Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

shews, to the power which by the resurrection and the leading of the captivity captive, he acquired over hades the place of the separate spirit, and death the place of the corruptible body; and declared his having purchased all men, all mortal men, from the power of the grave, as will be testified when he shall speak unto the grave, and it shall give up; and to hades, and it shall not hold back. This is the power of the redemption which is as wide as the captivity; but the other is the power of admitting out of the redeemed, into the kingdom of heaven, those whom the Father hath chosen, and called, and justified, and sanctified, for the inheritance of that glory.

Distinct from both of these I conceive to be the prerogative which he claimeth for himself in the text; because he there applies it to the particular case of the angel of the church of Philadelphia: "Behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Now this being intended for the present use and encouragement of his church, and the ministers of his church during bis absence, must signify some power even now by Christ exercised upon the earth; which is, the power of the supremacy, both in church and in state. David was the king of the Jews, and the Jews are the kings of the whole world therefore David, and David's throne, and David's horn, and David's lamp, are all symbols for expressing that supremacy upon the earth, which the King of the Jews, reigning upon mount Zion, shall in the age to come exercise. This supremacy of the habitable earth, of its persons and of its things, its sheep and its oxen (Psa. viii.), Christ now hath, by having the higher, which is the supremacy of heaven, the Father's throne; and though for his own glory, and the good of his church, he permitteth the habitable world thus to toss and tumble about amongst the waves of sin, and misery, and darkness, and death; he giveth the angel of this church, and all possessed of the like faith, to wit that he hath a hook in the jaws of the dragon, and a bit in his mouth; and, king though he be of all the children of pride, doth use him and his kingdom alike, to promote the glory of God, in the holiness, patience, sufferings, and triumphs of his church. It is as much as to say to every faithful one, "Go forth into the deserts of Africa and of Arabia, for mine is the key

of that chamber of the earth, to open a highway in the desert and to bring forth pools of water from the sandy desert. Go forth to the regions of the icy pole; and with my key I will unlock to thee its frozen band, and make for thee a path amongst its icy mountains. Go forth to Rome where Satan's seat is, for I have the key of that citadel of hell. Go forth to the unbelieving churches of Protestant Europe, those high places of infidelity, for I have the key of their beautiful deceptions, and will make them to disappear before thy words of truth, as the frostwork of the night disappeareth before the rising sun. I have the key of David; I open, and none shutteth; I shut, and none openeth. There is no region of the earth, but I am there to take possession of it, by the means of my faithful ministers: go, claim it in my name; go, cleanse it with the word of my truth: face the autocrat of the North; be not afraid of the Turk: heed not the empires of darkness builded in the East; and speak unto the worldly freemen of the West: go any where, go every where, though little thy strength be, only keep my word and deny not my name, and be assured of my safe-keeping, for I have the key of David; I open, and none shutteth; I shut, and no one openeth."

While I thus largely open the noble style of Christ, adopted by him towards this favoured angel of the brotherloving church, I would not be understood to take away the special consolation which it hath to the Jew, even in this dispensation of the church; and the more, as the epistle hath to do with the Jews, and with their conversion from being the synagogue of Satan to become the members of this church of loving brethren. Christ having the key of David is surely a Jewish symbol, of which, if we, who are Jews by faith, claim the comfort, it should not be by the bereaving of those who are Jews according to the flesh. I think, therefore, that Christ's thus setting himself forth, as it was an encouragement to the angel of Philadelphia to bear patiently and contend earnestly with the unbelief of the Jews, so is it an encouragement to us, who now stand in the historical place of the Philadelphian church, to be diligent in our labours for the conversion of the house of Israel. But more of this under our next head of Instructions, to which we now proceed.

II. THE UNIVERSAL BISHOP'S INSTRUCTIONS TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA.

We now come, according to our method, to the second division of the epistle, which containeth Christ's instructions to his faithful servant, and consisteth wholly of approbation and encouragement. The topics are four: First, assurance of prosperity; Secondly, assurance of triumph over his enemies; Thirdly, assurance of preservation from a time of universal trouble; Fourthly, an exhortation to persevere for the crown which was laid up for him against the day of the Lord's appearing. These now let us by the help of God open in order.

1. After making that declaration "I know thy works," which is common to all the epistles, and therefore not characteristic of any, but merely significant of Christ's heedfulness over all, whom he hath placed in trust over his flock, he expresseth his goodness towards his worthy servant, in terms of that mastery over God's house, which he had assumed to himself, in the style or designation prefixed to the epistle: "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Literally, "Behold, I have given before thy face a door that hath been opened, and no man can shut it." It is remarkable with respect to the structure of this epistle that the word, behold, occurs in it four times, which in all the others put together occurs but thrice. The occasions on which it occurs before are; once in the epistle to Smyrna, of their trials, which we interpreted of the ten Pagan persecutions; again in the church of Thyatira, of Jezebel, and those who commit adultery with her, which we interpreted of the ultimate destruction of the apostasy, described in the xviith and xviiith chapters of this book. Now both of these are conspicuous and most notable events in the history of the church; and we ought therefore to expect the same of those events in this epistle, which are in like manner introduced. any one should think that two instances are not sufficient warrant for raising such an expectation, we refer him to the other places, where the same interjection occurreth in the Apocalypse, in all of them ushering in something notable to behold. The more wonderful, and the more interesting objects in the vision have attention

If

drawn to them by this device. We may refer to these: iv. 1, 2; v. 5, 6; vi. 2, 5, 8, 12; vii. 9; ix. 12; xi. 14; xii. 3; xiv. 1, 14; xv. 5; vi. 15; xxi. 3, 5. These instances, if any one will examine as we have done, he will find, that they are all amongst the most memorable and conspicuous objects and events of the mystical drama. When, therefore, this opened door is introduced with this note of admiration, we are surely to expect that it is some thing which would be as notable in the history of the church as the Pagan persecutions, or the final catastrophe of Jezebel the mother of harlots. What then is it ?-It is something which belongeth to Christ to do, in virtue of his having David's key; and it is something also which with David's key he openeth, ere yet he sits on David's throne;-power indeed, but power as yet, not of the sceptre, but of the word. The key of David's harp, rather than the key of David's house; the key of David the prophet, rather than the key of David the king; the key of knowledge, rather than the key of power. This idea,

L

which is pressed upon us by the consideration, that these epistles instruct us concerning our duties in the house of Christ, anterior to his coming, of which house as yet the treasury of words and of knowledge alone hath been opened, is confirmed by the reason assigned for granting this boon to the angel of the Philadelphian church, which reason is given in these words: "Because thou hast small power, and didst keep my words, and didst not deny my name." The word and the name are the attributes of this dispensation of faith, not of that coming dispensation of sight. To these, this man having proved a faithful and true witness, and preferred feebleness and poverty, and a mean appearance before men, to the purchasing of a good or a great name, by ministering to popular favour at the expense of Christian verity; Christ rewardeth him with a conspicuous benefit entitled, "I have given thee an opened door, and none can shut it."-Weighing well these things, I see more than mere prosperity and stability as a church in these words. I see an opening of some dark chambers of the house of David, which be fore this time had continued shut. The house of David, like every thing else pertaining to David, symbolizeth Christ's attributes as a King. David was a king, and

thereby qualified to be the prophet of a king. king. David's royal sufferings and royal dignities were but the manystringed harp on which he prophesied of David's Lord, Messiah the King. If this opened door be then a door of knowledge, it must be of knowledge concerning the King; and that it is a door of knowledge, I think, for the reasons set forth above. Here, then, we have it declared, that in the days of the church of Philadelphia, there was to be opened a door into the holy things of David; to the possession of which Christ entered by the resurrection according to the application of that passage, "I will give him the sure mercies of David." David knew well when he took his harp, that he was uttering dark sayings and parables of God; for "it is the glory of God to conceal a matter." David knew that God had spoken to him of another King than David, of a better kingdom than David's. But then, it lay closed up and hidden under the sevenfold key of mystery, until the time come, when he, who hath the key of David, should set it open unto the angel of the Philadelphian church. Daniel, also, who was the head servant of a king of kings, who had upon his shoulder the key of the house of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, was another person chosen of God, to give forth mysteries concerning the kingdom, not of the Jews, but of the Gentiles also, which the Son of Man, not the Son of David, but the Son of Man, for that is Daniel's style of Christ, was to inherit. All his visions are concerning the King of the nations, which Christ is, in virtue of his being Son of Adam, not in virtue of being Son of David; and all these prophecies of Daniel were shut up and sealed, until the time of the end, when it was promised that they should be opened; and that the wise should understand (Dan. xii. 9). And when the Apostles, upon the resurrection of Christ, would have understood from him concerning that time of the restoring the kingdom unto Israel, Jesus made them answer, That it was not theirs to know the times and the seasons, but to preach the Gospel. Forasmuch, then, as David's lyre and Daniel's calendar were closed and shut up until the key of interpretation should be given, and a time was fixed against which the sevenfold mystery should be unveiled, by Him who hath the key of David, that same wonderful numberer who closed

« AnteriorContinua »