Revelation 14:1
Then I looked and saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and His Father's name written on their foreheads.
Sermons
Heavenly WorshipCharles Haddon Spurgeon Revelation 14:1
The Perfect ChurchS. Conway Revelation 14:1-5
The Supersensuous Heaven of HumanityD. Thomas Revelation 14:1-5
The Triumphant HostR. Green Revelation 14:1-5
A Song of FreedomJ. M. Hoppin.Revelation 14:1-13
Absolute Obedience to the Guidance of ChristBp. Woodford.Revelation 14:1-13
Angelic IncompetencyT. De Witt Talmage.Revelation 14:1-13
Devotion to ChristR. Forgan, B. D.Revelation 14:1-13
Man Training for HeavenHomilistRevelation 14:1-13
Music in HeavenG. Kingsley.Revelation 14:1-13
Musical Art in its Relation to Divine WorshipJ. W. Shackelford, D. D.Revelation 14:1-13
The 144,000J. A. Seiss, D. D.Revelation 14:1-13
The Church God's FirstfruitsW. Milligan, D. D.Revelation 14:1-13
The Communion of SaintsArchdeacon Manning.Revelation 14:1-13
The Followers of JesusT. Kidd.Revelation 14:1-13
The Followers of the LambC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 14:1-13
The Followers of the LambW. Dyer.Revelation 14:1-13
The Greater SalvationS. Conway, B. A.Revelation 14:1-13
The Music of HeavenS. D. Hillman.Revelation 14:1-13
The Name on the ForeheadPreacher's Portfolio.Revelation 14:1-13
The New SongJames Kidd, B.A.Revelation 14:1-13
The New SongT. G. Selby.Revelation 14:1-13
The New Song in the SoulFred. Brooks.Revelation 14:1-13
The Song of the RedeemedR. Watson.Revelation 14:1-13
The Sublimest Human DistinctionHomilistRevelation 14:1-13
The Unlearned Song of the RedeemedC. A. Bartol.Revelation 14:1-13
TruthfulnessRevelation 14:1-13
UndefiledW. Milligan, D. D.Revelation 14:1-13
How well it is for us, in forming our estimates and in regulating our conduct, to have set before us a true ideal and a faultless standard! To compare ourselves with ourselves, that is, with men like ourselves, is, so St. Paul tells us, not wise. And all experience proves the truth of his word. The low levels of ordinary religious life in the present day all result from our practically, not professedly, putting before ourselves standards which are faulty and inferior, instead of those which would be constantly summoning us to higher and holier attainment. Now, the Word of God is ever furnishing us with such perfect standards. Our Lord again and again bids us turn our gaze heavenward, that we may see there how we ought to judge and what we ought to be. How frequently he speaks of our Father in heaven, that we may beheld in God the true ideal of all fatherhood! And that we may the better understand and act towards our children, he tells us that "in heaven their angels do always behold," etc. And when his opponents murmured, as was their wont, at his receiving sinners and eating with them, he rebuked them by the reminder that in heaven there is not murmuring, but joy, even over "one sinner that repenteth." And here in these verses we who belong to the Church on earth have given to us a vision of the perfect Church - the Church in heaven. And the contemplation of it cannot but be well for us, that we may judge thereby our beliefs, our worship, our selves, and seek more and more to conform them to the heavenly pattern. Observe, then -

I. THAT WE CANNOT LIMIT THE CHURCH TO ANY ONE VISIBLE CORPORATE BODY. The claims of any such Church body here on earth to be exclusively the Church, and the denial of membership therein to all outside that body, are shown to be false by the fact that the notes and characteristics of the true Church are found in many Churches, but exclusively in none. There are, thank God, few Churches, if any, that have not some of them. Out of all of them the Church is gathered, but to no one of them is it confined. The members of the Church are described here as having the name of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ "written upon their foreheads." Now, this is a figure of speech to tell of the character of those who form the Church; that that character is:

1. God like. It is the Father's name which is written; hence they who bear it are holy and without blemish, perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect.

2. Visible. It is written on their foreheads. The light shines before men; it cannot be hid. That godliness is much to be questioned which no one can see, or which is hidden away and kept for only certain seasons, places, and surroundings. That which is here said teaches the reverse of such a doubtful thing.

3. And it is permanent. It is "written." "Litera scripta manet." It abides, not being a thing assumed for a time, and like the goodness told of by Hosea, which as the "morning cloud" and "early dew goeth away." It is the habit of the life, the continual characteristic of the man. Such, in general terms, is the distinguishing mark of membership in Christ's true Church. And again we gratefully own that in all Churches it is to be found. Would that it were on all as in all!

II. THE CENTRE OF THE WORSHIP OF THE PERFECT CHURCH IS "THE LAMB." St. John says, "I beheld the Lamb;" not "a Lamb," as the Authorized Version reads. He does not stop to explain. He has so often spoken of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb, that there can be no room for doubt as to his meaning. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, not so much in his more majestic attributes - his might, majesty, and dominion - that we are bidden behold, but in his sacrificial character as "the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." As such he is the Centre of the Church's adoration. He is seen on Mount Zion, that site of Israel's temple being taken continually in Scripture as the symbol of the home of God's redeemed and the scene of their eternal worship. He is surrounded by the Church of the Firstborn - "the firstfruits" unto God, whom he has redeemed by his blood. The number named here, twelve and the multiples of twelve, is ever associated with the Church. And the twelve times twelve tells of the Church's completion, the "accomplishment of the number of the elect." Now, in the midst of that perfect assembly, that Church of which these are the representatives, stands "the Lamb" as the Object of the adoration, the love, and the worship of all. That Church on earth must, then, lack this distinct note of the heavenly Church if in it Christ the Son of God, as the Redeemer, the Saviour, the Sacrifice for the world's sins, be not lifted up as the Object of all trust, love, and obedience, and if he be not so regarded by the members of such Church. Let us ask - What is he to ourselves? How do we look upon him who is thus looked upon by the Church in heaven? In the midst of our Zions, do we see, as the chief, the central, the pre-eminent figure, the Lamb of God? And in the inner temple of our own hearts, is he there enshrined and enthroned as he hath right and ought to be? What is our hope and what our trust? How can we ever hope to be numbered with "the Church of the Firstborn," if the name of him, to which every heart there responds, awakes no echo, no answering thrill, in us? Our lips utter that name often enough, and in all manner of ways; but what do our hearts say? That is the question to which this vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion, surrounded by the adoring Church, should give rise in every one of us. And may God grant that it may meet with a satisfactory answer!

III. THE WORSHIP OF THE PERFECT CHURCH IS A JOYFUL WORSHIP. We are told that "they sung a new song." Joy finds utterance in song; it is its natural expression; and when, therefore, we read of the songs of heaven, it is proof of the joys of that blessed place. The worship of heaven takes this form. Here, prayer and preaching form, and properly form, part of our worship; but there, praise alone is heard. Here, we wail our litanies and pour forth our supplications; but there worship is all song - the voice of glad thanksgiving and joyful praise. How much is told us of the blessed future in that one fact! And of this song we are told many precious things.

1. How full voiced it is! St. John likens it to that "of many waters" - that loud, resonant sound as when the floods lift up their voice, or the sea roars, or where some vast volume of water pours itself from over a great height to some far down depth. What a sound comes up from that boiling caldron of tossing waves! The magnitude of the sound of that song is what St. John seeks to set forth by his similitude of "many waters."

2. And its majesty also is indicated by its comparison to "a great thunder " - the voice of the Lord as they of old regarded it. It is no mean, trivial theme that has inspired that song, but one that wakes up every heart, and opens the lips of all the redeemed, to show forth the praise of him who hath redeemed them. It is a noble song, grand, glorious. How could it be otherwise, telling as it does of deeds of such Divine heroism, of conquests of such moment, and of sacrifice so vast?

3. And how sweet a song is it also! For St. John supplies yet another similitude: its sound was like that "of harpers harping with their harps." So sweet, so soul subduing, so full of heavenly delight, that it brought smiles to the saddest countenance, and wiped away all tears. And is not the song of redemption just such a song as that? Even we know of songs of Zion so unspeakably beautiful, and set to music such as, it seems to us, even angelic choirs might rejoice in. But if earthly song can be so sweet, though coming from lips and hearts so little pure, what must that song have been which is told of here, and which St. John can only compare, for its unutterable beauty, to the strains of the most perfect instruments that the ancient world knew of - the harp, Judah's national symbol, and best beloved accompaniment of praise? But not alone the mingled magnitude, majesty, and sweetness of the sound of this song is set forth here, but also its substance.

4. It was "a new song." There had never been anything like it before. They who sang it had never joined in, or even heard of, such song till they sang it in the presence of. the Lamb on Mount Zion. It could not but be new, for it was inspired by new and glorious revelations of God; sung amid conditions and surroundings that were all new, and by hearts and lips made new by the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit of God. Much there had been in days past for which they had been constrained to praise and give thanks, but till now the half had not been told them, and hence none of their old songs would serve. They must sing a new song; it could not but be new.

5. And it was known by none but those who sang it. "No man could learn that song but," etc. How can he who has never even been to sea know the joy of him who has been saved from shipwreck? Who but the child knows the mother's love? The song told of here is but the result of the experiences through which they who sing it have been led. How, then, can they sing it who have known none of these things? But those represented by the hundred and forty-four thousand know the depths of sin and sorrow from which, and the heights of holiness and joy to which, and the love by which, and the purpose for which, they have have been uplifted. They know the conviction of sin, and the joy of pardon, and the Holy Spirit's grace, and the love of Christ. But what does the unbeliever know of these things? and how, therefore, can he learn this song? The question comes - If such be the worship of the heavenly Church, are our Churches on earth preparing their members to join therein? Churches here should be vestibules for the heavenly Church. Is the Church with which we are associated so to you and me? No one can learn that song unless they be redeemed. Have we the qualification? Have we come to Christ? Are we trusting in him? "We must begin heaven's song here below, or else we shall never sing it above. The choristers of heaven have all rehearsed their song here ere they took their places in the choir of heaven." But only Christ can touch the soul's sin darkened eye, and cause it to see that truth which will make redemption precious, and hence he who is our Saviour must be also our Teacher. So only can we learn the new song of his redeemed.

IV. ITS MEMBERS ARE WITHOUT FAULT. After that the blessed condition of the redeemed has been set forth, we are next shown their character. The general and symbolic expression which tells how they all have the "Father's name written on their foreheads" is expanded and explained by the more definite declarations which we must now notice. It is said "they are without fault," or "blameless," as the Revised Version reads; and the apostle specifies four of the chief temptations to which they had been exposed, and which they had resisted and overcome.

1. And the first he names is that of impurity. In the unusual expression in which this sin is referred to, there is no countenance of any teachings which would give higher place to the single over the married life. If the unmarried alone are amongst the redeemed, it is questionable if one of the apostles of our Lord would be found there. But that which is pointed at is those sins of which it is best not to speak, but which we know full well have their roots in the very centre of our nature, and which it is a lifelong struggle to repress and subdue. But this must be done, and - blessed be he who saves not only from the guilt, but the might of sin! - it may be done, and is being done, even as it was with "these" of whom our text tells.

2. Half heartedness. Great was, and great is, the temptation to follow Christ only along paths not difficult. But to follow him "whithersoever" he went - ah! how many would be and are sore tempted to shrink from that! They would follow their Lord for some way - even at times a long way; but to follow where difficulty, danger, disgrace, death, waited for them - from that how many would shrink! But "these" did not.

3. Conformity to the world. "These" had the holy courage to be singular, to come out "from among men," to go against the stream, to be other than the rest of men. low difficult this is those only know who have tried to do as "these" did. The assimilating power of the society in which we mingle is almost resistless, and often it is full of spiritual peril. It was so to those for whom St. John wrote, and not seldom it is so still. Hence we have to go unto Christ "without the camp, bearing his reproach." "These" did this, and so won the high honour and rich reward told of here.

4. Insincerity. When to confess Christ meant, perhaps, the loss of all things, yea, their very lives; when martyrdom was the guerdon of faithful acknowledgment of their Lord, how tremendous must have been the temptation to tamper with truth, to conceal, to compromise, to evade, to equivocate! But of "these" it is said, "in their mouth was found no guile." He who is the God of truth, yea, who is the Truth, ever lays great stress on this virtue of guilelessness, whilst deceit and lies are declared abominable in his sight.

CONCLUSION. Such was the character of that perfect Church - "the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." Doubtless there were all other forms of Christ likeness - love, patience, meekness, and the rest - for the varied forms of Christ's grace as seen in character are generally found in clusters. Where you find some you generally find others, yea, in some measure, all of them. But as we read of only what is said here, our heart well nigh despairs, and would altogether were it not that the same source of all goodness is open to us as to them of whom we here read.

"Oh, how can feeble flesh and blood
Burst through the bonds of sin?
The holy kingdom of our God,
What man can enter in?" And the sad reply would be, "None," were it not that he who summons us to such high attainment ministers all needed grace. Therefore we may and we must be "holy as he is holy." - S. C.







A Lamb... and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand.
I. WHO ARE THESE 144,000? They are the identical 144,000 sealed ones spoken of in chapter 7., with only this difference, that there we see them in their earthly relations and peculiar consecration; and here we see them with their earthly career finished, and in the enjoyment of the heavenly award for their faithfulness.

II. WHAT ARE THE CHIEF MARKS OR CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE 144,000?

1. The first and foremost is that of a true and conspicuous confession. They have the name of the Lamb and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. This is their public mark as against the mark of the worshippers of the Beast. There is nothing more honourable in God's sight than truth and faithfulness of confession.

2. Another particular is their unworldliness. Whilst most people in their day "dwell upon the earth," sit down upon it as their rest and choice, derive their chief comfort from it, these are "redeemed from the earth" — withdrawn from it, bought away by the heavenly promises and the Divine grace to live above it, independent of it. They are quite severed from the world in heart and life.

3. A third point is their pureness. "They are virgins," in that they have lived chaste lives, both as to their faithfulness to God in their religion, and as to their pureness from all bodily lewdness.

4. A further quality is their truthfulness. "In their mouth was not found what is false." These people were truthful in speech, had also a higher truthfulness. They have the true faith; they hold to it with a true heart; they exemplify it by a true manner of life. They are the children of truth in the midst of a world of untruth.

III. WHAT, THEN, IS THEIR REWARD?

1. Taking the last particular first, they stand approved, justified, and accepted before God. "They are blameless." To stand before God approved and blameless from the midst of a condemned world — a world given over to the powers of perdition by reason of its unbelief and sins, is an achievement of grace and faithfulness in which there may well be mighty exultation.

2. In the next place, they have a song which is peculiarly and exclusively their own. Though not connected with the throne, as the Living Ones, nor crowned and seated as the Elders, they have a ground and subject of joy and praise which neither the Living Ones nor the Elders have; nor is any one able to enter into that song except the 144,000. None others ever fulfil just such a mission, as none others are ever sealed with the seal of the living God in the same way in which they were sealed. They have a distinction and glory, a joy and blessedness, after all, in which none but themselves can ever share.

3. They stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion. To be "with the Lamb," as over against being with the Beast, is a perfection of blessing which no language can describe. It is redemption. It is victory. It is eternal security and glory. To be with the Lamb "on Mount Zion" is a more special position and relation. Glorious things are spoken of Jerusalem which have never yet been fulfilled. On His holy hill of Zion God hath said that He will set up His King, even His Son, who shall rule all the nations (Psalm 2.). The Lamb is yet to take possession of the city where He was crucified, there to fulfil what was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin over His head when He died. And when that once comes to pass, these 144,000 are with Him, His near and particular associates in that particular relation and administration.

4. They are "a firstfruit to God and to the Lamb," not the firstfruit of all the saved, for the Living Ones and the Elders are in heavenly place and glory above and before them; but a firstfruit of another and particular harvest; the firstfruit from the Jewish field, in that new beginning with the Israelitish people for their fathers' sakes, which is to follow the ending of the present "times of the Gentiles." They are brought to the confession of Christ, and sealed in their foreheads with the name of both the Father and the Son, during the time that the rest of their blood-kin are covenanting with and honouring the Antichrist as Messiah.

IV. WHAT, NOW, OF THE ANGEL-MESSAGES?

1. The first message. That an angel is the preacher here is proof positive that the present dispensation is then past and changed. It is no longer the meek and entreating voice, beseeching men to be reconciled to God, but a great thunder from the sky, demanding of the nations to fear the God, as over against the false god whom they were adoring — to give glory to Him, instead of the infamous Beast whom they were glorifying — to worship the Maker of all things, as against the worship of him who can do no more than play his hellish tricks with the things that are made; and all this on the instant, for the reason that "the hour of judgment is come."

2. The second message. With the hour of judgment comes the work of judgment. A colossal system of harlotry and corruption holds dominion over the nations. God has allowed it for the punishment of those who would not have Christ for their Lord, but now He will not allow it longer. Therefore another angel comes with the proclamation: "Fallen, fallen, the great Babylon," etc. The announcement is by anticipation as on the very eve of accomplishment, and as surely now to be fulfilled. The particulars are given in chapter 17. and 18. There also the explanation of the object of this announcement is given. It is mercy still struggling in the toils of judgment, if that by any means some may yet be snatched from the opening jaws of hell; for there the further word is, "Come out of her, My people," etc.

3. The third message. And for the still more potent enforcement of this call a third angel appears, preaching and crying with a great voice, that whosoever is found worshipping the Beast and his image, or has the Beast's mark on his forehead or on his hand, even he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is mingled without dilution in the cup of His anger, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the angels and in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascends to the ages of ages, and they have no rest day and night! It is an awful commination; but these are times of awful guilt, infatuation, and wickedness. And when men are in such dangers, marching direct into the mouth of such a terrible perdition, it is a great mercy in God to make proclamation of it with all the force of an angel's eloquence. The same is also for the wronged and suffering ones who feel the power of these terrible oppressors. It tells them how their awful griefs shall be avenged on their hellish persecutors.

4. The fourth message. There is no suffering for any class of God's people in any age like the sufferings of those who remain faithful to God during the reign of the Antichrist. Here, at this particular time and juncture, is the patience or endurance of them that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. To come out of Babylon, and to stand aloof from its horrible harlotries, is a costly thing. Therefore there is another proclamation from heaven for their special strengthening and consolation. Whether this word is also from an angel we are not told; but it is a message from glory and from God. And it is a sweet and blessed message. It is a message which John is specially commanded to write, that it may be in the minds and hearts of God's people of every age, and take away all fear from those who in this evil time are called to lay down their lives because they will not worship Antichrist. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth." And when violence, cruelty, and slaughter are the consequence of a life of truth and purity, the sooner it is over the greater the beatitude.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

I. The communion of saints is THE RESTORATION OF FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. There are in the will and work of God three perfect and eternal unities: the unity of three Persons in one nature; the unity of two natures in one Person; and the unity of the Incarnate Son with His elect-the Head with the members of His Body mystical. This is the foundation of the communion of God and man. "A Lamb stood," etc.

II. The communion of saints is THE RESTORATION OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF MEN WITH EACH OTHER. Our regeneration unites us to the Divine Person in whom God and man are one; and by union with Him we are reunited to all whom He has likewise united to Himself. As the vine has one nature in root and stem, branch and spray, fibre and fruit, so the mystical and true Vine in earth and heaven has one substance and one life, which is the basis of all fellowship in love and will, in sympathy and action, in mutual intercessions of prayer, and in mutual ministries of power. Lessons:

1. Let us learn, first, that we can never be lonely or forsaken in this life. No trial can isolate us, no sorrow can cut us off from the communion of saints. There is but one thing in which the sympathy of Christ has no share, and that is, the guilt of wilful sin.

2. And let us learn further, by the reality of this heavenly fellowship, to live less in this divided world.

3. Lastly, let us learn from this communion of saints to live in hope. They who are now at rest were once like ourselves — fallen, weak, faulty, sinful, etc. But now they have overcome. Only one thing there is in which we are unlike them: they were common in all things except the uncommon measure of their inward sanctity. In all besides we are as they; only it is now our turn to strive for the crown of life.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

Having His Father's name written in their foreheads
Homilist.
I. It is the most BEAUTIFUL. The face is the beauty of man; there the soul reveals itself, sometimes in sunshine, and sometimes in clouds. The beauty of the face is not in features, but in expression, and the more it expresses of purity, intelligence, generosity, tenderness, the more beautiful. How beautiful, then, to have God's name radiating in it! God's name is the beauty of the universe.

II. It is most CONSPICUOUS. "In their foreheads." It is seen wherever you go, fronting every object you look at. Godliness cannot conceal itself. Divine goodness is evermore self-revealing.

III. It is most HONOURABLE. A man sometimes feels proud when he is told he is like some great statesman, ruler, thinker, reformer. How transcendently honourable is it to wear in our face the very image of God! Let us all seek this distinction. With the Father's name on our foreheads we shall throw the pageantry of the Shahs, the Czars, and all the kings of the earth into contempt.

(Homilist.)

I.A CLAIM OF APPROPRIATION.

II.A SIGN OF OFFICE.

III.A MARK OF DIGNITY.

IV.A PLEDGE OF SECURITY.

V.A MEMENTO OF OBLIGATION.

1. To remember that ye are not your own.

2. To profess openly.

3. Faithfully to discharge functions.

4. To the exercise of unvarying trust.

5. To be holy.

(Preacher's Portfolio.)

Harpers harping with their harps
We claim for music the first place among the fine arts.

1. Because it is the most ideal, for the ideal is the highest.

2. Because it most thoroughly expresses the various emotions of the human mind, and therefore has the widest reach over human life.

3. Because, like love, it is eternal.

I. WHAT KIND OF MUSIC IS BEST? Universal agreement on the subject is not to be expected, because the subject is so mixed up with questions of expediency, of taste, of knowledge. People have a right to expect that the canticles and hymns shall be sung to music in which they can join, but devout people who can sing must be taught that, while spiritually alert, they must be vocally silent in many parts of Divine worship.

II. HOW CAN WE BEST SECURE THE BEST MUSIC FOR DIVINE WORSHIP? As to the voices, assuming that those of the men are sweet in quality, the success of a male choir may be said to depend on three things mainly: First, that the voices of the boys shall be properly trained, so that they produce a clear and flute-like tone. Secondly, that no music should be attempted which is beyond the ability of the choir to execute. Thirdly, that nothing be put on the programme until it is thoroughly rehearsed and well known. Then let everything be done "decently and in order." Then will our Church music be a real help to devotion. Hearts will be uplifted, voices upraised. Then will our sacred songs be as the echo of the angelic songs above, and God will be glorified.

(J. W. Shackelford, D. D.)

There is music in heaven, because in music there is no self-will. Music goes on certain laws and rules. Man did not make these laws of music; he has only found them out; and if he be self-willed and break them, there is an end of his music instantly; all he brings out is discord and ugly sounds. The greatest musician in the world is as much bound by those laws as the learner in the school, and the greatest musician is the one who, instead of fancying that, because he is clever, he may throw aside the laws of music, knows the laws of music best, and observes them most reverently. And therefore it was that the old Greeks, the wisest of all the heathens, made a point of teaching their children music; because they said it taught them not to be self-willed and fanciful, but to see the beauty of order, the usefulness of rule, the divineness of laws. And therefore music is fit for heaven; therefore music is a pattern and type of heaven, and of the everlasting life of God, which perfect spirits live in heaven; a life of melody and order in themselves; a life of harmony with each other and with God.

(G. Kingsley.)

They sung as it were a new song
(with Ephesians 5:19): — The text from St. Paul is the necessary introduction to the one from St. John. They both suggest for us the necessary connection of inner and outer harmony of being. What makes martial music noisy, blatant, offensive? It is when a spirit of mere savage quarrelsomeness is in connection with it. And what makes it majestic and able to marshal and lead hosts? It is the force of national duties and earnestness, giving it commanding power. Our texts give the highest Christian form of this truth, the connection of inner and outer harmony. It declares that no man can learn the new song who has not been redeemed in nature; none can sing it who has not made, first, melody in the heart unto the Lord. First, consider this in connection with the statement that holiness, goodness, is a concord. Every virtue is a harmony. It is the result of combining different and separate tendencies. It is complex. It is, as it were, a chord of the inner music, formed by striking different notes of character together, and combining them in one. And that is what makes virtue so hard of acquisition and a virtuous Christian life such a struggle. The true graces are harmonies of different notes; are chords of character; not merely a single note of character, struck with a single finger, easily, and at once; but each, a combination of various notes of character, revealed only by using all the hand, and both hands of life; including different parts and requiring earnest, anxious toil, before it is harmoniously and truly struck — struck with pleasure to the great Hearer, to whose ear your character makes melody in your heart, the Lord. Look at some of the several virtues, and see if it be not so; that each one is a chord, a combination, a harmony. Take love, or charity, the most winning and prominent of virtues. It is not simple. In its true height it is a combination. It is composed of the union of self-sacrifice and benevolence to others. Passion is never true love, for it is selfish. Or take another human virtue, true human courage, and see its component parts. Who is a brave man, but he who, keenly alive to pain, tingling through and through with sensitiveness of danger and love of life, is yet also full of the sense of duty and the glow of patriotism, and out of those two very different parts constructs the delicate, perfect harmony of his courage? Or again, select a third one out of the catalogue of noble human characteristics; and see how, in its true form, it is harmony, a combination of differing elements. Take freedom, liberality, or liberty of spirit. There is a true and a false freedom. The false freedom is simply license. It has only one thought — to do its own will, to get its own desire, to be unbound by others' will. It has no harmony. It has but a single note, a single tone, and it is easily gained. There is no struggle, no argument to reconcile and combine any differences in a melody. But there is a truer human liberty than this; that which Paul describes when he says, "as free, but as servants"; one which strives, while doing its own will, to be sure that it is also doing the will of God and truth; one which labours to combine obedience with freedom, to be obediently free and to be freely obedient; to make it the freest action of the human will to do God's will, and to obey the commandments of His love and truth. That is a hardly gained, but a very rich harmony. Take still one more example of the fact that every virtue, in its true, essential form, is a concord, a combination of tones. You will find it in the trait of justice. To be just is not a very simple operation. It requires, first, wisdom, judgment, intelligent power of discerning and discriminating. It requires, secondly, courage, freedom to announce the decision of wisdom, without fear or prejudice. It requires, thirdly, temperateness, power of self-restraint, that there be no excess, or passion, or over-statement of one's decisions in the vehemence of his convictions. Every act of justice must include these three. But let us think on a little further. The Bible calls human virtues and graces "fruits of the Spirit." Their harmony is produced by the Spirit of God. Have you ever stood and wondered at the wild, sweet music of an AEolian harp — held by no human hands, resonant under no human fingers, but swayed by the breathing winds of nature, bringing forth its strange combined melodies? Such an instrument is the human soul. Strung and held by no human hands, with the spiritual breath of God the Spirit passing over its strings, seeking to awaken them to speak in those perfect harmonies which we call "virtues," but which the Bible calls "fruits," or results "of the Spirit." Oh, let us not quench the Spirit. It is about us, fraught and laden with all the airs and strains of God; able and waiting to call them out of our hearts, and the materials of our character and nature. By it we may be able to make melody in our hearts to the Lord. By it we may strive to do here what the redeemed shall de by it at last before the throne, in that land of the Spirit. We may learn from the Spirit that perfect new song which can only be sung by a melodious heart and nature.

(Fred. Brooks.)

1. The heavenly song is described as "a new song." And it is so in that the theme of it will be new. "They sing," says St. John, "the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." The song of Moses celebrated redemption out of Egypt. Here, on earth, the Church cannot fully comprehend the whole development of the plan of Divine mercy. The process is still going on, and not until all the saved are brought to glory will it be completed; and hence those songs which most appropriately express our holiest thoughts and aspirations here will not be suited to our condition hereafter. "The new song" is adapted to our enlarged powers and to our altered circumstances.

2. Continued freshness will characterise the song of heaven. The sweetest strains lose more or less of their freshness by constant repetition.

3. Further, the music of heaven shall give rise to new emotions. In the life of the celebrated composer Handel it is stated that upon being asked how he felt when composing "the Hallelujah Chorus," he replied, "I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself." And it is said that a friend called upon him when he was in the act of setting to music the pathetic words, "He was despised and rejected of men," and found him absolutely sobbing. What will be the emotions of joy and gratitude which will be experienced when all the redeemed, gathered out of every nation, and kindred and tongue shall unite as with one heart and one voice, and sing "the song of Moses and of the Lamb"?

4. And then unlike the songs of earth, "the new song" shall never be interrupted. Sin, sorrow, death, are all unknown there! The song of heaven shall be an eternal song, and the strains of the music of the heavenly harpers shall flow on for evermore! Have you the prospect of joining the heavenly throng?

(S. D. Hillman.)

A "new song," it is doubtless the song of a new and higher victory. A song is, above all, an expression of the heart, something spontaneous, the irrepressible upspringing of an inward emotion. A bird sings because it cannot help singing, and because its little heart is thrilling with an overflowing joy; and so they who sing the "new song " have had, doubtless, some true experience of a great good and joy which causes them to sing. I think that it is the experience of every thoughtful man that all the real misery springs, in some way, from spiritual wrong. If he have lost friends, which is one of our great natural griefs, yet if sin had not thrust itself into this sorrow, if the soul of the friend as well as one's own had been perfectly true to God, and to right, one would find in the bereavement a cause to rejoice, for to the holy dead God reveals the fulness of His love. It is the conscious want of the love of God, manifesting itself in acts of selfishness, ingratitude, and treason to truth and duty — it is always this that has made the human spirit wail. Selfishness is a constant pain, and love a constant joy. I do not deny the many natural sorrows of life, and that they are sometimes painful beyond human power to endure, but we would be strong from a Divine strength to bear troubles and sufferings which fall to our lot in this life, and they would be only for our discipline and perfection, were we without transgression. These would be outside sufferings. But it is the feeling that we have acted unrighteously, that we have stained our soul's honour, that we have been unthankful to the heavenly Father. It is this that consumes the spirit within us. If we arc raised for one instant by the quick motion of faith, by the absorbing exercise of prayer, by the unselfish act of pure obedience, into the light and liberty of God's presence, we gain inward freedom and peace, we experience an absolute deliverance from the tyranny of evil. We may perceive, then, why the power of sin in our human nature is called in the Scriptures a "bondage." It is pure absolutism. Let the bondsman strive once to free himself, to shake himself loose from his bonds, to change his own nature, and he will see what a grasp evil has. To be freed from the power of evil would soothe all pangs, would wipe away all tears, sorrow, care, and would restore to the life-giving presence and joy of God. Can we not then begin, in some feeble manner I grant, to perceive or imagine what may be the significance of the "new song"? It is in truth a song of freedom, and we need not wonder that it is represented to be like the sound of many waters, the outpouring of innumerable hearts on the free shore of eternity, for God has made the soul to be free and to have no law over it but the law of love. There are, indeed, but few such chords that vibrate in human hearts. Sorrow is one of these. Coleridge said that at the news of Nelson's death no man felt himself a stranger to another; and of these universal chords, that of freedom is also one. Such a spontaneous cry rises from an enslaved nation, whose chains are broken by some God-inspired man. Never shall I forget the mighty shout I heard that went up from the whole people of Florence, gathered together in the great market-square of the beautiful city on the Arno, at the news of a decisive victory gained over the powerful enemy of Italian independence — Austria. A new, unlooked-for joy poured into the hearts of the suffering and long-oppressed Italian people that they were at length free! It made them one. It overflowed their hearts with sudden strength, and men fell upon each other's necks and kissed each other, and their joy found expression in shouts and songs. So it will be a new joy in heaven to be free — to be free from the shameful oppression of evil. The believer may, in some feeble and imperfect measure, in his best times, when Christ his Light is near, be able to conceive of this state of entire victory over, or deliverance from, sin, because he has in the present life yearnings after it, and prophecies of it; but to the unrenewed mind this truth is not quite clear. It is, on the contrary, a thought which gives that mind, when it thinks at all, much uneasiness and confusion. For it has had fleeting tastes of sweetness in this earthly life, and in those pleasures into which God does not come, poor though they be, and it fears to lose those alloyed and swift-passing experiences of happiness in being holy. It would not release entirely its hold upon these, for fear of losing its happiness altogether. But we must let go one to win the other. We must push off from the shore of this world to gain the free shore of eternity; and so complete is the victory of heaven, that not even such an electric thought of evil as has been described, shall pass over the soul. Holiness is happiness. Goodness is joy. Love is freedom. There are no remains of the conflict of temptation. The spell of sin is broken; and as freedom is one of those things that never grows old, so the song of heaven shall be a "new song."

II. But another and higher sense remains, in which it would seem that the song of heaven is called a "new song," arising from the fact that this heavenly freedom which is sung, does not end in ourselves, in our freedom or holiness or joy, but ends in Christ, and in the Divine will in which dwells this pure and mighty power of the soul's deliverance from evil.

(J. M. Hoppin.)

I. THEIR CHARACTER. They are "redeemed from the earth." Redemption, in their ease, was not merely virtual, but actual; not in price only, but also in power. It was a redemption carried into their personal experience. Such must ours be, or the price of our redemption has been paid for us in vain. There is pardon, finely represented as implying submission to God, and acceptance and acknowledgment by him. The Father's name is written in their foreheads. There is confession of God before men. They practised no unholy concealment; their religion was public, and declared at all hazards. They were undefiled. They were unspotted from the world, even its more prevalent errors-errors recommended by example, justified by sophistry, alluring by interest, and enforced by persecution. There is their obedience. This is impressively described by their following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. There is their completeness. Sanctified throughout, they were preserved blameless in spirit, soul, and body. And there is their redemption from earth. They were redeemed from its corporate society, as the world. That remained; they were chosen out of it. They were redeemed from its cowardly and selfish principles, by which truth is sacrificed to ease and gain; whereas these sacrificed ease and gain for truth. From its example; for, while the multitude were wandering after the beast, these were following the Lamb. From Rs pollutions; for they had been washed from their sins by the blood of Him who loved them. From earth itself; for they are now before the throne.

II. THEIR PLACE. "Before the throne."

1. It is the place of glorious vision.

2. It is the place of eternal security. Day is there, never succeeded by night. There is quiet, unbroken by alarm: the gates of the city are not shut by day or night. There is life, never to be quenched in death. For ever does the river flow from under the throne, and the tree of life feels no winter.

III. THE REPRESENTED ACTION.

1. "They sang." Powerful emotions of joy seek for outward expression. This is one of the laws of our very nature. The expression will be suitable to the emotion. Grief pours forth its wailings; joy is heard in the modulations of verse, and the sweet swells and cadences of music.

2. They sang "a new song." Every deliverance experienced by the saints of God calls for a new song: How much more, therefore, this, the final deliverance from earth! Their song is new, as demanded by new blessings. John saw before the throne "a Lamb, as it had been newly slain." The phrase intimates that blessings for ever new will flow from the virtue of His atonement, and the manifestation of the Divine perfections by Him. Nor shall the song be new as to individuals only, but as to the whole glorified Church.

3. They sang it "before the throne." The glorious fruit of "the travail of His soul."

IV. THE PECULIARITY OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT. "No man could learn that song." Not so much to the sound, the music, of the song, as to its subject, does this language refer; and such subjects only can be turned into song, as dwell in the very spirits of the redeemed.

1. There are remembered subjects. The redeemed from earth recollect the hour when light broke In on their darkness.

2. There are present subjects.

(R. Watson.)

What can be the meaning of this singular announcement of a song not to be taught even to the other inhabitants of heaven? We need but refer to a familiar principle of the mind's operations, whose religious significance is often not perceived; by which toil, pain, and trial, however grievous in the experience, turn to comfort and delight in the retrospect. As, by the influence of chemical attraction, the most glossy white is brought out on textures originally of the blackest dye, or as the mere constant falling of the bleaching sunlight makes a dull surface glisten like snow, so do the soul's melancholy passages change as they are acted on by reflection, and the darkest threads of its experience brighten in the steady light of memory. There are few enjoyments more exquisite than the father feels in telling his son of the hardships of his early life. How he dilates on the efforts and sacrifices with which he began his career! But would he spare one hard day's labour, though it wore and bent his frame? one hour's thirst, with which his lips were parched? Not one: not one act of self-denial, not one patient stretch of endurance; for all these, by this transforming principle, have become most pleasant to his mind. On the same principle, we can understand, without referring to unworthy motives, the soldier's interest in his oft-repeated narratives. Oh, the dark and deadly scene! the ground wet with blood, and the smoke of carnage mounting heavy and slow over the dead and the dying I It is not necessarily that his soul breathes the spirit of war; but it is that these, like other trials, turn to joys, as viewed from the height of his present thought, stretching picturesquely through the long valley of the past. The same principle operates in the hardships of peaceful life. The sailor has a like gladness from the dangers with which he has been environed on the stormy deep. He interprets the almost intolerable accidents that overtook him into good and gracious providence, and sings of his calamity, privation, and fear. So all the sweetest songs, and all the grandest and most touching poetry, that have ever been on earth breathed into sound or written in characters, have sprung out of such work and strife, sorrow and peril. And why should not a new song, unknown even to the elder seraphs, be so composed and framed in heaven, out of all life's trouble and disaster; while the mercy of God, the atoning influence of Christ, all heavenly help and guidance that they have received in their struggles, shall add depth and melody to those voices of the redeemed? Such is the mystery and bounty of the Divine. Paradoxical as it may seem, God means not only to make us good, but to make us also happy, by sickness, disaster, and disappointment. For the truly happy man is not made such by a pleasant and sunny course only of indulged inclinations and gratified hopes. Hard tasks, deferred hopes, though they "make the heart sick," the beating of adverse or the delay of baffling winds, must enter into his composition here below, as they will finally enter into his song on high. There is more than pleasant fancy or cheering prediction in that language about beauty being given for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; for out of dust and ashes alone beauty can grow; supreme gladness glistens nowhere but upon the face where grief hath been sitting; and the highest praise to God is sung when He hath delivered us from the pit of woe and despair. The opening of one of the most strangely beautiful flowers, from the roughest of prickly and unsightly stems, is an emblem of the richest blooming of moral beauty and pleasure from thorns and shapes of ugliness in the growth of the immortal mind. But there is a strict condition. They who would blend their voices in that happy choir, to which the hosts of heaven pause to listen, must be faithful in performing this toil, in overcoming this temptation, in enduring this trial. An ancient poet says, it is a delight to stand or walk upon the shore, and to see a ship tossed with tempest upon the sea; or to be in a fortified tower, and see hosts mingled upon a plain. But what is such pleasure compared with that felt by those who look down from the firm ground of heaven upon their own tossings in the voyage they have with a sacred and religious faithfulness accomplished, and fix their retrospective eye on the fight they, with a holy obstinacy, waged with their own passions and besetting sins?

(C. A. Bartol.)

We shall begin our meditation on this vision by considering the occupation of those referred to. They sing. Praise is often spoken of as the chief occupation of the saints in heaven. Nor need we wonder that such is the case. They have passed to the land of pure delight. They mingle in congenial society. Above all, they behold Him, whom they have long adored afar off, and with Him they maintain unbroken communion. His presence and voice fill their hearts with joy, deep and intense. Nor does the inspiration of their song come only from the present; it comes also from the past. Then they fully learn what has been done to them and for them during their earthly journey. This praise, too, is unceasing. Other engagements and interests concern men in this life. They have wants that must be supplied; they have burdens that must be borne; they have battles that must be fought. And these urge them to prayer as often as to praise. Even up to the Jordan's bank they must stretch forth their hands and raise their voice in supplication. But, in that better land, they enjoy satisfaction and rest. Full provision has been made, and they have only to celebrate the goodness that has done it all. That which they sing is called "a new song." It is heavenly in origin and character. It is no feeble strain of earth, weak in thought and poor in expression. It far transcends in matter and in form the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of the Church below. These were suited to the partial knowledge of this lower sphere, but they are inadequate to the fuller view and the deeper experience to which the redeemed have risen. Of that anthem we catch some echoes in the revelation which John has given us. It is a song of salvation, it is a shout of triumph. It is called "the song of Moses and of the Lamb," and this title is suggestive of its tenor. From a danger greater than that to which the Israelites were exposed have those who are with the Lamb been delivered. Not from physical evil or an earthly enemy, but from spiritual loss and death, and from the power of the wicked one, have they been rescued. Not only, therefore, do they sing the song of Moses; they sing also the song of the Lamb. Being a new song, it must be learned by those who would sing it. But the text warns us that this is possible only for those who have undergone a certain training. Without discipline we cannot take our place in the choir above, engage in the occupations, or enjoy the beauties and delights of the Paradise above. This, indeed, we might understand apart from revelation. All experience combines to suggest it. In the material world everything has its place and work, and is specially fitted for filling the one and performing the other. We recognise in that sphere the reign of law. Every branch of industry has its own rules and its own methods. To learn these an apprenticeship must be undergone. And this is as applicable to the moral region as it is to the social and the intellectual. Place a man of dissolute habits, of vicious temper, of impure thought, of blasphemous speech, in the company of men and women who are spiritual in tone, pure in thought, reverent in speech, and what will his experience be? Not certainly one of satisfaction and enjoyment. He will be wretched. He will long to escape that he may go to his own company and to his own place. Now, this truth, which is received and acted on in all spheres of human activity, has force beyond the limits of earth. It touches the constitution of things: it rests on our nature, and must, therefore, determine our experience not only here but hereafter. To occupy our minds with the foolish, if not the wicked, things of earth, is to render ourselves incapable of dealing with the concerns of heaven; that before we can even learn the song of the redeemed we must have been prepared, for not every one can learn the new song that is being sung before the throne, before the four beasts, and before the elders. But we are not only warned that preparation is required; we are also taught in what it is to consist. Its general character may, indeed, be gathered from what has just been said. We have been reminded that to engage heartily in any occupation we must make ourselves acquainted with its rules and methods, that to enjoy any society we must have in some measure risen to the attainment of its members. In order, then, to discover what is needful, by way of training, before we can join this company, enjoy their fellowship, and sing their song, we have only to inquire by what features they are marked. They are spiritual in character, they are with the Lamb on Mount Zion, they are pure and holy. From this it follows that the education which those who would join them must undergo is spiritual. It is not intellectual only. Mere acquaintance with what concerns persons is not of necessity sympathy with them. Only when knowledge touches heart and life can there be fellowship, for only then are companions animated by the same spirit and interested in the same subjects and pursuits. Nor, on the other hand, can the training be merely mechanical. By no outward washing or cleansing can we free the soul from its foul blot; can we make ourselves pure, worthy to stand before the great white throne and Him who sits thereon. The one hundred and forty and four thousand who do learn the song are said to have been "redeemed from the earth." They have been "redeemed." This indicates that by nature they are not fit for the occupation referred to. The faculty qualifying them for it has been lost, and has to be restored. The dormant faculties must be roused and developed, the powers that have been misapplied must be converted. The term "redemption" is employed in Scripture in two different senses, or rather to suggest two aspects of the change which it indicates. At one time it signifies release from the bondage of the Evil One without; at another, release from the bondage of the evil nature within. Here it is the inner rather than the outer reference that is in view. It is less escape from slavery and danger than purity and elevation of character that is thought of. Not at once are we made fit for heaven in the fullest sense: not at once is the hold which sin has gained on us relaxed. That comes by struggle, by warring against the powers and principalities arrayed against us, and to which we have submitted. Emancipation in this view is education, growth, advance. The possibility of it rests on living faith, and the realisation of it is gradual, to be carried forward day by day. We have not yet attained, neither are we already perfect, but we follow after, pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." In His footsteps we should be seeking to walk, and only as we are doing so are we preparing ourselves for the engagements and the delights of the Better Land. That such is the nature of the redemption spoken of in the text becomes still clearer when we observe that those spoken of are to be redeemed "from the earth." By the earth is meant the lower nature, and what stands related to it. To be redeemed from the earth is to be lifted above it, to use it without abusing it, to act under the control of the Spirit, and this is a movement that should be upward as well as onward — not monotonous progress on a dead level, but achievement, victory, exaltation. It must be apparent to every one that redemption from earth means meetness for heaven, Heaven and earth, in their spiritual use, stand opposed to each other. To be subject to the one is to be beyond the range and influence of the other. We should then be striving after this redemption; we should be seeking to value aright the things around, and we should be endeavouring to free ourselves from their dominion; we should be struggling, that the evil powers within may be subdued — knowing that only thus can we be prepared for joining the glorious company above, for learning the new song, and for celebrating the praise of Him who hath wrought salvation for us.

(James Kidd, B.A.)

Whilst passing in early manhood through a stage of deep dejection, John Stuart Mill found occasional comfort in music. One day he was thrown into a state of profound gloom by the thought that musical combinations were exhaustible. The octave was only composed of five tones and two semi-tones. Not all the combinations of these notes were harmonious, so there must be a limit somewhere to the possibilities of melody. No such possibility can limit the range of the "new song," for it shall be pitched to the key of God's ever-renewed mercies. We need not dread an eternity of monotonous, mill-round worship. The originality of God's mercy will be a spring of originality in us.

(T. G. Selby.)

No man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand
Homilist.
I. HEAVEN REQUIRES HIS TRAINING. Man cannot blend in the happy harmony of the celestial state without previous training. Analogy would suggest this. In the physical system, every being is fitted to his position; his organism is suited to his locality. In the social system the same principle of fitness is required. The stolid clown could not occupy the professor's chair; nor could he who is reckless concerning law, right, and order, occupy the bench of justice. It is just so in relation to heaven. To feel at home in the society of the holy, cheerfully to serve the Creator and His universe, and to be in harmony with all the laws, operations, and beings, in the holy empire, we must manifestly be invested with the same character. But what is the training necessary? It is moral — the training of the spiritual sympathies; the heart being brought to say, "Thy will be done."

II. REDEMPTION IS THE CONDITION OF HIS TRAINING. "Those who were redeemed from the earth. The redemption here referred to is evidently that procured by the system of Christ (Revelation 5:9). The training requires something more than education; it needs emancipation — the delivering of the soul from certain feelings and forces incompatible with holiness — a deliverance from the guilt and power of evil. The grand characteristic of Christianity is, that it is a power "to redeem from all evil."

III. THE EARTH IS THE SCENE OF HIS TRAINING. "Redeemed from the earth." The brightest fact in the history of the dark world is, that it is a redemptive scene. Amidst all the clouds and storms of depravity and sorrow that sweep over our path, this fact rises up before us as a bright orb that shall one day dispel all gloom and hush all tumult. Thank God, this is not a retributive, but a redemptive scene. But it should be remembered that it is not only a redemptive scene, but the only redemptive scene.

(Homilist.)

It seems that when the song of grace rises in heaven, there are a great multitude who are incompetent to take part in it. What is the song that utterly defies the unfallen spirits of heaven? It is the song of redemption, and I shall give you two or three reasons why those unfallen spirits find it an impossibility to sing it.

1. First, they never were redeemed. from sins. Standing in the light of heaven, they know nothing about the joy of rescue. Having sailed for ages on the smooth seas of heaven, they know nothing about the joy of clambering out from the eternal shipwreck. Beautiful and triumphant song, but they cannot sing it. It is to them an eternal impossibility.

2. Again, these unfallen spirits of heaven cannot mingle in that anthem because they do not know what it is to be comforted in suffering. You sometimes find a pianist who has been through all the schools, and has his diploma; but there seems to be no feeling in his playing. You say: "What's the matter with that musician?" Why, I will tell you: he has never had any trouble. But after he has lost children, or been thrust into sickness, then he begins to pour out the deep emotion of his own soul into the instrument, and all hearts respond to it. So, I suppose that our sorrows here will be somewhat preparative for the heavenly accord. It will not be a cold artistic trill, but a chant struck through with all the tenderness of this world's sufferings.

3. Again, I remark that the unfallen spirits of heaven cannot join in the anthem of grace in heaven, because they never were helped to die. Death is a tremendous pass. Do you not suppose when we get through that dark pass of death, we are going to feel gratitude to Christ, and that we will have a glorious anthem of praise to sing to Him? But what will those unfallen spirits of heaven do with such a song as that? They never felt the death shudder. They never heard the moan of the dismal sea. But you say: "That makes only a half and half heaven; so many of these spirits will be silent." Oh, there will be anthems in which all the hosts of heaven can join. The fact that there will be a hundred and forty and four thousand, as stated in the text, intimates that there will be a vast congregation participating. That song is getting sweeter and louder all the time. Some of our friends have gone up and joined in it. If our hearing were only good enough, we would hear their sweet voices rippling on the night air.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Not defiled with women
The words cannot be literally understood, but must be taken in the sense of similar words of the Apostle Paul, when, writing to the Corinthians, he says, "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ." Such a "pure virgin" were the hundred and forty and four thousand now standing upon the Mount Zion. They had renounced all that unfaithfulness to God and to Divine truth which is so often spoken of in the Old Testament as spiritual fornication or adultery. They had renounced all sin. In the language of St. John in his first Epistle, they had "the true God, and eternal life." They had "guarded themselves from idols."

(W. Milligan, D. D.)

Follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth
I. AN OUTLINE OF THE CHARACTER OF THOSE BLESSED ONES WHILE THEY ARE HERE.

1. First, notice their adherence to the doctrine of sacrifice while they are here: "These are they which follow the Lamb."

2. And, next, it is clear of these people that they followed the Lamb by practically imitating Christ's example, for it is written, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." Try to put your feet down in the footprints that He has left you. Do aim at complete conformity to Christ; and wherein you fail, mark that.

3. Now, notice in the sketch of these people that they recognised a special redemption: "These were redeemed from among men." Christ had done something for them that He had not done for others.

4. And as they recognized a special redemption, they made a full surrender of themselves to God and to the Lamb: "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." If you are the firstfruits unto God, be so; if you belong to yourself, serve yourself; but if, by the redemption of Christ, you are not your own, but bought with a price, then live as those who are the King's own, who must serve God, and cannot be content unless their every action shall tend to the Divine glory, and to the magnifying of Christ Jesus.

5. These people who are to be with Christ, the nearest to Him, are a people free from falsehood. "In their mouth was found no guile." If we profess to be Christians, we must have done with all craft, policy, double-dealing, and the like. The Christian man should be a plain man, who says what he means, and means what he says.

6. And then, once more, it is said that they are free from blemish; "they are without fault before the throne of God."

II. A GLIMPSE OF THE PERFECT PICTURE IN HEAVEN.

1. Well, first, those who are with Christ enjoy perfect fellowship with Him. Up there, they "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." They are always with Him.

2. Well, now, notice in this complete picture, next, that up there they are perfectly accepted with God: "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." God always accepts them; He always looks upon them as His firstfruits, bought with His Son's blood, and brought by His Son into His heavenly temple, to be His for ever. Sometimes here we mar our service; but they never mar it there.

3. Observe, also, that they have perfect truth there in heart and soul: " In their mouth was found no guile." "No lie," says the Revised Version. Here, we do fail into error inadvertently, and sometimes, I fear me, negligently.

4. One more feature of that perfect picture is this, they enjoy perfect sinlessness before God: "They are without fault before the throne of God."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE INSTRUCTIVE VIEW OF CHRISTIANS which the text presents.

1. To follow Jesus is to maintain a visible profession of His religion. Are we doing this, or are we halting and hesitating? Is our character uniform, or are we religious and the contrary just as serves our convenience, and meets the wishes of our associates?

2. To follow Jesus is to receive Him as a Saviour. This implies the subjection of the soul to Him.

3. To follow Jesus is to listen to Him as a teacher. A scholar follows his master; he respects his authority.

4. To follow Jesus is to obey Him as a Sovereign.

5. To follow Jesus is to imitate Him as an example.

II. What there is in such persons REMARKABLE; or why our attention should be so particularly directed to them: "These are they."

1. We see in them the favourites of heaven. The Lord loves them; He honours them; He delights to bless them, and to do them good.

2. We see in them the monuments of Divine mercy. "These are they" whom God hath called out of darkness into His marvellous light.

3. They are the most honourable characters on the face of the earth. Honourable in reality, not in appearance; in the sight of angels and of God, not perhaps in the judgment of men.

4. They are the most happy persons in times of difficulty and trial. These enter into the spirit and life of religion: they taste its comfort, they prove its real enjoyment.

5. They are the instruments of the Redeemer's glory. "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them"; glorified in their faith, their patience, their hope, but especially in their holy and active obedience.

6. They will be the inhabitants of a better world, the companions of Christ in His kingdom.In that upper world they still follow Him, but without the least reluctance, without the most distant feeling of languor. Reflections:

1. Are we the followers of Jesus?

2. What cause have we all to lament our carelessness and cowardice in religious concerns!

3. Let us rise to greater vigour in the ways of the Lord, and be unreservedly devoted to Him.

(T. Kidd.)

I. In devotion to Christ we find THE TRUE GUIDE OF LIFE.

II. In devotion to Christ, we find THE TRUE JOY OF LIFE.

III. In following Christ is revealed to us THE TRUE END OF LIFE.

(R. Forgan, B. D.)

I. WHAT IT IS to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. In His commandments — teaching — providences — example. Truly, without hypocrisy; constantly, without apostasy. Speedily, truly, undividedly, zealously, humbly, cheerfully, diligently, constantly, faithfully, transcendently.

II. WHY they follow the Lamb. Because they are redeemed by His blood — enlightened by Him — loving Him — possessing His spirit, etc.

III. THE EXCELLENCY of following the Lamb. They have His presence — shall know His mind — may come boldly to Him — shall be protected by Him, etc.

IV. HOW THEY MAY BE KNOWN who follow the Lamb. By their character — spirit — name — graces — associates — language.

(W. Dyer.)

We do not, of course, take the number here specified as implying more than greatness and completeness. It is based, probably, upon the number of the twelve apostles, and of the twelve tribes largely multiplied, and expresses, as has been said, the native and not degenerate progeny of the apostles. They are the princes of the kingdom, perfect in a multiform unity, which are so delineated, equally derived from every quarter. What has won them their high pre-eminence? What has caused them to excel their brethren, so as to stand nearest to the Lamb upon the heavenly mount? Others may be pure, for the pure alone shall see God; others are redeemed, for otherwise there could be no salvation; but that which builds the thrones of the twelve and the long line of saints who come after is the following — the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.

I. IT IS PROBABLE THAT THERE ARE FEW, IF ANY, AMONGST YOU WHO DO NOT HOLD WHAT CALLED THE MAIN TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL. Complete unbelief is yet a rare thing amongst us. But if we go a little further and inquire to what the acceptance of the Christian Faith on the part of the multitude amounts, it will be found that their belief is but vague and general, that a vast element of scepticism mingles with their faith. To a certain extent, and to a certain extent only, do they follow the leading of Christ. Whilst He speaks of that which is easy of apprehension, which accords with the natural instinct, or is of palpable utility, they attend Him closely. Lo! He tells of meekness, and purity, and uprightness, and charity; they go heartily along with Him. He warns of a judgment to come, by which the inequalities of this earthly life shall be adjusted; this squares with the conclusion of human intellect and is cordially received. But when He would lead them further, to the acceptance of truths which cannot be demonstrated, which to some extent, at any rate, must be believed on the witness of others, they recoil. Thus the duty and expediency of public worship is admitted. It is a national acknowledgment of duty, an instrument of Christian instruction; but to partake of the Blessed Sacrament involves the admission of certain supernatural powers still operating among us, and forthwith the great congregation dwindles to a scanty company. Nay, is not this sort of feeling on the increase? Just as there have been those who would not neglect prayer, though abstaining from Holy Communion; so, because prayer involves the .present action of God, we are now hearing of men refusing to pray, and reducing religion yet further to the hearing and acting out moral lessons. Thus, while the guidance of the Lamb conducts to the knowledge of what is within the grasp of human reason, men are well pleased to wait upon His steps; but no sooner does He move, as it were, out of the open country, and pass onward into the narrower defiles of a land on which rest clouds and darkness, and there is nothing to guide save His footfall, than their steps halt. They follow Him not whithersoever He goeth.

II. But we would not confine the application of the text to the case of doctrine; IT MAY WELL BE EXTENDED TO THAT OF PRACTICE ALSO. There is no more sad spectacle than that of a man whose conduct falls short of his convictions. He can admire the nobility of character, the self-devotion, the unworldliness of the saints of God; he is acute enough to perceive that the doctrines which theoretically he has accepted do, if fairly worked out, lead to a higher line of life; but, withal, he shrinks from pursuing it. He foresees how much must be surrendered, how many difficulties must be encountered, how few, perhaps, will appreciate him when all is done; and so he continues to live on a commonplace life of coldness and self-indulgence, with high principles and low practice — a splendid ideal, but no personal approach to it. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth!" How do they stand out, those saintly ones, in sharpest contrast with the half-obedience of ordinary Christians! Once having embraced the faith, theirs was the firm, unflinching tread of men prepared to resign all, to lose all. Through evil report and good report, through honour and dishonour, they followed their Lord whithersoever He led. Whithersoever — to the snapping asunder of closest ties, to the abandonment of our cherished hopes. Whithersoever — to the restraint of the reasoning faculty, to the submission of private opinion, to the subjection of the will, to the quenching of the passions. Would to God we might only drink in a little of their temper! There is, it has been well said, a first superficial will in man which resents opposition, refuses chastisement, as the child puts from it the medicine draught. So even Jesus Christ prayed that the cup might pass from Him. There is a second, deliberative will in man, which is formed upon reflection, and which is, in fact, the real act of volition. By this Jesus Christ took the cup and drank it to the dregs. That, whatever our first impulse, this second truest will shall in all things acquiesce in what God speaks and does about us and for us, must be our effort; so only can we train ourselves here for following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth along the infinite windings of the Everlasting Hills.

(Bp. Woodford.)

The firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb
There is a salvation greater and less. For here it is said that these hundred and forty-four thousand are "firstfruits." Therefore we learn —

I. WHAT THESE ARE NOT.

1. They are not all the saved. The very word indicates that there is much more to follow. They are but the beginning. Nor —

2. Are these firstfruits the mass of the saved. True, a large number is named; but what is that compared with the "great multitude that no man can number, out of every," etc.

II. WHAT THEY ARE. The word "firstfruits " teaches us that these thus named are —

1. The pledge of all the rest. Thus Christ has "become the Firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). And so the natural firstfruits of corn guaranteed the rest of the harvest. For the same sun, and all other nurturing forces which had ripened the firstfruits, were there ready to do the same kindly office for all the rest. And so we are told, "The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies." The same power is present for both the first and after fruits.

2. The pattern and representative of all the rest. Compare the first and after fruits. In the main they were alike, and so in the spiritual world also. But —

3. The firstfruits were pre-eminent over the rest. They were specially presented to God, and held in honour; so was it with the natural grain. But, without question, there is pre-eminence implied in being the firstfruits of the heavenly harvest.(1) In time. Theirs is "the first resurrection," of which we read in chap. Revelation 20. "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years," etc. (chap. 20.).(2) In honour. St. Paul called it "the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus." And our Lord tells us that there is a "first" and "last" in the kingdom of heaven; "a least" and "a greatest." "One star differeth from another star in glory." There is "an entrance administered abundantly," and there is a "being saved so as by fire."(3) In service. That they were pre-eminent here, who that knows their history on earth, or reads even this book, will question?(4) In character. See how they are described as to their spiritual purity, their unreserved consecration, their separateness from the world, their guilelessness and freedom from all deceit.(5) In the approval of God. Of them it is written, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection" (chap. Revelation 20.).

4. They are the elect of God. In another part of this book they are spoken of as "the called, and chosen, and faithful." All are not firstfruits, greatest, first, in the kingdom of heaven. The very words imply order, gradation, rank. But it is for us to take heed as to —

III. WHAT WE SHOULD STRIVE TO BE.

(S. Conway, B. A.)

The mention of the hundred and forty and four thousand as "firstfruits" suggests the thought of something to follow. What that is it is more difficult to say. It can hardly be other Christians belonging to a later age of the Church's history upon earth, for the end is come. It can hardly be Christians who have done or suffered more than other members of the Christian family, for in St. John's eyes all Christians are united to Christ, alike in work and martyrdom. Only one supposition remains. The hundred and forty and four thousand, as the whole Church of God, are spoken of in the sense in which the same expression is used by the Apostle James: "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." Not as the first portion of the Church on earth, to be followed by another portion, but as the first portion of a kingdom of God wider and larger than the Church, are the words to be understood. The whole Church is God's firstfruits, and when she is laid upon His altar we have the promise that a time is coming when creation shall follow in her train, when "it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God," when "the mountains and the hills shall break forth before the Redeemer into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands." Why shall nature thus rejoice before the Lord? Let the Psalmist answer: "For He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth."

(W. Milligan, D. D.)

In their mouth was found no guile.
It is related that when Petrarch, the Italian poet, a man of strict integrity, was summoned as a witness, and offered in the usual manner to take an oath before a court of justice, the judge closed the book, saying, "As to you, Petrarch, your word is sufficient."

Links
Revelation 14:1 NIV
Revelation 14:1 NLT
Revelation 14:1 ESV
Revelation 14:1 NASB
Revelation 14:1 KJV

Revelation 14:1 Bible Apps
Revelation 14:1 Parallel
Revelation 14:1 Biblia Paralela
Revelation 14:1 Chinese Bible
Revelation 14:1 French Bible
Revelation 14:1 German Bible

Revelation 14:1 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Revelation 13:18
Top of Page
Top of Page