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and the Last, the Beginning and the End."* These passages incontrovertibly refer to Christ; and, according to the known signification of the Jewish expressions, they declare his absolute perfection, and that he is the Author, the Ef.fective Agent, and the End of the scheme of providential government with relation to the church, which forms the subject of this prophetic book,
A similar passage is, “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty," or more accurately “the Universal Sovereign.”+ Of this passage the Inquirer says, that “the words are undoubtedly to be understood as uttered in the person of God, and not of Jesus.” But his assertion appears to me by no means beyond the reach of a reasonable doubt. If its conformity with verse 4, be pleaded on the one side for referring it to the Divine Father; its conformity also with the other passages which apply its first attributive to the Son, may with equal reason be urged on the other side. But admitting the Inquirer's interpretation, it plainly follows that the high prerogative of Deity, the perfection denoted by the symbol of the first and last letter,ş is also, in four distinct passages, attributed to the Saviour..!
* Chap. i. 17. ii. 8. xxii. 13. † Chap. i. 8. # Page 177.
$ See Schættgen. Hor. Hebr. vol. i. p. 1086, from which I select these Rabbinical passages, proving that completeness or
To perceive the force of these unquestionable attributives to Christ, we should compare them with the language in which the Old Testament declares the supremacy and universal agency of the Most High. “I Jehovah the First, and with the Last, I am He. Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts ; I am the First and I the Last, and besides me there is no God. I am the First, even I the Last."* More exalted language can scarcely be conceived: yet it is given, without restriction or any hint of the necessity of understanding a restriction, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. Properties and actions are attributed to Christ which cannot, with reason, be conceived as proper to any other than the Divine Being.
i. He has the highest power and dominion over the minds and moral condition of men.
" These things saith the Holy, the True, He who hath the key of David, He who openeth and no one shutteth, and shutteth and no one openeth, I know thy works : behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which no one can shut. - I gave her time that she might repent; but she is not willing to repent of her fornication : behold, I cast her and those who commit adultery with
perfection was the sense of the emblem. “When the Holy and Blessed God blesses the Israelites, he does it from i to n
Abraham kept the law from X to in Adam transgressed the whole law from X to ."
* Isaiah xli, 4. xliv. 6. xlviii. 12.
her, into a bed, even into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. The Lamb shall vanquish them: for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.
The following passage is by some conceived to refer to the Divine Father. I submit whether these are not sufficient reasons to refer it to the Saviour: that the characteristic of “ sitting upon the throne" is connected with the description of the judicial tribunal in the preceding connexion,t and we know that the presiding in the final judgment is in scripture definitely attributed to the Son; that the “making all things new," by the influence of the gospel, is peculiarly the work of Christ; that the description of “ the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End," is, in other places of this Book, lately cited, employed as the designation of Christ ; that the promise to “ give the water of life" is characteristic of him ;£ that the promise “to him that overcometh,” is in the same style of both sentiment and expression with the similar promises in this Book ;§ and that the final awards of happiness and misery, as here described, peculiarly belong to the often declared authority of Christ as the Universal Judge.—“ And He who
* Chap. iii. 7, 8. ii. 26. xii. 10. xvii. 14. † Chap. xx. 11.
† John vii. 37. Rev. xxii, 17. $ Seven times in Chap. ii. and iii.
sat upon the throne, said, “Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write, for these words are faithful and true.' And he said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him that thirsteth I will give freely from the fountain of the water of life. He that overcometh shall inherit these [blessings,] and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But to the cowardly and faithless and sinners and detestable and murderers and fornicators and impostors and idolaters, and to all the false, [I will give] their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."*
ii. He asserts a knowledge of the thoughts, the secret springs of action, and the whole moral character of men. The message to each of the Seven Churches is accompanied with the solemn assurance, “I know thy works :" and the knowledge thus claimed is clearly shewn, in the connexion of each of the passages, to include the most perfect acquaintance with the sincerity or hypocrisy of individuals, and with all the complication of human feelings and actions. This property, which in fact amounts to a real omniscience, is again asserted in terms than which nothing can be plainer and stronger, terms in the interpretation of which we cannot be mistaken, since they are borrowed from one of the most express assertions of the exclusive attribute of Divine Omniscience and heart-scrutiny that
* Chap. xxi. 5-8.
occur in the whole volume of revelation.*
" All the churches shall know that I am He who searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give to each of you according to your works.”+
The Calm Inquirer calls these “ strong and hyperbolical expressions,” and “ very precarious premises ;” and affirms that, at most, “ these passages would prove nothing more than that Christ, in his exalted state, is acquainted with the circumstances of his churches, and with the character of individual members.”
It is, however, very evident that the language of the apostle John is, in these instances, remarkably plain and unambiguous, and free from any strong figure of speech. The application to the Saviour of the words from the prophet Jeremiah, furnishes us with an unexceptionable criterion for determining the intention of the sacred writer, or rather of the Divine Spirit by whose suggestion he wrote. If those words, thus applied, were intended to be taken in a sense incomparably, yea, infinitely, lower than their original and proper meaning, (which every person must perceive, would have been a liberty so bold as to be incredible in any sane and pious writer;) some intimation might justly have been looked for, to apprize us of the IMMENSE reduction necessary
* “ Deceitful is the heart above all things, and it is deeply diseased; who can know it? I Jehovah; who search the heart, who try the reins, even to give to each one according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Jerem. xvii. 9. + Chap. ii. 23.
# Page 183, 186.