« PoprzedniaDalej »
who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks : I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars : and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my Name sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him ear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Rev. ii. 1-7.
The apostle Paul first visited Ephesus, and abode there for a short time in the year of Christ 54, being on his way to Jerusalem : and at the request of the Christian converts, he returned to them a few months afterwards, and remained for three years. The state of the Church at Ephesus, which was gathered together under his ministry, may be seen from the epistle he addressed to them, when a few years afterwards he was himself a prisoner at Rome; and bis commendation of “their faith, and of their love to all the saints,” places the Church at Ephesus high amongst the churches of that day. But as Paul foretold them, when he took leave of the elders at Miletus, Acts xx.grievous wolves afterwards entered in amongst them, not sparing the flock, and of their ownselves men arose, speaking perverse things, and drawing away
disciples after them.' Judgments then followed, the light of the gospel was withdrawn, the glory of the city became dim, destruction finally took place, and of this magnificent metropolis the ruins only now remain, affording a precarious shelter to a few scattered herdsmen, who are all of them followers of Mahomet. Such has been the literal fulfilment, intended under a type, or figure, to represent the fate of the primitive or apostolic church. That church, from the day of Pentecost, came under the open government of the Holy Spirit, and was according to the signification of the name desirable ; but it was destined at the appointed time to have the candlestick removed, never more to be replaced. The apostolic church was in itself altogether a peculiar dispensation, ordained to last only for the time, or age, whereunto it was appointed. It was under the open and visible guidance of the Spirit; and the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, such as power to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to speak in unknown tongues, to discern, to try, and to cast out spirits, were, under this dispensation, given freely to the apostles, and by them also conferred upon others, through the laying on of their hands. And there was a diversity of gifts amongst them, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ-the Church. The power of working miracles
was during this time, ordained as a sign to the unconverted, that the power of the Lord might be manifested, and seeing the wonders wrought in his name, they might believe: but when the Canon of Scripture was completed, the open ministration of the Spirit gradually passed away, and at length ceased, giving place to that more secret ministration, which was ordained of the Lord to succeed it. From this time, the written and preached word, under the inward teaching of the Spirit, has become the guide of the church, being appointed so to remain till the Millenvial dispensation shall supervene.
The ministration of gifts, which obtained in the apostolic church, came visibly to the outward senses; the work of the Spirit, in after times, has only been made manifest in the hearts and consciences of the people; so that we cannot hesitate to consider this latter dispensation as the more bighly spiritual of the two: and seeing that it has ever pleased the Lord to lead his church from the lower to higher ministrations, it could not well be doubted, even if the type before us did not reveal it, that the open ministration of gifts is passed away for ever~" the candlestick removed out of his place.”' The promise to those who remain faithful during the time of this dispensation, is to be found in verse 7, and in this, as in the other addresses to the churches, it is made to him that overcometh. The promise runs
thus :-" To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” We read, also, in another place :—Whatsuever is born of God, overcometh the world, and this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John v. 4.
The church which is addressed in the second place, is that of Smyrna; and the name signifies Myrrh, alluding, doubtless, to the sweet-smelling savour of those works of faith, and labours of love, which its antitype was ordained to bring forth, whilst bearing the testimony of Jesus, under the awful tribulations which attended her.
“ Unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write: these things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer : behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have tribulation ten days : be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches : he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Rev. ii. 8-11.
The present state of the city of Smyrna, is a striking illustration of this propbecy.
It has been for a long series of years under the dominion of the Mahometan
powers ; but still a few professors of Christianity have
; resided there, subject at all times, and without redress, to whatsoever insults or injuries, the arbitrary malice, or wanton caprice of the Turks, might think proper to inflict upon them; and holding even their lives upon a very precarious tenure. The antitype intended, is doubtless the Church of Christ, suffering under Pagan persecution. The dreadful cruelties which she endured from Pagan Rome, are well known to every one who is conversant with ecclesiastical history ; and in the address to the Church at Smyrna, the glorious works, the severe tribulation, and the outward poverty of the church during this era, seem plainly alluded to: but, it is added, “thou art rich,” rich indeed in faith, and in a company of blessed martyrs. The ten Roman persecutions are signified by the expression of “tribulation ten days," and the exhortation to be faithful unto death, denotes plainly the slaughter of the saints. As the reward of them who overcome, a crown of life is promised, and the glorious riches of that crown will be revealed, when the Lord shall make up his jewels.
The third address is to the Church in Pergamos,
as follows :
“ To the angel of the Church in Pergamos write: these things saith he, which hath the sharp sword with two edges :