REFORE I enter into the exposition of

D this prophecy, I think it not amiss to handle fix circumstantial points, which may give some light to the whole matter following:

Firâ, The instrument that wrote this book.
Secondly, The time when he wrote it.
Thirdly, The place where he received it.
Fourthly, The person to whom he wroteit.
Fifthly, The end and use of his writing this

Lastly; The authority of it.

As touching the first, it is agreed upon amongst the soundeft divines, that John the apostle, or evangelist, John the disciple, whom Jefus loved, was the author and instrument of penning this prophecy, as he himself testifieth, saying, “ I am John which "saw these things and heard them,' Rev. xxii. 8.mi. 19. And he received a commandment from Jesus Christ which hath the keys of hell and death, that he should write the things which he had seen and heard, and let them all down together in a book. Now we all know that the testimony of John is of great weight, though he be but a man; for he is such a man as is firmly to be believed in all that he speaketh. Rev. i. u. He is an apostle, an inftrument of the Holy Ghost, and so guided by the Spirit of God, that he speaketh and uttereth nothing that is his own. He was well known and approved. For we must consider, that what an apostle did utter, he did utter it as the instrument of the Spirit, which cannot err. For the prophets and apostles did not write the holy scriptures as they were men only, but as they were the immediate and certain instruments of the Holy Ghost, of purpose chosen and set a. part to pen and publish the holy books of God. This St. Peter confirmeth faying: « Prophesy came not in old time by the will

of man, but holy men of God spake as <they were moved by the Holy Ghost,',2 Pet. i. 21. The apostle Paul also affirmeth the fame touching the gofpel, which faith, It was not after man, neither. received

heit of man, but by the revelation of Je'sus Christ, Gal. i. 12. Therefore when this our apostle faith, “I am John which 'faw, these things, and heard them,' he gives us to understand, that he was buth an eye and an ear witness. He bringeth not matters which he hath heard by uncertain report: he delivereth this book to the churches, they which received it at his hands did know him to be a most faithful fervant of the Lord, even a great apostle, which delivereth not any thing but that which he had received of the Lord, and therefore he

things which he hath written in this book. Moreover he teftifieth of himself, that he was called unto authority by Jesus Christ, to write this prophecy, and did nothing herein of his own brain. For faith he, I John

heard behind me a great voice, as it had 'been of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and

Omega, the first and the laft; and that * which thou seest write in a book and send ' it unto the churches. Here we see how John is called by Alpha and Omega, that is, Jesus Christ, to write this doctrine of the Revelation. But may some man fay, was not John called before? was he not one of the Lamb's twelve apostles? had he not many years executed the office of the am postlefhip? must he now have a new calling, and a second calling? what needs he being an apostle to be called and authorised again? To this I anfwer, that this matter now in hand was a new work, and therefore requires a new and special calling. It is a strange revelation, and therefore requires a new authority to meddle in it. For in this prophecy God dealeth with John, as he did with the old prophets. For when he would foreshew unto any of them especial matters, he called them by glorious vision, as we may · read what a glorious vision Isaiah had; what a vision full of glory Ezekiel" and Daniel had, even in majesty like unto this of John. Thus then it is to be considered. John now is as one of the old prophets, to fore. shew things to come; therefore the Lord appeareth unto him in a vision, and calleth him thereunto as he appeared unto them, and called them. Let this then suffice for a reason of John's now calling to his new work and office. And thus much touch. ing the first circumstance.

Now followeth the second circumstance, which is the time when Johin received this prophecy, which is noted to be upon the Lord's day. It is the day which St. Paul : to the Corinthians calleth the first day of the week, in which the churches did meet for the holy exercises of religion, which is . also evident, because he faith they came toe

gether to break bread, Acts xx. 7. Now the observation of a seventh day is of divine institution, éven from the beginning. It is natural, noral, and perpetual; for God blessed the seventh day, and fanctified it.

John "now in his exile was absent in body from the church assemblies, yet he was present with them in spirit, commending them most earnestly unto God in his holy prayers, and meditations; and therefore it is said, that he was ravished in the Spirit upon the Lord's day. So we read that the like befel Daniel, when he was a prisoner in Babylon; the like befel unto Ezekiel, who was taken by the Spirit of God, and carried to Jerufalem, the like to Peter, the like to Paul, Acts x. 10. But the special. reason of John's ravishment in the spirit at this time was, that thereby , he might be inade more fit and capable to receive and understand all those great mysteries and heavenly visions, which now should be shewed unto him. And withal let us obe ferve, that all men are always most capable of heavenly things, when they are most in the Spirit: For God doth evermore most reveal himself to such as are most in prayer, reading and meditation, and to such 26 make greatest conscience to spend his lab. -baths Chriftianly, and religiously, accorde

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »