Page images
PDF
EPUB

able names of benefactors and of their cities, so, upon this column, thus divinely appointed, shall be inscribed the sacred names of God, and of his only begotten Son, and of the New Jerusalem, the holy city, which St. Paul contrasts with the Jerusalem then existing in bondage, by the name of the “ Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is the mother of us all,” (Gal. iv. 24---27.) It is the Christian Church, or “ general assembly of the first-born,” in its future heavenly glory; the city which “ Abraham looked to a building not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God,” (Heb. xi. 10---16; xii. 22---24.) This is the Jerusalem, whose splendour is prophetically displayed in the concluding chapters of the Apocalypse.

PART I.

SECTION X.

Address to the Church in Laodicea.

Chap. iii. ver. 14, to the end. 14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginnning 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 :

H

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.

Ver. 14. Laodicea.] There were other cities of this name. That, which contained the Church here addressed, stood upon the river Lycus, flourishing in wealth, says Pliny; who wrote at no great distance of time from the date of this vision, (Hist. Nat. v. c. xix.) The ruin and desolation of this city are described by modern travellers as more complete and lamentable than those of the other six.

The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.] This word, Amen, imports truth and certainty, and is so used frequently by our Saviour in his Gospel, αμην, αμην, λεγω υμιν. “The promises of God, in him," says St. Paul,

are, yea, and in him Amen,(2 Cor. i. 20.) the truth itself. And he came down from heaven to bear witness of the truth in heavenly things; and all his testimony is true, and he sealed it with his sacred blood, (John viii. 12---19: xviii. 37, 38.) It was “ by him, the first-born of every creature, that God made the worlds. He is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (John i. 3; Col. i. 15—19.)

These appear fit terms for the great Visitor to use, speaking of himself, when he is going to tell them of the real state of their religion, so contrary to pure holiness and practice, and having no support but their own vanity and presumption.

Ver. 15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would that thou wert cold or hot, &c.] The religion, to which by the grace of God we are called, should be seated in the heart and affections. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.” Such is the summary description of it by its great Founder. And, agreeably to this, St. Paul defines it to be “ Faith working by love,” (Gal. v. 6.)

In the warm-hearted, therefore, and in those, who from a sense of duty subdue their cold selfish feelings, and encourage in themselves the growth of zealous and grateful piety, and of warm charity, this religion must be expected to flourish most abundantly; and we must suppose that our Lord would be pleased to see his servants of this description-hot rather than cold. But by the cold, in this passage, seem to be meant, not persons devoid of all warm feelings and affections, but who having their passions absorbed by worldly objects, have hitherto been cold to religious affection. But of such persons there is hope and expectation that the time may come, when, from experience of the vanity of mere worldly pursuits, they may listen to the suggestions of the Spirit, and turn their affections to their proper objects, God, and his works and promises, and his servants. These, though cold to religion for the present, have still a way open to salvation.

But between these two classes, there is one of an intermediate description, containing persons, who professing themselves Christians, take no interest in the concerns of their religion. Supposing themselves rich in the merits of their Redeemer, or, (in what is more common and much worse,) in their

own fancied merits, they sink into a lifeless indifference and inactivity respecting the main object and business of their lives. This must disgust that zealous and kind Master who suffered voluntarily so much for them. Of this character seem to be these Laodiceans, wilfully blind to their situation and their duties; whom, in their present state of unconcern and presumption their Saviour nauseates, and calls to a repentance which shall open their eyes,

and excite them to zeal and activity, to a desire of the true riches, “ Faith working by love,” and of the white raiment, the righteousness of the saints. (See Notes, ch. ii. 8, and iii. 4.)

Ver. 20. I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me.] The kingdom of Christ is described, as “ a feast to all people,” (Isa. xxv. 6; Matt. viii. 11.) He is the bread of life, and none who come to him shall hunger or thirst, (John vi. 35; Rev. vii. 16.) Yet if Christ prepares the Supper,

it

may be said, why is he represented as standing at the door, and knocking for admittance ? This is agreeable to the office he bears in the allegory, or parable, (Luke xii. 36–38.) He is the Bridegroom, and his servants sit in his house to a late hour, waiting his arrival, when, after the eastern customs, “ he cometh and knocketh,” and they open to him, and he maketh them sit down to meat with him. See also John xiv. 23, which tends also to illustrate this passage.

Ver. 21. To sit with me in my throne.] The throne of eastern potentates is so ample, as to admit persons highly favoured to sit upon it beside their king, (Lud. de Dieu.) To“ sit with Christ in his throne,” implies the possession of the highest dig. nity and honour; and as such it seems to be re

[ocr errors]

served to the close of this vision, as the most glorious exaltation of the Christian conqueror. Yet, magnificent as this promised station may appear, it will be found to harmonize exactly with other passages in scripture. Our Lord's seat is represented to be upon the throne of God, “ at the right-hand of the Father,” (Heb. viii. 1; Matt. xxvi. 64;) and he hath "

prepared a place” for his true servants, that " where he is, there may they be also, (John xiv. 8; xvii. 24.) They are " heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ,” “ and with him they are to reign,(Rom. viii. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 12.) These splendid rewards are to be obtained only through Christ, and by those who follow him faithfully, in his career of spiritual warfare, and of victory,

even as he also hath overcome."

« PreviousContinue »