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REVELATION V. 11, 12.—And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.


Of those who profess to have their treasure in heaven, there are many, it is to be feared, whose hearts are on earth; but doubtless there are many, too, who think frequently and with intense interest of the happy land. Almost all such persons must occasionally have felt, and felt with pain, that their present knowledge of heaven is exceedingly limited and defective. The information which the scriptures impart on the subject, though unspeakably valuable, and though precisely that which is adapted to our present condition, leaves us ignorant of many interesting particulars respecting it. We know, for example, that heaven has a local existencethat it is a place as well as a state-but we know not its distance from our earth, or its situation in reference to the rest of the universe. We know that it is transcendantly blissful and magnificent; but we know almost nothing of its structure, its scenery, and its climate; and can do little more than conjecture that it will differ as widely from this sublunary world as the

spiritual bodies of the saints from their present infirm and mortal bodies. Our knowledge of heaven viewed as a state, as well as our knowledge of it as a place, is exceedingly limited. How many questions are there relative to its institutions and arrangements, to the nature and capacities of its inhabitants, to their employments and enjoyments, to the intercourse which they will have with each other, to the mode in which they will testify their love to God and their gratitude to Christ, and to the manifestations which will be made to them of the divine presence and glory, which it would be easy to propose, but impossible to answer? "Now, we know but in part, and see through a glass darkly."

It is not to be inferred from these remarks, that the information communicated in scripture respecting the heavenly world is of little value; for I have already stated that it is unspeakably precious; but that it is precisely such, both in quantity and in form, as is best adapted to our present circumstances.

Of all the books of scripture, there is none which furnishes so much information respecting heaven, or which contains so many sublime descriptions of its happiness and grandeur, as the book of Revelation; a book which was written to disclose the divine purposes relative to the church to the end of time; and which describes, too, the termination of the present system of things, and the introduction of the eternal state. In the preceding chapter, and in that from which our text is taken, we have an account of a vision of heaven with which the apostle John was favoured, during his banishment in the desolate island of Patmos. How far the account is to be understood literally; I mean, how far the prophetic vision seen by the apostle accords with the reality, it would perhaps be difficult to deter

mine. There is no difficulty, however, in deducing from his description various most important truths relative to the heavenly state; and to one of these truths, evidently implied in the text and context, and peculiarly adapted to a sacramental Sabbath, I propose to direct your attention in the sequel of the discourse. The truth to which I would invite your meditations is, that the death of Christ for the redemption of the world, commands the earnest attention of the inhabitants of heaven, and impels them to render him the highest homage, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,"

For the illustration and improvement of the text, I propose, in dependence on divine assistance, to turn your thoughts to the two following topics,

I. The homage rendered to the Saviour by angels; and II. The argument suggested by their conduct for us to imitate them.-Let us then consider,

I. The homage here represented as rendered to the Saviour by the angelic hosts. And here let us attend,

1st, To the beings by whom the homage is rendered. It proceeds from the angels, whose number is described, "Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." The angels are here represented as preceded in their homage by certain other beings occupying apparently a higher rank; and it will be proper that we make a few remarks respecting these

other worshippers, and also respecting the occasion of their homage.

In the preceding verses, we are informed that when no man in heaven nor in earth was found worthy to take and open the sealed book, the Lord Jesus appeared, like a Lamb bearing the marks of recent slaughter, and went and took the book from the right hand of him that sat on the throne. This symbolical act seems evidently to intimate, that it is his exclusive prerogative to unfold the counsels of God, and to preside over the administration of providence. When the Lamb took the book, the four living creatures (as the word should be rendered), and the four and twenty elders fell down before him, and sung a new song, saying, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."

It might seem at first view, that by the four living creatures we are to understand cherubim or seraphim,celestial beings of a superior order; for they seem evidently the same with the cherubim described in Ezekiel's vision. You will observe, however, that both in this and in the 7th chapter, the living creatures are distinguished from the angels; and you will observe, further, that they are represented as joining with the elders in the song, "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." It is probable, then, that by the living creatures, we are to understand those who preside in the worship of the church,—her instructors and officebearers. The elders, it is generally supposed, are intended to represent the ordinary members of the church; their number is twenty-four, probably in allusion to the twelve patriarchs, and the twelve apostles ; the former the founders of the Old Testament, the latter the founders of the New Testament Church.

In the symbolical vision, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders, the representatives of redeemed men, are placed nearest to the throne and to the Lamb; not as being actually superior to the angelic hosts, but as more deeply interested in the scheme of grace; and, immediately, on raising the new song with their golden harps, they are joined by the symphonies of an innumerable chorus of angels.

Angels are the worshippers to whom our attention is more particularly directed in the text. It is not necessary to say much of creatures so often spoken of in scripture. Their name signifies messengers, and is descriptive not of their nature, but of their office and employment. With regard to their essence. they are called spirits; either because they are beings purely immaterial, or because the bodies with which they are clothed are etherial and spiritual, not like the gross and earthly bodies of men. Angels occupy the highest rank in the scale of created intelligence; being endowed with vast intellectual capacities, and adorned with eminent moral excellencies; and hence the expressions, "wise as an angel of God," and "holy angels." They are described, too, as "excelling in strength," and the greatness of their might appears from the exploits attributed to them in scripture. Their appropriate employment is to minister in the celestial sanctuary; to contemplate the perfections and celebrate the praises of the Almighty; and to render him the honour due to his wonderful works in creation, providence, and redemption. They are often employed also in performing offices of kindness to saints on earth; for they are " all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation." The number of these bright intelligencies, though not literally infinite, is probably incalculable; and hence they are represented

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