Imatges de pÓgina

and encouraging his little strength with strong promises and cheerful prospects; if, again, the " brotherly love" be sought for in the membership of the church itself, behold how he assureth him that those, who were standing apart from him, should be brought into submission to his autho rity and fellowship with the brethren,-and this through knowing "that I have loved thee;" and finally, if the brotherly love" be looked for in the substance of the Spirit's promise, that consisteth of fellow-citizenship in the new Jerusalem, of domestication together in the temple of God, and of one common name. Here, then, we cannot choose but observe a wonderful coincidence between the meaning of the name and the substance of the epistle.


The name which, next to "Philadelphia," is of the clearest and most unequivocal interpretation is "the Laodiceans;" which, being interpreted by the name of the place "Laodicea," is, as we have elsewhere observed, "the popular voice, the judgment of the people, the public opinion;" being taken from the name of the people, by which, in this case as that of Smyrna, it is expressed, then it would more nearly signify "the people righteous, or the righteousness of the people;" coming, in either case, nearly to the same meaning, That the rightness of things is judged in that church, not by conscience nor by God's word, by the rule of charity nor the law of righteousness, but by the tribunal of the people. And how this agreeth with the substance of the epistle, any one can perceive without help of a commentator. It is self sufficiency and selfrighteousness from the beginning to the ending of it; indifference to God's holy service, independence on Christ's righteousness; a measuring of themselves by themselves, whereby they become fools. This instance would lead us to connect the significancy of the name with the state and condition of the church as the direct object of it, and with the style of Christ and the promise of the Spirit, only as indirectly connected through the medium of this.

The next of these names which we take as being the most obvious is "Thyatira," which is compounded of two Greek words; the one signifying "scent" or "incense," the other "to bruise" or "disturb," and so making together "the sweet savour of labour" or "the incense of contrition." Now we have already examined that epistle, and found

work or labour to be the characteristic feature, distinguishing it from the rest. It referreth to the state of the church under the domination of Jezebel, "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," for the long season of "time, times, and half a time," during which it is said to them, "Here is the patience and faith of the saints;" and at the end of which it is said, "they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." Το the saints of that time was given the grace to endure grinding oppression, and under it to yield the incense of a broken and a contrite heart; and to them, as their reward, it is promised that they shall break and bruise the nations, and tread them down as the mire of the streets; wherefore also Christ is presented to them with those feet of brass which are never worn with thrashing, and never polluted with the vileness of the tares, and chaff, and dust from which he is separating the precious wheat; with eyes of fire also, to discern every grain, however buried and to all appearance lost in heaps of rubbish. This also answers well to the name "Thyatira," or "the incense of labour and contrition."

Next in the order of distinctness is "Pergamos," which hath its name from the rocky height or elevation on which it stood; for, according to Strabo, all places built on eminences were anciently called "Pergama." Now, that church is re presented as "dwelling where Satan's seat is." Satan's snare is pride, and the airy regions of pride are the seat of that ambitious spirit still; and his last and most glorious servant, the Infidel Antichrist, whose familiar spirit Satan may not disdain to be, shall perish through the daring pride which he shall conceive of " sitting upon the mount of the congregation [Mount Zion], in the sides of the north." To resist pride of place, seated glory, the honour of prelacy, the temptation of the bishop's see [seat] and the bishop's throne, into which Constantine brought the church, as by one stride, from the dungeon of death; this was the calling and controversy of that church, To withstand those Balaamite doctors, who were selling the church to the state for riches, as Balaam did, by the adoption of all courtly practices, and seductive oratorical arts; to gainsay these Nicolaitane doctors, who, as is reported of Nicolas, brought the chaste and beautiful

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 till the Papal domination, a period of four or five hundred years, from Constantine to Charlemagne.

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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 being the same with the Greek word μύρρα, which in the Eolic dialect is the same with ouvpva]. 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.

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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 epeois, which originally signifieth desire, 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 from 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 signifies a "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 sanctification 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 manifold 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

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