No. 3

Rev 19 3

No. 3 [1]

Revelation 19:11

[1st sermon on this text]

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns;
and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
We come now to a more particular description of this August Personage - Seated upon his white horse, clothed with Majesty, crowned with Glory and going forth to war.  His eyes flash lightening and terror upon his enemies, and animate his followers with courage and joy.

By his eyes we may understand:
1. His Glory
  Once for the love he bore to sinners he humbled himself, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh.  Then his glory was only to be perceived by the eye of faith.  But now he shines forth in the perfection of beauty.  That face which once was marred with grief and spitting, now is brighter than the sun. [2]  How unlike the man of sorrows who expired on Golgotha.  Now John, who once had leaned on the bosom of his Saviour, was unable to bear his appearance till strengthened from on high.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. [3]
  1.1 You that have wept and mourned for his suffering, now rejoice – O could you see him now!  You shall ere long.
  1.2 The world would shame us out of our attachment to him.  But let us not be ashamed, he is worthy of all we can suffer, and to see him as he is will make amends for all. [4]  Then it will be the sinners’ day to be ashamed.
2. His knowledge
  Clear, quick, penetrating. If we look into a dark place, we must have light with us, or we see nothing.  But his eyes are as a flame.  When he is pleased to discover [5] himself as looking into the dark heart, the night becomes day, and the hidden things of darkness are brought to light and placed in open view.  He is thus intimately acquainted with his people: he sees their state, their path, their wants, their thoughts – this is their comfort.  Because he loves them, and knows how it is with them, he will surely provide.  From hence a lesson of attention, reverence and simplicity.  Let us avoid and abhor all formality for he sees us as we are, and will not be pleased with mere lip-service.

Thus likewise his enemies are in his view.  In vain they dig deep to hide their counsel from the Lord; in vain they please themselves that their works of darkness are hidden from their fellow creatures, and say, No eye seeth me.  The Lord is present to all their plots and all their works.  And all is noted down in his book of remembrance.  Poor sinner, what you have done in the dark, how would you tremble to hear it now published to the congregation?  And yet you were not afraid of him whose eyes are as a flame of fire?  What, has your sin found you out, and has the Lord sent you here today to hear of it?  Oh, humble yourself before him, and cry for mercy, while the door is open.
3. His influence
  There is a wonderful power in the eye.  When its aspect is kind, benign and favourable, especially in one whom we greatly love, or is greatly our superior, it cheers and comforts; but when the eye expresses contempt, indignation or wrath it wounds without a blow, and the deeper in proportion to the dignity of the person. Though the eye of a beggar or of a child can give us uneasiness – what then must be the terror of those upon whom this All-seeing eye will look with disdain and displeasure?  To be beheld by the Lord himself with contempt – and still more with an eye of wrath.  If he look on the earth it trembleth. [6]  Oh, can your heart endure when you must see him face to face – though the whole creation should smile and caress you, his frown would darken all, and fill you with insupportable terror.  Oh the horrors of that day when he shall be revealed in glory – a fire shall devour before him and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  Whither then will you flee or how can you be hid?
  Rev 19 3 endure
  But to his own people – his eye, though bright and powerful, is mild and gracious.  Like the beams of the sun, gladdening the heart, and diffusing a lustre upon every object.  This eye is always upon them to mark their path, and preserve them from evil.  But there are golden hours when it breaks forth and shines – they see, they feel, they know it is the Lord.  Then they are happy, they have all they wish, and every wound is healed.  Then they can pity the kings of the earth, and say:
    What others value I resign
Lord ‘tis nought if thou art mine. [7]
And if so under such disadvantages and abatements, what will [it] be to enjoy the light and favour of his eye forever?  How faint and low, and vile are the pursuits and hopes of worldlings compared with Christians – and will you forgo all good and venture upon all evil and woe, for a trifle, yea for poison?

[1] Polly’s father was buried on Wednesday 6 August 1777. His tomb is next to the Newtons’ behind the church. ‘While we were preparing, William Ashburner of this town was taken away suddenly – well and dead in 5 minutes.’ Ashburner’s funeral on Saturday night, ‘deprived me of my evening retirement’. Newton’s diary on Sunday 10 August 1777, when he preached this first sermon on Revelation 12:12, reads: ‘This morning my mind was cold and confused, but O my Lord thou art gracious to help. I had some liberty in the forenoon, more in the afternoon, and most of all at night, when I preached a funeral sermon for my father to a very large congregation.’
[2] ms written: ‘brighter than the Son’
[3] Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
[4] For heaven will make amends for all, the last line in Newton’s hymn ‘Why art thou cast down?’, Be still my heart! these anxious cares, Olney Hymns, Book 3, Hymn 40, is a common theme in several of his hymns, and in his Funeral Sermon for William Cowper.
[5] ‘discover’: reveal
[6] Psalm 104:32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
[7] Isaac Watts on Psalm 17: The sinner’s portion, or saint’s hope:
v1 Lord, I am thine, and thou wilt prove,
My faith, my patience, and my love:
Whate’er the trial, I’ll complain
Of nought thy wisdom shall ordain.
v3 What sinners value, I resign;
Lord ‘tis enough that thou art mine:
I shall behold thee face to face,
And stand complete in righteousness.

Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney

Marylynn Rouse, 09/08/2016