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The John Newton Project

No. 5

Rev 19 5

No. 5 [1]

Revelation 19:12

[3rd 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.
 
Rev 19 5 Name
How cautious and humble should we be in attempting to meditate on this incommunicable, inconceivable, inexpressible Name!  No man, or rather, No-One knoweth it but himself, agreeable to what our Lord affirmed of himself (Matthew 11:27 [2]).  From which cause, compared with this we have a double argument to prove his Deity.  If none knows him but the Father, he is beyond the reach of all creatures, that is, Infinite, the attribute of God alone.  If none knows his name but himself, then He and the Father are One.

We have two other names mentioned – the Word of God, verse 13, [3] and his name of government, verse 16, [4] King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Both unite in him as Mediator and his name signifies his nature and perfections.  I understand this Name in my text, and what is affirmed of it, [is] designed to lead our thoughts to conceive of him as God and Saviour – that the name Word of God more particularly denotes that personal distinction by which he is God with God, and the title with which this sublime description closes is declarative of his administration of all government in heaven and earth, in that human nature which he assumed for our sakes.
 
1. His name Jehovah is beyond the highest conception of creatures
  Rev 19 5 beyond
  The proof that this name belongs to him does not depend upon one or a few texts of dubious signification.  Though in some places it may more especially denote the Father, as in Psalm 110:1,[5] there are many where it is expressly descriptive of him who wrought out our salvation.  So Malachi 3:1 – Jehovah whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple; Jeremiah 23:6 – His name shall be called the Lord our righteousness.  This is frequently called the essential name, expounded by God himself – I am that I am. [6]  It seems likewise to have some peculiar reference to his creature man, and is not used by Moses till Genesis 2:4 [7] when man was formed and the creation completed.  Yea, it has a peculiar reference to fallen man.  When God appeared to redeem Israel from Egypt, he said, he had not been till then known by that name. [8]  They had known him by it before, but the meaning and glory of the name, was to be especially declared by his great work of delivering his people.  But that was a type of a still greater redemption.  The Apostle declares that none can with understanding apply this name to Jesus but by the Holy Ghost.[9]  All the glory of this name – wisdom, power, holiness, unchangeableness, truth and love of Jehovah – are revealed in Jesus Christ. The height, depth, length and breadth, if I may so speak of infinite perfection, are in him, and therefore can only be known by himself.
 
2. His name Emmanuel,
  or the mystery of the union of Jehovah with the human nature, so that he is now God with us, [10] is likewise only known to himself.  We know that it is so, both on the authority of his own Word, and from what is necessary to accomplish and secure the salvation and happiness of sinners.  But how it is so, is beyond the apprehension of men or angels.  To think closely of these wide extremes, the Eternal God appearing as an infant of days, the Creator of all things united to a creature, the Author of life expiring upon the Cross, must the more it is attended to, astonish and overpower the brightest finite understanding. [11]  For though it is impossible for God to suffer or to die – yet the union of these different natures is so intimate and inseparable as to give ground for what is called a commutation and/or exchange of properties, that is the several actings of either nature are applied indifferently to the whole person of Emmanuel.  And thus God is said to have purchased the church with his own blood.  And the Man Jesus is said to be the Sovereign Judge of the world (Acts 20:28 [12] and 17:31 [13]).  Judgment is the prerogative of God, and the blood, the ransom of souls was the blood of a Man.  But it was the blood of Emmanuel, God with us.  And God the Judge of all, is God in our nature.
 
But I am afraid of darkening counsel by words without knowledge.  I trust what I have delivered is the very truth of Scripture, and that truth without which a convinced sinner, like Noah's dove, can find no rest for the soul of his foot.  Assuredly say what we will about it, our experimental knowledge of it, though sufficient to give us a sure hope, and to direct and animate our worship, is very faint and imperfect.  Would we know more, it must not be by prying curiosity, and laboured reasonings, but by humble waiting prayer, and pleading his own promise to manifest himself unto those who love and seek him.  

That I may not go beyond my depth, I will proceed no farther in a doctrinal way, but draw a few inferences:
 
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the proper object of supreme worship
  The Scripture authorises, a twofold application to Jesus:  as the Mediator by whom we approach to God in prayer, and as the Great Temple in whom the Godhead dwells.  Both are right and warranted by the Apostle's practice, and I apprehend the Holy Spirit leads believers to both.  Dr Owen mentions some especial seasons, in which he thinks it may be peculiarly refreshing to direct our address immediately to the Lord Jesus – but perhaps his people are almost always in one or other of the circumstances he mentions. I have thought some good people who bottom all their hopes upon the Divinity of Christ, seem afraid, as it were, of praying expressly to him too often.  But we cannot honour the Father more than by thus honouring the Son.  And there seems an especial sweetness and freedom, in calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, who, while he comes near to us in the tender relations of Brother, Friend and Husband, [14] is possessed of infinite compassion, fullness and power to relieve and bless us.
2. But worship, though more usually applied to prayer and ordinances, includes all the proper actings of a creature towards God.  Jesus is the object of our supreme love, trust, dependence, and entitled to our absolute and unreserved obedience.  Let us give him the glory due to his name, and entreat him to cast every idol out of our hearts [15] and reign in us and over us without a rival.
3. How sure is the salvation that is committed to such hands.  His blood, righteousness and intercession are fully answerable to the sinner's case.  The sun enlightens every eye – that he is not seen by man, is not for want of light but eyes.  If there were as many eyes as there are leaves upon the trees there would be light enough for all. So it is not owing to any failure in his fullness that all are not saved.  Were every human creature upon the face of the earth and to the end of time, to apply to him under a sense of sin and misery, he is able to save them all.  But alas, the greater part of mankind love darkness rather than light.  But to everyone that comes, he says, I will in no wise cast out. [16]
4. How dreadful will the case be of those who are finally found in arms and rebellion against this Saviour.  Do you comfort yourself with saying, God is merciful?  Why, it is the very mercy of God against which you fight.  Could he show himself more merciful than by assuming our nature that he might die for sinners?  You despise this mercy, and as far as in you lies, trample his blood under foot.  What other mercy can you expect to save you?

  
Endnotes:
 
[1] Another full week had passed, including the arrival of Polly’s sister Elizabeth Cunningham and her child and ‘writing notes on Mrs T’s [Lucy Thornton's] narrative, which I have now nearly finished’. This 3rd sermon on Revelation 19:12 was preached on Sunday morning 24 August 1777. Newton’s diary: ‘Mr Barham came over this morning, and spent the day with us. Thou gavest me some liberty in the service of the day; command thy effectual blessing upon it. Reveal to me more of the power, glory and grace of thy great inscrutable name, and fill me with thy Spirit, and with a sense of my own weakness and vileness, that I may live in the habitual exercise of repentance never to be repented of. Much of the evening spent in reading the MS [Lucy Thornton’s manuscript] to my dear friend.’ Mr Barham was Joseph Foster-Barham (1729-1789) of Bedford, with whom the Newtons often stayed. Newton attended their Moravian chapel, and here Barham is reciprocating by attending Newton’s church.
After a gap of a fortnight following George Catlett’s death, the hymn Newton wrote for this Sunday evening was ‘Jericho; or, The waters healed’, 2 Kings 2:19-22, Though Jericho pleasantly stood, Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 37. See here for the week’s diary quotes and a link to his hymn in manuscript form.
[2] Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
[3] verse 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
[4] verse 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.
[5] Psalm 110:1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
[6] Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.
[7] Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
[8] Exodus 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.
[9] 1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
[10] Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
[11] As Newton was copying out these sermons a few weeks later for Lucy Thornton, wife of John Thornton (1720-1790), and aunt of the future MP William Wilberforce, he must have paused again to think on these ‘wide extremes’, for that week he wrote a hymn for the evening service of 21 December 1777:
v1 Lord, what is man! extremes how wide,
In this mysterious nature join!
The flesh, to worms and dust allied,
The soul, immortal and divine!
The hymn was entitled ‘Man, by nature, grace and glory’; see Olney Hymns, Book 3, Hymn 88. See also his manuscript hymn here: [insert and update new URL for all ms hymns]
[12] Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
[Perhaps Newton meant rather:
Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.]
[13] Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
[14] e.g. Newton’s hymn on Song of Solomon 1:3, ‘The name of Jesus’, How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 57:
v5 Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.
[15] e.g. Cowper’s hymn on Genesis 5:24, ‘Walking with God, O! for a closer walk with God, Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 3:
v5 The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee.
Cowper was still staying at the vicarage with the Newtons when he wrote this hymn on 10 December 1767, fearing that his close companion, Mary Unwin, was about to die (in fact he started it the previous evening but fell asleep after composing the first two lines, waking with the next two lines in his mind).  He wrote to his aunt, Judith Madan: ‘Her illness has been a sharp trial to me - Oh that it may have a sanctified effect, that I may rejoice to surrender up to the Lord my dearest comforts the moment he shall require them.  Oh! for no will but the will of my heavenly Father!’
[16] John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


Acknowledgements:
Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney

Marylynn Rouse, 09/08/2016


Article printed from johnnewton.org at 19:24 on 21 October 2020