Imatges de pÓgina

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 Philometer, 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 supposi tion 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.


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 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


quarter, troubled also with false brethren within, and yet patiently bearing, and gently forbearing, holding on her steady course of trusting in the name of Jesus, and standing for the word of his testimony; receiving the reward of her faithfulness, not in death, but in deliverance from those deadly judgments which the rest of the world prove. The question which Christ now putteth to issue before the world, is not, whether the natural man ministered to by all the pleasures of the flesh, or the spiritual man, deprived of all worldly comfort, and begirt with all the pains of death, be the stronger; but whether the natural man flattered by all the approbations, and built up in all the securities, of this world, or the spiritual man cast out with contempt, and left devoid of countenance and support, be the stronger and the nearer to safety and honour. And the proof consists, not in the triumphant death of the first martyrs, but in the patient stedfastness of the contemned few, their unbroken confidence of honour; and their glorious deliverance at that very hour when all the rest are overwhelmed with ruin and disgrace. As the faithful witnesses who képt up the testimony for fifteen centuries against the growth of that harlot mother of abominations, were brought forth with a high hand, and with fury poured forth, at that same hour of reformation at which the harlot church was sealed up in the darkness and helplessness of apostacy, till the judgment of the great day; so in the hour of that judgment shall those faithful witnesses, who have held out against the growing power of the infidel apostasy, and mantained the nearness and the certainty of a coming Lord to judge and make war, be in that day honourably delivered and taken into glory, while the twofold apostasies of the beast and the false prophet, the infidel and the papal, are cast into the lake of fire which burneth for ever and ever. This change in the form of the controversy, and the consequent form of the trial and victory, is very necessary to be borne in mind, being in truth the key to the three latter epistles, of which that to Sardis exhibits the form and pressure of the new evil; this to Philadelphia the only way of resisting it with success, and triumphing over it; and that to Laodicea, the fatal consummation of it, through the heedlessness of the church to the instructions of her Teacher and Lord. These things

being so, it may be better conceived than expressed, what responsibility I feel in entering upon the exposition of an epistle which contains the only remedy of that disease which is consuming the church, the only preservative against that awful crisis and consummation which is just at hand. Yet I am not paralyzed, for God will be my strength in testifying to his Son's love for his church.

The key then to this epistle, is the weakness and apparent helplessness to which this church was reduced in the midst of the fair but hypocritical name of the church of Sardis, of the temporal fulness of prosperity, yet poverty of spiritual grace, possessed by the church of Laodicea. Sanctity of character, and sincerity of faith and truth, together with supernatural help and support, were the resources of this true servant of the Lord, the only riches and goods in which he taught his poor church to confide. To this state of simple faith, the Lord addresseth himself by this style, of which every word breathes strength and security to all who will depend upon it. "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David: he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth" (ver. 7). This title which Christ here assumeth to himself, being that which God so frequently useth in the former dispensation, "The Holy One of Israel," "whose name is Holy," and that with which the heavenly hosts do celebrate His praise, "Holy, holy, holy" (Isa. vi. 3); which vision was a vision of the glory of Christ (John xii. 41), and is therefore applicable to Him; being, moreover, of such frequent use to designate the Messiah both in the Old and New Testament, "Thine Holy One" (Psa. xvi. 10; lxxxix. 10; Acts iii. 14); and even confessed to by devils themselves, "The Holy One of God" (Mark i. 24); must contain in itself some essential truth of Godhead, and reveal something very necessary to be believed and kept in memory by men. When man fell, he came to know the difference between the holy and the unholy; of which till then I think he was incapable. The precept given to him in paradise was not a moral precept because, being without the knowledge of evil, morality was for him a science unintelligible. There was no moral evil in eating of, or in refraining from, the tree of the

knowledge of good and evil. It was a positive precept indicative of a superior authority under which he was placed, and in rebelling against which consisted the guilt of his transgression; in disbelieving God, or, if he believed, in setting light by his commandment. In the same manner I conclude that the threatening death was not a moral but a natural penalty, because the moral must be unintelligible to a creature ignorant of the difference between good and evil. Man knew what it was to be blessed with life; to be deprived of those blessings was death; to cease to live, perhaps to cease to be. Certainly, to cease to be that living soul which then he was, to forfeit his dominion and his life. But so soon as the knowledge of good and evil came, so soon as "he is become one of us, [the Elohim, the God-persons] knowing good and evil," the holy and the unholy stood at once revealed to him, and morality became a science, and God the great Master and Teacher of it. In sign of man's unholiness, he putteth him forth from his presence, and requireth to be approached by sacrifice. And in sign of the unholiness of mankind, "death reigned over all men from Adam unto Moses, though they had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." But it was by the promulgation of the law and the constitution of Israel, as a holy nation, with ordinances all-significant of the difference between the holy and the unholy, by that law whereof the sanction was death, indicated not by words only, but by the sacrifice of blood; by this it was that God did assert his attribute of holiness against a world lying in the wicked one; and now it is that he so constantly taketh to himself his name "The Holy," "The Holy One," "The Holy One of Israel :" which attribute and name of God, Christ claimeth to himself in the title before us: "These things saith The Holy One." While Christ thus asserteth for himself to be the contrary and contradiction of all sin and sinfulness, and to be the possessor and originator of all holiness, he doth this, not as Jehovah the Angel of the Covenant, but as Jesus the Word made flesh, who came to present the soul of man ever faithful unto God its Creator, the body of man ever holy; with sin put to death in it, and ever held in death; present indeed, but impotent; present only that its Conqueror might be known to be present; present in its impo

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