« PreviousContinue »
rity, but in flames, and beholding the smoke of her burning ascending up for ever and ever.
3. A reason given : For God hath avenged You ON HER; j.e. God hath executed just vengeance upon her, for shedding your blood, and cruelly persecuting you. For thus the matter is represented, that antichrist had been guilty of shedding the blood of the holy prophets and apostles, as in chap. xvi. 6. For they have shed the blood of saints and of prophets. And in ver. 24. of this context, In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all them that were slain on the earth. Not that antichrist had literally shed the blood of the prophets and apostles; but he had shed the blood of those who were their followers, who were of the same spirit, and of the same church, and same mystical body. The prophets and apostles in heaven are nearly related and united to the saints on earth they live, as it were, in true Christians in all ages. So that by slaying these, persecutors show that they would slay the prophets and apostles, if they could; and they indeed do it as much as in them lies.
On the same account, Christ says of the Jews in his time, Luke xi. 50. That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation ; from the blood of Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple : verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation. So Christ himself is said to have been crucified in the anti-christian church, chap. xi. 8. And their dead bodies skall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. So all the inhabitants of heaven, all the saints from the beginning of the world, and the angels also, are called upon to rejoice over Babylon, because of God's vengeance upon her, wherein he avenges them: they all of them had in effect been injured and persecuted by antichrist. Indeed they are not called upon to rejoice in having their revenge glutted, but in seeing justice executed, and in seeing the love and tenderness of God towards them, manifested in his severity towards their enemies.
When the saints in glory shall see the wrath of God executed on
ungodly men, it will be no occasion of grief to them, but of rejoicing.
It is not only the sight of God's wrath executed on those wicked men who are of the anti-christian church, which will be occasion of rejoicing to the saints in glory; but also the sight of the destruction of all God's enemies : whether they have been the followers of anticbrist or not, that alters not the case, if they have been the enemies of God, and of Jesus Christ. All wicked men will at last be destroyed together, as being united in the same cause and interest, as being all of Satan's army. They will all stand together at the day of judgment, as being all of the same company.
And if we understand the text to have respect only to a temporal execution of God's wrath on his enemies; that will pot alter the case, The thing they are called upon to rejoice at, is the execution of God's wrath upon his and their enemies. And if it be matter of rejoicing ta them to see justice executed in part upon them, or to see the beginning of the execution of it in this world; for the same reason will they rejoice with greater joy, in beholding it fully exeouted. For the thing here mentioned as the foundation of their joy, is the execution of just vengeance: Rejoice, far God hath avenged
you on her.
Prop. I. The glorified saints will see the wrath of God executed upon ungodly men. This the scriptures plainly teach us, that the righteous and the wicked in the other world see each other's state. Thus the rich man in hell, and Lazarus and Abrabam in heaven, are represented as seeing each other's opposite states, in the 16th chap, of Luke, The wicked in their misery will see the saints in the kingdom of beaven; Luke xiii, 28, 29. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophels in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
So the saints in glory will see the misery of the wicked under the wrath of God. Isa. Ixvi. 24. And they shall go forth and look on the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched. And, Rev, xiv.9, 10. If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. The saints are not here mentioned, being included in Christ, as his members. The church is the fulness of Christ, and is called Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 12. So in the 19th chapter, ver. 2, 3. the smoke of Babylon's torment is represented as rising up for ever and ever, in the sight of the heavenly inhabitants.
At the day of judgment, the saints in glory at Christ's right hand, will see the wicked at the left hand in their amazea ment and horror, will hear the Judge pronounce sentence upon them, saying, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;” and will see them go away into everlasting punishment. But the scripture seems to hold forth to us, that the saints will not only see the misery of the wicked at the day of judgment, but the fore-mentioned texts imply, that the state of the damned in hell will be in the view of the heavenly inhabitants; that the two worlds of happiness and misery will be in view of each other. Though we know not by what means, nor after what manner it will be; yet the scriptures certainly lead us to think, that they will some way or other have a direct and immediate apprehension of each other's state. The saints in glory will see how
. the damned are tormented; they will see God's threatenings fulfilled, and his wrath executed upon them.
Prop. II. When they shall see it, it will be no occasion of grief to them. The miseries of the damned in hell will be inconceivably great. When they shall come to bear the wrath of the Almighty poured out upon them without mixture, and executed upon them without pity or restraint, or any mitigation; it will doubtless cause anguish, and horror, and annazement vastly beyond all the sufferings and torments, that ever any man endured in this world ; yea, beyond all extent of our words or thoughts. For God in executing wrath upon ungodly men will act like an Almighty God. The scripture calls this wrath, God's fury, and the fierceness of his wrath; and we are told that this is to show God's wrath, and to make his power known; or to make known how dreadful bis wrath is, and how great his power.
The saints in glory will see this, and be far more sensible of it than now we can possibly be. They will be far more sensible how dreadful the wrath of God is, and will better un
derstand how terrible the sufferings of the damned are; yet this will be no occasion of grief to them. They will not be sorry for the damned; it will cause no uneasiness or dissatisfaction to them; but on the contrary, when they have this sight, it will excite them to joyful praises.—These two things are evidences of it:
1. That the seeing of the wrath of God executed upon the damned, should cause grief in the saints in glory, is inconsistent with that state of perfect happiness in which they are. There can no such thing as grief enter, to be an allay to the happiness and joy of that world of blessedness. Grief is an utter stranger in that world. God hath promised that he will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more sorrow. Rev. xxi. 4. and chap. vii. 17.
2. The saints in heaven possess all things as their own, and therefore all things contribute to their joy and happiness. The scriptures teach that the saints in glory inherit all things. This God said in John's hearing, when he had the vision of the New Jerusalem; Rev. xxi. 7. And the scriptures teach us to understand this absolutely of all the works of creation and providence. 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours. Here the apostle teaches, that all things in the world to come, or in the future and eternal world, are the saints; not only life but death; men and angels, and devils, heaven and hell, are theirs, to contribute to their joy and happiness. Therefore the damned and their misery, their sufferings and the wrath of God poured out upon them, will be an occasion of joy to them. If there were any thing whatsoever that did not contribute to their joy, but caused grief, then there would be something which would not be theirs.
That the torments of the damned are no matter of grief, but of joy to the inhabitants of heaven, is very clearly expressed in several passages of this book of Revelation ; particularly by chap. xvi. 5-7. and chap. xix. at the beginning.
Why the sufferings of the wicked will not be cause of grief to
the righteous, but the contrary. 1. Negatively; it will not be because the saints in heaven are the subjects of any ill disposition ; but on the contrary,
this rejoicing of theirs will be the fruit of an amiable and excellent disposition; it will be the fruit of a perfect holiness and conformity to Christ, the holy Lamb of God. The devil delights in the misery of men from cruelty, and from envy and revenge, and because he delights in misery, for its own sake, from a malicious disposition.
But it will be from exceedingly different principles, and for quite other reasons, that the just damnation of the wicked will be an occasion of rejoicing to the saints in glory. It will not be because they delight in seeing the misery of others absolutely considered. The damned suffering divine vergeance will be no occasion of joy to the saints merely as it is the misery of others, or because it is pleasant to them to behold the misery of others merely for its own sake. The rejoicing of the saints on this occasion is no argument, that they are not of a most amiable and excellent spirit, or that there is any
de.fect on that account, that there is any thing wanting, which would render them of a more amiable disposition. It is no argument that they have not a spirit of goodness and love reigning in them in absolute perfection, or that herein they do not excel the greatest instances of it on earth, as much as the stars are higher than the earth, or the 'sun brighter than a glow-worm.
And whereas the heavenly inhabitants are in the text called upon to rejoice over Babylon, because God had avenged them on her; it is not to be understood, that they are to rejoice in having their revenge glutted, but to rejoice in seeing the justice of God executed, and in seeing his love to them in executing it on his enemies.
2. Positively; the sufferings of the damned will be no occasion of grief to the heavenly inhabitants, as they will have no love nor pity to the damned as such. It will be no argument of want of a spirit of love in them, that they do not love the damned; for the heavenly inhabitants will know that it is not fit that they should love them, because they will know then, that God has no love to them, nor pity for them; but that they are the objects of God's eternal hatred. And they will then be perfectly conformed to God in their wills and affections. They will love what God loves, and that only. However the saints in heaven may have loved the damned while here, especially those of them who were near and dear to them in this world, they will have no love to them hereafter.
It will be an occasion of their rejoicing, as the glory of God will appear in it. The glory of God appears in all his