The clouds in which Christ comes opened in a sermon before the Honourable House of Commons, assembled in Parliament, upon the solemne day of their monthly fast, Octob. 27, 1647
Sterry, Peter, 1613-1672.

THE CONTEXT.

I Shall make my way through the Context to my Text; so shall we fall more Clearly and Kindly into it.

Saint Iohn in this Book makes from His Time, a Discovery of Those Things, which Are, and Are to Be, till the World should Be no more. So the Greek addes to the second verse this Clause, Both Those things, Page  2 that Are, and Those things, which are Ordained to Be, after Them.

The Manner and Matter of this Discovery are Both exprest in the Title and First words of this Book, The Revelation of Iesus Christ. Divines tell us, There are Two Glasses, in which All Things are seen, that are seen by a Prophetick Light, or a Light of Glory: The Person of our Lord Iesus; and The Trinity. The Scene of this whole Discourse or Discovery, called, The Revelation; from one end of the Book to the o∣ther, lyes in the Person of our Blessed Saviour.

This Divine Discourse is cast into the forme of an Epistle, convey'd by the Tongue of an Angel, the Hand of an Evangelist, to the Seven Churches in Asia.

*This Epistle hath Foure Parts:

  • 1. A Salutation.
  • 2 A two-fold Preface.
  • 3. A Narration.
  • 4. A Conclusion.

*The Salutation begins with the fourth verse, and ends where my Text begins. It consists of Prayers and Praises.

Both Parts, Prayer and Praise, have for their Design, a Description of that Person, which is the Ground and Argument of all that Prophetick story, which the Epistle represents From, and In Heaven. This Person is our Iesus, not according to that Fleshly Shape, in which He walkt among men, below: but according to that Page  3 Spirituall Forme, that Divine Figure, in which He sits with God, and shines forth on Angels, above.

1. Prayer. The First Part in the Salutation is Prayer. This hath a Three-fold Description of our Saviours Divine Person:

  • 1. A Distinction of Times in the Person of Christ.
  • 2. A Distinction of Things.
  • 3. An Union of Times and Things in Him.

A distinction of Times in Christ.* This you may reade in the 4. verse, From Him, Which Is, Which Was, and Which is to Come. The whole Frame of Things is built with a Three-fold Partition, like the Tem∣ple, which makes a Three-fold Kingdome: 1. That of Nature. 2. That of the Mediatour. 3. That of the Father. These Three Kingdomes have their Full Re∣volutions, and Severall Periods in that One Majestick Person of our Saviour.

1. The Kingdome of Nature lyes in the Glory of Christs Person, as Past. The first Creation was a kind of Incar∣nation; for in that, the Image of God was made Flesh. Jesus Christ was the Seed of the world. God calls him, The Seed of the Woman, Gen. 3.15. He is the Seed in the Woman, which Sends Her forth, and Growes up out of Her. The Woman and the World are to Jesus Christ, as the Corne to the Blade, Eare and Huske. You reade, Rev. 1.15. The Feet of Christ were like unto Fine Brasse, as if they were Burning in a Fornace. The Formes of Nature are the Feet of the Lord Jesus. Page  4 These are in the Divine Brightnesse of his Immortall Person, as in a Flame; Consumed in the Heat of a Grea∣ter Glory: yet stil Conspicuous and Transparent through the Light of it. Therefore in this Kingdome, our Lord raignes with this Title, He That Was.

2. The Kingdome of the Mediatour. This is the Vni∣on or Marriage of the Two other Kingdoms, of Nature, and the Father; Time and Eternity. This is, as a Flou∣rishing Picture, which consists of Light and Shadow, making of Both, One Beauty. God is the Light, the Creature the Shadow, which here are interwoven, and shine mutually; The Creature By God, God In the Creature: so Both make but One Appearance, One Kingdome.

This is the Middle-state of things: Thorow this, God first Descends into Nature: Thorow this, All Things Ascend and return again out of Nature unto God. Therefore this is cal'd Regnum Mediatorium: This is properly the Kingdome of Christ, as he is the Me∣diator: In this our Lord Jesus is according to his Pro∣per State and Person, known by This name, He That Is.

3. The Kingdome of the Father. Here the God-head reignes in the Fulnesse of an Unmixt, the Freedome of an Unlimited Glory. The Kingdome of Christ is ever in Motion, till at last it roul it selfe into this sea, where it Perfectly loseth, and yet more Perfectly then ever, keeps its own Distinct State. This is the First De∣scription.

*A Distinction of Things in the Person of Christ: And from the seven Spirits, which are before His Throne, ver. 4.

Page  5If these Spirits were Angels, they would in this place justifie and reward the Papists in their prayers to those Flaming Ministers. God is a Spirit, but He is One. These then are some Middle-thing, not by Ne∣gation, that cannot be; but by Participation.

Seven is the Perfect number of the Creature com∣prehending its Labour and its Rest; its Six Dayes, and its Sabbath. Seven times Seven is the Great Jubi∣le, the Joy of All Things, in which they are Free, and Return to their First State.

God then As He varies himselfe into all the Di∣stinct Formes of the Creature, as he carries them on thorow their Severall Changes, till he carry them up to His own Vnchangeable Rest: So He is a Seven-fold Spirit. And this is the Spirituall Person of our Lord Jesus; Pan's Pipe composed of seven reeds; Seven being known by learned men for the Marriage-number.

Revel. 5.6. A Lamb stands with seven hornes, and seven eyes, which are The Seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. This is that Great Spirit our Lord Jesus, who in the form of a Seven-fold Spirit like a River with seven heads, lets forth the God-head and the Creation, one into another.

The Union of all Times and Things in One Person.* This is the first part of the fifth verse. This Vnion is set forth by a Three-fold Expression:

  • 1. The Appearance of all things in Christ.
  • 2. The Presence of Christ in all.
  • 3. The Power of Christ over all.

Page  61. The Appearance of all things in Christ: Iesus Christ the faithfull witnesse.

Our Lord Jesus in glory is become the Image, and the Light: The Image, in which Each Thing is seen: The Light, by which that Image appears. So He is both the Testimony and the Witnesse. He is the Faithfull witnesse: For He is the Truth of all things. Every thing is seen in Him, according to its most Right, most Proper, and So∣lidest Appearance.

2. The Presence of Christ in all. The first-born from the dead. v. 5. c. 1. Our Lord Jesus was in Nature, so He became capable of dying, He sinks himselfe out of Nature into The Darknesse, which is a Shadow flying round about this Creation, so He dyes. Thorow this Darknesse he shoots forth himselfe into the Light of God, which encompasseth all: So He is risen from the dead.

By His Presence in Nature, all things put forth themselves there: For all subsist in him. Colos. 1.17. By His Death all things die, His Death being the V∣niversal one, including and bringing forth all Particu∣lar deaths. For the world is crucified by the Crosse of Christ. By His Resurrection all things are raised into the Life of God; as the Soul raiseth all the parts of the Body, making to it selfe so many severall Resur∣rections in them. Thus is Christ the First-born from the Dead. This is He, Present in All Things, Passing thorow All States.

3. Power over all: The Prince of the Kings of the earth, c. 1. v. 5. All Principalities and Powers, visible or invisible, are streames in which Jesus Christ flowes forth from God, pouring forth himselfe at last into Page  7 God againe. So have we gone thorow the Prayer in the Salutation, as it containes a Three-fold Description of our Saviours High and Heavenly Person.

2. Praise. This second part of the Salutation which raiseth it selfe, by a quick sweetnesse of change, unto Praise, is comprehended in the latter part of the fifth verse and the sixth. The Praises sing forth the Person of Christ in a Two-fold Description: First Love: Se∣condly Lustre.

1. Love. This Love of our Sweet Saviour hath a double Preciousnesse in it.

1. The Affection. To him that hath loved. v. 5.

2. The Effect. This is Three-fold. 1. Our Justifica∣tion, And hath wash't us in his blood. 2. Sanctification, Hath made us Priests to God his Father. 3. Glorifi∣cation, Hath made us Kings.

2. Lustre. To him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Glory is the Reflexion of Beauty from every Appearance. Dominion is the Power or Ful∣nesse that comprehends and sends forth each Appea∣rance. This is the Lustre of our Saviours Divine Per∣son. 'Tis set with the Roots and Rags of all Being. It hath in it selfe the Power that puts forth any Ap∣pearance; the Appearance that is put forth by any Po∣wer, thorow the whole extent of things, from one end of them to the other, for ever and ever.

Saint Iohn from these Praises passeth as by a divine Rapture of delight and wonder into the First Pre∣face,* v. 7. Behold He comes, &c. Let All eyes here look up and gaze, He comes: He who is, who was, who is to come; He, the Living Creature, and the Page  8 Wheel of the whole Creation of God: He comes with Clouds, He comes cloth'd with so full appea∣rance of Majesty and Sweetnesse, as shall melt all hearts, make all eyes weep teares of Griefe and Ioy; Grief, that they have seen Him no sooner; Ioy, that they see him now; and seeing him, see all their Griefs and Feares eternally vanish't; all their desires and joyes accomplish't; all their Sinnes against so much Sweetnesse perfectly forgiven. Thus we are arrived at my Text.