No. 10

Rev 19 10

No. 10 [1]

Revelation 19:15

[1st sermon on this text]
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations:
and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:
and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The armies of heaven which follow the Captain of Salvation, are described as going forth to triumph rather than to war – seated upon white horses, clothed in fine linen.  But nothing is said of their weapons.  There is but one sword – which goes out of the mouth of their Lord and Leader.  It is he therefore who fights the battle and gains the victory by himself.  They are admiring spectators; they behold his mighty acts and sing his praise.

The sword out of his mouth is his Word – importing the ease and certainty with which his word is fulfilled.  Other warriors exhort their strength, and their fighting is later; but with him to speak is to do.  He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (Isaiah 11:4 [2]).  This sword is said to be sharp, and – chapter 1 – it is called a two-edged sword. [3]
1. It is sharp, penetrating, efficacious (Hebrews 4:12 [4])
  What a piercing virtue went with his word, when he spoke to the fig tree – immediately, as if blasted by lightning, it withered away.  Such likewise is his restoring word.  If he but speak to a dead Lazarus, life goes with the sound, and he comes forth from his grave.  And though he does not speak in our hearing with a loud voice, yet whenever the word, either written or preached, is made effectual, it is considered as coming forth of his mouth.  Instruments of themselves can do no more at one time than at another.  The word from his Ministers is too often a mere sound, lost in the air and forgotten as soon as spoken, but if he speaks by them, then like a thunderbolt it carries all before it.  It discovers, it searches, it terrifies, it wounds and heals, it kills and makes alive.
2. This sword is two edged.
  There is:
    Rev 19 10 law
  2.1 The Law edge
    2.1.1 It cuts off his hope
      The sinner, though under the curse of the law, is in security.  He has hopes which though vain seem for the present strong.  God is merciful.  I do or I will repent, nor am I as bad as some, etc.  One blow of this sword destroys and cuts off these hopes, and presently like Belshazzar, the joints tremble and the countenance is changed. [5]
    2.1.2 It cuts off his righteousness
      When this word touches the heart it has an effect like the word of Elisha to Gehazi.  He came in very chear[cheerful] and confident, but he went out a leper covered with confusion and disease.  The word does not make us lepers, but it makes us feel ourselves to be lepers, and that while we were proud of our own righteousness, we were proud of our leprosy and our shame.
    2.1.3 It cuts off his strength
      The sinner, like Samson, thinks he can go forth and shake himself whenever he pleases, but when the word touches him, he is forced to say, I am a worm and no man. [6]  He is like a sick man just coming out of a delirium – a little before he was raving that nothing ailed him, that he was able to rise and walk and work, but now he finds him weak as water, feeble as an infant.
Rev 19 10 Gospel
  2.2 There is, the Gospel edge
    This separates indeed between the joints and marrow, the soul and spirit. [7]  It divides the sinner from:
    2.2.1 Sin
      The love and power of sin will yield to nothing but this sharp edge.  Fear may torment and may restrain.  But love alone can subdue the will.  Till we see sin in the glass of the Gospel, and in connection with the death of Christ, we cannot hate it.  But the sight of a crucified Saviour, with a discovery of the causes, manner and ends of his sufferings, change[s] the very disposition of the soul with respect to sin, and what before it wished to keep as a sweet morsel, is now rejected and abhorred as poison (Romans 6:1– [8]).
    2.2.2 Self
      This is by nature our leading principally and we can look no higher, and this alone is sufficient to convict us of high treason against God.  If we were self-dependent and self-sufficient we might live to ourselves.  But to derive all from him, to live and move and have our being in him, [9] and yet prefer our own will and pleasure and glory to his, this is the blackest ingratitude, the vilest idolatry.  But thus it is and must be, till the Word of Grace from the Lord's mouth, reaches the heart.  Then our obligations to him are felt and owned and the language is, Now Lord I am thine and not my own.
3. [out of his mouth]
  The sword from his mouth, farther imports all the threatenings and awful declarations off his Word, with which he will fight against impertinent sinners till he has consumed them.  All the curses in the law shall come upon them if they are found finally against him.  Though hand join to hand they shall not be unpunished. [10]  May we all lay it to heart and kiss the Son ere he be angry. [11]

[1] The week had seen a disastrous Guy Fawkes Day: ‘I may say – alas that I dwell in Mesech. [Psalm 120:5] This place which thou hast so wonderfully distinguished with Gospel light and means of grace is distinguished by the height, boldness and aboundings of sin. An attempt to restrain the licentiousness that has usually prevailed on the return of this day, and to lessen the probability of fire, raised such a spirit of opposition and defiance as I never saw before. The streets were paraded in the evening by the sons of Belial who filled the town with violence and terror – and it was of thy great mercy that great mischief was not done. My house was threatened severely but thy good Providence prevented. What grieved me most was that the mob was at least eventually encouraged by the conduct of those whom I hoped for thy sake would rather have joined for the suppression of immorality. O Lord my heart is deceitful, I hope I bear no resentment against any. I pray thee to forgive all who have acted in a wrong spirit, both those who know not what they do, and those whose knowledge unhappily has too little influence upon their spirit and conduct. Is it not my own case, if not in the same way, yet sufficiently to make me cry for daily forgiveness. Surely then I ought to be ready to forgiveness[forgive], and to seize every opportunity of overcoming evil with good. I desire to do so. Do thou enable me not only to speak of thee as a Saviour, but to follow thee as my Exemplar.’ This first sermon on Revelation 19:15 was preached on Sunday 9 November 1777. Newton’s diary: ‘My usual hours of retirement were broken in upon last night. But thou wert pleased to help me today. O let me feed upon thy truths myself, as well as set them before others. I seemed something straightened in the afternoon, but had a sense of liberty in the evening speaking from a hymn, which the tumult last Wednesday night led me to compose.’ Hymn No. 286: ‘Dwelling in Mesech’, Psalm 120:5-7, What a mournful life is mine, Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 51. See here for the week’s diary quotes and a link to his hymn in manuscript form.
[2] Isaiah 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
[3] Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
[4] Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
[5] Daniel 5:6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
[6] Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
[7] Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
[8] Romans 6:1– [i.e. from Romans 6:1 onwards, as Paul describes our changed attitude to sin]
[9] Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
[10] Proverbs 11:21 Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
[11] Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney

Marylynn Rouse, 09/08/2016