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gate of all persons not Jews or Christians, (Webster.*) In the first case, the nations, as separate and independent political powers, represent corresponding separate and distinct spiritual powers-so many powers of the earth, or, as we suppose, of the system or economy represented by the earth. In the last case, the term Gentiles would be supposed to express the aggregate power of all principles opposed to the Economy of Grace. The result is nearly the same: the nations, as a figure, corresponding with the tribes of the earth; and the Gentiles, as we ordinarily understand the term, corresponding, as a figure, with the inhabitants of the earth both representing the collected power of earthly, anti-evangelical principles arrayed against the truth, but finally brought into subjection to it.
81. If the nations or Gentiles, whether in the aggregate or as distinct bodies, be considered a figure of something opposite to that which is represented by the Jewish people, then we are to associate with this idea of anti-evangelical, or hostile principles, the peculiar character of uncircumcision in a spiritual sense; elements of self-righteous doctrine being figuratively spoken of as human beings, vainly depending upon their own moral goodness, or upon something meritorious in themselves, as a covering of their guilt, and as a shelter from the wrath to come. Whether we view the nations as saving powers of divers earthly systems, or the Gentiles as the saving power of the earthly system; they both belong to the same uncircumcised class of self-righteous elements, opposed to that system of grace, by which God alone can have the glory of man's salvation. These all, however, are to be manifested as subordinate, and subject to the overruling, overcoming principle: the principle of salvation through grace (ó riz☎r) being manifested to predominate over every other; that is, to have power over the Gentiles or nations.
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron,'-despotically-an ascendancy admitting of no dispute, either as to right or as to power-something irresistible; as the principle of sovereign grace sets aside every other principle. God is a sovereign-He has a right to do as he pleases with his own, and every thing is his; He gives freely, and when he does so, the question of merit does not at all come under consideration. The rod of iron, we suppose to be the revealed word, in its proper sense.
82. As the vessel of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.'— Strange language this, if to be applied to human beings, from the mouth of Him who came "not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." The nations in the sight of the Most High are but as grasshoppers-man is but
* This lexicographer supposes the term Gentile to be derived from the Latin gentilis, civilized. But it is certainly much more easy to trace it directly from the root gens, gentis, plural gentes-nations in general.
a worm. God sendeth forth his Spirit, and the inhabitants of the earth are created, in the order of their generation; He withdraweth his Spirit, and they return to their dust. Literally, generation after generation of nations has been broken in pieces, since the utterance of this declaration; but this we do not suppose to be the subject under contemplation.
The figure here employed—the vessels of a potter-reminds us of the illustration given to the prophet, (Jeremiah xviii. 2–4,) "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." And now, says another prophet, (Is. lxiv. 8,) “O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter: and we are all the work of thy hand." "Hath not the potter power over the clay?" says an apostle, (Rom. ix. 21,) or, as the Most High himself expresses it, (Jer. xviii. 6,) in the passage just now quoted-"O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand."
The house of Israel, we suppose to be put typically for the Legal Dispensation; a figure exhibiting what may be called the first experiment of the plan of salvation. Here was the first potter's vessel: it was marred—it proved to be insufficient-it was destroyed, broken into pieces, as the sovereign Maker had a perfect right to do with it; while in the economy of grace he makes another in its place, as it seemed good to him. The breaking of these nations into pieces, by the rod of iron, corresponds with the sovereign action of the potter in destroying the first vessel, and making a new one. The legal dispensation is set aside-its elements* are destroyed, broken in pieces-and this by the irresistible action of the principle of sovereign grace. The marred vessel, intended only for a temporary purpose, is broken to pieces, and a new one is formed. Here there is despotism; but it is the despotism of divine mercy. There is nothing here inconsistent with the character of Him, who came to seek and to save them that were lost. The enemies of the sinner's soul, and not the sinner himself, are thus broken into shivers, at least in the apocalyptic sense.
83. As I have received of my Father.'-This carries us back to the remarkable passage, Ps. ii. 8, 9, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Or, as it is expressed in the Septua
* That is, the elements of self-righteousness peculiar to the legal system,—the house of Israel, as a figure, in the prophecy, being equivalent to the nations of the Apocalypse.-See Romans ii. 28, "He is not a Jew," &c.
gint, δώσω σοι ἔθνητὴν κληρονομίαν σου, καὶ τὴν κατάσχεσίν σου τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς, ποιμανεῖς* αὐτοὺς ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ, ὡς σκεῦος κεραμέως συντρίψεις αὐτούς:—the word rendered nations in the Apocalyse, being the same in the Septuagint as that translated the heathen in our version of the Psalms ;-the nations, gentiles, or heathen, being understood to be something in contradistinction to the Jews, or to the chosen people of God; and both passages being susceptible of the same spiritual understanding.
The words-even as I received of my Father—are supposed to be immediately connected in sense with the latter part of the 26th verse, the intermediate matter being thrown into parenthesis. Whether this be so or not is immaterial, if the construction just given to the passage be correct. We have no occasion for supposing the disciple, still less every disciple, to possess power over the nations in a literal sense; and still less, that he is to exercise this power, by breaking these nations, over whom he is placed, into pieces. We must take the whole passage to refer to the ultimate predominance of a certain principle of evangelical truth, over a multitude of opposing errors. However defective our mode of analysis may be, the result, we think, cannot vary far from the true meaning of the passage.
'And I will give him the morning-star.'-We find, at the conclusion of the book, Rev. xxii. 16, that Jesus Christ expressly declares himself to be the bright and morning star. The promise of the speaker is thus to give himself to the overcoming principle. The giving of the star, however, may, by a figure of speech, be the giving of the benefit-the general influence of the star; as it is said, apparently in allusion to the same star, the star of day, or day-star, (Mal. iv. 2,) " And to you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." The disciple, in the exercise of faith, in his heart or mind, perceives the day to dawn and the day-star to arise, in proportion as he is enabled to appropriate this sun or star to himself, as the Lord his righteousness.
In the apocalyptic sense, however, we do not suppose it to be the dis
лoμartis-this rule or sway, as the Greek term implies, is that exercised by a shepherd over his flock. "The Lord is my shepherd," (Sept. Kúgios noμévei μɛ) Ps. xxiii. 1. . . . . "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod (gάßdos) and thy staff they comfort me." Here the same instrument, (the shepherd's rod or crook,) spoken of as an object of dismay to the heathen, affords matter of comfort to one in the position of the psalmist. The valley of the shadow of death being, as we suppose, the condition of the disciple under the threatening of the law-the overshadowing of Sinai. The rod and staff necessary to sustain all passing through this valley, must be the revealed word of God, or the promised way of salvation revealed in that word. This brings us to the knowledge of Jehovah, as the Lord our righteousness-the predominating principle of our faith. This same revealed word, in its proper sense, must be the rod of iron breaking in pieces every principle of doctrine, or element of error, opposed to the system of sovereign grace.
ciple himself directly, that receives this promise. The overcoming principle of faith, or doctrine, is to be manifested as comprehending a reliance upon the imputed righteousness of Christ. This doctrine of imputation of Christ's merits, is to be manifested as belonging to the predominating principle, or system-the one eventually to be exhibited as identified with the other. So, the doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith, comprehends the principle of the substitution of Christ, in the place of the sinner; and so the imputed identity of the disciple with his master, is comprehended in that power of adoption, by which, in the sight of God, the follower of Jesus is contemplated, or appears as in the beloved.
Such is the principle, we may suppose, upon which the Christian's faith is to be formed; and of which it is said, 1 John v. 4, This is the victory that overcometh the world our faith. The earnest subject of inquiry being this: Do I possess the faith here set forth ?-do I depend upon this predominating principle? Not, Am I hereafter to rule over the nations, or am I to break them in pieces as a potter's vessel.
'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear,' &c., (§ 46.)
Epistle to the Angel of the Church in Sardis.
V. 1. And unto the angel of the church Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Σάρδεσιν ἐκκληin Sardis write: These things gaith heσίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἔχων τὰ ἑπτὰ
that hath the seven Spirits of God, and
the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a namne that thou livest, and art
πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀστέρας· οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα, ὅτι ὄνομα ἔχεις ὅτι ζῇς, καὶ νεκρὸς εἶ.
84. He that hath,' &c.-Here the speaker, as having the seven Spirits of God, is identified with him which is, and which was, and which is to come; with the Alpha and Omega, declaring himself to be the Almighty, and having the seven stars; also, with the one "like unto the Son of man," (Rev. i. 4–16;) and consequently he is the same who declares himself to be the Son of God, (Rev. ii. 18.) Having, or holding, the seven stars, he appeals to his right of control over the seven angels, or systems; an appeal apparently the more called for, in this address, as its language is almost altogether that of rebuke; while the reference to the seven spirits recalls to our minds, that he is also the source of grace and peace, ($8.)
'I know thy works.'-The declaration implies, as we have before supposed, something equivalent to that of the knowledge of a person's character, whether good or bad,-I know thy character-I know the character and tendency of thy whole system ;-the works of the angel being the operations of its doctrinal principles. On former occasions something good was known of the works of the angels; here they are known, as it subsequently appears, to be deficient.
'That thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.'-Some editions read zò,őroux, the name, which seems to be the sense; as if it were said, "I know thy whole character: thou hast the name of living, or of being alive-such is thy reputation-but thou art really dead.” The system of faith of this church, we may suppose to be of such a character, as to be in high repute amongst men: but "God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the outward appearance, while God looketh upon the heart."
The work of God, is to believe on him whom he hath sent, (John vi. 28;) and this belief we may presume to imply confidence and trust. If he, whom God has sent, comes as a Saviour, to believe in him, is to trust in his ability and willingness to save. To believe in him, is to believe all that he