תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the great

against the common enemy,—such assistance as shall enable them to overcome* But with what arms did our Lord himself overcome? for with none other can his followers expect to conquer ;-not with the weapons

of human warfare. When such were offered to him, previously to the grand conflict, “put up thy "sword,” said he to the zealous apostle, who drew it in his defence, “all they that take the sword,” that rely on such arms in such a cause, “shall perish with “the sword,” shall lose that victory, which is to be gained by other means. The means then used by

Captain of our salvation,” was meek perseverance in the cause of truth and righteousness, founded upon faith in his God; he conquered, he “ was made perfect, by sufferings t.” Which words are explained in the 14th verse of the same chapter;

through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil, openly triumphing

over him," ju this very act . It is for this reason, that our Lord, when preparing for this combat, in which he knew that by suffering he should overcome, calls his death his glorification . In that last and decisive conflict in the flesh, with “ the prince of this “ world 1,” as our Lord then calls him, he overcame him by suffering ; and passing through the grave to heaven, he opened a passage for his faithful followers, leading them triumphantly into that kingdom, which he had prepared for them, and where “he must “ reign,” till all his enemies shall be finally subdued; until “ Death shall be swallowed up in victory 1. Thus, as I have seen it expressed, with brighter truth than Latinity, Victus qui sæviebat, vicit qui suf“ ferebat.” “ The conqueror was subdued, the sufferer conquered;" or, as, in more stately language, God the Father is represented speaking of the Son incarnate;

* Luke x. 18. &c. + Heb. ii. 10. 1 Col. ii. 15.
s John xii. 23, 28. xiii. 31. xvii. 1. also vii. 13. xii. 16.
& John xii. 13. xiv. 20.

Ti Cor. xv. 24. 54–57.

than * Par. Reg. i. 159. + 2 Tim. ii. 5. Rom. viii. 37. $ Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. Pref. & c.i.

" I send him forth
“ To conquer sin and death, the two grand foes,
“ By humiliation and strong suf'rance*"

It is the duty of every Christian to be ready at all times to fight this spiritual battle, under the conviction, that he is certain to triumph, if he be lawfully called to the conflict t, and have faith to follow his great Leader. For, to suffer in that cause is to triumph; nay, in all these things,” says Saint Paul speaking of such sufferings, “we are more than con

querors, through Him who loved us t.” And this notion of conflict, battle, victory, &c. will be found also to pervade the writings of the early Christians. In the martyrdom of Ignatius, published by Archbishop Usher, that martyr is called Adytus nan yev, ναιος μαρτυς Χρισθε, καλαπατησας τον Διαβολονand in that precious morsel of Ecclesiastical History in the second century, the epistle from the Gallic Churches, the persecuting power is styled • VIIMEILLEvos, the adversary, who apoyuuvatel, skirmishes before the battle; but avliclater i xagis T8 ©8, the grace of God conducts the Christian force against him, and supports the martyrs, who are called yeyvasoi abayles, noble combatants ||. Agreeably to these images, that ancient hymn of the Christian Church, beginning with Te Deum, recounts the noble army of Martyrs.” But besides this battle which every Christian has to fight individually, and on his own private account, against the great adversary, there is a more general and extended warfare, in which the followers of Christ are engaged in a body, as the body of Christ's Church. It is against the same arch-enemy, the devil, and under the same leader, Christ. For our Lord is represented as continually presiding over the fortunes of his church : “ Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the “ world *.” It is this warfare extended through all the ages of the world, which seems principally, if not solely, to be prefigured in the Apocalypse. The Devil and his worldly agents attack by seduction and corrupt doctrine, by terror and persecution; the church resists, covering herself with the arms of her great Leader, “the cincture of truth, the breast-plate of “ righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of “ the Spirit, and, above all, the shield of faith t. “ Though she walk in the flesh, yet does she not war " after the flesh, for the weapons of ner warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, bringing into captivity

|| Euseb. H. E. lib. v. Pref. & cap. i. See also the same language in Minuc, Felix Octav, c. 37. 02

Christian

every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Agreeably to which words of Scripture in the language of the Apocalypse: “He that conquereth,” is “he “who keeps the works of his Lord even unto the

end ;" he who, by the prevalence of faith, perseveres in the profession and practice of Christianity, when assailed by temptation or terror, is the faithful and victorious soldier of Christ. And to a church

• Matt. xxviii. 20.'

+ Eph. vi. 14, &c. See ch. ii. 26. where the expression may be thus paraphrased.

of

of this character, and to none other, is promised

power over the nations," a spiritual, increasing dominion.

As to the passage immediately before us, it concerns the times à Elct *, the situation of the church at the time when our Lord addressed these warnings to it; when the Faith was assailed both by delusive teachers from within, and by heathen persecutors from without. Of the former of these, we have spoken t. The hostility of the latter had commenced some years before, in the reign of Nero, whoseunjust edicts against the Christians had been renewed by Domitian a little time before the date of this prophecy. For, under this persecution, Saint John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he saw the vision I. That the seven Churches were actually under persecution at this time, and were not to be relieved immediately, may be collected from various passages of these addresses to them g.

Ver. 7. To eat of the tree of Life, &c.] The Lord God is described to have planted a garden, or paradise, in Eden, and to have placed in the midst of the garden the tree of life; of which the first created pair might eat, and by eating live for ever. Under this description is represented that immortality, to whịch, by obedience, the race of men might have attained in their primitive state, and which they forfeited by disobedience jl.

For they listened to the seductions of their wily foe, and were

But the “ Second Adam, the Lord from “ Heaven," having condescended to undergo, in

overcome.

* See note, ch. i. 19.

+ Note, ch. ii. 6. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. xix, $ Ch.ii. 3, 10, 13. iii. 10. I Gen. ii. 8, 9. Ii Cor, xv. 22, 45. John vi. 51. xi. 25.

the

the behalf of fallen man, the penalty, which was death", man is hereby restored to his lost privileges. The tree of life is again placed within his reach, he may put forth his hand and live for ever.” This advantage, which the Saviour of the world has regained by his own prowess, he bestows as a free gift or reward upon those servants of his who follow him faithfully in his victorious career f. A description of the tree of life will recur in ch. xxii. 2, 14.

Gen. ii. 17. + See a copious explanation of the tree of life, as signifying immortality, in Bp. Horne's Sermons, vol. i. It was so understood by the author of the 2d Book of Esdras, ch. viii, 52. which was probably written soon after this book of Revelation. See Gray's Key to the Old Testament.

PART I.

SECTION V.

The Address to the Church in Smyrna.

CHAP. ii. ver. 8-11. 8 Kai tū drying rñs | 8 And to the Angel of 8 And unto the Angel έν Σμυρνη εκκλησίας the Church in Smyrua,

of the Church in Smyrγράψον Τάδε λέ- write ; Thus saith the na, write, These things γει ο πρώτος και ο First and the Last, who saith the First and the έσχατος, δε έγένειο was dead and

alive;

Last, which was dead, vexgès rai inosi 9 I know thy (works and 9 and is alive ; I know 9 οίδα σε [τα έρία, thy] tribulation and thy works, and tribu. και] την θλίψιν, και thy poverty, (but thou

lation, and poverty, την λοχείας, (άλλα

art rich,) and the blas- (but thou art rich,) and σλήσιος εί,) και την phemy of those who

I know the blasphemy βλασφημίαν εκ των

say they are Jews, and of them which say they deyovlar 'Indaies ei

are not, but are a syna- are Jews, and are not, και έαυτές, και εκ 10 gogue of Satan. Fear

but are the synagogue εισιν, αλλά συνα

none of those things | 10 of Satan. Fear none

.

« הקודםהמשך »