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people only, but resisting the right of the Holy Ghost to answer in the churches unto the truth of the doctrine preached by the minister.
In the method, therefore, of these seven epistles, I do discover these great principles :- First, a Universal Bishop, Jesus Christ the Great Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, who is Head of every church, who alone hath the spiritual supremacy, and in whom the scattered churches reunite and are one; the Representative of God-God's Shepherd, Pastor of his elect people: Secondly, I discern, as necessary to every church, an angel, messenger, or ambassador of Christ, who, without interference of a third party, shall come and go, with all messages, between the Head over all and all the congregation ; and, Thirdly, I do discern the people to be the temple of the Holy Ghost, in whom, as one, the one Spirit speaketh, whose voice, as it cannot be contrarious to itself, so ought the people to eschew schism, and strive after unity, which they will best do by consorting much with the word of God, which containeth the unity of the Spirit, in the diversity of all times, places, and persons. Thus by using the word of God as the test, --not a part of it, but the whole of it; for to prefer a part of it, is to sanctify schism,--the many members of a church should strive to come into oneness of mind and spirit, and to be delivered from all partiality and hypocrisy, which God surely willeth, and which, therefore, they may surely hope for; and being thus attuned, they shall become like the many-piped organ into which the minister of the word breathes the inspiration of truth, proved to be the inspiration of truth by the melody, the unbroken melody, which ascendeth from the whole church, like the incense of the morning and the evening sacrifice. But, alas ! seldom is it the delectable experience of a minister to find such social harmony in the church over which he is appointed. Nevertheless, though they were as divided as the Corinthian church, ought he to believe, and hope, and pray, that the Spirit will speak from the midst of them. He ought to reverence the church as the conscience where the Spirit dwelleth ; and the churches ought to reverence him, as the tongue with which the Lord of the Spirit speaketh, and this notwithstanding the incongruities, imperfections, and incon. sistencies which they observe in one another. It is, I say it again, in this mutual reverence, faith, and hope, that the ordinance of a pastor and a people groweth into substantial life. Through conscience of the ordinance, as an ordinance of God; and through obedience of it, as a commandment of God, with all reverence, faith, and hope, it cometh to pass at length, that the ordinance groweth into the fruitfulness, and blessedness, for which it was ordained. Otherwise than as I have described above, I believe that the relation of pastor and people will never prosper. If the people will presume to stand between the pastor and Christ, and reprove him or dictate to him, then they trample him under foot, and step into the throne of Christ. If the pastor will not give good heed to the satisfaction of the people, and be desirous to hear their voice, and to reverence their voice, he despiseth not them, but the Spirit who speaketh to them, and in them; and he will chance, nay he will be sure, to suffer loss at the hand of that Spirit whom he hath offended. Let these principles sink into the hearts of both ministers and people;- let them be the grounds of faith, and prayer, , and diligent observance ; -and we may never fear that the fruit will be peace and prosperity, so far as may serve God's glory and our own good.
EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS. “ Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus, write, These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil : and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not; and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rev. ii. 1-7.)
According to the method which we have laid down above, we propose to treat these epistles under three heads. First, The superscription or designation which the writer taketh to himself; secondly, The charge to the angel or minister of the church ; thirdly, The exhortation of the Spirit to the church itself. But before entering on each, it will be convenient and satisfactory in a few words to set forth something concerning the condition of the city in which the church was planted. Ephesus was a famous city, according to Strabo, one of the best and most glorious of cities, the metropolis of proconsular Asia, situated upon the river Cayster, near the shore of the Egean sea. Its origin is lost in the fables of antiquity. Its inhabitants were greatly addicted to the study of curious arts; to magic, sorcery, and judicial astrology ; to such an excess indeed that it became proverbial in antiquity to denominate charms or words used in incantation Ephesian Letters. Of this dispo, sition of the place, some striking illustrations are contained in the xix th chap. of the Acts,vers. 13-21; where also we see the triumph of the name of Jesus, and of his Gospel, over the exorcists and magicians, who burned their books to the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver. It was a place also of great superstitions and devotion to the goddess Diana, whose temple there was justly reckoned one of the wonders of the world ; as is graphically delineated in the words of the same chapter of the Acts. This city was first visited by St. Paul, about the year of our Lord 54. He was well received of them, and entreated to remain ; but he could not at that time, being bound for Jerusalem. He left behind him Aquilla and Priscilla, who received Apollos, a Jew of Alexandria, and instructed him more perfectly. He laboured much in convincing the Jews; so that when Paul returned he found disciples, yet only initiated into the doctrine of John's baptism. Upon these Paul laid his hands, and the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied, and all the men were about twelve (Acts xviii. 19 to xix. 8). These twelve men were the foundation of the church in Ephesus. On this second visit, Paul continued with them by the space of two years ; so that all they which dwelt in Asią heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. A third time he visited Ephesus, on his way to Jerusalem; or rather I should say, he sent for the elders of the church to Miletus, and there delivered to them that noble charge which is recorded in the xx th chap. of the Acts. Some say, though upon what authority I cannot find, and I rather believe upon no good authority, that he visited their city itself a third time : certain it is, that Timothy succeeded to him in the ministry of that church, 1 Tim. i. 3: “I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia;" and the consent of antiquity is, that Timothy continued there until the time of his death, which, they say, he met with in opposing in the streets the profane and obscene festivals of the Ephesians. This event took place, according to some, in the time of Nerva, who succeeded Domitian the last of the twelve Cæsars ; in whose days John was exiled to Patmos, and received these visions. But others prefer the very time when John was in Patmos. If either of these traditions be correct, and all antiquity is agreed as to the one or other of them, Timothy must have been the very person addressed as the angel of the church of Ephesus. It is also currently reported amongst the ancients, that John made his residence at Ephesus, and laboured much amongst the churches of Asia, before his banishment to Patmos. Still more certain is it, that upon the death of Domitian, he returned to Ephesus, in the year of our Lord 97, and died three years afterwards.—Such are the short notices of Ephesus and the foundation of the church there, up to the time of the uttering of this epistolary charge. With respect to its after history and present state, they will be more appropriately spoken of at the conclusion of our remarks upon this epistle, which we now take up in order.
And first, we are to treat of the name or designation which Christ specially appropriates to himself in addressing the Ephesian church : “ These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” This designation may be considered amongst the rest as generic; that is, expressive of the general character of Universal Bishop, which he bears to all the churches. I find something of the like kind in the first of the seals, which presents us with a triumphant emperor ;-triumph over his enemies being the generic character of all the seals which conclude with the triumphant advent of Christ, given in the xxth chapter by similar symbols of a rider upon a white horse. So, in writing epistles to the churches, he presents himself to the first, with those symbols of the Universal Bishop, in which he shall be known when the number of his saints shall be accomplished; as it is written, Rev. vii. 17, “ The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains of waters.” If, again, we look upon him as the high priest trimming the light of the churches, and holding up the stars to the view of the world during the night, the long night of his absence, until the Sun of Righteousness shine forth in his strength, then doth it convey the beginning and continuance of that aspect in which he shall be exhibited in the new Jerusalem as the light of it (Rev. xxi. 23): “ And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of the Lord did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." This, then, I consider to be the propriety of this first appellation, that being the first, it is the common or generic representation of his office as the Universal Bishop. And what are the particulars of this his episcopal office? These two: first, He holdeth seven stars in his right hand; and, secondly, He walketh about in the midst of the seven golden candle. sticks. The interpretation of the seven stars we have already enlarged upon, both in this and the former lecture, shewing that by this symbol is signified the ministers of all the churches : but two points we have not considered ; the first, wherefore they should be likened to stars; the second, what is signified by their being holden in Christ's right hand.
The reason why the angels of the churches should be likened to stars is, because they give light during the night. The Apostle Peter saith, in his Second Epistle, that we should « look unto the more sure word of prophecy, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise on our hearts." This dawning of the day, and rising of the day star, is again referred to by our Lord (Rev. ii. 28), “And I I