We have considered the sights that the apostle saw in heaven: now let us observe the songs that he heard, for there is in heaven not only that to be seen which will highly please a sanctified eye, but there is that to be heard which will greatly delight a sanctified ear. This is true concerning the church of Christ here, which is a heaven upon earth, and it will be eminently so in the church made perfect in the heaven of heavens.
I. He heard the song of the four living creatures, of the ministers of the church, which refers to the prophet Isaiah’s vision, Isa. 6:1-13. And here, 1. They adore one God, and one only, the Lord God Almighty, unchangeable and everlasting. 2. They adore three holies in this one God, the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these are one infinitely holy and eternal Being, who sits upon the throne, and lives for ever and ever. In this glory the prophet saw Christ, and spoke of him.
II. He heard the adorations of the four-and-twenty elders, that is, of the Christian people represented by them; the ministers led, and the people followed, in the praises of God, Rev. 4:10, 11. Here observe,
1. The object of their worship, the same with that which the ministers adored: Him that sat on the throne, the eternal everliving God. The true church of God has one and the same object of worship. Two different objects of worship, either co-ordinate or sub-ordinate, would confound the worship and divide the worshippers. It is unlawful to join in divine worship with those who either mistake or multiply the object. There is but one God, and he alone, as God, is worshipped by the church on earth and in heaven.
2. The acts of adoration. (1.) They fell down before him that sat on the throne; they discovered the most profound humility, reverence, and godly fear. (2.) They cast their crowns before the throne; they gave God the glory of the holiness wherewith he had crowned their souls on earth and the honour and happiness with which he crowns them in heaven. They owe all their graces and all their glories to him, and acknowledge that his crown is infinitely more glorious than theirs, and that it is their glory to be glorifying God.
3. The words of adoration: they said, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, Rev. 4:11. Observe, (1.) They do not say, We give thee glory, and honour, and power; for what can any creature pretend to give unto God? But they say, thou art worthy to receive glory. (2.) In this they tacitly acknowledge that God is exalted far above all blessing and praise. He was worthy to receive glory, but they were not worthy to praise, nor able to do it according to his infinite excellences.
4. We have the ground and reason of their adoration, which is threefold:—(1.) He is the Creator of all things, the first cause; and none but the Creator of all things should be adored; no made thing can be the object of religious worship. (2.) He is the preserver of all things, and his preservation is a continual creation; they are created still by the sustaining power of God. All beings but God are dependent upon the will and power of God, and no dependent being must be set up as an object of religious worship. It is the part of the best dependent beings to be worshippers, not to be worshipped. (3.) He is the final cause of all things: For thy pleasure they are and were created. It was his will and pleasure to create all things; he was not put upon it by the will of another; there is no such thing as a subordinate creator, that acts under and by the will and power of another; and, if there were, he ought not to be worshipped. As God made all things at his pleasure, so he made them for his pleasure, to deal with them as he pleases and to glorify himself by them one way or other. Though he delights not in the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn and live, yet he hath made all things for himself, Prov. 16:4. Now if these be true and sufficient grounds for religious worship, as they are proper to God alone, Christ must needs be God, one with the Father and Spirit, and be worshipped as such; for we find the same causality ascribed to him. Col. 1:16, 17, All things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.