Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

66

the spiritual sacrifices that he will accept. This is the first dignity, answering to the name "a holy priesthood," or a kingdom of priests," and amounteth to the great truth, That, as no man might present a sacrifice or offering elsewhere than in the temple of Jerusalem, so shall no creature have any access to God, for any gift, or act of worship otherwise than through the church, of which Christ is the Head and we are the members, yet one with him, a body of holiness, through which alone the beneficence of God flows downwards, and the gratitude of creation flows upwards; the priests of creation, whose blessing is effectual, whose intercession is effectual, because they are one with Christ. To this dignity of being, builded into that temple, which is God, is added the security of going no more out, of never losing this place and office, to the effect of removing all fear and apprehension of change, all risk of danger, all possibility of loss or downfall. Besides this, we have the name of God written upon us, which can mean no less than that God's being acteth in us, even as now it doth, and then shall do, with all its might and power, so that he shall do nothing without his Son, and his Son shall do nothing without his Spirit, whose compass of body is the church. I say, compass of body; because his compass of power and influence is creation, but of inhabitation is the church, and only the church. And as under the creature Adam all the creation was subjected, being under his word, influence, and power, so under the creature Christ (head and members having one creature subsistence) is all creation whatever placed, so as to answer to the word of God, speaking forth from thence, and to feel the influence of goodness thence proceeding.

This is the mystery of our having the name of God written upon us; that all his being which can be expressed to, and understood by, creation is embodied in, and proceedeth from, the church; and hath no other container but the church; is contained within the church, is not contained within any other creature, but cometh forth upon, and unto it, in the way of an outward influence, authority, and blessing. The same thing, with a new aspect, is promised to us, under the symbol of being inscribed with the name of the heavenly Jerusalem,

which cometh out of heaven, the region of the dwellingplace of God, and is his city for political ends; as the temple is his house for ecclesiastical ends, and the church his body for personal ends. The New Jerusalem is our city, which is the mother of saints, and beareth rule over all the world. It is our strength, our home, our habitation; in which, and from which, go forth the ordinances of government from the Great King. The true city of palaces. the abode of the true kings; which kings without do serve and give tribute to; where dwelleth the kings of kings and the lords of lords. And besides this, there is another inscription upon us of that new name of Christ; for both the name of God and that new name of Christ are to be written upon us. Now this is the name of persons, and denotes that which is proper to a person's inward experience signifying to us, that we shall have the very mind and will of God, the perfection of his image, and the fulness of his joy; the rest of his blessedness, and the full flow of his goodness; that whole inward experience of him which to a creature can be expressed, or by a creature be apprehended. And also Christ's new name, which doth imply that we shall possess all Christ's delight over a redeemed creation, all his love of his Father, and all his dutifulness to his God, all his glorying over a redeemed world, all his sense of gratitude to his Father, all his devotedness to his Creator, all and every one of his feelings, as the Christ, when he shall be brought in a second time into the world, and all the angels of God shall worship him. What profusion of gifts, what affluence of promise, what exuberance of description, what enforcement of hope, what unweariedness of application, unto his well-beloved fellow-soldiers! And not a word of extravagance, not a thought in excess; the very truth as the word of God can express it, and the very thing which through eternity shall be realized by the militant church, is the day of Christ's appearing.

7. Finally comes the promise of the throne, the last, the highest dignity for which there is any symbol amongst men. Christ is the throne of the Father, and we the throne of Christ. And when he shall give up the kingdom to the Father, then shall we occupy with him the seat of his royalty for ever and ever. But into this I

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

« AnteriorContinua »