« PreviousContinue »
. 47 "sand Christians, chiefly Greeks, who, for the most “ part, speak only Turkish. There are twenty-five “ places of public worship, five of which are large, “ regular churches; to these there is a resident « bishop (the angel of the church still remaining) " with twenty inferior clergy." .. How happy is the state of those Christians, who, like the church of Philadelphia, are sincere and faithful! Though they have but little strength, they are highly approved by Christ, and are honoured with the peculiar tokens of his love; and though their gracious Saviour has not engaged to deliver them from all conflicts, yet he has promised that, as their days are, so shall their strength be.-Let every follower of Christ then fight the good fight of faith, and though faint, pursue his enemies till he have utterly destroyed them. Though the Christian be weak, and can do nothing of himself, yet the grace of Christ is amply sufficient for him. Let him therefore be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; and soon he will be crowned with victory, and be made an everlasting monument of the power and grace of the Redeemer. Jesus will make him a pillar in the temple of his God, and he shall no more go out. He shall obtain the robes of light and glory, and sit down with the victorious Saviour on his heavenly throne.
SECTION VIII. 911 i The Epistle to the Church of Laodicea. Hi
Chap. iii. 14—22.
o s POD AND unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. 16. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked : 18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. 19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent. 20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Laodicea, upon the river Lycus, was situated on the south of Philadelphia, in the way to return to Ephesus; for the seven churches lay in a kind of circular form, and the progress was from the one to the other in the order in which they are mentioned in these epistles; which has been considered as the circuit which St. John took in visiting these churches. It was not far from the city of Colosse. In the time of St. Paul there were flourishing churches at each of these places. Nothing is said of Colosse in the Revelation; and it appears that, at the time when these epistles were written, the church of Laodicea had declined both in doctrine and discipline. The epistle is addressed to them from Him who is “ the “ Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning .“ of the creation of God,” the first cause, the author and head of “ all things created, that are in heaven, " and that are in earth, whether they be thrones or “ dominions, or principalities or powers.” This faithful and true witness knew the works of the Laodiceans, in respect to their nature, principles, and motives, and that they were such as he could not approve. They were neither cold nor hot, but in a state of indifference and lukewarmness; they had not cast off all regard to the Gospel, and pretended no concern respecting it; but they were not lively zealous Christians," fervent in spirit, serving the “Lord." Their religion consisted in a formal, worthless profession: Christ, therefore, declared that he “ would they were cold or hot." He would rather they should cast off the profession of his name, than disgrace it by a barren and hypocritical profession; and he threatened that, if they continued in this state of spiritual torpor, he would show his abhorrence of them by rejecting them with disgust; as a man, whose stomach nauseates water that is lukewarm, casts it out of his mouth with loathing.
These Laodiceans appear to have been very proud and very ignorant; but pride and ignorance generally go hand in hand. They said they were “ rich and “ increased with goods, and had need of nothing." If these were worldly riches, for which Laodicea was eminent, we see the estimate that was formed of them by the “ faithful and true witness.” “What shall it “ profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and “lose his soul?”Of what advantage would it be for any to be rich and increased with goods, in respect to their temporal state, if, in regard to their spiritual condition, they were “poor and wretched, and mi“serable, and blind, and naked?" On the other hand, if the Laodiceans fancied that they were rich and wealthy in relation to the concerns of religion, they were in a state of spiritual lunacy: they were like a company of miserable beggars imagining themselves to be kings and princes. But fallen as the Laodicean church was, it was not yet given up by Him who “ hates putting away." The Lord counselled them to buy of him those spiritual riches of which they stood in such urgent need. They could obtain them of no other than himself, and he sold them to the poorest who applied for them “ without “ money and without price." But even though such wretched and indigent sinners as they were might obtain them, yet, as much of what they valued, though worthless in itself, must be renounced, in order to appropriate them, it might properly be called buying them. The counsel Christ gives them (and by his counsel is implied command, invitation, and promise), is to buy of him “ gold tried in the “ fire, that they might be rich." This implies that faith and grace which could stand the fiery trials of tribulation and persecution, and which would be of infinite service to them in the season of affliction, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. He exhorts them also to buy of him " white raiment, “ that they might be clothed, and that the shame of " their nakedness might not appear." This signifies the robe of his righteousness, and the sanctifying influences of his Spirit. Their righteousness, at present, was as filthy rags, and their profession of religion was hypocritical: they would, therefore, soon be put to everlasting shame and confusion, unless they dealed with Christ for his righteousness and grace; but as they were at present blinded with self-conceit and pride, the Lord directed them to “ anoint their eyes with eye-salve, that they might “ see.” Thus they are exhorted to try and to examine themselves by the rule of his word and by the teachings of his Spirit, that they may be brought to right sentiments of themselves and their state, and be enabled to judge of objects according to their real worth. But to reconcile them to these sharp and humbling reproofs, they are assured that these warnings and exhortations are not given them in indignation, but in mercy. Instead of quarrelling, therefore, with these kind admonitions, it behoved them to be zealous and earnest in their Christian
profession for the future, and to repent of their present torpid lukewarmness. To counsel, our Lord adds express invitation and encouragement : “ Be“ hold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man “ hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in “ to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." The Saviour was still waiting to be gracious to them. With the utmost condescension, he continued standing as it were at the door of their hearts, and knocking by his word, his providence, and his Spirit, for admission. If any individual would open the door and welcome him, he would come in and be his guest, and thenceforth an intimate communion should be maintained between the redeemed sinner and the gracious Saviour. The promise to every victor among the Laodiceans was a blessing worthy of the arduous conflict : “ To him that overcometh " will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I “ also overcame, and am set down with my Father " on his throne.”
The doom of Laodicea seems to have been more terrible than that of any other of the seven churches : the desolation was complete. The ruins of this celebrated city shew that it was once most magnificent; but it is now utterly destroyed and forsaken of men, and is become an habitation only for wolves, foxes, and jackals-a den of dragons, snakes, and vipers. “ Eski-hisar (or the Old Castle), close to which are “ the remains of ancient Laodicea, contains,” says Mr. Lindsay “ about fifty poor inhabitants, in which “ number are but two Christians, who live together “ in a mill: unhappily neither could read at all.... « The prayers of the mosque are the only prayers « which are heard near the ruins of Laodicea, on “ which the threat seems to have been fully executeď “ in its utter rejection as a church." : How numerous are the churches and professed Christians, which are under the influence of this