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of Zion," * and there he will for ever continue to sit.
To all who oppose him, he will prove a burdensome stone, "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.”+ “ Whosoever shall fall upon it shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” I
To those who judge by the eyes of flesh, persecuting the servants of Christ may possibly appear a very easy task; but to those who remember who is engaged to be their Protector, it will appear in a very
different light-it will appear the most dangerous employment in which they can be engaged.
The time will come, my brethren, when we shall perceive we might as safely have insulted the prince upon his throne, as persecuted Christ in the person of the meanest of his members.
“ It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” How many Pontius Pilates and Herods, in different ages, has this crime doomed to destruction ! We may trace the effects of it in the astonishing scenes that are now passing in the world. We may behold it in the subversion of thrones, and the misery and desolation of kingdoms. For, though the immediate instrument employed in inflicting these calamities is the insatiable ambition of an individual, they must in general be traced to higher sources—the unrepented crime of persecution. Who, that reads the prophecies, but sees that it is the weight of christian blood—the
* Psalm ü. 6. + Isaiah viii. 14. I Luke xx. 18.
blood of the martyrs of Jesus, that now presses and weighs down the nations on the Continent, and makes them reel and stagger like a drunken man : “ They have shed the blood of saints and of prophets; and the Lord has given them blood to drink; for they are worthy."*
Let us guard against whatever approaches to this crime. If you will not walk in the ways
of religion yourself—if you will not take the yoke of Christ upon you, at least be careful to abstain from vilifying and reproaching his servants. Respect the piety you are not disposed to imitate.
" What wilt thou have me to do ?” He makes no stipulation; his surrender of himself is absolute; the words he utters are expressive of absolute submission. Such a surrender of ourselves into the hands of Christ, such a submission from us [also] is absolutely necessary.
He is directed what to do ; and he complies punctually with the direction. “ He was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.”† For a further account of our Saviour's address, see Acts xxvi. 16-18.
He was blinded by the light. (Acts xxii. 11.)
up to solitude and prayer. He would doubtless reflect on the following things :
1. On what he had seen. 2. On what he had done. 3. On what lay before him * Rev. xvi. 6.
† Acts xxvi. 19.
THE LAMB SLAIN, THE OBJECT OF RAPTURE
TO THE HEAVENLY HOSTS.
Rev. v. 6.—And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and
of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.
In the preceding chapter John is presented with a magnificent vision : a door is opened in heaven, through which he passes, and beholds the throne of God, and the Almighty sitting upon it. The several orders of creatures which make their appearance there, celebrate a solemn act of worship to him “which was, and which is, and which is to come, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” *
As the holy apostle was now on the point of being instructed in those mysteries of providence, whose accomplishment was to reach from the time of this vision to the consummation of all things, involving the remotest destinies of the church and of the world, so the manner in which it is imparted is such as must give us the highest idea of its importance. It formed the contents of a roll of a book, in the hand of him that sat on the throne, “ written within and on the backside, and sealed with seven seals.”* The whole universe is challenged to furnish one who is capable of loosing these seals and exploring its contents. “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.”+
* Rev. iv. 8, 10, 11.
The apostle, whose mind was inflamed with solicitude to be made acquainted with these mysteries, wept much at finding there was none worthy to loose the seals and to open the book. And one of the elders said unto him, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
Under this emblem, Jesus Christ is represented; alluding to the prophetic benediction of the patriarch Jacob—_" Judah is a lion's whelp : from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre,” he adds, “shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Judah was the regal tribe, and famous for its warlike exploits; distinguished by a succession of illustrious princes and conquerors, the descendants of David, who were at most but the forerunners and representatives of an incomparably greater personage, the Son of God; who, after he had vanquished the * Rev. v. 1. † Rev. v. 2,
Gen. xlix. 9, 10.
powers of darkness, was to be invested with an everlasting dominion, that all nations, tongues, and people should serve him.
While John was expecting to see some majestic appearance, he beheld, and, lo, a Lamb, with the marks of recent slaughter, presented himself before the throne, and he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on it: upon which, the several orders of creatures “ fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints. And they 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 out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests : and we shall reign on the earth.”*
Emblems of weakness, of innocence, and of suffering, made part in a scene where [we might] suppose nothing to enter but unmingled grandeur. Nor are the sufferings of Jesus Christ in our nature merely indistinctly introduced; they are the principal objects presented to the view : they are made the basis of that wonderful act of adoration, in which every creature in the universe unites. The portion of scripture which I have selected for our present improvement, thus introduced, suggests the two following important observations.
Rev, v. 8-10.