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spouse of Christ, whom he had wedded, and gave her to be possessed by the powers of the earth, corrupting all her beautiful and chaste order with their inventions of discipline and worship; to sit in the midst of imperial dignity and preferment, of worldly learning and eloquence, of comely manners and enjoyments, as Pergamos sat elevated upon a rock, the “ Acropolis of Ilium,” as she was called : this was the vocation and labour of the church of Pergamos ; even to bear the testimony of Christ during that palmy time, which elapsed from the end of the persecution
the Papal domination, a period of four or five hundred years, from Constantine to Charlemagne.
The fifth, according to our principle of arrangement, is “Smyrna,” which is the Greek word for “ myrrh," an aromatic juice, exuded from the bark of a thorny tree, much prized for its sweet smelling savour, and yet very bitter to the taste, wherefore the bitter waters were called “waters of marah.”. [The Hebrew word jo being the same with the Greek word μυρρα,
which in the Æolic dialect is the same with duvpva). It was brought along with aloes by Nicodemus, for anointing the dead body of Jesus. Now, the church of Smyrna was tried with bitter poverty and sore tribulation unto the death, such as none of the other churches did endure. It dwelt in the shadow of death, and, as it were, lay embalmed in the precious spices of its sufferings and endurances for the Lord's sake. Its period was the period of the ten persecutions, from the Apostolical time, until the time of Constantine; a period wherein the church, like the aromatic tree, did sweat out, in her many agonies, most acceptable incence unto God, and which also hath embalmed her during the death-like period of darkness, and preserved her to this day from corruption, the body of a true church.
Having had such satisfaction in these five instances, we may advance with the more confidence to seek for the less apparent meaning and application of the two which remain. - Ephesus hath its mystical meaning from the Greek word epeols, which originally signifieth deșire,' or impulse, sending us upon some object; but it is most commonly applied to the removal of a cause from one court to another; the desire not being satisfied, which brought the cause thither, or desire still remaining in the breast of the litigant. Now, it strikes me, that these do
well express the spirit of the epistle, which breathes strong love froin Christ towards that church, but complaineth of love not satisfied with love in return. “ I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love.” It contains also a threatening of removing her candlestick, if she did not repent. God's love to Ephesus, the desirableness of that city in his eyes, is well shewn in the history of the Acts of the Apostles, wherein he commandeth Paul to abide, because he had much people in that city, as also by Paul's Epistle to the church there, and his two Epistles to Timothy their bishop. But he was not satisfied with her love, and removed her candlestick to a neighbouring village, where it is still found to subsist, though in miserable darkness, compared with its pristine glory. Ephesus therefore signifies, the first love with which God betook himself to the Gentile church, and the coldness into which the Gentile church shall at length fall, when she shall reach her Laodicean state, and foretells the removal of her candlestick from its glorious place to some poor and pitiful remnant, in which its light shall still be preserved,“ the remnant of Edom;" “ the remnant whom the Lord our God shall call."-Finally, there is no such natural origin for the name “ Sardis, as in the Greek word, which sig
“ Sardine stone,” of the colour of flesh, and by which the ground-colour of the body of Him that sitteth on the throne in heaven, is set forth (iv.,3), while its radiant splendour is compared to a “jasper stone," which is “ as the glory of God" (xxi. 11). Taking this as the basis of an interpretation, for the want of any other, we will have the church of Sardis to be that which hath the ground-work of the church without its glory ; the word of orthodoxy, without the spirit and life which should be in it; the form of discipline, without the binding and loosing power ; the ordinances and offices, without the gifts of the Spirit to quicken the ordinance into life, and to qualify for the office-bearing. If any one object that this is to take the mystical meaning of the name from an attribute of the glorified Christ, and not of the church, it must be remembered that the church also is represented as clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet; and that we are the children of the resurrection, not of the nativity of the Lord,- of the glorified, not of the humbled Christ, -of
the holy First-begotten, not from sinful flesh, but from the dead; and, being so, we ought not only to have the earthly, but likewise the heavenly glory; not only the sancti. fication of the regenerate man, but also the glory of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. How exactly this correspondeth with the character of Sardis, which had a name to live but was dead; which sought honour of man, but sought not the honour that cometh from God; which had the garment, but preserved not its undefiledness ; which had the form, but not the power of godliness, we need not shew, after the long exposition which we have just brought to a close. And if this be so, as that church applieth to our present state, we see what we have to add to that which we already possess. We possess the groundwork of a church, its orthodoxy and its order : let us seek to have added the glorious doctrine, and the glorious gifts of the true church, and put forth the same in the sight of this unbelieving world, as the true proof that Christ is the sent of God; he who is about to judge the world, and to cast the devil out, and to glorify his church from the dust of the earth, to the glory of the new Jerusalem which cometh down from heaven.
To one casting these things together, and revolving them in his mind, this subject of the names will appear no vain speculation, but another method by no means to be despised for attaining to the full meaning of this wonderfully prolific vision : and, though thus briefly touched upon, it doth, I think, very much confirm the truth of the conclusions to which we have already come upon other grounds; while it yields a connected view of the mani'fold wisdom and love of God towards his church. To the sweetest of these names, Philadelphia, or Brotherly-love, and to the tenderest of all these epistles, we now humbly address ourselves, with fervent prayer for Divine help, to enable us to bring out the spirit and life of its words, while, in doing so, we are overruled by the same love of the brethren with which and for which it is written by our elder Brother, that Friend who sticketh closer than a brother.
But while we thus exhibit the truth and fulness of the historical method of interpreting these epistles, and prepare ourselves thereby for a more homefelt and imme
diate application of that one now before us, we must not by any means forget the real subsistence of those churches in that age, nor neglect to glean up whatever is left us from the relics of antiquity concerning their state. The city of Philadelphia is situated about twenty-eight miles east of Sardis, and was built by Attalus Philadelphus, the brother of Eumenes, who held the kingdom of Pergamos for twentyone years, during the minority of his nephew Attalus Philo. meter, the same who made the Romans his heir, to whom the kingdom thereafter passed. Attalus, who founded the city of Philadelphia, is mentioned in the first book of the Maccabees, as one of those kings to whom the Romans wrote letters of protection for their new allies the Jews; which took place about 140 years before Christ: and this may be taken as about the date of the founding of the city. It stood on a root of Mount Tmolus, by the river Cogamus, and was fearfully liable to earthquakes, insomuch that the inhabitants were never very numerous, being afraid to congregate close together, and forced to dwell apart, scattered over the adjacent country. It is said that they were almost constantly employed in the repair of their town walls, ever suffering from some concussion, so restless was the ground on which the place stood. And for all that, they over and over again withstood the Turks, having a tradition that their city should never be taken. Into the particulars of its history it is not however the time to go, until we shall have examined the prophecies which went before upon it. Suffice it to say, that it still remains under the name Allah-shehr, or the city of God, a town of good size, like “ a column amongst ruins,” preserving within it several places of Christian worship, in number twenty-five, of all sects, whereof five are regular churches ; with a resident bishop, and twenty inferior clergy. Though there be no foundation in ancient history for the supposition of some, that Quadratus, bishop of Athens, who wrote the Apology to Trajan, was bishop of this city; there is no doubt that, whosoever he was, he was worthy of his office, and an example to all of us who in those days would acquit ourselves of our obligation in the sight of God and of Christ. This will appear in the details of the epistle, to which we now proceed.
THE UNIVERSAL BISHOP's sixth STYLE, OR DESIGNA.
TION, ADOPTED TOWARDS THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA.
As, when he had reproved the church of Ephesus of a declension of love, he did straightway exhibit himself and the church of the Smyrnians, as faithful unto the death to one another, yea triumphing in their faithfulness over death; so the Chief Shepherd, having pointed out to the church of Sardis, the error of her ways, consisting in nominalism, the cloak of hypocrisy, and man-pleasing, doth immediately thereafter give, in this epistle to Philadelphia, the example of a church sustained against the same temptations, and brought triumphantly through them all, by the simple power of true love, faithfulness to his word, and the testimony of his name. And if the view expressed in the introduction to our last lecture, that the four former epistles concern the church from her origin until she became apostate; and these three latter ones, the church in her condition of Protestantism; we have in the two initiatory epistles of Ephesus and Sardis, the forms of temptation under which the church, in her two states, was destined to fall; the one, primitive love decaying through the temptations of nature, the other, faith eaten out by the vainglory of a name, the grace of Christ sacrificed to the favour of the world, the good of heavenly things foregone for the riches and goods of the earth. The proper victory over the flesh is death : there is no other way of destroying it, and therefore the primitive church in the Smyrnian age was cast into persecution and death ; at once to prove her superiority to that temptation, and to shew those sensual ages of the world that there is in the name of Christ a power greater than that which they regarded as supreme. But now when, not sensuality, but reputation; not pleasure, but honour ; not the flesh, but the mind of man, knowledge, invention, and intellectual accomplishments have got the upper hand in the world, and set themselves up to rule in the stead of Christ, the church of Philadelphia, wherein is given the example of resistance and triumph over this the spirit of Protestantism, is set forth under other conditions than those of Smyrna, having little strength and no name, and no support from any visible