« ElőzőTovább »
them to repent, or else he would come unto them quickly, and fight against them, as the event
evinces that he hath done.
Next to Pergamus is Thyatira (1) fituated at the distance of about forty-eight miles to the fouth-eaft. Certain heretics called Alogi (which may not improperly be interpreted unreasonable men) have (2) affirmed, but have only affirmed without any proof, that at the time of St. John's writing there was no Chriftian church. at Thyatira. Epiphanius admits it, and thence infers that St. John muft have wrote with a prophetic fpirit. The objection is frivolous, but the answer is worfe. For there is no juft reafon for doubting, that at this time there was a Christian church at Thyatira. This very epistle is a fufficient proof of it. It is faid exprefly, (Acts XIX. 10.) that all they who dwelt in Afia (meaning Afia Minor) heard the word of the Lord Jefus, both Jews and Greeks: and what ground is there for thinking that the city of Thyatira was alone excepted? It is faid particularly, (A&ts XVI. 14.) that Lydia, an eminent trader and feller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, was baptized with her houshold. At prefent the city is called by the Turks (3) Akhisar
P. 455. Vol. 1. Edit. Petav. (3) Smith and Rycaut. ibid. D 2
or the white caftle, from the great quantities of white marble there abounding. Only one ancient edifice is left ftanding. The reft, even the churches, are fo deftroyed, that no veftiges of them are to be found. The principal inhabitants are Turks, who have here eight mofques, when not fo much as one Chriftian church is ftill remaining. So terribly have the divine judgments been poured upon this church for committing fornication, and eating things facrificed unto idils; And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and he repented not.
Sardis, once the renowned capital of Crœfus and the rich Lydian kings, (4) is now no longer worthy of the name of a city. It lieth about thirty-three miles to the fouth of Thyatira, and is called by the Turks Sart or Sard, with little or no variation from the old original name. It is a moft fad fpectacle, nor can one forbear weeping over the ruins of fo great a city, For now it is no more than an ignoble village, with low and wretched cottages of clay; nor hath it
any other inhabitants, befides fhepherds and herdsmen, who feed their flocks and cattle in the neighbouring plains. Yet the great extent and grandeur of the ruins abundantly fhow,
(4) Smith, Rycaut, Wheler and Spon. ibid. Van Egmont's and Heyman's Travels. Chap. 10.
how large and fplendid a city it was formerly. The Turks themfelves have only one mofque, a beautiful one indeed, perverted to that ufe from a Chriftian church. Very few Chriftians are here to be found; and they with great patience, or rather fenfelefs ftupidity, fuftain a miferable fervitude; and what is far more miferable, are without a church, without a priest among them. Such is the deplorable state of once the most glorious city: but her works were not found perfect, that is they were found blameable, before God; fhe was dead, even while fhe lived; and fhe is punished accordingly.
Philadelphia, fo called from Attalus Philadelphus its builder, (5) is diftant from Sardis about twenty-feven miles to the fouth-eaft. It is called by the Turks Alah Shahr, or the beautiful city, on account of its delightful fituation, ftanding on ftanding on the declivity the declivity of the mountain Tmolus, and having a moft pleafant profpect on the plains beneath, well furnished. with divers villages, and watered by the river Pactolus. It ftill retains the form of a city, with fomething of trade to invite people to it, being the road of the Perfian caravans. Here is little of antiquity remaining, befides the ruins of
(5) Smith, Rycaut, Whefer and Spon. ibid.
of a church dedicated to St. John, which is now made a dunghill to receive the offals of dead beafts. How foever, God hath been pleased to preserve fome in this place to make profeffion of the Chriftian faith; there being above two hundred houfes of Chriftians, and four churches ; whereof the chief is dedicated to Panagia or the holy Virgin; the other to St. George who is of great fame among the oriental Chriftians; the third to St. Theodore; and the fourth to St. Taxiarchus, as St. Michael the arch-angel is called by the Greeks. Next to Smyrna this city hath the greatest number of Chriftians, and Chrift hath promised a more particular protection to it; I know thy works: behold, I have fet before thee an open door, and none can fhut it: for thou haft a little ftrength, and haft kept my word, and haft not denied my name. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the bour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Than which, as Dr. Spon faith, what could be faid more formally to foretel the coming of the Turks, the open enemies of Christianity; who seem to be fent on purpofe for the punishment of our crimes, and to diftinguish the faithful
ful from the falfe Chriftians, who pretend to be fo, and are not?
Laodicea lay fouth of Philadelphia, in the way to return to Ephefus: and if you will infpect the maps of Alia Minor, you will find the feven churches to lie in a kind of circular form, fo that the natural progrefs was from Ephefus to Smyrna, from Smyrna to Pergamus, from Pergamus to Thyatira, from Thyatira to Sardis, from Sardis to Philadelphia, from Philadelphia to Laodicea, and from Laodicea round to Ephefus again; which is the method and order that St. John hath obferved in addreffing them, and was probably the circuit that he took in his vifitation. That there was a florifhing church at Laodicea in the primitive times of Chriftianity, is evident from St. Paul's Epiftle to the Coloffians, wherein frequent mention is made of the Laodiceans, as well as from this Epiftle of St. John. But the doom of Laodicea (6) feemeth to have been more fevere and terrible than that of almoft any other of the feven churches. For it is now utterly destroyed and forfaken of men, and isbecome an habitation only for wolves, foxes, and jackalls, a den of dragons, fnakes, and vipers. And that because the Lord hath executed
(6) Smith, Rycaut, Wheler and Spon. ibid.