Page images
[blocks in formation]

IT ought to be no prejudice to the credit and authority of this book, that it has been rejected by men of corrupt minds, such as Cerdon and Marcion, and doubted of by men of a better character; for that has been the lot of other parts of holy writ, and of the divine Author of the scripture himself. The image and superscription of this book are truly sacred and divine, and the matter of it agreeable with other prophetical books, particularly Ezekiel and Daniel ; the church of God has generally

received it, and found good counsel and great comfort in it. From the beginning, the church of God has been blessed with prophecy; that glorious prediction of breaking the serpent's head,

was the stay and support of the patriarchal age ; and the many prophecies there were concerning the Messiah to come, were the Gospel of the Old Testament. Christ himself prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem; and about the time in which that was accomplished, he intrusted the apostle John with this book of revelation, to deliver it to the church as a prediction of the most important events that should happen to it, to the end of time, for the support of the faith of his people, and the direction of their hope. It is called the Revelation, because God therein discovers those things which could never have been sifted out by the reasonings of human understanding; those deep things of God, which no man knows, but the Spirit of God, and those to whom he reveals them.


The Substance of the Book.

A. D. 95. CHAPTER I.

THE Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave This chapter is a general preface to the whole book, and contains, I. An inscrip

tiene, declaring the origins and the clesign, or it, , 1, 2. H. The policat which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and this turk, v. 3–8. III. A glorious vision or appearance of the Lord Jeu signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Christ to the apostle John, when he delivered to him this revelation ; v.9, lo the end of the chapter.

2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of al John 5. 7.

bc. 19. 13.

Observe here, the admirable order of divine revelation. God V. 1, 2. Here we have,

gave it to Christ, and Christ employed an angel to communiI. What we may call the pedigree of this book.

cate it to the churches. The angels are God's messengers; 1. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ; the whole bible is so; they are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation ; they are for all revelation comes through Christ, and all centres in him; Christ's servants; principalities and powers are subject to him; and especially in these last days Goil has spoken to us by his Son, all the angels of God are obliged to worship him, and concerning his Son. Christ, as the King of his church, has 4. The angels signified it to the apostle John; as the angels been pleased thus far to let his church know by what rules and are the messengers of Christ, the ministers are the messengers methods he will proceed in his governinent; and, as the Pro- of the churches; what they receive from heaven, they are to phet of the church, he has made known to us the things that communicate to the churches. , John was the apostle chosen shall be hereafter.

for this service. Some think he was the only one surviving, 2. It is a revelation which God gave unto Christ. Though the rest having sealed their testimony with their blood. This Christ is himself God, and, as such, has light and life in him was to be the last book of divine revelation, and therefore notiself, yet as he sustains the office of Mediator between God and fied to the church by the last of the apostles, John was the beman, he receives his instructions from the Father; the human loved disciple; he was, under the New Testament, as the pronature of Christ, though endowed with the greatest sagacity, phet Daniel under the Old, a man greatly beloved; he was the judgment, and penetration, could not, in a way of reason, dis- servant of Christ; he was an apostle, an evangelist, and a procover these great events, which, not being produced by natural phet; he served Christ in all the three extraordinary offices of causes, but wholly depending upon the will of God, could be the church. James was an apostle, but not a prophet or the object only of divine prescience, and must come to a cre- evangelist; Matthew was an apostle and evangelist, but not a ated mind only by revelation. Our Lord Jesus is the great prophet; Luke was an evangelist, but neither a prophet nor Trustee of divinc revelation ; it is to him that we owe the know- apostle; but John was all three; and so Christ calls him in an ledge we have of what we are to expect from God, and what he eminent sense his servant John. expects from us.

5. John was to deliver this revelation to the church; to all 3. This revelation Christ sent and significd by his angel, 'bis servants. For the revelation was not designed only for the VOL. III.-157

( 1249 )

the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that | Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved he saw.

kus, and washed us from our sins in his own bloed, 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto the words of this prophecy, and keep those things God and his Father; to whom 'be glory and dowhich are written therein : for the time bis at minion for ever and ever. Amen. hand.

7 Behold, he cometh with clouds ;* and every OHN to the seven churches which are in eye shall see him, and they "also which pierced him: him (which is, and which was, and which is to him. Even so, Amen. come; and from the seven Spirits which are before 8 I sam Alpha and Omega, the beginning and his throne;

the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful was, and which is to come, the Almighty. witness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the 9 'I John, who also am your brother, and com

a Luke 11. 28.6 Jam. 5.8, 9. 1 Pet. 4. 7. c. 3. 1. & 4. 5. John 8. 14. & Col. 1. 18.

c Ver. 11. d ver. 8. e Zech. 4. 10.
h John 13. 1. i Heb. 9. 14. k Ex.

19. 6. 1 Pet. 2. 5-9. Hel. 13.21. m Dan. 7. 13. Matt. 28. 64. ZKL 1 10. o Matt. 24. 30. P c. 22. 20. Is. 41. 4. rla. 9. 6.

were como.

use of Christ's extraordinary servants the ministers, but for all 2. From whence this blessing is to come. In whose name his servants, the members of the church; they have all a right does the apostle bless the churches ? In the name of God, of to the oracles of God, and all have their concern in them. the whole Trinity; for this is an act of adoration, and Gud only

II. Here we have the subject matter of this revelation, is the proper Object of it; his ministers must bless the people namely, the things that must shortly come to pass. The evan in no name but his alone. And here, gelists give us an account of the things that are past ; prophecy (1.) The Father is first named; God the Father, which may gives us an account of things to come. These future events are be taken either essentially, for God as God, or personals, i showed, and not in the clearest light in which God could have the first Person in the ever blessed Trinity, the God and Fa. set them, but in such a light as he saw most proper, and which ther of our Lord Jesus Christ; and he is described as the Jew would best answer his wise and holy purposes. Had they been hovah who is, and who was, and who is to come, elerna!, as clearly foretold in all their circumstances as God could have changeable, the same to the Old Testament church which #21 revealed them, the prediction might have prevented the accom and to the New Testament church which is, and who wil de plishment; but they are foretold more darkly, to beget in us a the same to the church triumphant which is to come. veneration for the scripture, and to engage our attention, and (2.) The Holy Spirit, called the seven spirits, not seven in excite our inquiry: we have in this revelation a general idea number, or in nature, but the infinite perfect Spirit of God, n of the methods of Divine Providence and Government in and whom there is a diversity of gifts and operations. He is belum about the church, and many good lessons may be learned here the throne ; for as God made, so he governs, all things by bis by. These events (it is said) were such as should come to Spirit, pass not only surely, but shortly; that is, they would begin to (3.) The Lord Jesus Christ. He mentions him after the come to pass very shortly, and the whole would be accom- Spirit, because he intended to enlarge more upon the persze o plished in a short time. For now the last ages of the world Christ, as God manifested in the flesh, whom he had sa

dwelling on earth before, and now saw again in a glorious form. III. Here is an attestation of the prophecy, v. 2. It was sig- Observe the particular account we have here of Christ, t.s. nified to John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the [1.] He is the faithful Witness; he was from eternity a W! testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. It is ness to all the counsels of God, (John 11. 18,) and he was a observable that the historical books of the Old Testament have time a faithful Witness to the revealed will of God, who is not always the name of the historian prefixed to them, as in the now spoken to us by his Son ; upon his testimony we books of Judges, Kings, Chronicles; but in the prophetical safely depend, for he is a faithful Witness, cannot be deceiver books the name is always prefixed, as Isaiah, Jeremiuh, &c. and cannot deceive us. So in the New Testament, though John did not prefix his name [2.] He is the First-begotten or First-born from the death

, to his first epistle, yet he does to this prophecy, as ready to

the first Parent and Head of the resurrection, the only one ato vouch and answer for the truth of it; and he gives us not only raised himself by his own power, and who will be the same his name, but his office. He was one who bare record of the power raise up his people from their graves 10 everlasting the word of God in general, and of the testimony of Jesus in parti- nour; for he has begotten them again to a lively hope ly cular, and of all things that he saw; he was an eyewitness, and resurrection from the dead. he concealed nothing that he saw. Nothing recorded in this [3.) He is the prince of the kings of the earth; from his revelation was his own invention or imagination; but all was they have their authority; by him their power is limited, is the record of God, and the testimony of Jesus; and as he added their wrath restrained; by him their counsels are prerruien nothing to it, so he kept back no part of the counsels of God. and to him they are accountable. This is good news to the

V.3--8. We have here an apostolical benediction on those church, and it is good evidence of the Godhead of Christ, *** who should give a due regard to ibis divine revelation ; and this is King of kings and Lord of lords. benediction is given more generally and more especially. [4.) He is the great Friend of his church and people : 0

I. More generally, to all who either read or hear the words who has done great things for them, and this out of pure di of the prophecy. This blessing seems to be pronounced with interested affection; he has loved them, and, in a design to encourage us to study this book, and not be weary that everlasting love, he has, First, Inshet thema fren the of looking into it upon the account of the obscurity of many sins in his own blood.' Sins leave a stain upon the soul, a 233 things in it; it will repay the labour of the careful and attentive of guilt and of pollution; nothing can fetch out this stain laten reader. Observe, 1. It is a blessed privilege to enjoy the ora blood of Christ; and rather than it should not be washed with cles of God. This was one of the principal advantages the Christ was willing to shed his own blood, to purchase paris Jews had above the Gentiles. 2. It is a blessed thing to study and purity for them. Secondly, He has made them kingkan the scriptures ; they are well employed who search the scrip priests to God and his father. Having justified and saretice

3. It is a privilege not only to read the scriptures our them, he makes them kings to his father; that is, in his bar selves, but to hear them read by others, who are qualified to give us the sense of what they read, and to lead us into an un- kings, they overcome the world, mortily sin, govem ter derstanding of them. 4. It is not sufficient to our blessedness, spirits, conquer Satan, have power and prevalency with Chief that we read and hear the scriptures, but we must keep the in prayer, and shall judge the world. things that are written; we must keep them in our memories, priests; given them access to God, enabled them to cater in our minds, in our affections, and in practice, and we shall be the holiest, and to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to blessed in the deed. 5. The nearer we come to the accom- has given them an unction suitable to this characterand plishment of the scriptures, the greater regard we shall give to these high honours and favours they are bound to ascribe to the them. The time is at hand, and we should be so much the dominion and glory for ever. more attentive as we see the day approaching.

[5.] He will be the Judge of the world; (v.7,) Behold be II. The apostolical benediction is pronounced more espe- cometh, and every eye shall see him. This book, the Rere cially and particularly to the seven Asian churches, v. 4. tion, begins and ends with a prediction of the secent care sages sent to each of them respectively in the chapters follow frequently upon the second coming of Christ, and keep it being these, because they were nearest to him, who was how indehice day Befuld, she cometh; tas sure as if you beheld him wild and superintendency over them, not excluding any of the rest pavilion, he will corne publicly; "every eye shall set beste of the apostles, if any of them were now living. Here ob- eye of his people, the eye of his enemies, every eye, Fours ago

1. What the blessing is, which he pronounces on all the anil have not repented; and of all who have wounded as the time fort : grace, that is, the good will of God toward us, and his the astonishment of the pagan world. For he comes to good work in us; and peace, that is, the sweet evidence and vengeance on those who know not God, as well as on these best assurance of this grace. There can be no true peace where obey not the Gospel of Christ. there is not true grace; and where grace goes before, peace

[6.] This account of Christ is ratified and confirmed by bienwill follow,

self, v. 8. Here our Lord Jesus justly challenges the sea



He hath made th:a


panion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and pa- 1 15 And his feet "like unto fine brass, as if they tience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called burned in a furnace; and his voice fas the sound Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of many waters. of Jesus Christ.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars; 10 I was in the Spirit 'on the Lord's day, and and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth

11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and in his strength. the last : and, What thou seest, write in a book, 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as and send it unto the seven churches which are in dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying Asia; unto Ephesus,” and unto Smyrna," and unto unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: Pergamos, and unto Thyatira," and unto Sardis,y 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, and unto Philadelphia,- and unto Laodicea.a behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake the keys bof hell and of death. with me. And being turned, I saw seven 'golden 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and candlesticks.

the things which are, and the things which shall be 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks hereafter; one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a gar 20 The mystery of the seven 'stars which thou ment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden cana golden girdle.

dlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as seven churches: and the seven candlesticksm which white as snow; and his eyes dwere as a flame of fire; thou sawest, are the seven churches.

& 2 Cor. 12. 2. t Joha 20. 26. Acts 20. 7. I Cor. 16. 2. 2 c. 2. 12. I c. 2. 18. y c. 3. 1. C. 3. 7. a c. 3. 14. 4.2. c Ez. 1. 26-29. Dan. 7. 9, 13. 10.5, 6.

uc. 2. I. v c. 2.8.
b Ex. 25. 37. Zech.

de. 2. 18. 19. 12. e Ez. 1. 7. f Ex. 43. 2. & 19. 49. 2. Heb. 4. 12. h Acts 26. 13. c. 10. 1. i Rom. 6.9. k Ps. 68. 20. c. 20. 1, 2. ver. 16. * Matt. 5. 15, 16.

honour and power that is ascribed to the Father, v. 4. He is ing to himself the character before given, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End; all things are from him and for and commanding the apostle to commit to writing the things him; he is the Almighty ; he is the same eternal and un- that were now to be revealed to him, and to send it immedichanged One. And surely whosoever presumes to blot out one ately to the seven Asian churches, whose names are mentioned. character of this name of Christ, deserves to have his name Thus our Lord Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, gave the blotted out of the book of life. Them that honour him, he will apostle notice of his glorious appearance, as with the sound of honour; but they who despise him, shall be lightly esteemed. a trumpet.

V.9--20. We are now come to that glorious vision which III. We have now an account of what he saw; he turned to the apostle had of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he came to de- see the voice, whose it was, and whence it came; and then a liver this revelation to him. Where observe,

wonderful scene of vision opened itself to him. I. The account given of the person who was favoured with 1. He saw a representation of the church under the emblem this vision. He describes himself,

of seven golden candlesticks, as it is explained in the last verse 1. By his present state and condition. He was the brother of the chapter. The churches are compared to candlesticks, and companion of these churches in tribulation, and in the king- because they hold forth the light of the Gospel to advantage; dom and patience of Christ. He was, at this time, as the rest the churches are not candles, Christ only is our light, and his of true Christians were, a persecuted man, banished, and per- Gospel our lamp, but they receive their light from Christ and haps imprisoned, for his adherence to Christ. He was their the Gospel, and hold it forth to others; they are golden canbrother, ihough an apostle; he seems to value himself upon his dlesticks, for they should be precious and pure, comparable to relation to the church, rather than his authority in it. Judas fine gold; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches may be an apostle, but not a brother, in the family of God; he ought to be such; their light should so shine before men, as to was their companion. The children of God should choose engage others to give glory to God. communion and society with each other; he was their compa 2. He saw a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the nion in tribulation. The persecuted servants of God do not midst of the golden candlesticks; for he has promised to be suffer alone, the same trials are accomplished in others; he was with his churches always to the end of the world, filling them their companion in patience, not only a sharer with ihem in with light, and life, and love, for he is the very animating, suffering circumstances, but in suffering graces. If we have informing Soul of the church. And here we observe, the patience of the saints, we should not grudge to meet with (1.) The glorious form in which Christ appeared in several their trials. He was their brother and compunion in the pas particulars. [1.] He was clothed with a garment down to the tience of the kingdom of Christ ; a sufferer for Christ's cause, foot; a princely and priestly robe, denoting righteousness and for asserting his kingly power over the church of the world, and honour. [2.] He was girt about with a golden girdle; the for adhering to it against all who would usurp upon it. By this breastplate of the High Priest, on which the names of his peoaccount he gives of his present state he acknowledges his en- ple are engraven ; he was ready girt to do all the work of a gagements to sympathize with them, and to endeavour to give Redeemer. [3.] His head and hairs were white like wool or them counsel and comfort; and bespeaks their more careful snow, he was the Ancient of days; his hoary head was no attention to what he had to say to them from Christ their com- sign of decay, but it was indeed a crown of glory. [4.] His mon Lord,

eyes were as the flame of fire, piercing and penetrating into the 2. By the place where he was when he was favoured with very hearts and reins of men, scattering terrors among his adthis vision. He was in the isle Patmos; he does not say who versaries. [5.] His feet were like unto fine burning brass ; banished him thither; it becomes Christians to speak sparingly strong and steadfast, supporting his own interest, subduing his and modestly of their own sufferings. Patmos is said to be an enemies, and treading them to powder. [6.] His voice was as island in the gean sea, one of those called Cyclades, and the sound of many waters; of many rivers falling in together. was about thirty-five miles in compass; but under this confine- He can and will make himself heard to those who are afar off ment it was the apostle's comfort that he did not suffer as an as well as to those who are near. His Gospel is a profluent and evil-loer, but that it was for the testimony of Jesus,

for bearing mighty stream, fed by the upper springs of infinite wisdom and wilness to Christ as the Immanuel, the Saviour. This was a knowledge. [7.] He hail in his right hand seven stars; the cause worth suffering for; and the Spirit of glory and of God ministers of the seven churches, who are under his direction, rested upon this persecuted apostle.

have all their light and influence from him, and are secured and 3. The day and time in which he had this vision ; it was the preserved by him. 18.] Out of his mouth went a two-erged Lord's day; the day which Christ bad separated and set apart sword; his word, which both wounds and heals, strikes at sins for himself, as the eucharist is called the Lord's Supper. on the right hand and on the lefi. (9.1 His countenance vas Surely this can be no other than the Christian sabbath ; the as the sun shining; its strength too bright and dazzling for first day of the week, to be observed in remembrance of the morial cyes to behold. resurrection of Christ. Let us who call him our Lord, honour (2.) The impression this appearance of Christ made upon him on his own day; the day which the Lord hath made, and the apostle John; (v. 17,) He fell at the feet of Christ as dead; in which we ought to rejoice.

he was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory 4. The frame that his soul was in at this time; he was in the in which Christ appeared, though he had been so familiar with Spirit; he was not only in a rapture when he received the him before. How well is it for us that God speaks to us by vision, but before he received it; he was in a serious, heavenly, men like ourselves, whose terror shall not make us afraid. For spiritual frame, under the blessed gracious influences of the none can see the face of God, and live. Spirit of God. God usually prepares the souls of his people (3.) The condescending goodness of the Lord Jesus to his for uncommon manifestations of himself, by the quickening, disciples; (v. 17,) he laid his hand upon him ; he raised him sanctifying influences of his good Spirit. Those who would up, he did not plead against him with his great power, but he enjoy communion with God on the Lord's day, must endeavour pit strength into him,

he spake kind words to him. [1.] Words to abstract their thoughts and affections from flesh and fleshly of comfort and encouragement; Fear not, He commanded things, and be wholly taken up with things of a spiritual na- away the slavish fears of his disciples. [2.] Words of instructure.

tion; telling him particularly who he was, that thus appeared II. The apostle gives an account of what he heard when to him. And here he acquaints him, First, With his divine thus in the Spirit. An alarm was given as with the sound of a nature; the First and the Last. Secondly, With his former trumpet, and then he heard a voice, the voice of Christ apply- sufferings; I was dead; the very same that his disciples saw

tent churches and sinners ; he will unchurch them, take away

d 2 Cor.

II. 13.

selves for it, and humbly confess it in the sight of God, and the first false step; they must endeavour to retire and recover judgment, and that suddenly and surprisingly, upin inpeace

[2.] By an encouraging mention that is made of what was

hatred to what is evil, especially to what is grossly so." The


are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they The apostle John, having, in the foregoing chapter, writlen the thiogs which he are apostles, and are not, and hast found them

had seen, now proceols to write the things that are, according to the command liars : of God, (ch. I. 19,) that is, the present state of the seven churches of Asia, with wluch he had a particular acquiuntance, and for which he had a tender coucern. 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for and circumstances, and to inscrite every letter to the angel or that church, to the my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. minister, or rather ministry, of that church, called angele, because they are the 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thit, to Ephesis, v. 1-7. !I. To smyyna, v.8–11. 01. To Pergamos, v. 12–17. because thou hast left thy first love. IV. 'To Thyatira, v. 19, to the end,

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art UNTO

NTO the angel of the church of Ephesus write; fallen; and repent, and do the first works;' or elš

These things saith he that “holdeth the seven I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove the stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. of the seven golden candlesticks;

6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy of the Nicolaitans,k which I also hate. patience, and how thou canst not bear them which 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the a c. 1. 16, 20. 6 Ps. 1.6. ver. 9. 13, 19. c. 3. 1, 8, 15. cl John 1.1.

. Gal. 6. 9. f Jer. 2. 2, 3. & Mati, 21. 41, 13. A ver. 15. i Mart. II. 15, 22,

ll, 17, 29. upon the cross dying for the sins of men. Thirdly, With his to endure the injuries of men and the rebukes of Providence ; resurrection and life;" I live, and am alive for evermore ; have and there must be waiting patience, that when they have done conquered death and opened the grave, and am Partaker of an the will of God, they may receive the promise ; Thou hast endless life.” Fourthly, With his office and authority ; I have borne, and hast patience, v. 3. We shall meet with such diti. the keys of hell and of death; a sovereign dominion in and culties in our way and work, as require patience to go on and over the invisible world, opening and none can shut, shutting so finish well. that none can open; opening the gates of death when he (3.) For their zeal against what was evil; (v.2.) Thou care pleases, and the gates of the eternal world, of happiness or not bear them that are evil, It consists very well with Christian inisery, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there lies no patience, not to dispense with sin, much less allow it; though appeal. Fifthly, With his will and pleasure ; that John should we must show all meekness to men, yel we must show a jen write both the things he haul sten, and the things that are, and zeal against their sins. This their zeal was the more to be that should be hereafter. Sixthly, With the meaning of the commended, because it was according to knowledge, distant seven stars, that they are the ministers of the churches, and of zeal upon a previous trial made of the pretences, practices, the seven canullesticks, that they are the seven churches to whom and tenets of evil men; Thou hast tried them that so that Christ would now send by him particular and proper messages. apostles, and are not; and hast found them liars. Trw zeal

proceeds with discretion ; none should be cast off till they are NOTES TO CHAPTER II.

tried. Some were risen up in this church, that pretracted to V.1-7. We have here,

be not ordinary ministers, but apostles; their pretensions had I. The inscription, where observe,

been examined, and found to be vain and false ; those the 1. To whom the first of these epistles is directed ; to the impartially search after truth, may come to the knewinds of Al, church of Ephesus, a famous church planted by the apostle 2. The rebuke given to this church; (v. 4,) Neteikusies! Paul, (Acts 19.) and after that watered and governed by St. have somewhat against thee. Those that have much good in John, who had his residence very much there. We can hardly them, may have something much amiss in them; and our lard think that Timothy was the angel, or sole pastor and bishop of Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of beth; this church at this time, that he who was of a very excellent though he first observes what is good, and is most ready to spirit, and naturally cared for the good state of the souls of the mention that, yet he also observes what is amiss, and will people, should become so remiss as to deserve the rebukes faithfully reprove them for it. The sin that Christ charged given to the ministry of this church. Observe,

this church with, is, their decay and declension in body love 2. From whom this epistle to Ephesus was sent : here we and zeal. Thou hast left thy first love ; not left and forschen have one of those titles that were given to Christ in his appear the Object of it, but lost the servent degree of it, that a frs ance to John in the chapter foregoing; He that holdeth the seven appeared. stars in his right hand, and walkelh in the midst of the seven Observe, (1.) The first affections of men toward Chris, and golilen candlesticks, ch. 1. 13, 16. This title consists of two holiness, and heaven, are usually lively and warm. Gre parts:

remembered the love of Israel's espousals, when she should (1.) He that holdeth the stars in his right hand. The minis. follow him withersoever he went. (2.) These lively afectives ters of Christ are under his special care and protection. It is the honour of God, that he knows the number of the stars, calls used, to preserve them in constant exercise. (3.) Christes

will abate and cool, if great care be not taken, and diligente them by their names, binds the sweet influences of Pleiades, and grieved and displeased with this people, when he sees them looses the bands of Orion; and it is ihe honour of the Lord grow remiss and cold toward him, and he will one way or other Jesus Christ, that the ministers of the Gospel, who are greater make them sensible that he does not take it well from them; his hand; he directs all their motions, he disposes

of them into Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repente, de. supports them, or else they would soon be falling stars; they whence they are fallen; they must compare their present with are instruments in his hand, and all the good they do, is done their former state, and consider how much better it was with by

(2.) He walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks. This pleasure they have Tost, by coming their first love how muchas speaks his relation to his churches, as the other his relation to more comfortably they could lie down and sleep at night ; hoxx his ministers. Christ is in an intimate manner present and much more cheerfully they could awake in the morning ; but conversant with his churches; he knows and observes their much beiter they could bear aflictions, and how much more garden ; though Christ be in heaven, he walks in the midst of much easier the thoughts or death were to them, and how much his churches on earth, observing what is amiss in them, and

stronger their desires and hopes of heaven. (2.) They mist :

repent; they must be inwardly grieved and ashamed for their has that follow, we have, 1. The commendation Christ gave this church, ministers and back step by step, uit they come to the place where the one

and do their first works; they must as it were begin agat, in

, test either speak at a venture, he knows what he says. Now the set out in the ways of God, church of Ephesus is commended,

Now this good advice is forced and urged, [1.] By a severe (1.) For their diligence in duty; (v.2,) I know thy works, threatening, if it should be neglected; I will come gets the and thy labour. This may more immediately relate to the

quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of its place

. If the pro of church, which had been laborious and . sence of Christ's grace and Spirit may crying had need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all about

For my and and every hour's work, his servants do for him, and their labour what want the churches

of the angels of the churches do when shall not be in vain in the Lord.

the Gospel is removed ? (2.) For their patience in suffering (v. 2,) Thy lahour and Ministers must have and exercise great patience, and in hand designed in My color to what is good, yet thou retaire autori be patient, and endure hardness as good soldiers of

Christi et seeds are the homolitano, which I also hate. These thing Christian can be without it. There must be bearing patience,

Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that over-, them which say they are Jews, and are not, but cometh will I give to eat of the tree kof life, which are the synagogue of Satan. is in the midst of the paradise of God.

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt 8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into write; These things saith the first and the last, prison, that ye may be tried : and ye shall have triwhich was dead, and is alive:

bulation ten days: be thou faithful punto death, and 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, I will give thee a crown of life. (but thou art rich,) and I know the blasphemy of 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the * Gen. 2. 9. c. 22. 2, 14. I c. 1.8, 17. m 1 Tim. 6. 18. * Rom. 2. 28, 29.

o c. 3. 9. p Matt. 10. 22. Jam. I. 12. Nicolaitans were a loose sect, who sheltered themselves under Spiritual riches are usually the reward of great diligence ; the the name of Christianity; they held hateful doctrines, and they diligent band makes rich. Where there is spiritual plenty, were guilty of hateful deeds, hateful to Christ, and to all true outward poverty may be better borne ; and when God's people Christians; and it is mentioned to the praise of the church of are impoverished in temporals, for the sake of Christ and a good Ephesus, that they had a just zcal, and abhorrence of those conscience, he makes all up to them in spiritual riches, which wicked doctrines and practices. An inditference of spirit are much more satisfying and enduring. between truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity 2. Of their sufferings; I know thy tribulation and thy poverand meekness, but it is not pleasing unto Christ. Our Saviour ty, the prosecution they underwent, even to the spoiling of subjoins this kind commendation to his severe threatening, to their goods. They who will be faithful to Christ, must expect make the advice more effectual.

to go through many tribulations; but Jesus Christ takes parIII. We have the conclusion of this epistle, in which, as in ticular notice of all their troubles. In all their afflictions he those that follow, we have,

is afflicted, and he will recompense tribulation to those who 1. A call to attention ; He that hath an ear, ld him hear what trouble them, but to them that are troubled, rest with himself. the Spirit saith unto the churches.

3. He knows the wickedness and the falsehood of their eneObserve, (1.) What is written in the scriptures, is spoken mies; I know the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, but by the Spirit of God. (2.) What is said to one church, con are not; that is, (1.) Of those who pretend to be the only pecucerns all the churches in every place and age. (3.) We can liar covenant people of God, as the Jews boasted themselves never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to be, even after God had rejected them: Or, (2.) of those to the word of God; and we deserve to lose it, if we do not who would be setting up the Jewish rites and ceremonies, employ it to this purpose ; and they who will not hear the call which were now not only antiquated, but abrogated; those may of God now, will wish at length they had never had a capacity say that they only are the church of God in ihe world, when, of hearing any thing at all.

indeed they are the synagogue of Satan. Observe, (1.) As 2. A promise of great mercy to those who overcome. The Christ has a church in the world, the spiritual Israel of God, Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and so the devil has his synagogue; those assemblies that are set the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but up in opposition to the truths of the Gospel, and that promote we must pursue it to the end ; we must never yield to our and propagate damnable errors, those who are set up in oppo. spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, till we gain the sition to the purity and spirituality of Gospel worship, and victory, as all persevering Christians shall do ; and the warfare promote and propagate the vain inventions of men, and rites and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. That and ceremonies which never entered into the thoughts of God, which is here promised, is, lo eut of the tree of life which is in and those assemblies which are set up to revile and persecute the midst of the paradise of God. They shall have that perfec- the true worship and worshippers of God, these are all synation of holiness, and that confirmation therein that Adam would gogues of Sutan; he presides over them, he works in them, have had ; if he had gone well through the course of his trial, i his interests are served by them, and he receives a horrid hothen he would have eaten of the tree of life which was in the mage and honour from them. (2.) For the synagogues of Samidst of paradise, and that would have been the sacrament of tan to give themselves out to be the church or Israel of God, is confirmation to him in his holy and happy state. So all who no less than blasphemy. God is greatly dishonoured, when his persevere in their Christian trial and warfare, shall derive from name is made use of to promote and patronise the interests of Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection and confirmation in Satan; and he has a high resentment of this blasphemy, and holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the will take a just revenge on those who persist in it. earthly paradise, but the heavenly, ch, 22, 1, 2.

4. He foreknows the future trials of his people, and foreV. 8-11. We now proceed to the second epistle sent to warns tliem of them, and forearms them against them. (1.) He another of the Asian churches, where, as before, observe, forewarns them of future trials; (v. 10,) The devil shall cast I. The preface or inscription in both parts.

some of you into prison, and ye shall have tribulation. The 1. The superscription, telling us to whom it was more express people of God must look for a series and succession of troubles ly and immediately directed ; to the angel of the church in in this world, and their troubles usually rise higher; they had Smyrna, a place well known at this day by our merchants, a been impoverished by their tribulations before, now they must city of greai trade and wealth, perhaps the only city of all the be imprisoned. Observe, It is the devil that stirs up his inseven that is still known by the same name, now however no struments, wicked men, to persecute the people of God; tyrants longer distinguished for its Christian church, being overrun and perseculors are the devil's tools, though they gratisy their with Mahometanism.

own sinful malignity, and know not that they are actuated by a 2. The subscription, containing another of the glorious titles diabolical malice. (2.) Christ forearms them against these of our Lord Jesus, the First and the Lost, he that was dead and approaching troubles: (1.) By his counsel; Fear none of these is alive, taken out of ch. 1. 17,18. (1.) Jesus is the First and things: this is not only a word of command, but of efficacy, the Last. It is but a little scantling of time that is allowed to not only forbidding slavish fear, but subduing it, and furnishing us in this world, but our Redeemer is the First and the Last. the soul with strength and courage. [2.] By showing them He is the First, for by him all things were made ; and he was how their sufferings would be alleviated and limited. First, before all things with God, and was God himself. He is the They should not be universal; it would be some of them, not Last, for all things are made for him, and he will be the Judge all, who should be cast into prison ; those who were best able of all. This surely is the title of God from everlasting and to to bear it, and might expect to be visited and comforted by the everlasting, and it is the title of one that is an unchangeable rest. Secondly, They were not to be perpetual, but for a set Mediator between God and man, Jesus, the same yesterday, time, and a short time, ten days; it should not be everlasting to-day, and for ever. He was the First, for by him the founda- tribulation, the time should be shortened for the elect's sake. tion of the church was laid in the patriarchal state ; and he is Thirilly, It should be to try them, not to destroy them; that the Last, for by him the top-stone will be brought forth and laid their faith, and patience, and courage, might be proved and in the end of time. (2.) He wils dead, and is alive. He was improved, and be found to honour and glory. [3.] By proposing dearl, and died for our sins ; he is alive, for he rose again for and promising a glorious reward to their fidelity; (v. 10,) Be our justification, and he ever lives to make intercession for us. thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He wis dead, and by dying purchased salvation for us ; Observe, First, The sureness of the reward; I will give is alive, and by his life applies his salvation to us. And if thee. He has said it, that is able to do it; and he has underwhen we were enemies, we are reconciled by his death, much taken that he will do it; they shall have the reward from his more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. His own hand, and none of their enemies shall be able to wrest it death we commemorate every sacrament day, his resurrection out of his hand, or to pull it from their heads. and life every sabbath day.

Secondly, The suitableness of it; 1. A crown, to reward II. The subject matter of this epistle to Smyrna, where, their poverty, their fidelity, and their conflict. 2. A crown of after the common declaration of Christ's omniscience, and the life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, are perfect cognizance he has of all the works of men, and espe- faithful till they die, and who part with life itself, in fidelity to cially of his churches, he takes notico,

Christ ; that life, so worn out in his service, or laid down in 1. Of the improvement they had made in their spiritual his cause, shall be rewarded with another, and a much better state. This comes in, in a short parenthesis ; yet it is very life, that shall be eternal. emphatical ; but thou art rich, (v. 9; poor in temporals, but rich III. The conclusion of this message, and that, as before, in spirituals ; poor in spirit, and yet rich in grace; their spi- 1. With a call to universal attention, that all men, all the world, ritual riches are set off by their outward poverty. Many who should hear what passes between Christ and his churches; how are rich in temporals, are poor in spirituals. Thus it was with he commends them, how he comforts them, how he reproves the church of Laodicea. Some who are poor outwardly, are their failures, how he rewards their fidelity ; it concerns all inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, rich in privileges, the inhabitants of the world to observe God's dealings with his rich in bonds and deeds of gift, rich in hope, rich in reversion. I own people; all the world may learn instruction and wisdom


« PreviousContinue »