Christina_Rossetti_3And 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 hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father (Revelation 1:5-6).

St. John, the Apostle of love, becomes here the mouthpiece of very Love.

So that in this Apocalypse not glories only, joys unutterable, perfection, are witnessed to us by Love, but terrors likewise, doom, the Judgment, the opened Books, the lake of fire.

Love reveals to us these things, threatens now that it may spare then, shows us destruction lest we destroy ourselves.

Let us not in all our tremblings forget or doubt that it is Faithful Love which speaketh.

My God, Thyself being Love Thy heart is love,
And love Thy Will and love Thy Word to us,
Whether Thou show us depths calamitous
Or heights and flights of rapturous peace above.
O Christ the Lamb, O Holy Ghost the Dove,

Reveal the Almighty Father unto us;
That we may tread Thy courts felicitous,
Loving Who loves us, for our God is Love.
Lo, if our God be Love through heaven’s long day,

Love is He through our mortal pilgrimage,
Love was He through all aeons that are told.
We change, but Thou remainest; for Thine age
Is, Was, and Is to come, nor new nor old;
We change, but Thou remainest: yea, and yea!

“The Faithful Witness” demands faith: “the First Begotten of the dead “ invites hope: “the Prince of the kings of the earth” challenges obedience.

Now faith may be dead, hope presumptuous, obedience slavish. But “He that loved us” thereby wins our love: and forthwith by virtue of love faith lives, hope is justified, obedience is enfranchised.

[…] “Kings and Priests.” At the least and lowest, each of us king with subject self to rule; priest with leprous self to examine and judge. At one step higher “the King’s face gives grace,” and we edify our brethren. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Another step upward, and we execute our priestly function of intercession, offering up prayers and thanks for all men: and highest of all, we offer up ourselves to God in will and indeed as His reasonable and lively sacrifice, beseeching Him to sanctify and accept our self-oblation.

O Good Lord God, Who uniting us with Thine everlasting King and Priest Jesus Christ, makest us unworthy in Him to be Thy kings and priests, constitute us what Thou requirest, endow us with what Thou desirest.

Give us royal hearts to give back ourselves to Thee Who bestowest all, and priestly hearts to sacrifice ourselves to Thee, and keep back nothing, through the grace of Thine indwelling Holy Spirit, by Whom Christ dwells in His members. We ask this for His sake, for Whose sake we cannot ask too much. Amen.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894; Anglican): The Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse (1893), pp. 15-17.

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