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THE MOST WONDERFUL, AND HEAVENLY REVELATION OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST; Containing A Very Fruitful Expositi0n Of Paraphrase Upon The Same, Wherein It Is Conferred With The Other Scriptures And Most Authorized Histories. Compiled By John Bale, An Exile Also In This Life For The Faithful Testimony Of Jesus. A.D. 1550.
FROM A PREFACE UNTO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
So highly necessary, good christian reader, is the knowledge of St. Johnís Apocalypse or Revelation, to him that is a true member of Christís church, as of any other book of the sacred bible. For in none of them all, are faithful diligent hearers and readers more blessed, nor more lively so declared, observing the contents thereof, than in this one book. No where is more clearly specified the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be one everlasting God, and Jesus Christ to be the eternal Son of that living Father, (which are the first and chief grounds of our christian faith) than here. No where is the durable kingdom and priesthood of the said Jesus Christ more plenteously spread, more plainly proved, and more largely uttered than in this holy oracle. No where is the doctrine of health F141 more purely taught, faith more thoroughly commended, nor yet righteousness more highly rewarded than here. No where are heresies more earnestly condemned, blasphemous vices more vehemently rebuked, nor yet their just plagues more fiercely threatened, than in this compendious work.
Herein is the true christian church, which is the meek spouse of the Lamb without spot, in her right fashioned colors described. So is the proud church of hypocrites, the rose-colored harlot, the paramor of antichrist, and the sinful synagogue of Satan, in her just proportion depainted, to the merciful forewarning of the Lordís elect. And that is the cause why I have entitled this book ďTHE IMAGE OF BOTH CHURCHES.Ē Neither here spareth the Holy Ghost their hypocrisy or pride, their idolatry or harlotry, their covetousness or most cruel tyranny, with their other outrageous mischiefs.
No, he toucheth them so highly that we should the better know them, and be the more aware of them, that he showeth them to be such a spiritual sort as maketh daily merchandize of the bodies and souls of men. Let us never look to have a more open mark of that wicked generation, take heed of them if we list. He that will live godly in Christ, and be a patient sufferer; he that will stand in Godís fear, and prepare himself to temptation; he that will be strong when adversity shall come, and avoid all assaults of antichrist and the devil, let him give himself wholly to the study of this prophecy.
Not one necessary point of belief is in all the other scriptures, that is not here also in one place or other. This heavenly book is the very complete sum and whole knitting up of the universal verities of the bible. All that Moses taught in the law, David in the psalms, and the prophets in their writings, concerning Christís spiritual kingdom both here and above, meet for this present knowledge, are herein briefly comprehended. So is his eternal victory for us, over sin, death, hell, and the devil; with his perpetual clearness, authority, and empire, world without end, compendiously here expressed. He that knoweth not this book, knoweth not what the church is whereof he is a member. For herein is the estate thereof; from Christís ascension to the end of the world, under pleasant figures and elegant tropes described, and no where else thoroughly but here, the times always respected. He that delighteth not to behold the condition of his own city, is thereunto no loving citizen. And after the true Opinion of St. Augustine, either we are citizens in the new Jerusalem with Jesus Christ, or else in the old superstitious Babylon with antichrist the vicar of Satan. He that with diligence shall search that matter, specially in this present revelation, shall thoroughly perceive the certainty thereof.
Consider the dignity and worthiness of this most precious jewel that the Lord hath left here to our consolation. First, God, the eternal Father, gave it unto Christ his well beloved Son in our manhood. Christ, now glorified, committed it unto the Holy Ghost, who is here called an angel or messenger. The Holy Ghost delivered it unto John, the peculiarly beloved disciple of Jesus. And John, last of all, left it with the universal church, to their christian erudition. Mark now if any other treatise of the sacred bible ever had so worthy a forward setting forth. This is not that it should be altogether neglected and not looked upon. No man lighteth a candle, saith Christ, and conveyeth it under a bushel, that men should not see thereby.
Never was this gracious gift given of God to be hidden, as it hath been of long time, but to be opened to all the congregations. A more necessary doctrine to the christian erudition is not in the whole scriptures, all circumstances considered. For besides all that is before expressed, it containeth the universal troubles, persecutions, and crosses that the church suffered in the primitive spring, what it suffereth now, and what it shall suffer in the latter times by the subtle satellites of antichrist, which are the cruel members of Satan.
It manifesteth also what rewards, what crowns, and what glory the said congregation shall have, after this present conflict with the enemies, that the promised rewards might quicken the hearts of those that the torments feareth. This Apocalypse is called ďA prophecy,Ē and is much more excellent than all the other prophecies. Like as the light is more precious than the shadow, the verity than the figure, the new testament than the old, and the gospel than the law, so is this holy oracle more precious than they.
That which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, with all the other prophets warn aforehand, to follow concerning Christ and his church, this mystery declareth as effectually fulfilled. It is a full clearness to all the chronicles, and most notable histories which have been written since Christís ascension, opening the true natures of their ages, times, and seasons. He that hath store of them, and shall diligently search them over, conferring the one with the other, time with time, and, age with age, shall perceive most wonderful causes. For in the text are they only proponed in effect, and promised to follow in their seasons, and so ratified with the other scriptures, but in the chronicles they are evidently seen by all ages fulfilled. Yet is the text a light to the chronicles, and not the chronicles to the text.
Unto St. John the evangelist were these mysteries of the Holy Trinity revealed, as I showed before, such time as he was, by the emperor Domitian expelled tot his preaching, into the isle of Patmos, at the cruel complaints of the idolatrous priests and bishops, and of him so written and sent out of the same exile into the congregations. In one day were all these marvels seen, and in the same written, as witness divers expositors, and as seemeth agreeable to the text, which is a great wonder, in token that the Lord, as David reporteth him, is a very swift writer, which at the same earnestly occupied the hand of the said John. Of such a nature is the message of this book, with the other contents thereof, that from no place it is sent more freely, opened more clearly, nor told forth more boldly, than out of exile. And this should seem to be the cause thereof. In exile was it first written, as a little before is mentioned. In exile are the powers thereof most earnestly proved of them that have faith; as appeareth yet by Justinus the martyr, Militon the Asian, Irenaeus, Hypolytus, Victorinus, and others who were the first expositors thereof in the primitive church, and in the end suffered the death of their bodies for it. And though it were the last book of the bible, and hath been ever since farthest from knowledge, and least regarded of them all, yet was it the first that received any manís exposition, as a book thought most necessary to be known of the christians. [Bale then enumerates eighty-three writers on the Apocalypse, the greater part of whom he had consulted in preparing his work, and in the conclusion of the preface he refers more particularly to the church of Rome as pointed out in this book of scripture.
After the preface commences ďa brief paraphrase or compendious elucidation upon the Apocalypse, in three parts.Ē The first part contains the ten first chapters, the second, from the eleventh to the seventeenth. It would, be uninteresting to the general reader to follow Bale through his exposition of the prophetical parts of the Apocalypse, and the historical references he has brought forward to elucidate them; he bestowed much attention upon this portion of his work, but subsequent events have thrown farther light upon many passages, and they are now understood more clearly than in his time. The following extracts are from the third part, where, as he states, ďthe two churches whereupon holdeth the whole argument of this book, are fully, by all due circumstances, described.Ē] < 661911 > REVELATION 19:11-13 After this, saith St. John, I saw heaven open. Very evident were the mysteries of the Lord unto me. I perceived, that through faith and meekness men might have great knowledge of the secrets of God. Heaven is open evermore, when Godís word is freely taught. And it is closed up again when that is laid apart.
And behold, a pure white horse appeared in this mystery, which betokeneth the true ministers or perfect preachers of the apostlesí doctrine. The godly nature of these is, as is specified in Paul, to carry the glorious verity of God over the world, and to publish it before the governors and peoples of the nations.
He that sat upon this white horse, or assisted these preachers by his Spirit, was the eternal Son of God, which hath evermore been called in the scriptures, Faithful of his promise, and true of his word. Righteous is the Lord, saith David, in all his ways, sure of his sayings, and perfect in all his works.
None other thing could he teach but the verity, who was the verity itself, nor yet they which had his godly spirit.
According to true equity hath he judged, in utterly condemning by his word the proud synagogue of Satan, and in exalting again his own meek spirited church.
First, in his own person, as a mighty warrior, did he battle with the devil, and by his death overcame him. Now, by his faithful preachers doth he righteously overturn his kingdom, by virtue of the same, graciously sending them forth in this latter age, under the type of this white horse. For his faithful servants are horses of courage, according to Habakkuk. Yea, whiter are they than either snow or milk, by their true belief; according to Jeremiah. I, saith the Lord, which am the word of righteousness, do valiantly battle to save you. For none other purpose fighteth he, but to the intent to preserve his elect.
The eyes of the horsemen were as the pure flame of fire, effectual, mighty, and clear. And these are not only his godly understanding and knowledge, whereby he perceiveth, discerneth, and judgeth clearly all things, but also the universal graces of the Holy Ghost. Upon one sure stone, saith Zechariah, which Paul called Christ, shall be seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God. With these eyes lighteneth he the hearts of all godly men, and kindleth their minds to the true love of God. His word is a lantern to their feet, and a light to their paths. Pure is his commandment, giving clearness to the sight. Open thou mine eyes, Lord, saith David, and then shall I well perceive the wonderful mysteries of thy doctrine.
Upon his head, saith St. John, were also many beautiful crowns, like as were before in figure upon the head of Jesus Josedech, the high priest, in token that Christ is the high King over all worlds, regions, and ages. For he is the Lord of hosts, and the eternal King of glory; he was constituted a principal Governor of Sion, the holy hill of the Lord. He giveth prosperity to kings, and hath their victory in his hands. In him, as in their head, have all his elect members their crowns. Both with mercy shall he crown them, and also with loving kindness. For Peter hath he laid up a crown of incorruptible glory, for John a crown of life, for Paul a crown of righteousness, and so forth. For the whole conflict, victory, and triumph of all the saints is of Him alone.
He had a special name written, eternally appointed of God his Father, whose excellent majesty no creature understanding was able of his own industry to comprehend. Omnipotent was this name, marvelous, honorable, holy, and terrible, Adonai, Emmanuel, a name of salvation, and a name above all names. Yea, the Lord was his name, or the Lord our Righteousmaker.
No man knoweth this name, save he himself only, and they to whom he hath showed it. Neither flesh nor blood, Gentile nor Jew, hypocrite nor false christian, hath rightly known it. No, though they have said Lord, Lord. For none can say openly that Jesus is the Lord, but in the Holy Ghost, which openeth all godly verity. In this name is also registered the elect number of Godís adoptive children, whom the world doth not know for his, nor ever will do.
And this Lord was beautifully adorned with a vesture fair and comely, but it was all dipped in blood. Some have taken this garment for his righteousness, wherein hath appeared all avengements over his enemies.
Some have supposed it to be his church, all bloody in his martyrs and constant witnesses. But upon their side am I which have taken it for his flesh, for that did he put on as a vesture. So sore hath that vesture been striped, and so grievously wounded, that from the sole of the foot to the foremost part of the head was no whole place in it. This mighty Captain is he which came from Edom and Bozrah, his clothes besprinkled with red.
His apparel is all spotted, much like unto his arrayment that treadeth in the wine-press. For his mortal nature suffered most painful death. Alone trod he down the wine-press in those days, and had no man to help him. Alone was he wounded for our offenses, alone were our punishments laid upon him, with whose stripes we are now healed.
And his name, saith St. John, besides that is spoken before, is the Eternal Word of God. He is called that Word which was in the beginning with God, which furnished the heavens above, which ordered all thingís beneath, and now, last of all, took flesh, restoring, enlightening, quickening, healing, and saving all that truly believe in him. < 662001 > REVELATION 20:1,2.
In the end of these revelations afore rehearsed, saith St. John, saw I in a secret vision an angel of most singular beauty, betokening Jesus Christ, the Angel of Godís eternal covenant. From the high heaven above came this Angel down unto the earth, sent of the everlasting Father. For neither spared that loving Father to semi his most dear and only Son at the time appointed, nor the obedient Son to submit himself to the shape of a servant, and so became man.
Victoriously did he overcome both death and the devil, as appeareth by his great miracles, resurrection, and ascension. And like as he came down first of all with a possible meekness, so came he down after that with an impossible and invisible majesty. Sudden was this latter coming down, and most marvelous to the world, such time as he, by his heavenly Spirit, replenished his apostles with all necessary knowledge. And the voice thereof was heard the world over, such time as they did preach it abroad.
This angel had the key of the bottomless pit, or power over hell, and a great chain in his hand, or full liberty to restrain the spiritual adversary. For unto him was given all power in heaven and in earth. Authority had he to destroy him that had rule over death, which was then the devil. Though I was dead, saith Christ, yet am I now alive for ever and ever, having the keys both of death and hell. ó Like a most valiant captain he fell upon that strong armed house watcher, and overcame him, depriving him both of weapon and spoil. ó Yea, he bound that malicious Satan, and made him sure for a thousand yearn space, to make of the vessels of wrath vessels of mercy. This did he by his strong word of covenant, whom he made for a thousand generations. And a full performance it is of Godís first promise for manís behoof, that Christ should tread down the head of the serpent.
For a thousand years was this restraint. Mark besides the mystery, the time from the ascension of Christ unto the days of Silvester, the second bishop of Rome of that name, and ye shall find that it was from Christís nativity a complete thousand, after all the historiographers. ó Consider for the time that he was thus bound, the constant faith of the christians, and the invincible hearts of their martyrs, and ye shall find them far different from them that have been since. He was then so weak, so infatuate, that not only wise men, learned men, and strong men, set light by him, but also young maids, children, and tender infants in a manner did laugh him to scorn, and set all his subtle sleights at naught. F142 < 662004 > REVELATION 20:4,5.
Whose peaceable estate and condition for that time, the text following declareth, by manner of recapitulation. After the before rehearsed vision of the serpent, I beheld, saith St. John, seats prepared without number. I saw the hearts of faithful believers, (which are the seats of wisdom, according to Solomon,) beautifully garnished with virtues by the preaching of the apostles, and of other godly teachers. Very peaceable and quiet were these seats. For though they had in the world on every side tribulation, yet had they their consciences quieted in Christ. They considered themselves partakers of the heavenly calling, and rejoiced in hope of the glory of Godís children.
Upon these seats sat they who are afore called that people whom Satan should no more deceive. They satiated themselves in the wisdom that God loveth. They grounded their dwelling with discretion in his understanding and knowledge. Fast did they cleave to his loving word. And for no adversity would they move their foot from the hard rock, which is Christ.
Thus sat his people in the beautiful seats of peace, according to Isaiah, in the tabernacles of trust, and in a most plenteous rest, the deceivers and mockers put apart.
And as they were thus quieted, the judgment or true understanding of the Lordís verity was given unto them. Their senses were opened, and great knowledge had they in the scriptures. The figures and prophecies that were hid to others, were manifest and open unto them. The dark veil was removed from Mosesís face, and the light of the laws appeared. They could then discern good from evil, light from darkness, and sweet from sour. The yoke was then taken from them, and no longer were they subject to strangers. Dead men perceived the secrets of the book. The eyes of the blind might see, without mist of darkness. They, which beforetime were of an erroneous spirit, had then the right understanding, and were learned in the law. In their inward parts was the knowledge thereof planted of the Lord, and the truth written in their hearts, he becoming their God, and they his people. Because we should not separate the dead from the quick, or the departed from the living, and so judge them diverse, considering they both are of one God, and live by one Spirit, being of one hope and calling, the Holy Ghost doth here couple them together as sheep of one pasture, feeding all of one spiritual meat, and drinking of one spiritual Rock accompanying them, and as members of one mystical body of Christ in this present revelation. [After describing the martyrs, suffering ďfor the faithful testimony of Jesus, and the constant assertion of the true word of their Lord God.Ē Bale proceeds ó ] When they were thought of the wicked to be dead, they lived in all sweetness of the spirit, in desire of his latter coming, which shall be to their double glory. And they reigned with Christ the pastor and high bishop of their souls, not only here, where they suffered with him for a thousand yearsí space, but also above, where he sitteth on the right hand of Godís majesty-seat, a thousand without end. Then reigned the godly number most of all, when they seem to the wicked least of all to reign, as when they suffer persecutions and death for Christ. For after no other sort reigneth his church here, than he reigned before them, whose triumph was greatest upon the cross.
The thousand years of the reign of the godly stretcheth here no farther, than the thousand years of the fall of the ungodly. Christís years also deducted, who is the head of his congregation. For as the one kingdom decreased, the other always increased. Very few christian martyrs or constant witnesses are perceived from thenceforth. For, as appears by history, many were abjured and recanted, which was not seen in the former age, and all in a manner, except a small number of the poor, utterly renounced the truth, for the cruel behavior of Antichrist. F143 In these two sorts, before rehearsed, of them that sat upon the seats, and them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, is it to be marked, that all were not martyrs whom God allowed for his in the primitive church, but that there were of both sorts. So was he accepted, that mortified the desires of the flesh, and offered himself a living sacrifice unto God, as well as him that gave his life for the verity.
But the residue, saith St. John, or the other sort, called the dead men, for that they were not numbered with the righteous, neither among them that sat upon the seats, nor vet among them that were slain for the witness of Jesus, lived not again after they were once dead, till the thousand years of their death was thoroughly fulfilled. The time was, when they which were dead through sin did hear the voice of the Son of God. They faithfully believed the word thereof, and so revived in Him unto the life everlasting, who was the Life and Light of men. Whereas the froward contenmers of that living Word, having their consciences sealed with the beastís mark, remained still in their infidelity, which is the very death of the soul, and so were by the right judgment of God lost for ever. For the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is a resistance against the manifest truth, shall neither be forgiven in this world, nor yet in the world to come.
A time without end doth this word ďtill,Ē cause this thousand here to be, after the common usage of the scripture. Noah sent forth a raven out of the ark, which returned not again till the waters were dried up, that is to say, it never returned again. ó Thou shalt not out of prison till thou hast paid the uttermost mite, that is, thou shalt never out. With a hundred such places in the bible. < 662006 > REVELATION 20:6.
This is the first resurrection unto life, to rise from sin to repentance, from ignorance to godly knowledge, and from darkness to faith. Through the offense of one man, sin entered into the world, and through sin death.
Necessary is it therefore to die unto sin, and to live unto righteousness.
And so to rise together with Christ, seeking the things which are above and not upon earth. For never shall they come to the second resurrection which is unto the life everlasting, that will not rise by repentance unto a new life in him, who is both resurrection and life.
Blessed is that man of the Lord, yea, holy, just, and perfect may he be reported also of all men, who hath portion convenient in that first resurrection, with David, Magdalen, Zaccheus, and Peter. Happy are they which hearing the word of God, retain it in their living. For they, being renewed with the glad tidings of life, are purified by the Spirit of Christ, sanctified, and so made the temples of the Holy Ghost.
Upon such godly disposed persons, hath the second death of the soul, which is eternal damnation, no manner of power nor effectual jurisdiction.
For no damnation can be unto them which are in Christ Jesus, not walking after the flesh. Though they have been great sinners, yet shall not their sins be imputed to them. But in the resurrection of the righteous shall they rise to immortality, and be as the angels in heaven. He that hath taken from them the power of death, shall make them sure of the eternal inheritance with God.
They shall surely be the chosen priests of God the everlasting Father, and of his eternal Son Jesus Christ, which are of the first resurrection. Though they are here in the flesh, yet fight they not after the flesh; but they shall follow the governance of the Spirit, and give over their bodies for a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.
And thus shall they reign with Christ, their merciful Savior and Redeemer, for the space of the thousand years aforenamed. None other took they all that long season for their spiritual Messiah, their eternal King, their high Bishop for all, their Master, their Lord, their Guide, their Light, and the Shepherd of their souls. None other would they acknowledge but Him for their Mediator and Atonement-maker, neither Moses nor Samuel, Noah, Daniel, nor Job, John Baptist, Mary, nor Peter. He only was unto them all wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. In none other name could they find health and salvation, but alone in his. Nothing pertaineth this unto the popeís mass-sayers, for they call upon many names with, ďPray for us,Ē and are of a far other priesthood, as we have declared before. In Christís kingdom is no outward priesthood, nor sacrifice to be made for sin. For he hath with one oblation for all, fully satisfied for the sins of his elect number forever. The office of a christian man now is only to offer up himself, by the denial of himself, and by the mortification of his flesh. In the holy supper of the Lord, which is a mutual participation of his body and blood, is no new sacrifice to be made, but only a faithful remembrance to be taught of that full and perfect sacrifice that he made once for all, unless we will betray him and crucify him again. The duty of a minister in Christís congregation is with all study and diligence to labor in the holy word of God, be he bishop, priest, chaplain, pastor or preacher.
His ministration is great labor and no dignity, pain and not pride or arrogance. And having his food and raiment, he ought to require no more. < 662105 > REVELATION 21:5-8 And the omnipotent Lord which sat upon the eternal throne concluded thus with me. His Holy Spirit of promise ascertained my spirit by his heavenly word, that all these things should be true.
Behold, saith he, I will make all things fresh and new, heaven, earth, the sea, and the universal city of peace. I will deliver from all corruption. I make all pure, clean, holy, immortal, uncorrupt, impassible, clear, heavenly, spiritual, and glorious. Never more shall they be as they were before, when they were yet. old. Never more shall be eating or drinking, wining or banqueting, travailing or sleeping, or other such doings pertaining to the corruptible life. The righteous shall shine as the red fire sparks. Bright as the sun shall they be in the kingdom of their Father.
Thus hath the Lord here most marvelously described unto John, and by him unto us, the mystical sabbath of his people here, and the eternal sabbath after this life, commanding him to register it, as followeth. Much to and fro hath been among the school doctors, and is yet to this day, whether the saved multitude shall reign here upon earth with Christ, or above in heaven after the judgment day. Which is easy to be perceived, if the scriptures be truly conferred. Therefore search diligently the scriptures, for they bear witness of all truth. Christ saith in Matthew, that they shall be then as the angels are now in heaven, whose office is both to be here and there. And so much the rather that they shall be as then all one. So well shall the earth be new as the heavens. And needs it must be to some purpose. Never would Isaiah and Peter have said that righteousness should dwell in them, if they should not occupy them both. It is said here also, that the new Jerusalem shall come down from heaven; but, not so that it shall not up again. For Christís elect shall be where he is. When they shall be upon the earth, no hindrance or impediment shall they have to be also in heaven, both they being one. Such agility and perfection shall be then in their bodies as is now in the glorified body of Christ, or in the spiritual nature of the angels, which are now here, now there; and whether they are here or there, always they see God, and are never more absent from him. Many scriptures might be brought in to declare this matter more at large, but it would ask much time.
What mutual fellowship, heavenly amity, and glorious pastime will be betwixt them and the angels at that day, it far passeth all capacities to define. I counsel to man not to be curious in the search of so high mysteries as this here is one, without the fear of God, lest he, being overcome of their exceeding brightness, be thrown into most deep error and blindness of the Spirit. Rather submit your weak judgments with Paul, confessing Godís secret counsels to be unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. Seek here only to be renewed and then shall ye be sure there to find them. For there shall his servants be satisfied with the plenteousness of his house, and with the abundance of his eternal pleasures. For he hath enough for all men. He that hath a desire to know the one church from the other, and the true from the false, may here do it well by conferring them together. Let him consider by what is said heretofore, that this is holy, the other blasphemous; this is new, the other is old, for Cain was the elder brother.
This is called Jerusalem, the other confused Babylon; this came down first from heaven, the other rose out of the bottomless pit. This was soberly prepared to her spouse, the other appareled herself rashly like a harlot, for none other rule follow they but their own traditions. This hath but one husband; she hath done fornication with many kings, by many false worshippings. This for her meekness is commended of God, the other proudly boasteth herself, through holy traditions, merits, and descryings, to be a rich queen; with many such other.
And the Lord, saith St. John, which worketh all things by his only word and commandment, said thus unto me, Imprint first in thy heart what I have here showed thee, and then leave it in writing to the instruction of those that shall follow thee.
And if thou wilt know a reason why thou shalt thus do, take this strong sentence with thee. I assure thee, so truly as I am God, that the words which I have showed in this present revelation are effectually most faithful and just. In no manner of point can I break promise, nor go from the word that I have once spoken. Both heaven and earth shall pass over, but not one jot of my words shall pass unfulfilled at their times appointed. The word that goeth out of my mouth shall not return home again void, but shall both accomplish my will, and prosper in the thing I sent it for. Needful is it therefore that all men believe that I shall fulfill the covenants here promised.
Moreover the Lord said thus, to put me out of doubt, It is finished and done already. Be thou ascertained that my word is my deed. In the beginning I spake but the word, and all things were created, heaven, earth, the light, the firmament, the sun, the moon, the fowls, the fishes, the beasts, and last of all, man. Whatsoever I say, therefore, ought to be believed as now done in deed, be it to the righteous or damned; for all things are present before me. In token whereof the prophets and fathers uttered their prophecies of things to come, in the time past, for the more part, for the sure certainty of them.
And take these my words so much to be the more certain, that I, which have made those promises, have all things in my power. I am the first and the last, figuratively comprehended under Alpha and Omega, the first and the last Greek letters, as a known manner of speech to the Greeks, unto whom this revelation was first written. For no God was there before me, nor yet shall be after me. I am God from everlasting and world without end.
I am he that hath begun all things, I am he again that shall finish them. I am alone, and there is none other God but me. I slay, I quicken, I smite, I heal, I set up, I put down. Through me do kings reign, and every manís end is in my hand. Wherefore it is reason that they have recourse unto me. I am that fresh Fountain which Isaiah speaketh of, most highly necessary to them that will live. Very liberal shall he find me that seeketh me in faith.
To him that is athirst or desirous of righteousness will I give to drink of the plenteous well-spring of the wholesome waters of life. And that will I do freely, without price or payment, either of masses or merits, dead suffrages or deservings. Lay out your money no more for the thing that feedeth not; spend no more travail about the thing that helpeth not. Come unto me all you that labor and are loaden, and I shall refresh you. So desirously seek unto me your God as the hart seeketh to the brooks of water. For with me is the well of life everlasting, with my pleasant rivers shall I content your good appetites.
The water of this fountain is the verity and sweetness of Christís Spirit, refreshing the soul here with hope, and there with life everlasting. In this life is felt but a taste of it, in the world to come shall the thirst be satisfied.
Here is it but in heart springing up toward life, there shall it be in full course and never fail. Here are obtained but small drops of it, there shall it be had in full plenteousness. The philosophers for their wisdom, and the physicians for their cunning, look for great rewards. The buyers and sellers in the temple set their wares at a great price, yet are they but stinking waters, and not able to restrain the thirst. But this is free without payment, through Christ, and containeth health in abundance. Not our good works, saith St. Augustine, but his own free gifts doth God crown in us. This must be sought; for only shall he obtain it that thirsteth after it.
Only shall he have theft asketh, and he find that seeketh. He that hath done as a christian warrior, to fight against the devil of these darknesses, and so manfully doth his part, that by faith he overcometh him, and hath the full victory over him in Christ, he shall be sure to possess all these things, heaven, earth, the new Jerusalem, the living waters, and to have his full desire in the joys to come. Wonderful is this promise. No king nor emperor, priest nor prelate, Turk nor Soldan, can grant such wages. But who shall obtain them? None other than fighteth lawfully, working according to the rules and examples of faith. Neither he that masseth nor censeth, processioneth nor holy-watereth, nor yet he that buildeth churches. For these works the scripture commandeth not.
Besides this promised reward, saith the Lord here, I will be his God indeed, according to my former covenant, and he shall be unto me as mine own son. So loving will I be to him as the mother is to the babe born of her body, whom she can never forget. So merciful as the natural father, that pitieth his own children at the very heart. Example by the unworthy lost child, whom I both lovingly received, and sweetly embraced in mine arms.
Yea, I both clothed him and fed him with the best, as a son full dear unto me. And of this let him be sure which hath me for his father, that I shall give him Christ to be his brother, and with him all things necessary, constituting him my perpetual heir. This fatherly covenant was plain unto my servant David, for whom I set up mercy forever.
But far otherwise will I do by the other sort, which neither will seek the living waters, nor have desire to the scriptures, nor yet keep the hold I have put them to, which is their christian profession, but cowardly leave it unto the enemies, the serpent, the beast, and the false prophet. As are these which follow here in their course. First of all the fearful cowards or falsehearted christians, whom the Holy Ghost calleth here before neither hot nor cold. At a time they believe, but when any trouble cometh, they go wholly from it. These doubt the loss of their goods, the hindrance of their names, and the harm of their bodies, and so are they not worthy of Christ.
These trust not in the Lord, as Sion, which never removeth.
Next are the unfaithful hypocrites, which neither believe the promises, nor yet fear the threatenings of the Lord. These make Godís commandments of no value for their own traditions. With beggarly ceremonies clog they the people, and as the blind they lead the blind into the ditch. Neither will these enter into the kingdom of God, nor yet suffer others to enter. Such were the pharisees and sadducees, with our monks, canons, and friars, succeeding in their wicked examples.
After them followed the cursed obstinates, and abominable blasphemers, who knowing the verity, do not only abhor it, but also with most spiteful cruelness persecute it. These are the swine that tread pearls in the mire, and the dogs that turn again to devour. Impossible is it for these again to be renewed to repentance, thus casting behind them the graces of the Spirit so freely offered them. Such were Annas and Caiaphas, with our execrated (Romish) bishops, suffragans, canons, parsons, vicars, with all the priests of the same wicked zeal.
The unpitiful murderers are also the same blood-thirsty prelates, those Cains, and these boisterous Nimrods that never will be satisfied with the slaughter of innocents. No cruel antichrist after John Wickliffís time did so spitefully persecute the verity of Christ in England, as did Philip Reppingdon, made then of a false brother or perjured christian, bishop of Lincoln. F144 The grand captain of this mad muster is the proud bishop of Rome, the preposterous vicar of the Lamb, and the unworthy successor of Peter, in that he hath not yet put up his sword. Of the same sort also are all those cruel princes and unmerciful magistrates that apply their authorities, powers, and offices, unto the same mischief. Such deceitful raveners and abominable blood-shedders the merciful Lord abhorreth evermore. Of this number was Pharaoh and Herod, and innumerable tyrants since, which to rehearse in order were too long.
The filthy whoremongers are those holy spiritual Ammonites which have consecrated themselves unto Moloch in the fire of fleshly concupiscence.
Forever have they forsworn godly marriage, to make daily sacrifice to the devil in carnal filthiness. The most highly esteemed virtue of that generation is to have no wives. Never commanded I such filthy vows, saith the Lord, neither came it ever in my thought to make Judah sin with such abomination. For the oft breaking of their oath, profession, and vow, it is no matter, so longí as they make the reckoning among themselves.
Innumerable is the swarm of these lecherous locusts of Egypt; every where are their fruits seen all the world over.
Some expositors take the sorcerers here mentioned, for them that with charms and subtle witchcraft deceive the people; and some suppose them to be such as have practiced poisons to destroy men with; and both may be well. For never were Pharaohís conjurors nor Jezebelís apothe. caries more expert than these are in their daily feats to destroy both bodies and souls.
Wonderful are their practices both ways all the chronicles over. Mark the leger-demain of Anastasius II, Silvester II, Boniface VIII, Benedict IX, with Hildebrand, and such other, besides Barochius and Simon Magus in the scripture. Mark also how John XXIII, caused Marsilius, a physician of Parma, to poison his predecessor called Alexander V, with many more of that practice, as mentioneth Baptista Panencius.
The idolaters are they that worship after any other sort than the Lord hath taught and commanded in the scriptures; or that believe in any other than in God, which will have his glory given to none other. Not that shalt thou do, saith he, that seemeth good in thy sight, but that I command thee, that do only, neither making it more nor yet less. Of this sort are they that observe days and months, times and years, in bondage. So are all they which pray to the saints departed, offer to images, kiss the relics, hear mass without understanding, worship their sacrament, as they call it, in their massings and processions, with such other abominable superstitions.
And finally, the unshamefaced liars are they which minister errors in hypocrisy, forbidding both marriage and meats, and telling that Christ is here and there, so blemishing the christian religion. They are also those blasphemers which call the scriptures heresy, and slanderously report of the poor favorers thereof. These are the natural children of the devil. Such a one was Tertullus the orator that accused Paul of sedition, and so were the bishops and priests that gave wages unto the soldiers, after Christís resurrection, to say that his disciples had stolen him away by night. All these, with such other execrable sects, saith the Lord unto John, shall have their just portion in the foul stinking lake, that horribly foameth with filthy fire and brimstone. With the devil and his angels shall they dwell for ever.
Thus the wicked, saith David, for neglecting their Lord God, are turned into hell with perpetual confusion. The fiery flood that shall go before the judge will swallow them up wholly.
And this is without fail the second death, or damnation, both of soul and body. The perpetual shame and reproof as Daniel calleth it, that shall never be recovered. Not only the abominable homicides, idolaters, and whoremongers, shall have this reward, but also the faint-hearted hypocrites, the unfaithful sorcerers, and the execrable liars, with all their affinity. < 662201 > REVELATION 22:1,2.
And the angel, saith St. John, or gracious purpose of the Lord, which communed with me all this time to bring me yet into a farther knowledge of his mysteries, showed unto me a most pure and commodious river, which was the wholesome water of life. None other can I suppose this river to be by the search of the scriptures, bat the flowing verity, the word of salvation, or the effectual doctrine of Christís holy Spirit. That is the sweet flood of Eden which pleasantly flows through paradise, and visits the four quarters of the world. This is that wholesome and delectable water, which daily comforts and preserves the spiritual Jerusalem from all contagious maladies. This running flood, with his rivers on every side, rejoices the city of God, the habitation of the Highest.
All full of quickness is it, springing into the life everlasting. Here it is the spiritual comfort of Godís children there it shall be the inestimable glory of the saints. To whom shall we go, Lord, saith Peter, but unto thee, for thou only hast the words of eternal life?
Clear is this water as the pure crystal that is without spot. Much farther from corruption is the sincere word of God than is the fine silver that is seven times tried in the fire. The laws of the Lord are perfect and quicken the soul; his testimonies are true, giving wisdom to babes; his statutes are right, rejoicing the heart; his precepts are pure, giving sight to the eyes; and his judgments are altogether righteous.
The nature of this water is none other but evermore to cleanse, evermore to revive, and evermore to make whole and perfect. For only doth it issue from the majesty of God, it proeeedeth out from the sempiternal F145 throne of the Father, and so floweth forth in the plenteous abundance of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and of his godly Spirit. With him is the well of everlasting life. They that walk in his light shall be free from darkness forever. They shall throughly enjoy the abundance of those things that his house is full of, and he shall give them drink out of the full flowing river of his eternal pleasures. I will pour clear water upon you, saith the Lord, in Ezekiel, and ye shall be clean from all filthiness; a new heart will I give you; a new spirit will I plant in you, and so cleanse you from all your idols.
Rejoice with Jerusalem, all you that love her; for ye shall suck comfort out of her breasts and be satisfied. They that have sown in heaviness, shall reap in perpetual gladness. From the Father and the Son proceeded the Holy Ghost, as a clear crystal river, neither created nor begotten, to refresh this chosen city. So that much more understanding, light, and knowledge it hath, than had the old synagogue of the Jews, which was thereof but a shadow. Yet is it comparably far from what that shall be in the durable life to come, being as yet thereto but a figure. For, as witnesseth Paul, our knowledge is now imperfect, and our prophesying imperfect; but when that cometh which is perfect, then that which is imperfect shall be done away.
Here is it also to be considered, that the Lamb is equal with God, they both having but one seat, Moreover it is in the midst of the golden street of this beautiful city, which comprehends the spiritual children of Abraham, couched together in the unity of one tried faith.
And upon either sides of the sweet river, which are the two testaments of the Lord, was standing the most delectable Tree of life, Jesus Christ, that Mediator and Father which giveth life to the world. Out of the stock of Abraham and David sprang this tree after the flesh, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of Mary the virgin, who was also a golden stone of this street. Blessed art thou, saith Elizabeth, for thy beliefís sake; for in thee is performed the full promise of the Lord. This is that tree which was planted by the waterside, and gave forth fruit at the time appointed. As the tree of life was set in the midst of paradise at the beginning, so is he now spiritually grounded in the midst of his church, which is his garden of pleasure. Behold, saith Christ, I am with you, every day, unto the worldís end.
Marvel not that the tree is here called wood, for it is the custom and manner of the Hebrews to put the one for the other. Both is this tree in the midst of the street, and also upon either side of the river. For Christ is both known of his faithful multitude, and comprehended in the scriptures. David acknowledged himself to be a pure stone of this golden street, when he said, My humbled soul hath cleaved or fastened to the pavement, quicken thou me, Lord, according to thy word. So did king Hezekiah when he was revived again. And so did Elias when he, under the juniper tree, desired to die, with many other more. Between both testaments arose Christ, performing the old, and beginning the new. He bordereth also to this day upon them both, for they both bear large and plenteous witness of him.
If that soil be fortunate which bringeth forth fruits twice in the year, most happy and blessed is the ground of this city; for the living tree thereof is never barren, bare, nor idle. Not only doth it bear twelve manner of fruits of inestimable wholesomeness, betokening the universal graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost, but also it giveth them forth every month in the year, or evermore without ceasing. Every month hath there both its summer and its winter. Every lifetime of them which are of this congregation hath here both his sweet consolation in the spirit, and also his hard persecution in the flesh. Else is it not of Christís kingdom, which is the destroyer of death, and ministereth life at his pleasure. In this tree is the original ground of life.
He is the very life of all them that live unto God. In him only they consist, they move, and they have their continual being. His branches are the holy prophets and apostles, and the evangelists and martyrs, with all other godly preachers and teachers, evermore green and pleasant in their conversation and doctrine. I am the true vine, saith he, and you are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit. Christ sent them out as branches, and spread the world over with them, to bring forth fruit that should not perish. And that every month, from age to age, and from time to time continually. For still are the true believers fed with the apostlesí fruitful doctrine, and shall be to the end of the world. Therewith are their souls refreshed, in their great manifold sorrows and labors. A singular comfort it is unto them to consider Godís sweet promises, and to remember what a loving Father they have of him, through Jesus Christ their only Mediator and Savior.
Most abundantly feel they themselves satisfied, when they are ascertained thoroughly by the scriptures, that they are predestinate, called, saved, sanctified, and shall be hereafter glorified by him. Whereas, contrariwise, the desperate infidels are much discomforted, considering themselves blinded, condemned, judged, and reproved. Twelve are these fruits here called, which is a perfect and full complete number, comprehending the universal graces of the Spirit contained in all the scriptures. As are the fear of God, the poverty of soul, the cleanness of heart, compassion upon the needy, desire of righteousness, mercy, gentleness, quietness, sufferance, wisdom, understanding, counsel, perseverance, knowledge, prudence, force, justice, temperance, with those that Paul numbereth to the Galatians, and innumerable virtues besides. Some expositors will this twelve to signify that none can be saved unless he be of the twelve children of Israel in spirit, and so walk according to the doctrine of Christís twelve apostles. But I am contented with what is said before, being more agreeable to the text.
Such leaves had this wholesome tree as were for the health of the people, good, necessary, and medicinable. Such profitable words and promises hath Christ as are spirit and life, power of salvation, and everlasting health.
These leaves of his can in no wise wither away, and whatsoever he doth by them it shall wonderfully prosper. He sent forth his wholesome word, saith David, and so healed them; he delivered them from all evils wherewith they were oppressed. As these words are sincerely taught, the benefits of our redemption are brought into remembrance. So is the conscience quieted, and the heart made glad. So rejoiceth the soul, and giveth perpetual thanks unto God the Father. So are the Gentiles thoroughly made whole, acknowledging Christ for their only Savior and Redeemer.
Thus, after Ezekiel, are these fruits good to eat, and their leaves profitable for medicines. As the leaves are the beauty of a tree, and preserve the fruit, so is the true preaching of the Lordís verity, the comeliness of his church, and preservation of the same. And not the oilings, shavingís, and disguisings, nor yet the lordships, mitres, and masses. A light thing is the word of God written or spoken, as is the leaf also of a tree. But if his Spirit worketh in it, then is it a thing most precious, effectual and strong, compared of Christ to a mustard seed, which groweth into a great tree.
Above all things, saith Zorobabel, the verity is most strong; for that is the Lordís eternal will, which never shall be altered. F146 < 662203 > REVELATION 22:3-5.
And concerning the before-named city or worthy congregation of the Lord, the curse that the earth had in the work of Adam shall clearly be taken from it. Never more, from henceforth, shall therein be any thing that God is not pleased with; for Christ hath redeemed her from the curse of the law, sustaining the penalty thereof to make her innocent. So that now there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, following the doctrine of the Spirit. If painful adversity, loss of goods, detriment of rhine, sickness, persecution of body, or arty other troublous cross happeneth, it is evermore for the best to them that are faithful. Perfectly shall these be taken away, with all the corrupt fruits of Adam, in the regeneration, when to their glory both heaven and earth shall be blessed, and all that is cursed thrown into the lake of everlasting fire.
And for a more sure token that this will be true, the high seat of God the Eternal Father, and of the Lamb Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, one Lord almighty in three personages, shall be continually therein. In the house of Jacob shall he reign evermore, and of his kingdom shall be none end. Among them will he fix his dwelling-place here which love him and observe his commandments; and there will he not be separated from them, but be still their eternal God. Moreover, as his true servants, here shall they worship him in spirit and in verity, and serve him in sincere faith, performing such godly works as he hath prescribed unto them, and not such as menís fantasies have dreamed. They shall so mortify their old man, destroying the body of sin, that no longer shall he obey the concupiscence, nor become a captive servant unto wickedness here. But now, delivered from sin, they shall put on a new man, which is rightly fashioned of God, and so become his servants in righteousness. And in the world to come they shall serve him, according to the knowledge that they shall have then, which now is incomprehensible and unspeakable.
Having the spirit of Christ, they shall here see his face of salvation in the mirror of faith, which is to have knowledge of his Godhead. And after this life they shall behold him in glory, like as he is indeed, much more perfectly than did Jacob, who saw him face to face. Moreover, so shall these his servants respect his visage, that whatsoever they do here, in word or in deed, they shall do it with all godly fear, lowliness, and reverence, always thinking he beholds their deeds.
They shall also perceive his glorious name to be written in their foreheads, or registered in their faith, feeling the sweetness thereof in their salvation.
Besides that, not only shall they confess God with their mouth, but also in their outward conversation shall they daily appear as his faithful servants and children. And as concerning the glorious day, by that name then shall one know another to be a free citizen of heaven. Consider, saith St. John, how lovingly the Father doth use us. Not only here do we bear the name of his children, but also there shall we be sure to be his sons indeed.
No manner of night, or darkness of human doctrine, shall appear any more in that city. But, having Christ and his verity, all unprofitable doubts, fantasies, errors, lies, and false miracles shall these citizens detest here.
And after this life no such matters are to be looked for, all things then being clear and perfect. Though they sometime were darkness, yet are they now light in the Lord, and will walk still therein as the children thereof, till they come to the God of gods, in the everlasting Zion.
Nor yet of the material sun which ministereth light to the day, by whom is meant the high science of philosophers, conceived of the creatures above, without faith. Those foreign lights may his ministers well use, but truly his church needeth them not, having much better of Christ and of his apostles than they are. Very dark lights are they where his bright beams once appear, who is the clear Sun of righteousness. Abominable lies and errors did he prove the high learning of the bishops and lawyers to be, as he doth yet prove their decrees and laws, their school divinities and sentences, their ordinary questions and quodlibets.
All these offensive mists set apart, the merciful Lord above, which is the omnipotent God, giveth them a light sufficient. His eternal Son is to them such a clear shining cresset, F147 as no great blast can extinguish, nor cloud with dark shadow blemish. Of most tender mercy sent he that Day-spring from above, to direct their feet here in the way of his peace. And after this laborious pilgrimage, in the sabbath of perpetual quiet, shall he enlighten them thoroughly with his most glorious presence, and with him shall they reign for ever and ever, in full felicity, and glory continuing. In this life beginneth the kingdom through faith, but there shall it be performed in the perfect sight of the Godhead. The proud reign of tyrants is here but for a time, the less is it to be feared. The meek reign of the righteous continueth for ever, therefore the more is it to be sought for and desired. The fruits that are here very hard and sour unto them, shall there be inestimably sweet, gentle, beautiful, perfect, and pleasant, having their full ripeness. No need shall it be then to run by sea and land for the wisdom, power, and glory of Christ, for in that day shall they be with every one present. Here have they but little petty beams of the light, very small drops of the water, and a smell of the fruits afar off. Likelihoods, figures, and mysteries only have they now of the beatitude to come. But there shall they be sure to have them in full sight, taste, and savor, and plenteously to be satisfied with them. Scarcely is it here in comparison to that it shall be there, as one drop of water to the whole sea, or as a handful of sand is to the whole earth. < 662211 > REVELATION 22:11-13.
Contrariwise, consider his exceeding great mercy towards them that are godly, whom he diversely afflicteth in this life, lest they should perish with the wicked. My pleasure is it, saith he here, that the man which is faithful, righteous, and good, shall increase evermore therein, and so continually be righteous. I shall so temper their hearts that have love to my truth, that they shall love it more and more. Yea, I shall so therein strengthen them, that for no persecution of tyrants shall they forsake it.
So will I order the matter among my elect, that he which is holy, pure, and perfect, leading a life according to my word, he shall persevere in it still, and be perfect unto the end, that he may enjoy the crown thereof. Neither shall seducing hypocrisy, nor yet perverting antichrist, with all their subtle charms and gins, be able to bring them out of that way which leadeth unto life. By this, we may see that the verity preached, even Christ, is unto some a falling, unto some a rising up again. Unto some is his godly doctrine a sweet savor unto life, and unto some an ill savor unto death. The gospel is foolishness to them that shall perish, but unto them that believe it is such a power of God as bringeth salvation with it. The faithful, by hearing it, wax more godly. The indiscreet hypocrites contemn the grace thereof. So that the one sort is thereby made better, and increased in virtue, the other is made worse, and followeth all mischiefs. In him that hath faith shall all other graces of the Spirit abound, and in him that hath it not, shall no gift of virtue arise to his soulís profit.
Let men take heed if they will, and give diligent watch and attendance; for truly, saith the Lord, I will come suddenly and unawares upon the unfaithful, none other warning given but this and such other in the scriptures, take them if they will. Necessary it is that every man walk according to his vocation, both prince and preacher, lord and commoner, merchant and artificer. For when I shall resort, be certain and sure of it, my just reward shall come with me, which is both life and death.
Let no man reckon otherwise to find me, than a most righteous Judge, rendering unto every one at that day, according as his works shall appear, and as his deeds shall require of righteousness. Neither shall suffrages F148 nor church building, pilgrimages nor mass ringing, holy orders, nor yet assoiling, F149 stand in any stead at that day. Only shall they find mercy that have been merciful, all others perishing without mercy. No man shall there be rewarded for works of menís prescription, be they ever so holy, but for that which hath risen of faith in Godís word only. Neither shall they have that of descryings, as work-preachers have taught, but only of grace and favor, for Christís blood sake. For unprofitable servants are we of ourselves, when we have done all that hath been commanded us. No better is our whole righteousness, when it is at the highest, than is the cloth that is stained with filth, nor more pleasant unto God, were it not for Him. Let no man think to be saved through deserving, no more than he is justified of deserving. Only is it the merciful favor and free goodness of Him, without our paltry merits, that shall save us. Not our good works, saith St.
Augustine, but his own mere gifts doth the Lord crown in us.
This hath the Lord put here as a brief conclusion, comprehending his whole mind in this Revelation, concerning the righteous and unrighteous. Believe this necessary doctrine, saith the Lord Jesus Christ, for I which have told it here unto you, am, under the mystery of Alpha and Omega, the first and the last Greek letters, the original Beginning of all things, and perfect End of the same. I am that mighty Word of God, though I appear now in this nature, in whom he created all, and by whom he shall perform and finish all to that end they were created for.
I am the First, in that I am in one Godhead equal with the Father, and with the Holy Ghost. I am also the Last, in that I shall so continue, world without end. I am He, before whom there was never any God, neither shall there be any after me. I am only the Lord, for I am from everlasting. In token whereof: I have told you both things that are past, and things yet to come. Under this strange figure, or similitude of Alpha and Omega, which is a common allegory used of the Greeks, is always to be understood the eternal Divinity in Christís manhood. Which is here, as are many other things else, oftimes repeated, of none other purpose, but as most necessary cause to be had in remembrance. < 662216 > REVELATION 22:16,17.
Consequently, if ye covet, saith the Lord, to know surely whence this doctrine doth come, and who is the chief author thereof, be you thoroughly ascertained that I, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, have directed forth mine Angel, which is the Spirit of truth, or the Holy Ghost whom I promised to witness here manifestly unto you, by my dear disciple John, these wonderful things hereafter to befall in the christian congregations.
Think not that the contents of this book are either of John, or yet of any other man that ever was here living, for neither hath he learned them of prophet nor holy father: but, by my only revelation or showing, who am the eternal Spouse of the church, hath he received them to their singular health and comfort.
And, as concerning me, without fail I am the original Root or ground of salvation in David, after the word; and after the flesh I am of his stock or generation. For in me are fulfilled all promises of health that ever God made for that faithful household. By me, David had his beginning, for I made him; and by me, shall he and all other true Israelites in him, have for ever a glorious continuance, for I saved them in that flesh.
To all them which walk after Davidís faith, am I the bright Morning-star of grace, removing the filthy clouds of error; I am the shining clearness of godly understanding, finishing the dark night of ignorance. I bring with me the day of mercy, health, and righteousness, and the sabbath of full reconciliation to God. I give light to them that sit in darkness, directing their filet in the pathway of peace.
For my word is spirit and verity, resurrection and life. And whereas it shineth in the hearts of mortal men, it maketh them the children of light. To seek unto this necessary light, the eternal Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, daily moveth and provoketh, by many inward callings upon, saying always, Come with a sincere faith. Draw nigh unto me and be enlightened, and your frail consciences shall never be confounded. Resort unto him, all you that are loaden, and he shall refresh you. The bride or congregation of the Lord, thus taught, stirred, and urged forward of his Spirit, saith also in her heart evermore with a fervent desire, O, come, my most delectable Spouse and Lord Jesus Christ, my health, joy, and sweetness. Apply that the immortal glory of the chosen children of God may be seen of all creatures, iniquity condemned for ever. Accomplish the marriage appointed from the worldís beginning. Permit that prepared spouse, with her appointed number, to enter into thy eternal tabernacle of rest.
Moreover, saith the Lord, whatsoever they are that shall hear and believe this prophecy, let them desire the consummation thereof, and so conform themselves unto Christ and his church, saying also, Come, most merciful Savior and Redeemer, and fulfill the godly promises of this book, to the eternal comfort of man. Make haste to the judgment seat, for full deliverance of the whole chosen number, that thy servants may be where thou art, in perfect glory and joy.
Finally, let him, saith the Lord, that in faith is athirst, or that hath in him a desire to be saved, haste himself forward and come also. Let him only believe; for the plenteous fountains of the living waters mentioned before, are withholden from no servant of God. Nothing is denied unto him that asketh in faith. In prayer are all spiritual commodities granted. Whosoever, therefore, hath a will conformable to Godís will, let him take freely, without price or payment, without satisfaction or merit, the pleasant water of the life for ever, refreshing his soul in the plenteousness thereof.
Of grace and favor is salvation in Christ laid for thee; here is only required a will to seek for it. Not that it shall so be deserved, for neither is it of him that willeth, nor yet of him that runneth; but that gracious Lord which calleth men to these waters, putteth into them a stomach-thirst, and a desire to covet them. Yea, he ministereth strength to the seeking of them, lest some of the glory thereof should remain unto their deservings, and not all to his mercy alone. Thus standeth the doctrine of our work-braggers void, which neither feedeth nor satisfieth, considering that not for our righteous doings, but alone for his own mercyís sake hath he saved us. < 662218 > REVELATION 22:18-21.
As my duty is, saith St. John, to premonish beforehand, I faithfully protest by this my present testimony, unto all those men that shall hereafter receive the words of this wonderful prophecy, here written in this book, either by reading or hearing, that ifí any of them shall presumptuously take upon him to add any thing thereunto, in purpose to pervert the truth, or contrary to the Holy Ghostís meaning, as Carpocras, Ebion, Cerinthus, and other antichrists have done with the other scriptures, be certain and sure of it, that the eternal God, from whom nothing can be hid, shall add unto him for so doing, the most terrible and woeful plagues rehearsed before in this work.
That is to say, he shall suffer him to run into most deep errors, and give him over for ever into the sin against the Holy Ghost, whereupon all other plagues of damnation depend. Ye shall put nothing, saith the Lord, unto the word that I have given you, neither shall ye take any thing from it. Put thou nothing unto his sayings, (saith Solomon,) of thine own imagination, lest he reprove thee for a damnable liar.
Nothing is this against those, who by the other scriptures and histories do expound this Revelation, to make it to their understanding more plain. For then should St. Augustine, St. Jerome, Isidore, Bede, Rabanus, and divers other great pillars of the church, be under the plagues for doing that charitable office. So should also the doctrine of this book be against itself in the thirteenth chapter, where liberty is given to him that hath wisdom, to count the number of the beast, and in other places else. But this is here spoken of them that corrupt the text to maintain their blasphemous lies for advantage, or that seek to blemish the right sense thereof, lest men should behold them in their right colors; as the wicked papists have done ever since their beginning, so drowning the authority and majesty thereof Moreover, saith St. John, if any mortal man shall presume to diminish the words contained in this heavenly prophecy, unreverently so controlling the wisdom of God, the said omnipotent God, and revenger of all ungodliness, shall clearly wipe away his portion out of the book of life, so that he shall be none of their number which are predestinated to the glory of his children. Neither shall such be allowed for citizens, with saints, in the holy congregation of his new Jerusalem, nor yet be accepted for his household servants, enjoying sweet commodities mentioned in this book, as pertaining to his peculiar people. Like as the beautiful tree of life, with his manifold fruits and leaves of wholesomeness; the sweet running river of the living waters, and the holy city, are sufficiently described before, with such other else.
None that contendeth for a mastery, saith Paul, shall be crowned, unless he contend lawfully. Arius took away from the tenth of John this sentence, ďI and the Father are one.Ē Photinus added this clause to the gospel, as a voice from the Father, ďI give unto Jesus his original of Mary.Ē And their intents were to destroy our faith concerning Christís Godhead, like as the papists do also seek to destroy our justification in his blood, unless we have their vile masses and merits. A like abjuration to this hath Ireneus, in the end of his Octonary, requiring all them that shall copy out that book, to do it truly, as they will answer it before God their righteous Judge. In like case doth St. Jerome, before the abbreviations of Eusebiusís chronicle, command that in any wise the verity thereof be diligently preserved.
In confirmation of that I have said before, saith St. John, the eternal Son of God, who hath ratified these former things with his mighty word, saith here also, as one subscribing to it, Yea, it is so; or else thus, Like as thou hast said, John, shall these blasphemers hereafter find it, that presume either to add or diminish from these scriptures for any carnal purpose, And to perform that promise of thine, I will not long tarry. I come by and by to reward the wicked with swift damnation, for not believing the truth. For now are the last days, the ends of the world, yea, the very last hour. Ready is the Lord, saith St. Peter, to judge the quick and dead, and the end of all things is at hand.
St. John, hearing this of his merciful Lord and Savior, lifted up his head and hands towards heaven; and as one desirous of the performance of Godís appointed will, and of the full deliverance of the faithful, he said, Amen; or, Be it fulfilled in effect. For that is the thing which my soul daily desireth and inwardly coveteth, to the full manifestation of thy glorious kingdom.
Oh! come, most merciful Redeemer and gracious Lord Jesus Christ, to judge the universal world. Come, Come, or hie thee hither apace, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the lambs from the goats, to bring them into thy eternal tabernacle. Woe is me that my banishment endureth so long. I, dwelling in the tabernacles of the sorrowful. My soul hath a thirsty desire for God, the fountain of life! Oh when shall I come and behold his face? Like are we to those faithful servants, which wait for the return of their Lord from the wedding, very ready to open at his knocking.
The grace of our merciful Lord Jesus Christ, saith St. John, whereby cometh salvation to them that truly believe, be with you all, so many as are of that godly expectation and desire. Or the favor, mercy and acceptation of God the Father, through his blessed death, evermore preserve you in the unity of his godly Spirit, that ye may hereafter, in this holy city, be partakers of his glorious heritage in the world to come.
Let all them say Amen unto this, which mind the glory of the Lord unfeignedly. So be it.
A CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE WORK.
Here hast thou, good christian reader, to thy soulís consolation, from the eternal Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct Persons in one everlasting Godhead, the universal estate of the church from Christís ascension to the end of the world, in wonderful mysteries described, and directed unto thee of Him, by the most holy apostle and evangelist Saint John. Wherein it is fully, by all due circumstances manifested of the said Holy Ghost, what the innocent christian church is, with all her justifications and blessings, to the singular comfort of the Lordís true elect. And what the proud synagogue of antichrist is, with her filthy superstitions and plagues, to their forewarning also. This is specially done here of the Holy Ghost, that no true believer should profess himself a citizen of this wretched world, with Cain, Nimrod, and other reprobate vessels, at the execrable doctrine of men; but at the pure voice of God, with Abel and Abraham, to seek for that heavenly heritage which is purchased for them in Christís blood. Mark here the condition of John, being in most painful exile, for he, in mystery, through all these books, representeth every godly believer. By this shall ye well know in this revelation the one church from the other; for the one is maintained only by the preaching of Godís pure word, the other by all kinds of Jewish ceremonies, and heathenish superstitions. And by this they also differ, that Christ would have all of love; antichrist of tyrannous constraint, as evidently appeareth in Mahomet and the pope. For that only cause are many necessary things here written in mystery, that they should be hid from the worldly wise hypocrites, and that the just, or Godís meek spirited servants, should ask them of their Lord in faith and prayer. In the which daily prayer, is that most worthy minister of God, king Edward the sixth, before all other to be remembered, who hath so sorely wounded the beast, that he may throw all his superstition into the bottomless lake again, from whence they have come, to the comfort of his people. The grace and peace directed from God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, in the beginning of this revelation, be unto all them which unfeignedly love his verity. Amen.
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