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enumerated in this book are:-thedragon, in open destructive fight against the church; giving no quarter, and practising no deception : until, wearied out with the patience of the saints, and finding no end of such havoc as he wrought in those first ages of persecution, he betakes himself to wiles, empoisoning certain waters in his foul mouth, with which to deluge and destroy the church. Not finding this method of the Arian heresy to prosper, any more than the other, he resigns the work into the hand of the confederate beasts of the xiiith chapter, the Emperor and the Pope : and lastly, he comes from the bottomless pit, allimpregnated with blasphemy, to make a last and desperate effort by Infidelity to subvert all foundations ; in which awful struggle, at this time proceeding, he is himself subverted. These are the three general forms of wickedness against which the seven churches, or church universal, is inspirited by the words of the Holy Ghost. I cannot now describe them particularly, or set them forth with discrimi. native marks, or shew the diverse fountains of our nature from which they flow, or the powers in creation, which Satan embodieth and inspireth against the truth *. But, whatever they be, they are brought together in the sixth vial, poured forth from the mouth, as a deluge of evil principles, which work opposition to the Lord our God, and gather the frantic nations to battle against the Lamb and those that are with him. I beliere these three spirits to be, (1) arbitrary, tyranpical, blind Force, as a principle; (2) damnable delusion and craft of Papal superstition, as a principle; (3) blasphemous Infidelity as a principle, scornful of Christ's actual rights, trampling and treading upon them, and mocking and contemning, aye, and persecuting and condemning, all who will maintain them. These forms of enmity the church hath in succession had to stand against; but we, whose lot it is to be in the evil and perilous times of the last days, have now to stand against them all, coming on in one rude shock. This gives us another beautiful, simple, and true idea of the structure of the Apocalypse, as it concerneth the church : Her marshalling for the battle, chaps. i., ii.,
* See this fully set forth in a Discourse on the three spirits, vol. iii. of Lectures, Sermons, and occasional Discourses, by the Author of these Lectures.
ni.; the history of her battles, chaps. xi., xii., xiii., xiv.; and the triumphant entering into possession of the conquered earth, and the rearing of the eternal monument and trophy of her victory, chaps. XX., xxi., xxii. For the other chapters, they contain the demonstration of Christ as the Head of kingdoms, and do not so immediately concern the church. These views also confirm and illustrate the radical idea which we have given of these seven epistles, as comprehending the whole church, in all times and places, until Christ shall come again with its collected and triumphant myriads.
One thing remaineth to complete this long discourse upon the first of these epistles, which hath embraced so wide a range, in order to fix and settle several questions preliminary to the whole series. The thing which remains is, to come back to the Church of Ephesus, and shew the adaptation of this promise to their case, and the exact fulfilment of the threatening upon that church.
What method would any parent, having a child whose love had waxed or was waxing cold, take to re-animate the languishing fame? Would it pot be, to admonish that child of his continual and increasing watchfulness over its welfare? • For thee, my child, I labour all the day long, that thou mayest enjoy thy youth in quietness and peace : for thee I meditate in the watches of the night how I may best provide for thy well-being; and for thee I pray, and ain full of care and anxiety always.' This method Christ takes to re-animate the angel of the Ephesian church: • I walk up and down continually amongst you; I intercede for you ; I take upon me your cares ; I provide for all your spiritual distresses : I never forget you ; you are engraven upon the palms of my hands; your candlestick is ever before me.' And if the subjects of a king, seeing him not, should grow indifferent to his person and inobservant of their duties of loyalty, what way so good to re-animate their drooping spirits, as to make known to them, that he was employed in continual deliberation for their welfare; sleeping not, resting not, but ever laborious for their prosperity, and weighed down with the cares of state ; that, though they saw him not, he was walking among them unknown; knew
widow's widowhood, and provided for every orphan's help.
lessness; and was the soul of that prosperity which they enjoyed? Such is the method taken by Christ to re-animate the love of the angel of the church in Ephesus. But withal, that he might be possessed of the whole truth, be warneth him, that, if he repented not, and returned not to his former works, he certainly would come and despoil him of that in which his glory stood, bis candlestick, upon which he was elevated on high in the sight of men ;-working upon him by all the love which he had for the prosperity of his flock, for his own dignity and honour, and for the work which he had well begun, to continue patiently to intend that care which he had so pa. tiently and laboriously entered upon : moreover, teaching him, that no care of the flock, that no reverence of the ordinances, that no love of the souls of the people, that no labour in behalf of the outward visible estate of the church, could avail to any permanent good, unless it proceeded from, was accompanied by, and perfected in, the love of Jesus himself; without whom all ordinances and services are vain, and the reverence of them but a wicked idolatry. Thy candlestick," that which thou lovest, and gloriest in, and labourest for the object of thy heart, the staff of thy strength, the sight of thine eyes-shall be taken away, “ removed from its place, unless thou repent.” Well suited, therefore, wbetber you look to the aspect of bimself offered to their contemplation, or to the threatening of bis Providence held out, was the method which the Lord took. And so, also, if you look to the promise: for what so welcome to a good shepherd, as to know that according as he fed others he should hinuself be fed ; that what pastoral care he put forth, that pastoral care he should prove through eternity? And so, also, how consolatory to the people to know, that, in despite of all neglect and contempt, they had a Shepherd who was walking amongst them, and who should in the fulness of time lead them by the still waters, and make them to lie down in the rich pastures; who should lead them by rivers of living waters, and wipe away all tears from their eyes ? Never was an epistle framed at once with such skill to cover the ordinances with dignity, and to prevent them from being trampled on. Like all the works of God, it is perfect; and, like all the words of Christ, it is such as never man spake.
But there is something more than mere threatening in that word of the Lord Jesus Christ, “ I will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent." These epistles are not words to that minister and that church, but to all ministers and all churches. They are the oracles which define the eternal laws of ecclesiastical polity. This church is tbe exbibition to all churches, of what is the necessary consequence of a decay of first love; it is the exbi. bition of that particular disease wbich is engendered by that particular form of wickedness; and its death is the sure prelude of a like death to every church, and to every person, who taketh on that form of wickedness. The Ephesian bishop did repent, and the church did rise into very great glory; and for a while, for a long while, its destruction was averted. But still the seeds remained in its constitution, and it came at length to that fatal end here threatened. The annals of Christendom are not such, as to enable us to write the history of the Ephesian church, but what notices do exist are sufficient to justify the perfect veracity of the word of God, and the full accomplishment of the threatening in the text. Christ doth not put forth any hypothetical case of evil; he is too charitable to do so : he foreseeth the evil, and teacheth how it may be prevented. Wherever any thing stands in Scripture as a warning, it is not imaginary but real evil that is foreseen; and God shews his goodness in foreseeing it, man his wickedness in disregarding his foresight. When God said to Adam, “ For in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” he put forth that warning which his wisdom foresaw would be necessary; and man, disregarding it, set at nought the good counsel of God, and set up in its stead his own self-sufficiency. The proverb is true, 'A man that's warned is half-armed; but, alas, with that halfarmour how seldom do we defend ourselves against the coming evil! So was it with the church in Ephesus, and so shall we see it proved with all the churches which were so warned.
Ephesus had Paul, John, and Timothy for its pastors. Perhaps the most complete and profound of all St. Paul's Epistles was directed to that church. Nothing remarkable occurred in its history till the year 198, when, Polycrates having called a synod of its bishops to determine concerning the first great question that agitated the catholic church pamely, the timeof the celebration of Easter--they came to an opposite conclusion from the Roman church, resting upon the authority of John the Apostle. It had at this time risen to be a metropolitan seat. It is remarkable that both the Church of Scotlapd and the Church of England held with the Asiatic bishops in this matter against the oman bishop: nor could he get the Scottish Church to conform in this smallest matter till the ninth century; a continual source of lamentation to the venerable Bede; who was a strong Romanist. Here also Chrysostom, in the year 400, held a synod of seventy bishops, for regulating the affairs of Asia. But the fame of these councils was eclipsed by the third General Council of Ephesus, which was held in the year 431, to give forth decisions against the heresy of Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who held a twofold personality to be in Christ, and so defeated the Atonement and the Redemption. This heresy lies at the root of those objections, wbich are now making by the unstable and the unlearned, against Christ's taking humanity of the virgin's fallen substance. They ihink that bis human nature is a person ; and they cannot conceive it to be under the condition of the fall, without believing that he was a sinner. But in the year 449 Ephesus lost its character by the council held there in which were approved the errors of Eutyches, with circumstances most disgraceful to a meeting of eccle. siastics; whence it was called Prædatorium Ephesinum. Now the city began to fall into ruins, and in the time of the Emperor Justinian, 528-566, its ruinous marbles were transported to Constantinople, and employed in the construction of Sancta Sophia. Towards the end of the eleventh century it was seized by a Turkish pirate, but again delivered out of his hand. In 1306 it was still of such consequence as to suffer from the exactions of the Grand Duke Roger: but two years afterwards it surrendered to the Turks, who removed its inhabitants to another place, where they were afterwards massacred: so exactly even to the very letter was the propheey fulfilled, of the candlestick being removed out of its place. But still more suffering was it destined to endure; for in 1401 Tamerlane employed a whole month in plundering the city and the suburbs around. The description given of it