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these walls are twelve openings or gateways, with twelve gates; and each of these twelve gates is made of one solid pearl.
From these gates inward there are as many main streetways, and all the streetway is gold-gold in perfect purity, such as cannot be reached by any earthly refinement-gold with a special heavenly quality beyond what is ever seen in our gold-transparent gold like the most perfect glass. People have built some very grand cities, the houses of which they have constructed of all manner of costly stones, granite, marble, and other solid productions of the earth, dressed, and polished, and ornamented to degrees of great excellence. But there is one part of every such city which they are satisfied to have of inferior material, only so that it is even and smooth; namely, the part which is trodden under every one's feet. It therefore gives a very high touch to the splendor of this celestial city that its very streets are pure transparent gold.
And the city itself is of the same material-nothing but "pure gold like to clear glass." It is a true crystal palace, made of nothing but transparent gold. An object is thus presented, the splendor of which far outshines the most sublime creations of which the human imagination ever dreamed.
4. Its Amplitude. There is no stint or meanness in God's creations. When he set himself to the making of worlds, he filled up an immeasurable space with them. He brought them forth in numbers without number, of grades upon grades, from the moons which play around the planets to luminous masses beyond any power of man to commensurate their enormous magnitude. When he created angels he added myriads on myriads, and orders on orders, until all earthly arithmetic is lost in the counting of them. When he started the human race it was on a career of multiplication to which we can set no limit. When he began the glorious work of redemption, and commenced the taking out and fashioning of a people to become the companions of his only begotten Son and co-regents with their Redeemer, these pictures of the final outcome tell of great multitudinous hosts, in numbers like the sands of the seashore. And the city he builds for them is of corresponding dimensions.
Starting from the center of our own city, though perhaps the largest in extent on this continent, we can travel but a few miles until we get beyond its built-up limits; and its breadth is but slight compared with its length. But the golden city for which the Church of the first-born is taught to look as its eternal home, is 1,500 miles square, for 12,000 stadia make 1,500 miles. John saw it measured, and this was the measure of it, just as wide as it is long, and just as high as it is wide, for the "length and the breadth and the height of it are equal" (Revelation 21:16). Here would be streets over streets, and stories over stories, up, up, up, to the height of 1,500 miles, and each street 1,500 miles long. Thus, this city is a solid cube of golden constructions, 1,500 miles every way. The base of it would stretch from furthest Maine to furthest Florida, and from the shore of the Atlantic to Colorado. It would cover all Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Prussia, European Turkey, and half of European Russia, taken together! Great was the City of Nineveh, so great that Jonah had only begun to enter it after a day's journey.
How long then would it take a man to explore this city of gold, whose every street is one-fifth the length of the diameter of the earth, and the number of whose main avenues, though a mile above each other, and a mile apart, would not be less than eight million! "Stupendous magnitude! Alexandria is said by Josephus to have had a length of 30 stadia, and a width of not less than 10 stadia. According to the same, the circuit of Jerusalem is defined by 33 stadia; that of Thebes, according to Dicaearchus, by 43 stadia; that of Nineveh, according to Diodorus Siculus, by 400 stadia. Herodotus, in his first book, says that Babylon had 120 stadia in each side, and 480 stadia in each circuit, and that its wall was 50 cubits thick and 200 cubits high. This is 2,000 stadia every way. All the cities in the world are mere villages in comparison with the New Jerusalem" (Bengel, in loc.) Even the jasper wall which surrounds it is higher than the highest of our church spires. Earth has no foundations on which such a city could be set, to say nothing of the materials of which it is built; therefore it comes forth out of the heaven from God, and has its place above the tops of the mountains.
It has ever been an anxious question to believing souls, what proportion of the people who have lived, or now live, are likely to reach this blessed city. People came to the Saviour when on earth, inquiring, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" (Luke 13:23). It is a complex question which could not be made profitably clear to those who put it, and it has nowhere been directly answered. It is better that we should be about making our own salvation sure, than speculating about the number who finally get to heaven. But the picture here placed before us casts a light upon the inquiry, as exalting to the grace of God as it is encouraging to those who really wish to be saved. This golden city has not been built in all this amplitude and magnificence of proportions for mere empty show. God did not create the earth in vain; "he formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18.) Much rather, then, would he not lavish all this glory and splendor upon the Eternal City, without knowing that enough out of the family of man would embrace his salvation to fill and people it. And the population to fill and occupy a city 1,500 miles long, and broad, and high, allowing the amplest room and space for each individual, family, tribe, and tongue, and nation, would necessarily mount up to myriads on myriads, who sing the songs and taste the joys of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Amplitude-amplitude of numbers, as well as glorious accommodations-is unmistakably signified, in whatever way we contemplate the astonishing picture.
5. Its System of Illumination. What is a city without light! And what is more difficult of management in utilizing city spaces than the arrangements for light! Fortunately no gas trusts are needed in the New Jerusalem, nor light of the sun, nor light of the moon. It is itself a grand prism of inherent light, the Light of God and the Lamb, which illuminates at once the eyes of the body and of the soul, and shines not only on the objects without but on the understandings within, making everything light in the Lord. The glory of God's brightness envelops it like an unclouded halo, permeates it, and radiates through it and from it so that there is not a dark or obscure place about it. It shines like a new sun, inside and out, sending abroad its rays over all the earth, and into the depths of space, making our planet seem to distant worlds as if suddenly transformed into a brilliant luminary, whose brightness never wanes.
And that shining is not from any material combustion-not from any consumption of fuel that needs to be replaced as one supply burns out; for it is the uncreated light of Him who is light, dispensed by and through the Lamb as the everlasting Lamp, to the home, and hearts, and understandings, of his glorified saints. When Paul and Silas lay wounded and bound in the inner dungeon of the prison of Philippi, they still had sacred light which enabled them to beguile the night-watches with happy songs. When Paul was on his way to Damascus, a light brighter than the sun at noon shone around him, irradiating his whole being with new sights and understanding, and making his soul and body ever afterward light in the Lord. When Moses came down from the mount of his communion with God, his face was so luminous that his brethren could not endure to look upon it. He was in such close fellowship with light that he became informed with light, and came to the camp as a very lamp of God, glowing with the glory of God. On the Mount of Transfiguration that same light streamed forth from all the body and raiment of the blessed Jesus. And with reference to the very time when this city comes into being and place, Isaiah says, "the moon shall be ashamed and the sun confounded" ashamed because of the out-beaming glory which then shall appear in the New Jerusalem, leaving no more need for them to shine in it, since the glory of God lights it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
6. Its Lack of a Temple. "A Temple," says the seer, "I saw not in it." What a vacuum it could create in every earthly city if its temples were taken away! What would ancient Jerusalem have been without its Temple? How much does the fame and glory of the most renowned of cities, ancient and modern, rest on their Temples! Strip them of these and what would be their nakedness! But it is no privation to the New Jerusalem that there is no Temple in it. Nay, it is one of its sublimest peculiarities. Not that worship is then to cease. Not that communion with the eternal Spirit and Source of all things is no longer to exist. While God and holy beings live, their loving adoration of him cannot cease, nor acts of worship be discontinued. But then and there the worship and communion will no longer be through symbols, veils, and intermediate ceremonials, which now are needed to help the soul to divine fellowship. Deity will then have come forth from behind all veils, all mediating sacraments, all previous barriers and hidings because of the infirmities of the flesh or the weaknesses of undeveloped spirituality. Himself will be the Temple thereof. The glorious worshippers there hold direct communion with his manifested glory, which encompasses them and all their city alike. As consecrated high priests,they will then have come into the holiest of all, into the very cloud of God's overshadowing glory, which is at once their covering, their Temple, their God.
When Jesus walked with his disciples on earth, wherever he was they had a Temple. In the mountains and wildernesses of retirement, in the midst of the street concourse, on the heights where he was transfigured, in the upper room where they ate with him the paschal supper, along the way to Emmaus, on the shores of Galilee, on the Mount of Ascension, wherever his divine presence, power, and goodness spoke its "Peace be unto you," was a Temple to them. What an encumbrance and detraction would have been Aaron's garments and Aaron's breastplate, and Aaron's ceremonials of inquiry and worship when they had with them" God manifest in the flesh," on whose bosom they could lay their heads, whose cheeks they could kiss, whose feet they could bathe with their tears, whose words they could hear, and whose gracious services and benedictions they could at all times command! What need of Solomon's Temple had they, when the embodied Shechinah himself, in everapproachable form, was with them by day and by night, their brother, their master, their everlasting friend! And when the saints in immortal glory dwell within the enclosing light of the unveiled presence of God and the Lamb, as his Bride and Wife, what more need have they of Temple, or outward ceremonial, to commune with Deity, or to have fellowship with the Father and the Son! God and the Lamb are then themselves the Temple, and the intervention of any other Temple would be a disability, a clog, and a going back from the sublime exaltation which the saints there reach and enjoy. Hence, John saw no Temple in that city, "for the Lord God, the All-Ruler, and the Lamb is its Temple." The worship there is immediate and direct.
7. Its Relation to the World at Large. Of old, the song of the Psalmist was: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, the City of the Great King" (Psalms 48:2). In every land into which the Jewish people wandered, there was a glad thrill upon their souls when they remembered Jerusalem. Night and morning they knelt down with their faces toward there to chant the praises of Him who there dwelt between the Cherubim; and year by year the pilgrim bands went up from all lands, with gladness of heart, and lute, and song, unto the mountain of the Lord, to the Mighty One of Israel. The tribes of the Lord came there, unto the Testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord, for there were set the thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David (Psalms 122). Out of Zion went the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. We cannot look back upon those times, even now, without a degree of fascination which draws like a magnet upon every feeling of the heart. And what was then realized on a small and feeble scale, in the case of one people, is to be the universal experience with regard to this blessed city. It is to be the center and illuminator of the world.
"The nations shall walk by means of the light of it." Spiritual illumination for the soul, as well as glorious light for the eyes,-the light of truth and righteousness, and the light of Life for all needs, personal, social, and national, in the redeemed family of man-shall go forth from that sublime city; and "the nations" shall walk in that light. Their polity, their religion, and all that goes to make up for them an economy of Edenic blessedness, shall come forth from that sublime metropolis. Their kings, their judges, their priests, their loving guides, their Saviour, their only Lord God, are there, visible to their eyes, and ever present to their hearts and minds. What never yet has been upon this earth, a really holy nation, will then be found wherever man is found, and all people shall be the people of the Lord. People talk of Christian nations,' but, in all this dwelling-place of man, from the beginning until now, there is nothing of the sort to answer to the phrase. There is no such thing, and there never will be, until the New Earth appears, and the New Jerusalem comes into the view of people. But then, all nations, as nations, shall be sanctified and holy, for they shall walk in the light of the Eternal City of the Eternal King. That City, raised aloft, and filled with the Spirit and glory of God and the Lamb, will be the illumination and the great glory of the world, the center of supremest interest-the joy of the waking thoughts and the sleeping dreams of all the children of men.
"And the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor to (or into) it." The Kings will then be Christ and his glorified saints. These will reside in this city, and whatever pertains to them as kings will have its center and seat there. Their glory as kings, their authority and their thrones, will all go to honor, dignify, and distinguish this city. And if by "kings of the earth" we are to understand sub-kings belonging to unglorified humanity, the statement implies that the homage and gratitude of earthly royalty will then devote everything of greatness and glory that it possesses to the service and honor of that city.
"And they shall bring the glory and reverence of the nations to (or into) it." All the honor the world can give will be given to that city. All nations, as one man, shall then be happy worshippers, and all devotion shall concenter in the New Jerusalem. All eyes, all ears, shall be turned to it. And all the honor that people can render, and all the delight the human heart can feel, will flow forever to that high tabernacle, whose gates are never shut, and where no night is ever known.
8. Its superlative Holiness. "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of hosts, cried the six-winged Seraphim; and where that God is, only what is holy can find place. This is "the mountain of his Holiness," the city where his glory dwells; therefore no common or unclean thing can ever enter it, nor anyone that doeth abomination, or worketh what is false. "Holy things for holy people," was the announcement given out by the Church for many ages whenever about to present the mystery of the holy Supper; and a similar word forever flames around those gates of pearl. The city is ample; it is magnificent; and there is place within it for every one ready and willing to become its denizen; but it is "holy," and no one can ever set foot upon its golden streets who is not enrolled in the book of life of the Lamb. Sinners may come there, yes, for sinners it was made; but only for such as are cleansed in the proffered bath of regeneration, by the washing of water and the word. No place is there for them that believe not in Jesus, and submit not themselves to his saving