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disciples to " let the dead bury their dead *.” The word vergos, a dead body, is used in its metaphorical sense; dead,” as Saint Paul expresses it, “in tres
passes and sins; alienated from the life of God t." The same metaphor occurs frequently in Scripture. A person living in the defilements of the world, in whom the spiritual life in Christ hath little or no vigour, is said to be “ dead while he liveth ;" as, on the contrary, of him who meets death in the discharge of his Christian duty, it is pronounced, that “ he liveth, though he diet.” “ The use of this me"taphor has been so common with the Jews, that, as “ Maimonides informs us, they proverbially say, “Impii etiam viventes vocantur mortui, The wicked " are dead, even while they are alive; for he, saith “ Philo ll, who lives a life of sin, tebvme TOV EU day Love, “ is dead as to a life of happiness: his soul is dead, “and even buried in his lusts and passions. And " because the whole Gentile world lay more especially “under these unhappy circumstances, whence the
apostie styles them sinners of the Gentiles , it “ was proverbially said by the Jewish doctors, Populi “ terrarum, i. e. Ethnici, non vivunt, the heathens “ do not live **." An attention to this use of the words death, die, dead, &c. in this figurative language of Scripture, will tend to illustrate many passages otherwise obscure. Such are Matt. xxii. 32. iv. 6. Luke i. 79. Rom. vi. 2. viii. 6. 2 Cor. 1. 9, 10. iii. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 6. So likewise in the sequel of
Matt. viii. 22.
† Eph. ii. 1, 5. iv. 18. 1 John xi. 26. Matt. iv. 16. Rom. viii. 6. Eph. v. 14. 1 Tim. v. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 6. 1 John iii. 14. Jude 12.
§ More Nevoch. lib. 1. ! Leg. Alleg. c. 1. I Gal. ii. 15.
Whitby on 1 Pet. iv. 6.
this prophetical book, where it is reasonable to expect that such words will be used in this their acknowledged metaphorical sense, as in this expression of our Lord to the Church of Sardis, which serves as a clue to the rest. For the whole is his prophecy or revelation, given to him, and delivered by him * We find also that the early writers of the church, who succeeded the apostles, applied these words in the same figurative meaning. In this acceptation Ignatius uses the word death t. In the persecution of the Christians under M. Aurelius, some had denied the faith; these are styled veugel, dead; but being afterwards enabled to profess their belief in Jesus, even in the face of torture and of death, they are then said to be restored to life. The passage is expressive, and may be seen at length in Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. v. c. i. Tertullian has frequently used the words death and die in this figurative sense : Mortuus es qui non es Christianus I. Apostoli de mortuis vivos faciebant, hæretici de vivis mortuos faciunt ş.
Ver. 2. Be watchful.] We are exhorted to the same watchfulness, connected with the metaphor explained in the last verse, in many other passages of Scripture.
Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,' &c.
Ver. 3. Remember.] The fault of Sardis was not heresy, or corruption of doctrine: it was negligence and supineness: she knew the will of her Lord, but
* Ch. i. 1.
+ Epist. ad Trall. sect. 6. 1 De Carne Christi, sect. 2.
§ De Præsc. Hæret. sect. 30. See also Cyprian's Epistles 10 & 27, where the same metaphor is used, N Eph. v. 14. Matt. xxv. 13.
did it not. She is therefore called upon to remember the doctrines she had received, and to bring them into practice. " And what I
you, “unto all,” says our Lord, “watch.”
Ib. A thief.] The coming of Christ, to take vengeance on his enemies, is represented to be like the approach of a thief in the night, when men, lulled in security, awake suddenly to see their own ruin *. This consideration more especially affects the careless and negligent, such as the Sardians are represented to be. The words of Saint Paul may be applied as the best possible comment on this text: “ But “ of the times and seasons, Brethren, ye have no need " that I write to you, for you yourselves know per
fectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a
thief in the night; for when they shall say peace “and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon “them, as travail upon a woman with child, and
they shall not escape: but ye, Brethren, are not in “ darkness, that that day should overtake you as a “thief; ye are all the children of the light, and the “ children of the day; we are not of the night, nor " of darkness: therefore let us not sleep as do others, “ but let us watch and be sobert.”
Ver. 4. Names.] We observe the same expression used in the same sense to signify Christian persons, Acts i. 15. and again, Rev. xi. 13. They are those who have their names enrolled in the book of their Lord, who claim a citizenship in his new Jerusalem I. We learn here, as from other passages of Scripture, that pure members of an impure church
* Joel ii. 9. Matt. xxiv. 43. Luke xii. 39, 40. + 1 Thess, v, 1-7. See the note below, ver. 5. book of life.
are kept separate in the eye of their Lord, and by him shall be considered as his own.
Ib. Garments—white.] By an easy and obvious metaphor *, what raiment is on the body, its cover and ornament, such is the habit of practice to the soul. “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me,” says Job; “my judgment was a robe and a diadem.” Conformably to which method of speaking, the Christian is required “ to put of the old man, to put
on the new, to put on Christ t;” which expressions are explained by their context to signify, that he should “ be renewed in the spirit of his mind, and put “ on the righteousness which is by faith.” In this allegorical form of speech, our Lord describes his servants as invited to the wedding of their great Master ; when one of them, appearivg without a wedding garment, is sentenced to be cast into outer darkness. This garment is white, pure, free from stain of sin, made clean, as it is expressed not only in the Apocalypse but in other passages of Scripture, by the blood of the Lamb . Sin defiles the soul, as earthly impurities do the bodily raiment; and there is no other means of cleansing, but propitiating blood; not the blood of bulls and goats, for these were only typical, but the blood of the Redeemer, of the holy victim, slain, in the counsel of God, from the foundation of the world. If we would be clothed in this raiment, in which alone we can appear pure and ac
* For the gradual formation of which, see i Sam. xviii. 4. 2 Sam. i. 24. Is. xxii. 21. lxi. 10. Dan. v.7. Luke xv. 22. xvi. 19. Also, Herodotus, Thalia, lxxxiv. Xenoph. Anab. lib. i.
+ Eph. iv. 22. 27. Gal. iii. 27.
See 1 John i. 7. Ps. li. 7. Dan. xi. 35. 1 Pet. i. 19. Heb. xi. 13. Rev, vii, 14.
ceptable before God, we must put on faith, working in us, by love, the best moral conduct; agreeably to which explanation, this acceptable zohite garment is (in chap. xix. 8,) affirmed to be “the righteousness “ of the Saints."
Ver. 5. White raiment.] See the preceding note, to which we may add this observation ; that the expression xy deuxois is peculiar to Saint John; see chap. xx. 12. where it is applied to the shining appearance of angels; also Mark xvi. 5. otorn deuny, which in Saint Luke is expressed by εν εσθησεσιν αστραπτεσαις, whence we may collect that deuxos applied to garments means a white of a dazzling brightness and splendour, such as arrays angelic beings.
Ib. Book of life.] As in states and cities, those who obtained freedom and fellowship, were enrolled in the public register, which enrolment was their title to the privileges of citizens ; so the King of heaven, of the new Jerusalem, engages to preserve in his register and enrolment, in the book of life, the names of those, who like the good Sardians, in a corrupted and supine society, shall preserve allegiance and a faithful discharge of their Christian duties. He will own them as his fellow-citizens, before men and angels t.
The result of these observations will enable us perhaps to explain a passage in the 2d Epistle to the Corinthians, (ch. v. 3.) which seems to have perplexed the commentators : “ If so, that being “ clothed, we shall not be found naked : that is, if at the day of Judgment, when we must necessarily appear without our corporeal integuments, we shall have obtained that clothing, which alone can make us fit to appear in the Divine presence; that white, pure wedding garment, the righteousness of the Saints, without which no one can be admitted to the presence of God.
+ Matt. ix. 32. Luke xii. 8. See also Psalm Ixix. 28. Ezek, xiii. 9. Exod. xxxii. 33. Dan, xü. 1. Mal. iii. 16. Luke x, 20.