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was white, like wool, white as snow; and his eyes, as a flame of fire; and his feet like refined brass, glowing as in a furnace; and his voice, as a voice of many waters. And he was holding in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth was issuing a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun, shining in his strength, ver. 12-16.

"And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead. But He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Be not afraid: I AM THE FIRST and THE LAST, and THE LIVING, and became dead: and lo, I AM LIVING FOR EVERMORE, Amen. And I hold the keys of Hades, and of death," ver, 17, 18.

The minute accuracy, simplicity, and sublimity of this circumstantial and stupendous representation must have been drawn from the life, no human fancy could furnish such. Here CHRIST appeared as the great HIGH PRIEST of His Church, to John, for the last time, as in His last appearance likewise to Daniel, in the dress of the Jewish high priest, "cloathed in linen," as on the great day of atonement, but in still greater glory and magnificence. The vision equally overpowered both, they sunk under it, Daniel, as in a deep sleep, John, as dead; both were touched by a divine hand to strengthen them, and to assure them of the reality of the visions. See Vol. II. pp. 388, 533.

The apparatus also of this vision was more splendid and awful. The seven lamps, behind which he appeared, as if embodied with them, denoted seven Churches, the representatives of the Christian Church in general, corresponding to the golden branch with seven lamps, burning before the sanctuary, which denoted the Jewish Church. The seven stars in His right hand, seven angels, or bishops of those Churches, who were to give light, as "burning and shining luminaries," to their respective Churches; but that light solely derived from Him in whose hand they were, Himself “ the bright and morning star." While

This is beautifully sublime, and scriptural imagery. Compare Isai. xiii. 13, Rev. vi. 14, xvi. 20, &c.

CHRIST reserves to himself the keys of Hades. They were not committed to Peter, or his successors. Peter had only the keys of Heaven granted to him, to admit faithful penitents, by the door of the GOSPEL into Heaven. The keys of purgatory assumed by the Popes, were an impious fiction for the merchandize of souls. See Erasmus' inimitable Dialogue of Pope Julius II. with Peter, wanting admittance at the gate of heaven, Jortin's Erasmus, Vol. II. p. 660, entitled Julius Exclusus.

the sharp two-edged sword of THE SPIRIT *, issuing from His mouth, was symbolical of the severe judgments to be inflicted on apostate or corrupt Churches, "sharp," and "two edged," to hew down quickly with double havoc; as THE ORACLE was described in the punishment of the Egyptians, Wisd. xviii. 16. (See p. 180 of Volume II.) and of apostates and infidels, Rev. xix. 15; and as he threatens the Church of Pergamus, “to make war against them with the sword of his mouth," Rev. ii. 16.

When John was sufficiently strengthened and composed, His LORD repeated the instructions with which He began. To write the vision he saw, and also the state of the Church, both present and future, to the angels of the seven Churches, ver. 19, 20.


The seven Churches of the Lydian, or proconsular Asia, the head of which was Ephesus, were originally founded by the Apostle Paul and his assistants, during their ministry. After his death they came under the jurisdiction of the Apostle John, whose principal residence was at Ephesus. The Presbyters of that Church are generally supposed to have authenticated John's Gospel in the observation "We know that his testimony is true" at the conclusion, xxi. 24.

These Churches lie nearly in an amphitheatre, and are addressed according to their geographical positions: 1. Ephesus, the Mother Church; 2. Smyrna, forty-six miles northwards; 3. Pergamus, sixty-four miles; 4. Thyatira, forty-eight miles eastwards; 5. Sardis, thirty-three miles; 6. Philadelphia, twentyseven miles; 7. Laodicea, forty-two miles southwards: according to Mr. Thomas Smith's computation, who visited all these cities in 1671.

The epistles dictated by OUR LORD to the several Churches are remarkably plain and intelligible. The state of the seven Churches, and the warnings and consolations addressed to them, equally extend to the Catholic or Universal Church, at all times. Some Churches, like those of Sardis, Thyatira, and

• The sword of THE SPIRIT is finely described by Paul as lively and energetic, and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing through even to the separation of the soul and the spirit, and of the joints and marrow [of the body,] and a critical discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart," Heb. iv. 12; Ephes. vi. 17. Such was that which smote Ananias and Sapphira.

Laodicea, are lukewarm and greatly corrupted; others, in a mixed state, as those of Ephesus and Pergamus; and some still rich, or rather flourishing, and had not denied the name of CHRIST, as Smyrna and Philadelphia. And the admonitions addressed to them, 1. to repent and reform their ways; 2. to reject false Apostles and corrupt doctrines; 3. to retain their patience and stedfastness in the faith; 4. under the penalty of having" their lamps removed," or their established Churches extinguished, are equally addressed to all. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what THE SPIRIT saith to the Churches" in general, Rev. ii. 29, iii. 22.

Most exactly, indeed, have OUR LORD's prophecies respecting these Churches been fulfilled, for a warning to all. Take the following account of their present state from a modern historian, Gibbon, not prejudiced, certainly, in favour of the Apocalypse. Decline and Fall, &c. Vol. XI. p. 314.

"In the year 1312 began the captivity, or ruin of the seven Churches, by the Ottoman power. In the loss of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the loss of the first angel, the extinction of the first candlestick [or lamp] of the Revelations. The desolation is complete, and the temple of Diana, or the Church of Mary, will equally elude the search of the curious traveller. Sardis is reduced to a miserable village. The God of Mahomet, without a rival, or Son, is invoked in the Mosques of Thyatira and Pergamus. The circus and three stately theatres of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and foxes [or jackals]!"

Such, we may remark, is the utter desolation of that Church, which, for her "lukewarmness, CHRIST threatened to spue out of his mouth" in disgust, Rev. iii. 16.

"Among the [inland] Greek colonies and Churches of Asia," proceeds Gibbon, "Philadelphia is still erect; a column in a scene of ruins! At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and their freedom above fourscore years; and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans," [Bajazet, in 1390.]

Thus has Philadelphia been saved by prophecy.-" Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial destined to come upon the whole world, to try the dwellers upon the earth. Lo, I am coming quickly;

hold fast what thou hast, that no one take away thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of MY GOD," Rev. iii. 7-12.

The sceptical historian moots the point, "whether Philadelphia was saved by prophecy or by courage?" The Christian reader cannot hesitate a moment, and Gibbon himself allows, that the Philadelphians "defended their religion as well as their freedom." But where "the Spirit of THE LORD is, there," and there only, "is liberty," 2 Cor. iii. 17.

O! may the Church of England, that noblest pillar of THE REFORMATION, "still stand erect" amidst the ruins of the continental Churches, in this dread hour of trial, or last woe, now actually come, (we apprehend) on all the world.

Injurioso ne pede proruas, DOMINE, (Rev. xi. 7.)

Stantem columnam !·


Smyrna, that maritime city, is still populous. It is chiefly supported by its trade with the Franks, or western Christians, and the Armenians, or eastern, though under Turkish dominion. The Greek inhabitants, who, in Wheeler's time, were, at least, ten thousand, had but two Churches; the Armenians, amounting to several hundreds, but one; the English, who ranked next in number and consequence, had only a single chapel in the consul's house. "Which is a shame," says Wheeler, "considering the great wealth they keep up here beyond all the rest!" An archbishop of the Greek Church resided there, and a Latin bishop, who then received a stipend from Rome. "But," says Wheeler, "I esteem a good English priest, (the chaplain of the factory at that time,) an Evangelist, if compared with any of the rest," and he represents the Christians in Smyrna as more numerous and flourishing than in any other of the seven Churches. This also was the result of prophecy, because of their patient endurance of persecution and poverty, rich in good works, Rev. ii. 9. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer :-Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life,” ver. 10. An encouragement peculiarly adapted to their Angel, or Bishop, the venerable Polycarp*, who suffered martyrdom rather than apostatize, A.D. 167.-" Fourscore and six years

• See the admirable Letter of the Church of Smyrna, describing Polycarp's martyrdom, Lardner, Vol. VII. P. 413-417.

have I served CHRIST, and he never injured me: how then can I blaspheme MY KING and MY SAVIOUR!" And OUR LORD forewarned them of the last and bloodiest persecution of ten years, by Diocletian, A.D. 303, "Behold the Devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have affliction, ten days," ver. 10.

At Pergamus our Lord noticed the recent martyrdom of " Antipas, his faithful witness" during Domitian's persecution, A.D. 94, Rev. ii. 13.

At Thyatira, the wicked prophetess, Jezebel, who seduced the people to idolatry and fornication, is threatened, she and her children, with death; " and all the Churches shall know that I am HE who search the reins and breasts," Rev. ii. 20-23.

These awful, yet encouraging prophecies, were not confined to the seven Churches: they were written for our example, that "we also through patience and comfort of THE HOLY SCRIPTURES might have hope," (1811.)

After this first terrestrial vision, others, still more amazing, were vouchsafed to the enraptured Apostle, by successive openings in heaven; (on the ensuing Lord's day, we may presume,) affording new and more extended prospects of futurity. 1. A door was opened in heaven, which gave him a view of the Spiritual Church and worship, Rev. iv. 1. 2. The spiritual sanctuary was opened, Rev. xi. 19. 3. Again, Rev. xv. 5. And 4. Heaven itself was fully opened, xix. 11*. Hence, the remainder of the book naturally resolves itself into four celestial visions. The first and grand vision beginning chap. iv. and ending chap. xi. 18. The second beginning chap. xi. 19, and ending chap. xiv. 20. The third beginning chap. xv. and ending chap. xix. 10. And the fourth beginning chap. xix. 11, and ending chap. xxii. 5.


The Apostle was next invited by the same voice as of a trumpet, which he heard before in the first vision; "Ascend

• These remarks are to be found in Wesley's excellent note on Rev. iv. 1, p. 210, furnishing a simple and most satisfactory master-key to the whole plan of the Apoca-" lypse, by resolving it into four celestial visions, as above. It is remarkable, that Wesley himself did not apply this key, which he so happily suggested; for he extends "the main vision, straight forward from the fourth to the twenty-second chapter," p. 246.

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