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



Chapter 3


10. A Clerical Exposition




I shall conclude this exposition of the epistle to the Angel-Presbytery at Philadelphia, by reproducing what the Church of England Bishop Newton has said upon the subject. It will afford the reader a specimen of high orthodox apocalyptic interpretation, of which the humblest among the saints would be thoroughly ashamed.

"Philadelphia, so called," says he, "from Attalus Philadelphus its builder, is distant from Sardis about twenty-seven miles to the southeast. It is called by the Turks Allah Shah, or the beautiful city, on account of its delightful situation, standing on the declivity of the mountain Tmolus, and having a most pleasant prospect on the plains beneath, well furnished with divers villages, and watered by the river Pactolus. It still retains the form of a city, with something of trade to invite the people to it, being the road of the Persian caravans. Here is little of antiquity remaining besides the ruins of a church dedicated to St. John, which is now made a dunghill to receive the offal of dead beasts. However, God hath been pleased to preserve some in this place to make profession of the Christian faith, there being above two hundred houses of christians, 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 christians; the third to St. Theodore, and the fourth to St. Taxiarchus, as St. Michael the archangel is called by the Greeks. Next to Smyrna, this city hath the greatest number of christians, and Christ hath promised a more particular protection to it. See Apoc. iii. 8,9,10. Than which, as Dr. Spon saith, what could be said more formally to foretell the coming of the Turks, the open enemies of christianity, who seem to be sent on purpose for the punishment of our crimes, and to distinguish the faithful from the false christians, who pretend to be so, and are not?"

This is all the bishop has to say in exposition of the letter before us and his remarks upon all the other letters are as vapid and shallow as the specimen here given. He evidently knew more of geography and archaeology, than of the christian faith; and evinces a very low conception of the divine character in supposing a special preservation of the worshippers of the Virgin and the saints "to make a profession," which makes the name of christianity a stench in the nostrils of the followers of Mohammed, who justly regard them as a set of contemptible idolaters.




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