Acacia John Bunyan - Online Library
T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
Excerpts from the 'Introductory Epistle':
"The occasion of my first meddling with this matter was as followeth: Upon acertain First Day, I being together with my brethren in our prison chamber, theyexpected that, according to our custom, something should be spoken out of the Wordfor our mutual edification; but at that time I felt myself, it being my turn to speak,so empty, spiritless, and barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speakamong them so much as five words of truth, with life and evidence; but at last itso fell out that providentially I cast mine eye upon the eleventh verse of the one-and-twentiethchapter of this prophecy; upon which, when I had considered awhile, methought I perceivedsomething of that jasper in whose light you there find this Holy City is said tocome or descend; wherefore having got in my eye some dim glimmerings thereof, andfinding also in my heart a desire to see farther into, I with a few groans did carrymy meditations to the Lord Jesus for a blessing, which He did forthwith grant accordingto His grace; and, helping me to set before my brethren, we did all eat, and werewell refreshed; and behold also, that while I was in the distributing of it, it soincreased in my hand that of the fragments that we left, after we had well dined,I gathered up this basketful." "...wherefore setting myself to a more narrowsearch, through frequent prayer to God, what first with doing, and then with undoing,and after that with doing again, I thus did finish it."
"And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and highmountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heavenfrom God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious,even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal: And had a wall great and high, and hadtwelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels and names written thereon, which arethe names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east three gates,on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelveapostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure thecity, and the gates thereof and the wall thereof. And the city lieth four-square,and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed,twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, accordingto the measure of a man, that is of the angel. And the building of the wall of itwas of jasper, and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of preciousstones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony;the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite;the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, ajacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, everyseveral gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it weretransparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty, and theLamb, are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moonto shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.And the nations of them which are saved, shall walk in the light of it: and the kingsof the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall notbe shut at all day by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bringthe glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter intoit any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding outof the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on eitherside of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits,and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healingof the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of theLamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face,and his name shall be in their foreheads." Revelation 21:10-27; 22:1-4
In my dealing with this mystery, I shall not meddle where I see nothing, neithershall I hide from you that which at present I conceive to be wrapt up therein; onlyyou must not from me look for much enlargement, though I shall endeavour to speakas much in few words, as my understanding and capacity will enable me, through thehelp of Christ.
In this description of this holy city, you have these five general heads:
FIRST, The vision of this city in general. SECOND, A discovery of its defence, entrances,and fashion, in particular. THIRD, A relation of the glory of each. FOURTH, A discoveryof its inhabitants, their quality and numerousness. FIFTH, A relation of its maintenance,by which it continueth in life, ease, peace, tranquility, and sweetness for ever.To all which I shall speak something in their proper places, and shall open thembefore you.
But before I begin with any of them, I must speak a word or two concerning John'squalification, whereby he was enabled to behold and take a view of this city; whichqualification he relateth in these words following:
Verse 10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, andshowed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.
The angel being to show this holy man this great and glorious vision, he first, byqualifying of him, puts him into a suitable capacity to behold and take the viewthereof; 'He carried me away in the spirit.' When he saith, He carried me away inthe Spirit, he means he was taken up into the Spirit, his soul was greatly spiritualized.Whence take notice, that an ordinary frame of spirit is not able to comprehend, noryet to apprehend extraordinary things. Much of the Spirit discerneth much of God'smatters; but little of the Spirit discerneth but little of them: 'I could not speakunto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ; I havefed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neitheryet now are ye able' (1 Cor 3:2).
'And he carried me away in the spirit,' &c. Thus it was with the saints of old,when God had either special work for them to do, or great things for them to see.Ezekiel, when he had the vision of this city in the old law, in the captivity atBabylon, he must be first forefitted with a competent measure of the Spirit (Eze40:2). John also, when he had the whole matter of this prophecy revealed unto him,he must be in the Spirit; 'I was (saith he) in the Spirit on the Lord's day, andheard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet' talking with me, &c (Rev 1:10,11).Whence note again, that when God calls a man to this or that work for him, he firstfits him with a suitable spirit. Ezekiel saith, when God bid him stand upon his feet,that the Spirit entered into him, and set him upon his feet (Eze 2:1,2).
'And he carried me away,' &c. Mark, And he carried me [away] &c. As a manmust have much of the Spirit that sees much of God, and his goodly matters; so hemust be also carried away with it; he must by it be taken off from things carnaland earthly, and taken up into the glory of things that are spiritual and heavenly.The Spirit loveth to do what it doth in private; that man to whom God intendeth toreveal great things, he takes him aside from the lumber and cumber of this world,and carrieth him away in the solace and contemplation of the things of another world;'And when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples' (Mark 4:34).Mark, and when they were ALONE; according to that of the prophet, 'Whom shall heteach knowledge, and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weanedfrom the milk, and drawn from the breasts' (Isa 28:9). Whence observe also, he isthe man that is like to know most of God, that is oftenest in private with him (Luke2:25-38). He that obeyeth when God saith, Come up hither, he shall see the bride,the Lamb's wife. For 'through desire a man having separated himself, seeketh andintermeddleth with all wisdom' (Pro 18:1).
'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain.' Thus havingshowed his frame, and inward disposition of spirit, he now comes to tell us alsoof the place or stage on which he was set; to the end that now being fitted by illumination,he might not be hindered of his vision by ought that might intercept. He carriedme away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain. Thus did God of old also; forwhen he showed to Moses the patterns of the heavenly things, he must ascend to theMount Sinai (Exo 19:3). He must into the mount also, when he hath the view of theHoly Land, and of that goodly mountain Lebanon (Deu 32:49). Whence we may learn thatthe things of God are far from man, as he is natural; and also that there are verygreat things between us and the sight of them: none can see them but such as arecarried away in the Spirit and set on high.
'...To a great and high mountain.' This mountain therefore signifieth the Lord Christ,on which the soul must be placed, as on a mighty hill, whereby he may be able hiseyes being anointed with spiritual eye salve, to see over the tops of those mightycorruptions, temptations, and spiritual enemies, that like high and mighty towersare built by the wicked one, to keep the view of God's things from the sight of oursouls (2 Cor 10:5,6). Wherefore Christ is called the Mountain of the Lord's house,or that on which the house of God is placed; he is also called the Rock of ages,and the Rock that is higher than we. 'The hill of God is' an high hill, as Bashan;'an high hill, as the hill of Bashan' (Psa 68:15). This is the hill from whence theprophet Ezekiel had the vision of this city (Eze 40:2); 'And upon this rock [saithChrist] I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'(Matt 16:18).
[FIRST. The Vision of the Holy City in General.]
'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed methat great city, the holy Jerusalem.' Having thus told us how, and with what he wasqualified, he next makes relation of what he saw, which was that great city, theholy Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, in the language of the Scripture, is to be acknowledged for the churchand spouse of the Lord Jesus; and is to be considered either generally or more particularly.Now as she is to be taken generally, so she is to be understood as being 'the wholefamily in heaven and earth,' (Eph 3:15); and as she is thus looked upon, so she isnot considered with respect to this or that state and condition of the church herein the world, but simply as she is the church: therefore it is said, when at anytime any are converted from Satan to God, that they 'are come unto Mount Zion, andunto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable companyof angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are writtenin heaven; to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect;and to Jesus, - and to the blood of sprinkling' (Heb 12:22,24).
But again, as Jerusalem is thus generally to be understood, so also she is to beconsidered more particularly: 1. Either as she relates to her first and purest state;or, 2. As she relates to her declined and captivated state; or, 3. With referenceto her being recovered again from her apostatized and captivated condition. Thusit was with Jerusalem in the letter; which threefold state of this city shall bemost exactly answered by our gospel Jerusalem, by our New Testament church. Her firststate was in the days of Christ and his apostles, and answereth to Jerusalem in thedays of Solomon; her second state is in the days of antichrist, and answereth tothe carrying away of the Jews from their city into Babylon; and her third state isthis in the text, and answereth to their return from captivity, and rebuilding theircity and walls again: all which will be fully manifest in this discourse following.
[This city is the gospel church returning out of antichristian captivity.]
Besides, that this holy city that here you read of is the church, the gospel church,returning out of her long and antichristian captivity; consider,
First, She is here called a city, the very name that our primitive church went under(Eph 2:19); which name she loseth all the while of her apostatizing and captivityunder antichrist; for observe, I say, all the while she is under the scourge of thedragon, beast, and the woman in scarlet, &c. (Rev 13), she goeth under the nameof a woman, a woman in travail, a woman flying before the dragon, a woman flyinginto the wilderness, there to continue in an afflicted and tempted condition, andto be glad of wilderness nourishment, until the time of her enemies were come toan end (Rev 12).
Now the reason why she lost the title of city at her going into captivity is, becausethen she lost her situation and strength; she followed others than Christ, whereforehe suffered her enemies to scale her walls, to break down her battlements; he suffered,as you see here, the great red dragon, and beast with seven heads and ten horns,to get into her vineyard, who made most fearful work both with her and all her friends;her gates also were now either broken down or shut up, so that none could, accordingto her laws and statutes, enter into her; her charter also, even the Bible itself,was most grossly abused and corrupted, yea, sometimes burned and destroyed almostutterly; wherefore the Spirit of God doth take away from her the title of city, andleaveth her to be termed a wandering woman, as aforesaid. 'The court which is withoutthe temple [saith the angel] leave out, and measure it not, for it is given untothe Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months'(Rev 11:2). 'The holy city shall they tread under foot'; that is, all the city constitutions,her forts and strength, her laws and privileges for a long time, shall be laid asideand slighted, shall become a hissing, a taunt, and a byword among the nations. Andtruly thus it was in the letter, in the destruction of Jerusalem by the king of Babylonand his wicked instruments, by whose hands the city was broken up, the walls pulleddown, the gates burned, the houses rifled, the virgins ravished, and the childrenlaid dead in the top of every street (2 Chron 36:17-21; Jer 52; Lam 1; 2; 3; 4).Now was Zion become a ploughed field, and Jerusalem turned to heaps; a place of briarsand thorns, and of wasteness and desolation (Micah 3:12; Isa 7:23,24).
Second, The phrase also that is joined with this of city doth much concern the point;she is here called 'the new and holy city,' which words are explained by these, 'preparedas a bride and adorned for her husband.' The meaning is, that she is now got intoher form, fashion, order, and privileges again; she is now ready, adorned, prepared,and put into her primitive state; mark, though she was in her state of afflictioncalled a woman, yet she was not then either called a city or a woman adorned; butrather a woman robbed and spoiled, rent and torn among the briars and thorns of thewilderness (Isa 5:6; 42:22; 32:13,14). Wherefore this city is nothing else but thechurch returned out of captivity from under the reign of antichrist, as is yet farthermanifest, because,
Third. We find no city to answer that which was built after the Jews' return fromcaptivity but this; for this, and only this, is the city that you find in this prophecythat is nominated as the antitype of that second of the Jews; wherefore John hathno relation of her while towards the doom of antichrist, and no description of herin particular until antichrist is utterly overthrown; as all may see that wiselyread (Rev 17-20).
[Why the church is called a city.]
'And showed me that great city.' The Holy Ghost is pleased at this time to give thechurch the name of a city, rather than any other name, rather than the name of spouse,woman, temple, and the like—though he giveth us her under the name of a woman also,to help us to understand what he means; but, I say, the name of a city is now thename in special, under which the church must go, and that for special reasons.
First. To show us how great and numerous a people will then be in the church; thechurch may be a woman, a temple, a spouse, when she is but few, a handful, but twoor three; but to be a city, and that in her glory, it bespeaks great store of members,inhabitants, and citizens; especially when she goeth under the name of a great city,as here she does. He 'showed me that great city.'
Second. She goeth rather under the name of a city, than temple or spouse, to showus also how plentifully the nations and kingdoms of men shall at that day trafficwith her, and in her, for her goodly merchandize of grace and life; to show us, Isay, what wonderful custom the church of God at this day shall have among all sortsof people, for her heavenly treasures. It is said of Tyrus and Babylon, that theirmerchandize went unto all the world, and men from all quarters under heaven cameto trade and to deal with them for their wares (Eze 27; Rev 18:2,3). Why thus itwill be in the latter day with the church of God; the nations shall come from far,from Tarshish, Pul, Lud, Tubal, Javan, and the isles afar off. They shall come, saithGod, out of all nations upon horses and mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holymountain Jerusalem. 'And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another,and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saiththe Lord' (Isa 66:19-23). Alas, the church at that day when she is a woman only,or a temple either, may be without that beauty, treasure, amiableness, and affectingglory that she will be endowed with when she is a prosperous city. His marvellouskindness is seen 'in a strong city' (Psa 31:21). In cities, you know, are the treasures,beauty, and glory of kingdoms; and it is thither men go that are desirous to solacethemselves therewith. 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined' (Psa50:2).
Third. It is called a city, rather than a woman or temple, to show us how stronglyand securely it will keep its inhabitants at that day. 'In that day shall this songbe sung, - We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks'(Isa 26:1). And verily if the cities of the Gentiles, and the strength of their bars,and gates, and walls did so shake the hearts, yea, the very faith of the childrenof God themselves, how secure and safe will the inhabitants of this city be, eventhe inhabitants of that city which God himself will build,' &c. (Deu 9:1,2; Num13:28).
Fourth. But lastly, and more especially, the church is called here a city, chieflyto show us that now she shall be undermost no longer. Babylon reigned, and so shallJerusalem at that day. 'And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughterof Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion, the kingdom shall cometo the daughter of Jerusalem' (Micah 4:8). Now shall she, when she is built and complete,have a complete conquest and victory over all her enemies; she shall reign over them;the law shall go forth of her that rules them, and the governors of all the worldat that day shall be Jerusalem men. 'And the captivity of this host of the childrenof Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivityof Jerusalem which is in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the south. And savioursshall come up on mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall bethe Lord's' (Obad 20,21). 'For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word ofthe Lord from Jerusalem. - And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strongnations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and theirspears into pruning- hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neithershall they learn war any more' (Micah 4:1-3). There brake he 'the ships of Tarshishwith an east wind. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts,in the city of our God; God will establish it for ever' (Psa 48:1-8). For observeit, Christ hath not only obtained the kingdom of heaven for those that are his, whenthis world is ended, but hath also, as a reward for his sufferings, the whole worldgiven into his hand; wherefore, as all the kings, and princes, and powers of thisworld have had their time to reign, and have glory in this world in the face of all,so Christ will have his time at this day, to show who is 'the only Potentate - andLord of lords' (1 Tim 6:15). At which day he will not only set up his kingdom inthe midst of their kingdoms, as he doth now, but will set it up even upon the topof their kingdoms; at which day there will not be a nation in the world but mustbend to Jerusalem or perish (Isa 60:12). For 'the kingdom and dominion, and the greatnessof the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saintsof the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shallserve and obey him' (Dan 7:27). 'And his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and fromthe river to the ends of the earth' (Zech 9:10). O holiness, how shall it shine inkings and nations, when God doth this!
[This city descends out of heaven from God.]
'He showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven fromGod.' In these words we are to inquire into three things. First. What he here shouldmean by heaven. Second. What it is for this city to descend out of it. Third. Andwhy she is said to descend out of it from God.
First. For the word heaven, in Scripture it is variously to be understood, but generallyeither materially or metaphorically; now not materially here, but metaphorically;and so is generally, if not always, taken in this book.
Now that it is not to be taken for the material heavens where Christ in person is,consider, that the descending of this city is not the coming of glorified saintswith their Lord; because that even after the descending, yea and building of thiscity, there shall be sinners converted to God; but at the coming of the Lord Jesusfrom heaven with his saints, the door shall be shut; that is, the door of grace,against all unbelievers (Luke 13:25; Matt 25:10).
Therefore heaven here is to be taken metaphorically, for the church; which, as Isaid before, is frequently so taken in this prophecy, as also in many others of theholy scriptures (Rev 11:15; 12:1-3,7,8,10,13; 13:6; 19:1,14; Jer 51:48; Matt 25:1,&c.). And observe it, though the church of Christ under the tyranny of antichrist,loseth the title of a standing city, yet in the worst of times she loseth not thetitle of heaven. She is heaven when the great red dragon is in her, and heaven whenthe third part of her stars are cast unto the earth; she is heaven also when thebeast doth open his throat against her, to blaspheme her God, his tabernacle, andthose that dwell in her.
Second. Now, then, to show you what we are to understand by this, that she is saidto descend out of heaven; for indeed to speak properly, Jerusalem is always in theScriptures set in the highest ground, and men are said to descend, when they go downfrom her, but to ascend, or go up when they are going thitherwards (Eze 3:1; Neh12:1; Matt 20:17,18; Luke 19:28; 10:30). But yet though this be true, there mustalso be something significant in this word descending; wherefore when he saith, hesaw this city to descend out of heaven, he would have us understand,
1. That though the church under antichrist be never so low, yet out of her loinsshall they come that yet shall be a reigning city (Heb 7:6,13,14). Generation isa descending from the loins of our friends; he therefore speaks of the generationof the church. Wherefore the meaning is, That out of the church that is now in captivity,there shall come a complete city, so exact in all things, according to the laws andliberties, privileges and riches of a city, that she shall lie level with the greatcharter of heaven. Thus it was in the type, the city after the captivity was builded,even by those that once were in captivity, especially by their seed and offspring(Isa 45); and thus it shall be in our New Testament New Jerusalem; 'They that shallbe of thee,' saith the prophet, that is, of the church of affliction, they 'shallbuild the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations;and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwellin' (Isa 58:12); and again, they that sometimes had ashes for gladness, and the spiritof heaviness instead of the garment of praise, 'they shall build the old wastes,they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities,the desolations of many generations; for your shame ye shall have double, and forconfusion they shall rejoice in their portion,' &c. (Isa 61:3,4,7). Thus thereforeby descending we may understand that the church's generation shall be this holy city,and shall build up themselves the tower of the flock (Micah 4:8).
2. When he saith, This holy city descended out of heaven, he would have us understandalso what a blessing and happiness this city at her rebuilding will be to the wholeworld. Never were kind and seasonable showers more profitable to the tender new-mowngrass than will this city at this day be, to the inhabitants of the world; they willcome as a blessing from heaven upon them. As the prophet saith, 'The remnant of Jacobshall be in the midst of many people, as a dew from the Lord; as the showers uponthe grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men' (Micah 5:7).O the grace, the light and glory that will strike with spangling beams from thiscity, as from a sun, into the farthest parts of the world! 'Thus saith the Lord,as the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessingis in it: so will I do for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them all: Iwill bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my' holy 'mountains:and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon [wherethe sweet roses grew, (Cant 2:1)], shall be a fold for flocks, and the valley ofAchor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me' (Isa65:8-10). 'In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, evena blessing in the midst of the land' (Isa 19:24). 'And it shall come to pass, thatas ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so willI save you, and ye shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong' (Zech8:13). 'As the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for therethe Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore' (Psa 133:3).
Third. And now for the third particular, namely, What it is to descend out of heavenfrom God.
1. To descend out of heaven, that is, out of the church in captivity, 'from God,'is this: The church is the place in which God doth beget all those that are the childrenof him; wherefore in that they are said to descend out of heaven 'from God,' it isas if he had said, the children of the church are heaven-born, begotten of God, andbrought forth in the church of Christ. For 'Jerusalem which is above is the motherof us all' (Gal 4:26). 'The Lord shall count when he writeth up the people, thatthis man was born there' (Psa 87:5,6).
2. When he saith he saw this Jerusalem come out of heaven from God, he means thatthose of the church in captivity that shall build this city, they shall be a peoplepeculiarly fitted and qualified for this work of God. It was not all the childrenof Israel that had their hand in building Jerusalem after the captivity of old; 'theirnobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord' (Neh 3:5). Also there were manyof Judah that were sworn to Tobiah, the arch-opposer of the building of the city,because of some kindred and relation that then was between them and him (Neh 6:17-19).And as it was then, so we do expect it will be now; some will be even at the beginningof this work, in Babylon, at that time also some will be cowardly and fearful, yea,and even men hired to hinder the work (Neh 6:10-12). Wherefore I say, those of thechurch that at that day builded the city, they were men of a particular and peculiarspirit, which also will so be at the building of New Jerusalem. They whose lightbreaks forth as the morning, they that are mighty for a spirit of prayer, they thattake away the yoke, and speaking vanity, and that draw out their soul to the hungry;they that the Lord shall guide continually, that shall have fat bones, and that shallbe as a watered garden, whose waters fail not, &c. (Isa 58:8-14). Of them shallthey be that build the old wastes, and that raise up the foundations of many generations,&c. It was thus in all ages, in every work of God, some of his people, some ofhis saints in special in all ages, have been used to promote, and advance, and perfectthe work of their generations.
3. This city descends or comes out of heaven from God, that is, by his special workingand bringing to pass; it was God that gave them the pattern even when they were inBabylon; it was God that put it into their hearts while there, to pray for deliverance;it was God that put it into the hearts of the kings of the Medes and Persians togive them liberty to return and build; and it was God that quailed the hearts ofthose that by opposing did endeavour to hinder the bringing the work to perfection; yea, it was God that did indeed bring the work to perfection; wherefore she maywell be said to descend 'out of heaven from God': as he also saith himself by theprophet, I will cause the captivity of Judah, and the captivity of Israel to return,and I will build them as at the first (Ezra 4:1-4; 7:27; Neh 2:8-18; 4:15; 6:15,16;Jer 33:7; 32:44; Eze 36:33-37; 37:11-15; Amos 9:11).
Lastly, When he saith he saw her descend from God out of heaven, he may refer toher glory, which at her declining departed from her, and ascended to God, as thesap returns into the root at the fall of the leaf; which glory doth again at herreturn descend, or come into the church, and branches of the same, as the sap dotharise at the spring of the year, for indeed the church's beauty is from heaven, andit either goeth up thither from her, or else comes from thence to her, accordingto the natures of both fall and spring (Cant 2).Thus you see what this heaven is,and what it is for this city to descend out of it; also what it is for this cityto descend out of it from God.
[This city has the glory of God.]
Ver. 11. 'Having the glory of God.' These last words do put the whole matter outof doubt, and do most clearly show unto us that the descending of this city is theperfect return of the church out of captivity; the church, when she began at firstto go into captivity, her glory began to depart from her; and now she is returningagain, she receiveth therewith her former glory, 'having the glory of God.' Thusit was in the type, when Jerusalem went into captivity under the King of Babylon,which was a figure of the captivity of our New Testament church under Antichrist,it is said that then the glory of God departed from them, and went, by degrees, firstout of the temple to the threshold of the house, and from thence with the cherubimsof glory, for that time, quite away from the city (Eze 10:4-18; 11:22,23 &c.).
Again, As the glory of God departed from this city at her going into captivity, sowhen she returned again, she had also then returned to her the glory of God; whereuponthis very prophet that saw the glory of God go from her at her going into captivity,did see it, the very same; and that according as it departed, so return at her deliverance.'He brought me to the gate,' saith he—that is, when by a vision he saw all the frameand patterns of the city and temple, in the state in which it was to be after thecaptivity. 'He brought me to the gate - that looketh toward the east, and beholdthe glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east'—the very same way thatit went when it was departed from the city (Eze 11:23). 'His voice was like a noiseof many waters, and the earth shined with is glory. It was according to the appearanceof the vision which I saw, even according to the vision which I saw when I came todestroy the city, and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar;and I fell upon my face, and the glory of the Lord came into the house by the wayof the gate whose prospect is toward the east; so the Spirit took me up, and broughtme into the inner court, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house' (Eze43:1-5).
Thus you see it was in the destruction and restoration of the Jews' Jerusalem, bywhich God doth plainly show us how things will be in our gospel church; she was todecline and lose her glory, she was to be trampled—as she was a city— for a longtime under the feet of the unconverted and wicked world. Again, she was after thisto be builded, and to be put into her former glory; at which time she was to haveher glory, her former glory, even the glory of God, returned to her again. 'He showedme,' saith John, 'that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven fromGod, having the glory of God.' As he saith by the prophet, 'I am returned to Jerusalemwith mercies, my house shall be built in it' (Zech 1:16). And again, 'I am returnedunto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem' (Zech 8:3).
'Having the glory of God.' There is the grace of God, and the glory of that grace;there is the power of God, and the glory of that power; and there is the majestyof God, and the glory of that majesty (Eph 1:6; 2 Thess 1:9; Isa 2:19).
It is true God doth not leave his people in some sense, even in the worst of times,and in their most forlorn condition (John 14:18), as he showeth by his being withthem in their sad state in Egypt and Babylon, and other of their states of calamity(Dan 3:25). As he saith, 'Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, andalthough I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them a littlesanctuary in the countries where they shall come' (Eze 2:16). God is with his church,even in her greatest adversity, both to limit, bound, measure, and to point out toher quantity and quality, her beginning and duration of distress and temptation (Isa27:7-9; Rev 2:10). But yet I say the glory of God, in the notion of Ezekiel and John,when they speak of the restoration of this city, that is not always upon his people,though always they are beloved and counted for his peculiar treasure. She may thenhave his grace, but not at the same time the glory of his grace; his power, but notthe glory of his power; she may also have his majesty, but not the glory thereof;God may be with his church, even then when the glory is departed from Israel.
The difference that is between her having his grace, power, and majesty, and theglory of each, is manifest in these following particulars;—grace, power, and majesty,when they are in the church in their own proper acts, only as we are considered saintsbefore God, so they're invisible, and that not only altogether to the world, butoften to the very children of God themselves; but now when the glory of these dorest upon the church, according to Ezekiel and John; why then it will be visibleand apparent to all beholders. 'When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall APPEARin his glory' (Psa 102:16), as he saith also in another place, 'The Lord shall ariseupon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee' (Isa 60:1-2).
Now, then, to speak a word or two, in particular to the glory of God, that at thisday will be found to settle upon this city.
First. Therefore, at her returning, she shall not only have his grace upon her, butthe very glory of his grace shall be seen upon her; the glory of pardoning graceshall now shine in her own soul, and grace in the glory of it shall appear in allher doings. Now shall both our inward and outward man be most famously adorned andbeautified with salvation; the golden pipes that are on the head of the golden candlestick,shall at this day convey, with all freeness, the golden oil thereout, into our goldenhearts and lamps (Zech 4:2). Our wine shall be mixed with gall no longer, we shallnow drink the pure blood of the grape; the glory of pardoning and forgiving mercyshall so show itself at this day in this city, and shall so visibly abide there inthe eyes of all spectators, that all shall be enflamed with it. 'For Zion's sakewill I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousnessthereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shaltbe called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name' (Isa 62:1,2). Andagain, 'The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, andall the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God' (Isa 52:10; Psa 98:2).
At that day, the prophet tells us, there shall be holiness upon the very horses'bridles, and that the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before thealtar, and every pot in Jerusalem shall be holiness unto the Lord (Zech 14:20,21).The meaning of all these places is, that in the day that the Lord doth turn his churchand people into the frame and fashion of a city, and when he shall build them upto answer the first state of the church, there will such grace and plenty of mercybe extended unto her, begetting such faith and holiness and grace in her soul, andall her actions, that she shall convince all that are about her that she is the city,the beloved city, the city that the Lord hath chosen; for after that he had saidbefore, he would return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem (Zech 8:3),he saith, moreover, that Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth, and the mountainof the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 'And all the people of the earth shall seethat thou art called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of thee' (Deu28:10).
Second. As the glory of the grace of God will, at this day, be wonderfully manifestin and over his city; so also at that day will be seen the glory of his power. 'Omy people,' saith God, 'that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; heshall smite thee with a rock, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after themanner of Egypt,' that is, shall persecute and afflict thee, as Pharaoh served thyfriends of old; but be not afraid, 'For yet a very little while, and the indignationshall cease, and mine anger in their destruction: and the Lord of hosts shall stirup a scourge for him, according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: andas his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt' (Isa7; 10:24-26). The sum is, God will, at the day of his rebuilding the New Jerusalem,so visibly make bare his arm, and be so exalted before all by his power towards hispeople, that no people shall dare to oppose—or stand, if they do make the least attemptto hinder—the stability of this city. 'I will surely [gather, or] assemble, O Jacob,all of thee,' saith God: 'I will surely gather the remnant of Israel - as the sheepof Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of the fold; they shall make great noise byreason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them, they have brokenup [the antichristian siege that hath been laid against them], they have passed throughthe gate, and are gone out by it, and their king shall pass before them, and theLord on the head of them' (Micah 2:12,13).
'Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherdsare called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himselffor the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion,and for the hill thereof' (Isa 31:4). 'The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, heshall stir up jealousy like a man of war; he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevailagainst his enemies' (Isa 42:13). But 'not by might, nor yet by power,' that is,the power and arm of flesh, but by the power of the Word and Spirit of God, whichwill prevail, and must prevail, to quash and overturn all opposition (Zech 12:8;Zeph 3:8; Joel 3:16; Zech 4:6).
Third. [The glory of his majesty.] When God hath thus appeared in the glory of hisgrace, and the glory of his power, to deliver his chosen, then shall the implacableenemies of God shrink and creep into holes like the locusts and frogs of the hedges,at the appearance of the glory of the majesty of God. Now the high ones, lofty ones,haughty ones, and the proud, shall see so evidently the hand of the Lord towardshis servants, and his indignation towards his enemies, that 'they shall go into theholes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, - and into the tops of the raggedrocks, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arisethto shake terribly the earth' (Isa 2:19,21).
Where the presence of the Lord doth so appear upon a people, that those that arespectators perceive and understand it, it must need work on those spectators oneof these two things;—either first a trembling and astonishment, and quailing of heart,as it doth among the implacable enemies (Josh 2:8-13), or else a buckling and bendingof heart, and submission to his people and ways (Josh 9:22-25). As saith the prophet,'The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee, and allthey that despised thee shall fall down at the soles of thy feet; and they shallcall thee The city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel' (Isa 60:14).As Moses said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord your God shall lay the fear ofyou, and the dread of you, upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hathsaid unto you' (Deu 11:25).
At this day the footsteps of the Lord will be so apparent and visible in all hisactions and dispensations in and towards his people, this holy city, that all shallsee, as I have said, how gracious, loving, kind, and good the Lord is now towardshis own children; such glory, I say, will be over them, and upon them, that theyall will shine before the world; and such tender bowels in God towards them, thatno sooner can an adversary peep, or lift up his head against his servants, but hishand will be in the neck of them; so that in short time he will have brought hischurch into that safety, and her neighbours into that fear and submission, that theyshall not again so much as dare to hold up a hand against her, no, not for a thousandyears (Rev 20:3). 'Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will bring again the captivity ofJacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be buildedon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out ofthem shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry; and I willmultiply them, and they shall not be few; and I will also glorify them, and theyshall not be small: Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregationshall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them' (Jer 30:18-20).
[The light of this city.]
Having the glory of God. 'And her light was like unto a stone most precious, evenlike a jasper stone, clear as crystal.' Having thus told us of her glory, even of'the glory of God,' how it at this day will rest upon this city, he now comes totouch a second thing, to wit, 'her light,' and that in which she descends, and bywhich, as with the light of the sun, she seeth before her, and behind her, and onevery side. This therefore is another branch of her duty; she in her descending hath'the glory of God,' and also 'the light of a stone most precious.'
Ezekiel tells us, that in the vision which he saw when he came to destroy the city—whichvision was the very same that he saw again at the restoring of it—he saith, I say,that in this vision, among many other wonders, he saw a fire enfolding itself, anda brightness about it, and that 'the fire also was bright, and that out of it wentforth lightning'; that 'the likeness of the firmament upon the - living creatures,was as the colour of the terrible crystal'; that the throne also, upon which wasplaced the likeness of a man, was like, or 'as the appearance of a sapphire-stone'(Eze 1:4,13,14,22,26). All which words, with the nature of their light and colour,the Holy Ghost doth in the vision of John comprise, and placeth within the colourof the jasper and the crystal-stone. And indeed, though the vision of John and Ezekiel,touching the end of the matter, be but one and the same, yet they do very much varyand differ in terms and manner of language; Ezekiel tells us that the man that hesaw come to measure the city and temple, had in his hand 'a line of flax' (40:3),which line John calls a golden reed; Ezekiel tells us that the river came out of,or 'from under the threshold of the house' (47:1); but John saith it came out ofthe throne of God and of the Lamb. Ezekiel tells us that on either side of this rivergrew ALL trees for food (v 12); John calls these ALL trees but ONE tree, and tellsus that it stood on both sides of this river.
The like might also be showed you in many other particulars; as here you see theydiffer as touching the terms of the light and brightness that appears upon this cityat her rebuilding, which the Holy Ghost represents to John under the light and gloryof the jasper and crystal-stone; for indeed the end of Ezekiel's vision was to showus, that as when the glory of God departed from the city, it signified that he wouldtake away from them the light of his Word, and their clearness of worship, sufferingthem to mourn for the loss of the one, and to grope for the want of the other; soat his return again he would give them both their former light of truth, and alsothe clearness of spirit to understand it, which also John doth show us shall lastfor ever.
'...And her light was like unto a stone most precious...' This stone it is to representunto us the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose light and clearness this city comes out ofBabylon; for, as he saith, she hath the glory of God, that is, his visible hand ofgrace, power, and majesty, to bring her forth; so she comes in the light of thisprecious stone, which terms, I say, both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Peterdo apply to the Lord Jesus, and none else; the one calling him 'a precious corner-stone,'the other calling him the 'chief corner-stone, elect and precious' (Isa 28:16; 1Peter 2:6). Now then when he saith this city hath the light of this stone to descendin, he means that she comes in the shining wisdom, knowledge, understanding, andinfluences of Christ, out of her afflicted and captivated state; and observe it,she is rather said to descend in the light of this stone, than in the light of God,though both be true, because it is the man Christ, the stone which the builders rejected,'in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,' of whose fulness wedo all receive, and grace for grace; 'for it pleased the Father that in him shouldall fulness dwell' (Col 2:3; John 1:16; Col 1:19. See also Acts 2:33 and Eph 4:10-13).
This showeth us, then, these two things—
First. That the time of the return of the saints to build the ruinous city is near,yea, very near, when the light of the Lord Jesus begins to shine unto perfect dayin her. God will not bring forth his people out of Babylon, especially those thatare to be the chief in the building of this city, without their own judgments. 'Theyshall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion' (Isa 52:8). As he saithalso in another place, 'The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, andthe light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day thatthe Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and health the stroke of their wound'(Isa 30:26). 'And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of themthat hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, andthe tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly' (Isa 32:3,4). The Lordshall be now exalted, and be very high, for he will fill Zion with judgment and righteousness,and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times (Isa 33:5,6). When Israelwent out of Egypt, they wanted much of this, they went out blindfolded, as it were,they went they knew not whither; wherefore they went not in the glory of that whichthis city descendeth in; as Moses said, 'The Lord hath not given you an heart toperceive, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear, unto this day' (Deu 29:4). But theseshall see every step they take; they shall be like the beasts that had eyes bothbefore and behind: they shall see how far they are come out of Antichrist, and shallsee also how far yet they have to go, to the complete rebuilding and finishing ofthis city.
Second. This showeth us how sweet and pleasant the way of this church will be atthis day before them. Light, knowledge, and judgment in God's matters doth not onlygive men to see and behold all the things with which they are concerned, but thethings themselves being good, they do also by this means convey very great sweetnessand pleasantness into the hearts of those that have the knowledge of them. Everystep, I say, that now they take, it shall be as it were in honey and butter. 'Theransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy[see v 2] upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighingshall flee away' (Isa 35:10). As he saith, 'Again I will build thee, and thou shaltbe built; O virgin of Israel, thou shalt again be adorned with tabrets, and shallgo forth in the dances of them that make merry.—For thus saith the Lord, Sing withgladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praiseye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bringthem from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and withthem the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth with childtogether; a great company shall return thither' (Jer 31:4,7,8).
By these words, the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth,he would have us understand thus much—
1. That the way of God shall, by the illuminating grace of Christ, be made so pleasant,so sweet, and so beautiful in the souls of all at that day, that even the blindestshall not stumble therein, neither shall the lame refuse it for fear of hurt; yea,the blind, the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth shall, thoughthey be of all in most evil case to travel, and go the journey, yet, at this day,by reason of the glorious light and sweetness that now will possess them, even forgettheir impediments, and dance, as after musical tabrets.
2. This city, upon the time of her rebuilding, shall have her blind men see, herhalt and lame made strong; she also that is with child, and her that travaileth,shall jointly see the city-work that at this day will be on foot, and put into formand order, yet before the end. 'Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflictthee,' saith the Lord to his people, 'and I will save her that halteth, and gatherher that was driven out, and I will get them praise and fame in every land wherethey have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the timethat I gather you, for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of theearth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord' (Zeph 3:19,20).
'And her light was like unto a stone most precious.' In that he saith her light islike unto 'A STONE MOST PRECIOUS,' he showeth us how welcome, and with what eagernessof spirit this light will at this day be embraced by the Lord's people. 'Truly thelight is sweet,' saith Solomon, 'and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to beholdthe sun' (Eccl 11:7). And if so, then how beautiful, desirable, and precious willthat light be, that is not only heavenly, and from Christ, but that will be universalamong all saints, to show them the same thing, and to direct them to and in the samework. The want of this hath, to this day, been one great reason of that crossnessof judgment and persuasion that hath been found among the saints, and that hath causedthat lingering and disputing about the glorious state of the church in the latterdays; some being for its excellency to consist chiefly in outward glory; and others,swerving on the other side, conclude she shall not have any of this: some conceivingthat this city will not be built until the Lord comes from heaven in person; othersagain concluding that when he comes, then there shall be no longer tarrying here,but that all shall forthwith, even all the godly, be taken up into heaven: with diversother opinions in these matters. And thus many 'run to and fro,' but yet, God bethanked, knowledge does increase, though the vision will be sealed, even to the timeof the end (Dan 12:4). But now, I say, at the time of the end, the Spirit shall bepoured down upon us from on high (Isa 32:15); now 'they also that erred in spiritshall come to understanding' (Isa 29;24); the city shall descend in the light ofa stone most precious. The sun will be risen upon the earth, when Lot goeth fromSodom unto Zoar (Gen 19:23).
Now there shall be an oneness of judgment and understanding in the hearts of allsaints; they shall be now no more two, but one in the Lord's hand (Eze 37:19-21).Alas! the saints are yet but as an army routed, and are apt sometimes through fear,and sometimes through forgetfulness, to mistake the word of their captain-general,the Son of God, and are also too prone to shoot and kill even their very right-handman; but at that day all such doing shall be laid aside, for the knowledge of theglory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9,13).Which knowledge shall then strike through the heart and liver of all swerving andunsound opinions in Christ's matters; for then shall every one of the Christianscall upon the name of the Lord, and that with one pure lip or language, 'to servehim with one consent' (Zeph 3:9). It is darkness, and not light, that keepeth God'speople from knowing one another, both in their faith and language; and it is darknessthat makes them stand at so great a distance both in judgment and affections, asin these and other days they have done. But then, saith God, 'I will plant in thewilderness,' that is, in the church that is now bewildered, 'the cedar, the shittahtree, the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, the pine,and the box tree together; that they may see and know, and consider and understandtogether, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the holy One of Israel hathcreated it' (Isa 41:19,20). And again, 'The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee,the fir tree, and the pine tree, and the box together,' to beautify the house ofmy glory, and to 'make the place of my feet glorious' (Isa 60:13).
Never was fair weather after foul—nor warm weather after cold—nor a sweet and beautifulspring after a heavy, and nipping, and terrible winter, so comfortable, sweet, desirable,and welcome to the poor birds and beasts of the field, as this day will be to thechurch of God. Darkness! it was the plague of Egypt: it is an empty, forlorn, desolate,solitary, and discomforting state; wherefore light, even the illuminating grace ofGod, especially in the measure that it shall be communicated unto us at this day,it must needs be precious. In light there is warmth and pleasure; it is by the lightof the sun that the whole universe appears unto us distinctly, and it is by the heatthereof that everything groweth and flourisheth; all which will now be gloriouslyand spiritually answered in this holy and new Jerusalem (2 Thess 2). O how clearlywill all the spiders, and dragons, and owls, and foul spirits of Antichrist at thatday be discovered by the light hereof! (Rev 18:1-4). Now also will all the prettyrobins and little birds in the Lord's field most sweetly send forth their pleasantnotes, and all the flowers and herbs of his garden spring. Then will it be said tothe church by her Husband and Saviour, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away;for lo, the winter is past the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth,the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard inour land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tendergrape give a good smell' (Cant 2:10-13). You know how pleasant this is, even to befulfilled in the letter of it, not only to birds and beasts, but men; especiallyit is pleasant to such men that have for several years been held in the chains ofaffliction. It must needs, therefore, be most pleasant and desirable to the afflictedchurch of Christ, who hath lain now in the dungeon of Antichrist for above a thousandyears. But, Lord, how will this lady, when she gets her liberty, and when she isreturned to her own city, how will she then take pleasure in the warm and spanglingbeams of thy shining grace! and solace herself with thee in the garden, among thenuts and the pomegranates, among the lilies and flowers, and all the chief spices(Cant 7:11-13).
'Even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.' These words are the metaphor by whichthe Holy Ghost is pleased to illustrate the whole business. Indeed similitudes, iffitly spoke and applied, do much set off and out any point that either in thedoctrines of faith or manners, is handled in the churches. Wherefore, because hewould illustrate, as well as affirm, the glory of this Jerusalem to the life, thereforehe concludes his general description of this city with these comparisons:—I saw,saith he, the holy city, the Lamb's wife; I saw her in her spangles, and in all heradorning, but verily she was most excellent. She was shining as the jasper, and aspure and clear as crystal. The jasper, it seems, is a very beautiful and costly stone,inasmuch as that, above all the precious stones, is made use of by the Holy Ghostto show us the glory and shining virtues of the Lord Jesus in this New Jerusalem;and yet, behold, the jasper is too short and slender to do the business, there mustanother stone be added, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Yea, saith theLord Jesus, her checks are like rows of jewels, and so are the joints of her thighs;even like the jewels that are 'the work of the hands of a cunning workman' (Cant1:9,10; 7:1).
The crystal is a stone so clear and spotless, that even her greatest adversaries,in the midst of all their rage, are not able justly to charge her with the leastmote or spot imaginable; wherefore when he saith, that this city in her descendingis even like the jasper for light, and like the crystal for clearness; he would haveus further learn, that at the day of the descending of this Jerusalem, she shallbe every way so accomplished with innocency, sincerity, and clearness in all heractions, that none shall have from her, or her ways, any just occasion given untothem to slight, contemn, or oppose her. For,
First, As she descends, she meddleth not with any man's matters but her own; shecomes all along by the King's highway; that is, alone by the rules that her Lordhath prescribed for her in his testament. The governors of this world need not atall to fear a disturbance from her, or a diminishing of ought they have. She willnot meddle with their fields nor vineyards, neither will she drink of the water oftheir wells: only let her go by the King's highway, and she will not turn to theright hand or to the left, until she hath passed all their borders (Num 20:18,19:21:22). It is a false report then that the governors of the nations have receivedagainst the city, this New Jerusalem, if they believe, that according to the talethat is told them, she is and hath been of old a rebellious city, and destructiveto kings, and a diminisher of their revenues. I say, these things are lying words,and forged even in the heart of 'Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of theircompanions' (Eze 4:7). For verily this city, in her descending, is clear from suchthings, even as clear as crystal. She is not for meddling with anything that is theirs,from a thread even to a shoe-latchet. Her glory is spiritual and heavenly, and sheis satisfied with what is her own. It is true, the kings and nations of this worldshall one day bring their glory and honour to this city; but yet not by outward forceor compulsion; none shall constrain them but the love of Christ and the beauty ofthis city. 'The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness ofthy rising' (Isa 60:3). The light and beauty of this city, that only shall engagetheir hearts and overcome them. Indeed, if any shall, out of mistrust or enmity againstthis city and her prosperity, bend themselves to disappoint the designs of the eternalGod concerning her building and glory, then they must take what followeth. Her Godin the midst of her is mighty, he will rest in his love, and rejoice over her withsinging, and will UNDO all that afflict her (Zeph 3:17-19). Wherefore, 'associateyourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye offar countries; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves,and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught;speak the word and it shall not stand; for God is with us' (Isa 8:9,10).
What work did he make with Og the king of Bashan, and with Sihon, king of the Amorites,for refusing to let his people go peaceably by them, when they were going to theirown inheritance (Num 21:22-35). God is harmless, gentle, and pitiful; but woe beto that people that shall oppose or gainsay him. He is gentle, yet a lion; he isloth to hurt, yet he will not be crossed; 'Fury is not in me,' saith he; yet if youset the briars and thorns against him, He 'will go through them, and burn them together'(Isa 27:4). Jerusalem also, this beloved city, it will be beautiful and profitableto them that love her; but a cup of trembling, and a burthensome stone to all thatburden themselves with her; 'all that burthen themselves with it, shall be cut inpieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against her' (Zech12:2,3).
Again, she will be clear as crystal in the observation of all her turns and stops,in her journeying from Egypt to Canaan, from Babylon to this Jerusalem state. Shewill, I say, observe both time and order, and will go only as her God doth go beforeher; now one step in this truth, and then another in that, according to the dispensationof God, and the light of day she lives in. As the cloud goes, so will she; and whenthe cloud stays, so will she (Rev 14:4; Exo 40:36-38). She comes in perfect rankand file, 'terrible as an army with banners' (Cant 6:10). No Balaam can enchant her;she comes 'out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,with all spices of the merchants' (Cant 3:6). Still 'leaning upon her beloved'(Cant 8:5). The return of Zion from under the tyranny of her afflictors, and herrecovery to her primitive purity, is no headstrong brain-sick rashness of her own,but the gracious and merciful hand and goodness of God unto her, therefrom to giveher deliverance. 'For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplishedat Babylon [that is, the time of the reign of Antichrist, and his tyranny over hischurch] I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you toreturn to this place' (Jer 29:10). 'Therefore they shall come and sing in the heightof Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for [spiritual] wheat,and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and theirsoul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all' (Isa57:11; Jer 31:12).
[SECOND. A Discovery of its Defence, Entrances, and Fashion in Particular.]
Verse 12. 'And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gatestwelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribesof the children of Israel.' These words do give us to understand, that this holycity is now built, and in all her parts complete, they give us also to understandthe manner of her strength, &c.
'And had a wall.' Having thus, I say, given us a description of this city in general,he now descends to her strength and frame in particular: her frame and strength,I say, as she is a city compact together: as also of her splendour and beauty.
And observe it, that of all the particulars that you read of, touching the fence,fashion, or frame of this city, and of all her glory, the firs thing that he presentethto our view is her safety and security; she 'had a wall.' A wall, you know, is forthe safety, security, defence, and preservation of a place, city, or town; thereforeit is much to the purpose that in the first place after this general description,he should fall upon a discovery of her security and fortification; for what of allthis glory and goodness, if there be no way to defend and preserve it in its highand glorious state? If a man had in his possession even mountains of pearl and goldenmines, yet if he had not wherewith to secure and preserve them to himself, from thosethat with all their might endeavour to get them from him, he might not only quicklylose his treasure, and become a beggar, but also through the very fear of losingthem, even lose the comfort of them, while yet in his possession. To speak nothingof the angels that fell, and of the glory that they then did lose. I may instanceto you the state of Adam in his excellency; Adam, you know, was once so rich andwealthy, that he had the garden of Eden, the paradise of pleasure, yea, and alsothe whole world to boot, for his inheritance; but mark, in all his glory, he waswithout a wall; wherefore presently, even at the very first assault of the adversary,he was not only worsted as touching his person and standing, but even stripped ofall his treasure, his paradise taken from him, and he in a manner left so poor, thatforthwith he was glad of an apron of fig-leaves to cover his nakedness, and to hidehis shame form the face of the sun (Gen 3:7). Wherefore, I say, John speaks to thepurpose in saying she had a wall; a wall for defence and safety, for security andpreservation. Now then she shall lie no longer like blasted bones in an open fieldor valley; that was her portion in the days of her affliction (Eze 37:1,2).
[ The wall of the city.]
'And had a wall.' It is said of old Jerusalem, that she had a wall and a wall, twowalls for her defence and safety (Jer 39:4; Jer 52:7); which two, in my judgment,did hold forth these two things. The one, their eternal preservation and securityfrom the wrath of God, through the benefits of Christ; and the other, that specialprotection and safeguard that the church hath always had from and by the specialprovidence of her God in the midst of her enemies, Wherefore one of these is calledby the proper name of salvation, which salvation I take in special to signify ourfortification and safety from the wrath of God, and the curse and power of the lawand sin (Isa 26:1; Acts 4:12). The other is called, A wall of fire round about her;and alludeth to the vision that the prophet's servant was made to see for his comfort,when he was put in fear, by reason of the great company of the enemies that werebending their force against the life of his master (Eze 2:5; 2 Kings 6:17).
But now in those days, though there were for the defence of the city those two walls,yet they stood a little distance each from other, and had a ditch between them, whichwas to signify that though then they had the wall of salvation about them, with referenceto their eternal state, yet the wall of God's providence and special protection wasnot yet so nearly joined thereto but that they might, for their foolishness, havethat broken down, and they suffered to fall into the ditch that was between themboth (Isa 22:10- 12). And so he saith by the prophet, 'I will tell you what I willdo to my vineyard [that is, to this city for the wickedness thereof], I will takeaway the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof,and it shall be trodden down' (Isa 5:5-7). Which hedge and wall could not be thatof eternal salvation, for that stood sure, though they should be scattered amongthe nations 'as wheat is sifted in a sieve' (Amos 9:9). It must therefore be thewall of her special preservation in her outward peace and happiness, which wall wasoften in those days broken down, and they made havoc of, of all that dwelt aboutthem.
But now touching the safety of New Jerusalem, the city of which I here discourse,she is seen in the vision by John to have but one only wall; to signify that at thisday the wall of her eternal salvation, and of God's special providence to protectand defend her, in her present visible and gospel glory, shall be so effectuallyjoined together, that now they shall be no more two, that is, at a distance, witha ditch between, but one sound and enclosing wall; to show us that now the stateof this Jerusalem, even touching her outward glory, peace, and tranquility, willbe so stable, invincible, and lasting, that unless that part of the wall which iseternal salvation, can be broken down, the glory of this city shall never be vailedmore. Wherefore the prophet, when he speaks with reference to the happy state andcondition of this city, he saith, 'Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wastingnor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, andthy gates praise' (Isa 60:18); as he saith also in another place, 'Thine eye shallsee Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, notone of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereofbe broken' (Isa 33:20). The walls are now conjoined, both joined into one; the Fatherhath delivered up the great red dragon into the hand of Christ, who hath shut himup and sealed him down, even down for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-3). Wherefore fromthe Lord shall there be 'upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assembliesa cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon allher glory shall be a defence' (Isa 4:5). And 'in that day shall this song be sung:We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks' (Isa 26:1,2).The same in effect hath our prophet John, saying 'I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem,'descending out of heaven from God, 'prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, - The tabernacle of God is withmen, and he will dwell with them: - and God himself shall be with them, and be theirGod. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no moredeath, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for theformer things are passed away' (Rev 21:1-4).
'And had a wall great and high.' These words, great and high, are added for illustration,to set out the matter to the height; and indeed the glory of a wall lieth in this,that it is great and high; the walls of the Canaanites were terrible upon this account,and did even sink the hearts of those that beheld them (Deu 1:28). Wherefore thiscity shall be most certainly in safety, she hath a wall about her, a great wall:a wall about her, an high wall. It is great for compass, it incloseth every saint;it is great for thickness, it is compacted of all the grace and goodness of God,both spiritual and temporal; and for height, if you count from the utmost side tothe utmost, then it is higher than heaven, who can storm it? (Heb 7:26) and for depth,it is lower than hell, who can undermine it? (Job 11:8).
Great mercies, high mercies, great preservation, and a high arm to defend, shallcontinually at this day encamp this city: God himself will be a continual life-guardto this city; 'I will encamp,' saith he, 'about mine house, because of the army,because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth; and no oppressorshall pass through them any more; for now have I seen with mine eyes' (Zech 9:8).
[The gates of the city.]
'And had twelve gates.' Having thus showed us her wall, he now comes to her gates;it had gates, it had twelve gates. By gates in this place we are to understand theway of entrance; gates, you know, are for coming in, and for going out (Jer 17:19,20);and do in this place signify two things. First, An entrance into communion with theGod and Saviour of this city. Secondly, Entrance into communion with the inhabitantsand privileges of this city; in both which the gates do signify Christ: for as noman can come to the knowledge and enjoyment of the God, and glorious Saviour, butby and through the Lord Christ; so no man can come into true and spiritual communionwith these inhabitants, but by him also: 'I am the way,' saith he, 'and the truth,and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me': and again, 'I am the door,by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture'(John 10:1-9; 14:6).
'And had twelve gates.' In that he saith twelve gates, he alludeth to the city ofJerusalem that was of old, which had just so many (Neh 3: 12:37-29); and are on purposeput into the number of twelve, to answer to the whole number of the elect of God,which are comprehended within the number of the twelve tribes, whether they are naturalJews or Gentiles; for as all the godly Jews are the seed of Abraham after the flesh,though to godly, because they are the children of the flesh of Abraham; so all thegodly Gentiles are the children of Abraham after the spirit, though not by that meansmade the children of the flesh of Abraham. They both meet then in the spirit andfaith of the gospel, as God saith to the Jews, 'when a stranger shall sojourn withthee, and will keep the passover to the Lord,' that is, become godly, and receivethe faith of Christ, let all his males be circumcised, and then let them come near,and keep it, &c. (Exo 12:48). For they that are of faith, are the children offaithful Abraham, who is called the very father of us all (Gal 3:7; Rom 4:16). Thusyou see all the godly come under the title of the children of Abraham, and of theJews; and so under the denomination also of being persons belonging to the tribes,the twelve tribes, who answer to those twelve gates. Wherefore the Psalmist mindingthis, speaking indefinitely of all the godly, under the name of the tribes of Israel;saying, 'Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is buildedas a city that is compact together, whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord' (Psa 122:2-4).
But again, though I am certain that all the Gentiles that are at any time converted,are reckoned within the compass of some of the tribes of Israel, to which the gatesof this city may truly be said to answer; yet the gates are here in a special mannercalled by the name of twelve, to answer to the happy return and restoration of thosepoor distressed creatures the twelve tribes of the Jews that are scattered abroad,and that are, and for a long time have been to our astonishment and their shame,as vagabonds and stragglers among the nations (Hosea 9:17), there to continue 'manydays, without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and withoutan ephod' (Hosea 3:4). That is, without the true God, the true Saviour, and the trueword and ordinances; after which, saith the same prophet, they shall even in thelatter days, that is, when this city is builded, return and seek the Lord their God,and David their king, and shall then 'fear the Lord and his goodness' (Hosea 3:5).This the apostle also affirmeth, when he telleth the believing Gentiles that blindnessin part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: whichIsrael in this place cannot by any means be taken for the Gentiles that are converted,for this Israel must be rejected until the bulk of the elect Gentiles be converted;besides he calleth this Israel by the name of Israel, even while unconverted; butthe converted Gentiles still Gentiles, even when converted: he calls this Israelthe natural branches, but the Gentiles wild branches; and tells us further, thatwhen they are converted, they shall be grafted into their own olive tree; but whenthe Gentiles are converted, they must be cut off of their own stock and tree: readRomans 11 throughout.
Wherefore, I say, the gates are called twelve, to answer these poor creatures, whoat this day shall be awakened, and enlightened, and converted to the faith of Jesus.These gates in another place are called a way, and these Jews, the kings of the east;and it is there said also, that at present this way doth want preparing; which isas much as to say this city wants setting up, and the gates want setting in theirproper places. Wherefore, saith John, the sixth angel poured out his vial upon thegreat river Euphrates, that is, destroyed the strength and force of the Roman antichrist—forthe river Euphrates was the fence of literal Babylon, the type of our spiritual one—whichforce and fence, when it is destroyed or dried up, then the way of the kings of theeast will be prepared, or made ready for their journey to this Jerusalem (Rev 16:12).Of this the prophets are full, crying, 'Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way,take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people' (Isa 57:14). And again,'Go through, go through the gates, prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, castup the high way; gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people. Behold,the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion,Behold thy salvation cometh; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.And they shall call them, The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and thou shaltbe called, Sought out; A city not forsaken' (Isa 62:10-12). All which doth most especiallyrelate to the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, who in great abundance shall,when all things are made ready, come flocking in to the Son of God, and find favour,as in the days of old.
[The angels at the gates, what they are.]
'And at the gates twelve angels.' By angels in this place, we are to understand themessengers and ministers of the Lord Jesus, by whom the mystery of eternal life andfelicity is held forth and discovered before the sons of men; and thus this wordangel is frequently taken in this prophecy (Rev 1:20; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7; 14:6).
'And at the gates twelve angels'—
In these words, then, there are two things to be considered. First. Why they shouldbe called twelve. And, Second. Why they are said to stand at the twelve gates ofthis new and holy city.
First. They are called twelve, to signify two things. 1. The truth of their doctrine.And, 2. The sufficiency of their doctrine and ministry for the converting of thetwelve tribes to the faith of Christ, and privileges of this city.
1. For the truth of their doctrine: for by twelve here he would have us to understandthat he hath his eye upon the twelve apostles, or upon the doctrine of the twelve,the apostolical doctrine. As if he should say, This city, the New Jerusalem, shallbe every way accomplished with beauty and glory; she shall have a wall for her security,and twelve gates to answer the twelve tribes; yea, and also at these gates the twelveapostles, in their own pure, primitive, and unspotted doctrine. The Romish beastshave corrupted this doctrine by treading it down with their feet, and have muddiedthis water with their own dirt and filthiness (Eze 34:17,18). But at this day,this shall be recovered from under the feet of these beasts, and cleansed also fromtheir dirt, and be again in the same glory, splendour, and purity, as in the primitivetimes. It is said that when Israel was passed out of Egypt, beyond the sea, theypresently came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, &c., and that theyencamped by the waters (Exo 15:27). Which twelve wells did figure forth the doctrineof the twelve apostles, out of which the church, at her return from captivity, shalldraw and drink, as out of the wells of salvation. Now shall the wells of our fatherAbraham, which the Philistines have for a great while stopped; now, I say, shallthey again be opened by our Isaac, his son; and shall be also called after theirown names (Gen 26:18). This is generally held forth by the prophets, that yet againthe church shall be fed upon the mountains of Israel, and that they 'shall lie downin a good fold, and a fat pasture'; yea, 'I will feed my flock, and I will causethem to lie down, saith the Lord God' (Eze 34:14,15).
2. As by these twelve we are to understand the truth and purity of the doctrine ofthe twelve, so again, by this word twelve, we are to understand the sufficiency ofthat doctrine and ministry to bring in the twelve tribes to the privileges of thiscity. Mark, for the twelve tribes there are twelve gates, for every tribe a gate;and at the twelve gates, twelve angels, at every gate an angel. 'O Judah,' saithGod, 'he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of thy people'(Hosea 6:11). And so for the rest of the tribes; before Ephraim and Benjamin, andManasseh, he will stir up his strength to save them (Psa 80:2). 'I will hiss forthem,' saith God, 'and gather them, for I have redeemed them; and they shall increaseas they have increased: and I will sow them among the people, and they shall rememberme in far countries, and they shall live with their children, and return again; Iwill bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria,and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and place shall not befound for them' (Zech 10:8-10).
[Second.] But to come to the second question, that is, Why these twelve angels aresaid to stand at the gate? which may be for divers reasons.
1. To show us that the doctrine of the twelve is the doctrine that letteth in atthese gates, and that also that shutteth out. 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they areremitted,' saith Christ, 'and whosesoever sins yet retain, they are retained' (John20:23; Matt 18:18). And hence it is that the true ministers, in their right administration,are called porters; because as porters stand at the gate, and there open to, or shutupon, those that make an attempt to enter in (Mark 13:34); so the ministers of Christ,by the doctrine of the twelve, do both open to and shut the gates against the personthat will be attempting to enter in at the gates of this city (2 Chron 23:19).
2. But again, they are said to stand at the gates for the encouraging and persuadingof the tempted and doubting Jews, who at the beginning of their return will be muchafflicted under the sight and sense of their own wretchedness. Alas! were it notfor some to stand at the gates of this city for instruction, and the encouragementof those that will at that day in earnest be looking after life, they might labouras in other things for very, very vanity; and might also be so grievously beat outof heart and spirit, that they might die in despair. But now to prevent this forthose that are in the way to Zion with watery eyes, and wetted cheeks, here standthe angels, continually sounding with their golden gospel-trumpets, 'Enter into hisgates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, andbless his name. For the Lord is good, and his mercy is everlasting, and his truthendureth' for ever, even 'to all generations' (Psa 100:4,5). As he saith again, 'Andit shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and theyshall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcast inthe land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem' (Isa27:13).
[The names written on the gates.]
'And at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names ofthe twelve tribes of the children of Israel.' Thus it was in the vision of the prophet,when he was taking a view of the pattern of this city: 'And the gates of the city,'saith the angel to him, 'shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel' (Eze 48:31).Which saying John doth here expound, saying, the names of the twelve tribes of thechildren of Israel were writ or set upon them.
This being thus, it cleareth to you what I said but now, to wit, that the gates arecalled twelve, to answer the twelve tribes, for their names are written thereon.This must therefore, without all doubt, be a very great encouragement to this despisedpeople; I say great encouragement, that notwithstanding all their rebellion, blasphemy,and contempt of the glorious gospel, their names should be yet found recorded andengraved upon the very gates of New Jerusalem. Thus then shall the Jews be comfortedin the latter days; and truly they will have but need hereof; for doubtless, at theirreturn, when they are thoroughly sensible of the murder they have committed, notonly upon the bodies of the prophets and apostles, but of the Son of God himself,I say this must needs, together with the remembrance of the rest of their villainousactions, exceedingly afflict and distress their bleeding souls. For 'the childrenof Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping;they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with theirfaces thitherward' (Jer 50:4,5). Mark, 'going and weeping'; there will not be a stepthat these poor people will take in the day of their returning, but will be wateredwith the tears of repentance and contrition, under the consideration of the wickednessthat, in the days of their rebellion, they have committed against the Lord of glory.As he saith also by another prophet, 'I will pour upon the house of David, and uponthe inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and theyshall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mournethfor his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitternessfor his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as themourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon, and the land shall mourn' (Zech12:10-12).
Wherefore, I say, they both have and also will have need of twelve gates, and onthem the names of their twelve tribes, with an angel at each, to encourage them toenter this holy and goodly city; and to tell them that yet he counts them his friendsin whose house he received the wounds in his hands (Zech 13:6).
But again, As by the names of the twelve tribes written on the gates, we may seewhat encouragement the Jews will have, at their return, to enter in at them; so wemay also understand that by the names of the twelve tribes here written, God wouldhave us to perceive how all must be qualified that from among the Gentiles at thisday do enter in at these gates; namely, those, and those only, that be cut out oftheir own wild olive tree, and transplanted among the children of Israel, into theirgood olive tree. Such as are Jews inwardly, the Israel of God, according to the newcreature, they shall enter, for the holy Gentiles also, by virtue of their conversion,are styled the children of Abraham, Jews, the chosen generation, the peculiar people,the holy nation; and so are spiritually, though not naturally by carnal generation,of the twelve tribes whose names are written upon the gates of the city (Gal 3:7;Rom 2:28; 1 Peter 2:9,10). 'And it shall come to pass,' saith the prophet, 'thatin what tribe the stranger,' that is, the Gentile 'sojourneth, there shall ye givehim his inheritance, saith the Lord God' (Eze 47:23). Thus the Jews and Gentilesshall meet together in the spirit of the gospel, and so both become a righteous nation;to both which the gates of this city shall stand continually open; at which alsothey may with boldness demand, by the faith of the Lord Jesus, their entrance, bothfor communion with the God, grace, and privileges of this city, according to thatwhich is written, 'Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth thetruth may enter in' (Isa 26:2). Thus much of the number of the gates, and now toproceed to the order of them.
[The order of the gates.]
Ver. 13. 'On the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates,and on the west three gates.' I shall not speak anything to the manner of his repeatingof the quarters towards which the gates do look; why he should begin at the east,then to the north, afterwards crossing to the south, and last to the west; thoughI do verily think that the Holy Ghost hath something to show us, wherefore he doththus set them forth. And possibly he may set them thus, and the west last, not onlybecause the west part of the world is that which always closeth the day, but to signifythat the west, when Jerusalem is rebuilded, will be the last part of the world thatwill be converted, or the gate that will be last, because longest, occupied withthe travels of the passengers and wayfaring men in their journey to this Jerusalem.But I pass that.
From the order of their standing, I shall inquire into two things. First. Why thegates should look in this manner every way, both east, west, north, and south? Second.Why there should be three, just three, on every side of this city? 'On the east three,on the north three, on the south three, and on the west three.'
First. For the first, the gates by looking every way, into all quarters, may signifyto us thus much, that God hath a people in every corner of the world. And also, thatgrace is to be carried out of these gates by the angels in their ministry into everyplace, to gather them home to him. As it is said of the living creatures, 'Whitherthe head looked they followed it, they turned not as they went' (Eze 10:11); so whithersoeverthe gates look, thither the ministers go, and carry the Word, to gather togetherthe elect. He 'sent them two and two before his face, into every city and place whitherhe himself would come' (Luke 10:1; Matt 28:19; John 11:52).
Again, the gates, by their thus looking every way, do signify to us, that from whatquarter or part of the world soever men come for life, for those men there are thegates of life, even right before their doors. Come they from the east, why thitherlook the gates; and so if they come from north, or west, or south. No man needs atall to go about to come at life, and peace, and rest. Let him come directly fromsin to grace, from Satan to Jesus Christ, and from this world to New Jerusalem. Thetwelve brazen oxen that Solomon made to bear the molten sea (1 Kings 7:23-25), theystood just as these gates stand, and signify, as I said before, that the doctrineof the twelve apostles should be carried into all the world, to convert—as in theprimitive times, so now at the building of New Jerusalem—and to bring in God's sheepto the fold of his church. Now, I say, as the Word is carried every way, so the gates,the open gates, look also into all corners after them, to signify that loving receptionthat shall be given to every soul that from any corner of the whole world shall unfeignedlyclose in with grace, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, therefore, men 'shall comefrom the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shallsit down in the kingdom of God' (Luke 13:29; Psa 107:1-3).
[Second.] 'On the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south threegates, and on the west three gates.' Having thus showed you in a word, why they standthus looking into every corner or quarter of the world, I now come to show you whythere must be just three looking in this manner every way.
1. Then, there may be three looking every way, to signify that it is both by theconsent of the three persons in the Trinity, that the gospel should thus every waygo forth to call men, and also to show you that both the Father, Son, and Spirit,are willing to receive and embrace the sinner, from whatsoever part or corner ofthe earth he cometh hither for life and safety. Come they from whence they will,the Father is willing to give them the Son, and so is the Son to give them himself,and so is the Spirit to give them its help against whatever may labour to hinderthem while they are here (John 3:16; Rev 21:6; 22:17).
2. In that three of the gates look every way, it may be also to show us that thereis none can enter into this city, but by the three offices of the Lord Jesus. Christby his priestly office must wash away their sins; and by his prophetical office hemust illuminate, teach, guide, and refresh them; and by his kingly office, rule overthem and govern them with his Word (Heb 7:5; John 13:8; Acts 3:22-24; Isa 40:10,11;9:6,7; Psa 76:1-3; 110:3).
3. Or, by three gates, may be signified the three states of the saints in this life;an entrance into childhood, an entrance into a manly state, and an entrance intothe state of a father of the church (1 John 2:12-14). Or, lastly, the three gatesmay signify the three-fold state we pass through from nature to glory; the stateof grace in this life, the state of felicity in paradise, and our state in gloryafter the resurrection: or thus, the state of grace that possesseth body and soulin this life, the state of glory that possesseth the soul at death, and the stateof glory that both body and soul shall be possessed with at the coming of the Lordand Saviour. This was figured forth by the order of the stairs in the temple at Jerusalem,which was first, second, and third, by which men ascended from the lowest to theuppermost room in the house of God; as he tells us, 'They went up with winding stairs'from the first into the second story, and from thence by them into the third (1 Kings6:8). Thus much for the wall and gates of New Jerusalem.
[The foundations of the wall.]
Ver. 14. 'And the wall of this city had twelve foundations, and in them the namesof the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' In these words we have two things considerable:—First.That the city-wall hath twelve foundations. Second. That in these twelve are thenames of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
First. It hath twelve foundations. This argueth invincible strength and support.That wall that hath but one foundation, how strongly doth it stand, if it be butsafely laid upon a rock, even so strongly that neither wind nor weather, in theirgreatest vehemency, are able to shake or stir it to make it fall. But I say, howmuch more when a city hath foundations, twelve foundations, and those also laid byGod himself; as it is said concerning the worthies of old, they 'looked for a citywhich hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God' (Heb 11:10).
'And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelveapostles of the Lamb.' The wall, you know, I told you, is the wall of salvation,or the safety of the church by Jesus Christ, to which is adjoined, as the effectof that, the special providence and protection of God. Now this wall, saith the HolyGhost, hath twelve foundations, to wit, to bear it up for the continuation of thesafety and security of those that are the inhabitants of this city; a foundationis that which beareth up all, and that upon which the stress of all must lie andabide. Now, to speak properly, the foundation of our happiness is but one, and thatone none but the Lord Jesus; 'For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid,which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor 3:11). So then, when he saith the wall of the cityhad twelve foundations, and that in them also are written the names of the twelveapostles of the Lamb, he doth not mean that this wall had twelve Christs for itssupport, but that the doctrine of the twelve apostles is that doctrine upon whichboth Christ, and grace, and all happiness standeth firm and sure for ever. And tosignify also, that neither Christ nor any of his benefits can be profitable untothee, unless thou receive him alone upon the terms that they do hold him forth andoffer him to sinners in their word and doctrine. If 'we, or an angel from heaven,preach any other gospel unto you,' saith Paul, 'than that which we have preachedunto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any manpreach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed'(Gal 1:8,9).
[Second.] 'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' 'And in themtheir names.' This makes it manifest that by the foundations of this wall, we areto understand the doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lord Christ, for their namesare to it, or found engraved in the foundations. Thus it was with the doctrine whichwas the foundation of the Jewish church; the first pattern being delivered by theman Moses, his name was always so entailed to that doctrine, that at last it becamecommon, and that by Divine allowance, to call that doctrine by the name of Moseshimself. 'There is one that accuseth you,' saith Christ, 'even Moses in whom ye trust'(John 5:45). And again, 'For Moses of old hath in every city them that preach him'(Acts 15:21). The same liberty of speech doth the Holy Ghost here use in speakingof the foundations of this wall, which is the doctrine of the twelve. And in thathe calleth the doctrine by the name of foundations, and leaveth it only with tellingus the names of the twelve apostles are engraven in it; he expects that men shouldbe wise that read him, and that they should be skillful in the word of righteousness,if they come up clearly to the understanding of him.
'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.'
Thus you see that the twelve apostles, above all the servants of Christ, are hereowned to be the foundations of this wall; and good reason, for they, above all other,are most clear and full in the doctrine of grace, and all doctrines pertaining tolife and holiness. 'In other ages,' saith Paul, it 'was not made known unto the sonsof men, as it is now revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit' (Eph3:5). Moses was not fit for this, for his was a more dark and veiled administration;while Moses is read, the veil is over the heart, said Paul (2 Cor 3:13-15). Neitherwas any of the prophets fit for this, for they were all inferior to Moses, and were,as it were, his scholars (Num 12:6,7). Nay, John the Baptists is here shut out;—forthe 'least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he' (Matt 11:11).
The apostles, above all other, were the men that were with the Lord Jesus all thetime, from the baptism of John, even until the time he was taken up into heaven;they saw him, heard him, and discoursed with him, and were beholders of all the wondrousworks that he did; they did eat and drink with him after his passion, and saw, afterhe was risen, the print of the nails, and the spear with which he was pierced, whenhe died for our sins (Luke 24:39,40). And because they had seen, felt, and at sucha rate experienced all things from the very first, both touching his doctrine, miracles,and life, therefore he said unto them in chief, Ye shall be witnesses unto me, bothin Jerusalem and all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the utmost parts of the earth(Acts 1:8,21; 13:31; 10:39; 51:32; 1 John 1:1-3).
Further, The apostles were in that marvellous manner endued with the Holy Ghost,that they out-stript all the prophets that ever went before them; neither can I believethat in the best of times there should be any beyond them; yet if it should so fallout that a dispensation should come in which they should have, as to the pouringforth of the Spirit, their equals, yet it could not follow, that therefore the gospelshould be offered in other terms than they at first have offered it, especially besideswhat hath been said of them, if you consider to them it was said, 'Whatsoever yeshall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth,shall be loosed in heaven' (Matt 18:18). They, as to their doctrine, were infallible,it was impossible they should err; he that despised their doctrine, despised Godhimself. Besides, they have given in commandment that all should write after theircopy, and that we should judge both men and angels that did, or would do otherwise(1 Thess 3:8; Gal 1:8).
Timothy must have his rule from Paul, and so must holy Titus. All which, if we considerit, the Holy Ghost speaks to the purpose, in saying that in the twelve foundationsare found the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. They are called the chief,and such as have laid the foundation, and others build thereon, and that as no menhave laid the foundation but they, so none can lay even that foundation otherwisethan they afore have laid it (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11,12; 1 Cor 3:6-11; Heb 6:1-3).
[Consideration from these words.] 'And in them the names of the twelve apostles ofthe Lamb.' These words, then, teach us two things worthy of our Christian consideration.
First. That God hath given to every man a certain and visible mark to aim at forhis salvation, or to build his soul upon, namely, the doctrine of the twelve apostlesof the Lamb. For in that he saith their names are in the foundations, it is betterfor us, all things considered, than if he had said in them was the name of God himself;that is, it is more easy to see this way, through the mist of our carnality, whatthe mystery of his will should be, which is, that we receive Christ according totheir doctrine, words, writings, epistles, letters, &c., their names, I say,being there, God counts it as the broad seal of heaven, which giveth authority toall that doctrine whereunto by themselves they are prefixed and subscribed; not wherethey are writ by others, but by themselves. I say, as the token of every epistle,and of their doctrine for truth, the which Paul insinuates, when he saith that hishand is the token of every epistle (2 Thess 3:17; Gal 6:11). As he saith again, AmI not an apostle? (1 Cor 9:1). And again, Behold, I Paul, have written unto you;I Paul (Gal 5:2), I, an apostle, I, a wise master-builder, I, who am in my doctrineone of the foundations of the wall of salvation, I have written unto you (1 Cor 11:5).And, as I said before, there is reason it should be thus: for as he who was the foundationof the Jewish church, even Moses, received the pattern of all his order from themouth of the angel in Mount Sinai, so the twelve received their doctrine of faithand manners, the doctrine of the New Testament, from the mouth of the Son of Godhimself, as from the mouth of the angel of the everlasting covenant, on the mountainof Zion (Acts 7:38; 1:3; Matt 28:19).
Second. In that he saith the names of the twelve are in the foundations, this showsus the reason of the continual standing of this Jerusalem; it is built upon the doctrineof the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and standeth there. For, observe, so long ashe sees this holy city, he sees her standing upon these foundations; but he saw thecity till she was taken up, therefore she continued as being settled for ever uponthem. Indeed, the primitive city, or first churches, was built upon these foundations,and had also, so long as they there continued, sufficient supportation and upholdingby that means (Eph 2:20-22). But then, as I have showed you, the wall of her salvation,and the wall of God's special protection, stood at a distance each from other, andwere not so conjoined as now they will be. Wherefore they then, to answer the type,did fall into the ditch that was between, and through their foolishness provokedGod to remove the wall of his outward protection and safeguard from them, whereuponthe wild beast, Antichrist, got into his vineyard, making havoc of all their dainties.But mark, this city is not so, the walls are now conjoined, and for ever fastenedupon the foundations, therefore it abides for ever, and ascends higher and higher;yet not from the foundations, but by them into heaven: 'Behold,' saith God, 'I havegraven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me' (Isa49:16).
[How we are to understand the word TWELVE.]
'And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' This word twelve mustbe warily understood, or else the weak will be ready to stumble and take offence;wherefore, to prevent this, consider,
First. The twelve must be them twelve that were with the Lord Jesus from the baptismof John until the day in which our Lord was taken up (Acts 1:22).
Second. These twelve are not neither to be considered simply as twelve Christians,or twelve disciples; but as their witness of the Lord Jesus—they being with him fromfirst to last—were a twelve-fold witness of him in all his things; a twelve-foldseeing with their eyes, a twelve-fold hearing with their ears, a twelve-fold handlingalso with their hands, and feeling of the Son of God. As one of them said, 'Thatwhich was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,- and our hands have handled of the word of life: - that which we have seen and heard,declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us,' &c. (1 John 1:1,3).Now this being thus, it followeth that the doctrine of the other apostles, as ofPaul and Barnabas, was still but the doctrine of the twelve; their doctrine, I say,and no other. Wherefore, as Ephraim and Manasseh were dissolved into the twelve tribes,so these two, with all other the apostles of Christ, are dissolved into the numberof the twelve, because their doctrine is only the doctrine of the twelve; for theycentre in their doctrine; their length, and breadth, and depth, and height beingthe doctrine of the twelve. So, then, the names of the twelve being found in thefoundations of this wall, it argueth that that doctrine is only true that is thedoctrine of the twelve eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus.
And again, that at the day of Antichrist's fall, this doctrine shall be in its formerpurity, and bear the sway, and for ever hold up the wall of safety for the inhabitantsof New Jerusalem. And indeed this doctrine, that the doctrine of the twelve is thatupon which eternal safety is built and stands, is so true, that it must not be variedfrom upon pain of eternal damnation. Here centered Luke the Evangelist, here centeredJude, here centered the author to the Hebrews, yea, here centered Paul himself, withall the Old and New Testament. The doctrine of the twelve must be the opener, expounder,and limiter of all doctrines; there also must all men centre, and ground, and stay.A man may talk of, yea, enjoy much of the Spirit of God, but yet the twelve willhave the start of him; for they both had the Spirit as he, and more than he. Besides,they together with this, did feel, see, handle, and receive conviction, even by theirvery carnal senses, which others did not; besides, their names also are found inthe foundations of this saving wall, as being there engraved by God himself; whichputteth all out of doubt, and giveth us infallible ground that their doctrine isonly true, and all men's false that do not keep within the bounds and limits of that(Luke 1:2; Jude 3,17; Heb 2:3,4; 1 Cor 15:1-9; 9:1; Gal 1:1,2; Eph 3:5; 1 Cor 4:9).
To conclude, here are yet two things worthy of noting—
The first consideration is, that by the names of the twelve apostles being in thefoundations of this wall, and the names of the twelve tribes being upon the gatesof this city, it giveth us to consider, that at the time of the building of thiscity the Jews and Gentiles shall be united together, and become one body; which veryconsideration must needs be to the Jews a great encouragement to have in mind attheir conversion (Rom 11: 1 Peter 1:1). For it plainly signifieth that our New Testamentpreachers shall carry in their mouths salvation to the Jews, by which means theyshall be again reconciled and made one with the Lord Jesus (James 1:1; Acts 13:16,26;Rom 1:16; 2:10).
The second consideration is, that at the day of New Jerusalem, there shall be nodoctrine accepted, nor no preachers regarded, but the doctrine, and the preachingof the doctrine of the twelve; for in that he saith that in them are found the namesof the twelve apostles of the Lamb, he doth implicitly exclude all other, of whatevertribe they pretend themselves. It shall not be then as now, a Popish doctrine, aQuaker's doctrine, a prelatical doctrine, and the Presbyter, Independent, and Anabaptist,thus distinguished, and thus confounding and destroying. But the doctrine shall beone, and that one the doctrine where you find the names of the twelve apostles ofthe Lamb. 'If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even thewords of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine that is according to godliness,he is proud, knowing nothing' (1 Tim 6:3,4).
Thus you see the doctrine of the twelve is that which letteth souls into this city;and that the same doctrine is the doctrine that keepeth up the wall of their salvationabout them, when they are entered in within the gates.
[The measuring line, or golden reed: what it is.]
Ver. 15. 'And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and thegates thereof, and the wall thereof.'
Now, having passed the relation of the wall, gates, and foundations, he comes tothe measuring line, to see how all things lie and agree with that. Under the law,I find that all things pertaining to the worship of God were to be by number, rule,and measure, even to the very tacks and loops of the curtains of the tabernacle.Now the rule or lien by which all things were then squared, it was the laws, statutes,and ordinances which were given to Moses by the Lord in the Mount Sinai, for thitherhe went to receive his orders; and according to the pattern there showed him, sohe committed all things by writing to them that were to be employed in the workmanshipof the holy things pertaining to the rise and completing of the tabernacle, and allits instruments (Exo 20:21; 24:1; 25:40; Deu 30:10; 31:20-26).
Now, when this rule was thus received, then whosoever observed not to do it, he wasto fall under the penalty that by the same law also was prescribed against the offendersand transgressors (Num 15:30,31). I find also, that when the temple was built inthe days of Solomon, all things were then done according to the writing that Davidmade, when the hand of God was upon him, when he made him understand all the workof this pattern (2 Chron 3; 4; 1 Chron 29:3-7; 28:19).
Thus again, when Josiah went about to bring to pass the reformation of the churchof the Jews, and their instruments of worship, after their revolting, he goeth tothe law of God, and by that understanding what was out of order, and how to put allthings into order, he so did reduce them to their former manner. The same way alsowent Ezra and Nehemiah at the rebuilding of the temple and city after the captivity(2 Kings 22:8-13; Ezra 7:14; 8:34). From all which I conclude, that the reed, thegolden reed, that here you read of, it is nothing else but the pure and unspottedWord of God; by which both the city, gates, and wall of this Jerusalem are regulated.Which word, by the holy prophet, is also compared to gold, and is said to be above'much fine gold' (Psa 12:6; 19:10).
I find in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, that the angel that there is said tomeasure the city, which was a type of our Jerusalem, he appeared with a line of flaxin his hand, to measure the pattern withal (Eze 40:3); which very phrase doth showus that this was but the type, and an Old Testament business; but John hath his ina New Testament style, and that in the most excellent manner of language, to signifythat his city, or the city that he hath the vision of, is to be the end of all typesand shadows, and the very perfection of them all. Wherefore he tells us also, thatthe line or reed by which this city is builded and squared, it is not now a lineof flax, but a reed of gold, a golden reed; to signify not a word of the law andletter that had to do with shadows, but the New Testament, and ministration of theSpirit, which hath to do with substance, and the heavenly things themselves (Heb9:23).
[The city measured.]
'A golden reed to measure the city,' &c. I told you at the first that this citywas the church of God that should be in the latter days; but yet not the church disorderlyand confusedly scattered here and there, without all visible order and discipline,but the church brought into exact form and order, lying every way level and squarewith the rule and golden reed of the New Testament of Christ; wherefore he callethit a city, a city under rule. Thus it was in the type; for when Solomon's templewas to be builded, and the city in after times, it was not enough that they had stonesand timber, but every one of them must be such stones, and such timber, and mustalso come under the rule and square of the workman; and so being fitted by hewers,saws, axes, and squares, they were fitly put into the building (1 Kings 5:17,18;7:9-12; 1 Chron 22:2). By this, then, we may see with what a holy, exact line, rule,and order, this church and city, at this day, will be compact and built; the membersmust be all such as shall be made fit for the city of God by the hewing words ofthe prophets (Hosea 6:5). They must join in Christian communion also according tothe golden reed of the New Testament, and ministration of the Spirit. Indeed, allthe time of the reign of Antichrist, the church, as she was a holy temple in theLord, so she was measured with reference to the truth of her grace, and invisiblecondition (Rev 11:1,2); but as she is to be a city, so she then is to be troddendown, and to lie without all form and order; but when Antichrist is dead, she shallagain come into mind, be considered, reared, built by measure, and inhabited. Andobserve it, as the rule of the carpenter is of use in building, from the first appearanceof the laying of a stone in order, even till it be in every point and part complete,so the golden reed with which the angel is here said to measure the city, &c.,is to be of use from the first foundation even to the laying of the last stone thereof;as was also fore-showed by the man that is said to measure the pattern of this, inEzekiel (Eze 30-48).
'And he measured the city.' That is, he measured the church in her constitution andfellowship. Now when God is said to measure, he is said to measure sometimes in judgment,and sometimes in mercy; sometimes to throw down, and sometimes to build up and establish.Sometimes, I say, he is said to measure in judgment, with intention to throw downand destroy. Thus he measured the city before she went into captivity, and the tentribes before they were carried away beyond Babylon, because they lay cross to hisword, and had perverted that which was right, &c. (Isa 28:17,18; Amos 7:7-9).But when he is said to measure the city in this place, it is that she might be builtand set up. Wherefore, as I said, the line or golden reed that is now stretched forthto measure this city, it is to the end that all things may be in right form and order,'fitly joined' and knit 'together, - by that which every joint supplieth, accordingto the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body,unto the edifying of itself in love' (Eph 4:16; Col 2:19).
Again, By measuring the city, he would have us to understand that all her limitsand bounds were now apparent, that all things, even the church and all the world,were made to see their own compass. For as God in the days when temple worship onlywas on foot, would not lose a form or ordinance of all the forms and ordinances ofhis temple; so when city-work comes up, he will not lose an inch of the limits, andbounds, and compass of his city, she shall be full as large, and of as great a compassevery way, as is determined of her; as he saith by the prophet, 'All the land, saithhe, shall be turned as a plain (this is that which a little before is called thenew heaven and a new earth); that is, there shall be a smooth face upon the wholeearth, all snugs, and hubs, and hills, and holes, shall now be taken away, even'from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem: and it [the city] shall be lifted up andinhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, untothe corner gate, and from the tower of Hananiel, unto the king's wine presses' (Zech14:10). The four places here mentioned in this verse, they do seem to be the fourcorners of the city of old; at which places the city bounds were set; and in whichvery circle the prophet tells us, but with gospel language, she shall be settledagain.
[The gates measured.]
'And he measured the city,' and the gates thereof. This was figured forth by thevision in Ezekiel, for in it he saw the angel go from gate to gate, and saw him takethe exact and distinct measure of every one thereof; nay, not only of them in a generalway, but of the thresholds, the porch, the posts, and the faces of their entrances;he measured also every little chamber that was above upon the gates, with all thespaces that were between (Eze 40).
Now by gates, I told you, we are to understand the Son of God, as he is the way tothe Father, and to the privileges of this city. Wherefore when he saith he measuredthe gates, it is as if he had said, he measured the entrance, strength, and goodlycountenance of him, with the mansions of glory that are to be enjoyed by every onethat entereth in hereby; for the porch, posts, face, entrance, and chambers of thegate in Ezekiel, they signify the entrance, strength, shining countenance, and restingplaces that every one shall find in the Lord Jesus that entereth in by him; and tomeasure all these, it is in substance but this, to set them forth, and out, in theirfull force, glory, largeness, beauty, and profitableness, in the view of all; forI told you at the first, the golden reed is the Word of God. Now the city and thegates thereof, are said to be measured by this golden reed: which, I say, can benothing else but an opening of all the excellencies of Christ, as he is the gateof the sheep, even by the full sway, power, majesty, and clearness of the Word. TheLord help us! Christ, as he is the door to God, and to all gospel-privileges, isnow strangely handled, and so hath been of a long time among the sons of men; someof them making him the very in-let to all the vile and abominable crew in the world,counting all that are pliant to their ungodly humours, the saints of the Most High,and Christ the door and gate through whom they have right to enter; and to whom belongthe delicates of the precious things of God, even those which he hath most choicelylaid up and reserveth for none but those that unfeignedly turn from iniquity, andwalk with him in the newness of the Spirit. Others again do shut up the gates againstthe godly, labouring with might and main to hinder those that labour to enter, thatfain would do it unfeignedly (Matt 23:14; 2 Chron 29:7). Others again do labourall that in them lies to deface the gates, to take away their beauty: like him thattook the gold from off the doors and gates of the temple (2 Kings 18:16). RenderingChrist a low and carnal business, &c. But at the measuring-day, at the day whenthe golden reed shall be the alone rule: then you shall see this city, and her gatesdiscovered in their own glory, holiness, and beauty. For though in our afflictionunder antichrist, our temple and instruments of worship, with the city, wall, gates,and the like, have been much defaced, even our doctrine of faith and worship, andhave been much trod and trampled under the foot of the uncircumcised, yet all shallbe recovered and brought into order again by the golden reed of the word of God.
Which thing was figured forth to us by the good man Ezra the scribe, who at the restoringof Jerusalem took review of all the things pertaining to the city, both touchingits branches and deformity, and also how to set all things in order, and that bythe law of God which was in his hand, even according to the writing thereof (Ezra7:14; 8:34; Neh 8:9). And whosoever doth but read the history of Ezra and Nehemiahthroughout, they shall find that by the Word of God they brought all things to pass;all the ordinances of the house and city of God into their right and holy order.And indeed the measuring of the city and of the gates thereof, which is Christ theway, it can be nothing else but a bringing of them by the right understanding andopening of the Word into their proper places and excellencies, both for comers in,and goers out, according to the commandment (Eze 40:4; 43:7-12). For, to speak properly,Christ in his love, grace, merits, and largeness of heart, to let souls into communionwith God and all happiness, is in all these things unsearchable, and passing knowledge,being filled with these things beyond thought, and without measure (Eph 3:8,18,19;Col 1:9; John 3:34).
[The wall measured.]
And he measured the city, the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. In that he saith,he measured the wall also, it is to show us that all things now are according tothe rule of the Word: the inhabitants are according to the Word, the entrance isaccording to the Word, yea, and so is the safety of it also, even a fence to fencethem from their enemies; even a fence on every side, that they may be at ease andrest, and be no more a tossing to and fro. 'O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest,'saith he, 'and not comforted, [I will do many good things for thee] - In righteousnessshalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt notfear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee' (Isa 44:11-14).
Touching the wall, what it is, I have spoken already; therefore here I speak onlyto the measure of it, which measure is only the fulfilling all those promises andengagements of God that are made to New Jerusalem, for her safety and continual defence;and that not only in her own eyes, but in the eyes of all her beholders. Then shallthat saying be with gladness in the mouths of all the inhabitants of this Jerusalem,'We were bondmen, yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extendedmercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving to set upthe house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wallin Judah and in Jerusalem' (Ezra 9:9). Which wall, I say, shall be so conspicuousto all the adversaries of this holy and beloved city, that the greatest of them shallnot once dare to peep or mutter against her any more. 'God is known in her palacesfor a refuge. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together, they sawit, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. Fear took hold uponthem there, and pain, as of a woman in travail' (Psa 48:1-6). As it is said of thebuilding of the wall after the captivity: when the enemies and all the heathen sawit was finished, 'they were much cast down in their own eyes' (Neh 6:15,16).
The regulating of this city by this golden reed, and the measuring the gates andwall by this word, when finished, will then cause all that have skill in singingthe Lord's songs, and of lifting up the praises of God in this city, to gather themselvestogether to sing, and to praise, and to say, Bless ye the name of the Lord, for hismercies endure for ever: for then will they purify the people, this city, with thegates and wall thereof (Neh 12:27-47).
Wherefore in the mean time, between this and the building of this city, let Jerusalemcome into your mind, and walk about her, 'go round about her,' inquire by the Wordwhat God hath said of her state, strength, safety, ease, peace, and blessed tranquillityin the latter days, 'tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, considerher palaces, that ye may tell it to the generations following' (Psa 48:12,13).
[The form and measure of the city.]
Ver. 16. 'And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth:and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs, the length, andthe breadth, and height of it are equal.'
'And the city lieth four square.' These words do open unto you the matter yet more,to wit, that now both the city, gates, and wall were exactly in their visibilityaccording to the Word, lying even every way with that golden reed: for by four squareyou are to understand perfection, or an answering the figures that of old did figureto us the completeness and perfection of the New Testament order.
For if you search the Scriptures, you will find that especially the great and principalinstruments of God's worship in and under the law, their perfection was what hereyou read to be the perfection of this city, even a four square. As for instance,The breastplate of judgment, on which were engraved the names of the children ofIsrael, its exact point of perfection was to be a right four square. The ten basesalso, that were to be for bearers to the lavers in the temple, they were to be foursquare: the altar of burnt- offerings likewise, with the altar of incense, theirperfect pattern was that they should be four square. The inward court, and outwardcourt, with the posts of the temple, and tables on which they were to slay the sacrifices,they were all four square. Yea, the city in the type, in the vision of Ezekiel, wasseen to be of the same frame and fashion every way, having just twelve gates, andon each of the four sides three gates. Wherefore, when he saith the city lieth foursquare, it is as if he had said she lieth even with the pattern or golden reed ofthe Word; even, I say, both in her members, doctrine, worship, and manners: for thethings afore hinted unto you do hold forth all these particulars (Exo 28:15,16; 39:8,9;27:1; 38:1; 37:1; 1 Kings 7:27,28; Eze 43:1318; 40; 41:21; 48:30-34).
'And the length is as large as the breadth.' This explaineth the matter yet morefully and distinctly; for as to the things that I made mention of before, thoughthey were to be made four square, and that their perfection lay exactly in that form,yet these squares did not lie in their height and depth, but in their length andbreadth, just as you read here of the square of this city. As to instance: The altars,though they were five cubits long, and five cubits broad, yet but three high (Exo27:1; 33:1; 1 Kings 7). So the bases, they were a cubit and an half broad, and acubit and an half long, yet but half a cubit high; the tables also on which theyslew the sacrifices, they were a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad,yet but one cubit high (Eze 40:42). Which things being thus, you see the reason ofhis saying 'the length is as large as the breadth.'
Now by length and breadth here, we may yet observe another mystery held forth untous; for by the breadth is held forth the perfection of the rule, or law to whichall Christians ought to yield their hearty obedience: his commandment is exceedingbroad (Psa 119:96). The breadth of which is signified, I say, by the breadth of thosethings that before you see to be the instruments of the worship of God. Now, as bybreadth we are to understand the perfect latitude and compass of the commandment;so by length we are to understand the answerableness of the obedience of the inhabitantsof this city; for indeed the perfection of Christian obedience lieth in an answerablenessto the will of God; as it is said of the father and mother of John the Baptist, theywalked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6). And of Anna, thatshe continued without ceasing in the service of God in the temple day and night (Luke2:37). This is to be as long in our obedience, as the law is broad in commanding.The law commands right obedience, and the Christian giveth it; the law commands continualobedience, and the Christian giveth it; the law commands universal obedience, andthe Christian giveth it. He giveth it all these sorts of obedience, 1. By the personof Christ, for he is his righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). He giveth it all these, 2. Withthe consent of the mind (Rom 7:16). And 3. He giveth it all these obediences in thelove of the Spirit, which the apostle calleth the fulfilling of the law, that is,an answering the breadth of its command by the length of obedience (Rom 13:10). Whereforewhen he saith the length is as large as the breadth, he would have us understandhow perfect in holiness these blessed souls will be at this day; and indeed, thisis it that is by God expected to be in this city at this day. As the angel with hismeasuring-line said to Zechariah, I am going 'to measure Jerusalem, to see what isthe breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof' (Zech 2:2). To see whether theirdoctrine be pure, and whether their obedience be answerable.
'And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.' These latterwords do refer us to a distinct measure from that which went before; the former measurepointing at the breadth of her commandment and the length of her obedience, but thisat the glory and fulness of her mansions and portions; for after he had said thecity lieth four square, and that the length is as large as the breadth, which isthe full and complete effect of that first measure, he comes over again with anothermeasuring, saying, 'And he measured the city, - twelve thousand furlongs'; as whoshould say, he measured the city, gates and wall first, and found them all exact,and according to the golden reed; and after he had so done, he measured the citywith the reed twelve thousand furlongs.
'He measured the city with the reed'; that is, he measured out to the city, he measuredfor the city, for its lot and portion, twelve thousand furlongs. Which very thingyou find in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel; for after ha had measured the city,the vessels, with the instruments of worship, I say, when he had done this, he comesagain with an afterwards, to measure the city, her portions and mansions (Eze 47:1,&c.). Wherefore I say, these words do refer to her portion that she is to enjoyof her God, as the former referreth to her duty and obedience.
Now that which maketh me conclude that this latter measure is a measure distinctfrom the former, and that it relateth neither to the exactness of rule, nor the completenessof obedience, but only to the largeness of the portions that God will allot for thysons and daughters, thou city of God; it is,
First, Because this is the biggest measure. For I find, by considering the Scripture,that as the persons and things pertaining to the worship of God were to go accordingto the rule of this golden reed, so also the portions that pertained to the personsworshipping were to go by rule and measure also, as here he saith he measured alsothe city, or to it, with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. And hence it is thatour grace is called the measure of grace, and that our glory is called a weight ofglory (Rom 12:3; Eph 4:7; 2 Cor 4:17).
Now I say, I find that our portions do go always under the biggest measure; the spoons,cups, flagons, snuffers, basons, candlesticks, and pans, which were the instrumentsof worship, were not so large as the chambers in the temple, and the compass of theholy land, which were the mansions and [the] portions of the church. See Joshua 15-16; John 14:1-3.
Secondly, I take the twelve thousand furlongs to signify portions, rather than worshipor worshippers; because, as to the nature of it, it most exactly agrees with theportions that are measured out to this city by the angel before Ezekiel, which isa measuring forth so much land for the portion of the prince, so much for the portionof the priest, and so much for the portion of the twelve tribes. Yea, the very phrase,twelve thousand furlongs, also implieth such a compass of ground, by which we findthe holy land hath been measured (Eze 45-47; Luke 24:13; John 6:18).
Lastly, I take it to be this also; because I find not in all this description ofthis holy city that any place doth give us that ground to speak to her measure ofportion as this; and it would seem strange to me that the description of this citygiven by Ezekiel should be more complete than this that is given by our prophet John;for Ezekiel doth most amply set forth her portions, even distinctly, for prince,priest, and the tribes in particular. This therefore is to be understood of the portionsof the city which John did see were measured out unto her immediately after he sawthe breadth of her rule and the length of her obedience. Only consider that Ezekielmeasureth by reeds, not counting by furlongs; but John, though he measureth by reeds,yet counteth by furlongs.
But now, though the Holy Ghost is thus pleased to speak of the portions of the saintsin the New Jerusalem, as if he intended chiefly that their portion should consistin outward happiness, and in the enjoyment of such and such a portion or compassof ground: yet consider that these are but metaphorical and borrowed expressions,spoken to our capacities, under which is indeed included the nature of our blessedand spiritual food and nourishment. You know it is usual for the Holy Ghost in Scriptureto call the saints sheep, lambs, heifers, cows, rams, doves, swallows, pelicans,and the like; and also to call their food, their spiritual and heavenly food, grass,provender, wheat, wine, oil, grapes, apples, figs, nuts, and the like also; all whichare but shadowish and figurative expressions, even as this of the measure of thetwelve thousand furlongs (John 10:15,16; Amos 4:3; Jer 31:18; Cant 2:5; Eze 34:14;Zech 10:1; Isa 30:24; Micah 4:4). And observe it, that which John saith here is twelvethousand furlongs, Ezekiel tells us it lieth on this side and on that side of thebank of the river of the water of life (Eze 47:8,9). Now I think there is none somuch void of understanding as to think this water of life is anything else but theprecious grace of God, in and through the Lord Jesus. Wherefore the ground or measurefor portions, it is nothing else but our spiritual and heavenly food, even spiritualgrace, and gifts, and comforts, that the holy ones of this city shall most plentifullypartake of and enjoy. And so indeed the prophet also saith, speaking of the portionsof the holy land for this city. 'The increase thereof,' saith he, 'shall be for foodunto them that serve the city, and they that serve the city shall serve it out ofall the twelve tribes of Israel' (Eze 48:18,19). Out of the twelve tribes, that is,out of the twelve thousand furlongs, which is the portion of the tribes. This isaccording to the saying of the prophet David, 'He maketh me to lie down in greenpastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters' (Psa 23:2). And again, 'For theLamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them untoliving fountains of waters' (Rev 7:17). 'For your shame, ye shall have double; andfor confusion, they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land theyshall possess the double; everlasting joy shall be unto them' (Isa 61:7).
Thus you see the measure of the city, gates, and wall, and the effect of that; andthus you see also the measure of the portion for the city, with what it is: whereforeit remaineth that we see what is to be the effect of that also.
'And he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs, the length and thebreadth and the height of it are equal.' Before he told us that the length was aslarge as the breadth, which I then told you did signify the nature of her rule andthe measure of her obedience. But now he adds and saith, that both in length andbreadth and in height she is equal. Wherefore in that he adds at last a squarenessof height to her squareness of length and breadth; and also in that he adds it notbefore he had told us of the measure of her portions, he would have us to understandthat as the rule in which this city shall walk shall be complete, and as her obedienceto that rule shall be complete, so her enjoyment of God and his grace at that dayshall be proportionable also. She is square in her rule, square in her obedience,and square in her enjoyment of God and his goodness: the length and the breadth andthe height of it are equal. Indeed the Scripture saith, that in keeping his commandmentsthere is great reward (Psa 19:11). And again, 'This man shall be blessed in his deed'(James 1:25). This showeth unto us then what glorious days these will be to the houseand city of God, even days in which saints shall see the mind of God clearly, havehearts to do it completely, and have continually the answerable enjoyment of Godand spiritual happiness. Now will his paths drop fatness with a witness! (Psa 65:11).And now will he meet 'him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that rememberthee in thy ways' (Isa 64:5). And the length and the breadth and the height of itare equal. Wherefore the prophet in the vision of the measures of the portions dothobserve that there was a squareness in them, as well as in their ordinances and obedience:and hence it is that he tells us that every little chamber was one reed broad andone reed long (Eze 40:7). And again, the oblation, that is, the portion for the tribes,shall be five and twenty thousand (Eze 48:20). By five and twenty thousand ye shalloffer the holy oblation FOUR SQUARE, with the portion of the city.
Again, In that he saith the length and the breadth, and the height of it are equal,he showeth us how fit this city at this day will be even for the kingdom of heavenand glory. For observe, that as the rule, obedience, and comforts of God, do makethis city a square city, both in height, and length, and breadth; so the holiestof all, which was a type of heaven (Heb 9:24), was of the same fashion also. It wastwenty cubits high, and twenty cubits long, and twenty cubits broad: the length,and the breadth, and the height of it were equal (1 Kings 6:20; 2 Chron 3:8: Eze41:4).
Wherefore, as now the will of God will be done, according to the petition, 'on earthas it is in heaven' (Matt 6:10); so will this city be at this day fit to enter intothe holiest place; even as fit as one four square is to shut into another. Here isa four square city for a four square heaven; and the length and the breadth of itare equal. Wherefore it is upon this account that this city, at her appearing, issaid to be adorned and prepared as a bride is for her husband, which we all knowis the most perfect and completest attire that is possible to be got. And thereforeit is, again, that at the coming of the Lord those that go in with him to the marriageare said to be ready beforehand (Rev 21:2; Matt 25:10).
Ver. 17. 'And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits.'This measure of the wall that here he maketh mention of is also distinct from theformer measure, where he is said to measure the city, gates, and wall; and it refersto such a wall, or to such a part of the wall in such a place. For I find that thoughthe wall of this city in general is that which shall encompass the New Jerusalemround, yet this wall is in some place, and for some reason, of another manner andmeasure than the wall is in general, as it compasseth round the city, which partof the wall is called the broad wall, the wall upon which even half of the peoplemight walk complete at once (Neh 3:8; 12:38).
But to trace out the business in the type, and so to come to its answer in the antitype;I find that a little distance from Jerusalem there was a place called Tophet, whichplace was counted profane, unholy, or defiled (2 Kings 23:10). I find also that thisunclean, unholy place, was a figure of hell itself (Isa 30:33). Now mark, I findby the Scripture that against this Tophet, this unholy and profane place, was thebroad wall of the city for the defence of the sanctuary erected, and reared up. Hemeasured, saith the prophet, by the four sides, and it had a wall round about, fivehundred reeds long, and five hundred reeds broad, 'TO MAKE A SEPARATION BETWEEN THESANCTUARY AND THE PROFANE PLACES' (Eze 42:20). Which wall could not be that wallwhich compasseth the city, because it was but five hundred reeds long: for take themeasure of this wall in its largest measure, and it is, if you count a reed for thatwhich we count a pole, but twelve furlongs, which compass will scarce go round manymarket towns; especially if, together with this, you consider the breadth of thewall, whose breadth is as large as its length; wherefore now there is not room enoughfor a city so big as a cottage to stand in the midst thereof. I speak this, to showyou that the wall in this place is not the wall that goeth round about the city,but the wall that is placed just between the sanctuary and Tophet, or hell itself.Now though Ezekiel and John do differ touching their count about the thickness ofthis wall, it is not so much to signify the walls are not one and the same, as toshow us that the one, to wit, Ezekiel's wall, was to encompass a worldly sanctuary,but John's to encompass a spiritual and heavenly; wherefore Ezekiel's must be ofso many reeds long to go round about the material sanctuary, as a type; but Johncomes more to the spirit of the matter, and showeth us what the sanctuary, wall,and the like should mean; for by sanctuary we are to understand, even in the OldTestament, a place of safety and security, which was a type of Christ (Eze 11:16;Heb 6:18). Now in that Tophet did stand against the sanctuary in the letter, it signifiesthat hell itself is bent against all those that take shelter in Christ; but to nopurpose, for in the very face of Tophet, even between it and our place of sanctuary,is fixed an invincible and impregnable mighty wall, to keep in safety those thathave fled to Christ for shelter. Now I say, in that John tells us this wall is anhundred and forty- four cubits, and waives the manner of the measure of Ezekiel,it is to show us that this wall is for the safety of the hundred and forty-four thousandthat have taken sanctuary in Christ, that is, all the holy and truly gracious soulsthat are with him on the Mount Zion, having his Father's name written in their foreheads(Rev 7; 14:1-3). Both numbers, I say, being twelve times twelve, implying a sufficientsafety for all that are sincerely and truly gracious.
And now to bring down the matter to our New Jerusalem state: for though it be truein all ages, that there is between those that have taken sanctuary in Christ, andthe bottomless pit, an invincible and mighty wall of grace and heavenly power, andof the merits of Christ, to save to the uttermost all and every one that are thusfled to him for safety (Heb 7:25,26), yet there is something in it more than this,for those that come into the days and state of the New Jerusalem. For, I say, thiswall being it that makes a separation between the sanctuary and the profane placein general, and yet being spoken of as a thing extraordinary, and accompanying thestate of this new city only, it implieth that at this day the saints shall have thatshelter by this wall from all the force of hell, and the damned spirits that nowfrom Tophet afflict them, that they never had before. And therefore you find at thebeginning of the thousand years, which, as I conceive, is the time of the buildingof this city, a mighty angel is said to come down from heaven to lay hold of thedragon, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, and to bind him a thousandyears; which done, he casts him into the bottomless pit, and there shuts him up,to the end he should deceive the nations no more (Rev 20:1-3).
The effect of which will be not only a delivering of the saints from outward persecution,but also from being any more assailed with either wicked and erroneous doctrine,or fierce and fiery darts from the prince of darkness, which now many of them areso much annoyed and afflicted with; now the church will be free from those hellishsuggestions to blaspheme, to despair, and the like, that her members do yet mostdreadfully and sadly meet with. For observe, this old tempter is said to be tiedup, or to be cast into the bottomless pit, first as he is a dragon, under which namehe goeth in this book, in his persecuting the church (Rev 12). Secondly, he is saidto be shut up, as he goeth under the name of a serpent, under which name he wentwhen he fomented his devilish and damning seducing doctrine to our first parents;the which the Spirit expressly seems to relate unto, and therefore calls him thatold serpent; that old serpent that deceived us at the first (Gen 3:1-5). Thirdly,he is said to be shut up also, as he goeth under the name of the devil, and Satan,under which name he goeth commonly in the New Testament, when he provoketh and stirrethup our lusts, and when he labours to drive us into all manner of unbelief, distrust,despair, and so consequently into murmurings and blasphemy against God (Matt 4:1,5,8;Luke 4:2-6; Acts 5:1-3; Eph 6:11; 2 Cor 2:7,11). Wherefore, I say, that at the daythat this wall is set up in all its glory, and when it performs every part and pieceof its office to the full, then shall Satan be bruised under our feet indeed, andthen shall Jerusalem be called the joyous city, and her people a joy; for her formersorrows shall be past and forgot (Rom 16:20: Rev 21:4).
If thou still objectest: But I have yet an evil heart, and therefore if I be notrid of that at that day, should I live till then, why though there should be no devilto afflict me, I shall feel and meet with sorrow and trouble enough. I answer thee:First, I dare not say that at this day thou shalt be in every sense without thy evilheart in the midst of all this glory, tempted soul. Yet I say thus much to thee—
First. Where there is no devil to tempt, though the saints will yet be imperfect,and come short of a glorified state, yet they, by his absence, will be deliveredfrom many dreadful, vexing, and burning, and hellish darts, that will otherwise confoundand afflict the soul like arrows whose heads are poisoned. Christians have a greatdeal of ease, when God doth, even at this day, withhold the devil for a season, thoughyet they have their own lusts, over they have when the devil and their own lustsare suffered to meet and work together. Yea, the Lord Jesus himself, who had no sin,yet in the temptation was fearfully handled and afflicted with the devil, thoughall the while, I say, he kept him at staves end, and did not suffer him in theleast to annoy his person; and therefore it is said that when he was in the wilderness,in the conflict, the angels came to minister to him (Mark 1:12,13; Col 2:14,15).At the time of his agony also—in which agony, doubtless, Satan had a great hand toafflict him—you see his complaint, how that he was sore amazed, and exceeding sorrowful,even unto death, being so laden with heaviness and sorrow that he was scarce ableto stand or wag under the burden of it (Luke 23:44; Mark 14:33,34). Satan, even fromhimself, besides the workings of our own lust, doth do us wonderful injury, and hitsour souls with many a fiery dart that we think comes either from ourselves, or fromheaven, and God himself; but not by this wall, this broad wall, this sorrow willbe cut off.
Secondly. Again, when Satan is thus tied up, we shall, together with this mercy,receive such a plentiful pouring forth of the Holy Ghost, that though there willremain in us still remainders of our corruptions, yet, by the plentiful indwellingof the Holy Ghost, and the joy and peace and heavenly sweetness thereof, these thingsshall lie like lean, withered, blasted things. The reason of that power and thatstrength, that our lusts have to this day in our hearts, it is because they are solean, and thin, and weak in the things of God. Strong grace makes corruptions weak,and strikes them thorough, laying them at the point of death, always gasping forlife. Thus it was with Moses, he had such grace in his soul, and such communion withGod, that though he had yet a body of sin within him, it was a rare thing for himto see his wretchedness (Num 11:14,15); that is, to see it pert, lively, and powerfulin him. Indeed God saith, that upon the land of his people shall come up briars andthorns; 'yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city; because the palacesshall be forsaken, the multitude of the city shall be left, the forts and towersshall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spiritbe poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field,' &c.(Isa 32:13-15). And then 'the Lord shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, andhe that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David, and the house of Davidshall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them' (Zech 12:8). 'The inhabitantshall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity'(Isa 33:24).
'And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, accordingto the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.' 'According to the measure of a man.'The man Christ Jesus. For the measure of this city, or the golden reed with whichthis city is thus measured, it is his, his word and law of the New Testament. Alljudgment is committed into the hand of the Son; and God 'hath given him authorityto execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man' (John 5:27; 12:48).
'According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.' This angel is one ofthe seven that had the seven last plagues to execute upon the man of sin (Rev 21:9),and yet he saith the measure is according to the measure of a man; the meaning isthat the city, the New Jerusalem, is to be built according to the word of Christ;but yet by his word as it is in the hand of his angels, that is, his messengers andservants; of which servants, the chief will be those that are his instruments topour forth the seven vials full of the seven last plagues upon the Antichristianharlot. For they, with their plagues, will both destroy what standeth in implacableopposition, and will subject the rest, and bring them into a correspondency withthe word and will of God, as I have showed. Whence note, that they of his servantsthat God shall use to pour forth his last and most dreadful plagues upon the whore,they are they that God will use to show us the pattern of this holy city. Or thus,they that can tell how to plague the whore, they can tell how to measure this city.'The righteous men, they shall judge them,' that is, the Antichristian harlot, withher wicked and adulterous daughters, 'after the manner of adulteresses, and afterthe manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood isin their hands' (Eze 23:45).
Thus much touching the frame of this city, its walls, gates, and foundations, withthe measure of each. And now it remains that I speak of the glory of them.
[THIRD. A RELATION OF THE GLORY OF THE CITY, ITS WALLS, GATES, AND FOUNDATIONS.]
Ver. 18. 'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was puregold, like unto clear glass.'
[The glory of the walls.]
In these words you have a discovery of the glory, both of the wall and city itself;and that, as you see, under the notion of two choice metaphors. The wall is jasper,the chief of stones; and the city is gold, the chief of metals. 'And the buildingof the wall of it was of jasper, and the city was pure gold.'
This jasper is that stone, in the light of which this city is said to descend, asin the light of a stone most precious. Now, as there he saith she descended in thelight of this stone, so here he saith this stone is the wall thereof. 'And the buildingof the wall of it was of jasper.'
This therefore confirmeth unto you what I said of the wall before, to wit, that itwas the salvation of God through Christ; wherefore, learn this by the way, that thiscity shall not be at this day in her own keeping, but in the keeping of Jesus Christ.He with his benefits doth compass her round, and by him alone she lieth down in safety.Wherefore it is from this consideration that God doth say by the mouth of the prophet,I will give them within my house, and within my walls, 'a place and a name betterthan that of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shallnot be cut off' (Isa 56:5).
'And the building of the wall,' &c. By this word building, we are to understandboth the materials of the wall, the manner of their placing, and the instrumentsthat God will use for the setting up thereof. Now, to speak properly, this wall beingthe Lord Jesus Christ himself in his precious merits, benefits, and offices, thebuilder hereof must needs be God himself, for he it is that hath made this Christfor us a safeguard and defence, by making of him our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification,and redemption, by which he doth encompass us round on every side, and that at everymoment to deliver us from the power and destruction both of sin, death, the devil,and hell (1 Cor 1:30; Heb 11:10; 3:4).
But again, the building here spoken of is a building of this wall after the destructionof Antichrist, and so long after Christ was sent, and made these things in his ownperson, to his beloved and blessed church. Wherefore the building of this wall thatis here spoken of, it must be understood of the recovering again the purity of thosedoctrines, in which the Lord Jesus, with all his benefits, is found and made ours,for our everlasting defence and safety. For we find that the king of Babylon, whowas a type of our Antichrist, when he came up against Jerusalem, the type of ourprimitive church, he brake down their city, destroyed their walls, rifled their houses,and killed their children; whose steps, I say, our Antichrist follows to a hair,in treading down the primitive church, corrupting her doctrines— which are her safeguardand wall—also robbing and spoiling the houses of God, and killing his children witha thousand calamities; turning all the heavenly frame and order of church governmentinto a heap of rubbish, and a confused dunghill (Psa 74:4-7).
Wherefore the building again of this wall is to be understood of the recovering,and settling, and fastening the doctrines of Christ, as afore, in which doctrineshe in all his benefits is wrapped and held fast for ever. I say, a recovering ofthem, and setting him up again in his primitive and pure glory, of being our priest,prophet, and king in his church, and a giving unto these offices their own properlength, breadth, height, and depth, letting them rule in all their force, glory,and majesty, and authority, for then will be golden days, and not till then; then,I say, when the several offices of the Lord Jesus do rule in their own nature andlargeness of authority, both in the church and in the world (Zech 9:7,8; 14:9; Rev11:15).
Alas! this wall is yet unbuilt, the offices of the Lord Jesus do not yet shine inthat purity, nor so stand in their proper places as they shall do at the coming inof New Jerusalem. The wall lies yet but as a heap of rubbish; the offices of theLord Christ are to this day by many preachers confounded, and removed to and fro,even like loose and rolling stones. These offices, also, are by others attributedto Antichrist, and his children of iniquity; but at this day the nations shall knowthemselves to be but men, and the doctrines of Christ shall be set again in theirown places (Eze 28:2,3; 2 Thess 2:4). Now shall every going into this city, and everygoing out thereof, stand where it ought; and now shall every tower and fortress onthis wall be placed as in the days of old; which towers and fortresses are the gloriousnames and attributes of the Father and Christ; for the name of the Lord is a strongtower, the righteous flee into it, and are safe. And again, thou hast been a shelterto me, and a strong tower from the enemy. Wherefore now, I say, shall the name ofGod, as Lord of all, and Father of his church, with the names of the Son, as Head,Saviour, and King of kings, be as the bulwarks to this city (Cant 1:10), to whichshall be added all the promises, consolations, encouragements, &c., in the blessedbook of God, out of which this city continually shall suck the milk and nourishmentof the unsearchable grace of God to them (1 Peter 2:1,2). To all which shall be addedmany new pieces of timber in the wall, for so it was in the type at the rebuildingof the city (Neh 2:8).
By which new pieces I gather, that the special providence of God, and his protection,shall be at this day so fastened in this wall for the complete delivering of thiscity, both from hell and earth, that she shall stand in full force, safety, and peace,even till the heavens and the earth shall be no more. Now, when this wall is thusset up, even every truth and office of Christ in its own true natural force, aboutthis city, and when God, in his special and most endeared affections, shall engagehimself, even everlastingly, to keep this city safe from all storms and tempests,and trouble, and sorrow, then shall these citizens, as a sign of their conquest bothof hell and the world, even set up their banners on the several towers of this wall,and the standards that belong to the tribes thereof; then, I say, 'we will rejoicein thy salvation,' O Lord, 'and in the name of our God will we set up our banners'(Psa 20:5). And then shall the inhabitants of the world both wondering and tremblinglysay, 'Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as thesun, and terrible as an army with banners?' (Cant 6:10). O the names of God, of Christ,of his offices, and the power of his grace and promises! How will they shine? Inwhat glory will they appear? They will be even as a wall of fire round about Jerusalem;and will not be, as now, in the mind and thought of the people as the white of anegg in the mouth, without taste; but shall be, and appear in their own brightness,sweetness, and grace. 'For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty?corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids' (Zech 9:10). 'Inthat day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry withme, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation;I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength, and my song,he also is become my salvation' (Isa 12:1,2).
For the workman, I am sure, God is the principal, as I said before; but yet he willdo it by instruments, through the guidance of his Spirit. The building of the wallof old was of God; but so as that he did it by the hand of Nehemiah and his companions.I do observe, in the completing of the city of Jerusalem of old, that there was firstaltar-work, then temple-work, and after that the building of the wall and completingthe city. Altar-work, I say, was the first which was reared, and on which there wereoffered, according to the law and holy custom, the sacrifices and offerings bothmorning and evening, as every day required. 'But the foundation of the temple ofthe Lord was not yet laid' (Ezra 3:1-6). These altar-men were those also that afterwardbuilt the temple; but yet by them was first of all repaired the altar, to signifythat the first work that will be on foot at the beginning of the return of the Christiansfrom out of Antichristian Babylon, it will be to find out altar-work, that is, thepriestly office of Christ, and to offer by him the prayers and supplications of thechurch continually (Acts 19:9). Wherefore these altar-men, or these men in theiraltar-work, did figure out for us our famous and holy worthies, that before us haverisen up in their place, and shook off those relics of Antichrist that entrenchedupon the priestly office of our Lord and Saviour, even worthy Wickliff, Huss, Luther,Melancthon, Calvin, and the blessed martyrs in Queen Mary's days, &c., with therest of their companions. These, in their days, were stout and valiant championsfor God according to their light, and did upon the altar of God, which is Christour Lord, offer up many strong cries, with groans and tears, as every day required,for the complete recovering of the church of God; the benefit of whose offering wehave felt and enjoyed to this day; but by this the foundation of the temple was notyet laid (Ezra 3:6).
Now after these arise another people, not another with respect to Christianity, butwith respect to further light. These men, though they keep the continual offeringsupon the altar, as the other did, yet they are men also that are for temple-work;wherefore these begin to search out the foundations of the temple of God, that theymay rear up the house, as well as build up the altar. These be they that are forhaving the church a select company of visible believers, walking in the faith andholiness of the gospel, which believers are for separating from the unconverted andopen profane, and for building up one another an holy temple in the Lord, throughthe Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). I say, a temple, or house, or church, separate and distinctfrom that confused heap of rubbish and carnal gospellers that everywhere, like locustsand maggots, crawl up and down the nations (Rom 1:7; 2 Cor 6:14-16; Acts 2:40; Eph2:21,22; 1 Cor 5:11-13). These were figured forth by Zerubbabel, Joshua, and allthe people of the land that are for working and labouring in this service of temple-work(Haggai 1:12; 2:1-5).
Again, As there is thus altar-work and temple-work to be done by the saints whenthey are coming out of spiritual Sodom and Egypt; so, at the end of these, therewill be city- work on foot also. Which city-work will chiefly consist in settingup the wall and gates for defence, and of building themselves houses or mansionsof rest and refreshment after all their hard usage under the tyranny of the man ofsin, that son of perdition (Isa 65:19-21). Which city-work will be then completed,when the church of Christ hath obtained a complete conquest and victory over theworld, and hath got her enemies and them that hate her, to lie at her feet, and tolick the dust of the soles thereof (Isa 60:14). For, as I have told you already,temple-work, yea, when that is complete in the work, yet there may be great havocmade of the church of Christ (Rev 11:1-3). At which time also, city-work may be trampledunder the feet of the wicked and uncircumcised Gentiles; but when the city is built,then Zion is become a stronghold, and about all her glory shall be a defence (Isa4:5). Then she either draweth and allureth her adversaries to entreat her kindly,and to count it their honour to be under her protection, as did the Gibeonites; orelse she breaks, and bruises, and subjects them to her by her power and authority(Josh 9). 'The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, even the rich among thepeople shall entreat thy favour' (Psa 45:12).
'In the last days,' saith the prophet, 'it shall come to pass, that the mountainof the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and itshall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nationsshall come and say, - Let us go up unto the mountain of the Lord, and to the houseof the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Andhe shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shallbeat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning- hooks'; thatforce and power that they used formerly to destroy the church of God, now they shalluse it to do her service, even to break up the clods of the hearts of sinners, andto prune and dress the house of God, and vineyard of Jesus Christ; 'nation shallnot lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'; for theword of the kingdom of peace shall bear sway. 'And thou, O tower of the flock, thestronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion;the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem' (Micah 4:1-3,8). This is city-work,and as to the glory, peace, and deliverance of the church, it is the chiefest ofall other, because it is not only most excellent for concourse and multitude, but,I say, for preservation and safety; and that not only to keep the worshippers, ifthey keep their order, but to keep the order and worshippers both in order and continualsafety, that they may be for ever in the purest order. But now, though at the completingof this wall, and the building its towers, when they are finished there will be greatpeace; yet all the time that these things are doing, before they be done, let theworkmen look for opposition, taunts, underminers, and a thousand tricks for the hindranceof it (Neh 4:1-11; 6:1-14). For the streets of the city shall be built, and the wall,'even in troublous times' (Dan 9:25).
'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper.' Of jasper only; for as by buildingis showed unto us the manner of the work, so by jasper is showed unto us the matteritself; the matter therefore must be, JASPER, Christ only, his Word, offices, andglorious brightness only; for indeed, whatever the special grace, protection, andprovidence of God will at this day be over this city, yet it shall be every whitof it according to Christ; that is, both of him, for him, and by him, as the fruitsand effects of his suffering, bloodshed, and merits. 'Therefore,' saith God, 'willI divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and was numbered with the transgressors'(Isa 53:12). O holiness, how will it shine both in kings and nations, when God doththis!
[The glory of the city.]
'And the city was pure gold.' Having thus given us a discovery of the glory of thewall, he now comes to show us the glory of the city that is within the wall. Thecity, saith he, is gold, it is pure gold. This was figured out by the golden candlesticksbelonging to the tabernacle and temple among the Jews, which candlesticks did thenpresent unto us the worth and use of the church of Christ (Exo 25:31- 36). 'The sevencandlesticks are the seven churches,' saith the Lord Christ himself (Rev 1:20). Nowthe city here spoken of is the church in her highest and greatest glory. Its statewas also figured out by the temple itself, whose beams, posts, walls, doors, andthe like, were most famously covered over with gold (2 Chron 3:5-7). It was also,though but leanly, represented to us by the golden state of old Jerusalem in thedays of Solomon the king, in which state gold was so plentiful in the midst thereof,that silver was nothing counted of among the citizens there in those days, but wasas common as the stones in the street of the city (2 Chron 9:13-22,27).
'And the city was pure gold.' I find by the search of the Scriptures, that thereare divers sorts of gold in the world; there is the gold of the land of Havilah (Gen2:11); the gold of Parvaim (2 Chron 3:6); the gold of Ophir (Job 22:24); the goldof Sheba (Psa 72:15); and the gold of Uphaz (Jer 10:9). Now seeing he saith the cityis gold, yet not distinguishing what gold, or which, we may suppose in this placehe means gold of all these sorts; and indeed it is most agreeable to this text thusto judges. For the church at this day shall be made up of the twelve tribes thatare scattered abroad, and of the Gentile nations both far and near; who, as theynow lie, are, for ought I can learn, at as great a distance, and as remote from oneanother, not only in knowledge and affections, but touching the places of their abode,as are the golden mines out of which the gold that I spake of before is digged andfetched. Thus shall gold, the golden saints of God, at this day be gathered out ofthe several golden mines of the world, and be brought to King Solomon, the Son ofDavid, our Lord Jesus, to Jerusalem, with which he will build him a golden shiningcity, the joy of all the world.
'And the city was pure gold.' Gold is the choice and chief of all metals, both forworth, colour, and virtue; wherefore, when he saith, 'The city is gold,' you mayconceive how rich and shining, and virtuous this city will be; the riches ofthe whole world will be here, the beauty of the whole world will be here, and thevirtue of the whole world will be here; I mean spiritual riches, beauty, and health.Wherefore the rest of the world at this day will be but as a crushed bunch of herbsin which is no virtue; or like a furnace full of dross, out of which the gold istaken; or like an old, crazy, and ruinous house, from which is departed all healthand happiness; and indeed much like to this is that saying of the prophet, to wit,that at this day the whole circumference of the world that is without the walls andprivileges of this city, it shall be but like an old ruinous house, in which dwellsnothing but cormorants, bitterns, owls, ravens, dragons, satyrs, the screech-owl,the great owl, the vulture, and the like most doleful birds. All their princes shallbe nothing, saith the prophet, and when they call their nobles to the kingdom, noneshall be there. In their very palaces shall be thorns, and nettles, and brambles;for all among them that are princes and nobles indeed, will have packed up, and begone for Jerusalem (Isa 34:10-17). So that the world, I say, will be left empty,void, and stripped both of treasure, beauty, and health, at the day of Jerusalem'sbuilding again. But O how melancholy a forlorn, beautiless world will this be atthis day! It will be only the place of 'dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, andmurderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie' (Rev 22:15). Itwill now be the very emblem of hell, as the church at this day will be the emblemof heaven. Wherefore, as the church, as I showed you before, will be most fit forher putting on of immortality and incorruption, so the world will at this day bemost fit to be swallowed up of the lake and bottomless gulf. All things that aregood and worth anything shall at this day be found only in the city of God. The goldwill be in Jerusalem (Zech 14:14; Rev 18).
Again, In that this city is here called by the name of gold it is to show us howgreat pains, and travel, and charge the Lord Christ hath been at to get so greata treasure together. Gold is fetched from a far country, and that with great pains,charge, and difficulty (2 Chron 9:10). The gold wherewith King Solomon made his drinkingvessels, it cost a three years' journey to obtain it. So the saints also, those goldenvessels wherewith is made this golden city, they cost Christ a three days' travelin the heart of the earth, even sweatingly under the wrath of God, to obtain them,and thus to build this city with them (Luke 22:44; Mark 12:40).
Further, In that he saith this city is gold, he would have us to consider what thestate of the church was before she came into this happy condition, to wit, an afflicted,tempted, and tried condition. Gold, as it comes from the mine, it cometh commixedwith its dust and ore; wherefore the goldsmith hath a burning furnace wherein hehaving put it, doth with the fire purge and take away the dross and dust from amongthe metal itself; into which furnace he puts it once, twice, thrice, and again tothe end it may at length be thoroughly cleansed and purified from its dross. Nowall this befalleth the people of God; they are thrown into the burning fiery furnaceof affliction and temptation, and there they are tried, purged, and purified (Isa31:9). As the Lord also saith by the prophet, 'I will try them as gold is tried,and will refine them as silver is refined' (Zech 13:9). Yea, 'I will melt them andtry them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my people' (Jer 9:7).
Lastly, When he saith this city is gold, he also thereby insinuates how invincibleand unconquerable a spirit the people of God are possessed with. Gold is a metalso invincible and unconquerable, that no fire can consume it; it may burn it indeed,and melt it; the dross indeed doth consume and give way to the power of the fire,but the gold remains, and holds its ground; yea, it gets ground even of the furnaceand fire itself; for the more it is burned and melted, the more it recovers its colour,and the more it shakes off its dross and dishonour. Just thus it is with the peopleof God, and hath been so even from the beginning: the more they oppressed them, themore they grew (Exo 1:12). The truth of which will be proved with a witness, whenGod comes to set up this city Jerusalem: his church hath been now for many hundredyears in the king of Babylon's furnace; all which time she hath most gloriously enduredand withstood the heat; and at last when the fire hath done its worst against her,behold there comes out a city of gold. A type of which was the state of the threechildren, who though they were cast into the fire bound and in disgrace; yet cameout in the liberty and grace of the Son of God (Dan 3:23-26). Wherefore let her bebold to say, even before she comes out of the fire, When I am tried, 'I shall comeforth as gold' (Job 23:10).
'And the city was PURE gold.' These words, PURE GOLD, clear up what I said already.Pure gold, or gold upon which the fire hath done its work. The church in the fireof persecution is like Esther in the perfuming chamber, but making fit for the presenceof the king; which fire, when it hath done its work, then she comes into his presencein clothing all of gold (Esth 2:10). 'The king's daughter is all glorious within,her clothing is of wrought gold.' And again, 'At thy right hand did stand the queenin gold of Ophir' (Psa 45:9,13). Wherefore he means by pure gold, gold out of thefire, gold on which the fire of persecution and temptation hath done its full andcomplete work.
'And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.' By glass, in this place, weare to understand the Word of God, as both James and Paul do testify (James 1:22-25;2 Cor 3:18; 1 Cor 13:12). By clear glass then, we are to understand the Word in itsown nature and purity, without the corruptions and traditions of men. Wherefore,when he saith this golden city was like unto clear glass, it is as if he had saidshe is even with the Word and law of her goldsmith, in all her matters. The Wordis a golden reed, this city a golden city; and that, a golden city, taken out ofthe furnace of affliction, and therefore like to the golden reed. 'And the city waspure gold, like unto clear glass.'
[The glory of the foundations.]
Ver. 19, 20. 'And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of preciousstones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony;the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite;the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, ajacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.'
Thus having showed us the glory of the wall, and of the city, he now comes to showus the glory of the foundations. The foundations you know, I told you before, theyare the twelve apostles in their doctrine, or the primitive doctrine of the twelveapostles of the Lamb.
Now the great business in this place will be to show you the garnishing of thesefoundations, and also the mystery and order of the lying of the foundations, fortheir glory lieth in both.
As for the garnishing of these foundations, it is, and will be at the day of NewJerusalem, two-fold, and the first is with beautiful gifts and grace. Thus were theapostles of old adorned, and thus shall their doctrine again be garnished. I knowthat the doctrine of the twelve hath been always accompanied with goodly gifts andgrace, from the first churches quite down, that is, according to the measure of lightthey appeared in, and according to the dispensations of God in the times of antichrist.But yet the glory that this doctrine had in these latter days, I mean since the apostacy,it was nothing in comparison of the glory and splendour that will be in them in theday when this city is built and complete. Wherefore you find, that though all alongin antichrist's reign, the gospel of grace hath shone, and given light to the saintsand people of God in all their travels and afflictions; yet the shining of it atthat day was much opposed and eclipsed by the smoke of the bottomless pit: as hesaith, 'There arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace, andthe sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit' (Rev 9:2). Inwhich days, I say, abundance of the light, heat, and operation of the gospel wasdiminished and taken off, so that but little of the power or glory of it hath beeneither felt or seen from that time to this very day. This is that God spake of bythe prophet Amos, saying, 'I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darkenthe earth in the clear day; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all yoursongs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldnessupon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereofas a bitter day.'
All which he explaineth in the next words, for 'Behold the days come, saith the LordGod, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst forwater, but of hearing the words of the Lord; and they shall wander from sea to sea,and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word ofthe Lord, and shall not find it' (Amos 8:9-12). In those days Eli's sons were becomevarlets (1 Sam 2:12-15). Indeed there was here and there a little child, like Samuelin his minority, that now and then would speak most goodly things. But 'the wordof the Lord was precious in those days, there was no open vision' (1 Sam 3:1). Thisis that which David in the Spirit of prophecy complaineth of, saying, 'They knownot, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundationsof the earth are out of course' (Psa 82:5). Thus in the days of the eclipsing ofthe glory of these foundations. But now, behold, they recover their light, and puton, as of old, their former glory, and are again garnished as in the former days.Now will all the doctrines of the gospel spangle and sparkle; out of every text willthe ministers of God make to issue exceedingly most precious and heavenly fire; forthese stones are indeed the stones of fire (Eze 28:16). And in them is containedthat which would set the whole world on a flame with love and delight in the thingsof God and another world, had but men the spirit of wisdom, and the authority ofGod in their ministry, as the apostles and the primitive Christians had. Well thisdoctrine of the twelve shall be again adorned with gifts and graces as in the daysof old: by which it shall also be made to shine, and to cast forth its golden raysbefore the nations to their salvation. Behold, saith God, I will lay thy stones withfair colours, that is, thy apostolical doctrines shall again be garnished as at thefirst (Isa 54:11). Truth shall appear in its old and mature colours, and as suchshall be embraced, and lived and delighted in, both by Jews and Gentiles, as I haveshowed.
But secondly, The twelve foundations that here you read of, they are the same withthose twelve stones that long before were set in the breastplate of judgment, inwhich were engraven the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, thenames of which tribes did comprehend the whole body of the house of their fathers(Exo 28:16-21,29; 39:14). Now then, seeing these twelve are the same with those onthe breastplate of judgment; and seeing also, that those on the breastplate did comprehendthe whole of the twelve tribes, I conclude that for these foundations to be garnishedwith all manner of precious stones, it is as much as to say, they shall be garnishedwith abundance of converts; multitudes, and that of all sorts, both of Jews and Gentiles,Moors, Tartars, Turks, and those in the utmost parts of the world, shall now be entangledwith the light and truth, with the glory and goodness of the doctrine of the twelve.And I the rather take it thus, 1. Because, as the foundations themselves are saidto be precious stones; so also the saints in general, they go under the same namestoo. As Jeremiah saith, the precious stones of the sanctuary are the precious sonsof Zion (Lam 4:1-3). As Peter also saith, in alluding to the precious stones of thetemple; the saints are lively, or living precious stones, built up a spiritual house,&c. (1 Peter 2:5). And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all mannerof precious stones (1 Chron 29:2). That is, the doctrine of the twelve was garnishedwith all manner of precious souls; that is, converted by it, by which they becomea glory and a garnishing to it. 2. I take it to be the conversion of the preciousones of God; because that thus to understand it, is most like the phrase of the apostlePaul himself, saying, 'What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not evenye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory andjoy' (1 Thess 2:19,20). Mark, in the text he saith, The foundations were garnishedwith all manner of precious stones, and here those precious stones, Paul accountsto be those that are converted by the Word: for what is our hope, or joy, or crown?are not even ye that have been converted by us? Ye are our joy, ye are our crown,ye are our glory; it is with you that we shall be crowned, adorned, and garnishedin the presence of our Lord Jesus. Mark, John saith, They are garnished, Paul saith,they are crowned; John saith, they are garnished with precious stones, and Paul saith,they are crowned with the conversion of sinners. Thus therefore as God will lay thesestones with fair colours, so also he will lay these foundations with sapphires (Isa54:11). That is, as he will beautify the doctrine of the twelve with its former glory,sweetness, and authority; so he will crown and garnish it with the conversion ofmany sinners. The elect are the jewels of God, and this is the day of his bindingthem up, even then when the antichrist falls, and the gospel breaks out in its primitiveglory (Mal 3:16-18).
'And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones.'In these words, there are yet two things considerable.
First Consideration. That all who go to the adorning of these foundations, they mustbe precious stones, not a common stone shall here be owned. And indeed what shouldpebbles do among the pearls and the diamonds of New Jerusalem; or the stones of blacknessand emptiness, among the saints of light (Job 28:3). I tell you, that those whichGod doth reckon the adorning-stones, they are all and every one, precious stone;they must be all lively, glistering, and curious stones, though stones of diverscolours (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Chron 29:2). Antichrist counts anything sufficient enoughto garnish his apostles with, even the empty stones of confusion, the sinners thathave no more grace in their souls then there is sap in a post that hath been thistwenty years without either sap or water (Isa 34:11). But God will not count suchfor the beauty of his word, nor for the garnishing and beautifying of the doctrineof the twelve, they are garnished with PRECIOUS STONES.
Second Consideration. As he saith the foundations are garnished with precious stonesonly, so he saith it is with ALL MANNER of precious stones: by which he would haveus understand that all saints have not the same degree either of precious grace orgifts and virtue in them. There are some that excel and differ from the rest, evenas one star differeth from another in glory (1 Cor 14:12). Some saints, as they haveboth more grace and also gifts than others; so too they are more laborious and painfulin the work of God than their fellows, and therefore he saith, ALL MANNER of preciousstones (Pro 31:29; 1 Cor 15:10,41).
[The Foundations, what they are, with their order of placing.]
Ver. 20. 'The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony;the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite';&c. Thus having showed you the garnishing and beautifying of the twelve foundations,he now comes to discover the foundations themselves, with reference to their orderof placing and lying.
[The First Foundation.] Touching which order, he saith the first and bottom foundationis a jasper.
I have hitherto said that this jasper in both the two afore- mentioned places, bothas to the light of this city, and also of the wall, it was Jesus Christ: Christ illuminating,and Christ defending. But here the jasper is said to be one of the twelve foundations,even one of those foundations in which are writ the names of the twelve apostlesof the Lamb, which one would think did put this jasper now into another state, evento be a representation of one of the twelve apostles, and not of the Lord and SaviourJesus Christ himself. To which I shall yet say, that the jasper here in the orderof the foundations, is to be understood of Christ, as well as in the other two placesin this discourse; I say it is yet to be understood of representing the Lord Jesus,though it also doth bear the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Andin this very thing there is an infolding mystery wrapped up and inclosed. For,
First. In that the name of an apostle is writ in this stone, and yet that this jaspershould represent Christ, it showeth unto us the agreement that is between the doctrineof the apostles and Christ himself, to wit, that they are one and the very same;and hence it is that the apostle saith, 'We preach Christ crucified' (1 Cor 1:23,24).Christ in all his benefits is the very marrow, life, and sum of all their teaching.'Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor3:11). Wherefore the doctrine of the apostles being Christ itself, no marvel thoughthe name of an apostle be writ upon this jasper; and again, no marvel though thisjasper go yet under that name that represents him.
Second. In that it is said the names of the twelve are in these twelve foundations,and yet that the first of them should be the jasper, Christ; it argueth also, thatwhosoever receiveth the doctrine of the twelve, they must needs with that receivethe Lord Christ himself. Receive the doctrine of the gospel, as it is held forthby the twelve in the word, and thou canst not miss of the Lord Jesus Christ himself;he will be found in the bottom of their doctrine. Ye 'are built upon the foundationof the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone'(Eph 1:19,20).
Third. In that he saith in these twelve stones are the names of the twelve apostles,and yet that the first should be the jasper, Christ; it argueth also that whereverthe doctrine of the twelve is preached, there is therewith the presence of Christ:the presence of his Spirit to teach and enlighten the ignorant and blind hearts ofthe unconverted; the presence also of his power to overcome them, and to make themfall under the glory and truth of his heavenly word. 'Lo,' saith he, 'I am with youalway, even unto the end of the world.' 'And they went forth and preached everywherethe Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following' (Matt 28:20;Mark 16:20).
Fourth. In that he saith the names of the twelve are in the foundations, and yetthat Christ should be one of the twelve himself; it showeth to us the union thatis between Christ and his holy people. Mark in the twelve foundations are placedall, even all manner of precious stones. Again, in the twelve is placed the jasper,Christ; by which we may see the nearness that is between Christ and his whole body.'I in them, and thou in me,' saith Christ, 'that they may be made perfect in one'(John 17:23). Christ and his saints make but one temple, one man; being but one flesh,one nature, &c. (1 Cor 12:12).
Fifth. In that this jasper is said to be one of the foundations, and that too thefirst and undermost; he showeth farther, that Christ is the foundation of them beforeGod, that are the foundation of him before men. The twelve do bear up Christ beforethe world, as the twelve brazen oxen did hold up the molten sea in the temple (1Kings 7:25). And Christ doth bear up the twelve before his Father, as the high priestsdid carry the twelve stones on their breastplate of judgment, when they went to makean atonement for the sins of the people, into the holiest (Exo 28:29).
Sixth. It showed us further, that though the apostles shall be adorned with the conversionof those that they shall win to the Lord Christ; yet they will never be able to standunder that glory and honour unless they are supported and upheld by Christ, as theirfoundation. Sirs, as Christ is the strength of his people in their work for him inthis world, so he must be their strength by which they must stand under the rewardthey shall have for their labour when this world is ended. And hence it is, thatthe prophet saith, 'They shall hang upon him all the glory of his Father's house,the offspring and the issue; all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups,even to all the vessels of flagons' (Is 22:24), and again, 'He shall build the templeof the Lord, and he shall bear the glory' (Zech 6:13). He shall bear the glory ofour salvation from sin, preservation in the midst of all temptations, and of ourgoing to glory; also he shall bear the glory of our labour in the gospel, of ourgifts and abilities, of making our labour and work effectual to the saving of sinners,'that in all things he might have the pre- eminence' (Col 1:18).
Seventh. In that the foundations are twelve, and Christ the undermost of them; itsignifieth, that all that are converted by the twelve, as they shall be for the garnishingof the twelve, so also both the twelve, with all that they are garnished with, shallbe for garnishing of Christ. We shall stick like perarls in the crowns of the twelveapostles, and they again with all their glory shall stick in the crown of Christ.And hence it is that you find the four and twenty elders, which four and twenty do,as I conceive, hold for the twelve, both in the first and second Jerusalem. I say,hence it is that you find them take their crowns from off their heads, and cat themdown before the throne of God and of the Lamb, crying, 'Blessing, and honour, andglory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for everand ever' (Rev 4:9-11; 5:11-14).
Eighth. One thing more of this goodly jasper, and then to the rest; which thing isthis, that jasper that here you find to be the first in the twelve foundations, eventhat jasper you find to be the last of all among the stones in the breastplate ofjudgment (Exo 28:20). From whence you may note, 1. That Christ, as he is to be theauthor, or first of our faith, so also he is to be the finisher, or last of our faith(Heb 12:2). 2. That as he is to be the captain and leader of his people, so he isto be the rereward and bringer up of his people (Heb 2:10; Isa 52:12). He is to gobefore them to lead them the way; and to come behind them to bring them all up (Isa58:8; Exo 14:19). 3. Again, forasmuch as he is said to be last before he is first;that is, last in Exodus, and after that, first in the Revelation, it may be to showus, that Christ was first to be least, lowest, and last, and then to be greatest,highest, and first. He first humbled himself to the death, even to the shameful deathof the cross; and then was by God his Father exalted and placed above every name;as he also himself doth witness, saying, 'Ought not Christ to have suffered thesethings, and to enter into his glory?' (Luke 24:26; Phil 2:6-11).
[The other foundations.] 'The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire;the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth,sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz,' &c.Touching the jasper you see what I have said. Now all I have to say to the rest ofthem, it is in general these three things.
First, In that the foundations are all and every one of them precious stones, itsignifieth that all the doctrines of the New Jerusalem will be only the preciousdoctrine of the twelve apostles, not common stuff, not raked out of the dunghillsand muck-heaps of this world, and from among the toys of antichrist, but spiritual,heavenly, and glorious. He that hath his word shall then speak it faithfully, for'what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord' (Jer 23:28,32).
Second, In that they are called after the names of precious stones, it signifiethalso that at that day none shall be used or put into the ministry but these thathave received spiritual and heavenly gifts from above. It is not every babbling fellow,not those that look for their abilities from the rudiments of the world, that thenshall be of any value or account. He must be a costly stone, a stone about whichthe Lord Jesus hath bestowed the cost of his heavenly abilities, even he whom theLord Jesus shall appear unto for that very purpose, to make him a minister. HE shallbe a minister, and none else at that day. The other shall be ashamed every one ofhis vision; yea, and shall in those days be so contemptible, that their father andtheir mother shall reprove them, and count them liars; yea, and shall be ready torun them through while they are prophesying in their rough garments to deceive (Zech13:3-5).
Third, In that these precious stones are not all of one and the same nature, butevery one of them several, and diverse one from another; it argueth that the giftsof the apostles, and so of the ministers of the New Jerusalem, shall be differingone from another in glory and operation; yet mark, as in these stones, so in everyone of them shall be perfect glory, according to the nature of God's working by hisSpirit; as the nature of the jasper is perfect in his kind, and the nature of thesapphire is perfect in his. These stones, some of them are of greater light and clearnessthan others; and so some of the apostles are chiefest (2 Cor 11:5). Some of thesestones, again, they are of a more fiery and burning colour than others, they beingbright also, but of a more mild brightness. Therefore some of the ministry are calledthe sons of thunder, when others are styled by the name of the sons of consolation(Mark 3:17; Acts 4:36). The gifts are differing, being diverse, their administrationsare differing, and the operations of them also are differing, though all those thingsare from that one and the self-same Spirit, working in every one severally as hepleases (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:4-6). All these things will spangle in the New Jerusalem,and carry their full breadth and sway as in the days of old.
To conclude this, in that he here saith, that the foundations of the wall are thesetwelve stones, he doth it to show that now also the former ministration that wasin the apostles' days will be the same and in full force again. For their gifts ofknowledge, judgment, and authority, they are such as have to this day lain buried,as it were with the apostles themselves. But now they shall show themselves again,even these foundation-stones, stones that are great stones, stones of ten cubits,and stones of eight cubits (1 Kings 7:10). Thus much of the glory of the foundations.
[The glory of the gates.]
Ver. 21. 'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, every several gate was of onepearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' Havingthus showed us the glory of this city, wall, and foundations, he now comes to showus the glory of the gates and of the street of the city.
'And the twelve gates are twelve pearls.' The gates, I told you before, they signifyChrist, both as he is the way to communion with the God of this city, and with theinhabitants thereof, that so they may have a share in the privileges of the same.I told you also then, that though he tells us exactly of the measure both of cityand wall, yet he tells us nothing of the measure of these twelve gates and goingsin thereat, and the reason is, because Christ, as he is the way to grace, he is beyondall measure both as to fulness and freeness (Eph 3:8). And now again he puts us tothe same plunge with the unsearchable riches of the Lord Christ; for who can countthe worth of pearl as big as the gates of a city? As, indeed, when Christ himselfdoth speak of the parable of the pearl in the field, he only telleth us that thereis such a one, but never valueth the worth thereof, only he saith, a pearl of greatprice, and so leaveth it (Matt 13:35,36). Now, when he saith that the gates are pearls,he thereby insinuates several things. As,
First. To show us how rich a treasure Christ Jesus our Lord is, and will be to allthose that by him shall enter in through the gates into this city, 'riches and honourare with me,' saith he, even 'durable riches and righteousness. My fruit [or thefruit of entering in by me] is better than gold, and my revenue than choice silver.I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that Imay cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures'(Pro 8:18-21; Eph 3:8).
Christ is rich indeed, both in his blood, resurrection, intercession, and all hisoffices, together with his relations and all his benefits; all which he bestowethupon every one that receiveth him, and maketh them unspeakably wealthy.
Second. The pearl, as it is rich, and so worth much, so again it is beautiful andamiable, even to take the eyes of all beholders. It hath, I say, a very sweet andsparkling light and glory in it, enough to take the eye and affect the heart of allthose that look upon it. And thus is Christ to all that come to him, and by him tothe Father, &c. 'My beloved,' saith she, 'is white and ruddy, the chiefest amongten thousand.' 'His mouth is most sweet, yea, he is altogether lovely' (Cant 5:10,16).
The mother of harlots had some knowledge of the beauty and glory of this stone, andknew that it had a very taking and drawing glory in it, and therefore she gets itfor some time to adorn herself withal; she was decked with gold and precious stonesand pearls (Eze 16:17), and was therefore called 'the well-favoured harlot' (Nahum3:4; Rev 18:4). By which means she hath drawn into her lewdness the kings and kingdomof the world; who have in such sort been entangled with her beauty, and with herfornication, that they have been adulterated from God and their own salvation. Forindeed she used this pearl but for to get them to drink of her fornication, thatthey might drink and spew, and fall and never rise more. But now when he saith, thegates are pearl, it is as if he had said, this woman is stript of her beauty anddelicate ornaments; the pearl is taken from her, and is set in its right place, evento be for the gates of Jerusalem (Rev 18:12,22,23). Wherefore it is to be expected,that many should be taken with the way of entrance into this beloved city in theday that she shall be set up and appear in her heavenly beauty (Pro 8:35; 3:35).The glory of that city must needs be great whose wall is jasper and gates are pearl(1 Cor 2:9; John 17:24).
'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls.' Not pearls and other precious stones commixed,but pearl only. To signify that Christ only can let in souls into this city, thatthey may partake of the goodness and privileges thereof. It is not he and saintstogether, neither is it all the saints and angels in heaven without him, he alone'hath the key of David, and that openeth, and no man shutteth; and that shutteth,and no man openeth' (Rev 3:7; 22:12).
Secondly, As he saith, the several gates are each of them pearls, so he saith thatevery several gate was of one pearl, of one entire pearl. By which he would haveus to understand also, that as none can enter in but by Christ, so none can enterin but by whole Christ. Christ must be helpful to thee every way, or he will be helpfulto thee no way; thou must enter in by every whit of Christ, or thou shalt enter inby never a whit of him. Wherefore look not to have him thy Saviour, if thou takehim not for king and prophet; nay, thou shalt not have him in any one, if thou dostnot take him in every one of these. Wherefore the prophet saith, 'He shall buildthe temple of the Lord [that is, by his prophetical office] - and shall sit and ruleupon his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peaceshall be between them both' (Zech 6:13).
[The glory of the street.]
'And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' In thesewords there are four things to be enquired into. First. What this street is? Second.Why he saith not streets, but street, as of one? Third. Why this street is calledby the term of pure gold? Fourth. And why it should look like transparent glass.For the
First, A street ordinarily is the place of common concourse, and the place of continualopen salutation, and taking acquaintance one of another; and as touching this street,we are also to understand it of the open and common place or way of God's worship,in which saints salute each other and acquaint themselves together; also here theworld are converted, saints built up and edified, &c. 'Wisdom crieth without;she uttereth her voice in the streets,' saith Solomon; 'she crieth in the chief placeof concourse, in the openings of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words' (Pro1:20,21). That is, in the public and righteous ordinances of the Lord Jesus, whichhe hat ordained in his church, for men to travel and trade in, for the good andwholesome merchandize of heaven, as the men of this world do for the things thereofin the streets and open places of their cities and places of privilege (Pro 8:1-3;9:1- 3).
Thus it was in the figure when the city Jerusalem was built after the captivity,as ours shall be at and after the overthrow and downfall of antichrist, for thenit is said that the people, to hear the law, were gathered together in the street,even in the water street; there they heard the sense given, and there they were convincedof their wickedness; also thee they received the knowledge of God's goodness to them,and there they received power to eat the fat and drink the sweet, to eat and drinkand be merry, and to cast away sadness and fear (Neh 8). This, by way of allegory,is called the way for the wayfaring men, even the way of holiness, over which theunclean shall not in anywise pass. The way in which they learn to know God and themselves,and the way of newness of life, in which every one walks that entereth in by thegates of New Jerusalem. And it is most suitable to the matter that went before tounderstand the street to be the way of God, the way of holiness and newness of life;because as it is natural for the stranger, so soon as ever he is entered the gatesof a city, to have his feet in the streets of the city, so it is natural for thesinner, so soon as ever he is entered into the church by Christ, to have his feettreading in the way and paths of holiness. Wherefore it is usual in the Holy Scriptureto call the transformation of the sinner from Satan to God a holy way, and also toadmonish him that is so transformed to walk in that way, saying, Walk in the faith,love, spirit, and newness of life, and walk in the truth, ways, statutes, and judgmentsof God (Psa 86:11; 143:8; Eze 11:20; 37:24; Gal 5:25; Rom 4:12).
He that entereth not by these gates into the city, he cannot walk in newness of life;but he that entered in by them, he cannot but walk in newness of life. The next thingthen that a man passeth into when he is entered into the New Jerusalem, is to walkin the STREET thereof, the way of holiness, even the way in which men learn to fearGod, and to believe in and love the Lord Jesus, &c. (Eph 5:1,2; 2 John 4; Rom6:4).
Second. Now this street or way of holiness, it is on purpose called not many, butone, to show us the perfection of light, grace, faith, and spiritual comfort, thatthe inhabitants of this city shall then enjoy. Daniel also calleth it one street,to signify the same thing (Dan 9:25). Wherefore from hence I gather, that then allsaints shall walk—as before I have made appear—even in one street, in one way, andin one light. It is antichrist that hath brought in all those crossings, bye-lanes,and odd nooks, that to this day many an honest heart doth greatly lose itself in;but at this day they shall be otherwise minded, that is, made all to savour one thing,and to walk one way, not biting and devouring each other as now. And indeed thereis all reason it should be thus, for the street itself is but one. There is but ONEGod, ONE Lord Jesus, ONE Spirit, ONE faith, ONE baptism, even as we are also calledin ONE hope of our calling (Eph 4:5,6; Acts 2:27,32,33; Phil 1:27; Rom 15:6). Now,therefore, when saints have the rubbish of antichristian darkness and trumpery removed,then they shall have, as they also had of old, but one heart, one soul, one judgment,one mind, and shall with one heart and mouth glorify God. The which also shall beprayed for of all the saints, even of all that have received the pure language beforethese things come to pass. They shall 'call upon the name of the Lord' with One lip,'to serve him with One consent' (Zeph 3:9). O! the heavenly spiritual harmony thatwill be in the city of God in those days, when the trumpeters and singers shall beas one, to make one sound, then the house shall be filled with a cloud' (2 Chron5:13).
Third. When he saith that the street of the city was pure gold, he alludes to thefloor in Solomon's temple, which was overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:30). He alludesto Solomon's chariot also, whose bottom was paved with love, and overlaid with gold(Can 3:10). By the floor of the temple, we are to understand the way of holiness;and by the chariot of Solomon, the triumphant glory of that way. Again, in that hesaith this street is gold, he would have us to understand the worth and treasurethat is laid up in the ways of God, and of a truly gracious heart. First for theworth and treasure that is laid up in the ways of God. They beget light (Psa 119:130),they change the heart, they lead from death, the devil, and hell, to life, God, andthe kingdom of heaven (Psa 119:9; Pro 2). In them God walks, and those that walkthere also are sure to meet with him (Isa 64:5). O this way, it is the way which'no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen'; 'It cannot be gottenfor gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. - The gold and thecrystal cannot equal it; and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls; for the price of wisdom is aboverubies' (Job 28:7,15- 18,28). All the ways of God they are pleasantness, and allhis paths are peace, and ought to be preferred before our necessary food (Pro 3:17).
Again, as the ways of God are thus rich, and so far above the gold and rubies ofthe world, so also is that sanctified and gracious heart, without which no man canwalk in this golden street. It is not every clown with his clumping dirty shoes thatis admitted into kings' privy-chambers and private palaces; neither doth, or willGod, at the day of New Jerusalem, suffer any to trace about this golden street, butsuch as have golden feet, and that beautified with goodly shoes. For as for thisstreet, all that walk in it, they must be golden men, with golden hearts, and withgraces that are 'much more precious than of gold that perisheth' (Cant 7:1; 1 Peter1:7; Rev 3:18).
Further, in that he saith this street is gold, 'pure gold,' he giveth us to understandalso what great delight and pleasure the Lord's people will take in his ways andordinances in that day. There will not then be that backwardness to do good, andto receive God, as there is in these more dry and empty days of the gospel. As goldis pleasing to the covetous man and worldling, so shall the ways of God be to thesaints and godly at that day. Now we have strong corruptions and weak grace, butthen we shall have strong grace and weak withered corruptions. You that are spiritual,you know what an high and goodly lifting up of heart one small gale of the good Spiritof God will make in your souls, how it will make your lusts to languish, and yoursouls to love, and take pleasure in the Lord that saves you. You know, I say, whata flame of love, and bowels, and compassion, and self-denial, and endeared affectionto God and all saints, it will beget in the soul. O! it is good to be here, saiththe gracious heart. Well, and so thou shalt be always, if thou live to see New Jerusalemsettled in her own place (Isa 65:17-25).
Fourth. 'And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.'Mark, a street of gold like glass, a street of gold, as it were transparent glass.By glass here, as also in verse 18, we are to understand the Word (James 1:23- 25).Wherefore, when he saith the street, the golden street, was like unto glass, he means,thatthe walking and carriage of the saints at this day shall be like unto, or accordingto, the Word, the life of the saints answering the life of the Word and rule of theLord Christ.
Again, in that he doth add to glass the word transparent, he would have us to understandthereby these two things.
1. That the walking and ways of holiness of saints shall be more in the power andspirit of the Word, than all along in the reign of Antichrist they have been. Fortransparent glass, it is the most clear and excellent glass, and goeth as far beyondother sorts of glass, as he that walks in the spirit and power of the commandmentgoes beyond him that only walks in the letter and outward word thereof. Alas, thechurches of Christ, at their firs assembling, will be like the coming together ofEzekiel's bones, clothed much with flesh and sinews, but greatly void of spirit andlife (Eze 37:7,8). Wherefore the spirit, power, holiness, and majesty that now willappear in the church, it will greatly transcend and go beyond the spirit, power,and holiness that hath accompanied her in former days. Then shall the sun be ashamed,and the moon confounded, when the Lord shall reign in Mount Zion, &c. (Isa 24:23).Then shall the sun be ashamed, that is, then shall that little light and understandingof the Word, that hath been in the church in the days when a third part of the gloryof the gospel was hid by the smoke of the pit, be, as it were, laid aside and beuseless (Rev 8:12; 9:2). Every saint shall be under the light of a sun that shinesseven-fold brighter, even as the light of seven days. We see it is so in some measureat this day; what light, and with what clearness do the saints in this day see thethings pertaining to the kingdom of God, beyond what the holy and goodly martyrsand saints did in the days that were before us; Huss, Bilney, Ridley, Hooper, Cranmer,with their brethren, if they were now in the world, would cry out and say, Our lightand knowledge of the word of the Testament of Christ was much inferior to the lightthat at this day is broken forth, and that will yet daily, in despite of men anddevils, display its rays and beams amongst the sons of men! When the childrenof Israel were to depart the land of Egypt, the Lord made known himself to them otherwisethan ever he made known himself either to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, their fathers(Exo 6:3). The book also, at the recovering the church from under Antichrist, isto be unlocked and unsealed gradually, first one seal and afterwards another, andlast of all the seventh, before which time the book will never quite be opened (Rev5; 6). According to that of the angel, 'Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closedup, and sealed till the time of the end' (Dan 12:9). In which time (which is thetime of New Jerusalem) they shall be opened, and men shall consider it perfectly(Jer 30:24; 23:20). Wherefore,
2. It must needs be that the church return to her old and primitive love. For whatis the cause of the want of love to Christ and one another now, but our want of lightin the things, mysteries, and privileges of the glorious gospel of the Son of God?Wherefore this being come, then love will reign, and have her perfect work amongthe godly. Love is the very quintessence of all the graces of the gospel, and isas transparent to them; 'the greatest of these is charity' (1 Cor 13:13). It is the'fulfilling of the law,' 'the bond of perfectness,' and the most 'excellent way'(1 Cor 12:31; Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 16:14; Col 3:14). Wherefore the Holy Ghost doth mean,by this word transparent glass, that the height of light, and the height of love,will be found in this city; all their things shall be done without confused smokeand darkness, and also without spiritual pride and desire of vain-glory: then shallthey indeed do all their things in charity, and in the feeling bowels and fellowshipof the gospel. 'Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto theLord, as in the days of old, and as in former years' (Mal 3:4).
Alas! though now through grace the saints of God have attained to more light andknowledge in the mysteries of the kingdom of God than heretofore they had, yet theirlight is far inferior to that which will be when this city is built. Our spiritualunion and fellowship in the very bowels of the grace and gospel of the Lord JesusChrist also is yet greatly defective. It is said that 'no man was able to enter intothe temple' of God, 'till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled' (Rev15:8). But when the seven last plagues are spent, and when all the adversaries ofthe church, which caused terror in the land of the living, shall be laid with theuncircumcised in the pit, then look for golden days, and not till then (Eze 32:18).Then shall this golden street be finished; that is, then shall the light, faith,love, and holiness of the gospel be walked in and embraced in a transparent and transcendingway. 'He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root; Israel shall blossom andbud, and fill the face of the world with fruit' (Isa 27:6).
[The city has no temple.]
Ver. 22. 'And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb arethe temple of it.' These words do, in my present light, point at the end of the daysof this Jerusalem here in this world: and in so doing they signify to us, that whenshe is built, she shall stand and continue in this her glorious state afore-mentionedeven until that glory be swallowed up of that which doth excel. That they do pointat the end of her day in this world, I do gather from these particulars:—
First. Because they are the last words of the description of her glory,—that is,these and the words ensuing, which is but one and the same continued speech; andit is easy to conclude that John, in this description of this city, doth, from firstto last, even from the first appearing of her as she cometh out of Babylon till shebe perfect in glory, give us the relation of it. First, I say, showing us her descending,then her building, and afterward the glory of that building; at the end of whichalso he showeth to us with what glory he will crown this glory, even by swallowingof her up with a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Second. Because in these words he doth absolutely cut off all and every whit of heroutward and external glory; that is, as to outward ordinances and temple-worship,which yet was to be most famous for a long time in this new and goodly city; whichhe verifies in the eleventh chapter of this prophecy, which chapter is a summarycollecting of the church in her fall and rise under Antichrist, which church therein her rise is this city here in her glory in this world. He tells us there, I say,that when the kingdoms of this world were become the kingdoms of the Lord, and ofhis Christ, that 'then the temple of God was opened in heaven'; that is, temple-worshipunder the gospel recovered into its former and primitive state and purity, in whichit was before the coming in of the man of sin (Rev 11:15-19, compared with 15:8).Which temple he here utterly shutteth out, saying, 'I saw no temple therein'; inthe room of which he setteth the presence of the Lord Jesus, and God his Father,making them to stand and be in the room of temple and gospel-worship, in that manneras it is used while we here live in the flesh. 'For the Lord God Almighty and theLamb are the temple of it.' It is true, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are thetemple of this church in her lowest condition, therefore much more when she is broughtinto the condition that she is in at her rebuilding; but yet, neither in her lowestate, nor yet in her highest, is it proper to say, that so long as she is in thisworld, God will be a temple to her, in opposition to her temple and gospel- worship,in outward and New Testament administrations. Wherefore when he saith He 'saw notemple therein,' and that from this reason, because 'the Lord God Almighty and theLamb are the temple of it'; he must needs aim at a state to which the church cannotattain until her Lord comes. For then will that which is perfect be come, and thatwhich is in part be done away (1 Cor 13:10).
Now that the temple in this place excluded, can signify nothing else but the outwardorderly way of God's worship, which the saints ought with conscience, in faith, tobe found in till their Lord comes, consider that our New Testament doth use the word'temple' three several ways: 1. For the outward order and worship or discipline ofthe Gospel (Rev 11:1-3). 2. For the body of Christ, which is his church, &c.3. And lastly, For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, which here are said to bethe temple of this city.
Now then, when he saith he saw 'No temple therein,' he cannot exclude the Lord GodAlmighty and the Lamb, for they are here said to be 'the temple of it.' Neither canhe shut out the church, which is the body of Christ, for that is the city itself;yea, and the church shall be God's temple, and God and Christ the temple of the churchfor ever and ever He must therefore by this word 'no temple,' exclude only the outwardway of gospel-worship, in which the saints in the times of the New Testament bothmeet and edify each other, and also meet their God, and are blessed and refreshedby him. Again, that this outward gospel- worship should be laid aside while the churchis in this world, before her Lord doth come to be enjoyed by her, as touching hispersonal presence; it looks too like ranting opinions, and contradiction to Scripture,for me to believe (1 Cor 11:26). For when he comes, but not till then, shall thesethings be laid aside.
Besides, that which yet confirms me more fully in this opinion, is because hereinthis New Jerusalem doth most exactly answer the city and temple, which was builtafter the captivity; which city and temple being once built, it stood till Christour Lord did visit them in his own personal coming the first time; as the prophetsalso said it should. 'The Lord, whom ye seek,' saith one, 'shall suddenly come tohis temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shallcome, saith the Lord of Hosts' (Mal 3:1). And again, 'I will shake all nations, andthe desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saiththe Lord of Hosts.' Wherefore 'the glory of this latter house shall be greater than[that] of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: and in this place will I give peace,saith the Lord of Hosts' (Hagg 2:7,9).
Now observe, that from the time of the building of the second temple to the comingof Christ, the worship of the temple order was to be by all most devoutly and continuallyobserved. But when the Lord Jesus was come, and had established his own more honourableand New Testament dispensation, then all the former temple-worship fell to the ground,and became, with all the instruments of worship that there unto belonged, null andvoid. Yea, and it was a derogation to his gospel to offer to uphold that former wayof worship, after he had by his own personal presence and Spirit brought in thatother dispensation. All which, I say, will be answered by our second and New TestamentNew Jerusalem. For as the Old Jerusalem was built after the Jews were come out ofliteral Babylon, so is our New Jerusalem built after our coming out of the antichristianoppression of spiritual Babylon. Again, as that city did after she was built continueand retain her temple-worship, until the personal appearing of Christ the first time,so New Jerusalem shall retain and hold her outward New Testament worship till HEcomes in person the second time. After all which, as the second temple was swallowedup of a more heavenly and spiritual dispensation by the personal presence of Christ,so shall also the New Jerusalem temple- worship be swallowed up by the glory of theappearing of the person of Christ the second time; as Paul saith, for he speaks inthe person of Christ, 'Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, todoctrine,' &c. (1 Tim 4:13).
Thus then, when this holy city doth once again appear upon the stage, and in herown situation, and when she hath been showed in the attire of a queen before theface of all nations, and their kings; and when she hath by the glory of the lightof her New Testament temple, gathered, as with a net, the number of God's elect;then she is taken into her husband's privy chamber, where she and he alone shallbe in that blessed fellowship and communion that shall not again be once eclipsed,or in the least interrupted to eternity.
Thus have I showed you my present light into this portion of the Holy Scripture.If any can give me further, I hope I shall not refuse it. But as yet, methinks thisshould be the genuine sense of this place, and is the very track of John himself.For after he had seen the wall for present safety, the foundations for continuation,the gates for entrance, and the like, then he comes to tell us of the glory of all,and of the street itself at last; which indeed is the last and end of all the orderof God, and to continue till an end be put to it by mortality's being swallowed upof life. As is yet more fully showed you in the next verse of this description.
[The city needs not the light of sun or moon.]
Ver. 23. 'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'
'And the city had no need of the sun.' That is, after temple- worship is over: thisverse is added therefore for further clearing up and illustrating of that which hesaid before. There he tells us this city had 'no temple,' and here he tells us sheneeded neither the light of the sun or moon. There he said, 'The Lord God Almightyand the Lamb are the temple of it'; and here he saith, they are the light thereof.The substance of which, in the language of the Holy Ghost, is this: the reason whytemple-worship is now gone and over, it is because there is now no need in this cityof the light of the sun and the moon; and the reason why she hath now no need ofthem, is because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are to it instead of both templeand light. 'For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.' 'For theglory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Whereby we may note,that though the light in which she descended, being the purity of temple- worship,was glorious, yet this city shall, when she is once built, so advance from gloryto glory, that at the last she shall be more happy without the help of that light,without which she had been for ever unbuilt, than she was by it in the midst of thefulness of it.
'And the city had no need of the sun,' &c. The word sun is in Scripture takendivers ways; sometimes for the true and natural sun in the firmament; sometimes againfor persecution, and the rage of the enemy, &c. (Josh 10:12; Matt 13:6). ButI take 'sun' here not to be any of these, but for the good and pure word of the gospelof Christ, unfolded, opened, and explained by the servants of Christ; which sun isthe same that before you find to be darkened by the Antichristian fog and mist, whichwas darkened, I say, even to a third part of it (Rev 8:12; 9:2). This sun, or wordof the gospel, Paul saith it is shadowed forth even by that which shineth in thefirmament of heaven, because as that by its light and shining, giveth to those thathave eyes, to see the glory and excellency of this world, so by the shining and lightof the gospel is given 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the faceof Jesus Christ,' and a view of the excellency of the things of the world to come(2 Cor 4:3-6). Now, I say, though while the church is in this world, and on thisside the state of glory, she cannot live and flourish without the shining of thissun, but would be lifeless and lightless, and without all heat and comfort— for itis the entrance of the law that giveth light here, and that lighteneth the eyes,'making wise the simple' (Psa 19:7,8; 119:130)—yet at the day of the coming of herLord in person she shall see far more clearly without the thus shining of the sunthan ever she did or could see with and by it.
'And the city had no need of the sun.' For when by the light of it the whole bodyof the elect have found out the way to this city, and when they have also by thislight accomplished and fulfilled all their work; yea, when the Lord himself is come,and doth immediately communicate far more glorious light to this city without itthan ever he did by it; what need is there then of the light of this sun? for thatis to be of use but for the time present, even until the whole of the body of theLord Jesus is come to the perfect measure, even 'to the measure of the stature ofthe fulness of Christ' (Eph 4:10-12). So then, when the body of Christ is in everysense completed in this life by the light of the sunshine of his holy gospel, whatneed of this sun? And hence it is that the word of the gospel is called 'the wordof reconciliation,' 'the word of faith,' and 'the words of this life' (2 Cor 5:19;Rom 10:8; Acts 5:20). Wherefore, I say, it ceaseth when there is no more to be reconciled,and when faith in all is perfected, and when this life is put an end unto by thecoming in of another. For 'when that which is perfect is come, then that which isin part shall be done away' (1 Cor 13:8-10).
The ministers of the gospel are of use so long as there is either elect to be converted,or any converted soul to be perfected by that measure of perfection that God hathappointed on this side glory; but when this work is done, their ministry ceaseth.Wherefore, though like the widow's sons, they are busy to borrow vessels for theoil so long as it is running, and emptying itself out of the great and principalbarrel; yet when it ceaseth, as it will do, when there are no more vessels to befound, then let them sit down as they, and receive of the fruits of their labour,for the reward of their work is then only to be enjoyed by them (2 Kings 4:1-6).
'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it.' This wordmoon also, as well as that of the sun, is to be taken divers ways in the Scripturesof truth; sometimes for the natural one, sometimes for the world and persecutors,&c. (Josh 10:13; Rev 12:1; Psa 121:6). But moon here is to be taken for the churchof God, with reference to her life, conversation, duties, and exemplary behaviour,in which she is conversant on this side glory; according to that of the Song, 'Whois she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, andterrible as an army with banners?' (Cant 6:10). When he saith, then, that at thisday there shall be here no need of the shining light of the moon, he means that thiscity at this day, in the state she is in when she hath the person of the Lamb inher, then she shall have no need of the growth of Christianity, for they shall beall perfect; nor no need of mortification, for there shall be no sin. They shallnot need now, as in time past, to exhort and encourage one another to stick fastto the promise, for they shall be swallowed up of life and open vision (2 Cor 5:4).Here shall be no need either of prayer, of repentance, of faith, or of good works,as afore. 'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it.'
Now, I say, the Holy Ghost is pleased to bring in here the shining virtues of thechurch under the notion of a shining moon, because, as the church herself is comparedto the moon, so her virtues are as naturally compared to a shining light; as Christsaith, 'Let our light so shine' (Matt 5:16); and again, 'Let your loins be girdedabout, and your lights burning' (Luke 12:35; Phil 2:15). For, indeed, while we arehere, that church and congregation of the Lord doth most shine, and most send forththe golden rays and pleasant beams of Christianity, that is most in the exerciseof the afore-mentioned virtues. Take away the moon, and the night is doubtful; orthough the moon be in the firmament, if she hath lost her light, the night is notthereby made more comfortable. And thus, I say, it is first with the world, wherehere there is no church to shine, or where there is a church that doth not so shinethat others may see and be lighted. For while the day of time doth last, even theworld itself hath need of the shining of the church; but at this day this time willbe no longer, because the day of eternity will break, and by that means cause theworld that now is, even the world of the ungodly, to cease to have a being here anylonger. Therefore now no need of the moon, or of the light thereof, to shine beforethat which is not.
Second. Again, as the church is in her light before men as the moon is in her lightin the night to the world, so, as I said before, this city which is called also heaven,she, even she, shall have no need of these things, for she shall be taken up in openvision, and shall be completely delivered from all imperfection; she shall not neednow the light of her children to provoke her and to stir her up to this or the otheract of holiness; all shall be done, all shall be complete, the Lord himself is come.Indeed, while Christ is absent as touching his person, and while the work of Godis not yet completely done in the church, there will be need both of the light ofsun and moon, but when the work is done, and he come, then these things will be outof use. Thus 'the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more andmore unto the perfect day' (Pro 4:18).
'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' This isrendered as the reason why at this day both the light of the sun and moon are needless;it is because 'the glory of God did lighten it,' and because 'the Lamb is the lightthereof.' Now the glory of God must be understood in this place, not of that glorythat doth attend the church in this world, for that glory doth attend the churchupon the account of her purity of worship, of temple-worship, and doth either abideon her, or withdraw itself, according to her exact observing the rule, or decliningfrom it, as I have showed you in the beginning of this discourse (see the expositionof the 11th verse). But the glory that here you read of, it is a glory that supplieththis city without those ordinances; yea, therefore, those ordinances, as the templeand the light of the sun and moon, do cease because of the glory of this glory thatnow is come into this city. 'The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moonto shine in it,' mark, 'for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is thelight thereof.'
Wherefore, I say, this glory that now he speaks of, it is the glory that shall possessthis city at the end of her glory in this world; wherefore, as saith the Holy Ghostby Isaiah the prophet, from this day forward, 'The sun shall be no more thy lightby day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lordshall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory' (Isa 60:19).
'For the glory of God did lighten it,' &c. Thus it was at the finishing of thetabernacle in the wilderness, and of the temple at Jerusalem; both which were figures,in their finishing, of the finishing of the state of the church in this world; andit is said of them, that in the day when they in all things were accomplished, accordingto the fashion that was revealed before concerning their order and accomplishment,that then the glory of God so appeared upon them, that neither Moses nor Aaron wasable to enter in, or to stand therein, because of the cloud, and of the glory ofthe Lord that at that time filled the house (Exo 40:33,34; 1 Kings 8:10,11). Thusyou see this city descends in one measure of glory, and is consummate in anothermeasure of glory. The glory of the Lord was upon the mount Sinai while the patternof the tabernacle was giving, but it rested on the tabernacle when the work thereofwas finished; to signify, I say, that the glory of God will rest in his ordinances,and in his church by them, so long as ordinances are in use; but when they are needless,then it will rest in the church without them, and that more gloriously than everit therein did rest by them.
'For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Mark, thoughnow there shall be no need of temple, sun, or moon, yet Christ the Lamb, or the Manwho was offered in sacrifice for our redemption, shall be of use and benefit; 'forthe glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Wherefore, allthat we who are the saved shall enjoy of glory and sweetness in another world, thoughwe shall not enjoy it from God through Christ, by and in the ordinances, yet we shallenjoy it through Christ the Lamb without them; 'for the Lamb is the light of it.'by this word Lamb, he would have us understand that when we are in glory, the blood,death, and bloody conquest that the man Christ did get over our infernal enemies,will be of eternal use to us; because that benefit of Christ shall not only for everbe the foundation of our eternal felicity, but the burden of our song of glory inall our raptures among the angels (Rev 5:9). It will be the blood, the blood, theredeeming blood of the Lamb. 'Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be untohim that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the LAMB for ever and ever' (Rev 5:13).It is he in whom will be found the seven eyes, the seven spirits of God, in whoselight we shall see the heights and depths of those springs and everlasting foundationsand depths of glory for ever; and, indeed, the conceit of the contrary is foolish(Zech 3:9; Rev 5:6). Is not Christ the head, and we the members? and do not the membersreceive their whole light, guidance, and wisdom from it? Is not he also the price,the ground, and bottom of our happiness, both in this world and that which is tocome? And is it possible it should be forgotten, or that, by it, our joy, light,and heaven should not be made the sweeter to all eternity? Our soul is now boundup in him, as in a bundle of life (1 Sam 25:29). And when we come thither, he isstill the Christ, our life; and it is by our being where he is that we shall beholdhis glory and our glory, because he is glorified (Col 3:3,4; John 17:24). 'For theglory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' As he said, 'Yenow therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,and your joy no man taketh from you' (John 16:22).
Thus much of this city, her descending, her fashion, her glory, and of her wadingthrough glory, from glory to glory.
[FOURTH. THE INHABITANTS OF THE CITY, THEIR QUALITY, AND NUMEROUSNESS.]
Ver. 24. 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it;and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' After this longand pleasant description of this holy and new Jerusalem, the Holy Ghost now fallethupon a relation of the people that shall be the inhabitants of this city, and oftheir numerousness and quality.
'And the nations,' &c. The nations of the world, both of the Jews and Gentiles.
Every one knoweth what the nations are, wherefore I need not stay upon the explicationof that, for it doth in general include the multitude of the sinners of the world(Eph 2:1- 3; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Titus 3:3). Therefore, when he saith, the nations shallwalk in the light of this city, it is as if he had said, that at this day, when sheis here in her tranquility, the sinners and disobedient among the sons of men shallby multitudes and whole kingdoms come in and close with the church and house of God.These spiders shall take hold with their hands, and be in kings' palaces (Pro 30:28).
'And the nations,' &c. For this word, 'the nations,' is a great word, and itcomprehendeth much; mark, it doth not say a nation, or some nations, neither dothit say few or small nations, but indefinitely, the nations, many nations, strongnations, all nations, the nations in general; only he ties them up with this limit,the nations of them that are saved (Isa 52:15; 60:22; 2:2). Which yet is not so muchspoken to clip off the multitude that we suppose may then be converted, as to showus their qualifications and happiness; as he saith by the prophet in another place,Thy children shall be all holy, or righteous, 'and great shall be the peace of thychildren' (Isa 54:13; 60:21). 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walkin the light of it.' Surely the Holy Ghost would never have spoken at such a rateas this, if he had not intended to show us that at the day of the setting up of thisJerusalem, a great harvest of sinners shall be gathered by the grace of the gospel.But the truth is, the Scriptures go with open arms towards the latter end of theworld, even as if they would grasp and compass about almost all people then uponthe face of the whole earth with the grace and mercy of God. 'The earth,' saith God,'shall be full of the knowledge' of the glory 'of the Lord, as the waters cover thesea' (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). As he saith, also, for the comfort of the church in anotherplace, 'Behold, I have grave thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continuallybefore me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made theewaste shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all thesegather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shaltsurely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, asa bride doeth. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction,shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowedthee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lostthe other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me; give placeto me, that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten methese, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive and removing toand fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone, these, where hadthey been?' (Isa 49:16-21). Thus the multitudes of the nations shall at this daybe converted to the Lord, and be made the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; as he saithagain, 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of hisChrist' (Rev 11:15). And again, 'The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of thekingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of theMost High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serveand obey him' (Dan 7:27).
And observe it, these promises are to be fulfilled in the last days, at the timeof the pouring forth of the last vial, which is the time of the sounding of the lastof the seven trumpets; for then this city shall be built, and Lucifer fallen fromheaven; then the prisoners shall be set at liberty, and the people be gathered together,'and the kingdoms to serve the Lord' (Isa 2:1,2; 14:4-6; Psa 102:20-22; Rev 11:15-17).'Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants,and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land,and to his people' (Deu 32:43). Alas! it is now towards the end of the world, andtherefore now all is going, if the Lord steps not in with the riches of his grace.Wherefore now at last, before all be turned into fire and ashes, behold the Lordcasts the net among the multitude of fish, and the abundance of the sea shall, withoutfail, be converted to Jerusalem (Isa 60:5). Though Satan and Antichrist have hadtheir day in the world, and by their outrage have made fearful havoc of the soulsof sinners from time to time, yet now at length God will strike in for a share withthem, and his Son 'shall divide the spoil with the strong' (Isa 53:12). Whereforehe now sets up this city, puts the glory of heaven upon her, provides a new heavenand a new earth for her situation (Isa 66:22); drives profaneness into the holesand dens of the earth; giveth righteousness authority to reign in the world (2 Peter3:13); and takes off the veil from all faces, that none may hereafter be for everbeguiled by blindness and ignorance (Isa 25:7). Now shall they make merry with thethings of God; now shall all eat the fat and drink the sweet (1 Kings 4:20; Neh 8:10,12).For 'in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fatthings, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on thelees well refined' (Isa 25:6).
'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.' They 'shallwalk in the light of it.' That is, in the light that is in it while it is in itspurity in this world, and in the glory of it when it is in its perfection and immortalityin another. Whence note by the way, that in the midst of all this glory, or whilethe glorious light of the gospel shall thus shine in the world, yet even then therewill be some also that will not see and rejoice in the glory hereof. But as for those,whoever they are, they are excluded from a share in the blessed and goodly privilegesof this city. 'The nations of them which are SAVED shall walk in the light of it.'
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' By these wordsare great things held forth. He told us before that the nations of them that aresaved shall walk in the light of it; and here he tells us that even their kings also,the kings of the earth, do bring their honour and glory to it. The people of thenations they are but like to single pence and halfpence, but their kings like goldangels and twenty-shilling pieces. Wherefore, when he saith that the kings ofthe earth do bring their glory and honour unto it, it argueth that the gospel andthe grace of God, when it is displayed in its own nature, and seen in its own complexion,even then they that have most of the honour and glory of the world will yet stooptheir top-gallant unto it. 'Because of thy temple which is at Jerusalem, shallkings bring presents unto thee' (Psa 68:29; Isa 49:22,23). 'The kings of Tarshish,and of the isles, shall bring presents' to thee: 'the kings of Sheba and Seba shalloffer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him'(Psa 72:10,11). The kings shall see and arise, and 'princes also shall worship becauseof the Lord,' &c. (Isa 49:7). The kings shall come to thy light, and princesto the brightness of thy rising (Isa 60:1-5). 'The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness,and all kings thy glory' (Isa 62:2). Yea, 'that which had not been told them shallthey see, and that which they have not heard shall they consider' (Isa 52:15). 'Allthe kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thymouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of theLord' (Psa 138:4,5). Thus, we see, that though in the first day of the gospel, thepoor, the halt, the lame, and the blind are chief in the embracing of the tendersof grace, yet in the latter day thereof God will take hold of kings.
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' INTO IT; thatis, to Jerusalem. Wherefore this city must be built before they all of them willfall in love with her. Indeed, I do conceive that some of them will lay their handto help forward the
work of this city, as did Hiram with Solomon, and Darius, Cyrus, and Artaxerxes,with Ezra and Nehemiah, at the building and repairing the city, in the letter, inthe days of old (2 Chron 2:11-15; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-3; 7:21). But yet, I say, the greatconquest of the kings will be by the beauty and glory of this city, when she is built.'thou shalt arise,' O Lord, 'and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her,yea, the set time is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favourthe dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thyglory' (Psa 102:13-15). And, indeed, before this city is set up, and establishedin her own place, most of the kings and great ones of the earth will be found employedand taken up in another work, than to fall in love with Mount Zion, and with thehill thereof. They will be found in love with mistress Babylon, the mother of harlots,the mistress of witchcrafts, and abominations of the earth (Rev 17:2,12-14; 18:3,9).They will, I say, be committing fornication with her, and will be as the horns uponthe heads of the beast, to defend the riding lady from the gunshot that the saintscontinually will be making at her by the force of the Word and Spirit of God. Theywill be shaking the sharp end of their weapons against the Son of God, continuallylabouring to keep him out of his throne, and from having that rule in the church,and in the world, as becomes him who is the head of the body, and over all principalityand power. 'These shall make war with the Lamb' (Rev 17:14). But, I say, it shallso come about at the last, by the illuminating grace of God, and by the faithfuland patient enduring of the saints, together with the glory that everywhere shallnow be abiding on the church and congregation of Jesus, that they shall begin toreceive a man's heart, and shall consider things that have not been told them; whereforeat last they shall withdraw themselves from the love of this mistress, and shallleave her to scrape for herself in the world, and shall come with repentance andrejoicing to Zion; nay, not only so, but to avenge the quarrel of God, and the vengeanceof his temple; and to recompense her also for the delusions and enchantments wherewithshe hath entangled them. 'These shall hate her, and they shall make her desolateand naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire' (Rev 17:16).
Now, madam, what sayest thou? The kings must come to Jerusalem, Jezebel. Thy chambercompanions will shortly, notwithstanding thy painted face, cast thee down headlongout at the windows. Yea, they shall tread thee in pieces by the feet of their prancinghorses, and with the wheels of their jumping chariots (2 Kings 9:30-33). They shallshut up all bowels of compassion towards thee, and shall roar upon thee like thesea, and upon thy fat ones like the waves thereof (Jer 50:41,42). Yea, when theybegin, they will also make an end, and will leave thee so harbourless and comfortless,that now there will be found for thee no gladness at all, no, not so much as onepiper to play thee one jig. The delicates that thy soul lusted after, thou shaltfind them no more at all (Rev 18:12-22). 'Babylon the glory of kingdoms, the beautyof the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Itshall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation;neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make theirfold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shallbe full of doleful creatures. And owls shall dwell there, and satyrs [that is, thehobgoblins, or devils] shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shallcry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her timeis near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged' (Isa 13:19-23). Thus wilt thoucome down wonderfully. For 'in thee have they set light by father and mother; inthe midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have theyvexed the fatherless and the widow. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood:and in thee they eat upon the mountains, in the midst of thee they commit lewdness'(Eze 22:6-10). God hath smitten his hands at thy dishonest gain, and all the bloodwhich hath been in the midst of thee; God will be avenged of thee, but will not meetthee as a man (Isa 47:1-3). You 'have cast lots for my people,' saith God: you 'havegiven a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.' You havemade havoc of my young converts to satisfy your lusts; therefore, 'What have ye todo with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coast of Palestine? Will ye render me arecompence? And if ye recompence me swiftly and speedily, will I return you recompenceupon your own head' (Joel 3:1-4). I will throw it as dirt in your face again. Andnever talk of what thou wast once, for though thou wast full of wisdom, and perfectin beauty, though thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God, yea, though every preciousstone for some time was thy covering, and thou the very anointed cherub that covereth,walking upon the mountain of God, and in the midst of the stones of fire, yet because—byreason of the multitude of thy merchandize— thou hast sinned, and art filled withviolence. 'Therefore God will cast thee, as profane, out of the mountain of God,and will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire';yea, he will cast thee to the ground, and lay thee before kings, that they may beholdthee. And 'all they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee:thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more' (Eze 28:12-19). 'And whenthou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, thoughthou deckest thee with ornaments of gold; though thou rentest thy face with painting,in vain shalt thou make thyself fair, thy lovers will despise thee, they will seekthy life' (Jer 4:30).
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and their honour into it.' Mark,they do not only forsake the crimson harlot, neither do they content themselves witheating her flesh and burning her with fire, but they come over, they come over toJerusalem; they are conquered by the grace of Christ and wisdom of the Son of God.They shall make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Kingof kings and Lord of lords, and those that are with him are called, and chosen, andfaithful. Now they shall all give way to the government of the King of kings, thegovernor of the Jews (Ezra 6:7), and shall with gladness delight to see him rulehis spouse with his own law, rules, and testament; they shall play the pranks ofJeroboam no longer, in making calves to keep the people from going up to Jerusalemto worship. Now they shall count him also king of nations, as well as king of saints;and he shall wear the crowns, and they shall seek to him (Rev 19:12,15; Jer 10:7;Isa 52:15; 2 Chron 9:23).
[The city secure, the gates always open.]
Ver. 25. 'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day for there shall beno night there.'
This is the effect of what you read before, namely, of the coming in of the kingsand great ones of the earth to this Jerusalem. For when the whore is made desolateand naked, and burned with fire, and when the kings also that loved her, and thatmaintained her, are come in, and have closed with the glory and beauty of this city,then what need is there to shut the gates? Alas, all the injuries that the kingsand great ones of the earth have done to the church and spouse of Christ in thesedays of the New Testament, it hath been through the instigation and witchcraft ofthis mistress of iniquity. 'The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and theglittering spear' (Nahum 3:3,4), against the saints of God, by reason of the multitudesof the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, who sellethnations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Wherefore Isay, this gentlewoman being laid in her grave, and all her fat ones gone down tothe sides of the pit, these kings will change their mind, and fall in love with thetrue and chaste matron, and with Christ her Lord. Now when this is thus, this citymust needs be safely inhabited as towns without walls, and as a place near to whichthere is neither thief nor ravenous beast (Isa 2:4; Jer 33:16; Zech 2:4; 14:11).
Persecutors, while they remain in their spirit of outrage against the church andpeople of God, they are frequently in the Scripture compared to the venomous dragons,fierce lions, and ravenous wolves (Jer 51:34,37). All which at this day shall bedriven out of the world, that is, so out, as never to molest the church again, orto cause a gate of this city to be shut, through fear, against them; as he saithby the prophet, 'In the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass, withreeds and rushes' (Isa 35:7). In the habitation of dragons, that is, even in theplaces of persecutors, where each lay, shall be food for the flock of Christ. Thedragon is a venomous beast, and poisoneth all where he lieth! He beats the earthbare, and venoms it, that it will bear no grass, as do the persecutors where theyinhabit and lie. But behold, the days do come in which these dragons shall be removed,and the ground where they lay be made fruitful and flourish, so that even there shallbe places for the flocks to lie down in. 'In the habitation of dragons, where eachlay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenousbeast shall go up thereon; but the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there, and theransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joyupon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shallflee away' (Isa 35:7- 10). According to that of Moses, the Lord 'will give peacein the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.' For 'he willrid evil beasts out of the land,' and the sword shall not go through it more (Lev26:6). 'And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellingsand in quiet resting-places' (Isa 32:18).
'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no nightthere.' This word DAY we may understand two ways; either for the day of bringingin to fill this city, or for the day of her perfection and fulness. Now if you takeit with reference to the day in which her converts are coming in, as indeed it ought,why then, the gates shall not be shut at all. 'Thy gates shall be open continually,they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces ofthe Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought' (Isa 60:11).
But again, this day of grace, and of conversion of sinners, it must be looked uponeither as the church is in captivity and persecution, or as she is out. Now, as sheis in captivity, so her longest day is usually accompanied with a black and doubtfulnight of temptation and affliction. Wherefore this day here being spoken of, it isthe day of grace that she shall have even when she is absolutely delivered from therage of the beast, false prophet, and whore. Wherefore he is not content to say,the gates shall not be shut at all by day, but adds withal, 'for there shall be nonight there'; as who should say, I know that commonly in the day of the church'saffliction she is accompanied with nights as well as days, but it shall not be sohere; 'Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; forthe Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall beended' (Isa 60:20).
Wherefore John, considering this, doth quite exclude the night, saying, 'There shallbe no night there.' Indeed after this New Jerusalem hath had her golden day in thisworld, I say, just towards the ending thereof, she will yet once again be beset withraging Gog and Magog, which enemies will, after the long safety and tranquility ofthis city, through the instigation of the devil come upon the breadth of the earth,and encamp about this holy city (Eze 28; 29). But behold in the midst of this intentionto swallow her up, the Lord rains fire and brimstone from heaven and destroys themall; so that God, I say, though he may bring one only evening upon this holy cityafter her long peace and rest among the sons of men, yet he shall not bring one nightupon her, nor cause a gate thereof to be shut for ever. The sun shall now stand stillin the midst of heaven, and this night shall be thus prevented by this marvellousjudgment of God (Josh 10). As another prophet saith, 'At evening time it shall belight' (Zech 14:7). That is, though her enemies will at last still make, throughtheir enmity, one only attempt to swallow up all in everlasting oblivion, yet theythemselves shall fall down dead upon the mountains of Israel, and be a prey to thisJerusalem. Thus there will be only day accompanying the inhabitants of this city,'For there shall be no night there.'
[The glory and honour of the nations brought into it.]
Ver. 26. 'And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.' This,as I said before, is to show us how heartily, and how unfeignedly, both the nationsand their kings shall now come over to New Jerusalem. They come hand in hand, notthe people without their prince, nor the prince without his people, though it will,and must be so, in the times of persecution; but now, together 'they shall bringthe glory and honour of the nations to it.'
Again, I told you before that the Jews shall at this day be converted to the Christianfaith, and shall have a great name and much of heaven upon them in this city. For,indeed, they are the first-born, the natural branches, and the like. Now when hesaith, they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations to it, I cannot thinkthat by this should we understand only, or yet principally, the outward pomp andtreasure of the world, but that rather by honour and glory we are here to understandthe heavenly treasure and glory that the saints shall continually pour forth intoone another's bosoms in this city. In this city, I say, for at this day, as I haveformerly showed you, there will be found no treasure any where but at Jerusalem;every saint shall be here, every grace shall be here, the precious stones of thesanctuary, the precious sons of Zion shall not then, as now, lie scattered, somein the world, and some in mistress Babylon's lap; neither shall any thing pertainingto the church's privileges be found in her at all for ever. There shall be heardno more at all in her any harpers, trumpeters, pipers, or any other heavenly musicin her; neither shall there be any more the sound of a millstone to grind us bread,nor the light of a candle to guide us in the house, nor yet the voice of the bridegroom,Christ, nor of the bride his wife, to tempt or allure any that are seeking the wayof life, to stay with her (Rev 18:22,23). All these things shall be brought to Jerusalem(2 Chron 36:7). Christians, you must understand that there is a time when all thetreasures of the church are to be found in Babylon, as in the days of old; but atthis day, when this city is built, not any of them shall be found there, but allshall be brought and delivered up to Jerusalem again, as was also foreshown in thetype; and all places shall be void of the treasure of heaven, but Jerusalem (Ezra6:1-6; 7:13-16).
Wherefore by the glory and honour of the nations in this place, I understand thatall the treasures of the church, and all the graces that at this day lie scatteredhere and there, some in one place and some in another, they shall be found no whereat that day but in this city, in the church that walks according to rule. Now thereasons why I take this honour and glory to be meant of these things are—
First. Because thus it was in the time of the building of Jerusalem after the captivity,the treasure of the Jews, which was become the treasures of the provinces of Babylon,was again restored and brought to Jerusalem, as you may see by the scriptures nowcited.
Second. Because I find indeed, that the milk and honey of the land of Canaan—whichare, in our gospel language, the gifts, graces, and treasures of the church—it iscalled, 'The glory of all lands' (Eze 20:6). Now, I say, seeing the milk and honey,which are the comforts of the church and her treasure, is called 'The glory of alllands,' I take glory and honour in this place to signify the same thing also (Cant4:11).
Third. Because also I find, by comparing the prophets, that the Christian's gloryand honour lieth mostly, even principally, in heavenly and spiritual things; as infaith, love, experience of God, of grace, of Christ, and spiritual life. I read that,at the building of this city, the Jews and Gentiles shall meet together, and thatat that day they shall mutually be partakers of each other's glory. The Gentiles'shall milk out, and be delighted in the abundance of the glory' of the Jews: andthe glory of the Gentiles shall be again extended unto the Jews like a mighty flowingstream (Isa 66:10-13). But I say that this glory and honour should consist in outwardthings, or that the glory that is merely carnal should be principally here intended,I confess it grates too near the ground for me to believe or rejoice in it. Alas,I find that those souls that have not now the tenth part of the spirit and life ofheavenly things that shall then be poured forth; I say, I find that these are tramplingon the world, and disdain the thoughts of being taken with its glory. Wherefore muchless will it be esteemed in that day, when the glory and goodness of God shall inthat manner break forth. Again, can it be imagined that the chief of the glory thatthe Gentiles should bring to the Jews after a sixteen hundred years warming in thebosom of Christ; I say, is it imaginable that the great crop of all they have reapedshould consist in a little outward trumpery? Or if it should, would it be a suitablemedicine in the least to present to the eyes of a broken and wounded people, as theJews will be at that day? Or if they glory that the Gentiles at that day shall suckfrom the Jews were such as this, would it at all be as life from the dead to themin a gospel sense.
The church of the Gentiles shall be a wall to the Jews at their return; but sucha wall as will chiefly consist in spiritual and heavenly safeguard, and in outward,because of that (Rom 11:13-15). I am a wall, saith she, and my breasts are towers,on which the Jews will build upon her a palace of silver (Cant 8:8-10). But mustthis wall, I say, consist chiefly in outward glory, in the glory of earthly things?or must this silver palace be of that nature either? No verily, but when God hathbuilt the city Jerusalem, and put his church into such a state, that upon all herglory shall be a defence of heaven, then shall the Jews, by their coming into thiscity, build, by their experience, a palace for spiritual and heavenly pleasure, tosolace and comfort their brethren withal. In a word, then, by glory and honour inthis place, we are chiefly to understand the spiritual and heavenly things of thiscity, which, in the times of the reign of Antichrist, have lain, some among the potsherdsof the earth, some again under the stairs, some under this abuse, and some underthat (Psa 61:3; Cant 2:14). All which shall be brought by the souls that shall beconverted, forthwith to this city, the church, where will be the treasury of God,into which every one at that day shall throw in of their abundance; but as for theglory of the world, the saints shall be above it, it shall be with them as silverand wood was in the days of Solomon, even as little worth as the stones in the streetin their account (Isa 27:13; 1 Kings 10:21).
[None but visible saints shall enter.]
Ver. 27. 'And there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neitherwhatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in theLamb's book of life.'
I am not yet convinced that the highest church-state that ever was, or ever willbe in this world, could possibly be so, all of them, the elect of God, but that therewould get in among them some that had not saving grace; the same also I believe touchingthe state of this Jerusalem. But yet this I do believe again, that the right andgospel-pattern is, that none be admitted into church communion but such who are visiblesaints by calling (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:12; Phil 1:1). The substance of whichthese words import, 'There shall not enter into it any thing that DEFILETH, or thatworketh abomination, or that maketh a lie.' Which words do principally strike ata people that appear to be loose, wicked, or ungodly; of which sort indeed, not oneshall here at any time, no, not in any wise, be admitted entrance. For now shallall the forms, and all the ordinances, and all the forms of the goings out of thechurch of God, and the comings into it, be so exactly opened to these people, andthey so punctual and distinct in the observation of them, that it will not be possiblethat a Canaanite should be here for ever again found any more (Eze 43:10,11; 44:6,8).'This is the law of the house upon the top of the mountain—the whole limit thereofshall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house' (Eze 43:12; Joel 3:17;Zech 14:21).
And as there shall at this day be none admitted here, but such as are in truth visiblesaints, so none must here continue, but they that continue such. If any of thosestones that are put in for building into the house of God, shall afterwards havethe plague found on them, then the priest shall command that such stones be takenaway and cast into the unclean place that is without the city (Lev 14:40). And observeit, that congregation on earth that admits only of such persons as are visible saintsby calling and profession—though possibly some of them, as in the case of Judas andDemas, may be known to God to be non- elect—yet that church is holy round about thelimits thereof (Num 19:22; Eph 5:11; Heb 12:15; 2 Thess 3:6,14; 1 Cor 5:6,11-13).Provided, also, that if at any time after that the plague appears, they ordinarilyproceed to deal with them, as here things will be done to a tittle and a hair's breadth.Now the reason why the church may be said to have some within her that are non-elect,and yet be counted holy still, it is because the church is to judge of persons bytheir words and lives; they know not the heart absolutely, and therefore if in wordand life a man be as he ought, he is to be accounted a visible saint, and orderlyought to be received of the church as such. So that I say, as I said before, thesewords of barring out sinners out of the church, they are not to be understood asif they intended that those should be debarred visible communion that in word andlife appeared visible saints, that are so judged by the rules of Christ's testament;but that such should be from it shut out that appeared visible sinners. Those thatare defilers, workers of abomination, and makers of lies, none of these shall enter.
But 'they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.' These words explain thematter: those, and those only, shall enter here, that are found written in the Lamb'sbook of life. Now, by book of life we are to understand two things in the Scripturesof truth. First, either the book of God's eternal grace and mercy through Christ,in which all the elect are recorded for ever. Or, Secondly, that book of life inwhich the Lord Jesus hath all recorded that are visible saints by calling; for, forboth these there is a book of life. For the first of these, I judge these Scripturesdo suit (Luke 10:20; 2 Tim 2:19; Phil 4:3). And for the second, these with that inthe text (Exo 32:32,33; Rev 22:19).
Now the book of life in this place must not be so strictly taken as if it includedthose only that were elect of God to eternal life, but must be understood of thatbook wherein are recorded the rules and bounds of visible church- communion; andso all those that, through the gifts and operations of special or common grace, dofall within the compass of those rules and bounds. Thus it was in the type at thereturn out of captivity, none were to be admitted entrance into the church but thosethat could show their privileges by genealogy and the records of the church; andto others it was said that they had neither portion, nor lot, nor memorial, in Jerusalem(Ezra 2:62,63; Neh 7:64,65; 2:20).
Now that by book of life in this place we are to understand that book that hath init the bounds and liberties of this city, and so every one that falleth within thecompass of these bounds and privileges visibly; consider,
First. They that are visible matter for visible church- communion, they shall befound within this city, and yet there shall not enter any, but those that are writtenin the Lamb's book of life.
Second. Now visible church-communion doth not absolutely call for only invisiblesaints, neither can it; for if the church were to join with none but those whom theyknew to be the very elect of God—as all invisible saints are—then she must join withnone at all; for it is not possible that any church should be so infallible to judgein that manner of the elect, as to discern them always, and altogether, from thenon-elect, which cannot be an invisible saint.
Third. By book of life therefore, in this place, we are to understand, I say, thatbook that hath written in it every visible saint, whether they be elect or not; andso such a book that is capable of receiving in a man at one time, and of blottingof him out again, as occasion doth require, at another. Which thing is only applicableto that book which binds and looses on the account of a man's being a visible saintor a visible apostate. Which thing is only applicable to the visible rules of receivingor shutting out of visible church-communion; which rules being the rules of Christ'sNew Testament, it is proper to call it the book of life; and is about the matterof going in or going out of this very city so
called. 'If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, andfrom the things which are written in this book' (Rev 22:18,19). O how happy is hewho is not only a visible, but also an invisible saint! (Rev 3:5). He, he shall notbe blotted out the book of God's eternal grace and mercy, when others are liableto loose a share, not only in heaven, but to be for ever blotted out of the bookthat approveth of visible believers also.
Fourth. But again, to explain the matter yet more: in the visible church there arenot only sons, but servants—that is, ,not only those that are truly elect, but suchas have received a gift for the perfecting of the church under Christ, in his servicehere in this world (Eze 46:16,17). Now, I say, the servant for the time present hathhis place in the church as well as the son, though not the place of a son, but ofa servant, even a place of service, as of preaching, prophesying, administering theordinances that are given to the church, and the like (1 Cor 12:7; Eph 4:11,12).All which a man that hath not grace may do, and that by the appointment of Christ;thus was Judas, Demas, Hymeneus, Phyletus, and others, who sometimes were the servantsof Christ in the church, and did minister for him to them; yet themselves, notwithstanding,such as were all that time strangers and aliens to the life and power and savingoperations of the justifying and preserving grace of the gospel (1 Cor 13:1-4; Matt25:14-18). As he saith also by the prophet Isaiah, 'strangers shall stand and feedyour flocks, and the sons of aliens shall be your ploughmen, and your vine-dressers'(Isa 61:5). For verily Christ will give to those that have not his saving grace,yet great knowledge and understanding in the mysteries of the kingdom of God, andwill also make them for profit and advantage in his church, to feed their flocks,to plough up the fallow ground of their hearts, and to dress their tender vines.Yet, I say, they themselves shall not be everlastingly saved, for they want his savinggrace. As Christ saith, 'The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the sonabideth for ever' (John 8:35). As he saith again in another prophet, 'If the princegive a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons, it shallbe their possession by inheritance; but if he give a gift of inheritance to one ofhis servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty, after it shall returnto the prince; but his inheritance shall be his sons for them' (Eze 46:16,17). Someindeed have grace as well as gifts; now they that are such the profit of their giftsshall be rewarded by virtue of their grace; but as for them that have only a gift,when the work of a gift is done, then they cease to be any longer of use in the church,and therefore are forthwith shut out of the same, but the son abideth for ever. Thusyou see that as visible church- communion doth not absolutely call for the electonly, but admits, and that by the book of rules, all that are visible and open saintsby calling, so also the Lord Jesus himself doth, and will use some in his churchas his officers and servants, that yet in a strict sense are neither his sons normembers, who yet are within the bounds of that book of life that here he speaks of,as is evident, because with Christ's allowance they are admitted into communion withhis church, and by him also furnished with gifts and abilities to profit and edifywithal. Now observe, such a one is admitted, though but a servant, yet not by thechurch, because but such a one. The church receiveth no man upon the account of giftsalone, but upon the account of the appearance of grace, as of gospel-repentance,of the confession of faith, and of a conversation suitable to the same; all whicha man that is not elect may have the notion of, yea, the power, though not the savingpower (Heb 6:4,5).
Fifth. Further, this which I have said about the visible church-communion, and soconsequently about the book of life, it must needs be a gospel-truth: yea, a thingfor truth in this New Jerusalem: because, besides what hath been said, there willbe found in this city, even at the coming of the Lord Jesus, which coming of hiswill not be for some time after the building and setting of it up, I say, there willbe then found among them foolish virgins, and such who have not the saving graceof God in their souls. But yet, 1. These very souls shall be counted by the church,yea, by Christ himself, for virgins; that is, such as had not defiled their profession.2. And will be such virgins as have, and hold every one her lamp, even as the wisethemselves. 3. Such virgins as were, every one of them gone forth from the pollutionsof this evil world. 4. And so such as continued visible saints, even till the bridegroomcame (Matt 25:1- 10). For then, it is said in the margin, they cried, Our lamps aregoing out. These, I say, be those gifted people that will have place in the church,and so place in the book of life here mentioned, which yet will, though they continuehid from the church, be discovered in the day of the Lord to be such as had onlya gift, but not grace, and shall for their secret sins be cut off and cast away,notwithstanding they were visible saints all their days.
To conclude then: If the Scripture saith, that none that defileth, or that workethabomination, or maketh a lie, shall enter into his holy city which yet is but thechurch on earth, with what face can defilers think and say they shall possess a partamong the church which is in heaven? Again, If many that have received gifts fromGod, and that may be serviceable in his house, shall yet be put out of doors at thecoming of the Lord, what will they do that have been and yet continue both giftlessand graceless, as visibly as the light that shineth? And that instead of being theploughmen and vine-dressers of the church, prove thieves, robbers, persecutors, andthe like! Yea, if many that are within the bounds of that book of life that haththe records and rules of a rightly constituted visible church may yet perish, whatwill become of them that never were so much as written therein? Must they not perishrather? 'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into thelake of fire' (Rev 20:15).
Rev. 22:1.—'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceedingout of the throne of God and of the Lamb.'
[FIFTH. THE PROVISION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE CITY, BY WHICH IT CONTINUETH IN LIFE,EASE, PEACE, TRANQUILITY, AND SWEETNESS FOR EVER.]
Having thus showed us this city, her fashion, glory, inhabitants, and the like, henow comes to show us her provision and maintenance, wherewith she is kept in safety,life, peace, and comfort, &c.
[Its drink the river of life.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life.' This water of life is nothing elsebut the manifold grace of God in Christ let forth to the inhabitants of this Jerusalem,wherewith she is watered and replenished, as the earth with rain from heaven, forthe good of those that drink thereof. For both the word water and that of life, theyare but metaphorical sayings, under which is held forth some better and more excellentthing. And indeed it is frequent with God in Scripture to speak of his grace andmercy under the notion of waters, of a fountain, a sea, and the like (Zech 13:1;Micah 7:18,19).
[It is called water.] Now it is called water, First, Because no soul can be cleansed,or effectually washed from its guilt and filth, but by the grace of God (Eph 1:7).'I washed thee with water, yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee,' 'andthou becamest mine' (Eze 16:8,9). Second, It is called water, because it also quencheththe spiritual thirst of them that by faith do drink thereof (Isa 41:18). I will give,saith Christ, to him that is a-thirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely(Rev 22:17). And again, 'He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shallnever thirst' (John 4:14).
[Water of LIFE.] Further, As it is called water, so it is called 'the water OF LIFE,'and that upon a diverse account. First, Because it is that which recovereth the soulthat drinketh thereof from the death of sin and the curse of God, to a principleof life and heavenly blessing. 'And it shall come to pass that every thing that liveth,which moveth whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live' (Eze 47:9). Second,It is called 'the water of life,' because that from it comes all those heavenly andspiritual quickenings and revivings, that (like aqua vitae [water of life]) do fetchagain, and cheer up the soul that was sinking and giving up the ghost in this world.'There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God' (Psa 46:4).Third, It is called 'the water of life,' because it healeth the soul of all its spiritualinfirmities and diseases, wherewith by reason of the remainders of sin, the creatureis most sadly annoyed and infected. 'And there shall be a very great multitude offish,' of men he means (Matt 4:19), 'because the waters shall come thither; for they,'these fish, 'shall be healed, and every thing shall live whiter the river cometh'(Eze 47:9). Fourth, and lastly, It is called 'the water of life,' because that whosoeverdoth effectually drink thereof, shall die no more, but the water that Christ shallgive him shall be in him a well of water, springing up in him to eternal life; whereforehe calleth it in another place, 'the living water,' because the quality and natureof it is to beget, to increase, to maintain, and preserve life (John 4:10-14).
[Water of lifer clear and PURE AS CRYSTAL.] 'And he showed me a pure river of waterof life, clear as crystal,' &c. Mark, it is water, water of life, pure waterof life, and clear as crystal. These words, 'pure' and 'clear,' and that as 'crystal,'they are added upon a double account. First, To show you that it is grace alone thatsaveth the sinner; and, Second, To show you that at this day the doctrine of thisgrace will be by itself alone without the commixture of that dirt and trash thatfor a long time, even to this day, hath been thrown into it.
First, It showeth us that it is grace alone that saveth the sinner, pure grace, gracethat admits of nothing of ours to be in the least a helper in the matter of our happiness;we are 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.'As he saith by the prophet, 'I will pour CLEAN water upon you, and ye shall be clean,and from all your idols will I cleanse you' (Eze 36:25). 'Not for your sakesdo I this, saith the Lord. Be ye ashamed and confounded for all your own evil ways,O house of Israel' (vv 32,33). It is clean water, indeed—it is clear in the natureof it, clear in the gift of it, and clear in the working of it. It washeth freely,thoroughly, and perfectly. 'From all your idols will I cleanse you' (v 25; 16:9;Rev 21:8).
Second, This word pure, and clear as crystal, it also showeth us that at the dayof New Jerusalem, the doctrine of grace shall be cleansed from all those dirty andmuddy inventions that sin, Satan, and the wisdom of this world hath thrown into thisriver, and into its goodly crystal streams; I say at this day they shall not comenear it, neither shall the rubbish they have already cast into it any more be therefor ever. 'I will destroy all the beasts thereof [the beastly men he means] frombeside the great waters, neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, northe hoofs of beasts trouble them. Then will I make their waters deep, and cause therivers to run like oil, saith the Lord God' (Eze 32:13,14).
'And he SHEWED me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,' &c. In thathe saith he saw this river, he giveth us in a mystery also to understand how openlyand plainly this river shall in all its crystal streams and currents be apprehendedand seen by the children of this city; for in this vision he doth as it were representin his person the children of New Jerusalem; as God said to Ezekiel in another case,'Thou shalt be a sign,' 'and they shall do as thou hast done' (24:22,27). So here,I saw, saith John, a pure river of water of life. I am in this a sign to the houseof the Israel of God, and to the inhabitants of this city; they shall do as I havedone, and shall also see as I have seen. As saith the church and people of this city,'As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts' (Psa 48:8).And hence it is called an open fountain, because it shall be no more shut up or keptclose for ever (Zech 13:1,2).
[Whither this water goes and its extension.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, PROCEEDING outof the throne of God.' This word, proceeding, hath also in it two things: First,An implicit declaration whither it goes; and, Second, A discovery of its gradualextension to those to whom it goes.
First. Touching to whom, or whither it goes, it is let out both to the Jews and Gentilesindifferently; and so it never yet was since the foundations of the Jewish church;for in the time of the Old Testament it did run to the Jews in special, and in thetime of the New Testament, hitherto, unto us the Gentiles in special. O! but nowit shall in this manner be extended to sinners no longer; not now to the Jews withoutthe Gentiles, nor again to them without the Jews, but equally and alike to both,and on them both it shall work alike effectually. 'It shall be in that day,' saiththe prophet, 'that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them towardthe former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea' (Zech 14:8). By 'living waters'here, you are to understand the same with this in the text; by 'the former sea,'the people of the Jews, for they were God's former people; and by 'hinder sea,' thepeople of the Gentiles, for they are the younger son. And because the whole worldconsisteth of these two people, therefore Ezekiel in his vision puts them both together,calling them the fish of one great sea, to which this water of life shall run, andupon whose fish it shall have a like operation, even to heal them, and make themlive, without respect either to this or that party. 'It shall come to pass that thefishers,' that is, the gospel ministers, 'shall stand upon it,' the rivers, 'fromEn-gedi even to En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fishshall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many'(Eze 47:10). As another prophet saith, 'The abundance of the sea shall be convertedto thee' (Isa 60:5). Thus much touching whither this water goes.
[Second.] And now to come to the manner of the extension of it, in the way of itsproceeding. A thing that proceeds, it doth what it doth gradually, that is, by degrees.First, it comes or goes so far, and then further, and afterwards further than that,till at last it ascends to the height and uppermost degree that is allotted for itsperfection. All which the Holy Ghost would have us gather out of this word, 'it proceedeth,'or that John saw this holy water 'proceeding.' The which the prophet Ezekiel in amystery unfoldeth to us, saying, the first time he passed over this water it wasup but to his ankles; the second time he passed through, it proceeded to his knees;the third time, to his loins; and last of all, became a river to swim in (Eze 47:1-3).
1. It is but up to the ankles, that is, but shallow; and signifies that, first, thesoul is but a little child in God's things, such as the apostle calls babes, children,'little children' (1 John 2:12).
2. Then from the ankles it proceeds to the knees, that is, somewhat higher than theankles; and signifieth that the Christian groweth from a child to a young and strongman, one that is now gotten deeper into the things of God, and that is able to tugwith and overcome the wicked ones (1 John 2:13).
3. After this it proceeds higher, even up to the loins; this signifies that as gracemakes men children of God, and his young men, so also it maketh them fathers andancients in his church; it makes them grave, knowing, solid guides, and unfoldersof the mysteries of the kingdom; these are such as are instructed into the kingdomof God, and that can bring out of their treasury things new and old.
4. It yet proceeds higher, even to be above the head, a river to swim in, and thatsuch a river as can by no means be passed over. This signifieth our launching intoeternity; our being beyond all heights, depths, lengths, and breadths in the openvision and enjoyments of grace. 'For there the glorious Lord shall be unto us a placeof broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shallgallant ships pass thereby' (Isa 33:21). Thus we begin children, and wade up to theankles in the things of God; and being once in, it riseth and proceeds to come upto our knees, then to our loins, and last of all to be a river to swim in; a riverso wide, so deep, and every way so large, that it can in no wise be passed over.
[Whence and from whom this water comes.]
'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding outof the throne of God, and of the Lamb.' Having thus spoken to the water what it is,as also to whom it extends itself, and how it proceeds, he now comes to show us fromwhence and from whom it doth come. It proceeds, saith he, 'from the throne of Godand of the Lamb.' Out of the throne of God; this throne of God, it is, in anotherplace, called the mercy-seat, and throne of grace, from which, as always, so nowin a special manner he will issue forth of himself in the glory of the gospel ofthe grace of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of this city (Exo25:22; Heb 4:16). When he saith, therefore, that it doth proceed out of the throneof God, it is as if he had said, I saw that from the yearning bowels of the greatGod did flow continually the living streams of the everlasting fountains of grace,and that not only to, but in the midst of this city, wherewith her inhabitants arecontinually watered, and their pastures kept always green and flourishing. 'Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' (Isa 55:1).
'Proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.' In that this water of lifeis said to proceed not only out of the throne of God, but also of the Lamb, it signifiethand holdeth forth unto us two special things:
First. That the throne of God is also made the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, uponwhich he, as a reward of his sufferings and victory over sin, Satan, and all evils,is set down, and upon which he sits and rules as Lord and Chief of all worlds. Heis set down on the right hand of power, on the right hand of the Majesty on high;as he saith, 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, evenas I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne' (Rev 3:21). Thisbeing thus, it signifieth that this city shall have her enjoyments of life, peace,and joy in the Holy Ghost, by virtue of the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ, aswell as by the virtue of his priestly and prophetical office. The church doth inour days know a little what joy, peace, and life is to be enjoyed from Christ, eventhrough that dark and glimmering sight that she hath of the offices of Christ ina mist; but she feels not yet what joy she shall have, and what peace she shall enjoywhen her Lord, in all his offices, is manifest before her, and when he in the gloryof them doth reign in the midst of this Jerusalem. There are none of the officesof the Lord Jesus yet upon the throne in his church on earth, though they be allupon the throne in heaven. O! but the day is coming that they shall be all upon thethrone in the church on earth; when they shall, each of them in its full length,breadth, height, and depth, bear sway among his people, and before all men. 'Thenthe moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reignin Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously' (Isa 24:23).
'O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountainsmight flow down at thy presence!' (Isa 64:1). O that the day were come that the smokeshould go forth of the temple of God, that men might enter into it, and there meetwith God upon the throne, and with Jesus in him upon the throne in all his offices!It will be thus, thou Zion, shortly, 'and great shall be the peace of thy children'(Isa 54:13).
[Second.] The second thing observable is, that as all grace comes from out of thethrone of God, so it also proceeds or comes out of the throne of the Lamb; that is,no grace comes to any but through the victory and conquest of the Lord Christ. Weare 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus'(Rom 3:24). And again, 'We have redemption through his blood,' even 'the forgivenessof' our 'sins, according to the riches of his grace' (Eph 1:7). By which we may gatherthat when these things come to be in their own purity among us—that is, when graceruns clear without the dirt and mud of the traditions of men commixed therewith—thenwill all that hold up false and erroneous opinions be washed away. For this riverwill not only wash away the sins and filthiness of those that are truly gracious;but it will also destroy the heretic and erroneous person; it will be to themat that day as the Red Sea was to the Egyptians of old; which sea, though it wasa wall on this hand and on that to the children of Israel, yet it destroyed the Egyptiansthat assayed to go through it as Israel did (Heb 11:29). The reason also why we areat this day in such confusion in matters of religion, it is for want of the clearand pure streams of this river of water of life; all which will be mended when thereis but one river to water this city, and that too the pure river of the water oflife, in all its streams as clear as crystal; then shall all drink in all thingsinto one Spirit, and be watered with the same dews of heaven.
Thus much of the water of life that belongeth to this Jerusalem.
[Its food the tree of life.]
Ver. 2. And 'in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, wasthere the tree of life, which bear twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruitevery month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' Thistree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he is here called a tree, ratherthan by other of his names, it is to show us how fruitful and exceeding advantageoushe in all his benefits will be to the inhabitants of this city. This is that treeunder whose branches the fowls of heaven shall now most safely lodge, and find relieffrom the hot and fainting beams of the persecuting sun of this world, as the Worddoth there inform us (Matt 13:31,32).
[The situation of this tree in the midst of the city.] Now before I come to speakto this tree, touching the manner of its fruit, and its often bearing, with the efficaciousnessof its leaves, which here he saith doth heal the nations; I will take notice of oneor two general things that lie before me, from the standing of the tree in the midstof the street of this city.
First then, In that he saith this city hath a tree of life in it, he alludes to thegarden of Eden, the pleasant paradise that God began the world withal; whereby hesignifieth that as the world began with a paradise, so also it shall end with a paradise,when sin and Satan have done their worst. This New Jerusalem shall be the wind upof the world, and in it shall stand the tree of life, as well as there stood onein the goodly garden, which was the beginning thereof. In which paradise there shallbe not tree of knowledge, or the law of works, to bear sway, and to cause that thesons of God shall be thrust out thence for their eating of its forbidden fruits;no, the tree of life alone shall here bear sway and rule, whose fruit is only healthful,and the leaves thereof for medicine.
[1.] Now this tree of life being in the midst of this city, it signifieth that theinhabitants of it shall be sweetly shadowed, refreshed, and defended with its coolness,and also sweetly nourished and comforted with its dainties. And hence it is thatthe Scriptures do hold him forth in his benefits to his church under these very notions.'As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste'(Cant 2:3). Indeed the shadow of this tree of life, as always it is refreshing tothe tempted and weary, so now it will be far more. 'They that dwell under his shadowshall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereofshall be as the wine of Lebanon' (Hab 14:7). Mark, (1.) His shadow will make us return,that is, to our first love; to the days of our youth, to our young, fresh, tender,and flourishing faith, love, and self-denial, that we received in the days of ourespousals. (2.) As it will make us return to these, so it will make us revive inthese; they shall return and revive, they shall revive as the corn; as the corn dothwhen, in the heat of summer, after long scorching, it is covered with cool clouds,and watered with the bottles of heaven. (3.) As it shall make them return and revive,so it shall make them grow; they shall grow as the vine, that is, speedily, fruitfully,and spreadingly. (4.) This is not all, but the smell of saints in those days shallbe excellent: 'They shall revive as the corn,' they shall 'grow as the vine,' andshall send forth their scent 'as the wine of Lebanon.' This tree is a perfuming tree,and makes them also that abide under the shadow thereof to smell as sweet-smellingmyrrh; it makes them smell as the wine of thy grace, O Lord, and as the fragrantointments of heaven. When the spouse did but touch where her Lord had touched aforeher, it made her 'hands drop with myrrh, and her fingers with sweet- smelling myrrh'(Cant 5:5). O they will be green, savoury, reviving, flourishing, growing Christians,that shall walk the street of New Jerusalem! 'I am,' saith he, 'like a green firtree. From me is thy fruit found' (Hosea 14:8).
[2.] But again, As he shall be thus profitable to his people for shadow and reviving,so he will be in the midst of the street of it for food, for refreshing and replenishingthat way. 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight,' said she, 'and his fruitwas sweet to my taste.' Ezekiel tells us that this tree is all trees; and on thebank of the river, on this side, and on that, were all trees for meat (Eze 47:12).Indeed Christ is all trees; yea, there is more to be found in him for the food ofthe soul, than there can be on all trees for the food of the body. He is a fir-treefor tallness, greenness and strength; he is an olive for fatness, a vine for sweetnessand goodness, for therewith is refreshed the heart both of God and man (Hosea 14:8;Rom 11:17; John 15:1,2). What shall I say, He is the almond-tree, the fig- tree,the apple-tree, all trees; The tree of life also in the midst of the paradise ofGod (Cant 2:13).
To conclude.—Seeing Christ is said to be in the midst of the street of this city,it showeth unto us with what, at all occasions, the actions of the saints of thiscity shall be seasoned. The street, you know I told you, is the way of holiness inthis city, the place of
spiritual recreation and solace. Now in the very midst of this street there standsthis tree, which being thus, it showeth us how wonderfully Christ, as a tree of life,will be in all the words and deeds of the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; they willwalk in Christ, they will talk in Christ, they will do all they do in Christ, orrather Christ will be found in all their ways; even as the tree of life is foundin the midst of the street of this city: 'they shall walk up and down in his name,saith the Lord' (Zech 10:12).
Again, In that this tree is said to stand in the midst of the street, it showethunto us how common and free his benefits will now be also. The plumbs, and figs,and grapes, and apples of this tree, will be open to every passenger: not a boy nora girl, that now shall play in thy street, O Jerusalem, but shall eat of the fruitsof the tree that stands in the mist of thee, as of common things (Jer 31:4,5).
[Second.] 'And in the midst of the street of it, and ON EITHER SIDE of the riverwas there the tree of life.' As this tree doth stand in the midst of the street ofthis city, so it also standeth on each side of the river of the water of life, ofwhich you have heard before. Now when he saith, the tree is on either side of theriver; whence by the way note yet again, that both the water of life, and also thetree of life, they are both to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of this city in theway of holiness; the tree is in the midst of the street, and the river runs throughor between the very tables of the heart of this tree of life; on either side of theriver was there the tree of life.
Again, In that it is said that this tree of life is on either side of the river;it argueth that they who come at any time at this river for water to quench theirthirst, and to make them live, they must come to it by the tree of life, which isChrist. In more easy terms, read it thus: There is none can partake of the graceof God but by the man Christ Jesus, which is this tree of life (Col 2:3,9). For thistree, this Christ, doth stand on either side of the river, to signify that all graceto us comes through his bloody wounds, death and victory (John 1:16). 'I am the way,'saith Christ, 'and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me'(John 14:6).
'And on either side of the river was there the tree of life.' Mark, but one tree,and yet such a tree whose body reached as far as the river reached: indeed Ezekielsaith this tree is all trees for meat, yet not to show that there are more treesof life than one, but to show that all that can be thought of that is good for soul-nourishment,is to be found in this one, that is, in Christ Jesus. And it is further evident thatthough he saith all trees, as if he meant many, yet he spake but metaphorically,to show thereby the fulness of Christ; because John doth understand him so, callingit one tree, to wit, 'the tree of life.' But mark again, so far as the river goes,so far the tree goes, so that where you cannot find the tree of life, be sure thereis none of the water of life. No Christ, no grace. 'He that hath the Son hath life,but he that hath not the Son of God, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abidethon him' (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12). For 'on either side of the river was there thetree of life.'
[The fruits of this tree.] 'Which bare twelve manner of FRUITS.' This word fruits,it may be taken two ways— either as it relates to God, or as it relates to man, for,as I said before, the fruit of this tree refreshes the heart both of God and man(John 9:9,14).
[1.] Now if it be taken with reference to God, then it signifieth the complete satisfactionthat by the worthiness of the fruits of the passion of Christ is given to God forthe salvation of the church; this city of God (Dan 9:24,26). He suffered to finishtransgression, to make an end of sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness;by this, I say, is the heart of God refreshed, and in this doth it rest (Matt 3:17).
[2.] If fruit here be taken with reference to men, then it signifieth the happinessand glory that those for whom he died and rose again should receive by this means.His fruit, I have showed you, is sweet to the taste of his church, which fruit isthe effect of his undertaking for sinners and the comfortable savour of it in thesoul.
[The variety of the fruits.] 'Which bare twelve manner of fruits.' In that he saiththe fruits are twelve, he herein alludeth,
1. To the twelve tribes of the Israel of God; for which twelve tribes here will befound a suitable measure of food, healing food: 'I will multiply the fruit of thetree,' saith God, and also 'the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no morereproach of famine among the heathen' (Eze 36:30).
Again, These that John calleth 'twelve manner of fruits,' the prophet Ezekiel calleth'all manner of fruit for meat.' For indeed, as I showed before, there is that tobe found in Christ, both for fulness and variety, that is not to be found in heavenand earth beside. Here is fruit for body, fruit for soul, fruit for babes, fruitfor strong men, fruit for fathers, yea, for glorified saints and angels. Fruits,variety of fruits, even twelve manner of fruits.
2. By twelve manner of fruits, he doth also allude to the apostles, who are calledtwelve, and are those who have made provision for the house of God, according tothe twelve-fold manner of the dispensation of God unto them, and of the twelve-foldmanner of operation of that holy Spirit which wrought in every one of them severallyas he pleased. Which twelve were before figured unto us by the twelve offices ofking Solomon, the type of Christ, which twelve were to make provision for the houseof the king, according to the season of the year, and each man his month in the year(1 Kings 4:7). Which very thing the Holy Ghost also doth here cast his eye upon,and that makes him bring in the words of 'every month,' saying, it yields its fruit'every month.' For indeed, whatever you read of concerning this city, in this descriptionof John, you find something or other in the writings of the prophets that givethground for such expressions. Wherefore seeing the officers of Solomon were twelve,and the apostles of Christ twelve also; and seeing the officers of Solomon made provisionfor his house, each man his month in a year, and the fruits of this tree of lifeare called twelve manner of fruits, I do take the twelve manner of fruits here tobe signified by the provision of Solomon's officers, according to the twelve seasonsof the year, and they a type of the twelve-fold doctrine of the twelve apostles ofthe Lord Christ, for it is their doctrine that is the bread of the church, yea, themilk for the babe, and the strong meat for men (1 Thess 2:7; 1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:11-14).
[The abundance of the fruits.] 'And yielded her fruit every month.' As this confirmethwhat I have said before, so it further showeth us these three things. First, Thatthe effectual fruits of Christ for the saving of the world, they are to be had especiallyat certain seasons. It 'yielded her fruit every month.' Second, It showeth also thatat the building of this Jerusalem, these seasons will be very thick and quick; sheyielded her fruit 'every month.' Third, It showeth us also the abundance of provisionthat this holy city shall then enjoy from the tree of life, even all manner of fruitevery month.
First, For the first, that the gospel hath and will be especially effectual at certainseasons for the saving of the sons of men; it is showed us by the descending of theangels into the pool of Bethesda to trouble the water, which as it was at certainseasons, so he that in those seasons first stepped in, he only was made whole ofwhatsoever disease he had (John 5:4). It is showed us also in that parable of theLord's hiring men to work in his vineyard; which time of hiring, though it lastethin general from the first hour to the eleventh, yet so as that there were vacantseasons between hiring-times and hiring-times, quite through the whole day; he wentout at the first, third, sixth, ninth and eleventh hour, and not at every hour, tohire labourers (Matt 20:1-6). For as God hath appointed out beforehand the numberof his elect, so also he hath determined in his good pleasure the day of their bringingin, and will then have them as certainly as the wild ass is found in her month (Gal1:15,16; Hosea 6:11; Jer 2:24). Of which times and season, because men are ignorant,therefore they should with all faithfulness wait upon God in all the seasons of hisgrace for their souls, even as he did for his body; who because he would be thereat all seasons, brought thither his bed and couch to rest there (John 5:8).
Second, As by the fruit of this tree being yielded at certain seasons, we may gatherthat there are certain seasons in which the word in an especial manner shall be blessedand made successful to the salvation of many souls. So again, in that he saith thisfruit is yielded every month, it signifieth that in the days of the building of thecity, the New Jerusalem, these seasons will be very thick and quick. 'Lift up thineeyes,' saith God to this city, 'all they gather themselves together, they come tothee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters' from the ends of the earth.'All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee' so that thou wonderinglyshalt say, 'Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows!'(Isa 60:4,7,8). For 'I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall beexalted. Behold these shall come from far; and lo these from the north, and fromthe west, and those from the land of Sinim' (Isa 49:11,12).
Third, In that she is said to yield not only fruit, but all manner of fruit; andthat not only one manner of fruit now, and another then, but all manner of fruit,and that every month; it argueth also that at this day Jerusalem shall have abundanceof heavenly and spiritual provision, and of variety of dainties for her solace andrefreshment; always new, I say, and immediately from the tree. The fruits of thevine shall at that day be upon the mountains of Samaria, and shall be eaten 'as commonthings,' saith the prophet (Jer 31:5). 'Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice; forthe Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field, for the pasturesof the wilderness do spring; for the tree beareth her fruit; the fig-tree and thevine do yield their strength. Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice inthe Lord your God; for he hath given you the former' and the latter 'rain moderately,and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rainin the first month; and the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflowwith wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,the canker-worm and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm' hath eaten. 'And ye shalleat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord' (Joel 2:21-25).And then shall every one not only sit under his own vine, and under his own fig-tree,but from thence they shall call each to other, to give to each other their dainties,and none shall make them afraid (Zech 3:10).
[The virtue of the leaves.] 'And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of thenations.' By leaves here, we may understand the blessed and precious promises, consolations,and encouragements, that by virtue of Christ's undertaking for us, we have everywheregrowing upon the new covenant; which promises and encouragements they are and willbe most freely handed to the wounded conscience that will be tossed upon the restlesswaves of doubt and unbelief, as was the olive leaf by the dove brought home to Noah,when he was tossed upon the waves of that outrageous flood that then did drown theworld (Gen 8).
But again, by this word, the leaves, you may conceive that still he hath his eyeto the paradise in which at first God placed Adam and his companion, for it was toleaves they fled for covering after they had transgressed against their Maker (Gen3:7). Now then, in his saying the leaves are for healing; it is as if he had said,the paradise that will be towards the latter end of the world will far outstrip theparadise that first was planted in the beginning thereof; for as the tree of life,which is the Christ and Saviour, shall stand where did the tree of the knowledgeof good and evil, which is the old covenant and law of works: so the leaves of thistree shall be for healing, and for covering the nakedness of poor transgressors,though the leaves that Adam found in the first paradise, do what he could, did leavehim naked.
Christ's leaves are better than Adam's aprons. Ezekiel saith that these leaves arefor medicine (47:12), that is, they are for healing, saith John; the which may mostfitly be applied to the blessed promise of grace. For as a leaf for medicine, whenapplied to a sore in the body, doth supple, mollify, and heal the wound; so the wordof promise, when rightly applied to the soul, it doth supple, mollify, and heal thewounded conscience. 'He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from theirdestructions. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderfulworks to the children of men!' (Psa 107:20,21).
'And the leaves,' &c. There is yet another mystery lieth in these words.
He doth not say, and the fruits thereof are for the healing of the nations, but theleaves, by which he would have us to understand that all the benefits and privilegesthat we do receive from Christ, they are as inferior to the glory we shall have fromhim when we come to heaven, as inferior, I say, as the leaves are to the fruit. Again,the comfort and sweetness that at any time we receive from the Lord, it is not beforebut after a promise is suitably applied, even as the fruit of the tree with whichthe body is comforted is not before but after the leaves have put forth themselves.Wherefore Christ might well say to Nathaniel, and that after he had received somerefreshments from a leaf, 'Thou shalt see greater things than these' (John 1:50);and Paul, that yet 'a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' is laid upfor all believers (2 Cor 4:17). For indeed, indeed, the glory that God hath preparedfor us against the day of God, it doth and will more outstrip the most high enjoymentof the highest saint in New Jerusalem, notwithstanding their enjoyment will be soeminent, than doth the sweetest fruit outstrip the leaf that hangeth on that tree.'And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' If the leaves beso good, O Lord, let us enjoy the fruit; and not a little, or earnest, but the wholeharvest thereof in thy kingdom. Thus much touching this water and tree of life.
[The ease, peace, and tranquility of the city.]
Ver. 3. 'And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God - shall be in it;and his servants shall serve him.' This is the conclusion of the whole discourse,and it showeth unto us the blessed effect of the blessed recovering of this cityto her first and primitive state. These words, therefore, they are only applicableto this state of the church. For there hath no state of the church been yet in theworld but that state hath been liable to a curse; but this state, to wit, the stateshe will be in at her building again, will be a state without parallel, a state properlyher own.
'And there shall be no more curse.' By curse in this place we are chiefly to understand,not the taking away of the curse, the eternal curse which separates between God andthe soul for ever—for so the curse in this sense hath always been taken away by virtueof the terms, the general terms of the new covenant, and that in common for everysaint in all ages (Gal 3:13)—but by curse here we are to understand that, or thosecurses that do, and have frequently befallen the church for her sin and apostasy;as namely, the giving up his people to their own darkness and ignorance; his sufferingthem to swerve from his true worship and ordinances: his giving them up into thehand of those that hate them, to become among them a hissing, a taunt, a reproach,and a by-word, as it is at this day (Zeph 1:12-17; Psa 43:28; Jer 29:18; 44:8,12).His taking away from them the means, to wit, the outward word of the gospel, andsuffering them to be even at the point to famish for the want thereof (Amos 8:9-13).These and other things are the curses that he here saith shall be no more among hispeople; for indeed they shall not, because the gospel- pattern shall never be removedmore, nor their light to see, nor their love to practise, never be diminished more.Their defence, also, 'shall be the munition of rocks; bread shall be given them,and their waters shall be sure' (Isa 33:16). As here, you find the tree and riverof the water of life are fixed now in the midst of this city. Wherefore now the church,as I have all along showed you, shall have her sun at the height, her light as thelight of seven days, and shall go no more down for ever. Also she shall never bepulled down. She shall be a tabernacle that shall never be pulled down, neither shallone of the cords thereof be loosed, or one of her stakes again removed (Isa 33:20).
'There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God shall be in it.' Indeed, herelieth the reason of all blessedness to any people, even the presence of God. Nowthe presence of God is with his people, either at times or seasons, or all together.He will not be to this city a God of times and seasons, even like a way-faring manthat tarries but for a night, as he used to be to his people of old, but here hewill abide, rest, and dwell (Zeph 3:17; Jer 14:8,9; Zech 2:10,11). I will dwell inthe midst of Jerusalem, and my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord. And, again,'I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem for ever' (Eze 43:9). Wherefore John consideringthis, he saith, there shall be here no more any curse, but the throne of God. Godwill now, when he returneth to Jerusalem, bring his seat with him to signify hissitting down in the midst of his people, to be their company-keeper for ever.
[Import of the word THRONE.] 'But the throne of God - shall be in it.' By this word'throne,' we are to understand yet further these particular things—
First. How blessed a state this city will be in at all times for the answer of prayer!The throne of God will be in the midst of them; the throne of grace, the mercy-seat,they will be open now to all the inhabitants of this city; yea, the fame thereofshall so spread that it shall be rumoured among all the nations that in JerusalemGod will be found speedily; that in Jerusalem the God of heaven and eternal mercyis found at all times by them that seek his face. 'Mine house,' said he, 'shall becalled a house of prayer for all people' (Isa 56:7). Yea, many people, and strongnations, shall at that day come to seek the Lord at Jerusalem, and to pray beforethe Lord. And at that day the very fasts of the house of God 'shall be to the houseof Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore, love the truth and peace'(Zech 8:19-22).
Second. The throne of God being now established in this city, what a government,what rule, what a life of holiness and godliness, what dread and majesty will nowbe in the hearts of all the sons of this city! How to a hair's-breadth will he commandand guide them with his eye at all times, when they should either turn to the righthand or to the left. What wisdom, I say, what holiness, what grace and life willbe found in all their words and actions? (Isa 48:17). The throne of God is amongthem, from which there will come continual influence, light, and splendour, intoall their hearts. 'Hear ye the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it inthe isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him and keep him,as a shepherd doth his sheep. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed himfrom the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and singin the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat,and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock, and of the herd, and theirsoul shall be as a watered garden, and they shall not sorrow any more at all' (Jer31:10-12).
Third. The throne of God being in this city, there is also thereby discovered whatsway and commanding an authority this city will have at this day, as I have alreadyshowed you, over all the earth (Isa 2:9,10). 'The Lord also shall roar out of Zionand utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake, butthe Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel'(Joel 3:16). This was figured forth by the throne of Solomon, in the days when thatcity was in its prosperity; which throne, to show the majesty and commanding awethat then that city had over all, both far and near, it had, for the bearers of thesteps, twelve lions, six on this side, and six on that side of the throne (1 Kings10:18-20). This city shall then be the head and chief, but the tail and reproachno more. 'Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God' (Psa 87:3).
'And his servants shall serve him.' That is, HIM ONLY. Indeed his servants servehim always, but yet withal they do too too often serve with the wills and lusts ofmen, even in their service and worshipping God; that is, they serve him in much affliction,temptation, fear, and persecution; but then they shall serve him without any of these.Yea, 'they shall take them captives, whose captives they were, and they shall ruleover their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in the day [O city] that the Lordshall give thee rest from thy sorrow, - and from the hard bondage wherein thou wastmade to serve' (Isa 14:2,3), and thou shalt serve the Lord thy God 'without fear,in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of thy life' (Luke 1:74,75).
'And they shall see his face.' This also argueth a very great dispensation of graceand mercy to this Jerusalem. When God did deliver up his people into the hand ofthe king of Babylon, he said it should be done in fury and in anger, and that fortheir wickedness he would hide his face from his city (Deu 31:17; Jer 33:5). Wherefore,by the sight of his face here, we are to understand that glorious visible appearanceof God that then will be for this city and people in the face of all the world (1Peter 3:12). For by the face of God we are to understand the discovery of his severity,providences, and wonderful outgoings among the sons of men (Job 6:8-13). As alsothe glorious breaking forth of grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ Jesus,all which the people of God shall then most marvellously see and behold (Heb 1:1-3;2 Cor 4:6).
First. They shall see his severity and judgments upon the whore.
Second. They shall see how God, by his strange judgments and works of wonder, hathbrought this about. 'Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thouonly art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgmentsare made manifest' (Rev 15:4). 'They that are delivered from the noise of archersin the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of theLord, even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his villages in Israel'(Judg 5:11).
Third. And as for his mercy, they shall see that their horn is exalted, and thatthey are near to him. 'Praise ye the Lord' (Psa 148:14).
'And his name shall be in their foreheads.' And 'his name.' That is, his fear andimage, it shall appear in all their doings. Sometimes he saith he will write hisfear and law in their hearts and minds. Which fear and law is all one with that whichin this place he calleth his name in their foreheads. The forehead of a man is theplace above all parts of the body that is most naked and plain to be beheld of allthat pass by; wherefore, when he saith their Father's name shall be in their foreheads,it is as if he had said, the profession of my people shall now be open, and the beautyof it apparent to all beholders; 'I will make' them, saith God, 'a name and a praiseamong all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes'(Zeph 3:20). Every face shall then shine with oil, as well as every heart be replenishedwith milk and wine. This was held forth by the memorial that the Israelites wereto wear, at God's command, between their eyes; which memorial was the doctrine ofunleavened bread and of the paschal lamb, the doctrine of faith and holiness (Exo13:6-9; 1 Cor 5:8). Wherefore, by name here, he means the faith and holiness of thegospel, which in those days shall walk openly with honour, with reverence, and esteembefore all men. At this day the world will, as I have said, be so far off from opposingand persecuting, that they shall wonder, and tremble, and fear before this people;yea, be taken, affected, and pleased with the welfare of this beloved. 'The mountainsand the hills shall break forth before her into singing, and all the trees of thefield shall clap their hands' (Isa 55:12). 'All nations shall call them blessed,for they shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal 3:12). The watersof Noah shall now be no more, the tumultuous multitudes shall now be gone, and therewill be no more sea (Isa 54:9; Psa 65:7; 89:9; Rev 21:1,2). Now therefore the dovesmay be gathering their olive-branches, and also find rest for the soles of theirfeet, while the ark shall rest upon the mountains of Ararat (Gen 8:4,5).
'The wolf also shall [now] dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down withthe kid; the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little childshall lead them. - The lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling shall playon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice'den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord' (Isa11:6-9; 56:2-5).
Blessed is he whose lot it will be to see this holy city descending and lightingupon the place that shall be prepared for her situation and rest! Then will be agolden world; wickedness shall then be ashamed, especially that which persecutesthe church. Holiness, goodness, and truth, shall then, with great boldness, countenance,and reverence, walk upon the face of all the earth. 'From the rising of the sun,even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles;and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: formy name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal 1:11). Itwill be then always summer, always sunshine, always pleasant, green, fruitful, andbeautiful to the sons of God. 'And it shall come to pass in that day that the mountainsshall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the riversof Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house ofthe Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. - And Judah shall dwell for ever,and Jerusalem from generation to generation' (Joel 3:18,20). 'And the name of thecity from that day shall be, The Lord is there' (Eze 48:35). O blessedness! 'Andhe said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holyprophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things that must shortly bedone' (Rev 22:6).
I conclude therefore with that earnest groan of Moses, the man of God, 'O satisfyus early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. - Make usglad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years whereinwe have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto theirchildren. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou thework of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it' (Psa 90:14-17).Amen.
 The note upon this passage in the Genevan or Puritan version, with which Bunyanwas familiar, is, 'God will raise up in his church such as shall rule and governfor the defence of the same, and instruction of his enemies, under Messiah, whomthe prophet calleth here the Lord and Head of this kingdom.'—Ed.
 From the Genevan or Puritan version.
 'Set out' render prominent, plain, or conspicuous.—Ed.
 In Bunyan's days, a few fanatics from among the Fifth Monarchy men conceivedthat the millennium had arrived, and that it was their duty to take possession ofthe kingdom for Jesus. They were mad enough, like the late Mr. Courtnay, to imaginethat their bodies were invulnerable, and they marched out to seize London. A fewof the trained bands soon encountered them, some were shot and the rest were punished,and this absurd attempt was at an end in a few hours. This gave the enemies of truereligion a pretext, which they eagerly seized, of charging these absurd notions uponall who feared God, and a severe persecution followed. To deprecate and counteractthese reports, Bunyan is very explicit in noting the difference between a spiritualand a temporal kingdom.—Ed.
 'Spices' is from the Genevan version; our authorized text has 'powders.'—Ed.
 Referring to the attempts made in Bunyan's days to introduce Popery. It is admirablyshown in the Pilgrim's Progress, p. 193—'This is the spring that Christian drankof; then it was clear and good, but now it is dirty with the feet of some that arenot desirous that pilgrims here should quench their thirst.'—Ed.
 All authority in the church is strictly limited to the written Word. Throw awaythen to the owls and the bats all tradition, and the power of the church to decreerites and ceremonies. It is treason against God to suppose that he omitted anythingfrom his Bible that his church ought to do, or commanded that which may be neglected,although human laws may authorize such deviation.—Ed.
 The walls do not go from or leave the foundations, but, resting upon them, theygradually ascend to perfection.— Ed.
 Anabaptist was the name given to those who submitted to be baptized upon a professionof faith, because, having been christened when infants, it was called re-baptizing.—Ed.
 'Hub'; an obstruction, a thick square sod, the mark or stop at the game of quoits.—Ed.
 These observations apply to such churches as admit to the Lord's table unconvertedpersons, because they have passed through certain outward ceremonies; and to thosewho refused to admit the most godly sayings, because they had not submitted to anoutward ceremony.—Ed.
 See Isaiah 8:19. 'To peep and mutter,' as pretended sorcerers or magicians attemptingtheir incantations against the truth.—Ed.
 This is an allusion to the ancient English pastime of combat, called quarterstaff.—Ed.
 Bunyan most accurately traces the pedigree of God's fearers, who, at the expenseof life, maintained the spirituality of divine worship. He commences with our earlyReformers, Wickliff and Huss, to the later ones who suffered under Mary; continuesthe line of descent through the Puritans to Bunyan's brethren, the Nonconformists.All these were bitterly persecuted by the two lions—Church and Sate. The carnal gospellers,that confused heap of rubbish that crawled up and down the nation like locusts andmaggots, refers to the members of a hierarchy which were ready to go from Poperyto Protestantism, and back again to Popery, or to any other system, at the biddingof an Act of Parliament.—Ed.
 'Virtue'; strength, efficacy, power.—Ed.
 'To travel and trade,' means to pursue or labour in an habitual course, exercise,or custom, as, 'Thy sin's not accidental but a trade.'—Shakespeare. Or, trade wind.—Ed.
 The perfect unity of the Christian world is not likely to take place beforethe glorious meeting in the holy city, under the personal reign of Christ. The divisionsamong Christians arise, as Bunyan justly says, from antichristian rubbish, darkness,and trumpery; the great evil arising from difference of opinion, is that lust ofdomination over the faith of others which naturally leads to bitterness and persecution.In the earliest days one was of Paul, another of Apollos, and another of Cephas.The exercise of Christian forbearance was not an act of uniformity, but a declarationof the Holy Ghost. 'Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?' 'Let everyman be fully persuaded in his own mind' (Rom 14:4,5).—Ed.
 As the leaven goes on imperceptibly until the whole is leavened, so the kingdomof our Lord must increase. How extraordinary has been the progress of Divine truthsince Bunyan's days! and who can predict what it will be in another century?—Ed.
 There being no night there but perpetual day.—Ed.
 A 'gold angel' was an early English coin, valued at one- third of a pound, afterwardsincreased to ten shillings. The 'twenty-shilling piece' was the old sovereign. Thecomparison between them and the silver pence and halfpennies was made by Bunyan inrespect to their rarity and not their purity.—Ed.
 'To stoop or lower the top-gallant' is a mode of salutation and respect shownby ships at sea to each other.—Ed.
 This quotation is taken from that excellent translation of the Bible made bythe reformers at Geneva, and which was much used in Bunyan's time. He preferred theword pour to that of sprinkle, used in the present version.—Ed.
 How beautifully is the Christian's growth in grace here pictured by Bunyan fromEzekiel 47:3-12. So imperceptibly by Divine power, without the aid of man, that thepartaker often doubts his own growth. The water rises higher and higher, until atlength there is no standing for his feet—the earth and time recedes, and he is plungedinto the ocean of eternal grace and glory.—Ed.
 'To the one, the savour of death unto death; and to the other, the savour oflife unto life' (2 Cor 2:16).—Ed.