Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - 1 Peter 3:18 - 3:22

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Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - 1 Peter 3:18 - 3:22

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Depths of Mercy

Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; … he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, … who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.—1Pe_3:18-22.

1. St. Peter’s Epistle might be called the Epistle of exhortation. It is a persuasive plea for a lofty, spiritual character. In this letter, the courageous though impetuous Peter, the practical Apostle, shows that he was capable of lofty flights, and that his conception of the Christian character was all-comprehensive and complete. To him the new man in Christ Jesus was no weakling, but a man of many parts, strength, and beauty. Again and again in this chapter he makes us feel that to him the salient feature of Christ’s life was His suffering. “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” is the phrase that must occur to any one who reads this section with care. Then in many ways St. Peter urges his readers and hearers to express the same Divine quality. That example of God in Christ must be followed by the disciple. The disciple must not be surprised when in the growth of holiness and zeal for service there occur distressing and disheartening experiences. At such times the disciple must think of his Lord. Then he will recall incidents in that life which disclose the sufferings inseparable from that high following. This is the unity of purpose running through all the sentences of the paragraph.

The capacity of some people to bear pain, misfortune, disappointment, without breaking down, may be the most powerful agency for convincing others of the reality and value of the Christian life and it may be God’s way of touching other hearts. When they told our Lord that Lazarus was ill He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.” If that was the purpose of Lazarus’ sickness it may be the purpose and explanation of your present trouble. Then it is worth bearing, and the man who believes that the chief end of life is to glorify God will not shrink from the course of pain. The man who would follow Christ must be willing, and even eager, to take on his own blameless shoulders the blame which belongs to another. He must be willing to open his heart to the sufferings that fall on other lives. He must be willing, in order to save another and to serve him, to become involved in the consequences of his wrong-doing. He must be willing, like the hero in Ralph Connor’s Prospector, to put himself into dangerous and equivocal positions, to endure suspicion and blame which rightly belong to another, in order that he may shield and save. There are still innumerable opportunities for the innocent to suffer with the guilty and for them, and the man who refuses to take them, who will shut the sufferings and sins of the world from his heart, who says, let us have a good time of comfort and ease, or of gaiety and pleasure, who says, the affairs of the people about me are no concern of mine, who makes it the first business of his life to avoid trouble and misunderstanding, is a stranger to the spirit of Christ. As long as there is suffering in the world, and sin, the Christian must share it. “Hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps.”1 [Note: Charles Brown, Trial and Triumph, 94.]

2. The Apostle has been speaking of the suffering patience of Christ, and urges the example of it upon his readers. But he shows that it was more than an example. It was an exhibition of redeeming power; it was a sacrifice for sins. Its purpose was nothing less than to bring mankind to the feet of God by the greatness of Divine love. Starting from a widespread belief in the extent of the Messiah’s work as held among the Jews, or from the direct teaching of his Master after His return from the grave, he speaks of that wider work in the gracious carrying of the great redemptive message into the under-world.

I have watched an insect making its way with some earnest purpose along the highway. I have watched its movements so long that I have become much interested in the success of its errand. I have seen when a loaded cart was coming up, whose wheel would have crushed the creature in an instant. I have laid a twig across its path, and compelled it to turn aside. Oh, how it stormed and fretted against my interference: if it could communicate with its kind, it would have a tale of hardship to recount that night, of some unknown and adverse power that stopped its progress and overturned its plans. Conceive, now, that intelligence should be communicated to that tiny being, and it should discover that another being, immeasurably raised above its comprehension, had in compassion saved it from death!1 [Note: W. Arnot, The Anchor of the Soul, 211.]


Suffering on Earth

“Christ also suffered for sins once.”

1. The death of Christ wan the outward expression of His mind and spirit.—It was not so much anything done to Him by wicked men or by God, as His own doing, a sacred act, the greatest of His works, and the profoundest of His parables. This act gave Him scope to show more clearly than He could in any other way all He was, and all He thought, felt, and believed. The Cross is the fullest exposition of the mind of Christ. As an expression of the world’s estimate of Jesus, Calvary was the verdict of ignorance, passion, and prejudice. It was a judgment to be repented of in fuller light. But think of Calvary as Christ’s judgment of the world! “Now is the judgment of this world.” The Cross is Christ’s verdict on the world, His sentence of death on the life that is born of the flesh.

The redemptive suffering of Jesus is the suffering of His heart. The virtue of His Passion lay in the spirit that He manifested. The human and material environment of the Master’s death has dominated our thought too much. I do not think that the material incidents of Gethsemane and Calvary were essential to our redemption. I believe that if Christ had never been betrayed by one of the twelve, He would still have died for our sins. I believe that if He had never suffered the brutal accompaniments of mockery and blasphemy, and the loathsome coarseness of contemptible men, He would still have died for our sins. I believe that if He had never been crucified, He would still have died for our sins. I believe that if He had finished His ministry in public acclamation, instead of public contempt, He would still have passed into outer darkness, into an unthinkable loneliness, into a terrible midnight of spiritual forsakenness and abandonment. He came to die, came to pass into the night which is “the wages of sin,” and what we men did was to add to His death the pangs of contempt and crucifixion.1 [Note: J. H. Jowett, The Epistles of Peter, 140.]

2. In the suffering of Christ, God Himself suffered.—We behold Him in the Son of Man. We see the wounds of love in His hands and feet and side. This message also gives suffering a glory which transforms and exalts it. Since suffering is love’s highest privilege, clearly the Cross gives us the secret of much beauty and joy in the suffering life of earth. It is true that the Cross does not sanction wanton suffering. Not a jot of the passion of the Christ was without its end, not a pang of His travail shall be without its satisfying fruit. It is still a privilege to alleviate human suffering wherever we can, even as Christ did when He healed the sick, and fed the multitude, and restored the dead to the mourners. But there is suffering which is all-beautiful, and becomes holy and wonderful in the light which is shed upon it from the Cross. The suffering which is the throbbing pulse of love is not an evil, but a good. It brings us into mystical relation with the mystery of God in His atoning Son. Let us not lament, if we suffer for love’s sake. Wearing our crown of thorns, let us stand before the cross, and the music of the Divine love will give us a blessedness which is known only when love is glorified with wounded hands and feet.

Would a mother think her love satisfied if she did not, and could not, suffer with her suffering child? Nay, she would consider herself disgraced by her insensibility. Even if she but imagined herself too insensible, she would suffer pangs because of the imagined inertness and inadequateness of her love. If she were offered the gift of insensibility, the power of looking without a pang on her loved one’s suffering, not for worlds would she accept such immunity. And if she were told that God possessed such immunity, her mother-heart of suffering love would know itself greater than such a God. Yet the eternal God says: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” The glory of God is His love. The glory of His love is that it is life. The glory of His life of love is that for love’s sake it could suffer infinitely, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.”1 [Note: J. Thomas, The Mysteries of Grace, 54.]

3. The suffering of Christ was vicarious.—“He died, the righteous for the unrighteous.” “The just for the unjust” is an outrage on civil justice, which is based on individualism; “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” But it is ground law of humanity, founded, as it is, on a community of life; “we are members one of another.” The many men are one man.

I saw the other day a sight which, happily, is rarer than it was—a man reeling through the street in the shamelessness of advanced drunkenness. People turned to look as he staggered past. I heard no laugh or jeer, but expressions of shame and pity on all sides. The sober felt for the drunken what he should have felt for himself; and by thus taking on them, even for a moment, a pain and a shame not their own they helped to replenish and preserve in the community that store of right feeling towards evil which is the safeguard of the unfallen and a very laver of regeneration for the sinner that repenteth. The man in the dock is sullen, defiant or indifferent, but some one in the court, mother or wife, feels for him all he should feel. As the sordid story of crime is pieced together, she burns in the fever of shame, and moans or faints as the pain of his sentence pierces her heart. The common conscience towards evil is daily repaired and strengthened by the sufferings of the just for the unjust, and a place of repentance for the guilty maintained by the sorrows of the innocent. Civil justice proceeds on the supposition that we are individuals merely, but every day’s experience proves that we are only individual members of one great whole, and that both in our sins and in our sorrows we very soon come to where the individual ends and the common life begins.2 [Note: J. Morgan Gibbon, Evangelical Heterodoxy, 88.]

4. The suffering of Christ reconciles men to God.—As a rivulet, after its toilsome, lonely progress past moor and forest, falls into the larger current of the river, as the river, after many windings and doublings, pours itself into the sea, so the soul, after the vain struggles of self-will, is reconciled to the river of God’s will, which is the river of life eternal. Reconciliation is harmony, agreement, atonement, and nothing else satisfies God or man. Punishment can never satisfy either the holiness of God or the conscience of man. The Divine holiness can be satisfied only with holiness, and “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” The homecoming of the prodigal quits all scores. Father and son are satisfied, and God is, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself without reckoning their trespasses.

He suffered, “that he might bring us to God.” All that need be said about that gracious “bringing” is just this, that in Jesus, answering the call of His redeeming grace, men and women in countless numbers have turned their faces home, and are making their way out of the deadening bondage of sin into the “glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Far, far away, like bells at evening pealing,

The voice of Jesus sounds o’er land and sea,

And laden souls, by thousands meekly stealing,

Kind Shepherd, turn their weary steps to Thee.1 [Note: J. H. Jowett, The Epistles of Peter, 142.]

5. Christ identifies Himself with us in suffering.—In our increasing grasp of the solidarity of the human race we have learned to look upon the human family as being one thing; and we know that the human family thrills throughout its wide extent under the power of this suffering of One for the many. All that you need is identification existing between the sufferers and those through whom they suffer. Well it is here. Our Lord, the Son of God, has become the Son of humanity; He has entered into that relation with the race, and with each member of the race, which a perfect community of nature involves. He is linked to all and each with the link of perfect love; and what exquisite capacities of suffering love always carries with it! He is the Head of the race, its Representative, the Second Adam. The whole race is re-gathered up in Him; and there is no possibility of identification between men like the identification that exists between the man Christ Jesus and us His brethren. It is because of the relation in which He stands to the race, that He died for us upon the Cross; and His death has all the wonderful effects which are assigned to it in Christian teaching, because it is a sorrow which is more fruitful than any other sorrow could be. I go to the Cross then, and I look to the Christ hanging there as my representative and dying that redeeming death.

They preach of a great Vicarious Anguish suffered for the world. Do they not know, rather, that it was suffered in and with it? that it was instead an Infinite Participance and Sympathy? that the anguish was in the world, and the Love came down, and tasted, and identified itself with it, making of the ultimate of pain a sublime, mysterious Rapture? That it is far more to feel the upholding touch of One who goes down into the deep waters before us, and to receive, so, some little drops that we can bear of the great Chrism, than to stand apart, safe on the sunny bank, while He passeth the flood for us, bringing it safely for our uncleansed feet for ever. That—not this—was the Pity and the Sacrifice; that is the Help and the Salvation; the Love and the Pain enfold us together; that is what the jasper and the crimson mean; the first refraction where the Divine Light falls into our denser medium of being; the foundation stone of the heavenly building. The beginning of the At-one-ment; till, through … the tenderer, peacefuller tints, our life passes the whole prism of its mysterious experience, and beyond the far-off violet, at last, it rarities to receive and to transmit the full white Light of God.1 [Note: A. D. T. Whitney.]


Ministry in Hades

“He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”

1. This declaration is like a little window through which we look into a world unknown and almost unsuspected; and what is suggested by the glimpse through the window is so strange, it involves so many extraordinary possibilities, that one can hardly wonder that many extravagant theories have been raised upon it. It was the extravagance of these theories that led St. Augustine in the beginning of the fifth century to seek for some other explanation of the text altogether; and he maintained that there is no reference in this text to what is called the descensus ad inferos—a descent to the shades—but that it refers simply to the historical episode of Noah preaching to those who subsequently perished by the flood. And Luther, no doubt seeing what a tremendous pile of mediaeval superstition had been reared on the strength of the text, admitted St. Augustine’s view; and Protestants have largely followed Luther, and have declared that the passage simply means that during the time of the flood, or just before, Jesus Christ preached to those sinful men as He preached to sinful men in the time of His Incarnation. But the reference in 1Pe_3:22 to the Ascension seems to suggest that the preaching took place after Christ’s death.

The weighty authority of R. H. Charles may be invoked to prove that the interpretation which accepts Christ’s mission to the dead fits in with our fuller knowledge of contemporary Jewish literature. It throws light on one of the darkest enigmas of the Divine justice. At the same time full justice will be done to the early Christian tradition that in some way or other Christ benefited the souls of the faithful departed. But it must be admitted that the bare statement of the Apostles’ Creed asserts only that Christ’s soul passed into the condition which our souls will enter at death, sanctifying every condition of human existence. Harnack writes that “the clause is too weak to maintain its ground beside the others, as equally independent and authoritative,” but, as Swete says, he fails to point out in what the weakness lies, while “to us it appears to possess in a very high degree the strength which comes from primitive simplicity and a wise reserve.”

Thus the consensus of theological opinion justifies the teaching of the poet of the Christian Year:

Sleep’st Thou indeed? or is Thy spirit fled,

At large among the dead?

Whether in Eden bowers Thy welcome voice

Wake Abraham to rejoice,

Or in some drearier scene Thine eye controls

The thronging band of souls;

That, as Thy blood won earth, Thine agony

Might set the shadowy realm from sin and sorrow free.1 [Note: A. E. Burn, in the Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, i. 716.]

2. Christ breaks through all barriers, and proclaims His Lordship in the realm of spirits. The “Keys of Hades” in the Book of Revelation serve to interpret “the proclamation to the spirits in prison.” Whatever the details may mean, the central picture in the Petrine passage is the triumphant march of the crucified Jesus through the domain of Hades. He is there taking command of the keys. He has come as Lord of the citadel, and makes His proclamation as such to the spirits in ward. The Monarch has come to take possession. Just as His coming into our earth shook our world with a new power, so His entry into Hades shook this shadowy realm with new forces. He grasped the keys of all Hades throughout all its mysterious boundaries, and not merely of a part of it. Therefore St. Peter writes only of a fraction of the whole “proclamation” and triumph, this portion having been chosen for the enforcement of a particular lesson—the lesson of godly Noah’s triumph over a turbulent and evil world. The Son of Man conquered the grave for the bodies of men, and took possession of Hades as Lord of the spirits of men. Therefore He will come to judge the quick and the dead alike. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”

The most primitive, or, at least, the earliest traceable, element in the conception of the Descensus would seem to be the belief that Christ, having descended into the under world after His death, delivered the Old Testament saints from that necessity of being confined in Hades which was thenceforward abrogated in the case of believers, and conveyed them to the Heaven which all believers have hereafter the right to enter.1 [Note: Friedrich Loofs, in the Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, iv. 661.]

3. Christ proclaimed the glad tidings of His Kingdom to those in Hades. He who came down from heaven “to seek and to save that which was lost” did not count His work over when He had finished it for the generation that then lived, or when He had laid the foundation of it for other generations thereafter; but He went also to those who had been so unhappy as to be born and to have died before He came. He went and continued His ministry among the spirits in prison. The Cross was set up, so to speak, in Hades. The promise to the penitent thief was not a promise to one; it was a promise to all who had gone before Christ and desired to know Him, who had died in His faith, in His love, but without the sight of Him;—it was a promise to all of them, that on that day He would bring rest and satisfaction to them. So we can think of Christ going there among all the dead, from Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, down to Isaiah and Micah, and John the Baptist—to all those who had been hungering for Him, expecting and longing for Him, to the souls of the great heathen, longing for they knew not what, but surely finding at last their satisfaction in Him.

It is impossible to shut Christ out of any region of His universe. He has a right everywhere. Hell and destruction are open before Him. He tracks “lost” man down to the deepest and darkest cavern. Even devils could not shut their gate of flame upon Him. He is “come to seek and to save that which was lost”; and I rejoice to believe that every “lost” child of Adam shall have at least the opportunity of accepting Christ’s mediation—that Christ’s great work has been published through the universe—and that even from hell’s floor of fire, clear up to heaven’s loftiest pinnacle of jasper, the story of redeeming love is known in all the pomp of its simplicity, in all the omnipotence of its pathos.1 [Note: J. Parker, Hidden Springs, 119.]

O the generations old,

Over whom no church-bells tolled,

Christless, lifting up blind eyes

To the silence of the skies!

For the innumerable dead

Is my soul disquieted.

Hear’st thou, 0 of little faith,

What to thee the mountain saith,

What is whisper’d by the trees?—

“Cast on God thy care for these;

Trust Him, if thy sight be dim:

Doubt for them is doubt of Him.

Not with hatred’s undertow

Doth the Love Eternal flow;

Every chain that spirits wear

Crumbles in the breath of prayer;

And the penitent’s desire

Opens every gate of fire.

Still Thy love, O Christ arisen,

Yearns to reach these souls in prison!

Through all depths of sin and loss

Drops the plummet of Thy cross!

Never yet abyss was found

Deeper than that cross could sound!”2 [Note: Whittier.]

4. Can we say anything as to the result of Christ’s preaching in Hades? Whatever the effect of Christ’s descent into Hades was for the ungodly, it would seem that His presence gave a higher status and a more vivid consciousness of blessedness to the holy dead. This appears inevitable. The revelation of the Messiah must have been to them a revelation of the deeper meanings and glories of their immortal life. His coming would make them share in the new and splendid development of the Kingdom of God which that coming involved. In the twilight land they too were waiting for His glory, and in His redemptive presence in the might of His victory they would rise into richer life. The godly of the old dispensation would be splendidly lifted into the glory of the new. Those who had been gathered to the “bosom of Abraham” would now know the higher blessedness of “being with Christ.”

In his Poem, “The Everlasting Mercy,” John Masefield gives the autobiography of a soul that sank to the lowest depths of sin. But Divine mercy pursued him in the vilest haunts and, in the person of a Quaker girl, hurled this appeal at the bolted door of his heart.

Saul Kane, she said, when next you drink,

Do me the gentleness to think

That every drop of drink accursed

Makes Christ within you die of thirst,

That every dirty word you say

Is one more flint upon his way,

Another thorn upon his head,

Another mock by where he tread,

Another nail, another Cross,

All that you are is that Christ’s loss.

Resistance was useless. The bolt yielded, and the power of love conquered in the prison of his soul. And this is what he says—

I did not think, I did not strive,

The deep peace burnt my me alive;

The bolted door had broken in,

I knew that I had done with sin.

I knew that Christ had given me birth,

To brother all the souls of earth,

And every bird and every beast

Should share the crumbs broke at the feast.

5. Does the possibility of new opportunity beyond this world diminish the urgency for missionary effort? If you object, as against this possible extension of mercy, that it will encourage sinners to go on as they are, in the hope of another chance by and by, the reply is that in exactly the same way you might object to the Gospel itself, that the death of Christ and pardon through His Cross is an encouragement to continue in sin that grace may abound. Men do argue that way, and St. Paul rebuked it by his solemn “God forbid.”

Then it is said, if the offer of salvation is to be made to the ignorant on the other side of death, what special urgency is there for strenuous labour in the present? That is how many men have reasoned, and how many reason to-day. If the unenlightened heathen are not swept into hell, the burden of the situation is lightened, and the strain is relaxed. It is a terrific motive to conceive that the unillumined multitudes are dropping over the precipice of death into everlasting torment. And that has been the conception of many devoted followers of Christ. One writer makes the terrible declaration that three millions of the heathen and Mohammedans are dying every month, dropping over the precipice into the awful night, swept into eternity! Swept into what? If they go out with unlit minds and hearts, are they never to see the gracious countenance of the Light of Life? “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” Does this destroy the urgency for foreign missions, and will it lull the heart of the Church to sleep? One may well ask where are we if the motive of our missions and ministry is to save people from the fires of hell?

The real missionary motive is not to save from hell, but to reveal Christ: not to save from a peril, but to proclaim and create a glorious companionship. Here is the marrow of the controversy, concentrated into one pressing question: Is it of infinite moment to know Christ now?

The love of Christ will always create missionaries. Raymund Lull was a gay and thoughtless courtier living a life of pleasure and of self-indulgence at the court of King James of Aragon. And one evening he was seated on his bed playing the zithern and trying to compose a song to a beautiful lady of the Court—a married lady, who rejected his addresses. While this gay, accomplished man was trying to compose the song, he thought he saw upon his right hand the crucified Saviour, and from the hands and the feet and the brow the blood was trickling down, and Christ looked at him reproachfully; he put down his zithern and he could not compose the song. Agitated, disturbed, and conscience-stricken, he left the room. Eight days after he had forgotten the event, but he had not forgotten the song; he took the zithern again, and began to finish the song—a song of an unrequited love. And he lifted up his eyes and saw again on his right hand the crucified Saviour with the blood trickling from the hands and the feet and the brow, a reproachful look in His eyes. The zithern was put aside again and this thoughtless creature said—“That is the greatest unrequited love in all the world. Let me sing some song to that.” He did not rest. He gave up his post at the Court, and became the great first missionary to the Moslems.1 [Note: R. F. Horton, The Hidden God, 61.]


Supremacy in Heaven

“Who is on the right hand of God.”

Christ is now on the right hand of God, and angels and authorities and powers are subject to Him.

1. In Him heaven obtains its highest vision of the glory of God. The God of redemption has become the centre of the heavenly places. Love is the highest expression of God, and grace is the highest expression of love. The God that sitteth upon the throne has to be reinterpreted in the light of the “Lamb that was slain.” Just as the Son of Man was the complete revelation of God upon the earth, so the ascended Christ is the complete revelation of God in heaven. The angels that looked upon the face of God in cycles past are learning anew the meaning of His glory, and ancient principalities and powers are learning from the enthroned Son the manifold wisdom of God. Once heaven rang with music to the Creator, and the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy. But now the highest music of heaven is praise to the Redeemer God, the Hallelujah Chorus to the “Lamb that was slain.” He has been exalted by the right hand of God to reveal the heart of God to the wondering hosts of heaven. For all heaven God is marvellously reinterpreted in the light of the atoning cross.

2. This was the fitting climax of so wonderful a career. It was not enough for Christ to conquer in the great fight, and to secure the fulfilment of His mission. He must receive a triumph. He must be crowned.

In his article on Dr. Chalmers Dr. John Brown has asked us to conceive of the reception which a great and good man is bound to get in heaven. “May we not imagine,” he says, “when a great and good man—a son of the morning—enters on his rest, that heaven would move itself to meet him at his coming?” Bunyan has given us a glowing description of the welcome given to Christian and Hopeful, as they drew near to the Golden City. But if heaven thus moves itself to welcome a great and good man, who shall describe the homecoming of the risen and victorious Christ? We know that the heavens resounded with song when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and the listening earth caught a faint echo of the strain. Surely the music, if not sweeter, was more exultant, when Jesus came back a Conqueror, with Calvary and the Cross behind, and the work of Redemption accomplished. Yes, angels and principalities and powers united in the shout, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” And He took His place on the throne of everlasting supremacy.

3. This was the enthronement of man. When Christ ascended on high, He brought our humanity with Him and placed it on the throne. Henceforth it is human nature at its best and purest that is triumphant and rules the universe. When we remember this, how cheerful and confident it should make us about the future. We need not fear to face life’s ceaseless battle. When we remember who occupies the place of supremacy, we can say

Some day love shall claim her own,

Some day fuller truth be known,

Some day right ascend the throne,

Some sweet day.

The true future of humanity lies in its realization of its glorious Head there upon the Throne, and we who know Him by faith must bring this home to others. In the wall of Constantinople still stands the gate through which the Moslem conquerors marched into the ancient Christian city which they were about to sack. The gate is walled up, and through that gate they say the Christian conqueror will enter for the Christian reoccupation of the city. So, as with Jerusalem, where the same fact is repeated, the “Golden Gate” in each case testifies to an ever-present fear that some day Jesus Christ will conquer. To the seer in lonely Patmos, separated from his fellow-worshippers on the Lord’s Day, doubtful, perhaps, about the future of the Church in a time of fierce persecution, comes the vision which in all ages has nerved the saint for witnessing and suffering, whether it be Isaiah or Ezekiel or Paul or Stephen, the vision of the invincible Sovereignty and present Glory of the Lord. Then, “what thou seest, write.” And the whole Book, with its glimpses of Christian history to the end of time, turns upon that opening vision as its pivot. It is the last written revelation which the world has had of that Glory. Thus St. John’s stewardship to the Church was fulfilled.1 [Note: T. A. Gurney, The Living Lord, 129.]

Depths of Mercy


Arnot (W.), The Anchor of the Soul, 197.

Brown (C.), Trial and Triumph, 123.

Butcher (C. H.), The Sound of a Voice that is Still, 71.

Carroll (B. H.), Sermons, 366.

Carter (T. T.), Meditations on the Suffering Life of our Lord, 148.

Cox (S.), Expositions, ii. 444.

Evans (T. S.), in The Anglican Pulpit of To-day, 440.

Eyton (R.), The Apostles’ Creed, 71.

Gibbon (J. M.), Evangelical Heterodoxy, 79.

Gibson (E. C. S.), in Sermons for the People, 251.

Gregory (J. R.), Scripture Truths made Simple, 149.

Gurney (T. A.), The Living Lord and the Opened Grave, 37.

Hicks (E.), The Life Hereafter, 34.

Horton (R. F.), The Hidden God, 81.

How (W. W.), Plain Words, ii. 187.

Kendrick (A. C.), The Moral Conflict of Humanity, 253.

Mackarness (C. C.), Sermons for the People, New Ser., iii. 249.

Meyer (F. B.), Tried by Fire, 135, 141.

Parker (J.), Hidden Springs, 115.

Plumptre (E. H.), The Spirits in Prison, 3, 111.

Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, ii. 73; ix. 361.

Simpson (J. G.), The Spirit and the Bride, 233.

Thomas (J.), The Mysteries of Grace, 103.

Thomas (W. H. G.), The Apostle Peter, 210.

Wilberforce (B.), Feeling after Him, 183.

Wilberforce (B.), Sermons in Westminster Abbey, 164.

Wilson (J. H.), The Gospel and its Fruits, 99.

Christian World Pulpit, xiv. 179 (Wagstaff); xlviii. 42 (Thompson); lxvii. 216 (Body); lxxiii. 317 (Gore); lxxvii. 307 (Roberts).

Church of England Magazine, li. 113 (Lester); lvii. 240 (Bryan).

Church of England Pulpit, xlvii. 256 (Silvester); 1. 98 (Wilberforce).

Churchman’s Pulpit: Good Friday and Easter Even: vii. 175 (Reichel), 178 (Pinder).

Keswick Week, 1899, p. 84 (Webb-Peploe).