No. 9

Rev 19 9

No. 9 [1]

Revelation 19:14

[2nd sermon on this text]

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses,
clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
From the consideration of the armies of heaven we proceed to, what is said of them:
1. How employed
  They followed him.  Applying the words to our own use we may observe from them:
  1.1 That believers are attracted to the Lord Jesus, they have received his Spirit, he has their hearts.  They are following him upon earth, treading in his steps in the path of suffering, in the path of obedience.  He is now in heaven; they have him in view, are pressing after him and shall shortly follow him thither.
  1.2 That their eyes and thoughts are fixed upon the contemplation of his person, glories and victories, what he has done, and what he is about to do.  They admire him, and speak to each other of his majesty and mighty acts, and wondrous love.  Thus following him they have other aims, pursuits and enjoyments than the world, and are a distinct and separate people.
2. How seated
  Upon white horses, as he is represented himself, verse 11. [2]  This intimates:
  2.1 Their honour
    Being united to him and engaged in his cause, he has exalted them to honour.  He once made himself like unto them, he now makes them like unto himself.  They are raised to greater dignity – children of a great King, friends of a great Conqueror.  He rides in the power of the Gospel; they go forth after him in the privileges of it, and are already ennobled in his eye, and by his love.
  2.2 The cheerfulness of their obedience
    A horse is for speed.  Faith in his name gives them activity, zeal, courage, strength and bears above and through all difficulties –  as people on horseback perform journeys, and go through ways which would be too much for them, if they were to travel on foot.
  2.3 Their success
    The white horse is an emblem of victory, and in his name and strength they are allowed and enabled to triumph while upon the field of battle, as Paul did (Romans 8 [3]) and to be sure of conquest, before the war is finished.
3. How clothed
  In fine linen, clean and white.  This is expounded (verse 8 [4]), the righteousness of the saints, but the expression is plural, righteousnesses.  They have two garments:
  3.1 Their proper robe of righteousness, their defence and their ornament, is their Saviour's obedience unto death.  He obeyed the whole law, he endured the curse, and both for them.  In him they are made righteous, righteousness, yea the righteousness of God.  Jesus is the Lord their righteousness – in whom they are justified – and glory.  This is the great contrivance and gift of infinite wisdom and love. 
    Rev 19 9 abounded
    Herein grace has abounded.  Here the pride of all human glory is stained and the stain of sin is removed – mercy and truth, righteousness and peace meet together. [5]  Believers are not only pardoned but justified, accepted in the Beloved, and wear the garment which he alone could prepare for them.  Therefore they may rejoice and sing as in Isaiah 61:10. [6]  This garment is fine and pure and white, without a spot – it cannot be defiled.  Its beauty, purity and glory are perfect and unchangeable.  It not only satisfies but magnifies the law, far exceeds the robe of Adam's innocence, yea is more glorious than that of the holy angels.  And it is unto all and upon all that believe, without difference. [7]
  3.2 Dependent upon this, derived and inseparable from it, is their garment of sanctification.  This likewise in its principles and aims is pure and undefiled.  Both proceed from the same source.  Jesus is the life, spring and pattern of their sanctification.  They are not only justified but renewed.  Not only interested in his righteousness, but conformed to his image.  But in its exercise it is not complete, but defective and subject to defilement.  The principle is opposed by the remaining evil in the heart, by the power of Satan and the world.  But provision is made for its daily cleansing by application to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.  Happy are they who watch and keep this garment, who are quick-sighted and attentive to every spot and blemish, and carefully employ the means appointed for their removal.  Ere long believers will be freed from all defilement, and shall shine forth in the perfection of holiness.  When they see their Lord in his glory, they shall be fully confirmed in their resemblance to him.
    This garment is the visible mark, by which the Lord's people are known, and for want of it too many who boast of him as their righteousness will be convicted of hypocrisy, and having a name only to live when they are dead.
Let us examine ourselves now, that we be not deceived at last – What is the ground of our hope?  and What is the tenor of our walk?  And let the redeemed of the Lord, rejoice in his salvation.

[1] In support of his sister-in-law, Newton had just been to London, where he preached 31 times in 5 weeks. While there he corresponded with an unrepentant rapist in Newgate, ‘a professor and preacher of thy gospel, now under sentence of death’. Returning to Olney on 25 October, he resumed his series with this second sermon on Revelation 19:14 on Sunday 2 November 1777. Thomas Scott had preached twice for him in his absence, otherwise all the sermons were by Foster. There had been a fire in Olney, which had ‘threatened to destroy the whole town’. He learned of it while in London: ‘thou didst open the hearts of many in London, and I had an easy service, in collecting a sum for the relief of the sufferers and the poor. O that this visitation may be sanctified – and thine hand seen and acknowledged, both in the beginning – and in the stopping of the flame.’ He had corresponded with an unrepentant rapist in Olney ‘a professor and preacher of thy gospel, now under sentence of death’. Newton’s diary for 2 November: ‘Some comfort and liberty in the services. Only at the sacrament cold and unaffected almost like a mere spectator. Yet I trust my soul approves and rests upon the great things there commemorated, and desires to be wholly thine. Blessed Lord, how wonderful that there should be so sure a hope, for such a creature. Thou art my Saviour, O be my Lord, and rule and reign in me and over me without reserve. Spoke again on the Fire in the evening, from a hymn I made on the occasion.’ Olney Hymns, Book 2, Hymn 69, ‘On the fire at Olney, September 22, 1777’, Wearied by day with toils and cares. See here for a link to this hymn in manuscript form.
[2] verse 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
[3] e.g. Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
[4] verse 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
[5] Psalm 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
[6] Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
[7] Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney

Marylynn Rouse, 09/08/2016