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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 2


1. Topography of Pergamos




This writing affords additional proof that "Angel" is used in these letters as a noun of plurality. For example, "Thou", the Angel, "hast there," in Pergamos, "men holding the teaching of Balaam:" and again, "So hast thou also men holding the teaching of the Nikolaitans." These "men holding" (kratountas) were constituents of the symbolical Star-Angel, or Presbytery; whose influence was only evil and that continually, until at length the truth was extinguished in Pergamos through them.

Pergamos was the name of a kingdom as well as of a city. The seat of government was in the city to whose "angel" the Spirit wrote by John. It was the metropolis of the Hellespontic Mysia, and the throne of the kings of the race of Attalus; and is situated about sixty-four miles to the north of Smyrna. It still retains its ancient name, which in the mouth of a Turk is pronounced Bergamo. There are some good buildings in the place, but more ruins.

Attalus king of Pergamos died B.C. 138, and was succeeded by his nephew Philometer, who governed the kingdom in a most pernicious and extravagant manner. He was scarcely seated upon the throne before he stained it with the blood of his nearest relations, and the best friends of his family. He caused foreign troops, whom he had expressly sent for from the most savage and cruel nations, to make them the instruments of his enormous barbarity, to execute whole families. Having vented his ferocity, he thenceforth ceased to show himself abroad. Cruelty and folly were the characteristics of his reign, which happily for his subjects lasted only five years.

Previous to his death, which occurred before the birth of Christ 133 years, he made a will, by which he appointed the Roman people his heirs. Eudemus of Pergamos carried this will to Rome. The principal article was expressed in these terms, "Let the Roman people inherit all my effects." They were not slow to take possession; but being resisted, a war ensued which lasted four years, at the end of which they had conquered Lydia, Caria, the Hellespont, Phrygia, in a word, all that composed the kingdom of Attalus, was reduced into a province of Rome, under the common name of ASIA in which the seven ecclesias were situated. This was consummated B.C. 126.

At the present time, the city is occupied chiefly by Turks, very few families calling themselves christian being left, and these but "dogs" and "swine." Bishop Newton, looking at Pergamos from an episcopalian point of view, says, "Here is only one church remaining, dedicated to St. Theodorus; and that the name of Christ is not wholly lost and forgotten in Pergamos, is owing to the care of the metropolitan of Smyrna, who continually sendeth hither a priest to perform the sacred offices. The cathedral church of St. John is buried in its own ruins; their Angel or bishop removed; and its fair pillars adorn the graves and rotten carcases of its destroyers, the Turk, who are esteemed about two or three thousand souls in number. Its other fine church, called Santa Sophia, is turned into a mosque, and daily profaned with the blasphemies of the false prophet. There are not in the whole town above a dozen or fifteen families of miserable christians, who till the ground to gain their bread, and live in the most abject and sordid servitude. There is the less reason to wonder at the wretched condition of this church, when we consider that it was the very "throne of Satan;" that they ran greedily after the error of Balaam, to "eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication;" and that "they held the impure doctrines of the Nicolaitans, which Christ detested." It was denounced unto them to "repent, or else he would come unto them quickly, and fight against them," as the event evinces that he hath done."

This is all the bishop has to tell us about Pergamos and the letter to its ecclesia. Its population is unequally divided between the Turks and Greeks, the former of whom, he says, "daily profane it with the blasphemies of the false prophet." To our mind, Pergamos would be more intensely profaned were it peopled exclusively with Greeks in the full tide of Byzantine prosperity. It was their "blasphemies," like the profanities of Sodom and Gomorrha, that brought upon them their overthrow, and the Turkish desolation. Instead of adhering to the truth, they worshipped demons called "St. Theodore" and "Santa Sophia," to whom they dedicated bazaars, called "churches," for the sale therein of clerical merchandize. The remnant are indeed "miserable christians,"with nothing of christianity but the name.




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