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mercial city of Smyrna; is much frequented by the Armenian merchants; and the regular caravans to Persia pass through or near its walls. Of the present population, according to the accounts of the most recent travellers, about 1,000 are Christians, chiefly Greeks, but who speak the Turkish language. They have twenty-five places of worship, five of which are large and regular Churches, the two largest and best of which are called St. Mary's and St. George's. They have also a resident bishop and twenty inferior clergy, so that whatever may be lost of the spirit of Christianity, there is still the outward form of a Christian Church; and in this very fact, you can trace the connexion between zeal and devotedness to God, and a larger measure of his providential care.
A very recent traveller, the Rev. John Hartley, who visited six of the apocalyptic Churches, met with the following interesting incident:-“In the course of our journey to-day (April 4th, 1825,) we came gradually in sight of a majestic chain of mountains, covered with snow, which opened upon us to the right. This is Mount Cadmus. We reached Sarakeny about three o'clock in the afternoon, having spent seven hours in travelling from Guigach. Sarakeny is a wretched village, formed of mudhouses. There is a considerable number of Greeks and one Church. We were greatly surprised to find here Panaretos, the present bishop of Philadelphia. He was engaged in making a tour of his diocese, and had already spent a few days in Sarakeny. When we first called on him he was engaged in performing evening prayers with a few of his attend
It was to us a subject of surprise and sorrow
to observe the manner in which the Service was conducted; the hundreds of Kyrie eleesons,' (that is Lord have mercy upon us,) are repeated with a celerity which is perfectly amazing: in fact, you hear, in general, nothing more than ‘leeson,' 'leeson,' 'leeson,' ·leeson'—till the last utterance of the petition, when, as if to make some amends for the haste of the
preceding expressions, you hear a full and round enunciation of Kyrie eleeson.' One of the causes of this neglect of decorum is, doubtless, to be found in the immense length of the Greek Services: I have heard of one of them, which actually continues five hours.
“I have never yet met with a Greek ecclesiastic of more pleasing address than the Bishop of Philadelphia. He is young, probably not more than thirty-five; and exhibits an energy and warmth of character, which, under favourable circumstances, would lead, I should imagine, to very happy results. I was sorry to find in him a degree of coldness on the subject of the Bible Society; he said that they had conversed on the subject in the Synod at Constantinople; and I understood him, that they considered the circulation of the Romaic Scriptures to be impracticable for the Church as a body, but that it might be left to the exertions of individuals. He very gladly received a New Testament and other books.
“In Sarakeny I saw the Oriental Church probably in the lowest state of depression. A miserable little room, in the public khan, had the name of a Church; and it was in one little better, in the opposite corner, that the Bishop of the diocese was then residing."
These are interesting particulars, and they are
from the latest European accounts. Our own countrymen, Messrs. Fiske and Parsons, who visited Philadelphia previous to Mr. Hartley, give some little additional information. They saw the Church in which it was supposed the congregation assembled to whom St. John wrote this epistle, and which is now a mosque. They saw many schools in which the children were carefully instructed.
These are all the historical and topographical notices necessary at present to mention, and, as in the case of the other epistles, I shall proceed to consider the body of the epistle under its peculiar and appropriate divisions. We have, as in the others,
I. AN INTRODUCTORY DESCRIPTION OF THE SAVIOUR.
II. A DECLARATION OF SOME PECULIAR BLESSINGS HE HAD BESTOWED UPON THEM.
III. A COMMENDATION OF THEIR FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.
IV. A DECLARATION OF THE OVERTHROW OF SOME INTERNAL ENEMIES BY WHOM THE PEACE AND TRANQUILLITY OF THIS CHURCH WAS DISTURBED.
V. A PREDICTION OF CALAMITY, WITH A PROMISE OF SECURITY IN THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION AND DANGER.
VI. THE CONCLUDING PROMISE.
I. The introductory description of our Saviour here given, is worthy of special observation and enlarged remark, because it is a clear and decided claim of divinity. He describes himself under attributes which belong to his personal and official character.
As to his person, he says—“I am he that is holy, he that is true.” Not only as one who is holy
and true in his words and in his works, but as one who is holiness and truth in their abstract considetion; and the very fact that Christ challenges these attributes to himself, proves the divinity of his character; for as to underived and independent truth and holiness, as these terms import, they belong only to an uncreated and self-existent God, the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy. Our Lord is elsewhere in his personal dignity spoken of under the same terms. Thus St. Peter, in his address to the Jews, who marvelled at the cure of the impotent man, has these memorable words :“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this ? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk ? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom
delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him
ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you.” He takes also to himself the title of the one that is true, true by eminence; and this corresponds with what is said of our Lord in other portions of the sacred Scriptures; thus he is called the True Light, which lighteth every man which cometh into the worldand in the 1st general epistle of John, 5th chapter, 20th verse, it is said, “ And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
Our Lord further describes himself in his official
character, as Mediator; "he that hath the key of David.” The term, key, is frequently used in Scripture to signify authority, and here our Saviour says, that he has the regal right and authority of David, which implies that he has all power as Mediator over the visible Church, and that there can be no possible interference with his claims—“He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” It was the right and the prerogative of David, to shut or to open the kingdom of Israel to whom he pleased. He could choose whom he would to succeed him. It is in the text then asserted, that the kingdom of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven are both absolutely at the disposal of Christ, as Sovereign Lord of the Universe and of the Church. He can shut against whom he will ; he can open to whom he pleases; consequently wo be to those who deny his name and his religion, and seek to rob him of his crown of glory, by denying his divine and mediatorial character. If he shuts, no man
can open; if he opens, no man can shut. His determinations all stand fast, and no man can reverse them. Heaven and earth shall pass, but his word shall not pass away.
These are exalted prerogatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, and extend to every form and variety of blessing and of privilege. It is his to open a door of opportunity to his Churches, both to learn and to teach. He can open a door of utterance to his ministers, so that they may have both time, and place, and ability, to preach the word of the everlasting Gospel, and none can shut it.
He can open a door of entrance for the Gospel, even where there is the most