« PreviousContinue »
vessels of a polter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” Rev. ii. 18-28.
In the well known City of Thyatira dwelt Lydia, in the time of the apostles, of whom it is written, that the Lord opened her heart, and she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul, and was baptized, and all her household. The city has now lost its name, and is called, by its Turkish masters, Akhifar, or the White Castle, from the quantity of white marble which is found there. What was the extent of its primitive Christian Church, or what were the circumstances of the declension of that church, can hardly be traced: and now the very name of Christian is so entirely effaced, that scarcely a vestige of it remains in the city. The name Thyatira is said to signify a sweet savour of labour, or a sacrifice of contrition, from Jua scent, and Teigw to bruise. And if the Church in Thyatira is rightly judged to be a type of the Church of Christ, under Popish dominion and persecution, the name will doubtless indicate the sweet perfume, which ascended from the works of faith and patience of those saints, who then shed their blood in bearing witness of their Master. The works of the Church in Thyatira are very particularly adverted to, for they are twice mentioned ; and the evils to which she is exposed for 1260 years from the idolatrous and persecuting Jezebel, form the burthen which she was appointed to endure. The history of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, would afford an interesting type of the apostate church, designated under that name, if there were leisure to trace it out: but it must suffice to mention, that the type, like the antitype, was the great and determined enemy of the Lord's prophets, having for ned a resolution to destroy them, and to effect by every means she could devise, the utter abolition of the worship of the true God. Such, indeed, has been the ancient, and also the modern Jezebel, and sad has been the worldly state of the redeemed ones, whilst groaning under the power of these enemies; but upon those of the gospel times there has been laid no other burtlen, and the Lord has comforted and strengthened them: and they have the promise, that Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations, shall be utterly destroyed in the day of her visitation, and that they who have been found faithful during this time of trial, sball, in the Millennial day, be exalted amongst the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron, even as Jesus hath received of the Father. The concluding words_“I will give him the morning star,” may possibly relate to some particular honour or glory, which they shall partake of when Messiah reigns.
The fifth Church is Sardis, and the address runs
“ These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars : I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”—Rev. iii. 1-5.
Sardis, in former times, was the capital of the Lydian kings, and the beauty and extent of its ruins denote its ancient magnificence. Little but conjecture is left to us, as to the primitive church which was formed there: it has utterly fallen to decay. The city is now reduced to a mere village, inhabited chiefly by herdsmen, and if there are any who bear the name of Christians, they are without a place for public worship, and under the miserable yoke of Turkish slavery. The name Sardis will be found to signify a rempant, and the type seems to point out the spiritual condition of the church, after emerging from
out of the bondage and abominations of Popery at the Reformation. Being then delivered from persecution, and supported by the civil power, the church, as in her former exaltation under Constantine, soon began to decline in spiritual things. Honours, dignities, preferments, and worldly emoluments proved themselves, for the second time, dangerous enemies to her peace, and she declined in doctrine, and in practice. Allured by prospects of advantage, worldly-minded men entered in as teachers, and the result is now apparent; for there is not to be found in any country of Christendom, a reformed national church, which has not declined, more or less, from that standard which insisted upon at the Reformation. This type represents the Church as in itself maintaining an Orthodox profession of sound faith, but the members of it, for the most part, making that profession with the lips only, without its having any influence either upon their hearts or their lives. Amongst this chaff, however, pure wheat is to be found : even in Sardis there will be some, who shall not defile their garments, and to them is the sweet promise given, that their Lord when he comes will own them. That the condition of the Church, here represented, will continue till the coming of Messiah, seems clearly pointed out in the type.
The Church in Philadelphia is the sixth, and she is addressed in the following words :
“ These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth : I know thy works: Be. hold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie: behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Hirn that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write
upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name.” Rev. iii. 7-12.
Philadelphia, like the other cities, is now over-run by the Turks, and of its primitive church very little is to be collected. There are found the ruins of an ancient church, formerly dedicated to St. John, but now converted into a dunghill : and there are three or four edifices still used for public Christian worship, according to the forms of the Greek Church. The Christian population is reckoned to be about 200 families. The type represents the condition of the