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The Crystal Sea

The Crystal Sea

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Published by glennpease
BY REGINALD J. CAMPBELL

MINISTER OF THE CITY TEMPLE LONDON



"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with
fire : and the7n that had gotten the victory over the
beast, and over his image, and over his 7nark, and over
the nwnber of his name, stand on the sea of glass,
having the harps of God." — Rev. xv. 2.
BY REGINALD J. CAMPBELL

MINISTER OF THE CITY TEMPLE LONDON



"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with
fire : and the7n that had gotten the victory over the
beast, and over his image, and over his 7nark, and over
the nwnber of his name, stand on the sea of glass,
having the harps of God." — Rev. xv. 2.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 18, 2013
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THE CRYSTAL SEABY REGIALD J. CAMPBELLMIISTER OF THE CITY TEMPLE LODO"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled withfire : and the7n that had gotten the victory over thebeast, and over his image, and over his 7nark, and overthe nwnber of his name, stand on the sea of glass,having the harps of God." — Rev. xv. 2.It is no easy matter to undertake to interpret thesymbolism of the book of Revelation, for, to agreat extent, it must necessarily be obscure to themodern mind. We are all more or less acquaintedwith efforts which have been made by imperfectlyeducated people to explain the prophecies of thisstrange book as having relation to events whichhave yet to take place in the history of the world.Some people seem to find a great fascination inthis kind of exercise, not only with the book of Revelation, but with the various other books of theBible, especially the book of Daniel. I can wellremember when I was a child reading that the" little horn " of the book of Daniel was, I think,the Prince Imperial, according to the detailed ex- j)lanation given by the editor of a certain religiousperiodical ; and one was quite interested the otherday to find that, now the poor Prince Imperial isdead, the little horn has become somebody else.I should not be greatly surprised to discover that254THE CRYSTAL SEA 255
 
there are people present in the congregation thismorning who have been instructed that the '' ScarletWoman " of Revelation is the Church of Rome.Whatever else it was it never was that. But thegreat majority of my hearers will know quite wellthat all this kind of theorising is beside the mark and out of place. The man who wrote this book of Revelation — or, rather, the man who put ittogether, for it is a composite work — was writingfor a constituency which well understood the sym-bolism he employed; but w^e do not, except to acomparatively limited degree. This man was writ-ing about his own times, not about ours. He hadin mind the coming overthrow of the world-wideRoman Empire, and the establishment of some-thing entirely new in its place. He never foresawthe Europe and America of to-day, and neverdreamed that militarism, struggle, and sufferingwould last so long as they have done. He waslooking for a grand dramatic wind-up of the exist-ing order of things and the conquest of earth bythe hosts of heaven. This, remember, was thewriter's point of view, a point of view from whichhe never departs for a moment. All the symbol-ism he uses, and which was quite familiar to thepeople for whom he wrote, is meant to illustratethis point of view. Sometimes we know what thesymbolism means and sometimes we do not. If we only knew the everyday conversation of theJews of the Dispersion for whom this book waswritten it would contain no obscurities for us; but,unfortunately, we do not. We only know a partof it; and even the most eminent ew Testament256 THE CRYSTAL SEAscholars are obliged to confess, therefore, that some
 
of the allusions in this book must for the presentremain a mystery.But I do not think this observation applies to theremarkable expression which we have chosen asour text this morning — ** a sea of glass (or a glassysea) mingled with fire." The figure is a strikingone, and we are not without guidance as to itsspiritual meaning. In a modified form the phraseappears first in the fourth chapter, wherein thewriter describes himself as taken up in spirit intoHeaven and gazing upon the throne of God. Theimagery of this part of the book is mostly borrowedfrom that of Ezekiel, and is marvellously rich andsuggestive, albeit restrained and reverent. Thenearest approach he makes to a description of theAlmighty Himself is to say: "Behold, a thronewas set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. AndHe that sat was to look upon like a jasper and asardine stone." In Chapter xxi, we are twice toldthat the jasper stone was " clear as crystal." Thesardine stone was fiery red. He then proceeds totell us that before the throne there was " a glassysea like unto crystal." He returns to this figurein our text, and tells us that this glassy sea whichspread before the throne of God was shot withflame, and that around it stood a host of those whohad come victorious out of the conflicts of earth,singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.ow, here is ample material for a lengthy dis-cussion of our theme if we were to enter upon it inall its details. But all I want is to show that thisman was thinking of something great and good,THE CRYSTAL SEA 257and that the language he uses is quite in accord-

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