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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. river. In the river of life which flows in the midst of the city, there is no longer indicated the celebration of Baptism, but the fruit of that sacrament is now revealed. For in the present time the Church “sows in the Spirit, that it may then reap eternal life.”

2. life. The tree of life is seen by the fountain of life; and whether thou interpret this to be the glory of the holy cross, or the Lord Christ, Who even before baptism was revealed already in the Old Testament, as He is now by the mystery of baptism becoming manifest, it alike endues the saints with heavenly fruit. For “Neither is there any other name under heaven given to men in which we must be saved;” seeing that the same tree which John described as flourishing in the golden Jerusalem and Moses in Paradise, Solomon pronounced to be “a tree of life to those who laid hold upon it.” This I think to have been prefigured by the Jordan, on the other side of which Moses made known to the people the precepts of salvation, as Jesus on this side of it the land of promise.

month. In the twelve months he intimates all the time of life; the life, namely, in which it is said, “And thy years shall not fail;” and again, “It shall be month after month, and Sabbath after Sabbath;” where the face of the Lord is present, and is the eternal health, the eternal food of life. It may also be understood simply that the cross of Christ bears fruit through the doctrine of the twelve Apostles.

leaves. If the fruit is taken to be the reward of a blessed immortality, the leaves are rightly understood to be a perpetual song, in that it is for health to those who sing in their now blissful lot For there is the true healing of the nations, full redemption, everlasting bliss.

4. see. The vision of God is reserved to us as the reward of faith, and Philip understood this to be the chief good, when he said, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” For it was diligently to be inculcated, that the saints would see and possess in reality that which they believe while living from faith.

name. The confession of the holy Name, which is now maintained in the midst of enemies, then in their own country makes glorious the conquerors.

5. night. There no frailness of the body needs either the repose of night or the light of fire, at the time in which God, Who is the true light, and the eternal rest of the saints, will be all in all. But if thou refer the words to an allegory, there no exhortation of the prophets, no preaching of the law, are necessary, which are now said to be “a lamp shining in a dark place;” seeing that in the contemplation of God all things are fulfilled, and the promise is possessed in its completeness.

6. faithful. He doubted not as to a want of faith in John. But he commended the truth of the vision to all the Church, in which he knew that there would also be little ones.

prophets. Doubt not, he says, of the person of him who shews. For God Himself, Who is wont to imbue the spirits of the prophets with heavenly vision, sent me to shew to thee beforehand that these things will be.

servants. He taught that the profit of all men generally has by him been foreseen.

7. book. “I am blessed,” is understood. So the blessed Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, connects these clauses. For upon certain heresies arising on occasion of this book, he both refuted the error, and at the same time transferred to the eternal and heavenly promises the sense of the same prophecy, which he had purified from every cloud of carnal interpretation.

fell. He either did a second time that which had once been done, and which, when forbidden, he did not dare to repeat; or he is overwhelmed with amazement at the vision, and confesses that he again desires to worship.

9. fellowservant. Observe how often he both names John a prophet, and this book a prophecy. For he has many things in accordance with the prophets, and that not in sense alone, but also in words; for how many verses of Isaiah, how many of Zechariah, and of other prophets, wilt thou find here?

10. Seal. When the judgment which is to come draws near, it behoves the divine precepts, judgments, and promises to be manifested, by toe observation of which the meek are to obtain a reward, and through neglect of them the obstinate to incur punishment.

11. still. He here demonstrates the secret but just judgments of God, by which bad men are permitted to advance to something worse, that is, to arrive at the highest wickedness, that it may find a just judgment. Like to this is that, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad.”

13. Omega. In Α he designates the divinity of the Word, and in Ω the humanity assumed, the beginning without end; which is confirmed by frequent repetition this book, either to intimate the divinity and humanity of the one Christ from time to time; or that the whole Trinity may be declared to be of one nature, Which saith by the prophet, “Before Me was there no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.”

14. right. He promises a fit reward to “white robes,” that is, an immaculate life, namely, that it may enjoy the sight of God, Who is eternal life. For, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

enter. They who keep the commandments of the Lord, Who says, “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture,” that assuredly which is here also promised of the tree of life; these without doubt enter in through the gates into the Church, the gates, namely, of righteousness, which the Psalmist desires to be opened unto himself. But he who endeavours “to climb up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber;” and of such also is added that which follows.

15. without. For all the madness of the wicked even now attack the Church from within. But when the “Master of the house shall have entered in, and as he saints enter with him unto the marriage,” shall have closed the door, “then will they begin to stand without, and knock at the door.”

16. David. Here he expressed the twofold nature of His person, namely, that the same was David’s Maker, according to His divinity, Who “was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh.” And this question the Lord proposes to the Jews in the Gospel, namely, how “Christ is the Son of David,” when “David in the Spirit called Him Lord?”

star. For by appearing after the night of a single Passion, He shewed to the ages the light of resurrection and of life, by word and example. And of Him it is said to the blessed Job, “Dost thou bring forth Lucifer in his season?”

17. bride. The Head and the body of the Church exhort each one of the members to faith.

Come. Whosoever has received in his mind the inner light of faith, or of love, let him invite others also to this.

will. So far forth is free-will allowed by saying, “He who will, let him take;” that grace is set forth immediately in that which follows, “The water of life,” with no merits assuredly preceding. For even to will is the gift of God.

18. add. These things he said on account of falsifiers, not on account of those who simply say what they think, without mutilating the prophecy in any respect.

20. testimony. The same Christ gives testimony, Who announces to the Church that He will come, to Whom after the manner of the Song of Songs the Church devoutly answers, “Amen; come, Lord Jesus Christ.” And this she cries continually, saying, “Thy kingdom come;” and in the Psalm, “I will sing, and have understanding in the perfect way, when Thou shalt come unto me.”

21. grace. Let the Pelagians, if they will, be confident in their own virtue, and deprive themselves of the grace of the Lord. But when the Apostle Paul seeks for help, and says, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” let John make answer, mindful of his own name, and say, “The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” And that the Donatists may not flatter themselves as having a singular gift of God, let them hear that when he imparted the grace of God, as a last farewell he added, “With you all. Amen.”

And now that at length so great and hazardous a labour has been completed, I suppliantly and earnestly entreat, that if any shall think this little work of mine worth reading or transcribing, they will also remember to commend unto the Lord the author of the work, inasmuch as “I have not laboured for myself alone, but for them also.” May I in return be rewarded by the vows and prayers of those who have the benefit of my toil; and may they, by their good offices, cause me to gain the right to and fruition of the tree of life, the odour and good report of which I have in some measure communicated to them.

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