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BY ALEXADER MACLARE
•And he shewed me a pore river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out
of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2. In the midst of the street of it, and on
either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of
fruits, and yielded her fruit everymonth : and the leaves of the tree were for the
healing of the nations. 3. And there shall be no more curse : but the throne of
God and of the Lamb shall be in it ; and His servants shall serve Him : i. And they
shall see His face ; and His name shall be in their foreheads. 5. And there shall
be no night there ; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun ; for the Lord
God giveth them light : and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6. And He said
untome. These sayings are faithful and true : and the Lord God of the holy prophets
sent His angel to shew UT^to His servants the things which must shortly be done.
7. Behold, I come quickly : blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy
of this book. 8. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had
heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed
me these things. 9. Then saith he unto me. See thou do it not : for I am thy
fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the
sayings of this book: worship God. 10. And he saith unto me. Seal not the say-
ings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand. 11. He that is unjust,
let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that
is righteous, let him be righteous still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still.'—
Rev. xxii. 1-11.
Is the vision of the new Jerusalem to be realised in
the present or in the future? Sueh features as the
existence of ' nations ' and ' kings of the earth ' outside
of it (vs. 21, 24), and leaves of the tree of life being * for
the healing of the nations,' favour the former reference,
while its place in the book, after the first and second
resurrections and the judgment and at the very end of
the whole, seems to oblige us to hold by the latter.
But the question must be answered in the light of the
fact that the Christian life is one in essence in both
worlds, and that the difference between the conditions
of the society of the redeemed here and there is only
one of degree. The • city * has already come down from
heaven ; its perfect form waits to be manifested.
The passage is partly the close of that vision (vs. 1-5),
and partly the beginning of the epilogue of the whole
book (vs. 6-11). The closing description of the city is
saturated with allusions to Old Testament prophecy.
vs.1-11] THE CITY, CITIZES, AD KIG 867
It is like the finale of Bome great concerto, in which
the themes that have sounded throughout it are all
gathered up in the last majestic, melodious crash.
Here at the farthest point to which mortal eyes are
allowed to pierce, the * tree of life ' that the first of
mortal eyes had looked on waves its branches again.
The end has circled round to the beginning. But now
there is no more prohibition to pluck and eat, and
now it grows, not in a garden, but in a city where the
perfection of human society is entered into.
Here, on the last page of Scripture, the river, the
music of whose ripple had been heard by Ezekiel and
Zechariah bringing life to everything that it laved, and
by the Psalmist making • glad the city of God,' flows
with a broader, fuller stream, and is fouled by no stains,
but is ' clear as crystal.' River and tree have the same
epithet, and bring the same gift to the citizens. All
the blessings which Jesus gives are summed up, both
in John's Gospel and in the Apocalypse, as • life.' The
only true life is to live as God's redeemed servants, and
that life is ours here and now if we are His. It is but
a * stream * of the river that gladdens us here, the fruit
has not yet its full flavour nor abundance. * It is life,
more life, for which we pant,' and the desire will be
satisfied there when the river runs always full, and
every month the fruit hangs ripe and ready to be
dropped into happy hands from among the healing
In verses 3 and 4 we pass from the city to the
citizens. Perfect purity clothes them all. • There shall
be no more anything accursed'; that is, any unclean
thing drawing down necessarily the divine ' curse,' and
therefore there shall be no separation, no film of dis-
tance between the King and the people, but * the throne
368 REVELATIO [ch. xxii.
of God and the Lamb shall be therein.' The seer has
already beheld the Lamb close by the throne of God,
but now he sees Him sharing it in indissoluble union.
Perfect purity leads to perfect union with God and (or
rather in) Christ, and unbroken, glad submission to His
regal rule. And that perfect submission is the occu-
pation and delight of all the citizens. They are His
• bond-servants,' and their fetters are golden chains of
honour and ornament. They ' do Him service,' minis-
tering as priests, and all their acts are ' begun, con-
tinued, and ended in Him.' Having been faithful over
a few things, they are made rulers over many things,
and are yet bond-servants, though rulers.
In that higher service the weary schism between the
active and the contemplative life is closed up. Mary
and Martha end their long variance, and gazing on His
face does not hinder active obedience, nor does doing
Him service distract from beholding His beauty. • His
name shall be in their foreheads,' conspicuous and un-
mistakable, no longer faintly traced or often concealed,
but flaming on their brows. They are known to be
His, because their characters are conformed to His.
They bear ' the marks of Jesus ' in complete and visible
assimilation to Him.
The vision closes with an echo of Old Testament pro-
phecy (Isaiah Ix. 19). 'o night' — perhaps the most
blessed of all John's negative descriptions of the future
state, indicating the removal for ever of all the evil and
woe symbolised by darkness, and pointing to a state in
which no artifices of ours are needed to brighten our
gloom with poor, man-made candles, nor any created
light, though mighty and resplendent as the sun, whose
beams fade into invisibility before the immortal radi-
ance that pours out for ever from the throne, brighten-
vs.i-ii] THE CITY, CITIZES, AD KIG 360
ing every glorified face that is turned to its lustre.
Thus seeing, serving, and being like 'God and the Lamb,'
they, as a consequence, • shall reign for ever and ever,'
for they are as He is, and while He lives and reigns
they also live and reign.
With verse 6 begins the epilogue. An angel speaks,
the same as in chapter i. 1 — is represented as ' signify-
ing ' the ' revelation ' to John. He now, as it were, sets
his seal on his completed roll of prophecy. To dis-
criminate between the words of the angel and of Jesus
is impossible. Jesus speaks through him. ' Behold, I
come quickly ' cannot be merely the angel's voice. As
in verse 12, a deeper voice speaks through his lips.
The purpose of that solemn announcement is to impress
on the Asiatic churches, and through them on the whole
Church through all time, the importance of keeping
' the words of the prophecy of this book.' * Quickly ' —
and yet nineteen hundred years have gone since then ?
Yes ; and during them all Jesus has been coming, and
the words of this book have progressively been in pro-
cess of fulfilment.
Again, the speedy coming is enforced as a reason for
not sealing up the prophecy, as had been commanded
in chapter x. 4, and elsewhere in the Old Testament.
And a very solemn thought closes our lesson — that
there is a moment, the eve of any great • day of the
Lord,' when there is no more time or opportunity for
change of moral or spiritual disposition. ' Too late, too
late, ye cannot enter now.' Let us ' redeem the time,'
buy back the opportunity while yet it is within our
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