Hitherto the prophecy of this book has presented to us a very
remarkable mixture of light and shade, prosperity and adversity, mercy
and judgment, in the conduct of divine Providence towards the church in
the world: now, at the close of all, the day breaks, and the shadows
flee away; a new world now appears, the former having passed away. Some
are willing to understand all that is said in these last two chapters
of the state of the church even here on earth, in the glory of the
latter days; but others, more probably, take it as a representation of
the perfect and triumphant state of the church in heaven. Let but the
faithful saints and servants of God wait awhile, and they shall not
only see, but enjoy, the perfect holiness and happiness of that world.
In this chapter you have,
I. An introduction to the vision of the new Jerusalem,
II. The vision itself,
|The New Jerusalem.
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1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven
and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from
God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and
they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them,
and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall
there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all
things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the
beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of
the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be
his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and
murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and
all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with
fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
We have here a more general account of the happiness of the church of
God in the future state, by which it seems most safe to understand the
I. A new world now opens to our view
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; that is, a new universe; for
we suppose the world to be made up of heaven and earth. By the new
earth we may understand a new state for the bodies of men, as well as a
heaven for their souls. This world is not now newly created, but newly
opened, and filled with all those who were the heirs of it. The new
heaven and the new earth will not then be distinct; the very earth of
the saints, their glorified bodies, will now be spiritual and heavenly,
and suited to those pure and bright mansions. To make way for the
commencement of this new world, the old world, with all its troubles
and commotions, passed away.
II. In this new world the apostle saw the holy city, the new
Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, not locally, but as to its
original: this new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and
perfect state, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,
beautified with all perfection of wisdom and holiness, meet for the
full fruition of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.
III. The blessed presence of God with his people is here proclaimed and
admired: I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, &c.,
1. The presence of God with his church is the glory of the church.
2. It is matter of wonder that a holy God should ever dwell with any
of the children of men.
3. The presence of God with his people in heaven will not be
interrupted as it is on earth, but he will dwell with them continually.
4. The covenant, interest, and relation, that there are now between God
and his people, will be filled up and perfected in heaven. They
shall be his people; their souls shall be assimilated to him,
filled with all the love, honour, and delight in God which their
relation to him requires, and this will constitute their perfect
holiness; and he will be their God: God himself will be their
God; his immediate presence with them, his love fully manifested to
them, and his glory put upon them, will be their perfect happiness;
then he will fully answer the character of the relation on his part, as
they shall do on their part.
IV. This new and blessed state will be free from all trouble and
1. All the effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have
been often before in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the
calamities of the church; but now all tears shall be wiped away;
no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain, any further
than to make their present felicity the greater. God himself, as their
tender Father, with his own kind hand, shall wipe away the tears
of his children; and they would not have been without those tears when
God shall come and wipe them away.
2. All the causes of future sorrow shall be for ever removed: There
shall be neither death nor pain; and therefore no sorrow nor
crying; these are things incident to that state in which they were
before, but now all former things have passed away.
V. The truth and certainty of this blessed state are ratified by the
word and promise of God, and ordered to be committed to writing, as
matter of perpetual record,
The subject-matter of this vision is so great, and of such great
importance to the church and people of God, that they have need of the
fullest assurances of it; and God therefore from heaven repeats and
ratifies the truth thereof. Besides, many ages must pass between the
time when this vision was given forth and the accomplishment of it, and
many great trials must intervene; and therefore God would have it
committed to writing, for perpetual memory, and continual use to his
1. The certainty of the promise averred: These words are faithful
and true; and it follows, It is done, is as sure as if it
were done already. We may and ought to take God's promise as present
payment; if he has said that he makes all things new, it is
2. He gives us his titles of honour as a pledge or surety of the full
performance, even those titles of Alpha and Omega, the beginning and
the end. As it was his glory that he gave the rise and beginning to
the world and to his church, it will be his glory to finish the work
begin, and not to leave it imperfect. As his power and will were the
first cause of all things, his pleasure and glory are the last end, and
he will not lose his design; for then he would no longer be the
Alpha and Omega. Men may begin designs which they can never
bring to perfection; but the counsel of God shall stand, and he
will do all his pleasure.
3. The desires of his people towards this blessed state furnish another
evidence of the truth and certainty of it. They thirst after a state of
sinless perfection and the uninterrupted enjoyment of God, and God has
wrought in them these longing desires, which cannot be satisfied with
any thing else, and therefore would be the torment of the soul if they
were disappointed but it would be inconsistent with the goodness of
God, and his love to his people, to create in them holy and heavenly
desires, and then deny them their proper satisfaction; and therefore
they may be assured that, when they have overcome their present
difficulties, he will give them of the fountain of the water of life
VI. The greatness of this future felicity is declared and illustrated,
1. By the freeness of it--it is the free gift of God: He gives of the
water of life freely; this will not make it less but more grateful
to his people.
2. The fulness of it. The people of God then lie at the fountain-head
of all blessedness: they inherit all things
enjoying God, they enjoy all things. He is all in all.
3. By the tenure and title by which they enjoy this blessedness--by
right of inheritance, as the sons of God, a title of all others
the most honourable, as resulting from so near and endeared a relation
to God himself, and the most sure and indefeasible, that can no more
cease than the relation from which it results.
4. By the vastly different state of the wicked. Their misery helps to
illustrate the glory and blessedness of the saints, and the
distinguishing goodness of God towards them,
(1.) The sins of those who perish, among which are first mentioned
their cowardliness and unbelief. The fearful lead the van in
this black list. They durst not encounter the difficulties of religion,
and their slavish fear proceeded from their unbelief; but those who
were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, and
discharge their duty to him, were yet so desperate as to run into all
manner of abominable wickedness--murder, adultery, sorcery,
idolatry, and lying.
(2.) Their punishment: They have their part in the lake that burns
with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
[1.] They could not burn at a stake for Christ, but they must burn in
hell for sin.
[2.] They must die another death after their natural death; the agonies
and terrors of the first death will consign them over to the far
greater terrors and agonies of eternal death, to die and to be always
[3.] This misery will be their proper part and portion, what they have
justly deserved, what they have in effect chosen, and what they have
prepared themselves for by their sins. Thus the misery of the damned
will illustrate the blessedness of those that are saved, and the
blessedness of the saved will aggravate the misery of those that are
|The New Jerusalem.
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9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the
seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me,
saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high
mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem,
descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a
stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and
at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the
south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them
the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the
city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as
the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve
thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of
it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty
and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is,
of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the
city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished
with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was
jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the
fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh,
chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a
chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several
gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure
gold, as it were transparent glass.
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and
the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to
shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb
is the light thereof.
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.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for
there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations
27 And there shall in no wise 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.
We have already considered the introduction to the vision of the new
Jerusalem in a more general idea of the heavenly state; we now come to
the vision itself, where observe,
I. The person that opened the vision to the apostle--one of the seven
angels, that had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues,
God has a variety of work and employment for his holy angels.
Sometimes they are to sound the trumpet of divine Providence, and give
fair warning to a careless world; sometimes they are to pour out the
vials of God's anger upon impenitent sinners; and sometimes to discover
things of a heavenly nature to those that are the heirs of
salvation. They readily execute every commission they receive from
God; and, when this world shall be at an end, yet the angels shall be
employed by the great God in proper pleasant work to all eternity.
II. The place from which the apostle had this glorious view and
prospect. He was taken, in ecstasy, into a high mountain. From
such situations men usually have the most distinct views of adjacent
cities. Those who would have clear views of heaven must get as near
heaven as they can, into the mount of vision, the mount of meditation
and faith, whence, as from the top of Pisgah, they may behold the
goodly land of the heavenly Canaan.
III. The subject-matter of the vision--the bride, the Lamb's wife
that is, the church of God in her glorious, perfect, triumphant state,
under the resemblance of Jerusalem, having the glory of God shining in
its lustre, as uxor splendit radiis mariti--the bride comely through
the comeliness put on her by her husband; glorious in her relation
to Christ, in his image now perfected in her, and in his favour shining
upon her. And now we have a large description of the church triumphant
under the emblem of a city, far exceeding in riches and splendour all
the cities of this world; and this new Jerusalem is here represented to
us both in the exterior and the interior part of it.
1. The exterior part of the city--the wall and the gates,
the wall for security and the gates for entrance.
(1.) The wall for security. Heaven is a safe state; those that are
there are enclosed with a wall, that separates them and secures them
from all evils and enemies: now here, in the account of the wall, we
[1.] The height of it, which, we are told, is very high, seventy
sufficient both for ornament and security.
[2.] The matter of it: It was as jasper; a wall all built of the
most precious stones, for firmness and lustre,
This city has a wall that is impregnable as well as precious.
[3.] The form of it was very regular and uniform: It was
four-square, the length as large as the breadth. In the new
Jerusalem all shall be equal in purity and perfection. There shall be
an absolute uniformity in the church triumphant, a thing wanted and
wished for on earth, but not to be expected till we come to heaven.
[4.] The measure of the wall
Twelve thousand furlongs each way, each side, which is
forty-eight thousand furlongs in the whole compass, or fifteen hundred
German miles. Here is room sufficient for all the people of
God--many mansions in their Father's house.
[5.] The foundation of the wall, for heaven is a city that hath her
the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the
strong foundations of the church's safety and happiness. The
foundations are described by their number--twelve, alluding to
the twelve apostles
whose gospel doctrines are the foundations upon which the church is
built, Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; and, as to
the matter of these foundations, it was various and precious, set forth
by twelve sorts of precious stones, denoting the variety and excellency
of the doctrines of the gospel, or of the graces of the Holy Spirit, or
the personal excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2.) The gates for entrance. Heaven is not inaccessible; there is a way
opened into the holiest of all; there is a free admission to all those
that are sanctified; they shall not find themselves shut out. Now, as
to these gates, observe,
[1.] Their number--twelve gates, answering to the twelve tribes
of Israel. All the true Israel of God shall have entrance into the new
Jerusalem, as every tribe had into the earthly Jerusalem.
[2.] Their guards which were placed upon them--twelve angels, to
admit and receive the several tribes of the spiritual Israel and keep
[3.] The inscription on the gates--the names of the twelve
tribes, to show that they have a right to the tree of life, and to
enter through the gates into the city.
[4.] The situation of the gates. As the city had four equal sides,
answering to the four quarters of the world, east, west, north, and
south, so on each side there were three gates, signifying that from all
quarters of the earth there shall be some who shall get safely to
heaven and be received there, and that there is as free entrance from
one part of the world as from the other; for in Christ there is
neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free. Men of
all nations, and languages, who believe on Christ, have by him access
to God in grace here and in glory hereafter.
[5.] The materials of these gates--they were all of pearls, and yet
with great variety: Every gate one pearl, either one single
pearl of that vast bigness, or one single sort of pearl. Christ is the
pearl of great price, and he is our way to God. There is nothing
magnificent enough in this world fully to set forth the glory of
heaven. Could we, in the glass of a strong imagination, contemplate
such a city as is here described, even as to the exterior part of it,
such a wall, and such gates, how amazing, how glorious, would the
prospect be! And yet this is but a faint and dim representation of what
heaven is in itself.
2. The interior part of the new Jerusalem,
We have seen its strong wall, and stately gates, and glorious guards;
now we are to be led through the gates into the city itself; and the
first thing which we observe there is the street of the city, which
is of pure gold, like transparent glass,
The saints in heaven tread upon gold. The new Jerusalem has its several
streets. There is the most exact order in heaven: every saint has his
proper mansion. There is converse in heaven: the saints are then at
rest, but it is not a mere passive rest; it is not a state of sleep and
inactivity, but a state of delightful motion: The nations that are
saved walk in the light of it. They walk with Christ in white. They
have communion not only with God, but with one another; and all their
steps are firm and clean. They are pure and clear as gold and
transparent glass. Observe,
(1.) The temple of the new Jerusalem, which was no material temple,
made with men's hands, as that of Solomon and Zerubbabel, but a temple
altogether spiritual and divine; for the Lord God Almighty, and the
Lamb, are the temple thereof. There the saints are above the need
of ordinances, which were the means of their preparation for heaven.
When the end is attained the means are no longer useful. Perfect and
immediate communion with God will more than supply the place of gospel
(2.) The light of this city. Where there is no light, there can be no
lustre nor pleasure. Heaven is the inheritance of the saints in
light. But what is that light? There is no sun nor moon shining
Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun. What a
dismal world would this be if it were not for the light of the sun!
What is there in heaven that supplies the want of it? There is no want
of the light of the sun, for the glory of God lightens that city,
and the Lamb is the light thereof. God in Christ will be an
everlasting fountain of knowledge and joy to the saints in heaven; and,
if so, there is no need of the sun or moon, any more than we here need
to set up candles at noon day, when the sun shineth in its
(3.) The inhabitants of this city. They are described here several
[1.] By their numbers--whole nations of saved souls; some out of all
nations, and many out of some nations. All those multitudes who were
sealed on earth are saved in heaven.
[2.] By their dignity--some of the kings and princes of the earth:
great kings. God will have some of all ranks and degrees of men to fill
the heavenly mansions, high and low; and when the greatest kings come
to heaven they will see all their former honour and glory swallowed up
of this heavenly glory that so much excels.
[3.] Their continual accession and entrance into this city: The
gates shall never be shut. There is no night, and therefore no need
of shutting up the gates. Some one or other is coming in every hour and
moment, and those that are sanctified always find the gates open; they
have an abundant entrance into the kingdom.
(4.) The accommodations of this city: All the glory and honour of
the nations shall be brought into it. Whatever is excellent and
valuable in this world shall be there enjoyed in a more refined kind,
and to a far greater degree--brighter crowns, a better and more enduring
substance, more sweet and satisfying feasts, a more glorious
attendance, a truer sense of honour and far higher posts of honour, a
more glorious temper of mind, and a form and a countenance more
glorious than ever were known in this world.
(5.) The unmixed purity of all who belong to the new Jerusalem,
[1.] There the saints shall have no impure thing remaining in them. In
the article of death they shall be cleansed from every thing that is of
a defiling nature. Now they feel a sad mixture of corruption with their
graces, which hinders them in the service of God, interrupts their
communion with him, and intercepts the light of his countenance; but,
at their entrance into the holy of holies, they are washed in the laver
of Christ's blood, and presented to the Father without spot.
[2.] There the saints shall have no impure persons admitted among them.
In the earthly Jerusalem there will be a mixed communion, after all the
care that can be taken. Some roots of bitterness will spring up to
trouble and defile Christian societies; but in the new Jerusalem there
is a society perfectly pure. First, Free from such as are openly
profane. There are none admitted into heaven who work abominations. In
the churches on earth sometimes abominable things are done, solemn
ordinances profaned and prostituted to men openly vicious, for worldly
ends; but no such abominations can have place in heaven.
Secondly, Free from hypocrites, such as make lies, say they are
Jews, and are not, but do lie. These will creep into the churches of
Christ on earth, and may lie concealed there a long time, perhaps all
their days; but they cannot intrude into the new Jerusalem, which is
wholly reserved for those that are called, and chosen, and faithful,
who are all written, not only in the register if the visible church,
but in the Lamb's book of life.