Revelation 1:4
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from Him who is and was and is to come, and from the sevenfold Spirit before His throne,
Sermons
Man Divinely DignifiedD. Thomas Revelation 1:4, 5
The Apostolic SalutationR. Green Revelation 1:4-7
A Glorified ChristJ. R. Miller, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
A Ministerial Salutation and a Sublime DoxologyJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 1:4-9
A Threefold Description of ChristT. Horton, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christ and the SoulDavid Thomas, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christ as MediatorHomilistRevelation 1:4-9
Christ for EverF. Ferguson, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christians a Royal PriesthoodW. Nixon.Revelation 1:4-9
Christians are KingsRevelation 1:4-9
Christ's Eternal SacrificeE. Mason, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christ's Love to Us in Washing Us from Our SinsT. Horton, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christ's Measureless LoveJohn Adam, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Christ's Present Love, and its Great OutcomeA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
GraceB. Hoffmann.Revelation 1:4-9
How Wonderful that Christ Should Love UsH. W. Beecher.Revelation 1:4-9
Jesus His Own WitnessA. C. Dixon.Revelation 1:4-9
John's First DoxologyC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 1:4-9
John's Song of Praise to ChristJ. J. Brown.Revelation 1:4-9
Kings and PriestsA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Living LoveJohn Robertson.Revelation 1:4-9
Loved and LavedC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 1:4-9
Omnipotence, Omniscience, OmnipresenceJames Young.Revelation 1:4-9
Praise to ChristR. Watson.Revelation 1:4-9
ThanksgivingJ. R. Miller, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Believer's Acknowledgment of Christ's LoveW. Cunningham, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The DedicationG. Rogers.Revelation 1:4-9
The Filthy Can be Made CleanSilas Jones.Revelation 1:4-9
The Gifts of Christ as Witness, Risen and CrownedA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Humility and Dignity of the Christian LifeJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 1:4-9
The Love of ChristT. McCrie, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Love of ChristJames Buchanan.Revelation 1:4-9
The Love of Christ in RedemptionJ. Witherspoon, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Measureless Love of ChristW. Hannay, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Proper Object of All Religious Worship is the Living and True GodJames Young.Revelation 1:4-9
The Redeemed Ascribing Glory to ChristG. Campbell.Revelation 1:4-9
The Resources of ChristianityWayland Hoyt, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The Responsibility of ExaltationT. de Witt Talmage.Revelation 1:4-9
The Risen Christ the Only Revealer of ImmortalityE. L. Hull, B. A.Revelation 1:4-9
The Trustworthiness of Jesus ChristW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Revelation 1:4-9
The Work of WorksDavid Thomas, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
Views of ChristDavid Thomas, D. D.Revelation 1:4-9
The servant John, by no other name known, in fulfilment of his duty as the one by whom the great revelation was "sent and signified," hurries to pronounce his salutation to "the seven Churches which are in Asia" - typical examples of the one Church in its sevenfold, universal experience.

I. The salutation INVOKES BLESSINGS:

1. Of the highest character: "grace and peace." The entire revelation is, for the Church, a revelation of "grace and peace." It begins in grace; it terminates in peace. These the alpha and omega of gospel blessings, the origin and end. All is of God's grace; all tends to peace in man - to peace universal.

2. From the Source of all good, the Triune Source of all blessing. From the Eternal - "him which is, and which was, and which is to come" - the I AM - Jehovah; from the sevenfold Spirit; and from Jesus Christ, "the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth." These ascriptions have special reference to the condition and necessities of the Church, whose living Head is "all in all." Christ, the Revelation of the Father, becomes prominent.

II. The salutation, therefore, ASCRIBES GLORY AND UNENDING DOMINION unto him; declaring

(1) his love;

(2) his redeeming work, fruit of that love; and

(3) his constitution of his Church as a priestly kingdom - a kingdom of which he is the supreme Sovereign; a kingdom of priests, to offer up spiritual sacrifice continually, acceptable unto God.

III. The salutation further PROCLAIMS THE SECOND COMING of that Lord Jesus Christ who is the central theme of all the following revelation.

1. The fact of it.

2. Accompanying circumstances of it: "with the clouds."

3. In view of all: "Every eye shall see him."

4. Special reference to offenders: "And they which pierced him."

5. Consequence - universal mourning: "All the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him."

Our hearts echo the cry, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen." - R.G.







John to the seven Churches... in Asia. &&&
I. The WRITER of this book is again named — "John." The things he was now about to relate depended upon his own testimony. He therefore mentions his name once, and again, and yet a third time. He refers to his former writings for his credibility as an inspired historian, and relates circumstantially the occasion upon which this revelation was given him. "I, John," he says in ver. 9, "I am the person to whom these disclosures were made, by whose hand they were written down, and am open to the examination of the most sceptical inquirer."

II. The PERSONS to whom he dedicates this book: "To the seven Churches," etc. It is dedicated to them particularly, partly because they were more immediately under this apostle's care, and partly because they were suffering from the same persecution with himself, and most needed the consolations which the views here given of the final triumph of the Church of Christ were calculated to impart.

III. The SALUTATION. "Grace be unto you and peace." The origin of our salvation is grace, the effect peace. In proportion as we perceive the grace, we have peace. First grace, then peace. Both are from God. We are reminded here of their threefold source. The Father is first mentioned as of unchanging form, who has never appeared under any other aspect than that of the Supreme Being, "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come." Next we have the Spirit under a divided form, as illustrative of the variety and diffusion, and also of the limitation of His influences; and here we have the Son in the distinguishing characteristics of His mission, "and from Jesus Christ who is the Faithful Witness and the First-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." Thus all the persons of the Godhead are mentioned as constituting the well-spring of grace and peace to the Church. Nor is there any saving grace, nor is there any permanent peace, that does not flow from each and all of these.

IV. This dedication includes AN ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE TO THE REDEEMER: "Unto Him that loved us," etc.

V. This is followed by a reference to THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. "Behold He cometh with clouds," etc.

VI. This is further confirmed, by AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM CHRIST Himself, of His proper Divinity. "I am Alpha and Omega," etc. To the foregoing truths Christ affixes this as His signature.

VII. This dedication closes with a STATEMENT OF THE TIME and place in which this revelation was given. "I, John, who also am your brother," etc. We need only observe here the humble and affectionate manner in which, though an aged apostle and favoured with these revelations, he speaks of his station amongst other Christians. He is not exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations. He speaks not of anything in which he was superior, but of that only in which he was upon an equality with them. He calls not himself a companion of Christ and of His apostles, but their "companion in tribulation." He does not address them as their diocesan, or father in God, but as their "brother." The humility of the apostles, it is to be feared, as well as their dignity, died with them. This "I, John," which is repeated in the last chapter, yet stands out as on the borderland of that primitive simplicity which the Church has yet many steps to retrace before she regains.

(G. Rogers.)

Grace be unto you, and peace
I. Grace and peace from THE FAITHFUL Witness. But where did John get this word? From the lips of the Master, who began His career with these words (John 3:11); and who all but ended it with these royal words (John 18:37). Christ Himself, then, claimed to be in an eminent and special sense the witness to the world. What was the substance of His testimony? It was a testimony mainly about God. It is one thing to speak about God in words, maxims, precepts; it is another thing to show us God in act and life. The one is theology, the other is gospel. It is not Christ's words only that make Him the "Amen," the "faithful and true Witness," but it is all His deeds of grace and truth and pity; all His yearnings over wickedness and sorrow; all His drawings of the profligate and the outcast to Himself, His life of loneliness, His death of shame. The substance of His testimony is the name, the revelation of the character of His Father and our Father. This name of "witness" bears likewise strongly upon the remarkable manner of our Lord's testimony. The task of a witness is to tell his story, not to argue about it. And there is nothing more characteristic of our Lord's words than the way in which, without attempt of proof, He makes them stand on their own evidence, or rather depend upon His veracity. And now, ask yourselves, is there not grace and peace brought to us all from that faithful Witness, and from His credible testimony? Surely the one thing that the world wants is to have the question answered whether there really is a God in heaven that cares anything about me, and to whom I can trust myself wholly; believing that He will lift me out of all my meannesses and sins, and make me pure and blessed like Himself. Surely that is the deepest of all human needs, howsoever little men may know it. And sure I am that none of us can find the certitude of such a Father unless we give credence to the message of Jesus Christ our Lord.

II. Grace and peace from THE CONQUEROR OF DEATH. "The First begotten from the dead" does not precisely convey the idea of the original, which would be more accurately represented by "The First born from the dead" — the resurrection being looked upon as a kind of birth into a higher order of life. And how is it that grace and peace come to us from the risen Witness? Think first how the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirmation of His testimony. In it the Father, to whom He had borne witness in His life and death, bears witness to Christ, that His claims were true and His work well-pleasing. He is "declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead." Strike away the resurrection and you fatally damage the witness of Jesus. If Christ be not risen our preaching and your faith are alike vain; ye are yet in your sins. Grace and peace come from faith in the "First begotten from the dead." And that is true in another aspect. Faith in the resurrection gives us a living Lord to confide in, not a dead one, whose work we may look back upon with thankfulness, but a living one, whose work is with us, and by whose true companionship and real affection, strength and help are granted to us every day. In still another way do grace and peace flow to us, from the "First begotten from the dead," inasmuch as in His resurrection life we are armed for victory over that foe whom He has conquered. If He be the Firstborn, He will have "many brethren."

III. Grace and peace from THE KING OF KINGS. The series of aspects of Christ's work here is ranged in order of time, in so far as the second follows the first, and the third flows from both, though we are not to suppose that our Lord has ceased to be the faithful Witness when He has ascended His sovereign throne. His own saying, "I have declared Thy name, and will declare it," shows us that His witness is perpetual, and carried on from His seat at the right hand of God. He is the "Prince of the kings of the earth" just because He is "the faithful Witness.'' A kingdom over heart and conscience, will and spirit, is the kingdom which Christ has founded, and His rule rests upon His witness. And not only so, He is "the Prince of the kings of the earth" because in that witness He became, as the word etymologically conveys both ideas, a martyr. His first regal title was written upon His Cross, and on the Cross it ever stands. He is the King because He is the Sacrifice. And He is the Prince of the kings of the earth because, witnessing and slain, He has risen again; His resurrection has been the step midway, as it were, between the humiliation of earth and death, and the loftiness of the throne. By it He has climbed to His place at the right hand of God. He is King and Prince, then, by right of truth, love, sacrifice, death, resurrection.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. A MINISTERIAL SALUTATION.

1. It was given by an old minister to Churches with whom he was formerly acquainted. It is well for ministers to communicate the experience of their higher moments of spiritual enjoyment to their congregations. Pastors should never forget the old churches from which they have removed. They should always be ready to write to them a holy salutation.

2. It evokes the highest moral blessing to rest upon the Asiatic Churches.(1) All Christian Churches need Divine grace, to inspire with humility, to strengthen in trial, and to quicken in energy.(2) All Christian Churches need peace, that sympathy may extend from member to member, that moral progress may be constant, and that the world may have a pattern of holy unity. God only can impart these heavenly blessings.

3. It mentions the Divine Being under the grandest appellations.(1) Indicative of eternity, "Which is, and which was, and which is to come."(2) Indicative of dignity. "And from the Seven Spirits."(3) Indicative of fidelity. "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness." During the period of His Incarnation Christ was a faithful witness. He was a faithful witness of His Father. He was faithful to the Jews; before Pilate; to humanity. He sealed His testimony with His death.(4) Indicative of royalty. "The Prince of the kings of the earth." Rendered supreme, not by the victory of an earthly conquest, but by the right of eternal Godhead.

II. A SUBLIME DOXOLOGY.

1. Inspired by a glad remembrance of the Divine love. "Unto Him that loved us." Ministers ought to delight to dwell on the love of God. If they did, it would frequently awaken a loving song within them. It would also have a glad effect upon their congregations.

2. Celebrating the Divine and sweet renewal of the soul. "And washed us from our sins." The love of Christ, and the renewal of the moral nature, should go together, not merely in the pages of a book, but also in the actual experiences of the soul. He can wash us from our sins, and give purity, freedom, and peace in their stead. What process of cleansing so marvellous, so healthful, and heavenly as this!

3. Mentioning the exalted position to which Christian manhood is raised in Christ. "And hath made us kings and priests unto God."(1) The Christian is a king. He rules himself; his thoughts, affections, and passions. He rules others by the sublime influence of patience and faith.(2) The Christian is a priest. He offers sacrifices to God, the sacrifice of himself, which is reasonable and acceptable; the sacrifice of his prayer, praise, and service. He also makes intercession for others.

4. Concluding with a devout ascription of praise to Christ. "To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Christ has "glory." The glory of Divinity; of heavenly praise; of terrestial worship; of moral conquest; of unbounded moral influence. Christ has "dominion"; dominion over the material universe; over a growing empire of souls; by right of nature rather than by right of birth. Both His glory and dominion are eternal. Both should be celebrated in the anthems of the Church, as they are glad reasons for human, as well as angelic, joy.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. A world of grace surrounds us.

2. A time of grace lies back of us.

3. A hope of eternal grace opens up before us.

(B. Hoffmann.)

From Him which is, and which was, and which is
1. Divine worship must be presented to God, essentially considered, as possessing all those Divine perfections which form a proper object of contemplation, praise, and adoration; and a proper ground of hope and holy confidence.

2. Worship must be addressed to God, personally considered, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as possessing all those personal characters that form a ground of confidence, love, and adoration.

3. Worship must be given to God, graciously considered, as possessing all those covenant and gracious excellences that form a ground of hope and everlasting consolation in all our approaches to the throne of grace. Such is the character recognised by the apostle in the prayer before us. The words imply the existence of three Divine persons in the adorable Trinity, and they apply equally to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. They are also expressive of His adorable sovereignty, as the Ruler, the Lawgiver, and the Judge of the universe. They suppose the kingdoms of nature, of providence, and grace, to be under His power; and they also teach the eternity of that kingdom.

(James Young.)

We speak of time as past, present, and future; but what a mystery it is! The present moment is all of time that actually exists. All past time ends in the present moment. All future time begins in the same point. To use the experience of the past so as to shape the future aright is to redeem the time. This gives to every moment of time a tremendous importance. It makes the thought of it the most practical of all things. It is from this extremely practical point of view that I wish to look at this otherwise most abstruse of subjects. I wish to look at Christ's relation to time, in order to determine our own relation to it. He is here spoken of under the aspect of a past, a present, and a future Christ. The relations of Jesus Christ to time span the whole of time. They are commensurate with the whole purpose of God in time. It is only as our lives run into the line of Christ's life, as stretching through all time, that we can be saved. The life that flies off at a tangent from that line, or that crosses, contradicts, or reverses it, is a lost life.

I. THE CHRIST OF THE PAST. It is very evident to a spiritual reader of the Bible that Christ runs through the whole of it, from the beginning to the end. But what I want specially to notice here is that the Christ of the past represents three great facts that are for ever settled and done. First, that one, and only one, perfect human life has been lived in the world; second, that one, and only one, atoning death has been died in the world; and third, that one, and only one Person, in virtue of the life He lived and the death He died, is the conqueror of sin and death. Those are facts that belong to the past history of this world. They are eternally consummated and complete. Moreover, they are thoroughly well authenticated facts; and it is not easy to see how there can be any real justification of doubt concerning them. You cannot separate the one from the other. You must believe in a whole Christ or not at all. What the age wants is of a diluted Christ — not a mere spectre of Christianity, or ghost of morality, but a whole Christ.

II. THE CHRIST OF THE PRESENT. Christianity is much impeded by the want of progress in the Church. There is not that growth and robustness in our modern Christianity which there ought to be. Why has Christ not remained the Christ of the past alone? Why has He not remained in the grave? Why is He at the right hand of God in heaven — at the very goal of the ages? Because He would not have His people live in the past. He is the Christ of the present, to be with His people to-day, to lead them on to far higher things than they have yet realised. The present ought to be full of Christ. For what does this belief in a living Redeemer imply? It implies three things: First, that in Christ, as seated on the right hand of God in heaven, we have an actual Person in whom might and right are absolutely one. Further, this Christ who exists to-day in the face of all the tyrannies and inequalities of the world, as the absolute embodiment of might and right, is not sitting aloft in heaven in passive contemplation of the conflict here. He is actually ruling over all worlds for the accomplishment of a Divine purpose. There is a third idea here belonging to the Christ of the present. Believing in Him as the actual embodiment of might and right, and as that One who is ruling over all things for the accomplishment of a Divine purpose, we are called upon to co-operate with Him in the present, and we have the promise that just as we intelligently do so will we receive of the power of the Spirit to enable us to do the work to which we are called. He rules in heaven to shed down power upon His people. He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and holds the seven stars in His right hand.

III. THE CHRIST OF THE FUTURE, What, then, are the certainties in connection with the Christ of the future in which we are called to believe? There is, first of all, the certainty that the Word and Spirit of Christ will prevail throughout the whole earth. There are tremendous obstacles to be overcome. There are false principles at work everywhere in human society. There is scepticism of first principles altogether. There are the disintegrating forces of a shallow and self-elated criticism. And beyond all these there are the dense masses of pure heathenism. But in view of what we have already considered, we cannot possibly have one atom of doubt as to the result. Who can doubt what the future will be? It must be the legitimate sequel of the things which, in the name of God, have been accomplished in the past, and are being wrought out and applied in the present. Having once got an intelligent hold of these things, we can no more doubt them than we can doubt our own existence. But it follows also that the Christ of the future is that One whom we have individually and personally to meet. There is just one other thought lying in the Christ of the future, and that is the relation that is destined to exist for ever between Christ and His own people — the relation of the heavenly Bridegroom to His bride, the Church. In that sublime relationship we have the consummation of felicity.

(F. Ferguson, D. D.)

The seven spirits
are here ascribed to the seven spirits which are before the throne.

1. They are called seven spirits symbolically. The number seven is the symbol of blessedness. He sanctified the seventh day; He made it a holy day. The number seven is the symbol of holiness. He rested on the seventh day; He made it a day of sacred repose. The number seven is the symbol of rest. He rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, because His work was finished. The number seven is the symbol of perfection.

2. They are called seven spirits typically, in allusion to the typical use of the number seven in the law of Moses and in the Old Testament.

3. They are called seven spirits prophetically. We find the sevenfold spirit described in prophecy as resting upon Christ (Isaiah 11:2). And we find a sevenfold effect of the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit described by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-3).

4. They are called the seven spirits emblematically. The seven lamps and the seven eyes (Zechariah 4:2, 10), are explained to be the spirit (vers. 6, 7). The seven lamps are applied in the same sense in Rev.

4. and 5.; and the seven eyes are explained in this sense in chaps, 5. and 6., all of which refer to the Spirit of God.

5. They are called the seven spirits officially (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Zechariah 12:10).

6. They are called the seven spirits relatively, in reference to the symbolical number seven applied to the Churches. As there are seven Churches, so there are seven spirits. The number of the one corresponds with the number of the other. The fulness of the Spirit is commensurate with the necessities of the Church. But amid this variety there is still a blessed unity. As the seven Churches are the symbol of the one Church of Christ, so the seven spirits are the symbol of the one Divine Spirit.

(James Young.)

Jesus Christ... the faithful witness
Those who do not regard Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, find themselves at once placed in a difficulty, by the very attitude which He assumes toward mankind in this respect. The Bible abounds with the very strongest denunciations against the sin of trusting anybody else but God. The ancient law pronounced a distinct curse upon any man who fell into this sin. The Psalmist exhorts us not to allow ourselves to be drawn into it (see Jeremiah 17:5, 6). Now, if our blessed Lord laid Himself out to induce, on the part of His contemporaries, a moral attitude towards Himself, which was incompatible with the direct law of God, He was not a good man, but an impostor. Christ was either the Son of God, or else, from first to last, throughout the whole course of His ministry, He allowed persons to fix upon Him a confidence which they ought not to have reposed upon any person — whatever his pretensions — unless that person were God Himself. Nay, it is not merely that He permitted His people to trust Him; but He actually held Himself forward as an object of faith. He positively demanded faith in Himself before He would comply with the entreaties of those that approached Him. Still more emphatic is the position which He occupies in the moral world. He represents Himself ks the object of the sinner's confidence. "As Moses lifted up the serpent," etc. What blasphemy if He be not the Son of God! I venture to say that the man who fixes the eye of intelligent faith upon the dying Son of Man, if Christ be not the Son of God, is guilty of idolatry, and the blighting curse of the prophet will rest upon him: "That man shall be like the heath in the desert, he shall not see when good cometh." I marvel greatly, then, if Christ be not the Son of God, why these results do not follow. How comes it to pass that those who trust Him most fervently, are not the most shrivelled beings on the face of God's earth? I said I was to speak to you about Christ's trustworthiness. There is this great truth that underlies it all; but I want to point out other considerations that lead us in the same direction, in order that our faith may be strengthened. First, He gathered around Him a little band of followers, and asked them to do a good deal. Their fishing boats and nets, to be sure, were not very valuable property; but then, remember, these were all they had. What authority had they to make such a tremendous sacrifice? Simply the bare word of a Stranger, who says, "Follow Me." Very well, did He prove Himself trustworthy? They wandered about with Him many a weary night; sometimes their commissariat was very slender indeed; yet, somehow, they never wanted; "the five barley loaves" managed to supply the wants of all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus. "Jesus Christ is the same to-day." In our outward circumstances, how many are there of us that make proof of it? How many are there of us who pass through difficulty and trial, and sometimes have been sore straitened, and yet the Lord has met our wants"" He has fulfilled His promise. Is that all? No; by no means. From beginning to end of our Lord's blessed ministry, He was continually being approached by the children of want and misery. Now observe — from the nobleman at Capernaum to the dying thief on the cross of Calvary, the very first thing He demanded of them was confidence; and we do not read of one single case where that confidence was ill reposed. There were plenty of enemies who would have been glad to point to such cases. Contemporary history says nothing about them. The Jews have left no contradiction of the glorious facts which our blessed Lord actually achieved: the cases where He failed remain unknown, and will for ever remain unknown, because they never existed. All this leads up to the conclusion that the Lord Jesus Christ was pre-eminently a trustworthy Person. But now, one step further. If He was trustworthy in these minor details of His daily life, does it not seem reasonable to conclude that He would also be trustworthy in the great work which He came into the world specially to perform? "Well," you say, "it was a greater work than any of the rest." So it was. "It entailed a great deal more moral power." Yes, a great deal more. "It involved vaster mysteries." Yes; all true. Set against that, however, another consideration. We shall readily admit that God must have known the nature of the work; He must have foreseen its difficulties, understood its condition. Now, there was only one Person God could have trusted with the work — His own eternal Word, co-eternal with Himself — One with Himself for ever — He could afford to trust Him. Now then, if God could trust Him with this work, I think we may trust Him with it. The passage of Scripture which I have brought before you, represents Him as "the faithful Witness, the First begotten of the dead." He stands before us as the risen Christ, and the question naturally arises, Is His character different now from what it was when He lived here on earth, 1800 years ago? Well, it seems only reasonable to suppose that the words of the risen Saviour will be even more trustworthy, if possible, than the words of a living Saviour. As the Son of God, He knew all about eternity from all eternity; but, as the Son of Man, He had to make that long, long voyage into that unknown region which lies beyond the stream of death. He has returned from His journey, and He stands before His disciples in the fulness of resurrection-life as "The Trustworthy." If He was trustworthy when He lived, surely He is no less trustworthy now. Lo! the risen Jesus stands before you. His very life witnesses to something. The fact that He is "raised from the dead to die no more" witnesses to something. What does it witness to? The very first words He utters, set my doubt at rest. He speaks of "My Father and your Father, My God and your God." What? Has a risen Christ borne faithful witness to me, that there is now established between fallen man and a holy God this blessed relationship, so that I may look up and say, "Father!" and that I may know that He looks down and says "Son!" What were His first words to the disciples, as they gathered together in fear and trembling? He stands in their midst, and says, "Peace be unto you." Is it true? The risen Christ says so: "the faithful Witness" says so. It is true; because it is witnessed to by a risen Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ stands before us as "the First begotten of the dead," and as "the faithful Witness."

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

The two-fold proposition we offer for your acceptance is this: Jesus Christ was not a product of the age in which He lived, but a native of another world who came to this world for a purpose; that He was God and man in one person. The geologist, finding a stone where there was no other stone like it, reasonably concluded that it was imported. A Chinaman walking down the streets of Shanghai meets an American missionary. The missionary is a man like himself, but in dress, language, and religion is totally different A foolish man, that Chinaman, if he does not conclude that he has met a foreigner. Now Jesus Christ was a man like other men, and yet so different from all other men that we are justified in believing that He is more than man and not a native of this world at all. Our first proof of this proposition is Jesus Christ Himself, in His claims, His character, and His works. He claimed that He was the Son of Man. His claim was not that He was a son of man, nor the son of a man, but the Son of Man, of all men, of the human race, of humanity. His was a life world-wide. His was a heart pulsating with the blood of the human race. He reckoned for His ancestry the collective myriads of mankind. Now, was there anything in the environments of Christ to make out of Him such a world-wide Son of Man? Just the contrary. He lived in a mountain village, and village life tends to make men narrow. Travel may correct this tendency, but He did not travel out of Palestine. Born of the tribe of Judah, and having a legal right to the throne of David, we would naturally expect Him to share the narrow, bitter feeling of His Jewish kindred, and, like them, chafe under the loss of national glory. On the other hand, He shares none of their narrow feelings. He teaches them a lesson of brotherly love by condemning their priest and Levite for passing by on the other side, while He praises the hated Samaritan who stops and helps the wounded man. All through His life there was a conflict between His universal sympathy and the narrow bigotry of His people. The forces at work at that time did not produce such a man. He evidently brought into the world this new idea, which we find through Revelation to be native of the world from which He came. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He was not a Son of God, but the Son of God. It was evident that His friends and enemies understood Him as claiming that in being the Son of God He was God. In many places He claims attributes which none but God can possess. There are some, however, who demand more evidence than a mere claim. They wish to know the basis on which the claim rests. Let me say to such there are but three positions we can hold with reference to Christ. None but a God, a madman, or a deceiver could have made the claims that He did. The charge that He was a madman no one is foolish enough to defend. Then He was either God or the worst of men. A good man cannot claim to be what he is not. Nor does any one at this day claim that Jesus was a deceiver. There is no middle ground. The very thought shocks the conscience of one who is at all familiar with His character. If, then, there be none foolish enough to claim that He was a madman, or bad enough to assert that He was a bad man, surely the verdict that He was good is universal; and if good He was God.

(A. C. Dixon.)

It is no little war which Christianity is waging.

1. Christianity possesses the resource of the truth. Jesus Christ is the "faithful Witness." A faithful witness is one who utters the truth. And truth is something conquering and eternal.

2. Christianity possesses the resource of the truth sub-stunt!areal. Christ staked everything upon the Resurrection. But the fact of the resurrection stands. So Christianity stands with it.

3. Christianity possesses the resource of a present Divine power. The pierced hand is on the helm of all things.

4. Christianity possesses the resource of a sacrificial Divine love. It is from the Cross that Christ appeals to men. Such appeal must be irresistible.LESSONS —

1. Of courage. The Christian is on the winning side of things.

2. Of wise prudence. He who opposes Christ must go down before Him. Is it not best to make alliance with the Conquering One?

(Wayland Hoyt, D. D.)

We have Christ here in three aspects —

I. IN RELATION TO TRUTH. "He is a witness." What is truth? Reality. Christ came to bear witness of the reality of realities. As a witness of God. Christ was a competent witness —

1. Intellectually competent. "No man hath seen God at any time, the only-begotten of the Father." He alone knew the Absolute.

2. Morally competent. He had no motive to misrepresent Him. You must be pure to represent purity, just to represent justice, loving to represent love.

II. IN RELATION TO IMMORTALITY. "First begotten of the dead." How was He first begotten of the dead? Did not Lazarus rise from the grave? Not in time, but in importance.

1. He rose by His own power. No one else ever did.

2. He rose as the representative of risen saints.

III. IN RELATION TO EMPIRE. "The Prince of the kings of the earth." "All power is given unto Him."

(David Thomas, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. CHRIST'S MEDIATORIAL TITLES.

1. Christ is invested with prophetic order. As a prophet He is "faithful." He shed the true lighten the momentous questions.

2. Christ is invested with priestly order. He was the first who rose from death to immortality. He entered heaven with His own blood, to appear before His Father to intercede for the salvation of all who would believe on His name.

3. Christ is invested with kingly order.

II. CHRIST'S MEDIATORIAL WORK.

1. The original cause of the work. "He loved us."

2. The efficacy of the work. "Washed us."

3. The end attained by the work. "Hath made us kings and priests."

III. CHRIST'S MEDIATORIAL GLORY. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen. "Glory and might."

1. It is personally addressed — "unto Him."

2. It is constantly felt, — "unto Him that loved us."

3. It is everlastingly due — "for ever and ever."

4. It is universally approved — "Amen."

(Homilist.)

First, from His prophetical; secondly, from His priestly; thirdly, from His regal. We begin with the prophetical office of Christ, expressed in these words, wherein Jesus Christ is said to be the faithful witness. First, it is the witness. Christ is a witness, and He is a special and singular witness, so as there is none else besides that in this particular is like unto Him (Isaiah 4:4). First, by way of discovery and revelation, as making known to us the will of His Father (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18). There were two ways wherein Christ did make known unto us the gospel, and the will of His Father. First, in His own person (Isaiah 61:1, etc.) Second, He did it also, and still does in His servants, who were sent and appointed by Him (1 Peter 1:10, 11). Third, by way of assurance and confirmation, not only so far forth as He reveals to us those things which we knew not; but also as He does further settle us in these things which we know; He is a witness in this respect likewise. And that by virtue of His Spirit that dwelleth in us (2 Corinthians 2:10). Now there are two things which Christ by His Spirit doth thus witness to all those that are members of Him. First, the truths and doctrines of Christianity; and second, their own spiritual condition and state in grace, as having such truths belonging to them. The second is, the faithful. Christ is not only a witness but a faithful witness, which is the chief commendation of a witness. This faithfulness of Christ in point of testimony may be explained in three particulars. First, in the veracity of it. Christ is a faithful witness, because He witnesses nothing but that which is indeed truth. Second, from the universality of it. Christ's faithfulness is seen, not only in delivering the truth, but the whole truth. And as without reservation, so without addition likewise; that which the Father commits unto Him to be declared, that alone does Christ declare. Third, His faithfulness is seen in His sincerity in all this, in that herein He seeks not His own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Him (John 7:18). The consideration of this point thus explained may have a suitable influence upon ourselves in a way of application. First, as a special argument to us to believe what is propounded by Christ. Faithfulness on Christ's part calls for faith on ours; and His witnessing, it calls for our assent. Let us hold upon Christ's faithfulness by trusting perfectly to the grace which is revealed. Second, as for promises, so for threatenings; He is the faithful witness here likewise. A second use of this point may be to acquaint us with the blessed estate of the servants of God. Those that are true members of Christ are happy persons, because He is a faithful witness. Whatever they have at present here below they have much in reversion and expectation; and that because they have an interest in Christ, who will be sure not to fail them. Third, seeing Christ is a faithful witness it should teach us also conformity to Christ in this particular, whether ministers or other Christians. The second is taken from His priestly, in these, "And the first begotten of the dead." The principal actions of Christ's priesthood consist in two particulars — the one is in dying for us, and the other in rising again from the dead, and making intercession for us. First, Christ was once dead. This is one thing which is here implied (1 Corinthians 15:3). The death of Christ is a special article of our Christian faith. Second, He rose again from the dead; He was begotten among the dead, that is, He was raised from death to life. And this the Scripture also mentions to be profitable to us, both in point of justification, and in point of sanctification likewise (Romans 4:25; the latter in Romans 6:4). Third, Christ was the first begotten of the dead (Colossians 1:18). Christ was said to be the first begotten of the dead, in point of order, as being first in the glorious Resurrection. Therefore He is called the first-fruits of them that sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Christ is before any other in this particular. And this again in a twofold respect. First, as to the principle of His resurrection; and secondly, as to the terms of it. Though Lazarus and some others rose from the dead before Christ, yet they rose from natural death to natural life, and so as to die again; but Christ so rose as never more to die (Romans 6:9). Thus now Christ is the first begotten of the dead, in point of order. The second is in point of influence; so far forth as Christ's resurrection was operative and efficacious to ours; by way of merit, by way of efficiency, and by way of pattern or example. Again, He is said to be the first begotten of the dead, in regard of that authority which He has over the dead, obtained by His rising again (Romans 14:9). Christ was Lord of us before He rose again; but His resurrection put Him into the actual possession of this lordship, and was a clearer manifestation of it. This is a point of singular encouragement to God's children; and that especially against the fear of death, and the horror of the grave. There is an inseparable union betwixt Christ and every believer; and that not only in regard of their souls, but also of their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:15). And God has made a gracious covenant with them likewise in Christ, to be their God, even for ever and ever, and in death itself, which they shall at last be also raised up from, upon the account of Christ's resurrection (1 Peter 1:3, 4). His regal, or kingly office. "And the Prince of kings of the earth." Christ is not only a prophet and a priest, but likewise a king (Acts 5:31). This Christ is said to be upon a twofold consideration. First, in reference to His nature. Second, in reference to His office. Thus He hath all power in heaven and earth committed unto Him (Matthew 28:18). Now here He is said not only to be a prince absolutely, but relatively, the Prince of the kings of the earth, as showing both His influence upon them, and likewise their dependence upon Him. The consideration of this point is useful both to princes and people. First, it is useful to princes to teach them to look up to this great and mighty Prince of all, whom they thus stand in subjection unto. And second, it is useful to people in sundry regards likewise. First, to infer their obedience; and second, to regulate it.

(T. Horton, D. D.)

The first begotten of the dead
Simple as these words are, it is perhaps impossible for us to understand how deep and blessed their meaning was to him who wrote them. Their brief sentence, beautiful in its brevity, must have formed his only strength against the powerful influences that tended to depress his faith. To that old man, gazing on the desolate sea, and thinking of that unseen and boundless ocean in which all things seemed to perish, every wave which broke on the shores of Patmos would seem to speak of the omnipotence of death, if there were no human Christ exalted above its power. But such a One there was. John saw Him, and His name was this — "the First Begotten of the dead." The name, "first begotten," implies that He, the first who rose, should lead the great armies of the sons of God to a conquest over death, thereby implying that He was the first who revealed to them the certain truth of their deathless destiny. John says, "He is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." Between these three facts there is a fundamental connection. They teach us, then, that unless Christ had risen, His witness to God and His truth would have been imperfect and vain, and that on His rising stands His kingship over men. And if that be true, it is evident that unless we realise in our individual experience the meaning of "Christ, the first begotten of the dead," we can neither understand nor feel the power of the testimony which He bore to God.

I. Let us inquire on WHAT GROUNDS, APART FROM THOSE GIVEN BY THE RISEN REDEEMER, MAN COULD BUILD ANY BELIEF IN A DEATHLESS LIFE. Let us imagine that there is no Christ, and we shall find that every ground of belief will fail us.

1. We may grant at once that in hours of glad and hopeful feeling nature might seem to suggest to man a life beyond the sleep of the grave, and that, for a time, he might think he believed it. But that is not a true test. To judge of the real personal value of such natural suggestions, we must test them in times of darkness, doubt, and sorrow. Do you think that then men can rise to faith on the strength of some dim and mystic hint which nature appears to convey — that, because she renews her life, man's life will rise from the tomb? No! The human spirit, startled at its own doubts, and anxiously punting for belief, can never build its faith in a thing so awfully glorious upon any emblems such as those.

2. Again, men have tried to find a proof of immortality by reasoning from the great law that God leaves none of His works unfinished. We admit that this argument is very strong. When taken in union with the truth of Christ, it seems to prove unanswerably the immortality of man. But we can, perhaps, show that, if there were no Christ, it would furnish no certain proof, but only indicate a probability. For, mark, it assumes that we can tell whether man's life is completed or not. I know God's works are never unfinished, but may not man's life have answered all its ends, though we see not how? The insect sports its life away during a summer morning; the "bird pipes his lone desire, and dies unheard amid his tree." And man, before God, is but an insect of a day; even compared with God's angels, he is an insignificant creature; and may not this strange life of ours have answered the purposes God designed?

3. Once more, men have appealed to the instincts of the human heart as pledges of immortality. These beliefs might afford convincing proofs but for two facts. The first is, that sin deadens aspiration, denies the Divine, and blots out the heavenly. Sin stifles those yearnings after the spiritual and eternal, which nothing finite can satisfy. The sinner's eye glances not beyond the visible. The second fact is, that by clothing all faith in a future with terror, sin tends to produce disbelief in it.

II. WE PROCEED TO NOTE HOW CHRIST'S RISING IS THE GREAT REVELATION OF IMMORTALITY.

1. On the one hand, the fact of His rising reveals it to every man. No mere voice from the unseen world would satisfy man's heart. A real Son of God and of man must descend into the dark unknown, and come forth a conqueror. Man stood before the grave in doubt; the Christ rose, the doubt was gone.

2. The risen Christ reveals immortality in a still deeper sense to the Christian. Christ rose, and the man who is in Christ realises the resurrection now. With Christ he is dead to the old life, and is risen with Him into a new spiritual world.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

Unto Him that loved us
It is not a song which John heard, but a song which welled up in John's heart. It is not a song which came down from heaven, but a song which ascended to heaven from earth. The very mention of the Saviour's name awakened in his heart the memory of His love. Here is the song of an exile. Here is the song of one who was solitary, without a heart to sympathise with him, or a voice to unite with him in his praises. It was in a loathsome dungeon that Bunyan followed the Pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the heavenly Jerusalem, and so mapped it out that it has imparted gladness to millions from that day to this. It was in the midst of sickness and when the victim of persecution, of which Judge Jeffreys was the appropriate instrument, that Baxter wrote his "Saint's Everlasting Rest," picturing by faith and hope, even from this world of sorrow, the depth of joy that remaineth for the people of God. And so here, this apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, banished to Patmos, "for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus," found Patmos a second Paradise.

I. THE THEME WHICH AWAKENED HIS PRAISES WAS THE LOVE OF JESUS. It was this that even in Patmos made John sing this doxology of praise, and it is the great theme which pervades the whole of this book.

1. The Lord Jesus Himself had an irrepressible eagerness to speak of His love to His disciples. "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." "As My Father loved Me, even so have I loved you." "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

2. The revelation of the love of Christ was ever on the lips and ever on the pens of those sacred writers. "We love Him, because He first loved us." The apostle Paul said, "The love of Christ constraineth us." The greatest prayer he offered for man was this, that they might be "rooted and grounded in love," and that they might "be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God."

3. The love of the Lord Jesus, of which the apostle here speaks, was a love that was undeserved. This very apostle had seen what the love of Christ had cost Christ. This very apostle had heard such language as this from the lips of Jesus: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." He had heard Him say, "Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee." He had heard Him say, "Now is My soul troubled. What shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour." He had stood by the very Cross, and had watched the long hours of agony and of death.

4. It was love which John realised for himself. It was not a sentimental thing with him. He could say, "I speak of that which I know, and testify of that which I have tasted."

II. THE BLESSINGS WHICH THE APOSTLE CELEBRATES IN HIS SONG.

1. "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." The apostle thought of his past state and his present state. He was a sinner, and he had been cleansed from sin. This separated his song from the songs of the angels in glory. Their song is a song of sympathy with the redeemed; but here is a song for sinners. It is this that makes it suitable for our lips.

2. "He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father."

(J. J. Brown.)

John had hardly begun to deliver his message to the seven Churches, he had hardly given in his name and stated from whom the message came, when he felt that he must lift up his heart in a joyful doxology. The very mention of the name of the Lord Jesus, the "faithful witness," etc., fired his heart. This text is just the upward burst of a great geyser of devotion.

I. THE CONDITION OF HEART OUT OF WHICH OUTBURSTS OF ADORATION ARISE.

1. This man of doxologies, from whom praise flashes forth like light from the rising sun, is first of all a man who has realised the person of his Lord. The first word is, "Unto Him"; and then he must a second time before he has finished say, "To Him be glory and dominion." His Lord's person is evidently before his eye. He sees the actual Christ upon the throne. The great fault of many professors is that Christ is to them a character upon paper; certainly more than a myth, but yet a person of the dim past, an historical personage, but who is far from being a living, present reality. Jesus was no abstraction to John; he loved Him too much for that. Love has a great vivifying power: it makes our impressions of those who are far away from us very lifelike, and brings them very near. John's great tender heart could not think of Christ as a cloudy conception; but he remembered Him as that blessed One with whom He had spoken, and on whose breast he had leaned.

2. John, in whom we notice the outburst of devotion, was a man firmly assured of his possession of the blessings for which he praised the Lord. Doubt has no outbursts; its chill breath freezes all things. Oh for more assurance! I would have you know beyond all doubt that Jesus is yours, so that you can say without hesitation, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." John was certain that he was loved, and he was furthermore most clear that he was washed, and therefore he poured forth his soul in praise.

3. John had also felt, and was feeling very strongly, his communion with all the saints. Notice his use of the plural pronoun. It is well for you and me to use this "us" very often. There are times when it is better to say "me," but in general let us get away to the "us"; for has not our Lord taught us when we pray to say, "Our Father which art in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses," and so on? Our usual praises must be, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins."

II. THE OUTBURST ITSELF.

1. It is a doxology, and as such does not stand alone: it is one of many. In the Book of the Revelation doxologies are frequent. If you begin praising God you are bound to go on. Praise is somewhat like an avalanche, which may begin with a snowflake on the mountain moved by the wing of a bird, but that flake binds others to itself and becomes a rolling ball: this rolling ball gathers more snow about it till it is huge, immense; it crashes through a forest. Thus praise may begin With the tear of gratitude; anon the bosom swells with love; thankfulness rises to a song; it breaks forth into a shout; it mounts up to join the everlasting hallelujahs which surround the throne of the Eternal.

2. This outburst carried within itself its own justification. Look at it closely, and you perceive the reasons why, in this enthusiastic manner, John adores his Saviour. The first is, "Unto Him that loved us." This love is in the present tense, for the passage may be read, "Unto Him that loveth us." Dwell on the present character of it, and be at this moment moved to holy praise. He loved us, first before He washed us. Yes, He loved us so much that He washed us from our sins, black as they were. He did it effectually too: He did not try to wash us, but He actually and completely "washed us from our sins." The stains were deep; they seemed indelible, but He has "washed us from our sins." "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow," has been realised by every believer. But think of how He washed us — "in His own blood." Men are chary of their own blood, for it is their life; yet will brave ones pour it out for their country or for some worthy object; but Jesus shed His blood for such unworthy ones as we are, that He might by His atonement for ever put away the iniquity of His people. At what a cost was this cleansing provided I Nor is this all. The Lord that loved us would do nothing by halves, and therefore, when He washed us in His own blood, He "made us kings." We walk like kings among the sons of men, honoured before the Lord and His holy angels — the peerage of eternity. Our thoughts, our aims, our hopes, and our longings are all of a nobler kind than those of the mere carnal man. We read of the peculiar treasures of kings, and we have a choice wealth of grace. He has made us even now among the sons of men to possess the earth and to delight ourselves in the abundance of peace. Furthermore, our Lord has made us priests. The world is dumb, and we must speak for it. We are to be priests for all mankind. Oh, what dignity is this! Peter Martyr told Queen Elizabeth, "Kings and queens are more bound to obey God than any other persons: first, as God's creatures, and secondly, as His servants in office." This applies to us also.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

To Him that loved us: it is spoken in a manner exclusively, as if none did so much love us as Christ, as indeed there does not. The use of this point is to believe it, and to teach us to labour more and more to assure our hearts of it. We should endeavour to have the sense of this love of Christ more upon our souls, and to be well settled in it. Which was that which the apostle Paul did so much pray for (Ephesians 3:16, 17). This is discerned by such notes as are most proper to it. We may know that Christ hath loved us, according to that which He has done for us, and especially done in us, by changing our natures and by infusing of His graces into us. The second is from the manifestation of this affection in particular, in these words, "And hath washed us from our sins in His own blood." First, take it absolutely and in itself, as it is an expression of the privilege of believers, and that is to be washed from their sins by Christ's blood. The blood of Christ hath that efficacy with it as to cleanse from all sins (1 John 1:7). There is a double benefit from the blood of Christ — the one is the benefit of justification, as to the taking away of the guilt of sin; and the other is the benefit of sanctification, as to the taking away of the power and dominion. And each of these are here included in this expression. The improvement of this point to ourselves may be drawn forth into a various application. First, it may serve as a discovery to us of the grievous nature of sin, which had need of such a remedy as this to be used for the removal of it. Secondly, here is matter of encouragement also to the servants of God in all the upbraidings of conscience and of Satan setting in with it, that here is a remedy and help for them. Hence also we have abound of encouragement in our access to the throne of grace and hope of our entrance into heaven at last. Lastly, seeing we have so much benefit by the blood of Christ, we should in a special manner take heed of sinning against it. And so much may be spoken of this passage in its absolute consideration, as it is the expression of a Christian's privilege, which is to be washed from his sins in Christ's blood. Now, further, we may also look upon it relatively, and in connection with the words before, where it is said that He hath "loved us." And so it is an expression to us of Christ's affection. First, in His death itself He showed His love to us in that, and that is implied in His blood. It was not only the blood of His finger, but the blood of His heart, His very life went with it. Secondly, in the manner of His death there was His love also in that. And this likewise implied in the word "blood," which does denote some violence in it, a cruel and painful death (Colossians 1:20; Philippians 2:8). Thirdly, in the full and perfect application of this His death unto us. It is said "that He washed us in His own blood." He did not sprinkle us only, but bath us. He did give us a plentiful share and interest in it. And lastly, there is an emphasis also in the word of propriety, in that it is said "His own blood." The priests under the old Law, in the execution of their office, sprinkled the people with blood, and did in a sense and after a sort wash them from their sins in it. But that blood was not their own, but the blood of beasts. And this is a further enlargement of His love towards us. The use of all to ourselves is to enlarge our hearts in all thankfulness and acknowledgment to Christ for His goodness, which we should be very much quickened unto. And we should make it a ground of encouragement in the expectation of all things else from Christ which are necessary for us. He that has not stuck at this great expression of love will be sure not to stick to anything which is inferior to it; and He that has given us the greater will not stick to give us the less. And so I have done also with the second general part of the text, which is the description of Christ from the particular discovery of His affection, "who hath washed us," etc. The third and last is from the effect and result of it in these words, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." Wherein there is a twofold dignity which believers do partake of from and with Christ.

I. His kingly office; all true believers are kings. This is to be taken not in a temporal sense, but in a spiritual; and so the Scripture still expresses it (Luke 12:32; Luke 22:29).

1. For the state of grace. All true Christians, they are kings in this particular, namely, so far forth as they have power over their spiritual enemies, and all those things which might hinder their salvation. Thus is he a king in reference to the state of grace.

2. In reference to the state of glory also, so far forth as he is an heir of heaven, and shall reign with Christ for ever and ever. Thus he is a king in regard of right and title, even here in this life, though he be not in actual possession.

II. His priesthood, "And hath made us priests," etc.

1. In regard of the prayers which are continually put up by them both for ourselves and others (1 Peter 2:5).

2. As to the keeping of themselves from the pollutions and defilements of the world. The priests they were prohibited the touching of those things which were unclean.

3. As to the teaching and instructing of others in the communion of saints (Malachi 2:7). And so should every Christian also in his way and within his compass (Genesis 18:19).

4. As to the offering up of themselves to God. And then the high priest especially, he entered into the sanctum sanctorum, so should every Christian have his heart always towards the Holy of Holies, etc.

5. The priests they still blessed the people; so would the mouths of Christians do others with whom they converse (1 Peter 3:9).

(T. Horton, D. D.)

I. Christ is the LOVER of the soul. He loved it with —

1. An absolutely disinterested love.

2. A practically self-sacrificing love.

3. An earnestly forgiving love.

II. Christ is the CLEANSER of the soul. The grand mission and work of Christ are to put away sin from the soul. Sin is not so ingrained into the texture of the human soul that it cannot be removed; it can be washed out.

III. Christ is the ENNOBLER of the soul.

1. Christ makes souls "kings." He enthrones the soul, gives it the sceptre of self-control, and enables it to make all things subservient to its own moral advancement.

2. Christ makes souls" priests."

IV. Christ is the HERO of the soul. "To Him be glory," etc. Worship is not a service, but a spirit; is not obedience to a law, but the irrepressible instinct of a life.

V. Christ is the HOPE of the soul. "Behold, He cometh," etc.

(David Thomas, D. D.)

I. THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

1. He loved us freely. He did not love us because we were righteous, because we had neither omitted any duty nor committed any offence. We are described in Scripture sometimes as crimson, and again as scarlet with sin. These are glaring colours, and sin is a glaring thing that must be seen. God has seen it; God abhors it. But though He saw it He loved us.

2. He loved us condescendingly. He loved us "and washed us." That God should create, I understand; that He should destroy, I also understand; but that He should wash and cleanse those who have made themselves foul with sin is marvellous. God is so full of power that, if a thing is broken, it is never worth His while to mend it. It is the poverty of our resources that compels us to put up with defiled and broken things and make them better. Yet He loved us, so that He stooped to wash us from our defilement.

3. He loved us in a holy manner. Even the Almighty could not make us happy and let us remain in sin.

4. He loved us at a costly rate; lie hath washed us from our sins "in His own blood."

5. He loved us effectually. The text says that Christ "loved us and washed us from our sins," or "loosed us from our sins."

6. Once more, this love of Christ is perpetual; He loves us still. Turning to the Revised Version we read, "Unto Him that loveth us." He did not finish His love by His death. He loves you still, and He will always love you.

II. GLORIFY THIS LOVING, LIVING SAVIOUR.

1. Gladly confess His name. "Then, I should have to bear a lot of ridicule," says one. And are you afraid to follow your Master for fear of ridicule? Remember what, for love of you, He bore.

2. Next, if we really do wish to glorify Him, we must shun all sin. A man cannot say, "Unto Him that loved me and washed me from my sins be glory," and then go and drink with the drunkard. You dare not say "Unto Him be glory," and then, as a professed Christian, go and do a dishonest deed, or speak a lie, or do that which would be discreditable to yourself and would bring dishonour on His name.

3. Again, if we truly say, "To Him be glory and dominion," then we must give Him dominion over ourselves. Each man is a little empire of three kingdoms — body, soul, and spirit — and it should be a united kingdom. Make Christ King of it all.

4. And then, next, if we say, "To Him be glory and dominion," we must seek to bring others under His sway. There is some way in which every one of us can do it. Begin at home; do not be content till the boys and girls all belong to Christ. Then look after your neighbours. You that are large employers, care for the men who work for you.

5. If we really wish that Christ should have glory and dominion because He has washed us from our sins in His blood, we must do nothing to dishonour Him ourselves, and we shall do anything sooner than see His blessed gospel and His holy name dishonoured by others.

6. Unto Him that loved and laved us let us give all glory and dominion; but if we would do that we must not be cold and indifferent about holy things. You know what kind of hearers some people are. You may say what you will to them, but they are never moved. They are so solid, so cold. Can I hear of that dear name and never catch the sacred fire? Can I think of Calvary and still my heart remain cold and chill?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR HIS PEOPLE.

1. He hath loved us. Can anything be more evident? He loved us from eternity. He foresaw our misery, and, moved with pity, provided for our relief. He loved us when we existed only in His eternal idea. What a love, reaching through eternal ages and undiminished! "He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love." "He hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself." All this from the infinite love of His nature; because He loved us. All that He hath done for His Church through ages are proofs of His love to you. By this merciful preservation of the Church the news of salvation has reached us.

2. He hath washed us from our sins in His own blood.

3. He honours us. "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father."

II. THE RETURNS OF GRATITUDE AND PRAISE WHICH HIS PEOPLE RENDER TO HIM.

1. To Him be glory. He has an essential glory as God. He is possessed of glory arising from His undertaking in behalf of sinful men — from His unparalleled condescension — glorious example — unreserved benevolence — patient submission — from His Cross — spoiling principalities and powers — making a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it — conquest over death — glorious ascension. All this glory the believers see, with gladness, beaming on the crown of the Redeemer. The glory of the Saviour receives additional lustre from those offices which He so successfully fills for His people at the right hand of God. Is He an Advocate? How many causes has He gained! Is He a Priest? All the services of His people are rendered acceptable to God through Him. Is He an Intercessor? What innumerable benefits hath He obtained for them! Is He a Mediator? What hosts of enemies hath He reconciled to God, making them one in Him. Is He a Saviour? How complete and perfect His work, saving to the uttermost all who come unto God through Him. Is He a Leader and Commander of the people? What glorious achievements and conquests have His people made through Him. But His people look forward with pleasing expectation to a period when the glories of their Saviour shall be abundantly increased, and shine forth in their greatest splendour. In the day of judgment He will gather His people before Him, and glorify His grace in their eternal salvation. "He will come to be glorified in His saints and admired by all them that believe." He will be glorified by their variety; out of all nations and kindreds and tongues. He will be glorified by the circumstances attending their salvation. These are they which have come out of great tribulation — through reproaches and persecutions. He will be glorified by the infinite rewards which He will then bestow upon them.

2. "To Him be dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Christ hath a natural dominion as God, and in this His people acquiesce and rejoice. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof." But He hath acquired dominion as Mediator by grant from His Father. "Ask of Me and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance," etc. As the reward of His obedience. "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross, wherefore God hath highly exalted Him," etc. This is but partly established. So He hath taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," etc.

(R. Watson.)

I. THE DURATION OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST. He had us in His heart ages before any sign appeared of our existence upon this earth — in spirit He was slain for us — before the foundation of the world. The most ancient of all love is that of Jesus. But turn now from the past to the future. Even as to this present life, what a distinction does it confer on any attachment cherished towards us, the absolute certainty of its continuance, of its surviving all the trials of time, or separation, or misunderstandings, or collisions of interest, or variations of taste and of pursuit. We rejoice in the knowledge that there are earthly friendship, which are wholly delivered from all such fear; that there are those of whom we are assured that, come what will with them or us, they will love us still, will love us to the end. But then, there is that close of all things here below; and what of the existence afterwards? Who shall love us throughout that unknown, unending life which awaits us beyond the grave? Shall those who loved us so long and so tenderly here be there beside us to bless us with an everlasting affection? We hope so; in our best moments we believe that it shall be so. Still, there is a shade of dimness over the prospect. There is, however, one love upon whose continuance through time and throughout eternity we can most securely count. He whose heart it fills, is the same yesterday, to day, for ever.

II. LET US CONTEMPLATE THE LOVE OF CHRIST IN THE WIDTH OF ITS EMBRACE, ITS AMPLITUDE, ITS INFINITY. It surrounds us with its vast, its measureless expanse. Its mighty volume is around each separate spirit, as if the enfolding of that spirit, the guiding, guarding, purifying of that spirit were its sole and separate care. Yet what untold multitudes of such spirits does it embrace.

III. THE INTENSITY OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST AS SHOWN IN ACTUAL OPERATION. We measure the intensity of any affection by the difficulties it overcomes, the burdens it bears, the services it renders, the sacrifices it makes. Now, so far as we can see, there was a great, initial difficulty in the love of Christ turning upon such sinners as we are. For what is it that begets love but the sight in the object of that which is lovable? Was there not much fitted rather to alienate than to attract? This very feature, however, of the love of Christ — that it was love to those not worthy of it, is one that goes far to enhance it in our esteem. He saw in us the guilty that might be pardoned, the defiled that might be purified, the lost that might be saved. Nay, the very things in us that might have turned away another benefactor, and led him to seek a more congenial field of labour, gave but the quicker wing, and the firmer footstep to that great love. The life of Christ on earth was throughout a mantles. ration and expression of this love. For let us remember that it is not merely human heart that beats in Jesus Christ — a human sensibility with which that heart is gifted. The Divine capacity to love is present here, and the Divine sensibility attaching to that capacity.

(W. Hannay, D. D.)

[Read "loveth us, and loosed us from our sins."]

I. THE EVER-PRESENT, TIMELESS LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST. John is writing these words of our text nearly half a century after Jesus Christ was buried. He is speaking to Asiatic Christians, Greeks and foreigners, most of whom were not born when Jesus Christ died, none of whom probably had ever seen Him in this world. To these people he proclaims, not a past love, not a Christ that loved long ago, but a Christ that loves now when John was writing, a Christ that loves us nineteenth-century Englishmen at the moment when we read. Another thing must be remembered. He who speaks is "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Is it not beautiful that he thus takes all his brethren up to the same level as himself, and delights to sink all that was special and personal into that which was common to all. The foundation of all our hopes and all our joys, and all our strength in the work of the world should be this firm conviction, that we are wrapped about by, and evermore in, an endless ocean, so to speak, of a present Divine love, of a present loving Christ. Then, further, that love is not disturbed or absorbed by multitudes. He loveth us, says John to these Asiatic Christians; and he speaks to all ages and people. Again, it is a love unchilled by the sovereignty and glory of His exaltation. The Christ of the gospels is the Christ in His lowliness, bearing the weight of man's sins; the Christ of the Apocalypse is the Christ in His loftiness, ruling over the world and time. But it is the same Christ. From the midst of the glory and the sevenfold brilliancy of the light which is inaccessible, the same tender heart bends down over us that bent down over all the weary and the distressed when He Himself was weary; and we can lift up our eyes above stars, and systems, and material splendours, right up to the central point of the universe, where the throned Christ is, and see "Him that loveth us" — even us!

II. THE GREAT ACT IN TIME WHICH IS THE OUTCOME AND THE PROOF OF THIS ENDLESS LOVE "He loosed us from our sins by His own blood." The metaphor is that of bondage. "He that committeth sin is the slave of sin." Every wrong thing that we do tends to become our master and our tyrant. The awful influence of habit, the dreadful effect upon a nature of a corrupted conscience, the power of regretful memories, the pollution arising from the very knowledge of what is wrong — these are some of the strands out of which the ropes that bind us are twisted. We know how tight they grip. But the chains can be got off. Christ looses them by "His blood." Like a drop of corrosive acid, that blood, falling upon the fetters, dissolves them, and the prisoner goes free, emancipated by the Son. His blood looses the fetters of our sins, inasmuch as His death, touching our hearts, and also bringing to us new powers through His Spirit, which is shed forth in consequence of His finished work, frees us from the power of sin, and brings into operation new powers and motives which free us from our ancient slavery. The chains which bound us shrivel and melt as the ropes that bound the Hebrew youths in the fire, before the warmth of His manifested love and the glow of His Spirit's power.

III. THE PRAISE WHICH SHOULD BE OUR ANSWER TO THIS GREAT LOVE. Our praise of Christ is but the expression of our recognition of Him for what He is, and our delight in love towards Him. Such love and praise, which is but love speaking, is all which He asks. Love can only be paid by love. Any other recompense offered to it is coinage of another currency, that is not current in its kingdom. The only recompense that satisfies love is its own image reflected in another heart. That is what Jesus Christ wants of you.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE LOVE IS ABSOLUTELY SOVEREIGN. It was not called forth by any sort of worthiness in the objects of it, but was entirely spontaneous, self-moved. No doubt these objects come to have most attractive features. In course of time they are washed, cleansed from the filthiness in which they lay by nature, or loosed from the degrading bondage in which they were held. They have moral and spiritual excellences of the highest order, though not unmixed with imperfections and impurities. But to whom are they indebted for all this distinction? To Christ alone. And what moved Him to beautify them with salvation, to take them, as it were, from the dunghill and set them among the princes? His love. When the love first rested on its objects, when it contemplated and planned their redemption in the counsels of eternity, it had respect to them simply as fallen, ruined creatures. It was while provoking the vengeance of high heaven that the arresting hand was laid on them. Nothing like personal doing or desert had any place whatever in effecting the blessed change. And this feature is made still more abundantly manifest by a consideration of the persons often thus raised to a participation in the high calling of the saints. They are not seldom those that would have been deemed by us the most unfit and unlikely. They are not the best, but the worst characters; not those standing out from their fellows for good, but for bad qualities.

II. THE LOVE IS IMMEASURABLY GREAT. How shall we estimate its magnitude? In no better way than by considering what it freely bestows on its objects, and the sacrifices it makes for what it thus bestows. Try this love by both these measures. What, then, does it give those upon whom it rests? All the benefits of redemption. Take these benefits as summarised here, in connection with and as the ripened fruit of the love in question. The washing spoken of very specially points to forgiveness, the blotting out of sin in the blood of atonement. The graces of the Spirit spring up where before there were only the works of the flesh, and these graces both beautify the character and satisfy the soul. Thus believers are fitted for being kings and priests unto God and the Father. And has all this cost Him nothing, or cost Him but little? Has no sacrifice, or only a small one, been required? He has washed them in His own blood, and to it is to be traced not less their royal priesthood. His blood was that of sacrifice, of atonement, the price of our redemption. Here was the great ransom, and it is only in consequence of it that any sinner is washed and invested with a royal priesthood. Truly, when tried thus, the love passes knowledge.

III. THE LOVE IS UNCHANGEABLY CONSTANT. He loved and He loveth us. Who can tell how much He suffers at the hands of His people? How unthankful and rebellious are they! But still He forgives, restores, and keeps them. No doubt there are sometimes appearances to the contrary. He withdraws from His people, hides His face from them, so that they walk in darkness, and feel as if they were utterly forsaken. But there is no proof here that His love is either gone or weakened. Behind the frowning Providence there is still a smiling face. The clouds temporarily obscure, but they do not extinguish, or even really diminish, the light of heaven. And so it will ever be. The love has stood true during all the past, and it will not fail in all the future.

(John Adam, D. D.)

I. With respect to THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST, we may remark, in general, that love was the spring of all His mediatory acts. No doubt, He chiefly sought the glory of His Father, and testified His love to Him by fulfilling His will. But in prosecuting these objects He was gratifying His own love.

1. It was love that induced the Son of God to undertake our cause in the counsels of eternity.

2. The love of Christ appears in the delight He took in the prospect of the work, arduous and grievous as it was, which He had engaged to perform.

3. His love appears in the assumption of our nature. Oh, what a stoop was there!

4. The love of the Redeemer appears in the whole of His obedience unto death.

II. THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF CHRIST'S LOVE.

1. It is the love of a Divine Person.

2. It is the love of a Divine Person in human nature.

3. The love of Christ is transcendently great. It is incredible to all but those who have been taught from above.

III. Let us attend to the PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT of this subject.

1. We may see one proof of the deep depravity of mankind.

2. Here is food for faith.

3. The reasonableness and the duty of love to Christ.

(T. McCrie, D. D.)

I. SOME OF THE GREAT GENERAL CHARACTERS OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

1. An everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 103:17; Isaiah 54:7, 8; Ephesians 1:4, 5; Ephesians 3:11; Revelation 13:8). Does not this lead us to contemplate the glory of an infinite God, as it shines in this everlasting love?

2. Free and unmerited love (Psalm 8:4; Psalm 144:3; Job 7:17).

3. Unsolicited love (1 John 4:10; Romans 5:10). There is something infinitely more noble and generous in extending mercy to the miserable without waiting for their request, than when it is hardly procured, or as it were extorted by importunity or solicitation.

4. A distinguishing love, which must greatly enhance the obligation of those who are the objects of it.

5. An expensive love.

6. A most generous and disinterested love. It was giving to those from whom He could receive nothing.

7. A most fruitful, active, and beneficent love.

II. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT OF THE SUBJECT.

1. If so great are the obligations of believers to the love of Christ, how dreadful must be the condition of those who die in their sins.

2. Learn that the great and leading motive to obedience under the gospel, is a deep and grateful sense of redeeming love.

3. The necessity of a particular application of the truths of the gospel to ourselves, and the reliance of every believer upon them as the foundation of his own hope.

4. This leads me to invite every sinner to accept of Christ as his Saviour and to rely upon Him as He is offered in the gospel.

(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)

The word translated "washed" should be "loosened."

I. This is the most IMPORTANT of all works. Sin is a chain that enslaves not the mere body, but all the faculties of the soul. What a chain is this!

1. It is heavy.

2. Galling.

3. Strong, and —

4. Becomes stronger with the commission of every sin.

II. This, the most important of all works, is effected by CHRIST AND BY HIM ONLY. He came into the world to set the captives free. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

III. That for this, the most important of all works, CHRIST RECEIVES THE PRAISES OF ETERNITY. True gratitude implies a belief in three things.

1. A belief in the value of the service rendered.

2. A belief in the kindness of the motive which inspired the service.

3. A belief in the undeservedness of the service on our part.

(David Thomas, D. D.)

It is the echo of the heavenly harping that John hears. This is what they are singing on high, and what we are training for here.

I. THE SOURCE OF SALVATION IN ETERNITY. "Unto Him that loved us." When God set out for His journey of redemption He must have looked round the shelves of glory for what to take, as some of you starting on a journey, pack your bag or portmanteau. Certain things you take with you for the journey. So with God. There are the thunders of almighty power. Is He to take these? No. He became man — poor, feeble man, and the thunders slept till He came back. Is He to take the glory above the sun's strength? Is He to take the robe of uncreated light? No. He strips Him of the visible Godhead. He lays aside the uncreated Shekinah manifestation, but He takes something — something that heaven can give and that earth needs. He dips His almighty heart in love. He cannot do without that. He will not get love enough here, and if He is to bring love He must get it before He starts. He comes with the only qualification for His great work that He sees needful — love in His heart. And it is that love that you and I need, the love that death hath no power over, a love that is to exist and be strong when yonder sun flickers out into eternal midnight. It is that love that my longing soul craves for, and it is that love that is in Christ's heart. Human love — why, we dare only creep from headland to headland; we cannot launch out into the deep, for death is nigh. But in Christ's love you can let your soul go. You can sail into the mighty ocean assured that there is no limit, that there is no further shore to it, that there are no shoals to tear the ribs of the vessel of your heart asunder. The love of Christ will outlive the sun; the love of Christ will be strong in mighty current when the stars, the last of them, pull a veil over their faces and die. The love of Christ is the one eternal, abiding, almighty force in the universe. Can you sing it? "Unto Him that loved us" with a deathless, undying, unchanging, abiding, eternal love, to Him "be glory and dominion for ever and ever."

II. THE EFFECT OF SALVATION IN TIME. The stream runs from the hillside to the valley, and it gets deep and wide and broad, and the masts of the navy of a commercial city are reflected in its fair bosom. So with the love of God. It came rushing out of the pearly gates a mighty torrent, and it came down to the valley and expanded there into a broad lake, and the love has become a fact in time. And the way it has become a fact is this: The love has washed us in the precious blood of Christ. Oh, how foul we were, how the streets of time had left their defilement on our spirit. A thousand rivers — have they water enough to cleanse a sinful heart? What did God find and feel to be necessary? What is that awful tinge that reddens the waves of the laver of regeneration? What is this mysterious chemical, Thou, God, art putting there? Why this agony of Thy beloved Son? Why the open side, why the pierced hands and feet, why the blood? "Without shedding of blood there is no remission," says God. If you turn to the Revised Version you will see the word "loosed" for "washing." It is the same idea, but more vigorously expressed. Sometimes when the dirt sticks you take pumice stone, or something that will rub or scrape. And so the Greek word shows that God's washing is so effectual, the blood of Jesus is so powerful in its cleansing, that it is more like cutting off, it is more like excising and putting aside. The word is a strong word — loosing, cutting us out from our sins by His precious blood.

III. THE EFFECT OF SALVATION ON MAN. "And hath made us kings." We crouch, a slave, to the Cross, but we give three leaps from it, and tread to heaven with the tramp of a king. The Cross gives dignity, the Cross gives royalty, to the saved heart. Christ crowns us when the heart accepts Him. We are kings, and we have a country. We are not like John Lack-land, for a king must have a kingdom. We are kings from the Cross, and what is our kingdom? It is our heart, our own soul, that is our kingdom. Your great country of promise has to be conquered by your own little fist of fulfilling. So with your heart. It is the promised land, but you have to fight for it. You have, as a conqueror, to make the plains of your own soul reverberate with your own tread. Old habits come out! old sins, passions, lusts, come out! "Put your feet on the necks of them," says Christ, and I, by the grace of God, put my feet on old habits, old sins, old passions, and am king over my own heart. "And hath made us kings." And it is the priest's service that God accepts and needs to-day. It is the profession of adoration, it is the song of praise from my heart that He cannot get from the harps of heaven. It is this, that you and I should just tell Him more that we love Him. You know they say a Scotchman never tells his wife he loves her till he is just dying. Well, it is a great pity. In this world he would be happier and she would be happier, if he would tell his love into the ear while it can hear. So the Lord Jesus is longing for you and me, in time, while we have the opportunity, just to tell Him. Go home, then, to your own room, and kneel down and say in this holy priesthood of thine, "Lord Jesus, I adore Thee, I love Thee; to Thee be the glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

(John Robertson.).

I. WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US.

1. Christ loved us. You all know, from the feelings of your own hearts, something of what it is to love, and likewise what it is to be the object of affection. Christ's love to His people surpasses in intensity and purity and disinterestedness anything that was ever felt by a human heart. There was no worth or excellence, no good thing about us. In His eyes we were unseemly and loathsome objects. We were altogether unable to render Him any service, or to make Him any compensation for the benefits He might bestow. His essential happiness and glory could neither be diminished by our ruin, nor increased by our salvation. And consider who it was that loved us in this manner; for we are in the habit of estimating the value of any expression of love by the character and condition of the individual from whom we receive it. Now He who thus loved us was not a mere man like ourselves, but He was the Eternal God, the Author and the Head of the whole creation; He was not an angel or an archangel, but One whom all the angels of God are commanded to worship; He was not liable to errors of judgment, or to mistakes of feeling, but He Was possessed of the Divine perfections, as well as the Divine nature and prerogatives.

2. "He washed us from our sins in His own blood." This was the first great step that was necessary in order to our deliverance and salvation, and this accordingly is mentioned as the first great manifestation of Christ's love that was poured out upon believers.

3. "He has likewise made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." Here the priestly character, as well as the "kingly" one, is but imperfectly developed, and its privileges but partially enjoyed. Here we see through a glass, darkly. But a time will come when all believers shall see face to face — when their intercourse with God shall be much more close and uninterrupted and delightful than it has ever been upon earth — when anything that can defile or annoy shall be taken away.

II. THE FEELINGS AND DESIRES WHICH THE CONTEMPLATION OF WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US OUGHT TO PRODUCE.

(W. Cunningham, D. D.)

I. IN THIS SONG THE REDEEMED MAKE GRATEFUL MENTION OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST; that being the spring of all their present privileges and all their future hopes. This is well put first in order, not only because it is the source of every spiritual blessing, but also because it is in itself their chief happiness — they being the objects of his love; and every ingenuous mind will more esteem the kindly heart, than the costly gifts of a benefactor. How, in ordinary cases, do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection for us? Is it in the first instance by the ardour with which it is expressed in words? Then what are the terms in which the Redeemer speaks of His people? "I have loved them with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Does it enhance our esteem of the benignant heart of a friend, when his kindness is continued, notwithstanding we have given him cause of offence; and is that friendship sufficient to melt the hardest heart which requites every offence with forgiveness, and suffers us not to sink under an unworthy return? Then is Christ such a friend. Is the love of a friend the more valued because it comes to us in circumstances of great destitution or distress? Now, it was when we were miserable and poor that the Redeemer loved us. His office was to bind up the broken-hearted, and to make the mourner glad. Do we appreciate the friendship which we have reason to believe has no connection with selfish motives or personal ends? The friendship of the Redeemer was purely disinterested. The only reward which He sought was the salvation of His people. The only joy that was set before Him was, that He should see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection for us by his fondness for our society, by his affording us free access at all times, and by the frequency and kindness of his invitations to meet us? Then with what condescension has the Redeemer invited, nay, urged His people to repair to Him as their friend, as "a very present help to them, in every time of need!" Do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection by the sacrifices he makes, or by the personal sufferings He endures for our sakes? Then what sacrifice is so great, what sufferings so severe as those of the Son of God? Do we estimate the kindness of an earthly friend by his long-suffering patience in bearing with our infirmities, and in dealing tenderly with us, even when we most try his patience by our provocations? And what believer can fail to acknowledge that he is a living monument of the Redeemer's mercy, an unprofitable servant whom none but Divine patience could have spared. Finally, do we rest with confidence on the friendship of one who identifies himself with us, and acts as if our interests and his own were the same? Then is Christ the friend of His people. Whoso, saith He, receiveth you receiveth Me: Whoso shall give but a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward.

II. BUT THAT LOVE WAS NOT WITHOUT EFFECT, and the beloved disciple adverts to SOME OF THE BENEFITS WHICH HAVE FLOWED FROM IT TO HIS PEOPLE. He has washed us from our sins in His own blood. The words imply that the Saviour's blood was shed, and shed for the remission of sins; and it was a noble proof of His love. They also intimate that, besides being shed, that blood had been savingly applied, and had sufficient efficacy to wash them from their sins. And believers will ever regard the sawing application of that blood to their consciences as no less proof of the Redeemer's kindness than the fact of His having shed it. His love in leading them to that fountain is not less to be celebrated than His love in having opened it, especially when it is considered that, without such a personal application of His blood to them individually, His death would have been of no avail. By that blood they were delivered from the burden of an accusing conscience, and admitted into peace and friendship with God. By that blood they were delivered for ever from judgment to come.

III. THE DESIGN OF THE SAVIOUR WAS NOT ACCOMPLISHED, NOR HIS LOVE EXHAUSTED, BY PARDONING THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE. It was His design to advance them as monuments of His grace to a state of great dignity, and to employ them in a very exalted station.

IV. IT IS THE NATURAL FRUIT, AND A STRONG EVIDENCE OF FAITH, AND AT THE SAME TIME A SOURCE OF GREAT SPIRITUAL COMFORT, TO BE MUCH ENGAGED IN REFLECTING ON THE LOVE OF THE REDEEMER, AND REGARDING WITH HOLY GRATITUDE THE BENEFITS WHICH YOU HAVE RECEIVED OR YET EXPECT AT HIS HANDS; for while we thus meditate on His love, and on our own honour and privileges, as His people, our hearts will burn within us, and our lips break forth in His praise. To many among us, indeed, who are downcast and sorrowful, it may seem as if this strain were more fitted for those who have already fought the good fight, and finished their course, than for us who are still in the body, burthened with the remains of a corrupt nature; weak, yet beset with strong temptation; prone to backsliding. But may not the most desponding believer take courage at least from their success? May not their triumphant song inspire us with new hopes, since it tells us that men like ourselves have obtained the victory.

(James Buchanan.)

I. WHAT CHRIST'S SAINTS OWE TO HIM.

1. A debt of everlasting love. "Unto Him that loved us."

2. The debt of their redemption.

3. The debt of glory. He "hath made us kings and priests unto God, even His Father." "A kingdom of priests," some will read it. Be it so. Then they are, in reality, what the Israelites were typically, "a kingdom of priests, an holy nation, a peculiar people." In the light of this interpretation we see the significance of the washing previously mentioned; for when any one of that royal and priestly nation had contracted any ceremonial uncleanness, before he was restored to his national privileges — or when any one was called to minister to God in the priestly office, before he was consecrated to the service — and every time before he went into the temple to minister — it was ordained that he should be washed. Or, let us interpret, as promising separate offices in glory, that expression "kings and priests." We have here evidently a complete reversal of their condition before regeneration. Once they were slaves, now they are not only set free, they are made kings to God. Once they were afar off, now they are not only brought nigh, they are engaged as priests in His own immediate service; kings and priests to One to whom to serve in the most menial capacity, in the outermost courts of His earthly temple, were a dignity of surpassing honour.

II. We will now advert TO THE ASCRIPTION BY THE SAINTS TO CHRIST, IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THEIR OBLIGATIONS TO HIM, OF GLORY AND DOMINION FOR EVER AND EVER — which glory and dominion, you will observe, are the very things of which Christ disrobed Himself in order to accomplish their salvation; and common justice demands that they should be restored to Him when the work is done; nay, more, that they should not only be restored, but restored with increase.

(G. Campbell.)

We know how to love our children, because they are better than we; we know how to love our friends, because they are no worse than we; but how Christ can stoop from out the circle of blessed spirits to love us, who are begrimed with sin, and bestormed with temptation, and wrestling with the lowest parts of humanity — that is past our finding out. tie has loved us from the foundation of the world; and because heaven was too far away for us to see, He came down to earth to do the things which He has always been doing profusely above. Christ's life on earth was not an official mission; it was a development of His everlasting state; a dip to bring within our horizon those characteristics and attributes which otherwise we could not comprehend; — God's pilgrimage on earth as a shepherd, in search of his wolf-imperilled fold. And when I look into His life, I say to myself — "As tender as this, and yet on earth! What is He now, then? If He was such when imprisoned in the flesh, what is He now in the full liberty and largeness of His heavenly state?"

(H. W. Beecher.)

And washed us from our sins in His own blood
There is no such thing as age in His sacrifice; centuries cannot give antiquity to His atonement, time cannot wear out its virtues. His blood is as precious now as when it was first shed, and the fountain for sin and uncleanness flows with a stream as full and ]purifying as when first it was opened. And how? Simply because by His intercession He perpetuates His sacrifice; and His offering, though not repeated on earth, is incessantly presented in heaven. It was enough that He should once die to make atonement, seeing He ever lives to make intercession. He is now carrying on in heaven the very office and work which He commenced when upon earth; and, though there is no visible altar and no literal sacrifice, no endurance of anguish and no shedding of blood, yet still He presents vividly and energetically the works of His Passion, and the effect is the same as though He died daily, and acted over again and again the scene of His tremendous conflict with "the powers of darkness."

(E. Mason, D. D.)

In some of our factories the filthiest of rags are put through a purifying process and made clean. They enter the machine soiled and dirty, they come out beautifully white and clean sheets of paper. Thus will even a poor illustration show us that our righteousness is as filthy rags, but that through the blood of Christ we are washed and made white aa snow.

(Silas Jones.)

And hath made us kings and priests unto God
Now, observe that this dignity of "kings and priests" is conferred as by a definite act, contemporaneous with, or, at the most, immediately consequent on, the "loosing from our sins." It is then a present dignity.

I. JESUS CHRIST, THE GREAT KING, WILL CROWN US KINGS, TOO, IF WE WILL. Every man who has become the servant of Christ is the king and lord of everything else; to submit to Him is to rule all besides. Reign over what?

1. First, over the only kingdom that any man really has, and that is himself. We are meant to be monarchs of this tumultuous and rebellious kingdom within. We are like some of those little Rajahs whose states adjoin our British possessions, who have trouble and difficulty with revolted subjects, and fall back upon the great neighbouring power, saying: "Come and help me: subdue my people for me, and I will put the territory into your hands." Go to Christ and say: "Lord! they have rebelled against me! These passions, these lusts, these follies, these weaknesses, these sinful habits of mine, they have rebelled against me! What am I to do with them? Do Thou come and bring peace into the land; and Thine shall be the authority." And He will come and loose you from your sins, and make you kings.

2. And there is another realm over which we may rule; and that is, this bewitching and bewildering world of time and sense, with its phantasmagoria and its illusions and its lies, that draw us away from the real life and truth and blessedness. Do not let the world master you! It will, unless you have put yourself under Christ's control. He will make you king over all outward things, by enabling you to despise them in comparison with the sweetness which you find in Him, and so to get the highest good out of them. He will make you their lord by helping you to use all the things seen and temporal as means to reach a fuller possession of the things unseen and eternal. Their noblest use is to be the ladder by which we climb to reach the treasures which are above. They are meant to be symbols of the eternal, like painted windows through which our eye may travel to the light beyond, which gives them all their brilliancy. If you want to be set free from all these things, to be lifted above them, to have a joy that they cannot touch, and an inward life which they will feed, and not thwart, such emancipation from their control, such power of using them for your highest purposes, can only be secured by taking Christ for your King and resting your souls upon Him.

3. And then, all things serve the soul that serves Christ.

II. THE KING, WHO IS THE PRIEST, MAKES US PRIESTS AS WELL AS KINGS. In what is the force of this grand conception of the Christian man's dignity? Four things make the priest — two of them express his standing, one of them his office, one of them his character. The priestly standing is marked by consecration and free access to God, the priestly office is sacrifice, the priestly character is purity. And these four things — consecration, direct access to God, the power of offering sacrifice which is acceptable to Him, and purity of life and heart — are the gifts of Christ's hands to each of you, if you will have them. Every one that is perfect shall be as his Master, and even here on earth, the Christian life is the life of Christ in the soul, and consists in growing likeness to Him. Is He a King? So are we. Is He a Priest? So, therefore, are we. Is He a Son? So are we. Is He the Heir? So are we. Is He the "Anointed"? "He that in Christ hath anointed us is God." His offices, His dignity, His character, His very life becomes ours, if we are His.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

(with ver. 1): —

I. THE HUMILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. The Christian life is a service: rendered to —

(1)God.

(2)Christianity.

(3)The Christian himself.

(4)Humanity.It is —

(a)Great in requirement.

(b)Solemn in obligation.

(c)Eternal in reward.

2. The Christian life as a service is esteemed lowly.

II. THE DIGNITY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. It is a life of moral rulership. He is a moral king. He rules by prayer. Many conspiracies are formed against Him, but He outlives and controls them all.

2. It is a life of moral sacrifice. He is a priest, not domineering and exclusive, but loving and expansive in His sympathies.

III. THE HARMONY BETWEEN THE KING-HOOD AND THE SERVANTHOOD.

1. The Christian is a king because he is a servant.

2. The Christian is a priest because he has a trust.Lessons:

1. As servants of God let us do His work.

2. As kings of God, let us extend His kingdom.

3. As priests of God, let us offer His sacrifices.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. IN RESPECT OF THEIR BIRTH AND EXTRACTION. Their lineage is direct and undisputed from Him who is the fountain-head of all honour and authority. They hold in their veins the blood royal of heaven. Though not by natural, yet by spiritual birth, which is better, they are the "sons of God"; though not by succession or inheritance, yet by adoption which is equally valid, and yet more distinguishing.

II. IN RESPECT OF THEIR RELATIONS AND ALLIES.

1. They are members of a family, partly on earth and partly in heaven, which is all legitimate and royal; which is unstained by any inferior, impure admixture.

2. Their allies, too, are royal like themselves. "Ye are come to Mount Sinai, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." "Truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ."

III. IN RESPECT OF THE DOMINION WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN CALLED TO EXERCISE. The empire of a Christian is his own heart — "the kingdom of God is within him." And "wisdom," says Solomon, the wisdom of self-government, "is better than weapons of war" — better, inasmuch as it supersedes the use of them; "and he that ruleth his spirit is better," bolder, more truly courageous and noble, "than he that taketh a city." Until ye thus become "kings," you must needs remain, not only subjects, but slaves. You are not your own masters; your "unruly lusts and passions" have the command of you.

IV. TO THE EXERCISE OF THIS KINGLY DOMINION, THERE ARE PRINCELY, KINGLY REVENUES ATTACHED. Believers are not left to their own resources in maintaining their high dignity. In themselves, and in their own right, they are as poor and dependent after their elevation as they were before it; their ability to rule is derived exclusively from Him who gave them the authority to do so, who "made them kings unto God!" They are not only the allies, but the stipendiaries, so to speak, of Christ; they have all their riches from Him, and in Him. He is not only the "Lord of their treasury," He is their treasury — their storehouse itself. In regard to temporal provision, they may indeed be poor — they often are so. But poor though they be, they always have enough — enough for their real, as distinguished from their imaginary wants. Besides, whatever they have, they have not by permission, or toleration merely, but by inheritance and of right. Then, as to their spiritual provision, if that is not — not only ample but abundant, they have themselves alone to blame for the deficiency. And voluntary poverty of this kind is not only unnecessary, it is injurious, it is sinful; it is dishonouring to Him who has made them what they are. The whole domain of Scripture is theirs — ever fresh and verdant — in which to expatiate and delight themselves: the "wells of salvation" are theirs — "the upper springs, and the nether springs," "from which to draw water with joy." Theirs are the treasures of grace — theirs is the hope of glory!

V. Yet, after all, it remains to be added, THE CHIEF PART OF THE DIGNITY TO WHICH BELIEVERS ARE ADMITTED IS YET TO COME; or at least yet to be known and Ben. In the present state, it is the least part of it which is visible. God's people below are kings in disguise. They are travelling, in the dress of pilgrims, to their dominions above. In conclusion, let me remark —

1. If the statements now given be true, there are few Christians who know what their privileges are; and fewer still, it is to be feared, who are careful to realise and enjoy them.

2. Let me say to those of you who are, or who believe yourselves to be, "kings unto God," "Be holy." To "keep one's own heart with all diligence" — to rule one's own unruly spirit, the temper, the appetites, the passions — to have that "little member" in subjection, which "worketh mightily, and which no man can tame," that is to be a king. (J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE FUNCTIONS OR OFFICES HERE ASSIGNED TO BELIEVERS.

1. They are made kings. Temporal power and dignity belong to earthly kings. To Christ, the great King, belong all Divine power and glory. And all His redeemed followers partake of His power and dignity.(1) Christians are kings in respect of their power. They have wonderful power over all their enemies, if they are but careful how to use it and to put it forth. Thus they can resist the devil, until he flees from them. They can also resist their own evil tendencies, mortify the deeds of their bodies, crucify their flesh with its affections and lusts. And they can withstand the world, despising its allurements, and patiently enduring its frowns.(2) Christians are also kings in dignity, as regards both their personal dignity and their bellowed glory.(a) They partake of the personal dignity of kings. They have in them a kingly nature. There is a moral majesty in the character of all God's children.(b) Christians also partake of a borrowed dignity that is Divine. They partake of the glory that belongs to the Divine Redeemer. They are arrayed in the robes of His righteousness. Go to the dying-bed of a mighty, graceless monarch, and you find him, in the midst of weakness and of misery, hastening down to the sides of the pit. Go to the dying-bed of an humble child of God, and, though you find him on his pallet of straw, yielding to the power of dissolution, his face is radiant with the light of the Divine countenance, and with the hopes of glory that fill and cheer his heart; and already you see Satan, death, and hell dragged, as powerless, prostrate foes, at the chariot-wheels of his triumphing faith, and find him raising the song of victory ever all his enemies, as one who already feels that in Christ he is more than conqueror.

2. Christians are made priests.(1) The foundation of the priesthood of Christians is their oneness with Christ. As bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, their surety and repreresentative, their sin-bearer, their righteousness, and their life, all that He did and suffered for them, and is doing for them, they are dealt with as having done and suffered themselves, as now doing in and with Him.(2) The introduction of Christians into their priesthood.

(a)They are called to it by God.

(b)They are Divinely qualified and prepared for their priestly work.They have been duly purified, being washed by Christ from their sins in His own blood. They are clothed in the necessary priestly vestments; for Christ has put upon them the garments of salvation; He has covered them with the robe of His righteousness (Isaiah 61.); He has arrayed them in that fine linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of saints (chap. Revelation 19.); and they have an unction from the Holy one, a Divine anointing, an anointing of the Spirit, by which they are made to know and ]eve their priestly work (1 John 2.). They are thus prepared to yield themselves unto God, as alive from the dead, through Jesus Christ.(3) Thus called to their work, and qualified for it, they perform the duties of their priesthood, as the proper business of their life. They present their bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12.). They present to God the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51.). They offer the sacrifice of a living faith (Philippians 2.). They offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, or what are termed "the calves of their lips" (Hosea 12., Hebrews 13.). They lay on Christ, as their altar, the deeds of love done by them to others; remembering that with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13., Philippians 4.), and that they are the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable to God (Philippians 4.).

II. THE INSEPARABLE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ROYALTY AND THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRISTIANS, BETWEEN THEIR WORK AS KINGS AND THEIR WORK AS PRIESTS. They have the honour, and exercise the power, of kings, because thus only can they be prepared to perform their duty as priests. For, as kings, they are laden with honours, make conquests, and in various ways put forth their power, and accumulate the fruits of its exercise, in order that, as priests, they may take their honours, resources, and conquests, and the varied fruits of their power, and consecrate them all to the service and glory of God.

III. THE SUBORDINATION OF THEIR KINGLY TO THEIR PRIESTLY OFFICE AND WORK. The office of Christians, as priests, is higher than their office as kings. And the reason is found in the very nature of the offices of believers, as kings and as priests to God. For, as kings, they but rule over themselves, and over creation around, conquering and keeping under the spiritual enemies that fill and surround them, and causing the creatures around them to pay them tribute. But as priests, they turn their back upon creation, and their faces toward God, and stand in His immediate presence, and minister before His eternal throne. As kings, they but exhibit the honour with which they themselves are invested. But as priests, they are employed in giving all glory to God. They are thus not priestly kings, but kingly priests. They are a "royal priesthood." This view of the subordination of their kingly to their priestly office and work, becomes more evident and impressive when we consider how their office, as kings, shall at length be in a great measure absorbed in their office as priests. For when, as kings, they have conquered sin and Satan, and death and hell, they shall come out of all their tribulation, and wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and be before the throne of God, and, as priests, for ever serve Him day and night in His temple. And though, as kings, they shall at last appear with crowns of glory, yet, as priests, they shall take their crowns, and cast them at the feet of Him who bought them with His blood; and they shall then, and for ever, have it for their chief employment, to give, as priests, all glory to the Eternal.

(W. Nixon.)

Frederick the Great, before he became "the Great," was seated with his roystering companions, and they were drinking and hallooing, and almost imbecile, when word came to him that his father was dead, and consequently the crown was to pass to him. He rose up from among the boisterous crew, and stepped and cried, Stop your fooling; I am Emperor!

(T. de Witt Talmage.).

To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
I desire to speak of Christ glorified. But how shall we learn what He is like on His throne? These dim eyes cannot pierce the skies and the clouds to see Him. Men look through their telescopes at the stars, and mere sparkling points of light prove to be burning suns. But no telescopes can reveal to us Christ on His throne. Some day we shall see Him as He is, but now no eye can behold Him. Yet human eyes have seen Him in vision since He went back to His glory, and those who saw Him have told us what they saw. The beloved disciple had a vision of His glory.

1. He appears as a glorified Lord. Very wonderful is the contrast between the Christ of the Gospels and the Christ of the Revelation. Yet they both are one. In the lowly Jesus of the Incarnation all the Divine glory was enshrined. Men did not see its outflashings, but the splendour was there. But now in heaven there is no longer any concealing or hiding of His glory. In our Lord's intercessory prayer at the Last Supper He prayed, "Now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." This prayer was answered. He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

2. We must not fail to notice that it is as man — God-man — that Jesus Christ is glorified. John saw in vision "one like unto a Son of Man" in the midst of the golden candlesticks. That is, Ha bore there in the glory the form of our humanity. It was that same body on whose bosom John leaned, whose feet Mary bathed with her ointment, which had lain in the grave, and in which Thomas saw the wounds — it was that same body that was taken up into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father. As He never for a moment ceased to be God while here on the earth in lowly flesh, so He has never for a moment ceased to be man since ascending into the heavenly places. The Godhead and the humanity are forever inseparable. How near it brings Him to us to think of Him as really human still, in His eternal glory! How it exalts our thought of the dignity of humanity to remember that one of our race is on the throne of thrones!

3. Another feature of the glorified Christ, as He appeared in vision to John, was His complete victoriousness. We must never forget that His exaltation was won. He was crowned with glory and honour for the sufferings of death. Especially does He appear in John's vision as victor over death. Those who were raised up before Him were only brought back to a few more years of the old life of struggle, pain, and sinning. They were still under death's power, ant! had to die again. But Christ was born from death into life — not the old life of pain, infirmity, struggle, tears, and mortality, but into life — full, rich, blessed, immortal.

4. The vision of the glorified Christ shows Him deeply interested and active in our behalf in heaven. In John's vision the risen Lord appears in the midst of the golden candlesticks. The golden candlesticks are the Churches of the Redeemer in this world. The vision then represents Christ as in the midst of His Churches, always with His people. He is still the Good Shepherd. The same truth is taught in another part of the same vision. "He had in His right hand seven stars." The stars, we are told, are the Churches of the redeemed. The symbol is very beautiful. Christ's Churches are stars in this dark world. But He held the stars in His right hand, the hand of strength and honour; so He holds His Churches in His right hand. The picture suggests guidance, security, help. Christianity cannot fail while the all-conquering Christ holds the Churches in His right hand. Let us look a little more closely into the manner of Christ's activity in heaven for us. What does He do there on our behalf? Several things. Having all power in heaven and earth, He rules so that all things work together for good, not only for His Church at large, through the ages, but for every individual believer who trusts Him and follows Him. Shall we be afraid, amid enemies and storms and convulsions and conflicting providences, while the government of all things is in the hands that were pierced with the nails for our redemption? Another form of the activity of the glorified Christ in heaven is His intercession for us.

(J. R. Miller, D. D.)

The angel of requests — so the legend runs — goes back from earth heavily laden every time he comes to gather up the prayers of men. But the angel of thanksgiving, of gratitude, has almost empty hands as he returns from his errands to this world.

(J. R. Miller, D. D.)

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