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the last : and, what thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia ; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Christ asserts his underived divinity; and then orders that the vision should be committed to writing, and sent to the seven churches in Asia, which he names.
Ver. 12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with
And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks: 13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire ;
15. And bis feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned. in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16. And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
On turning to see who thus addressed him, his eyes fastened on the glorious Mediator, Inmanuel, God manifest in the flesh, whom John beheld in vision as descended from heaven, and standing near him in an attitude and appearance which well-nigh drank up his spirits. How changed now was the Saviour from what he was when John had been conversant with him, in the days of his humiliation, in his agonies in the garden, and on the cross, and when John had often leaned on his bosom! The golden candlestick in the ancient temple seemed to stand here before Christ, which gave him the appearance of standing in the midst of those seven branches of the one candlestick, as the Jewish high-priest was wont to stand, to dress the seven lamps. This candlestick was of pure beaten gold, to assure us of the purity of all the true people of God. The branches were seven, to indicate the many particular churches of Christ. They all united in one foot, to assure us that all true churches unite in Christ, and are supported by him. The position and dress of Christ seem to have some allusion to the style of the Jewish high-priest, when seen in the temple in his official habiliments.' It is thought this dress and appearance of
Christ, are to be viewed as emblematical of things like the following ;-His flowing outer garment down to his feet, reminds of his mediatorial righteousness, furnished for the salvation of his people, even the vilest. His golden girdle round the breast, tells us of his faithfulness, and of the tenderness of his heart; that his people are set as a seal on his arm and heart, with love which many waters cannot quench, nor floods drown. The intense whiteness of his hair denotes his eternity, and infinite venerableness. His eyes being as a flame of fire, reminds of his omniscience, and the piercing attention he pays to every thing. His feet being like burning brass, and as though they glowed in a furnace, denotes the holiness of all his ways; the excellence and majesty of all his dispensations. The sounding of his voice as the roaring of an ocean in a tempest, denotes the various alarming events of his holy providence against his enemies. The seven stars in his right hand denote his ambassadors, who are ever held and supported by his grace! "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." The sharp sword from his mouth is an emblem of the keen power of his word, sharper than any two-edged sword, to save, or to destroy. And his countenance shining as the sun, is a most fit emblem of his infinite majesty.
Here, Christians, is the Being, "whom having not seen ye love: in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing; ye rejoice with joy unspeakable." This is the Personage, sinners, who assures you, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock!" This is he of whom saints glory, when they exclaim : "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
Ver. 17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Man, being but dust and ashes, cannot, in this his mortal state, see God's face and live. It is then, in mercy to man, that "he holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it." Our Lord, in this his bright manifestation of himself to John, no doubt veiled much of his glory, a full view of which would instantly have extin
guished his animal life. But such was the view of glory given, that the beloved disciple fell at his feet as dead! But Christ kindly laid his hand upon him, furnishing him with strength, as he had done to the beloved Daniel, ages before, who, on a similar occasion, was sinking at his feet, overwhelmed with his glory. (Dan. x. 8-12.) Most kind was his address: “Fear not! I am the first, and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead, and am alive for evermore, Amen: and have the keys of hell and of death." Here again, from his own mouth, we learn that he is God! and is the only way to heaven, and sovereign of heaven and of hell;—to receive to the one, and to banish to the other, whom he will. Such is he who tenders salvation to
Ver. 19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
The Apocalypse has a number of grand divisions, as will be seen, each in its place. Here is one of interest. (1.) “ The things which thou hast seen, are this introduction of the book, in chapter first. (2.) “The things
consist of the seven epistles to the seven churches, which follow in chapters second and third. (3.) “The things which shall be hereafter;" all the events then future, which shall be found contained in the book. The great events of salvation to the church, and of destruction to her enemies, from that time to the end of the world, which the Spirit would unfold in courses of events exhibited in the figurative language of this book.
Ver. 20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches : and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
An infallible interpretation is here given of the ancient golden candlestick in the temple, with its seven branches; and of its light on the summit of each branch. That rich emblem is here applied, by Christ himself, to the seven churches then in Asia; each branch is a church; and its light, called a star, an emblem of the gospel ministry in that branch. And thus the candlestick, with its lights, was a symbol of all the churches, with their pastors, to the end of the world. This Christ notes as a mystery; or as a thing denoted by figure. The candlestick was a type of all the visible churches of Christ. Its seven branches denoted their many branches. But all are one in Christ. Christ the midst his churches, as he seemed to stand in the midst of the branches of the candlestick. The thought and assurance of this presence of Christ in his churches, are most animating, and full of salvation. “Zion behold thy Saviour King !-He reigns and triumphs here!” The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, as the means of upholding the ambassadors of Christ, and the order of his truth and grace. “Ye are the light of the world." Ministers and churches find here their strength and righteousness;--their Saviour and their God. Christ says to them, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And they triumph and rejoice, “I live; yet not I; but Christ liveth in me.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. “And the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” The thought is, by the emblem and the unity of the candlestick, deeply impressed, that all the saints are one in Christ. All want of love and union then, is vile, and utterly unworthy of the saints. All true ministers of Christ shine with light derived only from him. “In thy light shall we see light.” The churches must keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. They first are pure; then peaceable. "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. The candlestick was formed of purest gold. The almost Christian then, is but dross. He has no part nor lot in this bright emblem. of the hypocrite shall perish.” Nothing short of the correct and pure Christian faith, heart, and life, can answer to the pure gold of the candlestick! This is a new heart, created in Christ unto good works. Without holiness, no man can see the Lord. And all is not gold that glitters. Counterfeit graces abound. “ Five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” With holy fear and trembling, , then, let each professor say, “Lord, is it I?” " Search me, O Lord, and prove me! try my reins and
heart!” • Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me!” Form Christ in me the hope of glory!
Think, Christian, of the glory and dignity of your Saviour and Lord, always present! Dwell on his character as here given, till your whole soul is transformed to love
- The hope
and admiration; and till you can constantly breathe out the confident address, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Then live the life of holy faith; the happy life of looking unto Jesus! Then will his love refine your soul. Then will you find rich mines of consolation; rich and most glorious in your heavenly Bridegroom; for ever present, and prepared to save! “He is thy Lord, and worship thou hirn." Here is our atonement, our righteousness, our life, and our salvation. We will behold his flowing mantle; his girdle of love; his white and infinite venerableness; his flaming eye; the holy footsteps of his burning feet; the two-edged sword of his mouth; his countenance brighter than the sun! We will not fail to listen to the sound of his providences, as the roar of a thundering ocean! And we will lie prostrate at his feet, imploring his life-giving right hand kindly to be laid upon us! We will ever prize and implore his kind, life-giving whisper, It is I; be not afraid. I am he that liveth, and was dead. And because I live, ye shall live also. We will follow him till we come where he is, to behold his face in righteousness, and to be satisfied, awaking in his likeness and glory!
Ver. 1. Unto the angel of the churches of Ephesus write; these things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.
Ephesus was the metropolis of Lydia in Asia. A church was here early collected: and with this church Christ commences his epistles to the seven churches. Each epistle is directed to the angel of that church. In this term, probably, were included whatever teaching elders there might be in that church. Some suppose the pastor or pastors of each church were all that is meant by the angel of that church. Others suppose it meant, especially, a person who