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„The ex. Divine, that lived & died in the beginning of plication of the my. this age. According to him the Church of
En Ephesus signifies the Primitive Church of the the seven pogus Churches three first Ages. The Praises which the H. by Forbes. Spirit gives it, I know thy works & thy labour,
& how thou canst not bear them which are evil, &c. These praises I say may well agree to the Church of the three first Ages. But those which God gives to the Church of Thya. tira afterwards are greater. Yet 'ris certain that the fourth Period of the Church did not come near the Church of the three first Ages in fervency & purity. The Nicolaitans that are spoken of in this Epistle to the Church of Ephesus, may signifie all the Hereticks, all the kinds being meant by one. But seeing the Church of all Ages hath had its Hereticks, this character can't distinguish this Pea riod from the others.
The second Epistle is to the Church of Smyrna , & Forbes would have this to be the Period in which the Arrians , Macedonians, Nestorians & Eutychians reigned. That is to say, that this 'Period will comprehend the fourth , & the fifth Age. But how.can these words be applied to those Ages, I know thy works of thy Tribulation , 6 thy poverty ( but thou art rich) 8 I know the blafphemy of those that say they are fews but are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan? See here are praises that are no whit inferiour to those that were given to the Church of Ephe. fus. Yet 'tis certain that the Church, in these Ages was corrupted, & lost all the beauty
it had in the three first Ages of the Church. n of Its manners were corrupted , & its worship
was marred by the invocation of Saints & H. the worship of Reliques. What will be
come of that Perfecution of ten days that God predicts to this Church of Smyrna ? 'Tis true the Church was persecuted under the Arria an Emper.ours ; but it doth not appear very
well why this is described by number of ten -tain
The third Epistle is directed to the Church of Pergamus, & according to Forbes this is the Period of the reign of Antichrist. The foregoing Periods were but of two or three hundred years; this must be above a thoufand years. Here is found something that is pretty like this period. I know, where thou dwellest, even where Satan's feat is. To which may be added thąt the martyr Antipas (poken of in this Epistle signifies Anti-papa , an Enemy opposing the Pope ; & that this fignifies all those that have opposed the tyranny of Antichrist. But the rest doth by no means agree to this Period. I know thy works, & that thou holdest fast my name , & haft not denied my faith. These praises do by no neans belong to a Church fo corrupt as was that of the third Period under the reign of Antichrist. Thou haft them that hold the Doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak to cast a stum. bling-block before the Children of Israel, to eat things facrificed unto Idols & to commit fornication. By this must be meant those evil Christians that joined in with the Antichristi
an Idolatry. Now these people are not well described by thou hast them; for this imports, that it was not the body of the Society. And on the contrary, under the Antichristian Em. pire , the greatest part of men did partake of his abominations.
The fourth Epistle is directed to the Church of Tbyatira, to which the H. Spirit gives these great praises I know thy works, & Charity , & service , & Patience; & that thy last works are more than the first. Forbes would have this be that period of the Church, in which the Church began to reform her self, & in which the good separated from the evil, i. e, the Church from the Albigenses to Luthers time. Now I leave every wise man to judge if a small number of Albigenfes & Waldenses, that separated from the Church of Rome , & that endured so short a time, could deserve from the whole Christian Church , so generally corrupted, the fairest of all the prai. les that the H. Spirit gives to the seven Churches.
Thou suffereft that woman Jezabel that calleth her self a Prophetess, to teach & to seduce my servants to commit fornication. This feo zabel I confess very much resembles the Antichristian Church. But Why should the Ako bigenfes be blamed for suffering the Roman Church? How could they destroy it, who were so weak ? Did they not cry out upon her as Babylon as much as they were able?
Sardis, is the fifth Church to which the H. Spirit writes, according to Forbes'tis
the Reformed Church, in which neither fee
Laodicea is the last Church or the last Pe.
Let us proceed to that of Cocceius.
According to this later Author, the Church of Ephesus is the Apoftolical Church, 1, 6.
The Ex• that wherin the Apostles preached. So that plication of the my. this Period must be extended to the death of kery of St. John. The Nicolaitans spoken of in this the seven Churches first Epistle , are Hereticks in general. Niaccording, colaos in Greek fignifies the Conquerour of the so Coccejus,
People. Tis the Character of Hereticks to make themselves masters of the people by seducing them.
The Church of Smyrna signifies the Church suffering in all places , & especially that of the three first Ages. The perfecution of ten Days according to this , must signify the ten Persecutions, which the Church suffered during those three Ages under the Pagan Emperours. This doth not fallout ill; but I fear it was chance that made this hit; for the rest doth not fall out in the same manner. The holy Spirit faith, Some of you shall be cast into Prison, that ye may be tryed. This is very feebly to express the great number of Martyrs, and the cruel Sufferings to which the Church was exposed during these three first Ages of the Church. 'Tis much more probable, that this fignifies some light Persecution that was to be. fal Smyrna, in which Persecution the Evil should not go beyond the imprisoning fome perticular Persons. .
The Epistle to the Church of Pergamus is the third,&according to Cocoeius,'tis the Church from Constantine's time to the birth of Antichrift, Pergamus is the name of a famous fortress of Troy. Rome signifies strengthor fortress. 'Tis in Rome that fatan's seat is. But why should the seat of satan be fixed in Rome