2. To the origin of the New Jerusalem: and we find that to be heavenly; for if it had not been in heaven it could not have been seen coming down out of heave, as noticed in my text. And indeed, no place but heaven could furnish such materials as this city is made have: for instance; twelve pearls of such magnitude as to form, each, a city gate!
*In chap. Xxii. 17. The bride may mean persons, and not a city because a personal action is ascribed to her.
(Ver. 21). A city built and paved with gold clear as glass! Who ever saw transparent gold? A wall surrounding the city of amazing length and height, and built with precious stones! (Ver. 18.) With foundations of jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonix, sardius, chrystolite, beryl, topaz, chrysophrasus, jacinot, and amethyst (ver. 19, 20)! O what architects are in heaven! What materials there for master builders! Can there be a finer building in heaven? Is there any archangel possessed of such another city? I throw not; for this is built for the Lord of Angels. The Father’ s city and palace may be more superb.
3. The dimensions of the New Jerusalem are remarkable; for the length, breadth, and height of it are equal. It is a perfect cube, each side measuring 3000 furlongs, or 12000 in all, equal to 1200 English miles, allowing 8 furlongs to a mile? What a number of stories and rooms may be in houses that are fifteen hundred miles high, allowing twenty four feet to a story! A number equal to all that is saved. The wall of this city is said to be ” great and high” (ch. Xxi. 12.) viz. One hundred and forty cubits or two hundred and sixteen feet, allowing eighteen inches to a cubit: this is the height of the wall. The word great refers to length of it, which is not set down; neither was there any, occasion, since the length of each side of the city had been given: for we may conclude the wall to be a square, like the city, and that it stands at a proportion able distance from the city. Surprising long wall therefore! Great Britain will not afford length and breadth sufficient
For the fire of the New Jerusalem, unless joined to the continent of Europe.
4. The descent of this city from heaven to earth claims our notice; for descend it will, as my text expressly asserts. Peter saw a great vessel descending from heaven to earth (Act. Xi. 5-10.) Three times, and as many times ascending to heaven: and a very great vessel it must be to contain all manner of four footed beast of the earth, and wild beast, creeping things, and fowls of the air. But what was this to John’ s vision? An amazing great city shining as the sun without; and full of the divine presence and glorified saints within! A descent this which exceeds all the descensions that we read of either in sacred or profane history. O my soul labour at saint ship, and thou shall not only see but also descend from a heaven above to a heaven below in this glorious vehicle! Where the New Jerusalem will settle is not mentioned; but as it is to be the metropolis of the new earth we may reasonably suppose that its place will be in the middle of the world.
5. The guards of this city are suitable to its grandeur and inhabitants and at the twelve gates are twelve angels (Rev. xxi. 12). But I do not call them guards for security, but for grandeur. The majesty within is the king of angles, who surround the throne wherever he is seated. Such pageantries and pomp attend the courts of earthly kings, and are types of the pomps and pageantries in the final state of things: ” for the things of heaven and earth are like to like more then men are aware of, faith Milton. They
May also stand at the gates to instruct the kings and nations of the new earth, as they enter in, how to behave in the presence of their great monarch; and how to offer him their honour and glory in an acceptable manner; for that kings and nations will, at times, enter in for such purposes is out of doubt with all bible Christians (Rev. xxi. 24).
6. With the good leave of the angelic guards we will now enter in at the gate into the city. And God grant we may do so in reality when the time comes. Now we are within! Look round and be astonished, o our fouls! We see no temple; it is true (ver. 22)! But we see the tabernacle of God with men! We see the chief glory of the Jerusalem Temple in that Tabernacle, viz. The shechina, which Paul translates the glory, (meaning that strong glare of light in the sanctum sanatorium, Rom. Ix. 4). The same symbol of the divine presence will be more dissuasive in the New Jerusalem. Well may it be said that it needeth not that the fun and moon should shine upon it (Rev. xxi.23). Well may it be said that the saints shall be forever with the Lord, beholding his glory! I think it impossible to have a notion of a better heaven! Can there be greater glory than the visible presence of there be greater glory than the visible presence of deity, angels and saints in such a city? Can there be a finer drink than water of life? And pleasanter food than fruits of life? Lo all these in the New Jerusalem! Common divinity has refined too much on the condition of angels and saints, as if they wanted to sustenance, or were impassible. But remembering that saints have bodies such as Christ had after his resurrection,
And that angels did eat on earth and do eat in heaven will prevent such a fond conceit. To speak of immaterial creatures, and creatures existing without aliment is to darken counsel with words with out knowledge; and is contrary to reason, Scripture, and facts.
7. Let us now come out of the New Jerusalem, and ascend with St. John to an exceeding high mountain for the sake of an external prospect; and exceeding high it must be to have a full view of a plane of fifteen hundred miles square. Before, we saw it descending from heaven! Now we see it descended, and upon earth! Observe how it shines! The precious stones and burnished gold without, and the Schechina and Christ and saints and angels within make it looks like a square fun! We have noted before, that it needed not that the fun and moon should shine on it: yet it does not follow that they will not. The New Jerusalem any more than the sun cannot enlighten the entire world at once. Besides; there are many worlds in the solar system that want the light of the sun. Nor will the moon be useless though it will have no sea to govern; because, (as many suppose) the lake of fire and brimstone* is in the moon: the lake is not Gehenna, Tartarus, Hades, Abyss, Outerdarkness, Prison, Furnace,
*Since the late improvements of telescopes, volcanoes or fiery eruptions have been as really seen in the moon as in Etna, Vesuvius, &c.: the lake therefore may be in the moon. Add to this, that they, in the lake, are punished day and night (Rev. xx. 10), and days and nights are in the moon. The moon has hitherto been attendants on earth; and why not the receptacle of its essals and noxious things at last? Be that as it may, the lake is some new soil.
Oven, Ec; for whenever we read of these (in our testament) we meet with something which directs us to look down for them: but when the earth is burnt, all will be destroyed; and hell cast into the lake (Rev. xx. 14): both the surface and bowels of the new earth will be holiness to the Lord. So much for the doctrinal part of the new heaven, new earth, New Jerusalem, and New inhabitants. Some remarks follow in a way of conclusion.
I. Literal interpretation of scripture is so preferable to all other interpretations that it should never be parted without necessity. No such necessity occurs touching the subjects of the foregoing discourse, though all the commentors I have seen have treated of them in an allegorical way; and thereby have dishonored their authors as if they had a very ill knack at expressing their meaning; and making their meaning uncertain. But is it incredible, for instance, that earth should be so refined as to become the heaven of all that have had their existence on earth? What sense is there in taking the sons of one globe into another, when all globes have their own inhabitants? ” The earth abideth forever?” (Eccl. I. 4). Surely not a barren waste.
2. As for the descent of Christ and his saints in the New Jerusalem it ought not to be deemed incredible, since events of the kind have been very sequent. Did not Moses and Elias descend to mount Tabor, in clouds, and thence ascend? Did not Jehovah come down to Sinai in a chariot of angels and returned in the same animated vehicle? Will not Christ descend in clouds to raise the dead and change the
Living about three years and a half before the Millennium? Will not they spring up to meet him in the air? And when he has gathered all to him. Will not the whole assemblage ascend to heaven? The wings of the wind, cherubim, chariots of fire, &c have been often used as vehicles of downs and ups between heaven and earth, and why not the city New Jerusalem? Down from heaven it certainly will come, be it empty or full.
3. Before I quit a subject, which has so much to do with the heavens, I cannot help felicitating the present age on account of the knowledge they have of those heavens, by means of modern astronomy: partly because that knowledge dilates the heart, and stretches the mind more than any other science, nay, more than all the other put together; and partly, because it enables us to form a comparison between our world and the other worlds in our fight; and consequently between ourselves and our neighbors, and who inhabit those worlds. The first scheme of astronomy placed the earth in the center of the universe, and made the sun and stars go round it; and therefore men conclude that all were made for the earth: and thus ” man became vain in his own imagination, and magnified himself and his world above measure. But modern astronomy assures us, that the fixed stars are suns which have worlds moving about them: and that our sun is another fixed star which has six * worlds encompassing it, and warmed and enlightened by it, viz. Mercury, which is less than our world: next is Venus, which exceeds us in bulk as much as 9330 exceed 7970. The third station from the sun is ours. Back of us is Mars, which is somewhat less than our world. Back of it is Jupiter with his four moons and belts: an amazing great world! Greater than ours as 94000 are greater than 7970. Back of him is Saturn with his five moons and rings, which ring resemble the brim of a hat round the crown, but not touching the crown: a very great world also! Greater than ours as 78000 are greater than 7970.”
*Since the above was written another planet has been discovered, which makes a seventh. The name of it is Georgium Sidus.
These are all the worlds, which belong to our sun in this corner of universal space: in comparison of some of which our earth diminishes into a small grain of shot, and the inhabitants into almost nothing! But, O God, how great art thou who hast made such huge and enormous globes, and hast suspended them in the vast inane! Well might they servant Boyle make a solemn pause when he mentioned they great and tremendous name! Well might the king of Israel, in comparing of miniatures with magnitudes, cry out, what is man!
4. Could self-knowledge allow me to be vain, it would be, because my notion of the new earth frees me from the absurdity that the great Dr. Burnet was
Driven to in his theory of the earth. He confounds the millennium state with the final state of the world; and therefore could not account for Gog and Magog, and their army, without having recourse to spontaneous generation in mud and slime. Strange chimera! How could he not perceive that mankind will be on earth during the millennium, and that it is over these that the raised and changed saints will rein? It is true mankind will behave well during that reign by reason of their good king and priests, and the absence of Satan. But all will not be sons of grace. Hypocrites will be plenty in the four quarters of the world; it is these that will form the army of Gog and Magog, when the Devil will be let loose among them, at the end of the millennium Besides; there is great difference between the earth in its millennium state, and in its final state: in the one it will approach towards a paradise; in the other it will be a heaven: in the one, agriculture, vine dressing, &c. Will be used, as Adam and Eve labored in Eden; in the other, nature will spontaneously yield meat and drink to the blessed inhabitants.
Since the preceding discourse was composed the publisher has met with the following paragraph, in an author of great note. Peruse it, gentle reader, and much good may it do thee.
” I won that I take St. John’ s account of the New earth to be a literal description: and then it is possible for us to have a notion of a future state. But what notion can we have of it according
To the common talk? Where we can the heaven is of which men speak? In the boundless space that surrounds us? We know of nothing there but suns, moons, earth and comets. Neither of these (except the earth) can be thought to be the everlasting habitation of good men.”