תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of the churches over which they preside. This will appear in many instances, but particularly in that of the Church of Thyatira*, where his de neyw, (I say to you, not to thee) plainly shews it. Some of the commentators, overlooking this, have understood the words of Christ as addressed to the Presidents on their own individual account. They are addressed to the seven Churches in particular, and through them to the universal church in all times and in all places ; such is the figurative import of the number sevent. Some commentators have proceeded farther. They have imagined that under the description of the seven churches, seven successive periods of the church are prophetically delineated. But this does not agree with the division made by the Divine Girer of this . Revelation, whereby le points out the second and third chapters as containing si Eici, “the things which “ now are,” and the remaining chapters as unfolding

å Melder reveobuo pela Taule, “ the things which are about .“ to be after these.” And without entering into farther particulars, it must appear, that no description of any of the seven Churches is sufficiently dark, to express the corrupt state of religion in the middle ages as described in history; or as prophetically delineated in the subsequent parts of this revelation : Nor can we here find any representation of that triumphant state of the church, which, from the concluding chapters of this book, and from other prophecies, we have reason to respect. Another yet more fanciful exposition has been added to this; under the Greek name of each of the seven churches, the successive

TO

* Ch. ii. 24.

+ See note, chap. i. 4. | Ch. i. 19. which compare with ch. iv. 1. and see the note on the foriner passage

cha

character of the universal Church has been supposed to be mysteriously expressed. Bede, in the eighth century, is the first author in whom I recollect to have seen this mode of interpretation. He finds myrrh in the word Smyrna, and then applies the qualities of myrrh to the city of that name; others following the example (exemplum vitiis imitabile), have extended this method of interpretation to all the seven churches.

Ib. Ephesus.) This is the city, in which the apostle Saint John coinmonly resided*, and from which he would visit the six remaining Churches, in the order in which they are here named. It is also the first seaport to one proceeding from the Island of Patmos, from which the distribution of our Lord's injunctions to the seven Churches would begin. Strabo, who wrote about 50 years before the date of this vision, and who had been educated in the province of Asia, and was personally acquainted with every part of it, has described Ephesus as the most considerable city in that regions. So likewise Plinyt. Possessing the famous temple of Diana, which had been endowed with peculiar privileges by the conquerors Xerxes and Alexander, it became a distinguished seat of heathen idolatry. Hence the preaching of the Gospel was opposed in this city from political prejudices and mercenary motives g. But the cause of true religion prevailed, by the diligent preaching of Saint Paul assisted by the Holy Spirit. That Apostle made Ephesus his abode “ for the space of two years ;" and, as this city was the grand mart of Asia, so it

S

• Iren. adv. Hær. lib. iii. c. 1. Euseb. Eccl. Hist, lib. iii, c. 23. + Strabo, ii. p. 865, 941,

Nat. Hist. lib. v. c. 29, § Acts xix. 26,

became ever

became a central point, whence the Christian Religion was successfully propagated; “so that all they “ who dwelt in Asia, heard the word of the Lord “Jesus, both Jews and Greeks*.” Therefore, when Saint John, some years later, came to dwell in Asia, Ephesus became the proper place of his residence.

We may learn somewhat of the state of this Church, about 30 or 40 years before the date of this vision, from the Epistles of Saint Paul to Timothy, whom he had left at Ephesus, and who was Angel or Apostle, of this Church at the time when the letters of Saint Paul were addressed to himt, It was then assailed by zealots, probably Jews, who taught their “fables and endless genealogies," and made little account of that charity which is “ the “ end of the commandment.” We might obtain additional information on this subject, from the Epistle of Saint Paul which is inscribed to the Ephesians, if it should appear to be written peculiarly to the inhabitants, of that city. But doubts have been advanced upon this subject: and some lave supposed that this Epistle is that which Saint Paul had sent to the Laodiceans, and which, at the conclusion of his Epistle to the Colossians, he orders to be read, interchangeably with that Epistle, by the two Churchest. But however this matter may be determined, it is certain that the Church of Ephesus had enjoyed very considerable advantages, beyond most other churches, at the time when our Lord now addresses it. Saint Paul had resided at Ephesus upwards of two years, and afterwards Timothy, under his immediate direction ; lastly, the Apostle Saint John had fixed his abode there. All this accords with the address of our Lord to this Church, in which it is (1st) represented, as free from heretical doctrines; (2dly) is reprimanded severely for a defect in charity; for to whom much is given, of the same much will be required.

• Acts xix. 10.

+ 1 Tim. 1. 3. See Whitby on Coloss. iv. 6. Paley's lloræ Paulinæ. Lardner's Cred. vol. vi. Bp. Pretyman's Christian Theology, vol. i.--Certainly this Epistle contains nothing personal to the Ephesians, which might be expected in the letter of an Apostle who had resided above two years among them. And to me it appears probable, that containing only a general exposition of the Christian dispensation so far as it relates to the Gentiles, and a general view of the Christian doctrines as applicable to all, and confined to no community in particular, it was

intended

The History of Ephesus, from the apostolical times to the present, is in abridgment as follows. This city stood very high in the commonwealth of Christians for some centuries. She sent her bishops to the general councils, and councils were holden at Ephesus. About ten or twenty years after this address of her Lord to her, at the time of Ignatius's martyrdom,

intended to be circulated not only at Ephesus, but in all the adjacent segion; and accordingly might be addressed also to the Laodiceans. Arguments for this bypothesis may be seen in Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, ch, xx. Add to these, that Tychicus was the bearer of this Epistle; and Tychicus appears to have been often employed in bearing the communications of this Apostle to the Churches; (Col. iv. 7. 2 Tim, iv. 12. Tit. iii. 12.) From Rome, where Saint Paul wrote this Epistle, Tychicus had to travel over many regions before he would arrive at Ephesus. This Epistle, as a Catholic universal address, was of a fit character to be distributed as he passed through the Churches. The copy left at Ephesus had the words ļy E@erw inserted, and this copy principally was preserved, and acknowledged by the Fathers of the Church. But in some of the MSS. now extant, the words iv Erow are not to be found, and in some the word dari is added after áyxois (such is the case in the famous Alexandrine MS.) which gives some colour to this supposition, of its being a Catholic Epistle, designed for many of the Gentile Churches.

she she appears to be in a flourishing state, having in her bosom great numbers of Christians professing a pure faith, and directed by Onesimus an excellent bishop; The heresies, which then began to prevail throughout the Churches, had not yet corrupted her *. In the third naval expedition of the barbarians from the Euxine, during the reign of Valerian, Ephesus suffered great calamities. But the grand desolation of this city, under which she now lies prostrate, was that which she underwent in common with the maritime coast of Lesser Asia, in the year 1312, from the devastating armies of the Turksf. Ephesus is described by modern travellers as little better than a heap of ruins ; so completely is her “lamp-bearer removed I.” . Ib. Thus saith he, &c.] The supreme head of the Christian church is now in the act of visiting and superintending. To the church of Ephesus, with which he begins, he represents himself in that character and office, as walking amidst his churches, and directing and supporting their teachers 5.

Ver. 2. Canst not endure. The word endure (Berlatw) · Ver. 3. Hast endured. Sis twice applied to the Ephesian Church, which in the same passage is commended, ist, for enduring; and 2dly, for not endur. ing; for enduring the yoke of Cliristianity without fainting under the afflictions and persecutions which attended it; for not enduring another yoke, namely,

[ocr errors]

• Ignatii Epist. ad Ephes, sect. 9.
+ Gibbon's Hist. i. ch. 10. vi. p. 314.

For accounts of the present state of Ephesus, and of the other
six Churches, as briefly reported in the ensuing notes, see at large,
Smith's Septom Asiæ Eccles. Notit. ;' Rycaui's Present State of the
Greek Church; and the relations of Wheeler, Spon, Heyman, and
Van Egmont, in their voyages and travels,
See note i. 12,

the

« הקודםהמשך »