, for 'Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it' (Amos 8:9-12). In those days Eli's sons were become varlets (1 Sam 2:12-15). Indeed there was here and there a little child, like Samuel in his minority, that now and then would speak most goodly things. But 'the word of the Lord was precious in those days, there was no open vision' (1 Sam 3:1). This is that which David in the Spirit of prophecy complaineth of, saying, 'They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course' (Psa 82:5). Thus in the days of the eclipsing of the glory of these foundations. But now, behold, they recover their light, and put on, as of old, their former glory, and are again garnished as in the former days. Now will all the doctrines of the gospel spangle and sparkle; out of every text will the ministers of God make to issue exceedingly most precious and heavenly fire; for these stones are indeed the stones of fire (Eze 28:16). And in them is contained that which would set the whole world on a flame with love and delight in the things of God and another world, had but men the spirit of wisdom, and the authority of God in their ministry, as the apostles and the primitive Christians had. Well this doctrine of the twelve shall be again adorned with gifts and graces as in the days of old: by which it shall also be made to shine, and to cast forth its golden rays before the nations to their salvation. Behold, saith God, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, that is, thy apostolical doctrines shall again be garnished as at the first (Isa 54:11). Truth shall appear in its old and mature colours, and as such shall be embraced, and lived and delighted in, both by Jews and Gentiles, as I have showed.
But secondly, The twelve foundations that here you read of, they are the same with those twelve stones that long before were set in the breastplate of judgment, in which were engraven the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, the names of which tribes did comprehend the whole body of the house of their fathers (Exo 28:16-21,29; 39:14). Now then, seeing these twelve are the same with those on the breastplate of judgment; and seeing also, that those on the breastplate did comprehend the whole of the twelve tribes, I conclude that for these foundations to be garnished with all manner of precious stones, it is as much as to say, they shall be garnished with abundance of converts; multitudes, and that of all sorts, both of Jews and Gentiles, Moors, Tartars, Turks, and those in the utmost parts of the world, shall now be entangled with the light and truth, with the glory and goodness of the doctrine of the twelve. And I the rather take it thus, 1. Because, as the foundations themselves are said to be precious stones; so also the saints in general, they go under the same names too. As Jeremiah saith, the precious stones of the sanctuary are the precious sons of Zion (Lam 4:1-3). As Peter also saith, in alluding to the precious stones of the temple; the saints are lively, or living precious stones, built up a spiritual house, &c. (1 Peter 2:5). And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones (1 Chron 29:2). That is, the doctrine of the twelve was garnished with all manner of precious souls; that is, converted by it, by which they become a glory and a garnishing to it.2. I take it to be the conversion of the precious ones of God; because that thus to understand it, is most like the phrase of the apostle Paul himself, saying, 'What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy' (1 Thess 2:19,20). Mark, in the text he saith, The foundations were garnished with all manner of precious stones, and here those precious stones, Paul accounts to be those that are converted by the Word: for what is our hope, or joy, or crown? are not even ye that have been converted by us? Ye are our joy, ye are our crown, ye are our glory; it is with you that we shall be crowned, adorned, and garnished in the presence of our Lord Jesus. Mark, John saith, They are garnished, Paul saith, they are crowned; John saith, they are garnished with precious stones, and Paul saith, they are crowned with the conversion of sinners. Thus therefore as God will lay these stones with fair colours, so also he will lay these foundations with sapphires (Isa 54:11). That is, as he will beautify the doctrine of the twelve with its former glory, sweetness, and authority; so he will crown and garnish it with the conversion of many sinners. The elect are the jewels of God, and this is the day of his binding them up, even then when the antichrist falls, and the gospel breaks out in its primitive glory (Mal 3:16-18).
'And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones.' In these words, there are yet two things considerable.
First Consideration. That all who go to the adorning of these foundations, they must be precious stones, not a common stone shall here be owned. And indeed what should pebbles do among the pearls and the diamonds of New Jerusalem; or the stones of blackness and emptiness, among the saints of light (Job 28:3). I tell you, that those which God doth reckon the adorning-stones, they are all and every one, precious stone; they must be all lively, glistering, and curious stones, though stones of divers colours (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Chron 29:2). Antichrist counts anything sufficient enough to garnish his apostles with, even the empty stones of confusion, the sinners that have no more grace in their souls then there is sap in a post that hath been this twenty years without either sap or water (Isa 34:11). But God will not count such for the beauty of his word, nor for the garnishing and beautifying of the doctrine of the twelve, they are garnished with PRECIOUS STONES.
Second Consideration. As he saith the foundations are garnished with precious stones only, so he saith it is with ALL MANNER of precious stones: by which he would have us understand that all saints have not the same degree either of precious grace or gifts and virtue in them. There are some that excel and differ from the rest, even as one star differeth from another in glory (1 Cor 14:12). Some saints, as they have both more grace and also gifts than others; so too they are more laborious and painful in the work of God than their fellows, and therefore he saith, ALL MANNER of precious stones (Pro 31:29; 1 Cor 15:10,41).
[The Foundations, what they are, with their order of placing.]
Ver.20. 'The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite'; &c. Thus having showed you the garnishing and beautifying of the twelve foundations, he now comes to discover the foundations themselves, with reference to their order of placing and lying.
[The First Foundation.] Touching which order, he saith the first and bottom foundation is a jasper.
I have hitherto said that this jasper in both the two afore-mentioned places, both as to the light of this city, and also of the wall, it was Jesus Christ: Christ illuminating, and Christ defending. But here the jasper is said to be one of the twelve foundations, even one of those foundations in which are writ the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, which one would think did put this jasper now into another state, even to be a representation of one of the twelve apostles, and not of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself. To which I shall yet say, that the jasper here in the order of the foundations, is to be understood of Christ, as well as in the other two places in this discourse; I say it is yet to be understood of representing the Lord Jesus, though it also doth bear the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And in this very thing there is an infolding mystery wrapped up and inclosed. For,
First. In that the name of an apostle is writ in this stone, and yet that this jasper should represent Christ, it showeth unto us the agreement that is between the doctrine of the apostles and Christ himself, to wit, that they are one and the very same; and hence it is that the apostle saith, 'We preach Christ crucified' (1 Cor 1:23,24). Christ in all his benefits is the very marrow, life, and sum of all their teaching. 'Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor 3:11). Wherefore the doctrine of the apostles being Christ itself, no marvel though the name of an apostle be writ upon this jasper; and again, no marvel though this jasper go yet under that name that represents him.
Second. In that it is said the names of the twelve are in these twelve foundations, and yet that the first of them should be the jasper, Christ; it argueth also, that whosoever receiveth the doctrine of the twelve, they must needs with that receive the Lord Christ himself. Receive the doctrine of the gospel, as it is held forth by the twelve in the word, and thou canst not miss of the Lord Jesus Christ himself; he will be found in the bottom of their doctrine. Ye 'are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone' (Eph 1:19,20).
Third. In that he saith in these twelve stones are the names of the twelve apostles, and yet that the first should be the jasper, Christ; it argueth also that wherever the doctrine of the twelve is preached, there is therewith the presence of Christ: the presence of his Spirit to teach and enlighten the ignorant and blind hearts of the unconverted; the presence also of his power to overcome them, and to make them fall under the glory and truth of his heavenly word. 'Lo,' saith he, 'I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' 'And they went forth and preached everywhere the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following' (Matt 28:20; Mark 16:20).
Fourth. In that he saith the names of the twelve are in the foundations, and yet that Christ should be one of the twelve himself; it showeth to us the union that is between Christ and his holy people. Mark in the twelve foundations are placed all, even all manner of precious stones. Again, in the twelve is placed the jasper, Christ; by which we may see the nearness that is between Christ and his whole body. 'I in them, and thou in me,' saith Christ, 'that they may be made perfect in one' (John 17:23). Christ and his saints make but one temple, one man; being but one flesh, one nature, &c. (1 Cor 12:12).
Fifth. In that this jasper is said to be one of the foundations, and that too the first and undermost; he showeth farther, that Christ is the foundation of them before God, that are the foundation of him before men. The twelve do bear up Christ before the world, as the twelve brazen oxen did hold up the molten sea in the temple (1 Kings 7:25). And Christ doth bear up the twelve before his Father, as the high priests did carry the twelve stones on their breastplate of judgment, when they went to make an atonement for the sins of the people, into the holiest (Exo 28:29).
Sixth. It showed us further, that though the apostles shall be adorned with the conversion of those that they shall win to the Lord Christ; yet they will never be able to stand under that glory and honour unless they are supported and upheld by Christ, as their foundation. Sirs, as Christ is the strength of his people in their work for him in this world, so he must be their strength by which they must stand under the reward they shall have for their labour when this world is ended. And hence it is, that the prophet saith, 'They shall hang upon him all the glory of his Father's house, the offspring and the issue; all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons' (Is 22:24), and again, 'He shall build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory' (Zech 6:13). He shall bear the glory of our salvation from sin, preservation in the midst of all temptations, and of our going to glory; also he shall bear the glory of our labour in the gospel, of our gifts and abilities, of making our labour and work effectual to the saving of sinners, 'that in all things he might have the pre-eminence' (Col 1:18).
Seventh. In that the foundations are twelve, and Christ the undermost of them; it signifieth, that all that are converted by the twelve, as they shall be for the garnishing of the twelve, so also both the twelve, with all that they are garnished with, shall be for garnishing of Christ. We shall stick like perarls in the crowns of the twelve apostles, and they again with all their glory shall stick in the crown of Christ. And hence it is that you find the four and twenty elders, which four and twenty do, as I conceive, hold for the twelve, both in the first and second Jerusalem. I say, hence it is that you find them take their crowns from off their heads, and cat them down before the throne of God and of the Lamb, crying, 'Blessing, and honour, and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever' (Rev 4:9-11; 5:11-14).
Eighth. One thing more of this goodly jasper, and then to the rest; which thing is this, that jasper that here you find to be the first in the twelve foundations, even that jasper you find to be the last of all among the stones in the breastplate of judgment (Exo 28:20). From whence you may note, 1. That Christ, as he is to be the author, or first of our faith, so also he is to be the finisher, or last of our faith (Heb 12:2).2. That as he is to be the captain and leader of his people, so he is to be the rereward and bringer up of his people (Heb 2:10; Isa 52:12). He is to go before them to lead them the way; and to come behind them to bring them all up (Isa 58:8; Exo 14:19).3. Again, forasmuch as he is said to be last before he is first; that is, last in Exodus, and after that, first in the Revelation, it may be to show us, that Christ was first to be least, lowest, and last, and then to be greatest, highest, and first. He first humbled himself to the death, even to the shameful death of the cross; and then was by God his Father exalted and placed above every name; as he also himself doth witness, saying, 'Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' (Luke 24:26; Phil 2:6-11).
[The other foundations.] 'The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz,' &c. Touching the jasper you see what I have said. Now all I have to say to the rest of them, it is in general these three things.
First, In that the foundations are all and every one of them precious stones, it signifieth that all the doctrines of the New Jerusalem will be only the precious doctrine of the twelve apostles, not common stuff, not raked out of the dunghills and muck-heaps of this world, and from among the toys of antichrist, but spiritual, heavenly, and glorious. He that hath his word shall then speak it faithfully, for 'what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord' (Jer 23:28,32).
Second, In that they are called after the names of precious stones, it signifieth also that at that day none shall be used or put into the ministry but these that have received spiritual and heavenly gifts from above. It is not every babbling fellow, not those that look for their abilities from the rudiments of the world, that then shall be of any value or account. He must be a costly stone, a stone about which the Lord Jesus hath bestowed the cost of his heavenly abilities, even he whom the Lord Jesus shall appear unto for that very purpose, to make him a minister. HE shall be a minister, and none else at that day. The other shall be ashamed every one of his vision; yea, and shall in those days be so contemptible, that their father and their mother shall reprove them, and count them liars; yea, and shall be ready to run them through while they are prophesying in their rough garments to deceive (Zech 13:3-5).
Third, In that these precious stones are not all of one and the same nature, but every one of them several, and diverse one from another; it argueth that the gifts of the apostles, and so of the ministers of the New Jerusalem, shall be differing one from another in glory and operation; yet mark, as in these stones, so in every one of them shall be perfect glory, according to the nature of God's working by his Spirit; as the nature of the jasper is perfect in his kind, and the nature of the sapphire is perfect in his. These stones, some of them are of greater light and clearness than others; and so some of the apostles are chiefest (2 Cor 11:5). Some of these stones, again, they are of a more fiery and burning colour than others, they being bright also, but of a more mild brightness. Therefore some of the ministry are called the sons of thunder, when others are styled by the name of the sons of consolation (Mark 3:17; Acts 4:36). The gifts are differing, being diverse, their administrations are differing, and the operations of them also are differing, though all those things are from that one and the self-same Spirit, working in every one severally as he pleases (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:4-6). All these things will spangle in the New Jerusalem, and carry their full breadth and sway as in the days of old.
To conclude this, in that he here saith, that the foundations of the wall are these twelve stones, he doth it to show that now also the former ministration that was in the apostles' days will be the same and in full force again. For their gifts of knowledge, judgment, and authority, they are such as have to this day lain buried, as it were with the apostles themselves. But now they shall show themselves again, even these foundation-stones, stones that are great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits (1 Kings 7:10). Thus much of the glory of the foundations.
[The glory of the gates.]
Ver.21. 'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' Having thus showed us the glory of this city, wall, and foundations, he now comes to show us the glory of the gates and of the street of the city.
'And the twelve gates are twelve pearls.' The gates, I told you before, they signify Christ, both as he is the way to communion with the God of this city, and with the inhabitants thereof, that so they may have a share in the privileges of the same. I told you also then, that though he tells us exactly of the measure both of city and wall, yet he tells us nothing of the measure of these twelve gates and goings in thereat, and the reason is, because Christ, as he is the way to grace, he is beyond all measure both as to fulness and freeness (Eph 3:8). And now again he puts us to the same plunge with the unsearchable riches of the Lord Christ; for who can count the worth of pearl as big as the gates of a city? As, indeed, when Christ himself doth speak of the parable of the pearl in the field, he only telleth us that there is such a one, but never valueth the worth thereof, only he saith, a pearl of great price, and so leaveth it (Matt 13:35,36). Now, when he saith that the gates are pearls, he thereby insinuates several things. As,
First. To show us how rich a treasure Christ Jesus our Lord is, and will be to all those that by him shall enter in through the gates into this city, 'riches and honour are with me,' saith he, even 'durable riches and righteousness. My fruit [or the fruit of entering in by me] is better than gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures' (Pro 8:18-21; Eph 3:8).
Christ is rich indeed, both in his blood, resurrection, intercession, and all his offices, together with his relations and all his benefits; all which he bestoweth upon every one that receiveth him, and maketh them unspeakably wealthy.
Second. The pearl, as it is rich, and so worth much, so again it is beautiful and amiable, even to take the eyes of all beholders. It hath, I say, a very sweet and sparkling light and glory in it, enough to take the eye and affect the heart of all those that look upon it. And thus is Christ to all that come to him, and by him to the Father, &c. 'My beloved,' saith she, 'is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.' 'His mouth is most sweet, yea, he is altogether lovely' (Cant 5:10,16).
The mother of harlots had some knowledge of the beauty and glory of this stone, and knew that it had a very taking and drawing glory in it, and therefore she gets it for some time to adorn herself withal; she was decked with gold and precious stones and pearls (Eze 16:17), and was therefore called 'the well-favoured harlot' (Nahum 3:4; Rev 18:4). By which means she hath drawn into her lewdness the kings and kingdom of the world; who have in such sort been entangled with her beauty, and with her fornication, that they have been adulterated from God and their own salvation. For indeed she used this pearl but for to get them to drink of her fornication, that they might drink and spew, and fall and never rise more. But now when he saith, the gates are pearl, it is as if he had said, this woman is stript of her beauty and delicate ornaments; the pearl is taken from her, and is set in its right place, even to be for the gates of Jerusalem (Rev 18:12,22,23). Wherefore it is to be expected, that many should be taken with the way of entrance into this beloved city in the day that she shall be set up and appear in her heavenly beauty (Pro 8:35; 3:35). The glory of that city must needs be great whose wall is jasper and gates are pearl (1 Cor 2:9; John 17:24).
'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls.' Not pearls and other precious stones commixed, but pearl only. To signify that Christ only can let in souls into this city, that they may partake of the goodness and privileges thereof. It is not he and saints together, neither is it all the saints and angels in heaven without him, he alone 'hath the key of David, and that openeth, and no man shutteth; and that shutteth, and no man openeth' (Rev 3:7; 22:12).
Secondly, As he saith, the several gates are each of them pearls, so he saith that every several gate was of one pearl, of one entire pearl. By which he would have us to understand also, that as none can enter in but by Christ, so none can enter in but by whole Christ. Christ must be helpful to thee every way, or he will be helpful to thee no way; thou must enter in by every whit of Christ, or thou shalt enter in by never a whit of him. Wherefore look not to have him thy Saviour, if thou take him not for king and prophet; nay, thou shalt not have him in any one, if thou dost not take him in every one of these. Wherefore the prophet saith, 'He shall build the temple of the Lord [that is, by his prophetical office] -- and shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both' (Zech 6:13).
[The glory of the street.]
'And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' In these words there are four things to be enquired into. First. What this street is? Second. Why he saith not streets, but street, as of one? Third. Why this street is called by the term of pure gold? Fourth. And why it should look like transparent glass. For the
First, A street ordinarily is the place of common concourse, and the place of continual open salutation, and taking acquaintance one of another; and as touching this street, we are also to understand it of the open and common place or way of God's worship, in which saints salute each other and acquaint themselves together; also here the world are converted, saints built up and edified, &c. 'Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets,' saith Solomon; 'she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words' (Pro 1:20,21). That is, in the public and righteous ordinances of the Lord Jesus, which he hat ordained in his church, for men to travel and trade in, for the good and wholesome merchandize of heaven, as the men of this world do for the things thereof in the streets and open places of their cities and places of privilege (Pro 8:1-3; 9:1-3).
Thus it was in the figure when the city Jerusalem was built after the captivity, as ours shall be at and after the overthrow and downfall of antichrist, for then it is said that the people, to hear the law, were gathered together in the street, even in the water street; there they heard the sense given, and there they were convinced of their wickedness; also thee they received the knowledge of God's goodness to them, and there they received power to eat the fat and drink the sweet, to eat and drink and be merry, and to cast away sadness and fear (Neh 8). This, by way of allegory, is called the way for the wayfaring men, even the way of holiness, over which the unclean shall not in anywise pass. The way in which they learn to know God and themselves, and the way of newness of life, in which every one walks that entereth in by the gates of New Jerusalem. And it is most suitable to the matter that went before to understand the street to be the way of God, the way of holiness and newness of life; because as it is natural for the stranger, so soon as ever he is entered the gates of a city, to have his feet in the streets of the city, so it is natural for the sinner, so soon as ever he is entered into the church by Christ, to have his feet treading in the way and paths of holiness. Wherefore it is usual in the Holy Scripture to call the transformation of the sinner from Satan to God a holy way, and also to admonish him that is so transformed to walk in that way, saying, Walk in the faith, love, spirit, and newness of life, and walk in the truth, ways, statutes, and judgments of God (Psa 86:11; 143:8; Eze 11:20; 37:24; Gal 5:25; Rom 4:12).
He that entereth not by these gates into the city, he cannot walk in newness of life; but he that entered in by them, he cannot but walk in newness of life. The next thing then that a man passeth into when he is entered into the New Jerusalem, is to walk in the STREET thereof, the way of holiness, even the way in which men learn to fear God, and to believe in and love the Lord Jesus, &c. (Eph 5:1,2; 2 John 4; Rom 6:4).
Second. Now this street or way of holiness, it is on purpose called not many, but one, to show us the perfection of light, grace, faith, and spiritual comfort, that the inhabitants of this city shall then enjoy. Daniel also calleth it one street, to signify the same thing (Dan 9:25). Wherefore from hence I gather, that then all saints shall walk-as before I have made appear-even in one street, in one way, and in one light. It is antichrist that hath brought in all those crossings, bye-lanes, and odd nooks, that to this day many an honest heart doth greatly lose itself in; but at this day they shall be otherwise minded, that is, made all to savour one thing, and to walk one way, not biting and devouring each other as now. And indeed there is all reason it should be thus, for the street itself is but one. There is but ONE God, ONE Lord Jesus, ONE Spirit, ONE faith, ONE baptism, even as we are also called in ONE hope of our calling (Eph 4:5,6; Acts 2:27,32,33; Phil 1:27; Rom 15:6). Now, therefore, when saints have the rubbish of antichristian darkness and trumpery removed, then they shall have, as they also had of old, but one heart, one soul, one judgment, one mind, and shall with one heart and mouth glorify God. The which also shall be prayed for of all the saints, even of all that have received the pure language before these things come to pass. They shall 'call upon the name of the Lord' with One lip, 'to serve him with One consent' (Zeph 3:9). O! the heavenly spiritual harmony that will be in the city of God in those days, when the trumpeters and singers shall be as one, to make one sound, then the house shall be filled with a cloud' (2 Chron 5:13).
Third. When he saith that the street of the city was pure gold, he alludes to the floor in Solomon's temple, which was overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:30). He alludes to Solomon's chariot also, whose bottom was paved with love, and overlaid with gold (Can 3:10). By the floor of the temple, we are to understand the way of holiness; and by the chariot of Solomon, the triumphant glory of that way. Again, in that he saith this street is gold, he would have us to understand the worth and treasure that is laid up in the ways of God, and of a truly gracious heart. First for the worth and treasure that is laid up in the ways of God. They beget light (Psa 119:130), they change the heart, they lead from death, the devil, and hell, to life, God, and the kingdom of heaven (Psa 119:9; Pro 2). In them God walks, and those that walk there also are sure to meet with him (Isa 64:5). O this way, it is the way which 'no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen'; 'It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. -- The gold and the crystal cannot equal it; and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls; for the price of wisdom is above rubies' (Job 28:7,15-18,28). All the ways of God they are pleasantness, and all his paths are peace, and ought to be preferred before our necessary food (Pro 3:17).
Again, as the ways of God are thus rich, and so far above the gold and rubies of the world, so also is that sanctified and gracious heart, without which no man can walk in this golden street. It is not every clown with his clumping dirty shoes that is admitted into kings' privy-chambers and private palaces; neither doth, or will God, at the day of New Jerusalem, suffer any to trace about this golden street, but such as have golden feet, and that beautified with goodly shoes. For as for this street, all that walk in it, they must be golden men, with golden hearts, and with graces that are 'much more precious than of gold that perisheth' (Cant 7:1; 1 Peter 1:7; Rev 3:18).
Further, in that he saith this street is gold, 'pure gold,' he giveth us to understand also what great delight and pleasure the Lord's people will take in his ways and ordinances in that day. There will not then be that backwardness to do good, and to receive God, as there is in these more dry and empty days of the gospel. As gold is pleasing to the covetous man and worldling, so shall the ways of God be to the saints and godly at that day. Now we have strong corruptions and weak grace, but then we shall have strong grace and weak withered corruptions. You that are spiritual, you know what an high and goodly lifting up of heart one small gale of the good Spirit of God will make in your souls, how it will make your lusts to languish, and your souls to love, and take pleasure in the Lord that saves you. You know, I say, what a flame of love, and bowels, and compassion, and self-denial, and endeared affection to God and all saints, it will beget in the soul. O! it is good to be here, saith the gracious heart. Well, and so thou shalt be always, if thou live to see New Jerusalem settled in her own place (Isa 65:17-25).
Fourth. 'And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' Mark, a street of gold like glass, a street of gold, as it were transparent glass. By glass here, as also in verse 18, we are to understand the Word (James 1:23-25). Wherefore, when he saith the street, the golden street, was like unto glass, he means, that the walking and carriage of the saints at this day shall be like unto, or according to, the Word, the life of the saints answering the life of the Word and rule of the Lord Christ.
Again, in that he doth add to glass the word transparent, he would have us to understand thereby these two things.
1. That the walking and ways of holiness of saints shall be more in the power and spirit of the Word, than all along in the reign of Antichrist they have been. For transparent glass, it is the most clear and excellent glass, and goeth as far beyond other sorts of glass, as he that walks in the spirit and power of the commandment goes beyond him that only walks in the letter and outward word thereof. Alas, the churches of Christ, at their firs assembling, will be like the coming together of Ezekiel's bones, clothed much with flesh and sinews, but greatly void of spirit and life (Eze 37:7,8). Wherefore the spirit, power, holiness, and majesty that now will appear in the church, it will greatly transcend and go beyond the spirit, power, and holiness that hath accompanied her in former days. Then shall the sun be ashamed, and the moon confounded, when the Lord shall reign in Mount Zion, &c. (Isa 24:23). Then shall the sun be ashamed, that is, then shall that little light and understanding of the Word, that hath been in the church in the days when a third part of the glory of the gospel was hid by the smoke of the pit, be, as it were, laid aside and be useless (Rev 8:12; 9:2). Every saint shall be under the light of a sun that shines seven-fold brighter, even as the light of seven days. We see it is so in some measure at this day; what light, and with what clearness do the saints in this day see the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, beyond what the holy and goodly martyrs and saints did in the days that were before us; Huss, Bilney, Ridley, Hooper, Cranmer, with their brethren, if they were now in the world, would cry out and say, Our light and knowledge of the word of the Testament of Christ was much inferior to the light that at this day is broken forth, and that will yet daily, in despite of men and devils, display its rays and beams amongst the sons of men! When the children of Israel were to depart the land of Egypt, the Lord made known himself to them otherwise than ever he made known himself either to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, their fathers (Exo 6:3). The book also, at the recovering the church from under Antichrist, is to be unlocked and unsealed gradually, first one seal and afterwards another, and last of all the seventh, before which time the book will never quite be opened (Rev 5; 6). According to that of the angel, 'Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up, and sealed till the time of the end' (Dan 12:9). In which time (which is the time of New Jerusalem) they shall be opened, and men shall consider it perfectly (Jer 30:24; 23:20). Wherefore,
2. It must needs be that the church return to her old and primitive love. For what is the cause of the want of love to Christ and one another now, but our want of light in the things, mysteries, and privileges of the glorious gospel of the Son of God? Wherefore this being come, then love will reign, and have her perfect work among the godly. Love is the very quintessence of all the graces of the gospel, and is as transparent to them; 'the greatest of these is charity' (1 Cor 13:13). It is the 'fulfilling of the law,' 'the bond of perfectness,' and the most 'excellent way' (1 Cor 12:31; Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 16:14; Col 3:14). Wherefore the Holy Ghost doth mean, by this word transparent glass, that the height of light, and the height of love, will be found in this city; all their things shall be done without confused smoke and darkness, and also without spiritual pride and desire of vain-glory: then shall they indeed do all their things in charity, and in the feeling bowels and fellowship of the gospel. 'Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years' (Mal 3:4).
Alas! though now through grace the saints of God have attained to more light and knowledge in the mysteries of the kingdom of God than heretofore they had, yet their light is far inferior to that which will be when this city is built. Our spiritual union and fellowship in the very bowels of the grace and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ also is yet greatly defective. It is said that 'no man was able to enter into the temple' of God, 'till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled' (Rev 15:8). But when the seven last plagues are spent, and when all the adversaries of the church, which caused terror in the land of the living, shall be laid with the uncircumcised in the pit, then look for golden days, and not till then (Eze 32:18). Then shall this golden street be finished; that is, then shall the light, faith, love, and holiness of the gospel be walked in and embraced in a transparent and transcending way. 'He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit' (Isa 27:6).
[The city has no temple.]
Ver.22. 'And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.' These words do, in my present light, point at the end of the days of this Jerusalem here in this world: and in so doing they signify to us, that when she is built, she shall stand and continue in this her glorious state afore-mentioned even until that glory be swallowed up of that which doth excel. That they do point at the end of her day in this world, I do gather from these particulars:-
First. Because they are the last words of the description of her glory,-that is, these and the words ensuing, which is but one and the same continued speech; and it is easy to conclude that John, in this description of this city, doth, from first to last, even from the first appearing of her as she cometh out of Babylon till she be perfect in glory, give us the relation of it. First, I say, showing us her descending, then her building, and afterward the glory of that building; at the end of which also he showeth to us with what glory he will crown this glory, even by swallowing of her up with a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Second. Because in these words he doth absolutely cut off all and every whit of her outward and external glory; that is, as to outward ordinances and temple-worship, which yet was to be most famous for a long time in this new and goodly city; which he verifies in the eleventh chapter of this prophecy, which chapter is a summary collecting of the church in her fall and rise under Antichrist, which church there in her rise is this city here in her glory in this world. He tells us there, I say, that when the kingdoms of this world were become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ, that 'then the temple of God was opened in heaven'; that is, temple-worship under the gospel recovered into its former and primitive state and purity, in which it was before the coming in of the man of sin (Rev 11:15-19, compared with 15:8). Which temple he here utterly shutteth out, saying, 'I saw no temple therein'; in the room of which he setteth the presence of the Lord Jesus, and God his Father, making them to stand and be in the room of temple and gospel-worship, in that manner as it is used while we here live in the flesh. 'For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.' It is true, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of this church in her lowest condition, therefore much more when she is brought into the condition that she is in at her rebuilding; but yet, neither in her low estate, nor yet in her highest, is it proper to say, that so long as she is in this world, God will be a temple to her, in opposition to her temple and gospel-worship, in outward and New Testament administrations. Wherefore when he saith He 'saw no temple therein,' and that from this reason, because 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it'; he must needs aim at a state to which the church cannot attain until her Lord comes. For then will that which is perfect be come, and that which is in part be done away (1 Cor 13:10).
Now that the temple in this place excluded, can signify nothing else but the outward orderly way of God's worship, which the saints ought with conscience, in faith, to be found in till their Lord comes, consider that our New Testament doth use the word 'temple' three several ways: 1. For the outward order and worship or discipline of the Gospel (Rev 11:1-3).2. For the body of Christ, which is his church, &c.3. And lastly, For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, which here are said to be the temple of this city.
Now then, when he saith he saw 'No temple therein,' he cannot exclude the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, for they are here said to be 'the temple of it.' Neither can he shut out the church, which is the body of Christ, for that is the city itself; yea, and the church shall be God's temple, and God and Christ the temple of the church for ever and ever He must therefore by this word 'no temple,' exclude only the outward way of gospel-worship, in which the saints in the times of the New Testament both meet and edify each other, and also meet their God, and are blessed and refreshed by him. Again, that this outward gospel-worship should be laid aside while the church is in this world, before her Lord doth come to be enjoyed by her, as touching his personal presence; it looks too like ranting opinions, and contradiction to Scripture, for me to believe (1 Cor 11:26). For when he comes, but not till then, shall these things be laid aside.
Besides, that which yet confirms me more fully in this opinion, is because herein this New Jerusalem doth most exactly answer the city and temple, which was built after the captivity; which city and temple being once built, it stood till Christ our Lord did visit them in his own personal coming the first time; as the prophets also said it should. 'The Lord, whom ye seek,' saith one, 'shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts' (Mal 3:1). And again, 'I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.' Wherefore 'the glory of this latter house shall be greater than [that] of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts' (Hagg 2:7,9).
Now observe, that from the time of the building of the second temple to the coming of Christ, the worship of the temple order was to be by all most devoutly and continually observed. But when the Lord Jesus was come, and had established his own more honourable and New Testament dispensation, then all the former temple-worship fell to the ground, and became, with all the instruments of worship that there unto belonged, null and void. Yea, and it was a derogation to his gospel to offer to uphold that former way of worship, after he had by his own personal presence and Spirit brought in that other dispensation. All which, I say, will be answered by our second and New Testament New Jerusalem. For as the Old Jerusalem was built after the Jews were come out of literal Babylon, so is our New Jerusalem built after our coming out of the antichristian oppression of spiritual Babylon. Again, as that city did after she was built continue and retain her temple-worship, until the personal appearing of Christ the first time, so New Jerusalem shall retain and hold her outward New Testament worship till HE comes in person the second time. After all which, as the second temple was swallowed up of a more heavenly and spiritual dispensation by the personal presence of Christ, so shall also the New Jerusalem temple-worship be swallowed up by the glory of the appearing of the person of Christ the second time; as Paul saith, for he speaks in the person of Christ, 'Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,' &c. (1 Tim 4:13).
Thus then, when this holy city doth once again appear upon the stage, and in her own situation, and when she hath been showed in the attire of a queen before the face of all nations, and their kings; and when she hath by the glory of the light of her New Testament temple, gathered, as with a net, the number of God's elect; then she is taken into her husband's privy chamber, where she and he alone shall be in that blessed fellowship and communion that shall not again be once eclipsed, or in the least interrupted to eternity.
Thus have I showed you my present light into this portion of the Holy Scripture. If any can give me further, I hope I shall not refuse it. But as yet, methinks this should be the genuine sense of this place, and is the very track of John himself. For after he had seen the wall for present safety, the foundations for continuation, the gates for entrance, and the like, then he comes to tell us of the glory of all, and of the street itself at last; which indeed is the last and end of all the order of God, and to continue till an end be put to it by mortality's being swallowed up of life. As is yet more fully showed you in the next verse of this description.
[The city needs not the light of sun or moon.]
Ver.23. 'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'
'And the city had no need of the sun.' That is, after temple-worship is over: this verse is added therefore for further clearing up and illustrating of that which he said before. There he tells us this city had 'no temple,' and here he tells us she needed neither the light of the sun or moon. There he said, 'The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it'; and here he saith, they are the light thereof. The substance of which, in the language of the Holy Ghost, is this: the reason why temple-worship is now gone and over, it is because there is now no need in this city of the light of the sun and the moon; and the reason why she hath now no need of them, is because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are to it instead of both temple and light. 'For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.' 'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Whereby we may note, that though the light in which she descended, being the purity of temple-worship, was glorious, yet this city shall, when she is once built, so advance from glory to glory, that at the last she shall be more happy without the help of that light, without which she had been for ever unbuilt, than she was by it in the midst of the fulness of it.
'And the city had no need of the sun,' &c. The word sun is in Scripture taken divers ways; sometimes for the true and natural sun in the firmament; sometimes again for persecution, and the rage of the enemy, &c. (Josh 10:12; Matt 13:6). But I take 'sun' here not to be any of these, but for the good and pure word of the gospel of Christ, unfolded, opened, and explained by the servants of Christ; which sun is the same that before you find to be darkened by the Antichristian fog and mist, which was darkened, I say, even to a third part of it (Rev 8:12; 9:2). This sun, or word of the gospel, Paul saith it is shadowed forth even by that which shineth in the firmament of heaven, because as that by its light and shining, giveth to those that have eyes, to see the glory and excellency of this world, so by the shining and light of the gospel is given 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,' and a view of the excellency of the things of the world to come (2 Cor 4:3-6). Now, I say, though while the church is in this world, and on this side the state of glory, she cannot live and flourish without the shining of this sun, but would be lifeless and lightless, and without all heat and comfort-for it is the entrance of the law that giveth light here, and that lighteneth the eyes, 'making wise the simple' (Psa 19:7,8; 119:130)-yet at the day of the coming of her Lord in person she shall see far more clearly without the thus shining of the sun than ever she did or could see with and by it. 'And the city had no need of the sun.' For when by the light of it the whole body of the elect have found out the way to this city, and when they have also by this light accomplished and fulfilled all their work; yea, when the Lord himself is come, and doth immediately communicate far more glorious light to this city without it than ever he did by it; what need is there then of the light of this sun? for that is to be of use but for the time present, even until the whole of the body of the Lord Jesus is come to the perfect measure, even 'to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph 4:10-12). So then, when the body of Christ is in every sense completed in this life by the light of the sunshine of his holy gospel, what need of this sun? And hence it is that the word of the gospel is called 'the word of reconciliation,' 'the word of faith,' and 'the words of this life' (2 Cor 5:19; Rom 10:8; Acts 5:20). Wherefore, I say, it ceaseth when there is no more to be reconciled, and when faith in all is perfected, and when this life is put an end unto by the coming in of another. For 'when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away' (1 Cor 13:8-10).
The ministers of the gospel are of use so long as there is either elect to be converted, or any converted soul to be perfected by that measure of perfection that God hath appointed on this side glory; but when this work is done, their ministry ceaseth. Wherefore, though like the widow's sons, they are busy to borrow vessels for the oil so long as it is running, and emptying itself out of the great and principal barrel; yet when it ceaseth, as it will do, when there are no more vessels to be found, then let them sit down as they, and receive of the fruits of their labour, for the reward of their work is then only to be enjoyed by them (2 Kings 4:1-6).
'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it.' This word moon also, as well as that of the sun, is to be taken divers ways in the Scriptures of truth; sometimes for the natural one, sometimes for the world and persecutors, &c. (Josh 10:13; Rev 12:1; Psa 121:6). But moon here is to be taken for the church of God, with reference to her life, conversation, duties, and exemplary behaviour, in which she is conversant on this side glory; according to that of the Song, 'Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?' (Cant 6:10). When he saith, then, that at this day there shall be here no need of the shining light of the moon, he means that this city at this day, in the state she is in when she hath the person of the Lamb in her, then she shall have no need of the growth of Christianity, for they shall be all perfect; nor no need of mortification, for there shall be no sin. They shall not need now, as in time past, to exhort and encourage one another to stick fast to the promise, for they shall be swallowed up of life and open vision (2 Cor 5:4). Here shall be no need either of prayer, of repentance, of faith, or of good works, as afore. 'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it.'
Now, I say, the Holy Ghost is pleased to bring in here the shining virtues of the church under the notion of a shining moon, because, as the church herself is compared to the moon, so her virtues are as naturally compared to a shining light; as Christ saith, 'Let our light so shine' (Matt 5:16); and again, 'Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning' (Luke 12:35; Phil 2:15). For, indeed, while we are here, that church and congregation of the Lord doth most shine, and most send forth the golden rays and pleasant beams of Christianity, that is most in the exercise of the afore-mentioned virtues. Take away the moon, and the night is doubtful; or though the moon be in the firmament, if she hath lost her light, the night is not thereby made more comfortable. And thus, I say, it is first with the world, where here there is no church to shine, or where there is a church that doth not so shine that others may see and be lighted. For while the day of time doth last, even the world itself hath need of the shining of the church; but at this day this time will be no longer, because the day of eternity will break, and by that means cause the world that now is, even the world of the ungodly, to cease to have a being here any longer. Therefore now no need of the moon, or of the light thereof, to shine before that which is not.
Second. Again, as the church is in her light before men as the moon is in her light in the night to the world, so, as I said before, this city which is called also heaven, she, even she, shall have no need of these things, for she shall be taken up in open vision, and shall be completely delivered from all imperfection; she shall not need now the light of her children to provoke her and to stir her up to this or the other act of holiness; all shall be done, all shall be complete, the Lord himself is come. Indeed, while Christ is absent as touching his person, and while the work of God is not yet completely done in the church, there will be need both of the light of sun and moon, but when the work is done, and he come, then these things will be out of use. Thus 'the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day' (Pro 4:18).
'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' This is rendered as the reason why at this day both the light of the sun and moon are needless; it is because 'the glory of God did lighten it,' and because 'the Lamb is the light thereof.' Now the glory of God must be understood in this place, not of that glory that doth attend the church in this world, for that glory doth attend the church upon the account of her purity of worship, of temple-worship, and doth either abide on her, or withdraw itself, according to her exact observing the rule, or declining from it, as I have showed you in the beginning of this discourse (see the exposition of the 11th verse). But the glory that here you read of, it is a glory that supplieth this city without those ordinances; yea, therefore, those ordinances, as the temple and the light of the sun and moon, do cease because of the glory of this glory that now is come into this city. 'The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it,' mark, 'for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'
Wherefore, I say, this glory that now he speaks of, it is the glory that shall possess this city at the end of her glory in this world; wherefore, as saith the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet, from this day forward, 'The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory' (Isa 60:19).
'For the glory of God did lighten it,' &c. Thus it was at the finishing of the tabernacle in the wilderness, and of the temple at Jerusalem; both which were figures, in their finishing, of the finishing of the state of the church in this world; and it is said of them, that in the day when they in all things were accomplished, according to the fashion that was revealed before concerning their order and accomplishment, that then the glory of God so appeared upon them, that neither Moses nor Aaron was able to enter in, or to stand therein, because of the cloud, and of the glory of the Lord that at that time filled the house (Exo 40:33,34; 1 Kings 8:10,11). Thus you see this city descends in one measure of glory, and is consummate in another measure of glory. The glory of the Lord was upon the mount Sinai while the pattern of the tabernacle was giving, but it rested on the tabernacle when the work thereof was finished; to signify, I say, that the glory of God will rest in his ordinances, and in his church by them, so long as ordinances are in use; but when they are needless, then it will rest in the church without them, and that more gloriously than ever it therein did rest by them.
'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Mark, though now there shall be no need of temple, sun, or moon, yet Christ the Lamb, or the Man who was offered in sacrifice for our redemption, shall be of use and benefit; 'for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Wherefore, all that we who are the saved shall enjoy of glory and sweetness in another world, though we shall not enjoy it from God through Christ, by and in the ordinances, yet we shall enjoy it through Christ the Lamb without them; 'for the Lamb is the light of it.' by this word Lamb, he would have us understand that when we are in glory, the blood, death, and bloody conquest that the man Christ did get over our infernal enemies, will be of eternal use to us; because that benefit of Christ shall not only for ever be the foundation of our eternal felicity, but the burden of our song of glory in all our raptures among the angels (Rev 5:9). It will be the blood, the blood, the redeeming blood of the Lamb. 'Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the LAMB for ever and ever' (Rev 5:13). It is he in whom will be found the seven eyes, the seven spirits of God, in whose light we shall see the heights and depths of those springs and everlasting foundations and depths of glory for ever; and, indeed, the conceit of the contrary is foolish (Zech 3:9; Rev 5:6). Is not Christ the head, and we the members? and do not the members receive their whole light, guidance, and wisdom from it? Is not he also the price, the ground, and bottom of our happiness, both in this world and that which is to come? And is it possible it should be forgotten, or that, by it, our joy, light, and heaven should not be made the sweeter to all eternity? Our soul is now bound up in him, as in a bundle of life (1 Sam 25:29). And when we come thither, he is still the Christ, our life; and it is by our being where he is that we shall behold his glory and our glory, because he is glorified (Col 3:3,4; John 17:24). 'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' As he said, 'Ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you' (John 16:22).
Thus much of this city, her descending, her fashion, her glory, and of her wading through glory, from glory to glory.
[FOURTH. THE INHABITANTS OF THE CITY, THEIR QUALITY, AND NUMEROUSNESS.]
Ver.24. 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' After this long and pleasant description of this holy and new Jerusalem, the Holy Ghost now falleth upon a relation of the people that shall be the inhabitants of this city, and of their numerousness and quality.
'And the nations,' &c. The nations of the world, both of the Jews and Gentiles.
Every one knoweth what the nations are, wherefore I need not stay upon the explication of that, for it doth in general include the multitude of the sinners of the world (Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Titus 3:3). Therefore, when he saith, the nations shall walk in the light of this city, it is as if he had said, that at this day, when she is here in her tranquility, the sinners and disobedient among the sons of men shall by multitudes and whole kingdoms come in and close with the church and house of God. These spiders shall take hold with their hands, and be in kings' palaces (Pro 30:28).
'And the nations,' &c. For this word, 'the nations,' is a great word, and it comprehendeth much; mark, it doth not say a nation, or some nations, neither doth it say few or small nations, but indefinitely, the nations, many nations, strong nations, all nations, the nations in general; only he ties them up with this limit, the nations of them that are saved (Isa 52:15; 60:22; 2:2). Which yet is not so much spoken to clip off the multitude that we suppose may then be converted, as to show us their qualifications and happiness; as he saith by the prophet in another place, Thy children shall be all holy, or righteous, 'and great shall be the peace of thy children' (Isa 54:13; 60:21). 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.' Surely the Holy Ghost would never have spoken at such a rate as this, if he had not intended to show us that at the day of the setting up of this Jerusalem, a great harvest of sinners shall be gathered by the grace of the gospel. But the truth is, the Scriptures go with open arms towards the latter end of the world, even as if they would grasp and compass about almost all people then upon the face of the whole earth with the grace and mercy of God. 'The earth,' saith God, 'shall be full of the knowledge' of the glory 'of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). As he saith, also, for the comfort of the church in another place, 'Behold, I have grave thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me; give place to me, that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone, these, where had they been?' (Isa 49:16-21). Thus the multitudes of the nations shall at this day be converted to the Lord, and be made the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; as he saith again, 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ' (Rev 11:15). And again, 'The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him' (Dan 7:27).
And observe it, these promises are to be fulfilled in the last days, at the time of the pouring forth of the last vial, which is the time of the sounding of the last of the seven trumpets; for then this city shall be built, and Lucifer fallen from heaven; then the prisoners shall be set at liberty, and the people be gathered together, 'and the kingdoms to serve the Lord' (Isa 2:1,2; 14:4-6; Psa 102:20-22; Rev 11:15-17). 'Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people' (Deu 32:43). Alas! it is now towards the end of the world, and therefore now all is going, if the Lord steps not in with the riches of his grace. Wherefore now at last, before all be turned into fire and ashes, behold the Lord casts the net among the multitude of fish, and the abundance of the sea shall, without fail, be converted to Jerusalem (Isa 60:5). Though Satan and Antichrist have had their day in the world, and by their outrage have made fearful havoc of the souls of sinners from time to time, yet now at length God will strike in for a share with them, and his Son 'shall divide the spoil with the strong' (Isa 53:12). Wherefore he now sets up this city, puts the glory of heaven upon her, provides a new heaven and a new earth for her situation (Isa 66:22); drives profaneness into the holes and dens of the earth; giveth righteousness authority to reign in the world (2 Peter 3:13); and takes off the veil from all faces, that none may hereafter be for ever beguiled by blindness and ignorance (Isa 25:7). Now shall they make merry with the things of God; now shall all eat the fat and drink the sweet (1 Kings 4:20; Neh 8:10,12). For 'in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined' (Isa 25:6).
'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.' They 'shall walk in the light of it.' That is, in the light that is in it while it is in its purity in this world, and in the glory of it when it is in its perfection and immortality in another. Whence note by the way, that in the midst of all this glory, or while the glorious light of the gospel shall thus shine in the world, yet even then there will be some also that will not see and rejoice in the glory hereof. But as for those, whoever they are, they are excluded from a share in the blessed and goodly privileges of this city. 'The nations of them which are SAVED shall walk in the light of it.'
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' By these words are great things held forth. He told us before that the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it; and here he tells us that even their kings also, the kings of the earth, do bring their honour and glory to it. The people of the nations they are but like to single pence and halfpence, but their kings like gold angels and twenty-shilling pieces. Wherefore, when he saith that the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour unto it, it argueth that the gospel and the grace of God, when it is displayed in its own nature, and seen in its own complexion, even then they that have most of the honour and glory of the world will yet stoop their top-gallant unto it. 'Because of thy temple which is at Jerusalem, shall kings bring presents unto thee' (Psa 68:29; Isa 49:22,23). 'The kings of Tarshish, and of the isles, shall bring presents' to thee: 'the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him' (Psa 72:10,11). The kings shall see and arise, and 'princes also shall worship because of the Lord,' &c. (Isa 49:7). The kings shall come to thy light, and princes to the brightness of thy rising (Isa 60:1-5). 'The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory' (Isa 62:2). Yea, 'that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they have not heard shall they consider' (Isa 52:15). 'All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord' (Psa 138:4,5). Thus, we see, that though in the first day of the gospel, the poor, the halt, the lame, and the blind are chief in the embracing of the tenders of grace, yet in the latter day thereof God will take hold of kings.
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' INTO IT; that is, to Jerusalem. Wherefore this city must be built before they all of them will fall in love with her. Indeed, I do conceive that some of them will lay their hand to help forward the work of this city, as did Hiram with Solomon, and Darius, Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, with Ezra and Nehemiah, at the building and repairing the city, in the letter, in the days of old (2 Chron 2:11-15; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-3; 7:21). But yet, I say, the great conquest of the kings will be by the beauty and glory of this city, when she is built. 'thou shalt arise,' O Lord, 'and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thy glory' (Psa 102:13-15). And, indeed, before this city is set up, and established in her own place, most of the kings and great ones of the earth will be found employed and taken up in another work, than to fall in love with Mount Zion, and with the hill thereof. They will be found in love with mistress Babylon, the mother of harlots, the mistress of witchcrafts, and abominations of the earth (Rev 17:2,12-14; 18:3,9). They will, I say, be committing fornication with her, and will be as the horns upon the heads of the beast, to defend the riding lady from the gunshot that the saints continually will be making at her by the force of the Word and Spirit of God. They will be shaking the sharp end of their weapons against the Son of God, continually labouring to keep him out of his throne, and from having that rule in the church, and in the world, as becomes him who is the head of the body, and over all principality and power. 'These shall make war with the Lamb' (Rev 17:14). But, I say, it shall so come about at the last, by the illuminating grace of God, and by the faithful and patient enduring of the saints, together with the glory that everywhere shall now be abiding on the church and congregation of Jesus, that they shall begin to receive a man's heart, and shall consider things that have not been told them; wherefore at last they shall withdraw themselves from the love of this mistress, and shall leave her to scrape for herself in the world, and shall come with repentance and rejoicing to Zion; nay, not only so, but to avenge the quarrel of God, and the vengeance of his temple; and to recompense her also for the delusions and enchantments wherewith she hath entangled them. 'These shall hate her, and they shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire' (Rev 17:16).
Now, madam, what sayest thou? The kings must come to Jerusalem, Jezebel. Thy chamber companions will shortly, notwithstanding thy painted face, cast thee down headlong out at the windows. Yea, they shall tread thee in pieces by the feet of their prancing horses, and with the wheels of their jumping chariots (2 Kings 9:30-33). They shall shut up all bowels of compassion towards thee, and shall roar upon thee like the sea, and upon thy fat ones like the waves thereof (Jer 50:41,42). Yea, when they begin, they will also make an end, and will leave thee so harbourless and comfortless, that now there will be found for thee no gladness at all, no, not so much as one piper to play thee one jig. The delicates that thy soul lusted after, thou shalt find them no more at all (Rev 18:12-22). 'Babylon the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures. And owls shall dwell there, and satyrs [that is, the hobgoblins, or devils] shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged' (Isa 13:19-23). Thus wilt thou come down wonderfully. For 'in thee have they set light by father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains, in the midst of thee they commit lewdness' (Eze 22:6-10). God hath smitten his hands at thy dishonest gain, and all the blood which hath been in the midst of thee; God will be avenged of thee, but will not meet thee as a man (Isa 47:1-3). You 'have cast lots for my people,' saith God: you 'have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.' You have made havoc of my young converts to satisfy your lusts; therefore, 'What have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coast of Palestine? Will ye render me a recompence? And if ye recompence me swiftly and speedily, will I return you recompence upon your own head' (Joel 3:1-4). I will throw it as dirt in your face again. And never talk of what thou wast once, for though thou wast full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, though thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God, yea, though every precious stone for some time was thy covering, and thou the very anointed cherub that covereth, walking upon the mountain of God, and in the midst of the stones of fire, yet because-by reason of the multitude of thy merchandize-thou hast sinned, and art filled with violence. 'Therefore God will cast thee, as profane, out of the mountain of God, and will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire'; yea, he will cast thee to the ground, and lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. And 'all they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more' (Eze 28:12-19). 'And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold; though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair, thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life' (Jer 4:30).
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and their honour into it.' Mark, they do not only forsake the crimson harlot, neither do they content themselves with eating her flesh and burning her with fire, but they come over, they come over to Jerusalem; they are conquered by the grace of Christ and wisdom of the Son of God. They shall make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is King of kings and Lord of lords, and those that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Now they shall all give way to the government of the King of kings, the governor of the Jews (Ezra 6:7), and shall with gladness delight to see him rule his spouse with his own law, rules, and testament; they shall play the pranks of Jeroboam no longer, in making calves to keep the people from going up to Jerusalem to worship. Now they shall count him also king of nations, as well as king of saints; and he shall wear the crowns, and they shall seek to him (Rev 19:12,15; Jer 10:7; Isa 52:15; 2 Chron 9:23).
[The city secure, the gates always open.]
Ver.25. 'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day for there shall be no night there.'
This is the effect of what you read before, namely, of the coming in of the kings and great ones of the earth to this Jerusalem. For when the whore is made desolate and naked, and burned with fire, and when the kings also that loved her, and that maintained her, are come in, and have closed with the glory and beauty of this city, then what need is there to shut the gates? Alas, all the injuries that the kings and great ones of the earth have done to the church and spouse of Christ in these days of the New Testament, it hath been through the instigation and witchcraft of this mistress of iniquity. 'The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear' (Nahum 3:3,4), against the saints of God, by reason of the multitudes of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, who selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Wherefore I say, this gentlewoman being laid in her grave, and all her fat ones gone down to the sides of the pit, these kings will change their mind, and fall in love with the true and chaste matron, and with Christ her Lord. Now when this is thus, this city must needs be safely inhabited as towns without walls, and as a place near to which there is neither thief nor ravenous beast (Isa 2:4; Jer 33:16; Zech 2:4; 14:11).
Persecutors, while they remain in their spirit of outrage against the church and people of God, they are frequently in the Scripture compared to the venomous dragons, fierce lions, and ravenous wolves (Jer 51:34,37). All which at this day shall be driven out of the world, that is, so out, as never to molest the church again, or to cause a gate of this city to be shut, through fear, against them; as he saith by the prophet, 'In the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes' (Isa 35:7). In the habitation of dragons, that is, even in the places of persecutors, where each lay, shall be food for the flock of Christ. The dragon is a venomous beast, and poisoneth all where he lieth! He beats the earth bare, and venoms it, that it will bear no grass, as do the persecutors where they inhabit and lie. But behold, the days do come in which these dragons shall be removed, and the ground where they lay be made fruitful and flourish, so that even there shall be places for the flocks to lie down in. 'In the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; but the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away' (Isa 35:7-10). According to that of Moses, the Lord 'will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.' For 'he will rid evil beasts out of the land,' and the sword shall not go through it more (Lev 26:6). 'And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting-places' (Isa 32:18).
'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no night there.' This word DAY we may understand two ways; either for the day of bringing in to fill this city, or for the day of her perfection and fulness. Now if you take it with reference to the day in which her converts are coming in, as indeed it ought, why then, the gates shall not be shut at all. 'Thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought' (Isa 60:11).
But again, this day of grace, and of conversion of sinners, it must be looked upon either as the church is in captivity and persecution, or as she is out. Now, as she is in captivity, so her longest day is usually accompanied with a black and doubtful night of temptation and affliction. Wherefore this day here being spoken of, it is the day of grace that she shall have even when she is absolutely delivered from the rage of the beast, false prophet, and whore. Wherefore he is not content to say, the gates shall not be shut at all by day, but adds withal, 'for there shall be no night there'; as who should say, I know that commonly in the day of the church's affliction she is accompanied with nights as well as days, but it shall not be so here; 'Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended' (Isa 60:20).
Wherefore John, considering this, doth quite exclude the night, saying, 'There shall be no night there.' Indeed after this New Jerusalem hath had her golden day in this world, I say, just towards the ending thereof, she will yet once again be beset with raging Gog and Magog, which enemies will, after the long safety and tranquility of this city, through the instigation of the devil come upon the breadth of the earth, and encamp about this holy city (Eze 28; 29). But behold in the midst of this intention to swallow her up, the Lord rains fire and brimstone from heaven and destroys them all; so that God, I say, though he may bring one only evening upon this holy city after her long peace and rest among the sons of men, yet he shall not bring one night upon her, nor cause a gate thereof to be shut for ever. The sun shall now stand still in the midst of heaven, and this night shall be thus prevented by this marvellous judgment of God (Josh 10). As another prophet saith, 'At evening time it shall be light' (Zech 14:7). That is, though her enemies will at last still make, through their enmity, one only attempt to swallow up all in everlasting oblivion, yet they themselves shall fall down dead upon the mountains of Israel, and be a prey to this Jerusalem. Thus there will be only day accompanying the inhabitants of this city, 'For there shall be no night there.'
[The glory and honour of the nations brought into it.]
Ver.26. 'And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.' This, as I said before, is to show us how heartily, and how unfeignedly, both the nations and their kings shall now come over to New Jerusalem. They come hand in hand, not the people without their prince, nor the prince without his people, though it will, and must be so, in the times of persecution; but now, together 'they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations to it.'
Again, I told you before that the Jews shall at this day be converted to the Christian faith, and shall have a great name and much of heaven upon them in this city. For, indeed, they are the first-born, the natural branches, and the like. Now when he saith, they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations to it, I cannot think that by this should we understand only, or yet principally, the outward pomp and treasure of the world, but that rather by honour and glory we are here to understand the heavenly treasure and glory that the saints shall continually pour forth into one another's bosoms in this city. In this city, I say, for at this day, as I have formerly showed you, there will be found no treasure any where but at Jerusalem; every saint shall be here, every grace shall be here, the precious stones of the sanctuary, the precious sons of Zion shall not then, as now, lie scattered, some in the world, and some in mistress Babylon's lap; neither shall any thing pertaining to the church's privileges be found in her at all for ever. There shall be heard no more at all in her any harpers, trumpeters, pipers, or any other heavenly music in her; neither shall there be any more the sound of a millstone to grind us bread, nor the light of a candle to guide us in the house, nor yet the voice of the bridegroom, Christ, nor of the bride his wife, to tempt or allure any that are seeking the way of life, to stay with her (Rev 18:22,23). All these things shall be brought to Jerusalem (2 Chron 36:7). Christians, you must understand that there is a time when all the treasures of the church are to be found in Babylon, as in the days of old; but at this day, when this city is built, not any of them shall be found there, but all shall be brought and delivered up to Jerusalem again, as was also foreshown in the type; and all places shall be void of the treasure of heaven, but Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-6; 7:13-16).
Wherefore by the glory and honour of the nations in this place, I understand that all the treasures of the church, and all the graces that at this day lie scattered here and there, some in one place and some in another, they shall be found no where at that day but in this city, in the church that walks according to rule. Now the reasons why I take this honour and glory to be meant of these things are-
First. Because thus it was in the time of the building of Jerusalem after the captivity, the treasure of the Jews, which was become the treasures of the provinces of Babylon, was again restored and brought to Jerusalem, as you may see by the scriptures now cited.
Second. Because I find indeed, that the milk and honey of the land of Canaan-which are, in our gospel language, the gifts, graces, and treasures of the church-it is called, 'The glory of all lands' (Eze 20:6). Now, I say, seeing the milk and honey, which are the comforts of the church and her treasure, is called 'The glory of all lands,' I take glory and honour in this place to signify the same thing also (Cant 4:11).
Third. Because also I find, by comparing the prophets, that the Christian's glory and honour lieth mostly, even principally, in heavenly and spiritual things; as in faith, love, experience of God, of grace, of Christ, and spiritual life. I read that, at the building of this city, the Jews and Gentiles shall meet together, and that at that day they shall mutually be partakers of each other's glory. The Gentiles 'shall milk out, and be delighted in the abundance of the glory' of the Jews: and the glory of the Gentiles shall be again extended unto the Jews like a mighty flowing stream (Isa 66:10-13). But I say that this glory and honour should consist in outward things, or that the glory that is merely carnal should be principally here intended, I confess it grates too near the ground for me to believe or rejoice in it. Alas, I find that those souls that have not now the tenth part of the spirit and life of heavenly things that shall then be poured forth; I say, I find that these are trampling on the world, and disdain the thoughts of being taken with its glory. Wherefore much less will it be esteemed in that day, when the glory and goodness of God shall in that manner break forth. Again, can it be imagined that the chief of the glory that the Gentiles should bring to the Jews after a sixteen hundred years warming in the bosom of Christ; I say, is it imaginable that the great crop of all they have reaped should consist in a little outward trumpery? Or if it should, would it be a suitable medicine in the least to present to the eyes of a broken and wounded people, as the Jews will be at that day? Or if they glory that the Gentiles at that day shall suck from the Jews were such as this, would it at all be as life from the dead to them in a gospel sense. The church of the Gentiles shall be a wall to the Jews at their return; but such a wall as will chiefly consist in spiritual and heavenly safeguard, and in outward, because of that (Rom 11:13-15). I am a wall, saith she, and my breasts are towers, on which the Jews will build upon her a palace of silver (Cant 8:8-10). But must this wall, I say, consist chiefly in outward glory, in the glory of earthly things? or must this silver palace be of that nature either? No verily, but when God hath built the city Jerusalem, and put his church into such a state, that upon all her glory shall be a defence of heaven, then shall the Jews, by their coming into this city, build, by their experience, a palace for spiritual and heavenly pleasure, to solace and comfort their brethren withal. In a word, then, by glory and honour in this place, we are chiefly to understand the spiritual and heavenly things of this city, which, in the times of the reign of Antichrist, have lain, some among the potsherds of the earth, some again under the stairs, some under this abuse, and some under that (Psa 61:3; Cant 2:14). All which shall be brought by the souls that shall be converted, forthwith to this city, the church, where will be the treasury of God, into which every one at that day shall throw in of their abundance; but as for the glory of the world, the saints shall be above it, it shall be with them as silver and wood was in the days of Solomon, even as little worth as the stones in the street in their account (Isa 27:13; 1 Kings 10:21).
[None but visible saints shall enter.]
Ver.27. 'And there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.'
I am not yet convinced that the highest church-state that ever was, or ever will be in this world, could possibly be so, all of them, the elect of God, but that there would get in among them some that had not saving grace; the same also I believe touching the state of this Jerusalem. But yet this I do believe again, that the right and gospel-pattern is, that none be admitted into church communion but such who are visible saints by calling (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:12; Phil 1:1). The substance of which these words import, 'There shall not enter into it any thing that DEFILETH, or that worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie.' Which words do principally strike at a people that appear to be loose, wicked, or ungodly; of which sort indeed, not one shall here at any time, no, not in any wise, be admitted entrance. For now shall all the forms, and all the ordinances, and all the forms of the goings out of the church of God, and the comings into it, be so exactly opened to these people, and they so punctual and distinct in the observation of them, that it will not be possible that a Canaanite should be here for ever again found any more (Eze 43:10,11; 44:6,8). 'This is the law of the house upon the top of the mountain-the whole limit thereof shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house' (Eze 43:12; Joel 3:17; Zech 14:21).
And as there shall at this day be none admitted here, but such as are in truth visible saints, so none must here continue, but they that continue such. If any of those stones that are put in for building into the house of God, shall afterwards have the plague found on them, then the priest shall command that such stones be taken away and cast into the unclean place that is without the city (Lev 14:40). And observe it, that congregation on earth that admits only of such persons as are visible saints by calling and profession-though possibly some of them, as in the case of Judas and Demas, may be known to God to be non-elect-yet that church is holy round about the limits thereof (Num 19:22; Eph 5:11; Heb 12:15; 2 Thess 3:6,14; 1 Cor 5:6,11-13). Provided, also, that if at any time after that the plague appears, they ordinarily proceed to deal with them, as here things will be done to a tittle and a hair's breadth. Now the reason why the church may be said to have some within her that are non-elect, and yet be counted holy still, it is because the church is to judge of persons by their words and lives; they know not the heart absolutely, and therefore if in word and life a man be as he ought, he is to be accounted a visible saint, and orderly ought to be received of the church as such. So that I say, as I said before, these words of barring out sinners out of the church, they are not to be understood as if they intended that those should be debarred visible communion that in word and life appeared visible saints, that are so judged by the rules of Christ's testament; but that such should be from it shut out that appeared visible sinners. Those that are defilers, workers of abomination, and makers of lies, none of these shall enter.
But 'they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.' These words explain the matter: those, and those only, shall enter here, that are found written in the Lamb's book of life. Now, by book of life we are to understand two things in the Scriptures of truth. First, either the book of God's eternal grace and mercy through Christ, in which all the elect are recorded for ever. Or, Secondly, that book of life in which the Lord Jesus hath all recorded that are visible saints by calling; for, for both these there is a book of life. For the first of these, I judge these Scriptures do suit (Luke 10:20; 2 Tim 2:19; Phil 4:3). And for the second, these with that in the text (Exo 32:32,33; Rev 22:19).
Now the book of life in this place must not be so strictly taken as if it included those only that were elect of God to eternal life, but must be understood of that book wherein are recorded the rules and bounds of visible church-communion; and so all those that, through the gifts and operations of special or common grace, do fall within the compass of those rules and bounds. Thus it was in the type at the return out of captivity, none were to be admitted entrance into the church but those that could show their privileges by genealogy and the records of the church; and to others it was said that they had neither portion, nor lot, nor memorial, in Jerusalem (Ezra 2:62,63; Neh 7:64,65; 2:20).
Now that by book of life in this place we are to understand that book that hath in it the bounds and liberties of this city, and so every one that falleth within the compass of these bounds and privileges visibly; consider,
First. They that are visible matter for visible church-communion, they shall be found within this city, and yet there shall not enter any, but those that are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Second. Now visible church-communion doth not absolutely call for only invisible saints, neither can it; for if the church were to join with none but those whom they knew to be the very elect of God-as all invisible saints are-then she must join with none at all; for it is not possible that any church should be so infallible to judge in that manner of the elect, as to discern them always, and altogether, from the non-elect, which cannot be an invisible saint.
Third. By book of life therefore, in this place, we are to understand, I say, that book that hath written in it every visible saint, whether they be elect or not; and so such a book that is capable of receiving in a man at one time, and of blotting of him out again, as occasion doth require, at another. Which thing is only applicable to that book which binds and looses on the account of a man's being a visible saint or a visible apostate. Which thing is only applicable to the visible rules of receiving or shutting out of visible church-communion; which rules being the rules of Christ's New Testament, it is proper to call it the book of life; and is about the matter of going in or going out of this very city so called. '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' (Rev 22:18,19). O how happy is he who is not only a visible, but also an invisible saint! (Rev 3:5). He, he shall not be blotted out the book of God's eternal grace and mercy, when others are liable to loose a share, not only in heaven, but to be for ever blotted out of the book that approveth of visible believers also.
Fourth. But again, to explain the matter yet more: in the visible church there are not only sons, but servants-that is, not only those that are truly elect, but such as have received a gift for the perfecting of the church under Christ, in his service here in this world (Eze 46:16,17). Now, I say, the servant for the time present hath his place in the church as well as the son, though not the place of a son, but of a servant, even a place of service, as of preaching, prophesying, administering the ordinances that are given to the church, and the like (1 Cor 12:7; Eph 4:11,12). All which a man that hath not grace may do, and that by the appointment of Christ; thus was Judas, Demas, Hymeneus, Phyletus, and others, who sometimes were the servants of Christ in the church, and did minister for him to them; yet themselves, notwithstanding, such as were all that time strangers and aliens to the life and power and saving operations of the justifying and preserving grace of the gospel (1 Cor 13:1-4; Matt 25:14-18). As he saith also by the prophet Isaiah, 'strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of aliens shall be your ploughmen, and your vine-dressers' (Isa 61:5). For verily Christ will give to those that have not his saving grace, yet great knowledge and understanding in the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and will also make them for profit and advantage in his church, to feed their flocks, to plough up the fallow ground of their hearts, and to dress their tender vines. Yet, I say, they themselves shall not be everlastingly saved, for they want his saving grace. As Christ saith, 'The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth for ever' (John 8:35). As he saith again in another prophet, 'If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons, it shall be their possession by inheritance; but if he give a gift of inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty, after it shall return to the prince; but his inheritance shall be his sons for them' (Eze 46:16,17). Some indeed have grace as well as gifts; now they that are such the profit of their gifts shall be rewarded by virtue of their grace; but as for them that have only a gift, when the work of a gift is done, then they cease to be any longer of use in the church, and therefore are forthwith shut out of the same, but the son abideth for ever. Thus you see that as visible church-communion doth not absolutely call for the elect only, but admits, and that by the book of rules, all that are visible and open saints by calling, so also the Lord Jesus himself doth, and will use some in his church as his officers and servants, that yet in a strict sense are neither his sons nor members, who yet are within the bounds of that book of life that here he speaks of, as is evident, because with Christ's allowance they are admitted into communion with his church, and by him also furnished with gifts and abilities to profit and edify withal. Now observe, such a one is admitted, though but a servant, yet not by the church, because but such a one. The church receiveth no man upon the account of gifts alone, but upon the account of the appearance of grace, as of gospel-repentance, of the confession of faith, and of a conversation suitable to the same; all which a man that is not elect may have the notion of, yea, the power, though not the saving power (Heb 6:4,5).
Fifth. Further, this which I have said about the visible church-communion, and so consequently about the book of life, it must needs be a gospel-truth: yea, a thing for truth in this New Jerusalem: because, besides what hath been said, there will be found in this city, even at the coming of the Lord Jesus, which coming of his will not be for some time after the building and setting of it up, I say, there will be then found among them foolish virgins, and such who have not the saving grace of God in their souls. But yet, 1. These very souls shall be counted by the church, yea, by Christ himself, for virgins; that is, such as had not defiled their profession.2. And will be such virgins as have, and hold every one her lamp, even as the wise themselves.3. Such virgins as were, every one of them gone forth from the pollutions of this evil world.4. And so such as continued visible saints, even till the bridegroom came (Matt 25:1-10). For then, it is said in the margin, they cried, Our lamps are going out. These, I say, be those gifted people that will have place in the church, and so place in the book of life here mentioned, which yet will, though they continue hid from the church, be discovered in the day of the Lord to be such as had only a gift, but not grace, and shall for their secret sins be cut off and cast away, notwithstanding they were visible saints all their days.
To conclude then: If the Scripture saith, that none that defileth, or that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, shall enter into his holy city which yet is but the church on earth, with what face can defilers think and say they shall possess a part among the church which is in heaven? Again, If many that have received gifts from God, and that may be serviceable in his house, shall yet be put out of doors at the coming of the Lord, what will they do that have been and yet continue both giftless and graceless, as visibly as the light that shineth? And that instead of being the ploughmen and vine-dressers of the church, prove thieves, robbers, persecutors, and the like! Yea, if many that are within the bounds of that book of life that hath the records and rules of a rightly constituted visible church may yet perish, what will become of them that never were so much as written therein? Must they not perish rather? 'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire' (Rev 20:15).
Rev.22:1.-'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.'
[FIFTH. THE PROVISION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE CITY, BY WHICH IT CONTINUETH IN LIFE, EASE, PEACE, TRANQUILITY, AND SWEETNESS FOR EVER.]
Having thus showed us this city, her fashion, glory, inhabitants, and the like, he now comes to show us her provision and maintenance, wherewith she is kept in safety, life, peace, and comfort, &c.
[Its drink the river of life.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life.' This water of life is nothing else but the manifold grace of God in Christ let forth to the inhabitants of this Jerusalem, wherewith she is watered and replenished, as the earth with rain from heaven, for the good of those that drink thereof. For both the word water and that of life, they are but metaphorical sayings, under which is held forth some better and more excellent thing. And indeed it is frequent with God in Scripture to speak of his grace and mercy under the notion of waters, of a fountain, a sea, and the like (Zech 13:1; Micah 7:18,19).
[It is called water.] Now it is called water, First, Because no soul can be cleansed, or effectually washed from its guilt and filth, but by the grace of God (Eph 1:7). 'I washed thee with water, yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee,' 'and thou becamest mine' (Eze 16:8,9). Second, It is called water, because it also quencheth the spiritual thirst of them that by faith do drink thereof (Isa 41:18). I will give, saith Christ, to him that is a-thirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely (Rev 22:17). And again, 'He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst' (John 4:14).
[Water of LIFE.] Further, As it is called water, so it is called 'the water OF LIFE,' and that upon a diverse account. First, Because it is that which recovereth the soul that drinketh thereof from the death of sin and the curse of God, to a principle of life and heavenly blessing. 'And it shall come to pass that every thing that liveth, which moveth whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live' (Eze 47:9). Second, It is called 'the water of life,' because that from it comes all those heavenly and spiritual quickenings and revivings, that (like aqua vitae [water of life]) do fetch again, and cheer up the soul that was sinking and giving up the ghost in this world. 'There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God' (Psa 46:4). Third, It is called 'the water of life,' because it healeth the soul of all its spiritual infirmities and diseases, wherewith by reason of the remainders of sin, the creature is most sadly annoyed and infected. 'And there shall be a very great multitude of fish,' of men he means (Matt 4:19), 'because the waters shall come thither; for they,' these fish, 'shall be healed, and every thing shall live whiter the river cometh' (Eze 47:9). Fourth, and lastly, It is called 'the water of life,' because that whosoever doth effectually drink thereof, shall die no more, but the water that Christ shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up in him to eternal life; wherefore he calleth it in another place, 'the living water,' because the quality and nature of it is to beget, to increase, to maintain, and preserve life (John 4:10-14).
[Water of lifer clear and PURE AS CRYSTAL.] 'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,' &c. Mark, it is water, water of life, pure water of life, and clear as crystal. These words, 'pure' and 'clear,' and that as 'crystal,' they are added upon a double account. First, To show you that it is grace alone that saveth the sinner; and, Second, To show you that at this day the doctrine of this grace will be by itself alone without the commixture of that dirt and trash that for a long time, even to this day, hath been thrown into it.
First, It showeth us that it is grace alone that saveth the sinner, pure grace, grace that admits of nothing of ours to be in the least a helper in the matter of our happiness; we are 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.' As he saith by the prophet, 'I will pour CLEAN water upon you, and ye shall be clean, and from all your idols will I cleanse you' (Eze 36:25). 'Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord. Be ye ashamed and confounded for all your own evil ways, O house of Israel' (vv 32,33). It is clean water, indeed-it is clear in the nature of it, clear in the gift of it, and clear in the working of it. It washeth freely, thoroughly, and perfectly. 'From all your idols will I cleanse you' (v 25; 16:9; Rev 21:8).
Second, This word pure, and clear as crystal, it also showeth us that at the day of New Jerusalem, the doctrine of grace shall be cleansed from all those dirty and muddy inventions that sin, Satan, and the wisdom of this world hath thrown into this river, and into its goodly crystal streams; I say at this day they shall not come near it, neither shall the rubbish they have already cast into it any more be there for ever. 'I will destroy all the beasts thereof [the beastly men he means] from beside the great waters, neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them. Then will I make their waters deep, and cause the rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord God' (Eze 32:13,14).
'And he SHEWED me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,' &c. In that he saith he saw this river, he giveth us in a mystery also to understand how openly and plainly this river shall in all its crystal streams and currents be apprehended and seen by the children of this city; for in this vision he doth as it were represent in his person the children of New Jerusalem; as God said to Ezekiel in another case, 'Thou shalt be a sign,' 'and they shall do as thou hast done' (24:22,27). So here, I saw, saith John, a pure river of water of life. I am in this a sign to the house of the Israel of God, and to the inhabitants of this city; they shall do as I have done, and shall also see as I have seen. As saith the church and people of this city, 'As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts' (Psa 48:8). And hence it is called an open fountain, because it shall be no more shut up or kept close for ever (Zech 13:1,2).
[Whither this water goes and its extension.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, PROCEEDING out of the throne of God.' This word, proceeding, hath also in it two things: First, An implicit declaration whither it goes; and, Second, A discovery of its gradual extension to those to whom it goes.
First. Touching to whom, or whither it goes, it is let out both to the Jews and Gentiles indifferently; and so it never yet was since the foundations of the Jewish church; for in the time of the Old Testament it did run to the Jews in special, and in the time of the New Testament, hitherto, unto us the Gentiles in special. O! but now it shall in this manner be extended to sinners no longer; not now to the Jews without the Gentiles, nor again to them without the Jews, but equally and alike to both, and on them both it shall work alike effectually. 'It shall be in that day,' saith the prophet, 'that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea' (Zech 14:8). By 'living waters' here, you are to understand the same with this in the text; by 'the former sea,' the people of the Jews, for they were God's former people; and by 'hinder sea,' the people of the Gentiles, for they are the younger son. And because the whole world consisteth of these two people, therefore Ezekiel in his vision puts them both together, calling them the fish of one great sea, to which this water of life shall run, and upon whose fish it shall have a like operation, even to heal them, and make them live, without respect either to this or that party. 'It shall come to pass that the fishers,' that is, the gospel ministers, 'shall stand upon it,' the rivers, 'from En-gedi even to En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many' (Eze 47:10). As another prophet saith, 'The abundance of the sea shall be converted to thee' (Isa 60:5). Thus much touching whither this water goes.
[Second.] And now to come to the manner of the extension of it, in the way of its proceeding. A thing that proceeds, it doth what it doth gradually, that is, by degrees. First, it comes or goes so far, and then further, and afterwards further than that, till at last it ascends to the height and uppermost degree that is allotted for its perfection. All which the Holy Ghost would have us gather out of this word, 'it proceedeth,' or that John saw this holy water 'proceeding.' The which the prophet Ezekiel in a mystery unfoldeth to us, saying, the first time he passed over this water it was up but to his ankles; the second time he passed through, it proceeded to his knees; the third time, to his loins; and last of all, became a river to swim in (Eze 47:1-3).
1. It is but up to the ankles, that is, but shallow; and signifies that, first, the soul is but a little child in God's things, such as the apostle calls babes, children, 'little children' (1 John 2:12).
2. Then from the ankles it proceeds to the knees, that is, somewhat higher than the ankles; and signifieth that the Christian groweth from a child to a young and strong man, one that is now gotten deeper into the things of God, and that is able to tug with and overcome the wicked ones (1 John 2:13).
3. After this it proceeds higher, even up to the loins; this signifies that as grace makes men children of God, and his young men, so also it maketh them fathers and ancients in his church; it makes them grave, knowing, solid guides, and unfolders of the mysteries of the kingdom; these are such as are instructed into the kingdom of God, and that can bring out of their treasury things new and old.
4. It yet proceeds higher, even to be above the head, a river to swim in, and that such a river as can by no means be passed over. This signifieth our launching into eternity; our being beyond all heights, depths, lengths, and breadths in the open vision and enjoyments of grace. 'For there the glorious Lord shall be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ships pass thereby' (Isa 33:21). Thus we begin children, and wade up to the ankles in the things of God; and being once in, it riseth and proceeds to come up to our knees, then to our loins, and last of all to be a river to swim in; a river so wide, so deep, and every way so large, that it can in no wise be passed over.
[Whence and from whom this water comes.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb.' Having thus spoken to the water what it is, as also to whom it extends itself, and how it proceeds, he now comes to show us from whence and from whom it doth come. It proceeds, saith he, 'from the throne of God and of the Lamb.' Out of the throne of God; this throne of God, it is, in another place, called the mercy-seat, and throne of grace, from which, as always, so now in a special manner he will issue forth of himself in the glory of the gospel of the grace of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of this city (Exo 25:22; Heb 4:16). When he saith, therefore, that it doth proceed out of the throne of God, it is as if he had said, I saw that from the yearning bowels of the great God did flow continually the living streams of the everlasting fountains of grace, and that not only to, but in the midst of this city, wherewith her inhabitants are continually watered, and their pastures kept always green and flourishing. 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' (Isa 55:1).
'Proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.' In that this water of life is said to proceed not only out of the throne of God, but also of the Lamb, it signifieth and holdeth forth unto us two special things:
First. That the throne of God is also made the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, upon which he, as a reward of his sufferings and victory over sin, Satan, and all evils, is set down, and upon which he sits and rules as Lord and Chief of all worlds. He is set down on the right hand of power, on the right hand of the Majesty on high; as he saith, 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne' (Rev 3:21). This being thus, it signifieth that this city shall have her enjoyments of life, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, by virtue of the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as by the virtue of his priestly and prophetical office. The church doth in our days know a little what joy, peace, and life is to be enjoyed from Christ, even through that dark and glimmering sight that she hath of the offices of Christ in a mist; but she feels not yet what joy she shall have, and what peace she shall enjoy when her Lord, in all his offices, is manifest before her, and when he in the glory of them doth reign in the midst of this Jerusalem. There are none of the offices of the Lord Jesus yet upon the throne in his church on earth, though they be all upon the throne in heaven. O! but the day is coming that they shall be all upon the throne in the church on earth; when they shall, each of them in its full length, breadth, height, and depth, bear sway among his people, and before all men. 'Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously' (Isa 24:23).
'O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence!' (Isa 64:1). O that the day were come that the smoke should go forth of the temple of God, that men might enter into it, and there meet with God upon the throne, and with Jesus in him upon the throne in all his offices! It will be thus, thou Zion, shortly, 'and great shall be the peace of thy children' (Isa 54:13).
[Second.] The second thing observable is, that as all grace comes from out of the throne of God, so it also proceeds or comes out of the throne of the Lamb; that is, no grace comes to any but through the victory and conquest of the Lord Christ. We are 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus' (Rom 3:24). And again, 'We have redemption through his blood,' even 'the forgiveness of' our 'sins, according to the riches of his grace' (Eph 1:7). By which we may gather that when these things come to be in their own purity among us-that is, when grace runs clear without the dirt and mud of the traditions of men commixed therewith-then will all that hold up false and erroneous opinions be washed away. For this river will not only wash away the sins and filthiness of those that are truly gracious; but it will also destroy the heretic and erroneous person; it will be to them at that day as the Red Sea was to the Egyptians of old; which sea, though it was a wall on this hand and on that to the children of Israel, yet it destroyed the Egyptians that assayed to go through it as Israel did (Heb 11:29). The reason also why we are at this day in such confusion in matters of religion, it is for want of the clear and pure streams of this river of water of life; all which will be mended when there is but one river to water this city, and that too the pure river of the water of life, in all its streams as clear as crystal; then shall all drink in all things into one Spirit, and be watered with the same dews of heaven.
Thus much of the water of life that belongeth to this Jerusalem.
[Its food the tree of life.]
Ver.2. And 'in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bear twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' This tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he is here called a tree, rather than by other of his names, it is to show us how fruitful and exceeding advantageous he in all his benefits will be to the inhabitants of this city. This is that tree under whose branches the fowls of heaven shall now most safely lodge, and find relief from the hot and fainting beams of the persecuting sun of this world, as the Word doth there inform us (Matt 13:31,32).
[The situation of this tree in the midst of the city.] Now before I come to speak to this tree, touching the manner of its fruit, and its often bearing, with the efficaciousness of its leaves, which here he saith doth heal the nations; I will take notice of one or two general things that lie before me, from the standing of the tree in the midst of the street of this city.
First then, In that he saith this city hath a tree of life in it, he alludes to the garden of Eden, the pleasant paradise that God began the world withal; whereby he signifieth that as the world began with a paradise, so also it shall end with a paradise, when sin and Satan have done their worst. This New Jerusalem shall be the wind up of the world, and in it shall stand the tree of life, as well as there stood one in the goodly garden, which was the beginning thereof. In which paradise there shall be not tree of knowledge, or the law of works, to bear sway, and to cause that the sons of God shall be thrust out thence for their eating of its forbidden fruits; no, the tree of life alone shall here bear sway and rule, whose fruit is only healthful, and the leaves thereof for medicine.
[1.] Now this tree of life being in the midst of this city, it signifieth that the inhabitants of it shall be sweetly shadowed, refreshed, and defended with its coolness, and also sweetly nourished and comforted with its dainties. And hence it is that the Scriptures do hold him forth in his benefits to his church under these very notions. 'As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste' (Cant 2:3). Indeed the shadow of this tree of life, as always it is refreshing to the tempted and weary, so now it will be far more. 'They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon' (Hab 14:7). Mark, (1.) His shadow will make us return, that is, to our first love; to the days of our youth, to our young, fresh, tender, and flourishing faith, love, and self-denial, that we received in the days of our espousals. (2.) As it will make us return to these, so it will make us revive in these; they shall return and revive, they shall revive as the corn; as the corn doth when, in the heat of summer, after long scorching, it is covered with cool clouds, and watered with the bottles of heaven. (3.) As it shall make them return and revive, so it shall make them grow; they shall grow as the vine, that is, speedily, fruitfully, and spreadingly. (4.) This is not all, but the smell of saints in those days shall be excellent: 'They shall revive as the corn,' they shall 'grow as the vine,' and shall send forth their scent 'as the wine of Lebanon.' This tree is a perfuming tree, and makes them also that abide under the shadow thereof to smell as sweet-smelling myrrh; it makes them smell as the wine of thy grace, O Lord, and as the fragrant ointments of heaven. When the spouse did but touch where her Lord had touched afore her, it made her 'hands drop with myrrh, and her fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh' (Cant 5:5). O they will be green, savoury, reviving, flourishing, growing Christians, that shall walk the street of New Jerusalem! 'I am,' saith he, 'like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found' (Hosea 14:8).
[2.] But again, As he shall be thus profitable to his people for shadow and reviving, so he will be in the midst of the street of it for food, for refreshing and replenishing that way. 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight,' said she, 'and his fruit was sweet to my taste.' Ezekiel tells us that this tree is all trees; and on the bank of the river, on this side, and on that, were all trees for meat (Eze 47:12). Indeed Christ is all trees; yea, there is more to be found in him for the food of the soul, than there can be on all trees for the food of the body. He is a fir-tree for tallness, greenness and strength; he is an olive for fatness, a vine for sweetness and goodness, for therewith is refreshed the heart both of God and man (Hosea 14:8; Rom 11:17; John 15:1,2). What shall I say, He is the almond-tree, the fig-tree, the apple-tree, all trees; The tree of life also in the midst of the paradise of God (Cant 2:13).
To conclude.-Seeing Christ is said to be in the midst of the street of this city, it showeth unto us with what, at all occasions, the actions of the saints of this city shall be seasoned. The street, you know I told you, is the way of holiness in this city, the place of spiritual recreation and solace. Now in the very midst of this street there stands this tree, which being thus, it showeth us how wonderfully Christ, as a tree of life, will be in all the words and deeds of the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; they will walk in Christ, they will talk in Christ, they will do all they do in Christ, or rather Christ will be found in all their ways; even as the tree of life is found in the midst of the street of this city: 'they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord' (Zech 10:12).
Again, In that this tree is said to stand in the midst of the street, it showeth unto us how common and free his benefits will now be also. The plumbs, and figs, and grapes, and apples of this tree, will be open to every passenger: not a boy nor a girl, that now shall play in thy street, O Jerusalem, but shall eat of the fruits of the tree that stands in the mist of thee, as of common things (Jer 31:4,5).
[Second.] 'And in the midst of the street of it, and ON EITHER SIDE of the river was there the tree of life.' As this tree doth stand in the midst of the street of this city, so it also standeth on each side of the river of the water of life, of which you have heard before. Now when he saith, the tree is on either side of the river; whence by the way note yet again, that both the water of life, and also the tree of life, they are both to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of this city in the way of holiness; the tree is in the midst of the street, and the river runs through or between the very tables of the heart of this tree of life; on either side of the river was there the tree of life.
Again, In that it is said that this tree of life is on either side of the river; it argueth that they who come at any time at this river for water to quench their thirst, and to make them live, they must come to it by the tree of life, which is Christ. In more easy terms, read it thus: There is none can partake of the grace of God but by the man Christ Jesus, which is this tree of life (Col 2:3,9). For this tree, this Christ, doth stand on either side of the river, to signify that all grace to us comes through his bloody wounds, death and victory (John 1:16). 'I am the way,' saith Christ, 'and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me' (John 14:6).
'And on either side of the river was there the tree of life.' Mark, but one tree, and yet such a tree whose body reached as far as the river reached: indeed Ezekiel saith this tree is all trees for meat, yet not to show that there are more trees of life than one, but to show that all that can be thought of that is good for soul-nourishment, is to be found in this one, that is, in Christ Jesus. And it is further evident that though he saith all trees, as if he meant many, yet he spake but metaphorically, to show thereby the fulness of Christ; because John doth understand him so, calling it one tree, to wit, 'the tree of life.' But mark again, so far as the river goes, so far the tree goes, so that where you cannot find the tree of life, be sure there is none of the water of life. No Christ, no grace. 'He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son of God, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him' (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12). For 'on either side of the river was there the tree of life.'
[The fruits of this tree.] 'Which bare twelve manner of FRUITS.' This word fruits, it may be taken two ways-either as it relates to God, or as it relates to man, for, as I said before, the fruit of this tree refreshes the heart both of God and man (John 9:9,14).
[1.] Now if it be taken with reference to God, then it signifieth the complete satisfaction that by the worthiness of the fruits of the passion of Christ is given to God for the salvation of the church; this city of God (Dan 9:24,26). He suffered to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness; by this, I say, is the heart of God refreshed, and in this doth it rest (Matt 3:17).
[2.] If fruit here be taken with reference to men, then it signifieth the happiness and glory that those for whom he died and rose again should receive by this means. His fruit, I have showed you, is sweet to the taste of his church, which fruit is the effect of his undertaking for sinners and the comfortable savour of it in the soul.
[The variety of the fruits.] 'Which bare twelve manner of fruits.' In that he saith the fruits are twelve, he herein alludeth,
1. To the twelve tribes of the Israel of God; for which twelve tribes here will be found a suitable measure of food, healing food: 'I will multiply the fruit of the tree,' saith God, and also 'the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen' (Eze 36:30).
Again, These that John calleth 'twelve manner of fruits,' the prophet Ezekiel calleth 'all manner of fruit for meat.' For indeed, as I showed before, there is that to be found in Christ, both for fulness and variety, that is not to be found in heaven and earth beside. Here is fruit for body, fruit for soul, fruit for babes, fruit for strong men, fruit for fathers, yea, for glorified saints and angels. Fruits, variety of fruits, even twelve manner of fruits.
2. By twelve manner of fruits, he doth also allude to the apostles, who are called twelve, and are those who have made provision for the house of God, according to the twelve-fold manner of the dispensation of God unto them, and of the twelve-fold manner of operation of that holy Spirit which wrought in every one of them severally as he pleased. Which twelve were before figured unto us by the twelve offices of king Solomon, the type of Christ, which twelve were to make provision for the house of the king, according to the season of the year, and each man his month in the year (1 Kings 4:7). Which very thing the Holy Ghost also doth here cast his eye upon, and that makes him bring in the words of 'every month,' saying, it yields its fruit 'every month.' For indeed, whatever you read of concerning this city, in this description of John, you find something or other in the writings of the prophets that giveth ground for such expressions. Wherefore seeing the officers of Solomon were twelve, and the apostles of Christ twelve also; and seeing the officers of Solomon made provision for his house, each man his month in a year, and the fruits of this tree of life are called twelve manner of fruits, I do take the twelve manner of fruits here to be signified by the provision of Solomon's officers, according to the twelve seasons of the year, and they a type of the twelve-fold doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lord Christ, for it is their doctrine that is the bread of the church, yea, the milk for the babe, and the strong meat for men (1 Thess 2:7; 1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:11-14).
[The abundance of the fruits.] 'And yielded her fruit every month.' As this confirmeth what I have said before, so it further showeth us these three things. First, That the effectual fruits of Christ for the saving of the world, they are to be had especially at certain seasons. It 'yielded her fruit every month.' Second, It showeth also that at the building of this Jerusalem, these seasons will be very thick and quick; she yielded her fruit 'every month.' Third, It showeth us also the abundance of provision that this holy city shall then enjoy from the tree of life, even all manner of fruit every month.
First, For the first, that the gospel hath and will be especially effectual at certain seasons for the saving of the sons of men; it is showed us by the descending of the angels into the pool of Bethesda to trouble the water, which as it was at certain seasons, so he that in those seasons first stepped in, he only was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (John 5:4). It is showed us also in that parable of the Lord's hiring men to work in his vineyard; which time of hiring, though it lasteth in general from the first hour to the eleventh, yet so as that there were vacant seasons between hiring-times and hiring-times, quite through the whole day; he went out at the first, third, sixth, ninth and eleventh hour, and not at every hour, to hire labourers (Matt 20:1-6). For as God hath appointed out beforehand the number of his elect, so also he hath determined in his good pleasure the day of their bringing in, and will then have them as certainly as the wild ass is found in her month (Gal 1:15,16; Hosea 6:11; Jer 2:24). Of which times and season, because men are ignorant, therefore they should with all faithfulness wait upon God in all the seasons of his grace for their souls, even as he did for his body; who because he would be there at all seasons, brought thither his bed and couch to rest there (John 5:8).
Second, As by the fruit of this tree being yielded at certain seasons, we may gather that there are certain seasons in which the word in an especial manner shall be blessed and made successful to the salvation of many souls. So again, in that he saith this fruit is yielded every month, it signifieth that in the days of the building of the city, the New Jerusalem, these seasons will be very thick and quick. 'Lift up thine eyes,' saith God to this city, 'all they gather themselves together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters' from the ends of the earth. 'All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee' so that thou wonderingly shalt say, 'Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows!' (Isa 60:4,7,8). For 'I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold these shall come from far; and lo these from the north, and from the west, and those from the land of Sinim' (Isa 49:11,12).
Third, In that she is said to yield not only fruit, but all manner of fruit; and that not only one manner of fruit now, and another then, but all manner of fruit, and that every month; it argueth also that at this day Jerusalem shall have abundance of heavenly and spiritual provision, and of variety of dainties for her solace and refreshment; always new, I say, and immediately from the tree. The fruits of the vine shall at that day be upon the mountains of Samaria, and shall be eaten 'as common things,' saith the prophet (Jer 31:5). 'Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice; for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness do spring; for the tree beareth her fruit; the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he hath given you the former' and the latter 'rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month; and the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm' hath eaten. 'And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord' (Joel 2:21-25). And then shall every one not only sit under his own vine, and under his own fig-tree, but from thence they shall call each to other, to give to each other their dainties, and none shall make them afraid (Zech 3:10).
[The virtue of the leaves.] 'And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' By leaves here, we may understand the blessed and precious promises, consolations, and encouragements, that by virtue of Christ's undertaking for us, we have everywhere growing upon the new covenant; which promises and encouragements they are and will be most freely handed to the wounded conscience that will be tossed upon the restless waves of doubt and unbelief, as was the olive leaf by the dove brought home to Noah, when he was tossed upon the waves of that outrageous flood that then did drown the world (Gen 8).
But again, by this word, the leaves, you may conceive that still he hath his eye to the paradise in which at first God placed Adam and his companion, for it was to leaves they fled for covering after they had transgressed against their Maker (Gen 3:7). Now then, in his saying the leaves are for healing; it is as if he had said, the paradise that will be towards the latter end of the world will far outstrip the paradise that first was planted in the beginning thereof; for as the tree of life, which is the Christ and Saviour, shall stand where did the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is the old covenant and law of works: so the leaves of this tree shall be for healing, and for covering the nakedness of poor transgressors, though the leaves that Adam found in the first paradise, do what he could, did leave him naked.
Christ's leaves are better than Adam's aprons. Ezekiel saith that these leaves are for medicine (47:12), that is, they are for healing, saith John; the which may most fitly be applied to the blessed promise of grace. For as a leaf for medicine, when applied to a sore in the body, doth supple, mollify, and heal the wound; so the word of promise, when rightly applied to the soul, it doth supple, mollify, and heal the wounded conscience. 'He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!' (Psa 107:20,21).
'And the leaves,' &c. There is yet another mystery lieth in these words.
He doth not say, and the fruits thereof are for the healing of the nations, but the leaves, by which he would have us to understand that all the benefits and privileges that we do receive from Christ, they are as inferior to the glory we shall have from him when we come to heaven, as inferior, I say, as the leaves are to the fruit. Again, the comfort and sweetness that at any time we receive from the Lord, it is not before but after a promise is suitably applied, even as the fruit of the tree with which the body is comforted is not before but after the leaves have put forth themselves. Wherefore Christ might well say to Nathaniel, and that after he had received some refreshments from a leaf, 'Thou shalt see greater things than these' (John 1:50); and Paul, that yet 'a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' is laid up for all believers (2 Cor 4:17). For indeed, indeed, the glory that God hath prepared for us against the day of God, it doth and will more outstrip the most high enjoyment of the highest saint in New Jerusalem, notwithstanding their enjoyment will be so eminent, than doth the sweetest fruit outstrip the leaf that hangeth on that tree. 'And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' If the leaves be so good, O Lord, let us enjoy the fruit; and not a little, or earnest, but the whole harvest thereof in thy kingdom. Thus much touching this water and tree of life.
[The ease, peace, and tranquility of the city.]
Ver.3. 'And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God -- shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.' This is the conclusion of the whole discourse, and it showeth unto us the blessed effect of the blessed recovering of this city to her first and primitive state. These words, therefore, they are only applicable to this state of the church. For there hath no state of the church been yet in the world but that state hath been liable to a curse; but this state, to wit, the state she will be in at her building again, will be a state without parallel, a state properly her own.
'And there shall be no more curse.' By curse in this place we are chiefly to understand, not the taking away of the curse, the eternal curse which separates between God and the soul for ever-for so the curse in this sense hath always been taken away by virtue of the terms, the general terms of the new covenant, and that in common for every saint in all ages (Gal 3:13)-but by curse here we are to understand that, or those curses that do, and have frequently befallen the church for her sin and apostasy; as namely, the giving up his people to their own darkness and ignorance; his suffering them to swerve from his true worship and ordinances: his giving them up into the hand of those that hate them, to become among them a hissing, a taunt, a reproach, and a by-word, as it is at this day (Zeph 1:12-17; Psa 43:28; Jer 29:18; 44:8,12). His taking away from them the means, to wit, the outward word of the gospel, and suffering them to be even at the point to famish for the want thereof (Amos 8:9-13). These and other things are the curses that he here saith shall be no more among his people; for indeed they shall not, because the gospel-pattern shall never be removed more, nor their light to see, nor their love to practise, never be diminished more. Their defence, also, 'shall be the munition of rocks; bread shall be given them, and their waters shall be sure' (Isa 33:16). As here, you find the tree and river of the water of life are fixed now in the midst of this city. Wherefore now the church, as I have all along showed you, shall have her sun at the height, her light as the light of seven days, and shall go no more down for ever. Also she shall never be pulled down. She shall be a tabernacle that shall never be pulled down, neither shall one of the cords thereof be loosed, or one of her stakes again removed (Isa 33:20).
'There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God shall be in it.' Indeed, here lieth the reason of all blessedness to any people, even the presence of God. Now the presence of God is with his people, either at times or seasons, or all together. He will not be to this city a God of times and seasons, even like a way-faring man that tarries but for a night, as he used to be to his people of old, but here he will abide, rest, and dwell (Zeph 3:17; Jer 14:8,9; Zech 2:10,11). I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord. And, again, 'I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem for ever' (Eze 43:9). Wherefore John considering this, he saith, there shall be here no more any curse, but the throne of God. God will now, when he returneth to Jerusalem, bring his seat with him to signify his sitting down in the midst of his people, to be their company-keeper for ever.
[Import of the word THRONE.] 'But the throne of God -- shall be in it.' By this word 'throne,' we are to understand yet further these particular things-
First. How blessed a state this city will be in at all times for the answer of prayer! The throne of God will be in the midst of them; the throne of grace, the mercy-seat, they will be open now to all the inhabitants of this city; yea, the fame thereof shall so spread that it shall be rumoured among all the nations that in Jerusalem God will be found speedily; that in Jerusalem the God of heaven and eternal mercy is found at all times by them that seek his face. 'Mine house,' said he, 'shall be called a house of prayer for all people' (Isa 56:7). Yea, many people, and strong nations, shall at that day come to seek the Lord at Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. And at that day the very fasts of the house of God 'shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore, love the truth and peace' (Zech 8:19-22).
Second. The throne of God being now established in this city, what a government, what rule, what a life of holiness and godliness, what dread and majesty will now be in the hearts of all the sons of this city! How to a hair's-breadth will he command and guide them with his eye at all times, when they should either turn to the right hand or to the left. What wisdom, I say, what holiness, what grace and life will be found in all their words and actions? (Isa 48:17). The throne of God is among them, from which there will come continual influence, light, and splendour, into all their hearts. 'Hear ye the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him and keep him, as a shepherd doth his sheep. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock, and of the herd, and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and they shall not sorrow any more at all' (Jer 31:10-12).
Third. The throne of God being in this city, there is also thereby discovered what sway and commanding an authority this city will have at this day, as I have already showed you, over all the earth (Isa 2:9,10). 'The Lord also shall roar out of Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake, but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel' (Joel 3:16). This was figured forth by the throne of Solomon, in the days when that city was in its prosperity; which throne, to show the majesty and commanding awe that then that city had over all, both far and near, it had, for the bearers of the steps, twelve lions, six on this side, and six on that side of the throne (1 Kings 10:18-20). This city shall then be the head and chief, but the tail and reproach no more. 'Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God' (Psa 87:3).
'And his servants shall serve him.' That is, HIM ONLY. Indeed his servants serve him always, but yet withal they do too too often serve with the wills and lusts of men, even in their service and worshipping God; that is, they serve him in much affliction, temptation, fear, and persecution; but then they shall serve him without any of these. Yea, 'they shall take them captives, whose captives they were, and they shall rule over their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in the day [O city] that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, -- and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve' (Isa 14:2,3), and thou shalt serve the Lord thy God 'without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of thy life' (Luke 1:74,75).
'And they shall see his face.' This also argueth a very great dispensation of grace and mercy to this Jerusalem. When God did deliver up his people into the hand of the king of Babylon, he said it should be done in fury and in anger, and that for their wickedness he would hide his face from his city (Deu 31:17; Jer 33:5). Wherefore, by the sight of his face here, we are to understand that glorious visible appearance of God that then will be for this city and people in the face of all the world (1 Peter 3:12). For by the face of God we are to understand the discovery of his severity, providences, and wonderful outgoings among the sons of men (Job 6:8-13). As also the glorious breaking forth of grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ Jesus, all which the people of God shall then most marvellously see and behold (Heb 1:1-3; 2 Cor 4:6).
First. They shall see his severity and judgments upon the whore.
Second. They shall see how God, by his strange judgments and works of wonder, hath brought this about. 'Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest' (Rev 15:4). 'They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his villages in Israel' (Judg 5:11).
Third. And as for his mercy, they shall see that their horn is exalted, and that they are near to him. 'Praise ye the Lord' (Psa 148:14).
'And his name shall be in their foreheads.' And 'his name.' That is, his fear and image, it shall appear in all their doings. Sometimes he saith he will write his fear and law in their hearts and minds. Which fear and law is all one with that which in this place he calleth his name in their foreheads. The forehead of a man is the place above all parts of the body that is most naked and plain to be beheld of all that pass by; wherefore, when he saith their Father's name shall be in their foreheads, it is as if he had said, the profession of my people shall now be open, and the beauty of it apparent to all beholders; 'I will make' them, saith God, 'a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes' (Zeph 3:20). Every face shall then shine with oil, as well as every heart be replenished with milk and wine. This was held forth by the memorial that the Israelites were to wear, at God's command, between their eyes; which memorial was the doctrine of unleavened bread and of the paschal lamb, the doctrine of faith and holiness (Exo 13:6-9; 1 Cor 5:8). Wherefore, by name here, he means the faith and holiness of the gospel, which in those days shall walk openly with honour, with reverence, and esteem before all men. At this day the world will, as I have said, be so far off from opposing and persecuting, that they shall wonder, and tremble, and fear before this people; yea, be taken, affected, and pleased with the welfare of this beloved. 'The mountains and the hills shall break forth before her into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands' (Isa 55:12). 'All nations shall call them blessed, for they shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal 3:12). The waters of Noah shall now be no more, the tumultuous multitudes shall now be gone, and there will be no more sea (Isa 54:9; Psa 65:7; 89:9; Rev 21:1,2). Now therefore the doves may be gathering their olive-branches, and also find rest for the soles of their feet, while the ark shall rest upon the mountains of Ararat (Gen 8:4,5).
'The wolf also shall [now] dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. -- The lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord' (Isa 11:6-9; 56:2-5).
Blessed is he whose lot it will be to see this holy city descending and lighting upon the place that shall be prepared for her situation and rest! Then will be a golden world; wickedness shall then be ashamed, especially that which persecutes the church. Holiness, goodness, and truth, shall then, with great boldness, countenance, and reverence, walk upon the face of all the earth. 'From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal 1:11). It will be then always summer, always sunshine, always pleasant, green, fruitful, and beautiful to the sons of God. 'And it shall come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. -- And Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation' (Joel 3:18,20). 'And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there' (Eze 48:35). O blessedness! 'And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things that must shortly be done' (Rev 22:6).
I conclude therefore with that earnest groan of Moses, the man of God, 'O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. -- Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it' (Psa 90:14-17). Amen.
1. The note upon this passage in the Genevan or Puritan version, with which Bunyan was familiar, is, 'God will raise up in his church such as shall rule and govern for the defence of the same, and instruction of his enemies, under Messiah, whom the prophet calleth here the Lord and Head of this kingdom.'-Ed.
2. From the Genevan or Puritan version.
3. 'Set out' render prominent, plain, or conspicuous.-Ed.
4. In Bunyan's days, a few fanatics from among the Fifth Monarchy men conceived that the millennium had arrived, and that it was their duty to take possession of the kingdom for Jesus. They were mad enough, like the late Mr. Courtnay, to imagine that their bodies were invulnerable, and they marched out to seize London. A few of the trained bands soon encountered them, some were shot and the rest were punished, and this absurd attempt was at an end in a few hours. This gave the enemies of true religion a pretext, which they eagerly seized, of charging these absurd notions upon all who feared God, and a severe persecution followed. To deprecate and counteract these reports, Bunyan is very explicit in noting the difference between a spiritual and a temporal kingdom.-Ed.
5. 'Spices' is from the Genevan version; our authorized text has 'powders.'-Ed.
6. Referring to the attempts made in Bunyan's days to introduce Popery. It is admirably shown in the Pilgrim's Progress, p.193-'This is the spring that Christian drank of; then it was clear and good, but now it is dirty with the feet of some that are not desirous that pilgrims here should quench their thirst.'-Ed.
7. All authority in the church is strictly limited to the written Word. Throw away then to the owls and the bats all tradition, and the power of the church to decree rites and ceremonies. It is treason against God to suppose that he omitted anything from his Bible that his church ought to do, or commanded that which may be neglected, although human laws may authorize such deviation.-Ed.
8. The walls do not go from or leave the foundations, but, resting upon them, they gradually ascend to perfection.-Ed.
9. Anabaptist was the name given to those who submitted to be baptized upon a profession of faith, because, having been christened when infants, it was called re-baptizing.-Ed.
10. 'Hub'; an obstruction, a thick square sod, the mark or stop at the game of quoits.-Ed.
11. These observations apply to such churches as admit to the Lord's table unconverted persons, because they have passed through certain outward ceremonies; and to those who refused to admit the most godly sayings, because they had not submitted to an outward ceremony.-Ed.
12. See Isaiah 8:19. 'To peep and mutter,' as pretended sorcerers or magicians attempting their incantations against the truth.-Ed.
13. This is an allusion to the ancient English pastime of combat, called quarterstaff.-Ed.
14. Bunyan most accurately traces the pedigree of God's fearers, who, at the expense of life, maintained the spirituality of divine worship. He commences with our early Reformers, Wickliff and Huss, to the later ones who suffered under Mary; continues the line of descent through the Puritans to Bunyan's brethren, the Nonconformists. All these were bitterly persecuted by the two lions-Church and Sate. The carnal gospellers, that confused heap of rubbish that crawled up and down the nation like locusts and maggots, refers to the members of a hierarchy which were ready to go from Popery to Protestantism, and back again to Popery, or to any other system, at the bidding of an Act of Parliament.-Ed.
15. 'Virtue'; strength, efficacy, power.-Ed.
16. 'To travel and trade,' means to pursue or labour in an habitual course, exercise, or custom, as, 'Thy sin's not accidental but a trade.'-Shakespeare. Or, trade wind.-Ed.
17. The perfect unity of the Christian world is not likely to take place before the glorious meeting in the holy city, under the personal reign of Christ. The divisions among Christians arise, as Bunyan justly says, from antichristian rubbish, darkness, and trumpery; the great evil arising from difference of opinion, is that lust of domination over the faith of others which naturally leads to bitterness and persecution. In the earliest days one was of Paul, another of Apollos, and another of Cephas. The exercise of Christian forbearance was not an act of uniformity, but a declaration of the Holy Ghost. 'Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?' 'Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind' (Rom 14:4,5).-Ed.
18. As the leaven goes on imperceptibly until the whole is leavened, so the kingdom of our Lord must increase. How extraordinary has been the progress of Divine truth since Bunyan's days! and who can predict what it will be in another century?-Ed.
19. There being no night there but perpetual day.-Ed.
20. A 'gold angel' was an early English coin, valued at one-third of a pound, afterwards increased to ten shillings. The 'twenty-shilling piece' was the old sovereign. The comparison between them and the silver pence and halfpennies was made by Bunyan in respect to their rarity and not their purity.-Ed.
21. 'To stoop or lower the top-gallant' is a mode of salutation and respect shown by ships at sea to each other.-Ed.
22. This quotation is taken from that excellent translation of the Bible made by the reformers at Geneva, and which was much used in Bunyan's time. He preferred the word pour to that of sprinkle, used in the present version.-Ed.
23. How beautifully is the Christian's growth in grace here pictured by Bunyan from Ezekiel 47:3-12. So imperceptibly by Divine power, without the aid of man, that the partaker often doubts his own growth. The water rises higher and higher, until at length there is no standing for his feet-the earth and time recedes, and he is plunged into the ocean of eternal grace and glory.-Ed.
24. 'To the one, the savour of death unto death; and to the other, the savour of life unto life' (2 Cor 2:16).-Ed.