« הקודםהמשך »
eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him; even so, amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” And why all this descriptive grandeur in the address to these seven churches, if they only were meant ? Surely there were other churches of equal importance at that day. Where were the churches at Corinth, Cappadocia, Galatia, Thessalonica, Philippi, Collosse, Rome, Jerusalem, Bithynia, &c. ? Our text shows that the seven churches were to be understood in a figurative or mystical sense. “ 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." These seven churches are represented by “ seven lamps.” See Zach. iv. 2, " And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which were upon the top thereof." These seven lamps are called “the eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the whole earth.” See Zach. iv. 10. If this is true, then it readily follows that the seven churches of Asia are only used as a figure representing the church “through the whole earth.” Again: the seven lamps, which are the seven churches, are called the seven spirits of God. Rev. iv. 5, “ And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God." I have clearly proved, and I think it will be admitted by all, that the “ seven eyes of the Lord,” and “the seven spirits of God,” are the seven churches to whom John was directed to write or dedicate his book, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
And I will now show that these comprehended the whole church through the whole earth. See Rev. v. 6, 6 And I beheld, and lo! in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the “ seven spirits of God sent forth into
all the earth.” Again: when we compare the severa. characteristic marks or events, upon opening the seven seals, with those marks and instructions to the seven churches, we shall be led to admire the beauty, harmony, and consistency of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to his people. And I think the mind will rest satisfied that this view of the subject is the truth, because it so exactly agrees with Christ's manner of teaching by parables when he was with us in the flesh.
Some may inquire, “ Why were those seven churches in Asia used as figures to represent the church militant in her several conditions to the end of her militant state ?” I answer, ) if we may be allowed to answer the whys or wherefores,) Because the signification of the names of those seven churches describe the spirit and qualities of the several periods of the Christian church, which they are brought forward to represent, which we shall attempt to show in its proper place.
I shall now endeavor to take up the churches in the order in which they are laid down to us in Revelation. (Read Rev. ij. 1–7, inclusive.) 1st. The word EPHESUS, desirable chief. This is true concerning the first age of the church, in the apostles' days, when the Holy Ghost was given the power to work miracles, and the power to distinguish between good and evil spirits, and when all were of one heart and one mind, and the canon of the Holy Scriptures were filling up, and the inspired apostles were setting things in order, and establishing churches through the world. Yes, my brethren, these were desirable times surely. But to proceed: This church is addressed by the character “that holdeth the seven stars,” the ministers and servants of him who holdeth them in his right hand,” under his immediate care and control, “ who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” and has said, where two or three are gathered together in his name, there will he be in the midst of them, and has promised that whatsoever they should ask in his name it should be granted unto them. He says, “I know thy works.” In that day they brought forth fruits meet for repentance, and they went every where preaching that men should repent; and Paul said, when preaching at
Athens, “ But now commandeth all men every where to
Yes, all, saint or sinner, high or low, rich or poor ; all, all must repent. And O! my brethren, how much we need these works at the present day! “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do thy first works.” Again he says, “I know thy labor.” Did not the apostles labor night and day ? 2 Thess. iii. 8, “ Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought, but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.” See i Thess. ii. 8, 9, “ So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail ; for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” Again he says, “ And thy patience.” This, too, will apply to the apostles' days. For Paul says, 2 Cor. vi. 4, “ But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses." Also, xii. 12, “ Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. And again the apostle says to Timothy, “ But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.” And who can read the history of the first age of the church, but will admit that works, labor and patience, were prominent features of that age, and virtues which adorned the Christian church in its infancy, more than any age since ? 6 And how thou canst not bear them which are evil.” Who can read Paul's instructions to his Corinthian brethren, in 1 Cor. v. 11, without seeing this text fulfilled ?
« But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother (as though such a one could not be a real brother, but only called so] be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.” And had the servants of Christ at the present day the power of the apostles to discern the spirits by which we are governed, how many in this congregation would blush when
“ fornicator” is mentioned ! How many
6 covetous" would hide their faces! How many “idolaters” would how their heads, or “railers” would begin to murmur at the plainness of the speaker! How many “drunkards": would not have staggered into this house! And how many “ extortioners” would have staid at home! O God, thou knowest. Or who can read the 2d chapter of the 2d epistle of Peter, and John's first epistle, Jude, and others, and not be convinced that the apostles could not bear with them that were evil? Again: “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." This sentence was fulfilled in the apostles' days. Simon Magus, after he was professedly a disciple of Christ, was found out by Peter to be in the “gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity.” Hymeneus and Alexander, whom Paul delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Tim. 20. Also Philetus, Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith, were all found to be liars, and many others who went out from them, as the apostle says, because they were not of them. And how many are there now, my brethren, among us, who, when tribulation cometh, will be offended, and go out from us! Lord, is it I? “ And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” Yes, my brethren, it was for the name of Jesus, that the primitive Christians bore the persecutions of their day. Acts xv. 25, 26, “It seemed good unto us to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts ix. 16, “For I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Verse 41,“ And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” And, may I not inquire, how many of us are willing and would rejoice to suffer shame for the name of Christ? Perhaps
We had rather be called Rabbi, Rev., Dr., &c. We are contending for our names at the present day ; for Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Free-wills, Campbellites, &c. If we do not contend earnestly for our sect, they will decrease, and we shall come
to nought. And I say, May God speed it; so that you all may fall on the word of God, and rally again under the name of Jesus. But we will proceed with our subject. 4th verse, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Can this be true? Did the apostolic church, in its purity, so soon depart from the first principles of the gospel ? Yes, in Acts xv. 24, “ Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ye must be circumcised, and keep the whole law, to whom we gave no such commandment.” Gal. i. 6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” 1 Timothy, i. 19, “ Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith, have made shipwreck.” 2 Tim. i. 15, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia are turned away from me.”
And Paul further says, iv. 16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. I
God lay not this sin to their charge."
Many more evidences might be brought, to prove that many, in that early state of the church, did fall away from the doctrine of grace, which Paul and the apostles taught. And now, my brethren, how is it with us?
Are we built on the truth? Have we a “ Thus saith the Lord,” for all we believe and do? Are we built on “ the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone” ? Look well to your foundation — the day is coming that will try every man's works.
Verse 5, « 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 the candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” In this verse the great Head of the church admonishes the Christians of their former sins in neglecting the doctrine of grace, and falling into the popular errors of the day, which I have before noticed, and warns them of their duty to repent, which is the first and great command under the gospel. He also gives them notice, that, except they repent, he will remove the “ desirable” state of the