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until we come to its secular history, an interval of three hundred years. In the year 1097 it was taken possession of by the Turks. In 1120 the Turks were defeated by the emperor John Commenes, who retook Laodicea and rebuilt its walls. In 1161 it was again deprived of its fortifications; many of its inhabitants were killed, among whom was the then bishop; many others, together with their cattle, were carried off by the Turks. In 1166 it was again ravaged by the Turks. In 1190 the German emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, passed Laodicea on his way to Palestine to join the crusaders, and made some diversion in favour of the Christian inhabitants. On the invasion of the Tartars in 1255, the Grand Seignor gave Laodicea to the Persians, but they were unable to protect it, and it again fell into the hands of the Turks, from which time it has been gradually sinking, till now it is utterly desolate. It is without inhabitants except wolves, and jackalls, and foxes; and a recent traveller remarks—“We could see no traces of houses, or Churches, or mosques; all was silence and solitude. Several strings of camels passed eastward of the hill on which we were standing, but a fox, which we saw peeping over the brow of the hill, was the sole inhabitant of Laodicea." What a picture of desolation; and yet what was to be expected? God had given them to the curse for their lukewarmness, and had said, as we shall hereafter see, “I will spue thee out of my mouth," a term which implies that he would utterly destroy them; and they are destroyed—a monument of the truth of prophecy; for not a Church, not a Christian family, not a solitary hermit, remains to mention the name of Christ. Its history is written in the declaration once before made, Laodicea was,
These are interesting topics of information, which I have collected from a variety of sources, and brought within the compass of the preliminary observations to prepare the way for a very full discussion of the topics connected with this epistle : for though the interest of this epistle is a melancholy one, utterly censured as the Church was by God, yet it is pregnant with the most important practical considerations; and, especially as it is the last of the seven epistles, I shall hope for indulgence if I enter into a most minute explanation and elucidation. Following the course I have pursued in relation to all the preceding epistles, I shall lay before you an outline of the topics contained in the epistle, and in the order in which they will be considered.
I. THE INTRODUCTORY DESCRIPTION OF OUR SAVIOUR, WITH THE STATEMENT OF ITS FITNESS TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CHURCH OF LAODICEA.
II. THE FIRST CENSURE PASSED ON THIS CHURCH.
III. THE REMARKABLE EXPRESSION OF OUR SAVIOUR CONNECTED WITH THIS CENSURE.
THE AWFUL CHARACTER OF THEIR SIN AS DRAWING FROM CHRIST THE SEVERE EXPRESSION OF HIS UTTER ABHORRENCE.
IV. THE PRIDE AND IGNORANCE OF THE LUKEWARM LAODICEANS.
V. THE WISE AND AFFECTIONATE ADVICE OF CHRIST.
VI. THE MOTIVE WHICH INDUCED BOTH THE CENSURE AND ITS CONNECTED EXHORTATION.
VII. THE CONTINUED LOVING KINDNESS OF CHRIST. VIII. THE CONCLUDING PROMISE.
I. There is a peculiarity in the phraseology here which is worthy of notice, and I have been somewhat surprised to find that it is unnoticed by all the commentators. Perhaps they thoughtit too trifling to occupy any consideration. It has struck my own mind differently, and I shall state it, and let the remark drawn from it have just what weight it may. It is this: in all the other epistles, without exception, the address is -“To the angel of the Church in Ephesus; to the angel of the Church in Smyrna,” &c. But in this epistle we have this singular variation-"To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans.” Now, to a superficial observer, there appears to be, and intrinsically there is, but a very trifling difference in the phraseology; but in my course of study for this long series of lectures on the epistles, I have observed so nice a care as to the most minute particulars, that I cannot but persuade myself, that under this variation of phraseology there is a singular important meaning; and my own decided opinion is, that so grievous was the character of the sin of the members of this Church, that this peculiar form of expression was used to convey at once to their minds the idea of the extraordinary degree of displeasure which was felt, if I may so speak, in the divine mind against them : for the phrase in relation to Laodicea, is certainly less dignified than to any of the other Churches. I think I can make this apparent. To say, to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, is a dignified, respectable method of address, and acknowledges at once the Church to be a Church of Christ; but to say, to the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans, is as much as to say, I now address a people who call themselves a Christian Church; their sin is abominable; I will not recognise them as mine by a peculiar relationship; I will give them to understand the difference; I will call them not the Church of Christ in Laodicea, but the Church of the Laodiceans. If this idea is correct, and I fully believe it is, this epistle sets out with a censure, implied, it is true, but most justly and most cuttingly severe; no more severe, however, than their most unrighteous conduct deserved.
It is worthy of special remark, that in the introductory description of our Saviour, there are three terms by which he has seen fit to describe himself; and in relation to these three terms very useful and very important information is to be gathered. I shall consider them in their order.
1. These things, saith the Amen. The term Amen is here made a personal description. In the ordinary application of Scripture, the term is either assertive or petitionary, by which I mean to say, that in some cases it is the mere assertion of a fact. It is used in this sense when our Saviour says“ Verily, verily, I say unto you.” The Greek is Amen, Amen, I say unto you. In other cases, it is used as an epitome of prayer. Thus, when we use it at the close of our prayers, it means “so may be,” or God grant that so may be all that we have asked. Now, in the text, the term is applied in a very peculiar and a very emphatic sense, and can be very finely illustrated by a reference to some circumstances of Jewish antiquity. The word Amen is the name of a divine person with the Jews, and of the second person of the Deity, or the Messiah: for according to the Jewish computation, they say the word answers numerically to the two words—Jehovah, Adonai. All this, however fanciful it may be, is still important, as it shows the opinion of the Jews in relation to the Messiah. The importance of the application of the term Amen to himself by our Saviour, lies in this, that it is an assertion of Divinity in two very important lights. 1. It is taking the name of God himself: for in Isaiah, 65th chapter, 16th verse, in the original Hebrew, God calls himself Jehovah Amen. And 2d, because, by the use of this term, he applies to himself the attributes which can belong to none but God himself. Thus, Amen means the one faithful and true; immutable, who is ever the same; it means in the very highest sense of the term, the one who is stability, fidelity and truth. It is thus, by the appropriation of it, Christ himself declares the firmness, constancy, and immutability of his nature, person, and the offices of his love; of the fullness of his grace and power,
and of the infinite merit of his blood and righteousness. And under these circumstances, the personal application of the term, Amen, is a clear and decided assumption of a character truly and essentially divine.
2. The next term by which our Lord characterizes himself in this introductory description, is this the faithful and true witness. He so calls himself, because he has taken it upon himself to testify the truth of God in relation to every concern in which a knowledge of God or the welfare of man is concerned. He testifies to all in a variety of ways; in his ministry on earth, by his numerous miracles, by the shedding of his own blood, and by the influences of the Spirit. The peculiar adaptedness of this term, as it relates to the Church of Laodicea, appears to be to convince, that as on earth, so at the day of judgment, he will be a swift witness against all ungodly men. He takes this title to convince the