Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
~ Psalm 45:3-7, Psalm 50:6, Psalm 72:2-4, Isaiah 9:7
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 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. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
~ Isaiah 11:3-5, Isaiah 45:21
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
~ Isaiah 63:1-5, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 33:15, Zechariah 9:9-10
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
~ Hebrews 7:1-2
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
~ Revelation 6:2, Revelation 1:5, Revelation 3:7
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
~ Revelation 3:14
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
~ John 14:6
A Sermon on Revelation 19:11-14, by Samuel Rutherford. Sermon I.
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, &c.—Revelation 19:11, 12, 13, 14.
Christ is here brought in triumphing on horseback, and His armies following Him upon white horses. Here Christ is discovered gloriously: 1. From His triumph, on horseback. 2. From His style, Faithful and True. 3. From His righteousness in government. 4. From His head, His eyes, His name, His habit, His convoy, His power of the sword, and His high style. King of Kings, &c., which are all here set down.
Before ever John see this triumph of Christ over Antichrist, he sees “Heaven opened,” which shews him a new revelation. For, until God open the door, and glance from heaven with new light, we never do certainly believe that Christ shall win the battle. If God’s door be closed, and our eyes be darkened, we think we see Christ going on foot, persecuted and banished, and put to the worse; then we begin to droop and die, and cast away our confidence, as Elias did. But we have faith and hope when a window is opened in heaven to give us light, but until then, no marvel the saints have their faith to seek. David said, One day or other, I shall fall by the hand of Saul; and yet he had that promise, that he should live and be king. He had then many experiences; how comes this then, that he was in the dark? Here is a reason; God had closed the door. We think no more of our trouble, but at first by faith and hope to open our King’s door, and in to Him, and be stayed with flagons, and comforted with apples. No, but God will cause His children to come and stand, and pant, and cry, and wait upon an open door. And yet they are believing though they know it not, they are waiting on for faith though they know it not; and howbeit they think they believe not, yet that is believing to one of His children. And therefore howbeit our Lord keep a good house, His children will get leave to sleep and mourn twenty-four hours for bread. God loves a hungry child that’s aye crying for bread. Nay, I say it is more glory to God, to knock a while at a locked door, than if the door were open to us night and day. We see not that hunger is often better for us than a full stomach. In hunger we seek and cry, and it pleases God; but when we are full, we can lay ourselves down in the sun and fall asleep.
“And behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True.”—Here we have a glorious description of Christ; as also in Song 3:10; Col. 1:15, 16, 17; Rev. 3:14. And wherefore is all this? I think it is a putting Christ to open market, a commending of Him as highly worth the buying. What think ye of Him? Well, is He not a lovely one, a sweet excellent person? Saw ye ever the like of Him? (I will talk of this and the convoy, and let you see both together). Where is Christ? He is triumphing upon a white horse, and the saints, His armies at His back, following Him on horseback in white. Here indeed is a fair company of horsemen, all in white! Here all are in one livery; Christ is the Captain or Colonel, and all His company, His armies with Him. Christ and all His Elect are a fair company together, and a well-favoured sight. “And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). “Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me” (Isa. 8:18). I think he would say, Am not I and my children a pleasant sight? Judge ye then what a sight it will be at the last day, when Christ, having ended His court, and the saints have met Him in the air, He and they shall go back again to heaven, and He shall come in at the door with such majesty, and all the first-born, the fair bairn-tene, the whole Elect, nations, tongues, languages and people, that none can number, at His back, every one of them as fair as the sun! And He shall present them as a gift to the Father. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Rev. 7:9). In very deed, then, he is a happy man who is amongst them; for that must be a glad meeting for evermore, when we shall meet with the Bridegroom. This white horse that Christ rides on, teaches nothing else than that He triumphs in Himself, and His cause and truth. He rode through death and hell, and was never thrown off the saddle. Nay, upon the cross, “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18). Here is Christ riding over hell and death upon His triumphant horse, and breaking the wards, and taking the keys of the prison with Him. And is He not daily posting upon this horse? Has He not ridden like a victorious Lord through Germany, and sparkled dirt upon the Beast’s face, and the false Prophet? Ye will say, Christ loseth a battle sometimes. I grant you, Christ’s horse seems to snapper sometimes, and is upon his knees, but he doth not fall. Nay, even when the woman is chased, by the Dragon, to the wilderness, Christ keeps the saddle and bridle; the devil cannot lay Him on the breadth of His back, and take His horse from Him. The horse seemed to lose a stroke in a mire, when Christ cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and when the Kirk was in captivity, at the river of Babel, weeping like a poor silly captive. But believe me, Christ will win the race, and will get the gold, and we shall get a part of it. Christ in His members will get a fall, but He will rise again and win the field, say all what ye will. He will yet ride in Scotland, and win the race. Ken ye what He said? (2 Cor. 4:9), “Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”
“Faithful and True.”—So is He called the Faithful and True witness, the Amen, who spake the truth betwixt God and us, and told us all that ever He heard of the Father. And these styles the Lord Jesus gets because all the promises of God, made to us, are fastened to Christ, as so many bonds that God has given us in the gospel. Says Christ, “He that believeth on Me, is passed from death to life;—he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father; and we will come into him, and make our abode with him;—he that overcometh, shall eat of the tree of life.” Christ’s name is in all the bonds, in all the bargains betwixt God and us. Christ is aye one, and He is a Cautioner, not only for us but with us; for God challenged Him for our debt, and He, as Faithful and True, answered without bout-gates, and was very honest in His word to His Father. He is (let me speak so) God’s Cautioner to us, taking on Him that God shall keep true to us. This is a point not considered as it should be by us; for there is not a promise made to the true believer, but he may challenge Christ for it by law; though it is the law of the new Covenant. But in this good sense, Christ is God’s debtor, and He is become our debtor. Indeed Christ is fastened in the Mediator’s chair and offices, with strong nails and iron wedges, on both sides: God hath bound Him by law. “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7). There Christ says, I am bound, but I hope I shall not die in my bonds: I shall be true both to God and man: I hope I shall have no shame of my handy-works. Then we are far in the wrong to Christ, when we believe not. Nay, ye say ye dare not yet believe. Ye say ye are aye doubting. Ken ye what ye say, when ye say that? Ye are even saying, I fear Christ play me a slip: I fear Christ be but a false promiser. I say it is wrong to believe a falsehood of an honest man; for, thou that wilt not believe the promises, thou art saying the Lord Jesus Christ is but a double dyvour: “He that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar” (1 John 5:10). Now when the text says Christ is Faithful and True, this is the King’s broad seal for your salvation; and aye the truer Christ be, it is the better for you. For when in judgment your salvation is questioned, and your sins come in reckoning, whether they be satisfied for, or not, ye may see an easy way. Say ye, Lord, ask at Christ, the faithful witness, if they be not taken away. Christ is one of the sworn men (if we may so speak) upon His conscience for clearing of you, and He is Faithful and True, and will tell the truth. And will Christ get it denied, what scourges, whips, and strokes, He suffered for you? Nay, indeed we have gotten, I think, a strong hold of salvation, when we have gotten it laid over on Christ the Faithful and True. It is much that a faithful man is in office, and that he keeps all the writs in the country; and if he keeps the register who is faithful, true, and an honest witness, then all the writs and charters are safe. The writs you and I have for heaven, are all in Christ’s hand, and ye should aye be looking them over.
“In righteousness He doth judge and make war.”—He rendereth to every man according to his works; but in battles amongst men, much blood is spilt, falsehood, and violence used, while those who may be strongest, whether it be right or not, keep the field. Nay in very deed, are not kingdoms often ruined by opposite parties, who rent them in pieces amongst them? As to Nebuchadnezzar’s, the Medes, and Persians did. They draw it among them, and the thing they get is a fine web of linen, a bit of a kingdom with an ill conscience, which never does them good.
They are like so many men striving about a leme vessel; he draws, and he draws, and the one pulls the side from the vessel, and breaks it in pieces: So conquerors, when they have subdued a kingdom, are like those who get the leme vessel, that seldom bides the second heir. Christ makes not war with the shedding of innocent blood; when He takes in a city, He plays not foul play as other captains do, where often the soldier’s right to a country is by the point of the sword; for there is no difference betwixt his sword, his conscience, and his musket. But it is not so with Christ. How then? 1. When Christ takes in a city, nation or country, He has God’s right to it, and His Father’s promise of it (Psalm 2:8; Psalm 72:8). “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” 2. When besieged men render and give up themselves to Christ, O! but they get good quarters from Him! They live and are not made captives, but kings and priests to God. Christ’s captives have a king’s life of it. 3. Christ makes not war in a passion, but sweetly to His people in the end, though seemingly bitter at the first. But when Christ’s enemies who get the worse, are all driven to pieces with a rod of iron, they have no comfort; yet He hath done them no wrong, He hath made His war in righteousness. Then ye who are His enemies shall never be cured nor healed again, nor yet by Him pitied; nay, let Christ drive an enemy all to flinders, He doth it by laws God bade Him. Who will then gather them or mend them? Oh! there is no balm, no cure for the mending of Christ’s wounds again. But there is sweetness, and comfort to those whom Christ takes in, and sets on to win them to the obedience of the gospel. He has good right to you, and has God’s warrant to have you. Has Christ fought a battle with the devil and sin, and hath He won you? Then He hath better right to you than you have to the coat on your back. Be glad ye are His own; He wan you with the sweat of His brow. It is true, ye deserve not Christ, but indeed He deserves you; therefore be glad and humble, for Christ will not want His own. Who can rob, spoil, and oppress Christ? I know well He is able to hold His own with the best of them. Then fear not that ye be lost, for Christ’s right cannot be broken, God must give Him justice and law, and by law you are His; for open market-right is a good right, and Christ has that of you.
Verse 12.—”His eyes were as a flame of fire.”—Fire flies out of His eyes, to cause His enemies flee and hide themselves. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:15, 16). What is the matter they are so afraid, when Christ had not as yet laid a finger-end upon them? What then, saw they in His fiery eyes? They saw fire in His face: Hide us, say they, from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. “There went up a smoke out of His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth: coals were kindled by it” (Psalm 18:8). When there is such a fire and anger in His face, how soon, with a frown of His countenance, will He make the hearts of His enemies to melt like wax? And this fire of His eyes will soon burn up the chaff and stubble. A glance of His fiery eye made Belshazzar’s knees to shake and strike one against another. Then what wisdom is it for men to be sporting with Christ, and pulling at His Crown, and playing with His Sceptre? Surely I think them like a child thrusting up a stick in the nose of a sleeping lion, and pulling his beard; which is no wise play. Is it good play for fools (like bairns) to be sporting and playing with the Lion of the tribe of Judah? I think they are now scorning Christ, and breaking a jest upon Him; but one stroke of His paw, one of Christ’s roars when He is angry, will cause them all to take a back-side. Fire shall go before Him, and shall devour and burn all His enemies.
“And on His head were many crowns.”—I tell thee or ever I go further, O believer, thou need not think shame of thy master. Saul went to the devil in the night; but he that serveth Christ may not think shame of his master; he may think it an honour to go to Him in fair day-light. He is more than a double king. For as He is God essential with the Father and Holy Spirit, He is an honourable Lord. All the kingdoms of the earth are His; all the crowns in the world; (of Britain, France, Spain, Israel and Judah, and tell until the morn), they are all Christ’s as God Creator. “By Him kings reign and princes decree justice” (Prov. 8:15). All the kings of the earth hold their being of Christ: He is appointed of the Father, “King upon the holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). “Kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him” (Psal. 72:11). By His rising from the dead, He has gotten a name far above every name; so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. “The Lord at thy right hand, shall strike
through kings in the day of His wrath” (Psalm 110:5). Then kingdoms and kings that stand by policy, and not on Christ and His word, they stand on rotten tree-legs. Now men of policy devise a way, and cast their wit in a pair of balances, how to shift the matter. Had they been in Daniel’s place, they would have devised some way to have kept the court and place; and would have said, “Can ye not speak low, and make little noise with your prayers? To save yourselves from the lion’s den, might ye not keep a close door and windows? What need ye like fools make all the fields ado with your prayers?”—and so have sewed the black coat with white thread. But in so doing, Daniel would have denied Christ to have “many crowns upon His head.” And would not policy have said to the three Children, “Bow, bend your knee before the golden image, and think upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that so ye may put by an ill hour, and the harm of the fiery furnace!” Nay, but such counsel as this would have come from hell. Men are surest when they stay on Christ’s side, and are always strongest when they stand with Him.
“And He had a name written that no man knew but Himself.”—O! what a nameless king is this! What? Is Christ unbaptised that He wants a name? Is there no man knows His name? “What is His name, and what is His son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Prov. 30:4). “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation?” (Isa. 53:8). Here is a strange thing! Says the angel, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus Christ.” Nay, but His name is Himself; and His nature, and so He is an infinite God. None knows infinite Christ but Himself. Ay, surely Christ is an unknown person; though each one has Christ Jesus in their mouth, yet they know not what they are saying.
There are three mysteries in Christ we cannot perfectly ken in this life, nor understand. 1. The infinite wisdom, mercy, goodness, love, and grace in Christ; which the angels delight to look into and wonder. Come near Christ here, and ye will never see the bottom of Him. Ye have seen mercy, mickle mercy; there is yet more behind. One has seen much of Him, another more; the angels that are sharp in sight have yet seen more; nay, but there is infinite more behind. You will as soon take the sea in the hollow of your hand, and bind the wind in your cloak, as ye will take Him up. Ye must even stand still here and wonder, and cry out, O! great Jesus, who will or can fathom Thee out? 2. The work of Christ’s incarnation. O! what a depth is in it! God and dust married together! How blood remains in a personal union with God! How the finite Man-hood subsists in His infinite personality! And how the God-head in the Second person, and not in the First or Third, assumed our nature, and yet but one God-head in all the Three! How the God-head stood under the Man-hood that was stricken, and the God-head as a back-friend held Him up, and yet the God-head suffered not! How Jesus man died, and Jesus God lived, and remained in death God and man! And the 3rd mystery is, What a name Jesus has gotten by His rising from the dead, and how the Man-hood is advanced. Christ kens all these full well; He can read His own name. Ye will speak of learning to measure the earth, number the stars, and to learn their motion; that is deep knowledge; but God help you to come hither, and see this unknown name, Jesus, and find it out if you can. I trow ye cannot.
Now ask, Where will ye set Christ? Where will ye get a seat, a throne, a chair to Him? He cannot be set too high; nay, if there were ten thousand times ten thousand heavens, and each to be above another, and Christ to be set in the highest of them all; yet were He too low. Alas! He is too little thought of! He is like the field where the pearl is, that men go over, and tread upon the grass that grows above it, and yet they ken it not. Men tramp upon this pearl, and yet they know not what they are doing. Fy! fy! earthly man that thou art! Wilt thou put a cow or a sheep in thy affection beyond thy salvation? Fy for shame for evermore, that men set their lusts above Him! And O, fy for shame! that you should set your new-come-over lord, Wilful-will, above the old eternal Lord, the Ancient of days, Jesus Christ. O! how is Christ put out of His place? O let us long for glory, that place where we will read His name clearly, and will see Christ face to face. O strange! we long not to be in heaven, to see this comely glorious one (if I may so speak), a darling indeed, and to play God’s bairns in heaven. We will then come and look into the Ark; for the curtain will be drawn by, and we will see our fill of Christ there.
“And He was clothed with a vesture dipt in blood.”—That is a strange garment! I leave all expositions, and take it to be Christ in His suffering clothes, wooing His Kirk; represented thus to John in His wooing clothes.
He is also represented so in Isa. 63:2, “Wherefore art Thou red in thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat?” Christ, in His suffering for us, was wet to the skin in His own blood. When He was slaying our enemies, He was all bloody to look upon; even a loch of blood, dropping blood. O then come and see if He be not a red man! Had there been but a drop of blood here and there upon Him, it had been less; but He was all dyed with His own blood; for blood dropped from Him and He wet the ground where He lay! “And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). So as I think for the space of near hand twenty-four hours, the blood got not leave to dry on Christ, in His suffering for us. For, after Supper, in the garden, He swat a sweat of blood that wet the ground He lay on, and it would be long ere it dried. Then immediately after that, there came a band of men with lanterns and torches, and they bound Him and led Him away, and He got blue marks anew. Pilate then scourged Him; and blood came upon blood. Then, a crown of thorns was put upon His head, to renew His blood again. First God bled Him, then man bled Him, and then the laying on of the cross upon His holy shoulders, would thrust out more blood; (for His wounds could not be closed then) and then His holy hands and feet were nailed to the cross, and He hung bleeding there until the ninth hour, which was about three in the afternoon of the day after He was taken. Then His side was pierced until blood and water came out. So as from after supper in one night, until it was near night the day following, He was under blood. What think ye now of Christ’s bloody coat, and bloody skin? Was He not a strong keen warrior? Fought He not well for you? Is He not well worthy of your love? God grant Him good of it, and joy of it! He fought for it, and would not give over the play; and God forbid He had given it over, and rendered up the cause; woe then had been to us. Should ye not then give your best things to Christ? for He gave the best things He had for you—even His precious blood; for the life is in the blood. He seeks no more but the blood and life of your heart-idols and sins; for, says He, “I slew Myself for you, and if ye love Me give blood for blood.”
“And His name is called the Word of God.”—The word is the birth of a man’s mind, and an image of what is conceived in the understanding; and it represents to the hearers what is in the mind. Now, because man is a finite creature, the birth of his mind is finite also. As the image of a man in a glass represents the likeness of himself; so his words are the image of his soul, representing what is in him. Christ is the infinite and eternal Word of the invisible God, not only like Him, but God Himself, differing only in manner of subsisting from God, “Who is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). “He that hath seen Christ, hath seen the Father also. No man hath seen the Father at any time, save the Son who is in the bosom of the Father, and He to whom He will reveal Him: All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Christ is God’s tongue (to speak so) to us, betwixt us and our King. He is privy to all the Father’s secrets; then, would you have news from that great Court, and want to know the secrets of God, and how the work of your salvation thrives? Christ only knows His Father’s mind; make your acquaintance with Christ, and be oft with Him, and ask Him questions often times. He keeps the book where the names of the first-born are recorded; desire Him to let you read your name there. Ye will advise with lawyers, about your lands and inheritances; Christ is our advocate, and has our law-book, to tell us what a holding we have, what duty we owe to our Lord the King; what a fair rent and possession we have. Our inheritance is made sure unto us. Now, because Christ is the only one in all the world likest God, and being His substantial image, yea, being very God, if ye would send your commendations, your love, and services to your heavenly Father, desire Christ to do it, and He will carry them. If ye send a kiss to God by Christ, He will carry it to His Father and your Father.
“And the armies which were in heaven, followed him upon white horses.”—This is not to be understood simply of the church triumphant in heaven; but also of the heavenly army of the church militant on earth; for the church on earth is burgess of another country. Heaven is her home; her members are but merchants hereaway seeking the pearl of great price, but Christ has given them their burgess tickets, and made them free men. They are sworn to be true to the burgh, and to hold with the heavenly company, to watch and ward with the saints, or “heavenly armies”—called so because they smell of heaven, and their portion is there. “Our conversation is of heaven” (Phil. 3:20). Ye shall ken a man by the smell of his breath: if he savour of the earth, it says, that he is none of the spiritual or heavenly army. Ye might ken by Judas’ breath (who said, of the box of spikenard, might not this have been sold for so much) that he was a burgess of the black pit. But see here, they are all on horseback, and in their Master Christ’s livery, white and holy; they bear the King’s arms upon them. “I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots” (Song 1:9). See, then, that the saints are on horseback with Christ; He does not ride and His people walk, but will have His own mounted on horseback with Him. He is even then triumphing with us over all our enemies. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). He will get the victory over all His and His people’s enemies; and He will enable His people to get the victory at last. “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). See, then, all the saints are on horseback, galloping and posting to heaven after Christ; overcoming all temptations, triumphing over the world, sin, and death. Then, ye that are but Christ’s foot-runners, take heed to this; you that have your souls licking the dust of the earth, and have aye a smell of clay, who mind earthly things. By the smell of their breath ye will ken what country they are of; they are upon their feet with it, wading to their knees, and on their elbows, among the filthy clay-ground of covetousness. Ride up, and ride down, and ride else where ye will, ye will not get Christ overtaken. Ay, ye will get some like the young man in the Gospel, who would have galloped after Christ, but when Christ bade him go sell all he had, that threw him off the saddle, and laid him on the breadth of his back; and so he fell behind, and never overtook Christ again, so far as we hear of.
The devil and the world make some men say, that yon Captain, Christ, rides so hard and fast, that they cannot keep up with Him, and so lose Him. Demas posted awhile along with Paul after Christ and the Gospel, yet at last his horse stumbled, and he fell off, and lost his horse, and company, and altogether. Judas, he posted awhile, but the devil shot a musket ball at him, even thirty pieces of silver, and so he gave it over, and there he lay. Men ken not that the devil and the world are lying betwixt them and heaven, stealing a shot at Christ’s horsemen. I assure you the devil seeks no better, than that ye will light and take a bait, a drink of his strong wine, worldly lusts, and fleshly pleasures, that so your Master on the white horse may be far before you. A little of lawful pleasure is best! Then light not, for the devil will have you lose sight of your Captain; and if ye lose your Master, Christ and fall behind Him, it will stand hard with you. Therefore when ye lose Him, seek and be diligent to find Him out again. Seek the right way, follow the horse’s foot-steps, the print of Christ’s foot-steps, in holiness, faith, patience, and hope, which may be seen all the way betwixt this and heaven. Ask Him out as the church does; “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” (Song 3:3). When the church said, Draw me, she was three or four miles behind. When David said, “O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3), he had almost lost sight of his Captain. Nay, when Christ is a mile or two before, so that there is a little hill betwixt Him and us, with watery eyes and panting heart, look a long look over the mountain, and cry, Lord Jesus, ride at leisure, tarry and take a poor wearied traveller with Thee! Lord, tarry, or else Thou wilt lose a footman. Job said, “Lord, Thou takest me for an enemy.” He brake a girth there. Christ has many a sore tired horse to take out of the mire.
In this triumphing host, many of Christ’s soldiers will be very near off their horses, and hanging by the houghs. “I said in my haste, All men are liars” (Psalm 116:11). Here David was hanging upon the saddle by the houghs. Peter got a fall off his horse, and he fell into a swoon, and lost his horse when he denied his Master. Yea, God will have the horse sometimes to stumble, and will have His servants laid on the breadth of their backs, and all their clothes spoiled, and a leg or an arm broken; because they, like young riders, are full of self-importance, and will not follow their Captain, and care not about keeping a good bridle-hand. As David will ride on a hanging and steep hill of murder and adultery; Lot upon incest and drunkenness; and or ever they be aware, the devil trips up their heels to the sun, and gives them such a fall, that they be on their knees with it, and shall lose their horse, and so be obliged to creep up the hill on their hands and feet. “Then see that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15, 16). “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” I think He speaks by this text, as if He would say, Be not rash; take heed to your ways; keep a good bridle-hand; hold off the hills, and hanging precipices of ice; for if ye give the devil and your lusts the horse bridle to lead, they will sink you to the girths in a black marsh, near to the mouth of hell, and leave you there, and laugh at you when they have done. The devil is aye playing such sports and tricks as these; they are but feckless sports; and I tell you, do your best, ye will get a broken brow ere ye win to heaven. But come weeping to Jesus. I ken the saints fall on Christ’s floor; when they break their faces, He is at their elbow, to blow upon the wound, and take them up again. We, like fools, will ride at full career, and cross the long sands; and we grow too jolly and proud of our victory. I said I shall never be moved, says David; I shall die in my nest, says Job; but God breaks the bridle, and the horse loses his feet, or runs from him on a hard causeway, and there lies syne a stout man! Be not high minded, be not too wanton, nor too secure, after ye have won a race at The Communion, and have gotten a hold of Christ; ye know not how soon ye may get a fall, or your mittens laid up‡ (as we commonly say), and then your boasting will be laid. Ye will say, Ye bid us rejoice in the Lord. I bid you rejoice; but see that it be humble rejoicing, sober joy, with fear and holy care.
“Clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”—Whiteness being the most perfect colour, is a token of innocence, and blackness is a mark of guilt. Here the saints are in their Master’s livery, clean and holy: “Be ye holy as He is Holy.” Be ye harmless as He is, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. Let the white clothes of your profession be also adorned by the innocency of your lives. Let your good works shine before men, that your heavenly Father may be glorified. Thus manifest your thankfulness after The Communion. Christ’s sheep have His mark upon them, and are like Himself in holiness. Let them see Christ’s stamp and coat of arms upon you: your King’s arms, in all your actions, Faith, and Truth. What is it that makes men profess that they are riding to heaven after Christ, but to deceive the world: they are the devil’s black armies, and are wearing the devil’s double-black arms, Falsehood and Vanity. They choose to live in sin, pride, and vanity of apparel, which is not booked like the white livery or linen of the saints, but rather like the black livery of the prince of the bottomless pit. May the Lord direct your hearts unto the love of God, and to a patient waiting for Christ, and to Him be praise. Amen.