Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.…
I. The introduction. "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write."
1. We here see the truth of the subsequent announcement. The doctrine to be taught is not of human origin. It is neither a dictate of man's imagination, nor an effusion of rash enthusiasm, nor a deduction of erring reason; but it comes direct from the region of unclouded light, the fountain of unerring truth.
2. We see also the importance of the doctrine announced.
(1) This is evinced in its origin. If heaven speaks, it is not to proclaim a useless or insignificant truth, nor to unveil some trifling or uninteresting mystery. This would reflect on the Divine wisdom.
(2) This is further seen in the command given. "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me" — What? — Remember? — or Preach? — No, but "Write." — The truths thou art about to hear are of infinite moment, and deeply interest every child of man.
II. BUT WHAT IS IT that is promulgated by this high authority, and is revealed with attendant circumstances which so clearly attest its great importance? "Blessed are the dead," etc.
1. The subjects of this blessedness are the dead; yet not the dead indiscriminately, but "the dead that die in the Lord." Such is the ambiguity of the phrase "in the Lord," as to render its precise meaning in this passage somewhat uncertain. At times its obvious import is, "in the cause, or on account, of the Lord." And looking at the entire connexion in which the passage stands, such an interpretation appears by no means inappropriate. Every Christian, truly so called, is "in the Lord." Hence the striking language of the Redeemer Himself: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: abide in Me and I in you." This all-important union is affected, on the part of the Christian, by faith, and is consummated, on the part of Christ, by the bestowal of His indwelling Spirit. Two important parts of their blessedness are here brought before us: — They rest from their labours — and their works follow them. Does the wearied traveller rejoice on seeing his loved but long absent home, where he hopes to end his wanderings. Does the mariner, long tossed by the fierce storm, and endangered by the rolling waves, and drifted sands, and sunken or frowning rocks, rejoice on his entrance into the harbour, in which fear is exchanged for security, and turmoil for peace? Yes, they rest from their labours, and account themselves blessed.
III. Who does not feel that such an announcement would be incredible were it not so ATTESTED AS TO PLACE IT BEYOND THE REACH OF REASONABLE DOUBT? And, thanks to the condescension and abounding grace of God, such an attestation we have. "Yea, saith the Spirit." The doctrine of immortality, with its glorious and awful results, is one of those primeval truths that constitute the religious belief of the first generations of men. It underlay both the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations. But it was reserved for Him who came as the "light of the world" to present this doctrine in the fulness of its glory. But while in the economy of redemption it is the glory of the Son to ransom and save, it is the prerogative and glory of the Spirit to reveal and attest truth, and by its application to the understanding and heart, to enlighten, and sanctify, and make fit for heaven. And by that Spirit the great doctrine announced in our text is attested. "Yea, saith the Spirit." "True — certainly, infallibly true — I, the Spirit of Truth, whose prerogative it is to search all things, even the deep things of God, and to reveal them to man — I corroborate the testimony that the dead which die in the Lord are, and shall be, thus blessed. Though one of the things which no mortal eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the most fruitful imagination conceived, yet do I thus solemnly avow, that in all the brightness of the glories it unfolds, and in all the richness of the blessings it promises, it is true. On it, as an immovable rock, you may rest. And in its assured prospects you may trample on the world and sin — mortify self — multiply works of faith and labours of love — and defy the powers of persecution, how fierce soever the forms it may assume, or agonising the tortures and deaths it may inflict. Labours, sacrifices, and tortures are momentary only, but recompenses are eternal."
Parallel VersesKJV: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.