Imatges de pÓgina
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extreme gardens and vineyards lie at the back and sides of the town; and before it, one of the most extensive and richest plains in Asia. The Turkish name for Philadelphia, Allah Sher, the city of God,' reminded me of the Psalmist; beautiful for situation is Mount Zion,' &c. There is an affecting resemblance in the present condition of both these once highly favoured cities of God: the glory of the temple is departed from both; and though the candlestick has never been removed from Philadelphia, yet it emits but a glimmering light, for it has long ceased to be trimmed with the pure oil of the sanctuary. We returned through the town, and, though objects of much curiosity, were treated with civility, confirming Chandler's observation that the Philadelphians are a civil people. It was extremely pleasing to see a number of turtle doves on the roofs of the houses: they were well associated with the name of Philadelphia." It is curious to see the city, thus subsisting in its ruins, prolonging its existence, it knows not well how, because a word of God resteth upon it, still exhibiting the poverty of its ancient times, and confessing to the violent shocks with which it hath been assailed, yet never overcome. The stork, if I err not, is the symbol of a commonwealth, and surely the turtle dove is the symbol of the church. This is the more remarkable when it is known what fierce sieges and attacks it had to withstand from the Turks, to whom at length it was fain to capitulate, as being of that third part of the earth given into their hand by the prophecy of this book. Yet with what distinguished honour to itself, let the historian Gibbon testify, who was no favourer of the truth of God. Yet these are his words: "At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperor, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans in 1390. Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect-a column in a scene of ruins." From that time to this it hath continued to follow the fortunes of its conquerors, and in their hands still remains. But God hath preserved the vestiges of that church for which the vestiges of the city were preserved. Dr. Chandler visited the bishop in his palace, such as it was, and entered into discourse with the chief

priests in the absence of the bishop; but found them ignorant of the Greek language, in which they did the service, yet persevering to keep up the service; as those upon whom rested a word of prophecy, that they should be kept in existence till He come again. So also Mr. Arundell found things upon his visit, whose fellow-traveller "could not help shedding tears, at contrasting this unmeaning mummery, (the long Greek service on Palm Sunday which he attended,) with the pure worship of primitive times, that probably had been offered on the very site of the present church." And yet God's goodness seems to have remarkably shone towards this church in endeavouring to keep her from the cloud and darkness of ignorance by preserving among them some ancient manuscripts, it is likely of the Scriptures; for, alas! they no longer exist; and when the latter traveller inquired about them, the priest told him that he recollected" to have formerly seen some very old pieces of parchment, but that he had learned to-day the children had torn them all up." It would be wrong to omit mentioning another emblematical circumstance with which we will conclude, that amongst the ruins standeth up a solitary pillar of a higher antiquity and manifestly pertaining to a more ancient structure, which with its solitary finger pointeth to that New Jerusalem in the heavens, and may abide there haply till it cometh down thence; seeming to say, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." (iii. 12.)

LECTURE X.

THE EPISTLE ΤΟ THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH OF LAODICEA, FROM CHRIST THE UNIVERSAL BISHOP.

REV. iii. 14-22.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, write, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

It is with a great feeling of pain that I now enter upon the last of the Apocalyptic churches, both because my sweet labour is coming to a close, and also because it is to close with a heavy burden to Christendom; if, as we have argued, historical aspects, as well as exemplars, be presented to us in these churches. Little did I deem, when I

undertook this task, that I was to be so long, and so delightfully engaged upon the churches. The Lord hath led me by a way that I knew not, for some good end, which in his times he will shew. It has been my endeavour to open my ear morning by morning, and to set down what the Lord did teach me. And now being come to the last of the churches, let me endeavour to look back and consider, and recapitulate in a regular progression, the dealings of the Lord by his church from the first to the last.

The church of Ephesus, according to its name (see former Lecture), shews the good Husband of the church entreating her with ardent and unbounded affection as the wife of his choice, "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh;" because it is his nature to love, and love is the best means for producing love in return. "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." Christ's husbandry, like every thing which hath its original in heaven, is pure love, from the beginning to the ending of it; love expressing itself in form of goodness, and directed to the production of blessedness. As yet he serveth not himself with any sort of discipline for the enforcement of that which he would rather cherish into life by the warmth of heavenly love. But when his much care and solicitude, his taking of the stars into his right hand, the place of safety and of strength, and his walking up and down with unwearied foot among the candlesticks, avail not to the preservation of her first love, and her affection is falling away towards the things and persons of this world, from her Lord and Husband in the heavens; discipline becometh necessary, and proceeds in the first place in the way of warning and threatening. In this we behold the working of true love, longing after its object, and fearing to lose it; taking first the gentlest methods of speaking into her ear, and appealing to her own conscience, instructing her of her evil, entreating her to repent, and acquainting her with what will certainly follow upon the neglect of his lenient and mild admonitions. And if this be the beginning of discipline on the part of Him who is God, towards her whom he purchased with his own blood, and waiteth upon with heavenly ministry, how much more so ought it to be the beginning of all discipline in the church, from the rulers

toward the people, or of the rulers and the people towards one another? And thus accordingly we find it instituted, commended, and with all solemn charges, and weighty promises bound by the Lord upon every member of his church (Matt. xviii. 15-21). The same lesson, nature itself doth teach; and all law of Christian nations ought to enforce. It is humanity so to proceed, and wherever the conscience lives, it will approve this as the true form of mercy; which, in human affairs, should walk in advance both of equity and of justice; though never without them in her train. This Ephesian state of longing and complaining desire, being passed through, we enter upon another, the state of correction for that offence which mild and merciful measures availed not to remove.

At first sight it might appear a severe and somewhat hasty step, to cast the church at once out of the arms of cherishing love, into the iron fetters of persecution, and the cold embrace of death. And so it would, were these arms of love to cease to compass her around; were she left to the will of her merciless foes. But if these persecutors with whose fierce countenances and stern hearts she is brought acquainted, should be the very persons towards whom her affections were beginning to fall away, then is it the greatest mercy thus early, before the spell hath had time to work infatuation over her heart, to unmask them, and reveal the life which she may expect from such an unworthy yoke-fellow. As if a good husband, perceiving his wife's affections to be falling away towards a very wicked and worthless man, should, forgetful of his own injured love, and mindful only of her well-being, permit her to see his true character, though at the expense of some suffering, in order to save her from dishonour and divorce, thereby, if it might be, to preserve his chaste spouse unto himself. That were both sound wisdom and true love, though it might be attended with temporary suffering both to him and her. So Christ, perceiving that his church was tempted by the love of the power, rank, riches, and earthly aggrandisement which were in the hands of the Roman emperor, did permit her, once for all, to prove the hideous character, and unmeasured cruelty of that she madly doated on, and the eternal contradiction there is between the principalities of this world and the Prince

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