« ZurückWeiter »
go not, having just finished the full and explicit detail of it in this Lecture.
And now what can we say to this body of honour and privilege, and power and blessedness, but that it is greater than eye hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man hath ever conceived; and that the work which the Spirit will yet accomplish in us is the most wonderful work of God, and the perfection to which he will bring us is the perfect manifestation of God? All this, when I think upon, and compare with the lean and meagre account which is rendered of heaven, the shallow, shadowy, flimsy thing which it is conceived to be by our people, and by our ministers set forth; when I think that, instead of bracing up the courage of the church by these glorious hopes, and carrying her to the pitch of bearing the cross and crucifying herself with Christ, she is served with some theological common place upon the method of a sinner's acceptance; as if that were the all in all, which is in truth no part of the matter, but only the way to it; can I be but grieved? Yea, I am grieved at the very heart, and am ready to burst with indignation against the treacherous dealers between my God and the souls of men. Having in my mind and heart such an idea of the church, and the expectations of the church, as these seven epistles set forth, can I be but sick at heart, to see the ignorance in which God's people are kept of it all, and the stern front of opposition which almost all the ministers of the Gospel make to such heavenly discourse? I grieve all the day long; and as oft as my soul is filled with these glorious thoughts, I could weep my heart out, when I think that an ignorant and unfaithful ministry have deprived an hungry and thirsty people of these treasures of goodness. For example, my own Scotland, what a state she is brought into, and what a state she is held in by a clergy, of whom, though they claim to be, and perhaps are, the best body in existence, do not know and wish not to know any of these matters! Can I be but grieved? Are these imaginations of my own? No; they are the verities of God. And can I be but grieved that they are held up to the people by nine out of every ten who speak upon them as the ravings of fools, as the heresies of abominable apostates? Verily, verily, I will
not be silent while I live; and if it should please God to raise war against me, I will fight for his truth as a man of war and a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. But my confidence in truth never fails me. I know that these things are not published in vain. It is not for myself, nor for my flock, but for the church of God, that I write these things, which I pray God for his own name's sake to hasten and bless.
And now, with respect to the history and present state of Laodicea, I make the following extract from Dr. Chandler's Travels;
"Laodicea, with Colossæ its neighbour, was enriched by sheep, which produced fleeces exceeding Milesian in softness, and the jetty raven in colour. Some shepherds came with their flocks to the ruins; and in the evening to the water near our tent," says Dr. Chandler, "I remarked only one or two sheep, which were very black and glossy.
"Laodicea was often damaged by earthquakes, and restored by its own opulence, or by the munificence of the Roman emperors. These resources failed, and the city, it is probable, became early a scene of ruin, About the year 1097 it was possessed by the Turks, and submitted to Ducas, general of the Emperor Alexis. In 1120 the Turks sacked some of the cities of Phrygia by the Mæander, but were defeated by the Emperor John Comnenus, who took Laodicea, and repaired or built anew the walls. About 1161 it was again unfortified. Many of the inhabitants were then killed, with their bishop, or carried with their cattle into captivity by the Turkish sultan. In 1190 the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, going by Laodicea with his army toward Syria on a croisade, was received so kindly, that he prayed on his knees for the prosperity of the people. About 1196 this region, with Caria, was dreadfully ravaged by the Turks. The sultan, on the invasion of the Tartars in 1255, gave Laodicea to the Romans; but they were unable to defend it, and it soon returned to the Turks. We saw no traces either of houses, churches, or mosques. All was silence and solitude. Several strings of camels passed eastward of the hill: but a fox,
which we first discovered by his ears peeping over a brow, was the only inhabitant of Laodicea."-Trav. p. 225.
After this it may be as well to sum up the whole account of these churches, with the following extracts from a letter of Mr. Lindsay, of date 1816:
"1. ......If the population of Smyrna be estimated at one hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, there are from fifteen to twenty thousand Greeks, six thousand Armenians, five thousand Catholics, one hundred and forty Protestants, and eleven thousand Jews.
"2. After Smyrna, I visited Ephesus, or rather (as the site is not quite the same) Aiasalick, which consists of about fifteen poor cottages. I found there but three Christians, two brothers who keep a small shop, and a gardener. They are all three Greeks, and their ignorance is lamentable indeed. In that place, which was blessed so long with an apostle's labours, and those of his zealous assistants, are Christians who have not so much as heard of that apostle; or seem only to recognise the name of Paul as one in the calender of their saints.
"3. Laodicea: in the road to this is Guzel-hisar, a large town, with one church, and about seven hundred Christians. In conversing with the priests here, I found them so little acquainted with the Bible, or even the New Testament, in an entire form, that they had no distinct knowledge of the books it contained, beyond the four Gospels; but mentioned them indiscriminately, with various idle legends and lives of saints....... About three miles from Laodicea is Denizli, which has been styled (but I am inclined to think erroneously) the Ancient Colosse: it is a considerable town, with about four hundred Christians, Greeks and Armenians, each of whom has a church. I regret, that here also the most extravagant tales of miracles, and fabulous accounts of angels, saints, and relics, had so usurped the place of the Scriptures, as to render it very difficult to separate, in their minds, Divine truths from human inventions. I felt that here that unhappy time was come when men should turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables.' ......Eski-hisar, close to which are the remains of ancient Laodicea, contains about fifty poor inhabitants; in which
1287* number are but two Christians, who live together in a small mill: unhappily, neither could read at all; the copy, therefore, of the New Testament, which I intended for this church, I left with that of Denizli, the offspring and poor remains of Laodicea and Colosse. The prayers of the mosque are the only prayers which are heard near the ruins of Laodicea; on which the threat seems to have been fully executed, in its utter rejection as a church.
"4. Philadelphia, now Alah-shehr. It was gratifying to find at last some surviving fruits of early zeal; and here, at least, whatever may be the loss of the spirit of Christianity, there is still the form of a Christian church: this has been kept from the hour of temptation, which came upon all the Christian world. There are here about one thousand Christians, chiefly Greeks, who for the most part speak only Turkish: there are twenty-five places of public worship, five of which are large regular churches; to these there is a resident bishop, with twenty inferior clergy.
"5. Sardis.......The few Christians who dwell around modern Sart were anxious to settle there, and erect a church, as they were in the habit of meeting at each other's houses for the exercise of religion. From this design they were prohibited by Kar 'Osman Oglu, the Turkish governor of the district: and, in consequence, about five years ago, they built a church upon the plain, within view of ancient Sardis; and there they maintain a priest. The place has gradually risen into a little village, now called Tatar-keny; thither the few Christians of Sart, who amount to seven, and those in its immediate vicinity, resort for public worship, and form together a congregation of about forty. There appears then still a remnant, a few names even in Sardis,' which have been preserved. I cannot repeat the expressions of gratitude with which they received a copy of the New Testament, in a language with which they were familiar. Several crowded about the priest to hear it on the spot, and I left them thus engaged.
"6. Ak-hisar, the ancient Thyatira, is said to contain about thirty thousand inhabitants, of whom three thousand are Christians, all Greeks, except about two hundred Armenians. There is, however, but one Greek
church, and one Armenian. The superior of the Greek church, to whom I presented the Romaic Testament, esteemed it so great a treasure that he earnestly pressed me, if possible, to spare another, that one might be secured to the church, and free from accidents, while the other went round among the people for their private reading.
"7. The church of Pergamos, in respect to numbers, may be said to flourish still in Bergamo. The town is less than Ak-hisar; but the number of Christians is about as great, the proportion of Armenians to Greeks nearly the same, and each nation also has one church."