« PreviousContinue »
than Latinity, “Victus qui sæviebat, vicit qui suf« ferebat.” “ The conqueror was subdued, the suf“ ferer conquered;" or,
as, in more stately language, God the Father is represented speaking of the Son incarnate;
" I send him forth
It is the duty of every Christian to be ready at all times to fight this spiritual battle, under the conviction, that he is certain to triumph, if he be lawfully called to the conflict t, and have faith to follow his great Leader. For, to suffer in that cause is to triumph ; “ nay, in all these things,” says Saint Paul speaking of such sufferings, “we are more than cor
querors, through Him who loved us f.” And this notion of conflict, battle, victory, &c. will be found also to pervade the writings of the early Christians. In the martyrdom of Ignatius, published by Archbishop Usher, that martyr is called Abdytys xat yevναιος μαρτυς Χρισθε, καταποίησας τον Διαβολον: 4 and in that precious morsel of Ecclesiastical History in the second century, the epistle from the Gallic Churches, the persecuting power is styled ó avlıyeiļLEVOS, the adversary, who goyupvatel, skirmishes before the battle; but avlsoluler Ý yagis. T8 Oε8, the grace of God conducts the Christian force against him, and supports the martyrs, who are called yevvetor 2016101noble combatants Il. Agreeably to these images, that ancient hymn of the
* Par. Reg. i. 159. + 2 Tim. ii. 5. Rom. viü. 37. $ Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. Pref. & c. i.
|| Euseb. H. E. lib. v. Pref. & cap. i. See also the same lan. guage in Minuc, Felix Octav. c. 87. 02
Christian Church, beginning with Te Deum, recounts the " noble army of Martyrs.” But besides this battle which every Christian has to fight individually, and on his own private account, against the great adversary, there is a more general and extended warfare, in which the followers of Christ are engaged in a body, as the body of Christ's Church. It is against the same arch-enemy, the devil, and under the same leader, Christ. For our Lord is represented as continually presiding over the fortunes of his church: “Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the “ world*.” It is this warfare extended through all the ages of the world, which seems principally, if not solely, to be prefigured in the Apocalypse. The Devil and his worldly agents attack by seduction and corrupt doctrine, by terror and persecution; the church resists, covering herself with the arms of her great Leader, “the cincture of truth, the breast-plate of “righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of “ the Spirit, and, above all, the shield of faith .
Though she walk in the flesh, yet does she not war “after the flesh, for the weapons of her warfare are “not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pull
ing down of strong holds, bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Agreeably to which words of Scripture in the language of the Apocalypse: “He that conquereth,” is “ he “ who keeps the works of his Lord even unto the " end ;" he who, by the prevalence of faith, perseveres in the profession and practice of Christianity, when assailed by temptation or terror, is the faithful and victorious soldier of Christ. And to a church
Matt. xxviii. 20.
+ Eph. vi. 14, &c.
of this character, and to none other, is promised
power over the nations," a spiritual, increasing dominion.
As to the passage immediately before us, it concerns the times & €191 *, the situation of the church at the time when our Lord addressed these warnings to it; when the Faith was assailed both by delusive teachers from within, and by heathen persecutors from without. Of the former of these, we have spoken t. The hostility of the latter had commenced some years before, in the reign, of Nero, whose unjust edicts against the Christians had been renewed by Domitian a little time before the date of this prophecy. For, under this persecution, Saint John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he saw the vision 1. That the seven Churches were actually under persecution at this time, and were not to be relieved immediately, may be collected from various passages of these addresses to them g.
Ver. 7. To eat of the tree of Life, &c.] The Lord God is described to have planted a garden, or paradise, in Eden, and to have placed in the midst of the garden the tree of life; of which the first created pair might eat, and by eating live for ever. Under this description is represented that immortality, to which, by obedience, the race of men might have attained in their primitive state, and which they forfeited by disobedience il.
For they listened to the seductions of their wily foe, and were overcome. But the " Second Adam, the Lord from “Heaven ,” having condescended to undergo, in
* See note, ch. i. 19.
+ Note, ch. ii. 6.
the behalf of fallen man, the penalty, which was death*, man is hereby restored to his lost privileges. The tree of life is again placed within his reach, he may put forth his hand and live for ever.” This advantage, which the Saviour of the world has regained by his own prowess, he bestows as a free gift or reward upon those servants of his who follow him faithfully in his victorious career f. A description of the tree of life will recur in ch. xxii. 2, 14.
# Gen. ii. 17.
+ See à copious explanation of the tree of life, as signifying immortality, in Bp. Horne's Sermons, vol. i. It was so understood by the author of the 2d Book of Esdras, ch. vii. 52. which was probably written soon after this book of Revelation. See Gray's Key to the Old Testament.
The Address to the Church in Smyrna.
CHAP. ii. VER. 6-11. 8 Και τώ αγέλω της 8 And to the Angel of 8 And unto the Angel έν Σμυρνη εκκλησίας
the Church in Smyrna, of the Church in Smyrγράψον Τάδε λέ write ; Thus saith the na, write, These thiugs γει ο πρώτος και ο First and the Last, who saith the First and the έσχατος, δε έγένειο was dead and is alive; Last, which was dead,
veugós xai (nosy 9 I know thy (works and 9 and is alive ; I know 9 οίδα σε [τα έρμα, thy] tribulation and thy works, and tribu,
] x] riño Dailing thy poverty, (but thou
lation, and poverty, την θωχείαν, (αλλά art rich,) and the blas (but thou art rich,) and ελέσιος εί,) και την
phemy of those who I know the blasphemy βλασφημίαν εκ των say they are Jews, and
of them which say they λεγόνων Ιεδαίες εί
are not, but are a syna are Jews, and are not, veco ļautes, rj és 10 gogue of Satan. Fear
but are the synagogue είσιν, άλλα συνα
none of those things | 10 of Satan. Fear none
γαυγή το σατανά. 10 Modiy qobž å
μέλλεις πάσχειν" ιδε, μέλλει βαλείν εξ υμών ο διάβολο. us Quraxny, i va auβασθήτε και έξετε θλίψιν ημερών δέκαι γίνε τσισός άχει θανάτε, και δώσω
σοι τον τέφανον της 11 was. 'o fywy és,
ακεσάτω τι το πνεύμα λέγει ταϊς εκκλησίαις• Ο νικών και μη αδικηθς, εκ το θανάτε το δευτέρο. .
which thou art about
give thee the crown of
ear, let him hear what
of those things which thou shalt suffer: be. bold, the Devil sball cast some of
into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a crown of 11 life. He that hath an
ear, let him bear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches, He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death.
Ver. 8. Smyrna.] The city of Smyrna is represented by Strabo, as situated about forty miles to the north of Ephesus, of which it was originally a colony *. Pliny describes it as the city of greatest account in Asia, after Ephesus t. There is no mention of it, as a Church, in the books of Scripture.' The renowned martyr, Polycarp, was its 'Bishop: but as he suffered in the reign of Verus, aged 86 years #; he'must have been too young to have exercised this important office at the time of this Revelation; even if we should suppose, with Bishop Pearson, the date of his martyrdom to be more early 5. Yet he is represented by the ancients as receiving his doctrine immediately from the Apostles; and Irenæus, when a youth, had heard him discoursing of his acquaintance with Saint John ||. The Bishops of Smyrna
* Strabo, ii. p. 940,
+ Nat. Hist. v. c. 29.