T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
[FOURTH. THE INHABITANTS OF THE CITY, THEIR QUALITY, AND NUMEROUSNESS.]
er. 24. 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' After this long and pleasant description of this holy and new Jerusalem, the Holy Ghost now falleth upon a relation of the people that shall be the inhabitants of this city, and of their numerousness and quality.
'And the nations,' &c. The nations of the world, both of the Jews and Gentiles.
Every one knoweth what the nations are, wherefore I need not stay upon the explication of that, for it doth in general include the multitude of the sinners of the world (Eph 2:1- 3; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Titus 3:3). Therefore, when he saith, the nations shall walk in the light of this city, it is as if he had said, that at this day, when she is here in her tranquility, the sinners and disobedient among the sons of men shall by multitudes and whole kingdoms come in and close with the church and house of God. These spiders shall take hold with their hands, and be in kings' palaces (Pro 30:28).
'And the nations,' &c. For this word, 'the nations,' is a great word, and it comprehendeth much; mark, it doth not say a nation, or some nations, neither doth it say few or small nations, but indefinitely, the nations, many nations, strong nations, all nations, the nations in general; only he ties them up with this limit, the nations of them that are saved (Isa 52:15; 60:22; 2:2). Which yet is not so much spoken to clip off the multitude that we suppose may then be converted, as to show us their qualifications and happiness; as he saith by the prophet in another place, Thy children shall be all holy, or righteous, 'and great shall be the peace of thy children' (Isa 54:13; 60:21). 'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.' Surely the Holy Ghost would never have spoken at such a rate as this, if he had not intended to show us that at the day of the setting up of this Jerusalem, a great harvest of sinners shall be gathered by the grace of the gospel. But the truth is, the Scriptures go with open arms towards the latter end of the world, even as if they would grasp and compass about almost all people then upon the face of the whole earth with the grace and mercy of God. 'The earth,' saith God, 'shall be full of the knowledge' of the glory 'of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). As he saith, also, for the comfort of the church in another place, 'Behold, I have grave thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me; give place to me, that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone, these, where had they been?' (Isa 49:16-21). Thus the multitudes of the nations shall at this day be converted to the Lord, and be made the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; as he saith again, 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ' (Rev 11:15). And again, 'The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him' (Dan 7:27).
And observe it, these promises are to be fulfilled in the last days, at the time of the pouring forth of the last vial, which is the time of the sounding of the last of the seven trumpets; for then this city shall be built, and Lucifer fallen from heaven; then the prisoners shall be set at liberty, and the people be gathered together, 'and the kingdoms to serve the Lord' (Isa 2:1,2; 14:4-6; Psa 102:20-22; Rev 11:15-17). 'Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people' (Deu 32:43). Alas! it is now towards the end of the world, and therefore now all is going, if the Lord steps not in with the riches of his grace. Wherefore now at last, before all be turned into fire and ashes, behold the Lord casts the net among the multitude of fish, and the abundance of the sea shall, without fail, be converted to Jerusalem (Isa 60:5). Though Satan and Antichrist have had their day in the world, and by their outrage have made fearful havoc of the souls of sinners from time to time, yet now at length God will strike in for a share with them, and his Son 'shall divide the spoil with the strong' (Isa 53:12). Wherefore he now sets up this city, puts the glory of heaven upon her, provides a new heaven and a new earth for her situation (Isa 66:22); drives profaneness into the holes and dens of the earth; giveth righteousness authority to reign in the world (2 Peter 3:13); and takes off the veil from all faces, that none may hereafter be for ever beguiled by blindness and ignorance (Isa 25:7). Now shall they make merry with the things of God; now shall all eat the fat and drink the sweet (1 Kings 4:20; Neh 8:10,12). For 'in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined' (Isa 25:6).
'And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.' They 'shall walk in the light of it.' That is, in the light that is in it while it is in its purity in this world, and in the glory of it when it is in its perfection and immortality in another. Whence note by the way, that in the midst of all this glory, or while the glorious light of the gospel shall thus shine in the world, yet even then there will be some also that will not see and rejoice in the glory hereof. But as for those, whoever they are, they are excluded from a share in the blessed and goodly privileges of this city. 'The nations of them which are SAVED shall walk in the light of it.'
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' By these words are great things held forth. He told us before that the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it; and here he tells us that even their kings also, the kings of the earth, do bring their honour and glory to it. The people of the nations they are but like to single pence and halfpence, but their kings like gold angels and twenty-shilling pieces. Wherefore, when he saith that the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour unto it, it argueth that the gospel and the grace of God, when it is displayed in its own nature, and seen in its own complexion, even then they that have most of the honour and glory of the world will yet stoop their top-gallant unto it. 'Because of thy temple which is at Jerusalem, shall kings bring presents unto thee' (Psa 68:29; Isa 49:22,23). 'The kings of Tarshish, and of the isles, shall bring presents' to thee: 'the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him' (Psa 72:10,11). The kings shall see and arise, and 'princes also shall worship because of the Lord,' &c. (Isa 49:7). The kings shall come to thy light, and princes to the brightness of thy rising (Isa 60:1-5). 'The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory' (Isa 62:2). Yea, 'that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they have not heard shall they consider' (Isa 52:15). 'All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord' (Psa 138:4,5). Thus, we see, that though in the first day of the gospel, the poor, the halt, the lame, and the blind are chief in the embracing of the tenders of grace, yet in the latter day thereof God will take hold of kings.
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' INTO IT; that is, to Jerusalem. Wherefore this city must be built before they all of them will fall in love with her. Indeed, I do conceive that some of them will lay their hand to help forward the
work of this city, as did Hiram with Solomon, and Darius, Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, with Ezra and Nehemiah, at the building and repairing the city, in the letter, in the days of old (2 Chron 2:11-15; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-3; 7:21). But yet, I say, the great conquest of the kings will be by the beauty and glory of this city, when she is built. 'thou shalt arise,' O Lord, 'and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thy glory' (Psa 102:13-15). And, indeed, before this city is set up, and established in her own place, most of the kings and great ones of the earth will be found employed and taken up in another work, than to fall in love with Mount Zion, and with the hill thereof. They will be found in love with mistress Babylon, the mother of harlots, the mistress of witchcrafts, and abominations of the earth (Rev 17:2,12-14; 18:3,9). They will, I say, be committing fornication with her, and will be as the horns upon the heads of the beast, to defend the riding lady from the gunshot that the saints continually will be making at her by the force of the Word and Spirit of God. They will be shaking the sharp end of their weapons against the Son of God, continually labouring to keep him out of his throne, and from having that rule in the church, and in the world, as becomes him who is the head of the body, and over all principality and power. 'These shall make war with the Lamb' (Rev 17:14). But, I say, it shall so come about at the last, by the illuminating grace of God, and by the faithful and patient enduring of the saints, together with the glory that everywhere shall now be abiding on the church and congregation of Jesus, that they shall begin to receive a man's heart, and shall consider things that have not been told them; wherefore at last they shall withdraw themselves from the love of this mistress, and shall leave her to scrape for herself in the world, and shall come with repentance and rejoicing to Zion; nay, not only so, but to avenge the quarrel of God, and the vengeance of his temple; and to recompense her also for the delusions and enchantments wherewith she hath entangled them. 'These shall hate her, and they shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire' (Rev 17:16).
Now, madam, what sayest thou? The kings must come to Jerusalem, Jezebel. Thy chamber companions will shortly, notwithstanding thy painted face, cast thee down headlong out at the windows. Yea, they shall tread thee in pieces by the feet of their prancing horses, and with the wheels of their jumping chariots (2 Kings 9:30-33). They shall shut up all bowels of compassion towards thee, and shall roar upon thee like the sea, and upon thy fat ones like the waves thereof (Jer 50:41,42). Yea, when they begin, they will also make an end, and will leave thee so harbourless and comfortless, that now there will be found for thee no gladness at all, no, not so much as one piper to play thee one jig. The delicates that thy soul lusted after, thou shalt find them no more at all (Rev 18:12-22). 'Babylon the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures. And owls shall dwell there, and satyrs [that is, the hobgoblins, or devils] shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged' (Isa 13:19-23). Thus wilt thou come down wonderfully. For 'in thee have they set light by father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains, in the midst of thee they commit lewdness' (Eze 22:6-10). God hath smitten his hands at thy dishonest gain, and all the blood which hath been in the midst of thee; God will be avenged of thee, but will not meet thee as a man (Isa 47:1-3). You 'have cast lots for my people,' saith God: you 'have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.' You have made havoc of my young converts to satisfy your lusts; therefore, 'What have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coast of Palestine? Will ye render me a recompence? And if ye recompence me swiftly and speedily, will I return you recompence upon your own head' (Joel 3:1-4). I will throw it as dirt in your face again. And never talk of what thou wast once, for though thou wast full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, though thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God, yea, though every precious stone for some time was thy covering, and thou the very anointed cherub that covereth, walking upon the mountain of God, and in the midst of the stones of fire, yet because—by reason of the multitude of thy merchandize— thou hast sinned, and art filled with violence. 'Therefore God will cast thee, as profane, out of the mountain of God, and will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire'; yea, he will cast thee to the ground, and lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. And 'all they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more' (Eze 28:12-19). 'And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold; though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair, thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life' (Jer 4:30).
'And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and their honour into it.' Mark, they do not only forsake the crimson harlot, neither do they content themselves with eating her flesh and burning her with fire, but they come over, they come over to Jerusalem; they are conquered by the grace of Christ and wisdom of the Son of God. They shall make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is King of kings and Lord of lords, and those that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Now they shall all give way to the government of the King of kings, the governor of the Jews (Ezra 6:7), and shall with gladness delight to see him rule his spouse with his own law, rules, and testament; they shall play the pranks of Jeroboam no longer, in making calves to keep the people from going up to Jerusalem to worship. Now they shall count him also king of nations, as well as king of saints; and he shall wear the crowns, and they shall seek to him (Rev 19:12,15; Jer 10:7; Isa 52:15; 2 Chron 9:23).
[The city secure, the gates always open.]
Ver. 25. 'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day for there shall be no night there.'
This is the effect of what you read before, namely, of the coming in of the kings and great ones of the earth to this Jerusalem. For when the whore is made desolate and naked, and burned with fire, and when the kings also that loved her, and that maintained her, are come in, and have closed with the glory and beauty of this city, then what need is there to shut the gates? Alas, all the injuries that the kings and great ones of the earth have done to the church and spouse of Christ in these days of the New Testament, it hath been through the instigation and witchcraft of this mistress of iniquity. 'The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear' (Nahum 3:3,4), against the saints of God, by reason of the multitudes of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, who selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Wherefore I say, this gentlewoman being laid in her grave, and all her fat ones gone down to the sides of the pit, these kings will change their mind, and fall in love with the true and chaste matron, and with Christ her Lord. Now when this is thus, this city must needs be safely inhabited as towns without walls, and as a place near to which there is neither thief nor ravenous beast (Isa 2:4; Jer 33:16; Zech 2:4; 14:11).
Persecutors, while they remain in their spirit of outrage against the church and people of God, they are frequently in the Scripture compared to the venomous dragons, fierce lions, and ravenous wolves (Jer 51:34,37). All which at this day shall be driven out of the world, that is, so out, as never to molest the church again, or to cause a gate of this city to be shut, through fear, against them; as he saith by the prophet, 'In the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes' (Isa 35:7). In the habitation of dragons, that is, even in the places of persecutors, where each lay, shall be food for the flock of Christ. The dragon is a venomous beast, and poisoneth all where he lieth! He beats the earth bare, and venoms it, that it will bear no grass, as do the persecutors where they inhabit and lie. But behold, the days do come in which these dragons shall be removed, and the ground where they lay be made fruitful and flourish, so that even there shall be places for the flocks to lie down in. 'In the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; but the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away' (Isa 35:7- 10). According to that of Moses, the Lord 'will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.' For 'he will rid evil beasts out of the land,' and the sword shall not go through it more (Lev 26:6). 'And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting-places' (Isa 32:18).
'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no night there.' This word DAY we may understand two ways; either for the day of bringing in to fill this city, or for the day of her perfection and fulness. Now if you take it with reference to the day in which her converts are coming in, as indeed it ought, why then, the gates shall not be shut at all. 'Thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought' (Isa 60:11).
But again, this day of grace, and of conversion of sinners, it must be looked upon either as the church is in captivity and persecution, or as she is out. Now, as she is in captivity, so her longest day is usually accompanied with a black and doubtful night of temptation and affliction. Wherefore this day here being spoken of, it is the day of grace that she shall have even when she is absolutely delivered from the rage of the beast, false prophet, and whore. Wherefore he is not content to say, the gates shall not be shut at all by day, but adds withal, 'for there shall be no night there'; as who should say, I know that commonly in the day of the church's affliction she is accompanied with nights as well as days, but it shall not be so here; 'Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended' (Isa 60:20).
Wherefore John, considering this, doth quite exclude the night, saying, 'There shall be no night there.' Indeed after this New Jerusalem hath had her golden day in this world, I say, just towards the ending thereof, she will yet once again be beset with raging Gog and Magog, which enemies will, after the long safety and tranquility of this city, through the instigation of the devil come upon the breadth of the earth, and encamp about this holy city (Eze 28; 29). But behold in the midst of this intention to swallow her up, the Lord rains fire and brimstone from heaven and destroys them all; so that God, I say, though he may bring one only evening upon this holy city after her long peace and rest among the sons of men, yet he shall not bring one night upon her, nor cause a gate thereof to be shut for ever. The sun shall now stand still in the midst of heaven, and this night shall be thus prevented by this marvellous judgment of God (Josh 10). As another prophet saith, 'At evening time it shall be light' (Zech 14:7). That is, though her enemies will at last still make, through their enmity, one only attempt to swallow up all in everlasting oblivion, yet they themselves shall fall down dead upon the mountains of Israel, and be a prey to this Jerusalem. Thus there will be only day accompanying the inhabitants of this city, 'For there shall be no night there.'
[The glory and honour of the nations brought into it.]
Ver. 26. 'And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.' This, as I said before, is to show us how heartily, and how unfeignedly, both the nations and their kings shall now come over to New Jerusalem. They come hand in hand, not the people without their prince, nor the prince without his people, though it will, and must be so, in the times of persecution; but now, together 'they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations to it.'
Again, I told you before that the Jews shall at this day be converted to the Christian faith, and shall have a great name and much of heaven upon them in this city. For, indeed, they are the first-born, the natural branches, and the like. Now when he saith, they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations to it, I cannot think that by this should we understand only, or yet principally, the outward pomp and treasure of the world, but that rather by honour and glory we are here to understand the heavenly treasure and glory that the saints shall continually pour forth into one another's bosoms in this city. In this city, I say, for at this day, as I have formerly showed you, there will be found no treasure any where but at Jerusalem; every saint shall be here, every grace shall be here, the precious stones of the sanctuary, the precious sons of Zion shall not then, as now, lie scattered, some in the world, and some in mistress Babylon's lap; neither shall any thing pertaining to the church's privileges be found in her at all for ever. There shall be heard no more at all in her any harpers, trumpeters, pipers, or any other heavenly music in her; neither shall there be any more the sound of a millstone to grind us bread, nor the light of a candle to guide us in the house, nor yet the voice of the bridegroom, Christ, nor of the bride his wife, to tempt or allure any that are seeking the way of life, to stay with her (Rev 18:22,23). All these things shall be brought to Jerusalem (2 Chron 36:7). Christians, you must understand that there is a time when all the treasures of the church are to be found in Babylon, as in the days of old; but at this day, when this city is built, not any of them shall be found there, but all shall be brought and delivered up to Jerusalem again, as was also foreshown in the type; and all places shall be void of the treasure of heaven, but Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-6; 7:13-16).
Wherefore by the glory and honour of the nations in this place, I understand that all the treasures of the church, and all the graces that at this day lie scattered here and there, some in one place and some in another, they shall be found no where at that day but in this city, in the church that walks according to rule. Now the reasons why I take this honour and glory to be meant of these things are—
First. Because thus it was in the time of the building of Jerusalem after the captivity, the treasure of the Jews, which was become the treasures of the provinces of Babylon, was again restored and brought to Jerusalem, as you may see by the scriptures now cited.
Second. Because I find indeed, that the milk and honey of the land of Canaan—which are, in our gospel language, the gifts, graces, and treasures of the church—it is called, 'The glory of all lands' (Eze 20:6). Now, I say, seeing the milk and honey, which are the comforts of the church and her treasure, is called 'The glory of all lands,' I take glory and honour in this place to signify the same thing also (Cant 4:11).
Third. Because also I find, by comparing the prophets, that the Christian's glory and honour lieth mostly, even principally, in heavenly and spiritual things; as in faith, love, experience of God, of grace, of Christ, and spiritual life. I read that, at the building of this city, the Jews and Gentiles shall meet together, and that at that day they shall mutually be partakers of each other's glory. The Gentiles 'shall milk out, and be delighted in the abundance of the glory' of the Jews: and the glory of the Gentiles shall be again extended unto the Jews like a mighty flowing stream (Isa 66:10-13). But I say that this glory and honour should consist in outward things, or that the glory that is merely carnal should be principally here intended, I confess it grates too near the ground for me to believe or rejoice in it. Alas, I find that those souls that have not now the tenth part of the spirit and life of heavenly things that shall then be poured forth; I say, I find that these are trampling on the world, and disdain the thoughts of being taken with its glory. Wherefore much less will it be esteemed in that day, when the glory and goodness of God shall in that manner break forth. Again, can it be imagined that the chief of the glory that the Gentiles should bring to the Jews after a sixteen hundred years warming in the bosom of Christ; I say, is it imaginable that the great crop of all they have reaped should consist in a little outward trumpery? Or if it should, would it be a suitable medicine in the least to present to the eyes of a broken and wounded people, as the Jews will be at that day? Or if they glory that the Gentiles at that day shall suck from the Jews were such as this, would it at all be as life from the dead to them in a gospel sense.
The church of the Gentiles shall be a wall to the Jews at their return; but such a wall as will chiefly consist in spiritual and heavenly safeguard, and in outward, because of that (Rom 11:13-15). I am a wall, saith she, and my breasts are towers, on which the Jews will build upon her a palace of silver (Cant 8:8-10). But must this wall, I say, consist chiefly in outward glory, in the glory of earthly things? or must this silver palace be of that nature either? No verily, but when God hath built the city Jerusalem, and put his church into such a state, that upon all her glory shall be a defence of heaven, then shall the Jews, by their coming into this city, build, by their experience, a palace for spiritual and heavenly pleasure, to solace and comfort their brethren withal. In a word, then, by glory and honour in this place, we are chiefly to understand the spiritual and heavenly things of this city, which, in the times of the reign of Antichrist, have lain, some among the potsherds of the earth, some again under the stairs, some under this abuse, and some under that (Psa 61:3; Cant 2:14). All which shall be brought by the souls that shall be converted, forthwith to this city, the church, where will be the treasury of God, into which every one at that day shall throw in of their abundance; but as for the glory of the world, the saints shall be above it, it shall be with them as silver and wood was in the days of Solomon, even as little worth as the stones in the street in their account (Isa 27:13; 1 Kings 10:21).
[None but visible saints shall enter.]
Ver. 27. 'And there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.'
I am not yet convinced that the highest church-state that ever was, or ever will be in this world, could possibly be so, all of them, the elect of God, but that there would get in among them some that had not saving grace; the same also I believe touching the state of this Jerusalem. But yet this I do believe again, that the right and gospel-pattern is, that none be admitted into church communion but such who are visible saints by calling (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:12; Phil 1:1). The substance of which these words import, 'There shall not enter into it any thing that DEFILETH, or that worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie.' Which words do principally strike at a people that appear to be loose, wicked, or ungodly; of which sort indeed, not one shall here at any time, no, not in any wise, be admitted entrance. For now shall all the forms, and all the ordinances, and all the forms of the goings out of the church of God, and the comings into it, be so exactly opened to these people, and they so punctual and distinct in the observation of them, that it will not be possible that a Canaanite should be here for ever again found any more (Eze 43:10,11; 44:6,8). 'This is the law of the house upon the top of the mountain—the whole limit thereof shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house' (Eze 43:12; Joel 3:17; Zech 14:21).
And as there shall at this day be none admitted here, but such as are in truth visible saints, so none must here continue, but they that continue such. If any of those stones that are put in for building into the house of God, shall afterwards have the plague found on them, then the priest shall command that such stones be taken away and cast into the unclean place that is without the city (Lev 14:40). And observe it, that congregation on earth that admits only of such persons as are visible saints by calling and profession—though possibly some of them, as in the case of Judas and Demas, may be known to God to be non- elect—yet that church is holy round about the limits thereof (Num 19:22; Eph 5:11; Heb 12:15; 2 Thess 3:6,14; 1 Cor 5:6,11-13). Provided, also, that if at any time after that the plague appears, they ordinarily proceed to deal with them, as here things will be done to a tittle and a hair's breadth. Now the reason why the church may be said to have some within her that are non-elect, and yet be counted holy still, it is because the church is to judge of persons by their words and lives; they know not the heart absolutely, and therefore if in word and life a man be as he ought, he is to be accounted a visible saint, and orderly ought to be received of the church as such. So that I say, as I said before, these words of barring out sinners out of the church, they are not to be understood as if they intended that those should be debarred visible communion that in word and life appeared visible saints, that are so judged by the rules of Christ's testament; but that such should be from it shut out that appeared visible sinners. Those that are defilers, workers of abomination, and makers of lies, none of these shall enter.
But 'they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.' These words explain the matter: those, and those only, shall enter here, that are found written in the Lamb's book of life. Now, by book of life we are to understand two things in the Scriptures of truth. First, either the book of God's eternal grace and mercy through Christ, in which all the elect are recorded for ever. Or, Secondly, that book of life in which the Lord Jesus hath all recorded that are visible saints by calling; for, for both these there is a book of life. For the first of these, I judge these Scriptures do suit (Luke 10:20; 2 Tim 2:19; Phil 4:3). And for the second, these with that in the text (Exo 32:32,33; Rev 22:19).
Now the book of life in this place must not be so strictly taken as if it included those only that were elect of God to eternal life, but must be understood of that book wherein are recorded the rules and bounds of visible church- communion; and so all those that, through the gifts and operations of special or common grace, do fall within the compass of those rules and bounds. Thus it was in the type at the return out of captivity, none were to be admitted entrance into the church but those that could show their privileges by genealogy and the records of the church; and to others it was said that they had neither portion, nor lot, nor memorial, in Jerusalem (Ezra 2:62,63; Neh 7:64,65; 2:20).
Now that by book of life in this place we are to understand that book that hath in it the bounds and liberties of this city, and so every one that falleth within the compass of these bounds and privileges visibly; consider,
First. They that are visible matter for visible church- communion, they shall be found within this city, and yet there shall not enter any, but those that are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Second. Now visible church-communion doth not absolutely call for only invisible saints, neither can it; for if the church were to join with none but those whom they knew to be the very elect of God—as all invisible saints are—then she must join with none at all; for it is not possible that any church should be so infallible to judge in that manner of the elect, as to discern them always, and altogether, from the non-elect, which cannot be an invisible saint.
Third. By book of life therefore, in this place, we are to understand, I say, that book that hath written in it every visible saint, whether they be elect or not; and so such a book that is capable of receiving in a man at one time, and of blotting of him out again, as occasion doth require, at another. Which thing is only applicable to that book which binds and looses on the account of a man's being a visible saint or a visible apostate. Which thing is only applicable to the visible rules of receiving or shutting out of visible church-communion; which rules being the rules of Christ's New Testament, it is proper to call it the book of life; and is about the matter of going in or going out of this very city so
called. 'If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book' (Rev 22:18,19). O how happy is he who is not only a visible, but also an invisible saint! (Rev 3:5). He, he shall not be blotted out the book of God's eternal grace and mercy, when others are liable to loose a share, not only in heaven, but to be for ever blotted out of the book that approveth of visible believers also.
Fourth. But again, to explain the matter yet more: in the visible church there are not only sons, but servants—that is, ,not only those that are truly elect, but such as have received a gift for the perfecting of the church under Christ, in his service here in this world (Eze 46:16,17). Now, I say, the servant for the time present hath his place in the church as well as the son, though not the place of a son, but of a servant, even a place of service, as of preaching, prophesying, administering the ordinances that are given to the church, and the like (1 Cor 12:7; Eph 4:11,12). All which a man that hath not grace may do, and that by the appointment of Christ; thus was Judas, Demas, Hymeneus, Phyletus, and others, who sometimes were the servants of Christ in the church, and did minister for him to them; yet themselves, notwithstanding, such as were all that time strangers and aliens to the life and power and saving operations of the justifying and preserving grace of the gospel (1 Cor 13:1-4; Matt 25:14-18). As he saith also by the prophet Isaiah, 'strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of aliens shall be your ploughmen, and your vine-dressers' (Isa 61:5). For verily Christ will give to those that have not his saving grace, yet great knowledge and understanding in the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and will also make them for profit and advantage in his church, to feed their flocks, to plough up the fallow ground of their hearts, and to dress their tender vines. Yet, I say, they themselves shall not be everlastingly saved, for they want his saving grace. As Christ saith, 'The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth for ever' (John 8:35). As he saith again in another prophet, 'If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons, it shall be their possession by inheritance; but if he give a gift of inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty, after it shall return to the prince; but his inheritance shall be his sons for them' (Eze 46:16,17). Some indeed have grace as well as gifts; now they that are such the profit of their gifts shall be rewarded by virtue of their grace; but as for them that have only a gift, when the work of a gift is done, then they cease to be any longer of use in the church, and therefore are forthwith shut out of the same, but the son abideth for ever. Thus you see that as visible church- communion doth not absolutely call for the elect only, but admits, and that by the book of rules, all that are visible and open saints by calling, so also the Lord Jesus himself doth, and will use some in his church as his officers and servants, that yet in a strict sense are neither his sons nor members, who yet are within the bounds of that book of life that here he speaks of, as is evident, because with Christ's allowance they are admitted into communion with his church, and by him also furnished with gifts and abilities to profit and edify withal. Now observe, such a one is admitted, though but a servant, yet not by the church, because but such a one. The church receiveth no man upon the account of gifts alone, but upon the account of the appearance of grace, as of gospel-repentance, of the confession of faith, and of a conversation suitable to the same; all which a man that is not elect may have the notion of, yea, the power, though not the saving power (Heb 6:4,5).
Fifth. Further, this which I have said about the visible church-communion, and so consequently about the book of life, it must needs be a gospel-truth: yea, a thing for truth in this New Jerusalem: because, besides what hath been said, there will be found in this city, even at the coming of the Lord Jesus, which coming of his will not be for some time after the building and setting of it up, I say, there will be then found among them foolish virgins, and such who have not the saving grace of God in their souls. But yet, 1. These very souls shall be counted by the church, yea, by Christ himself, for virgins; that is, such as had not defiled their profession. 2. And will be such virgins as have, and hold every one her lamp, even as the wise themselves. 3. Such virgins as were, every one of them gone forth from the pollutions of this evil world. 4. And so such as continued visible saints, even till the bridegroom came (Matt 25:1- 10). For then, it is said in the margin, they cried, Our lamps are going out. These, I say, be those gifted people that will have place in the church, and so place in the book of life here mentioned, which yet will, though they continue hid from the church, be discovered in the day of the Lord to be such as had only a gift, but not grace, and shall for their secret sins be cut off and cast away, notwithstanding they were visible saints all their days.
To conclude then: If the Scripture saith, that none that defileth, or that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, shall enter into his holy city which yet is but the church on earth, with what face can defilers think and say they shall possess a part among the church which is in heaven? Again, If many that have received gifts from God, and that may be serviceable in his house, shall yet be put out of doors at the coming of the Lord, what will they do that have been and yet continue both giftless and graceless, as visibly as the light that shineth? And that instead of being the ploughmen and vine-dressers of the church, prove thieves, robbers, persecutors, and the like! Yea, if many that are within the bounds of that book of life that hath the records and rules of a rightly constituted visible church may yet perish, what will become of them that never were so much as written therein? Must they not perish rather? 'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire' (Rev 20:15).
Rev. 22:1.—'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.'