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queror in the Christian conflict. To every one that fought and overcame under the banner of Christ, he promised the liberty to eat of “ the hidden manna." The imagery here seems to be taken from the manna on which the Israelites were fid in the wilderness. This may be a type of Christ the bread of life. To eat of the hidden manna, therefore, implies a participation of the benefits conferred on the followers of Jesus Christ, by the offering of his body; namely, the forgiveness of sins, and all other benefits connected with everlasting salvation. But it may particularly imply the satisfying consolations and enjoyments, which are obtained in the present state, from the lively exercise of faith in Him who was the true and living bread which came down from heaven; and the sacred pleasures and entertainments of that eternal felicity which the heavenly sanctuary will afford to the victors, who will obtain admittance there. The manna that fell in the wilderness, and was laid up in a golden vessel before the Lord, was a type of these spiritual and eternal blessings. The Lord Jesus also promises to give to every conqueror a “ white stone, and on the “ stone a new name written, which no man knoweth “ saving he that receiveth it.” It was a custom among the Greeks, when any person was accused of crimes against the state, to vote for his acquittal by a white stone, and for his condemnation by a black one. A white stone was a token of absolution and deliverance. When Christ, therefore, the sole judge of his people, promises to give to those who overcome, a white stone, he assures them of their complete justification in the great day of judgment. The name of dignity and honour, engraven on the stone, may be considered CHILD OF GOD; and it represents the inseparable connexion of adoption into his family with forgiveness of sins. “ In Christ we have re“ demption through his blood, even the forgiveness “ of sins ;” and “to as many as receive him, to
. “them gives he power to become the sons of God; “ even to them who believe on his name.” This new name would be as it were inscribed on the stone, and made legible to the soul by the spirit of adoption; and thus the recipients of it would obtain a present confidential hope of their pardon and acceptance in Christ, the beloved of the Father. But “no man knoweth it, saying he that receiveth it.” The ground of the knowledge of our belonging to Christ in the present state, consists in inward personal consciousness, arising from solid Christian experience: and the felicity of which a child of God will be a partaker in the heavenly state, can only be known by him who is blessed with a participation of its enjoyments; and who enters into the habitation of God,“ in whose presence is fulness of joy, and “at whose right hand there are pleasures for ever“ more.”
In reading the epistle to the church of Pergamos, may our eyes again be directed to the glorious Saviour, who hath “ the sharp sword with two edges !” May those who name the name of Christ be careful that they do not incur his displeasure, by unholy and antinomian conduct, lest he should smite or even destroy them! May all who expect salvation through the blood, and righteousness, and grace of the Saviour, observe and imitate the humility, patience, and diligence which he commends in this church !Those who war a good warfare may expect to overcome, and may rejoice in the animating promises of the gracious Redeemer. He will refresh and delight them with “ the hidden manna;" he will “ give “ them the white stone” of assurance, acquittal, and victory; and if, like faithful Antipas, they should suffer martyrdom in winning the battle and obtaining the conquest, it would be a circumstance rather of joy and thanksgiving than of sorrow and complaint.
Chap. ii. 18—29. AND unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19. I know thy works and charity and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works ; and the last to be more than the first. 20. Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25. But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come. 26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; 27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28. And I will give him the morning star. 29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The city of Thyatira is situated about fifty miles south-east of Pergamos, on the road from thence to Sardis. Lydia, who, at Philippi, after her conversion, received the Apostle Paul and Silas, was of this place; and is supposed by some to have been the means of introducing the Gospel there. The epistle to the church of Thyatira was to be sent in the name of the “ Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame “ of fire; and his feet are like fine brass.” This denotes the deity of Christ, his omniscience, and the stability and purity of his proceedings. He reminds the members of this church, the angel or bishop, the pastors, and the Christians in general, that he knew their works of piety, and the ardent love they had for him their Saviour, and the service they were performing in his cause, and their faith and patience ; and that their last works were more numerous, and eminent, and spiritual, than those which they had performed when they first entered upon the profession of Christianity. This was great commendation; and much excellence was evidently manifested by this church, which our Lord here noticed for their encouragement. But notwithstanding all this cause of commendation, the Lord Jesus had some things to allege against them; especially their sufferance of such in their church as taught those abominable tenets and practised those iniquities which he hated; for the same heresies are supposed to be here in, tended as in the preceding epistle. Some commentators think, that by Jezebel was meant a woman of great rank and influence at Thyatira, who was successful in seducing the Christians to idolatry and heathen impurities. But the “ woman Jezebel," perhaps, may be understood figuratively. The representation seems to imply that there was a set of antinomian characters in the church, under some ringleader, who were all of the same spirit and disposition with that infamous woman Jezebel, who slew the prophets of the Lord, seduced king Ahab and many of the Israelites to idolatry, and practised whoredom and witchcraft. These pretenders to a spirit of prophecy had gained admission into the church of Thyatira, perhaps through the fault of
their pastors and members; where they had attached a party to their cause, and were suffered to propagate their pernicious errors, and to use their influence for drawing away the professors of the Gospel into carnal and spiritual fornication and adultery. This evil had been working for a considerable time; and the Lord, in his long-suffering and patience, had given space for conviction, re- . pentance, and reformation, to these seducers; but they still continued hardened and impenitent, and persisted in their abominable practices. This forbearance, however, was not to continue always. As certainly as the threatening denounced against Jezebel was executed in her tremendous and awful end, so the ringleader of these offenders should be brought to a bed of languishing and pain that should terminate in death; whilst all those who had been seduced to join in these abominations should, unless they repented of their deeds, be thrown into the most grievous afflictions. And as the Lord brought evil upon the house of Ahab, and suffered his children to be slain for the iniquities he committed through Jezebel's enticement; so he would destroy, by pestilence or other terrible judgments, the whole progeny of these seducers; so that all the churches should know that he was that Divine Personage, whose prerogative it is to look into and search the secret thoughts of all men's hearts. It may be observed, that here, as well as on many other occasions, the peculiar style of Deity is employed by the “ Son of God.” To say, “ I am he which searcheth “ the reins and the heart," is much more remarkable, as well as more expressive and emphatic, than fperely to say, “ I search.” This argument has been effectually used against the opposers of the essential divinity of Christ, in their attempts to explain away the force of this and other similar texts. This is language which cannot be accounted for on any other ground than that of the doctrine of the Trinity.