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FAILURE IN DISCIPLINE,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA.
REVELATION ii. 18—29.
And unto the angel of the Church in Thyatira write; These things saith the
Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass ; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thec, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death ; and all the Churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, (as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak,) I will put upon you none other burden : But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron ; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers ; even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning-star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
The fourth of the apocalyptic epistles was addressed to the angel or bishop of the Church of Thyatira.
This is a city of Natolia, in Asia Minor, in nearly a south-eastern direction from Pergamos, and distant from it about fifty-five miles. It is situated on the river Hermus, which falls into the Ægean Sea, considerably to the north of Smyrna. In examining this subject, I have noticed an error in the map
of Asia Minor in D'Anville's Ancient Geography. He appears to have placed Thyatira on a branch of the river Caicus, the same river on which Pergamos is situated; but this is evidently a mistake, as Thyatira is actually on the river Hermus.
Apart from the text, I have been able to gather very little concerning this city which is calculated to excite much interest. It was from this place that Lydia, who is spoken of in one of the chapters of Acts, originally
She was a seller of purple, and probably on her business had made a temporary residence in Philippi, where she was converted to the Christian faith under the powerful preaching of the Apostle Paul. Thyatira is now called Akhisar, or the White Castle. It is said to contain about thirty thousand inhabitants, of which number three thousand are called Christians, all belonging to the Greek Church, with the exception of about two hundred Armenians. It is said that the houses are chiefly built of earth, but the Turkish mosques of marble. You may be able to judge of the state of Christianity from the account of a traveller, who says that the superior of the Greek Church had no Testament, and that when he gave him a Testament in the Romaic, he begged another, that one might be secured to the Church and free from accidents, while the other went round among the people for their private reading
This city of Thyatira, as I have already intimated, is barren of incidents interesting in a historical point of view, and I therefore proceed to the consideration of the epistle addressed by the Spirit to this Church, and in it, as in the others, there is
I. AN INTRODUCTORY DESCRIPTION OF OUR SA
II. A VERY STRONG COMMENDATION. III. A CENSURE. IV. A THREAT. V. A DECLARATION AND CORRESPONDING EXHOR
VI. And lastly. A CONCLUDING PROMISE.
I. In this epistle, the introductory description of our Saviour varies from the method which is pursued in all the other epistles. In them, the individual by whose authority the epistle is addressed, is represented under terms which are clearly indicative of the person intended, but yet not expressly named; as for instance, in the epistle to Ephesus—“These things saith he who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, and who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;" and in the epistle to Smyrna, “These things saith the first and the last, who was dead and is alive again;" and in the epistle to Pergamos-“These things saith he which hath the sword with two edges.” But in the present instance, and it is the only one of the seven epistles, the terms which are used are direct—"These things saith the Son of God.” This is the title which has ever been given to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the second person of the blessed Trinity, and throughout the Scriptures he is represented as the eternal and only begotten Son of God. These terms denote that he has the same nature with the Father; for this title, Son of God, is a peculiarity no where by the sacred writers ascribed to any one but the Lord Jesus Christ. It is worthy of particular remark, that although in a variety of places throughout the Scriptures, we meet with such expressions as these, sons of God and children of God, yet you will observe that these terms are always used in the plural number; and strange as the assertion may be, the expression in the singular, “Son of God,” is never applied to a mere human being. “That application was reserved for one who should bear the name in a peculiar incommunicable manner, and thus stand conspicuous among all the sons and children of God as the only Son of God.” This is an important subject, because there is nothing in these days so appalling as the continual attempt to rob the Lord Jesus Christ of the honour which is due unto his name. The opposers of the cross of Christ often fix upon the term, Son of God, as if it implied an inferiority of nature, whereas the opposite of this is exactly the case; for it implies a participation of the same nature. And then other Scriptures plainly and unequivocally declare the equality of the Son with the Father. Thus St. John declares that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father; and the Jews themselves so well understood the force of our Saviour's expressions, that when he called God his Father, they took up stones to stone him, and when asked by him the cause, they said because they considered him as claiming a true and essential divinity; because that thou, say they, being a man, makest thyself God. So in the form of baptism, the name
Son is joined with that of the Father and the Holy
in prayer to the Father, and it is a most remarkable expression—“Glorify me, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." And to use but one more quotation—"Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, to-day and for ever.” As the only begotten Son of God, co-equal, co-eternal with the Father, he is represented as speaking to the Church of Thyatira—“These things saith the Son of God;" and then we have a description similar in character to those in which he addressed himself to the other