"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl."--(Rev. xxi. 21.)
A NATURAL pearl is produced by the disease of an oyster.
Being such, who would have looked to find pearls in the holy and eternal New Jerusalem?
Whatever the "pearls" of heaven may stand for--for Bible language doubtless condescends to our present ignorance--one thing seems clear: since we read of pearls, pearls have a lesson for us.
These pearls form the gates of the celestial city. Gold and gems compose its foundations, its walls, its streets: but all its gates are pearls.
And because pearls stand connected with disease, that is, with one form of suffering, therefore (I think) we may view them as representative of the precious fruits of all worthily borne human suffering: and because they form gates of entrance--exit, thanks be to God, is not in question--they connect themselves vividly with that "great tribulation" out of which came the general assembly of the saints as St. John beheld them in vision:--
"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; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb. . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple." (Rev. vii. 9-15.)