« PreviousContinue »
under the character of a lamb, we are led to think, first of all, of his person as Mediator: we are led to think of his humanity, of his perfect purity and innocence. Then we are led to think of him, as giving up his person a sacrifice to death, to make propitiation for iniquity, by satisfying the claims of divine justice. This is the consolatory idea which the name lamb suggests when applied to our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he is said to be a lamb in the midst of the throne. This is remarkable. This is delightful. These expressions, a lamb, in the midst of the throne, I think, suggest to us the following ideas,
First. That, our Lord Jesus Christ is in a state of exaltation. He is not a lamb bleeding for iniquity; not a lamb, dying under the stroke of eternal justice upon a cross; but, he is a lamb in the midst of the throne : in a state of exaltation, of honour, and of blessedness, above all mere creatures.
This expression suggests, Secondly, That he has not put off the human nature. That humanity which bled and died on the cross, is now on the throne. That humanity which sustained such pain and sorrow; which felt the keenness of reproach, and the wrath of God;—that humanity is now in a glorified state, in union with the person of the Son of God, and eyer shall be so.
The Third idea which this suggests to our minds is, That the exaltation of Jesus Christ has not put a period to his priestly office. No; he is a lamb on the throne; and this leads us to think of him in his priestly character. If you compare Zech, vi. 12– 13. you will see, in the language of prediction, what is asserted in our text. The Lord Messiah
is there spoken of under the notion of a branch; and it is said, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH: and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be A PRIEST UPON HIS THRONE. A lamb in the midst of the throne, is no other than a priest upon his throne. A throne, you know, is the seat of sovereign majesty. Now, contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ, as a lamb in the midst of the throne, and
you behold the royal scepter with the priestly censer in his hands. As on the throne, he has absolute dominion in heaven and in earth: he has all angels, principalities, and powers, under his controul. But, as he is a lamò in the midst of the throne, he is the great High Priest of the church, and is entered within the veil, there to live and intercede for his people till time shall come to an end. A lamb in the midst of the throne is a most charming idea. Dignity and honour, grace and salvation, are suggested to our thoughts by it.
Now give me leave to observė, that this presents us with a delightful view of our Lord's priestly office, as an honourable office; honourable to himself, and at the same time happy for us. Were we to confine our ideas of Christ's priestly office to that part of it which consisted in making an atonement for human guilt, we should see hardly any thing but pain and shame, and suffering and sorrow, attending the performance of the office. Now these things, though absolutely necessary to the discharge of that office in general to us, are far from giving us a glorious and delightful idea of it with reference to the honour of the person who performs it: and we might well wonder, if the whole work of the priestly office were to be finished in such sorrowful circumstances, But if we contemplate the character of a lamb in the midst of the throne, which is given to the Lord Jesus Christ, as expressive of his humanity, and of his intercession as the great High Priest of the church; and if we further consider, that all the acceptable worship which believers upon earth, and which the spirits of the just made perfect in heaven, pow perform to the blessed God, is addressed to him through the intervention of this very lamb; then we behold an admirable dignity and glory in our Lord's priestly office,
He is a lamb, then, in the midst of the throne. Well, what is asserted concerning him? why, it is said, And he shall lead them to living fountains of water. This, likewise, is quite figurative. This lamb in such a situation, and performing such a condescending office, as to lead to living fountains
of water, presents himself to us under another i
tender idea ; and that is the idea of a shepherd. If you consult the language of David in Psalm xxiii. you will find him saying, Jehovah is my shepherd, I shall not want; and, says David, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. The business of a shepherd, you know, is to direct the motions of his flock, that they may feed in such pastures as are wholesome and refreshing. It is, further, in the hot eastern countries particularly, to lead them to rivers or springs of water, where they may quench their thirst. The allusion in our text seems to be to that part of the
shepherd's work; He shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of water.
Now, if the ideas intended to be conveyed by the inspired writer were stripped of the figurative lan, guage, they would be, I think, to this effect: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is a priest upon his throne; who has the government of the whole world in his hands, and who ever lives to intercede for his chosen and redeemed people; shall sender the redeemed superlatively happy in his own presence, by opening to them all the sources of celestial felicity in the upper world. The Lamb may well be considered as feeding his people, and leading them to living fountains of water, when it is considered, that all men having sinned and come short of the glory of God-All men having so apostatised from God, that they could have no communion with him but through the intervention of a mediator; and being so alienated from God, that they have no heart for communion with him, till they are regenerated; it was absolutely necessary that there should be a mediator, who should be the medium of divine communications to sinners, and of all those returns of holy affections towards God, which redeemed and converted sinners shall make. Let us then contemplate the saints in heaven, being redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and brought to the enjoyment of celestial felicity, as possessing that felicity in virtue of our Lord's mediation, and of our Lord's work : for this, I think, must be the general idea when it is said, He shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of water. God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit must be known and enjoyed in order to intellectual happiness; to perfect felicity. Now, as just observed, we, being all depraved and guilty before God, cannot have any such knowledge of God, or intercourse with him, as is necessary to our happiness, without a mediator. This Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ; that lamb who is in the midst of the throne. The little degree of pleasure and happiness, of a spiritual kind, which real saints possess in the present state, is through the mediation of Jesus Christ. It is in an acquaintance and intercourse with God; and these are through the mediation of Jesus Christ.
Now these beginnings of spiritual happiness which a believer enjoys in the present state, shall be continued, increased, and perpetuated in the realms of bliss.
From whence, then, does real happiness originate, or what is the first dawn of happiness to a poor sinful creature? Why, it is from a knowledge of the divine character; and this comes to us through Jesus Christ. It is only in virtue of our Lord's mediation and work, that we can have any spiritual view of the character and perfections of the blessed God.
The gospel reveals the divine character as the just God and the Saviour. This being revealed to the mind of a sinner, in the present world, and happiness resulting from it; when the saint departs out of time into eternity, by means of the same glorious mediator he is introduced to such a knowledge of the blessed God; to such a knowledge of the divine perfections and counsels, works and ways, as is truly beatifying. As this knowledge of God. is ever increasing, I cannot but think it will be a perpetual, fountain of joy to the saint in another