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which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." again, God is declared to be the great first cause, or parent, of universal nature.
The ninth verse shows that John was a companion in tribulation, with the saints of those days; that he was als their "brother in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ;" and that he " was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." This appears to be a small, barren island in the Archipelago, between Europe and Asia, to which the prophet was banished, for the word of truth which he propagated and maintained.
Verse 10: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. "" A voice, or call, to this holy man, seems to be very different from that of the teachers of this or the former ages. I fear many of them run without it, and are not sent; and how can they, in such cases, profit the people. This great and spiritual voice was behind him, urging him to write for the reproof, edification, and comfort of the churches, by saying, in
Verse 11: "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." Why John was directed to send this book to these churches of Asia, leaves room for a variety of conjectures. Some have imagined that, as these churches were pretty convenient to each other, John became a metropolitan; but how could that be? For, first, as it was the Redeemer's kingdom, and the future happiness of mankind, that he labored for, in Christian love, he could have no particular attachment to these churches beyond any other. Second, were they more famed for their piety than any other, that John was commanded to pay this extraordinary attention to them? Third, were they situated so that copies of this book could be transmitted with more
ease and facility than to other churches? Fourth, why were the churches of Italy and Greece not noticed? or were the writings of Paul considered as sufficient for them? Fifth, were the churches of Asia more likely to fall into errors than any others These observations I am constrained to make That they were situated near Byzantium, afterwards called Constantinople, which became the seat of the eastern emperors. These emperors and their bishops, about the year 536, separated from the Roman or western church, then falling into idolatry. The eastern empire continued till the year 1453, when it was destroyed by the Ottoman power. Many of the easterns were obliged to take refuge in Europe, about the time that the art of printing was discovered. These refugees brought with them the copies of the New Testament; and thus, by the providential care of God, we have that sacred volume translated and printed in the languages of all the reformed churches, from the original Greek manuscripts.
Verse 12: "And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks.” This proves John's writings to be all figurative; for in the twentieth verse, the seven candlesticks are shown to be the seven churches. On considering this figure, we find that a candlestick is placed on some eminent situation; it supports the candle, and thus light and comfort are diffused to all around. The same effect a church or society of true believers produces.
Verses 13, 14, 15, 16: Show the glory, power, majesty and dominion of the Redeemer, in and over the churches, as their supreme head. He held in his right hand seven stars; which are the angels, or the governmental authority over the churches. Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; which showed the powerful effect of his gospel on all true believers, and the fatal consequences of it to the disobedient. His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength: he
is the sun of righteousness, who has dispelled by his gospel, those clouds of error, ignorance, superstition, and idolatry, from all who are obedient to the truths contained in it.
Verse 17: "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I am the first and the last." From these words we may perceive the reverential awe of John, who was the beloved disciple. What shall they do who revere Him not? John was comforted, and they shall be tormented.
Verse 18: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." These are comfortable words, to know that he has triumphed over hell and death, and is the victorious captain of our salvation. That he has the keys of hell and death shows that he has power to punish the wicked, as well as reward the righteous, as all power is committed to him by his heavenly Father. Glory, honor, and praise be given to that adorable Being, who has put the keys into more merciful hands than those of the pretended successors of St. Peter.
Verse 19: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." Here is a commission of the most extensive and important John was beloved by his Redeemer, by whose mediation he became a favorite with the most high God, who endowed him with many spiritual blessings, and qualified him to write the things which he saw, and which are, and even those things which shall be hereafter. In this wonderful book, the predictions, numbers, time, and other circumstances, all prove in to be of divine origin.
Verse 20: "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." This verse proves that the words of this book
cannot be taken in their literal sense. Hence the mystery, which is called such in that the seven stars represent the angels of the seven churches, which are the spiritual government of its several members, in defence of the gospel as committed to them. For we see that some are commended, and others reproved; which shows that the whole body was chargeable, or to guard against any error that might appear among them. Thus it appears that both pastor and people are included. The seven candlesticks are the seven churches, or lights to lighten the Gentiles, and to show mankind the way of righteousness and truth. To prove this, Christ says to his followers:
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."-Matt. 5: 16.
Verse 1: "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." It is to be observed that the seven churches are addressed in seven different forms, and each shows the power and efficacy of the Redeemer.
Verses 2, 3: The church is commended, in these verses, for its works, its labor and patience. It appears that they could not bear them which were evil. They examined pretended teachers, and found them liars. They persevered in well-doing.
Verse 4: In this verse, however, the prophet had somewhat against them, because they had fallen from their first love.
Verse 5: "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
Verse 7: "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." Happy state of those who can overcome the snares and temptations of this evil world, and be enabled to partake of the tree of life. When faults were found in the church at Ephesus, at this early period, I fear that the