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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Bhagavad Gita


Exposition of the book of Revelation

by Edward Irving


"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass ;' and He sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein : for the time is at hand."

It is not from any conceit of supernatural wisdom, or spiritual gifts, beyond what any other minister of Christ may aspire to, and ought to possess; nor is it in the proud ambition of making all mysteries plain, although we believe that this, and this only, is the province of the Evangelical teacher; still less is it out of any curiosity about, or speculative research into, future things; but because we have experienced in our own souls the blessedness promised unto "him that readeth the words of the prophecy of this book;" and because we think we have received some further insight into the object of God in giving it, the method of its structure, and the application of its predictions, and would fain communicate of our good things unto others, that they may partake of our comfort and joy ;—this, and no other, so far as we know our own mind, is our motive for undertaking the most grave and responsible office of presenting to the church an exposition of the Apocalypse or Revelation, of Jesus Christ.

And, forasmuch as we do consult for thy glory, O Almighty God! and for the good of thy church, O our Lord Jesus Christ! and would be wholly under thy guidance, O thou Holy Spirit of Truth! we do most humbly and earnestly pray, that our souls, being filled " with power, and with love, and with a sound mind," might be enabled to declare, with meekness and wisdom, the deep things of thy counsel contained in this portion of thy holy word.

Let me then endeavour, in these Lectures, to speak to my brethren in Christ Jesus with sincerity and truth, as one man ought to speak to his brother-man; and with wisdom and authority, as a minister of Christ, to the flock of God; endeavouring, as much as in me lies, to cast away the fear of man, which bringeth a snare, and to remember that I stand before my Judge, before whom also you stand. In his sight, therefore, I make no scruple to declare before you all, at the outset of these lectures, that my reason for undertaking such a task, in this the chief city of our church at this time, is simply, that I believe this book of the Revelation is not perused and studied as it ought to be. Into the cause of which neglect it is not so much my office to search, nor yet to censure or rebuke that indifference to the contents of this book which has come over the preachers and ministers of the Christian church; as it is my part, and belongs to the office of the workman of God to do what in him lies to remove the evil over which I lament: and this I will do, in the strength of Divine grace, and by His help whom I serve, even the Great Head of the Church, whose minister I am for the preaching of his word unto all people. With humility therefore, with distinctness, and with simplicity, will I endeavour to lay before the church all my treasures, new and old, according to the gift of utterance which the Spirit may be pleased to bestow upon me, praying always for an increase of knowledge and of utterance to make known to you all the treasures of the riches of this book, which is forbidden to be sealed, and whereof the perusal is blessed with an express benediction of God: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand."

In this discourse, which is intended as introductory to the whole series, I will lay before you a comprehensive idea and general view of the precious things contained in the Apocalypse, that, in your leisure and retirements, you may pursue the study, and anticipate me in the daily exposition of it: and this I will do according to the following method.—First, I shall discourse of the name contained in the first three words of the book, " the Revelation of Jesus Christ." Secondly, of the particulars of its transmission unto us, contained in the first two verses of the book, which I shortly term "its authority." Thirdly, of the substance, and the method, and the contents of it. And, Lastly, I will discourse of the Divine injunction which God has given to enforce on us the perusal 6f it; and the encouragement which he has held out to the ministers of the Gospel, to expound it with all diligence; and to the people to give earnest heed to those preachers who gird up their loins to obey the Divine commandment. These four heads—the name, the authority, the method, and the sanctions of this book—I will now endeavour to lay before you in order.

I. The name of the book is, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.—I have reason to believe that this expression is not generally understood; or, rather, is commonly misunderstood, as if it were meant to convey no more than that Jesus Christ revealed it. Now, if this be all, there is no distinctness in the title or name wherefore one, in preference to the other books of Scripture, should be entitled "the Revelation of Jesus Christ;" for all the books of Scripture are alike the revelation of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God, the Light of the Father which lighteth every man. In this sense, all the writings of St. Paul are revelations of Jesus Christ; whereof he says, that he received them not by man, neither was taught them, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. The same may be said of all the other books of Scripture, which Christ revealed or inspired by his Spirit in his servants ; as Peter declareth, that they speak by the Spirit of Christ which was in them. Therefore I say, that if this be all that is signified, there would be nothing in the title wherefore it should be the characteristic name of this book.

But, besides this, I observe, as to the fact, that it did not come to John by revelation of Jesus Christ; for it was not Jesus Christ that revealed it to him, but an angel that shewed or represented it to him by signs; as in this same verse it is written, "Which God gave unto Jesus Christ, to shew unto his servant things which must shortly come to pass." These words give us to know that this book was given to Jesus Christ by the Father, in order to shew the contents thereof to his servants. And what method does Christ take to shew it to God's servants? He sends his messenger, his angel, and signifies it to his servant John. So John did not receive the communication directly from Christ, but he received it through the medium of one proceeding from Christ; he received it not in the way of revelation or inspiration, but in the way of outward demonstration; it was shewn to him by his angel, and repeatedly in this book is that angel spoken of, to whom John did twice, in the height of gratitude and satisfaction, offer worship, but the angel would not suffer himself to be worshipped. I am inclined, therefore, to doubt the commonly received interpretations of the name, as if it merely signified that Jesus Christ revealed the contents of the book, because we always find that a Scripture name doth express the substance of the thing named, as all the names of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ do testify; and even those names which the authority or use of the church hath given to the books of Scripture, have in them a great propriety and peculiar appropriateness. For example, Genesis signifies the generation of things; Exodus, the out-going of the children of Israel from the house of bondage. But when God himself appropriates a name,—for example • the Gospel' or 'good news,'—it then never fails to contain the very essence of that which is named. And seeing the Holy Ghost hath chosen to entitle this book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," we may never doubt that there is something contained under that name beyond this which belongs to all Scripture in common, that it is revealed by Jesus Christ the Word; and which therefore cannot serve to distinguish one book of Scripture from another.

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