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unprofitable to take a general view of the chapter, and to that we shall now invite the reader's attention.
It appears to me, then, that we may determine with safety, that the scene of the events described in this chapter is laid upon the earth, and does not appertain to another state of being. The angel mentioned in the first verse came down from heaven. He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and satan; him of course the angel found here after he came down from heaven; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, which is also represented as being on earth; for it is not said, that he carried him away anywhere else to cast him into the bottomless pit. Hence the scene is evidently laid on the earth. What is said of verse 4, of
the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, living and reigning with Christ a thousand years, Dr. Whitby understood, not of men literally raised from the dead, but of the church, flourishing gloriously for a thousand years after the conversion of the Jews, and the flowing in of all nations to them thus converted to the Christian faith. This thousand years, and all the events of that time, are to transpire while men live upon the earth, for it is said, verses, 7, 8, " And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."
Verse 11. "I saw a great white throne," &c. It is not certain this is to take place after the thousand years are finished. This throne was seen at the same time with what is recorded, verses 1 and 4. Verse 1, he says, "I saw an angel," &c. Verse 4, "I saw thrones." "I saw a great white throne." I suppose the revelator intended to represent all these things as being present in his vision at the same time, so
that we are not to put the events mentioned verse 11, after the thousand years. "I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." May not this be parallel to Matt. xxv. 31 ? "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations," &c. We may not improperly term this his mediatorial throne; and that his followers are to reign with him on this throne, seems evident from his words, "ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. xix. 28. In this way those who suffer with him, live and reign with him.
But it may be asked, did the earth and heaven flee away from before the face of the Son of man, when he sat upon the throne of his glory? Certainly, the first heaven and the first earth passed away, to give room for the new heaven and the new earth. See Rev. xxi. 1, 2. This first heaven and first earth were the religion of the Jews, which passed away at the very time the Son of God ascended the mediatorial throne. Jesus declared, that when the city and religion of the Jews should be destroyed, then the kingdom of God should come with power, and mankind should be rewarded ac cording to their works.
This agrees with verse 12. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." This is precisely what is said in other parts of the Bible, to have taken place, at the time the Jews were destroyed, and the kingdom of God came with power. Then, as is said by Matthew, the Son of man came in the glory of his Father, and rewarded every man according to his works, xvi. 27, 28.
Should it be inquired whether all men, small and great, stood before God at that time, we reply, that they did in the same sense in which all nations were gathered before him, as is mentioned in the parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matt. xxv. 32). It is not intended, we apprehend, that all nations stood before God, in the outward and literal sense of that expression; there is no necessity of our understanding the passage in that way. Moses said to the children of Israel; "Ye stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel." Again; "Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but him, that standeth here with us this day, before the Lord our God." Deut. xxix. 10, 14, 15. See also Exodus xviii. 12; Joshua xxiv. 1, and many other places. It was a favorite mode of speech with the Hebrew writers, when any thing was done as a solemn duty, or by divine appointment, to say that it was done before God. It was said of Zacharias and Elizabeth, "that they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Luke i. 6. And Paul charged Timothy, before God and the Lord' Jesus Christ, to preach the word. 2 Tim. iv. 1.
What is said of the books which were opened, and of the book of life, I see no reason to understand lit- erally; the expressions are a part of the imagery of the passage. If the dead were judged according to the principles of the gospel of Christ, the books which were opened, and out of which they were judged, may be the books containing that gospel; and the book of life may be the roll of Christian believers, in which, if a man's name was not found, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Ver. 14. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Death and the state of immortality may at that time be said to have been destroyed, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and by the certain establishment of his Gospel in
the world. Let me give the reader Dr. Hammond's note on this verse; In the fourteenth verse, where death and hades are cast into the lake of fire; that is, death and the state of mortality utterly destroyed, (O death I will be thy death,) it is added, this is the econd death; that is, mortality is utterly destroyed, here shall be no more death; the life shall be eternal so xxi. 8, the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone (the utter, irreversible destruction, such as fell on Sodom, called airior nug, eternal fire, utterly consumptive) is called the second death, into which they are said to go, that are never to appear in the church again.' See comment on Rev. xx. 6. This phrase, the lake of fire and brimstone," is a figure of speech drawn from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were situated on a low plain, and when burned by fire and brimstone from God, out of heaven, appeared to those who saw the conflagration from the mountains as a lake of fire. So the burning of Moscow appeared to Napoleon, who described it as an ocean of flame." The site of Sodom and Gomorrah, which was once a lake of fire, is now a lake of water, called the Dead Sea, so complete was the destruction. From these events, to be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, became a strong figure with the Jewish writers, to signify utter destruction. It occurs in the following places only; Rev. xix. 20; xx. 10, 13, 15; xxi. S. And in the verse before us, death and hell were cast into the lake of fire; that is, there shall no more remain of them, than now remain of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the second death, the death of death, the utter destruction of death, and all that bears that name. This was accomplished at the time to which we refer the passage, inasmuch as the Gospel was then set up; Jesus was crucified, he died and rose from the dead; and thereby destroyed death, and him that had the power of it. Then the resurrection of the human race was shown to be certain, and death was shown to be infallibly, triumphantly, and utterly done away.
"O, the burst gates! crushed sting! demolished throne
To call man
This child of dust."
Ver. 15. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." Here again we have the same figure, and it is man, not death and hell, that is cast into the lake. We must be careful not to give it such a construction, as will make it contradict what is declared in the preceding verses in the twentieth chapter, and in the beginning of the twen ty-first. It is probable, that the "book of life" signified the roll of the followers of Christ. Any one, wishing to consult all the passages in which the phrase occurs, will find them subjoined; Phil. iv. 3; Rev. iii. 5; xiii. 8; xx. 12, 15; xxi. 27; xxii. 19. The person whose name was not found enrolled among the faithful, or in other words, any one who was not a faithful follower of Christ, was cast into the lake of fire. It was so. The Jews were the enemies of Jesus, and they were cast into a lake of fire; that is, they were utterly destroyed. This punishment, this utter destruction, is described under a variety of figures by the different sacred writers. Ezekiel describes the Jews as being thrown into a furnace of fire (xxii. 17-22); and our Lord borrows from the prophet the same figure (Matt. xiii. 42, 50). They are compared to burning chaff (Matt. iii. 12). When the Gospel is represented under the figure of a marriage feast, given in the night, in an apartment splendidly lighted, the unbelieving Jews are said to be cast into outer darkness, where they weep and gnash their teeth for anguish (xxii. 13). All these figures signify the same thing, viz. that the Jews were broken up, destroyed, and rendered utterly and irrepar