• John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on February 3rd, 2012

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    4. The Epistle to the Seven Churches

    4. The Epistle to the Seven Churches

    A well-known commentator on the Apocalypse has graphically pictured the aged Evangelist ascending one of the rocky heights of Patmos, and from thence, as a center, beholding on every side, even at that early dawn of the Christian era, undoubted evidences of the spread of the Gospel. Flourishing churches were planted all around, far beyond the line of the visible horizon. In Greece, those of Philippi and Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth; in the East, Jerusalem and Antioch; in the South, Cyprus, Alexandria, and Crete; westward, in Caesar’s household and Caesar’s capital; while the bearers of the glad tidings had even left the impress of their early footsteps on the shores of France and Spain, and our own remote island of Britain. He who in his former years had witnessed the whole Church of Christ contained in one upper-room in Jerusalem, had lived to see its line gone out through all the earth, and its words to the end of the world.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 28th, 2012

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    3. The Accessories of the Vision

    3. The Accessories of the Vision

    We pass from the Vision of the Lord Jesus, to a brief consideration of its accompaniments or accessories. These are threefold—The seven Golden Candlesticks: the Stars He holds in His right Hand: and the Keys of Hell (Hades) and of Death.

    THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS. This is the first of the many golden emblems we shall meet with in this Book. It unquestionably denotes the Church of Christ. The purest and rarest of the precious metals is taken to symbolize that, whose preciousness can best be estimated by the price paid for its redemption—”Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” The figure takes us at once back in thought, to the sacred furniture of a now waning, or rather, abrogated dispensation—to the one candlestick, with its branches or lamps, in the Tabernacle of the wilderness and the Holy place of the Temple—reminding us also of the similar beautiful and suggestive vision of the Prophet Zechariah, when he saw the candlestick “all of gold,” with its seven lamps fed from the upper bowl (or reservoir) of olive oil.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 23rd, 2012

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    2. The Trumpet Voice and Opening Vision

    In the preceding chapter we considered the prologue and dedication of this great Book. He who is alike the Revealer and the Revealed is now to occupy our attention. It is a befitting sequence, to pass from the announcement of the subject, to a description of the adorable Person and character of Him whose tongue of living fire dictates the immediately succeeding letters to the Seven Churches—whose Presence fills every subsequent unfolding of the prophetic roll, and whose glorious Advent is the culminating event—the terminating act of the sacred drama.

    But under what form is this description of the majestic Being, who dwells in inaccessible light, to be brought before His Church? How can even John (though ‘the eagle’ be his traditional symbol) soar upwards on his wings of love and devotion to catch a sight of the Invisible; endure the splendors of the unclouded Sun—and present the result in human words? It cannot be embodied in the usual forms of speech; and, therefore, in accordance with many antecedents in Hebrew history, this revelation of the Person of Christ is to be made, not in earthly language, but by heavenly vision.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 22nd, 2012

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    1. The Scene and Spectator

    1. The Scene and Spectator

    That evening in April can never be forgotten, when sailing through the Archipelago on the way from Palestine to Smyrna, and just as the sun was sinking in subdued splendor over its western rocky ridges, our eyes rested on the Isle of Patmos. Though privileged to enjoy, a few weeks before, the most hallowed associations of all connected with the Apostle of Love, while treading the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of the Lake of Galilee, we had expected to renew these in another form, as we were afterwards permitted to do, amid the desolate ruins of Ephesus, where his own saintly life mellowed by venerable age was closed, and where his Gospel in all probability was written. But sudden and unexpected was this new souvenir of the Gospel era, seeming to rise on the bosom of the deep like one of his own visions. The trail of golden light, brighter had it been seen half an hour before on the molten waters, was yet sufficient irresistibly to recall the description of “the Sea of Glass mingled with fire.”

    The Island itself was obscure, but it took its place thenceforward in the shrine of memory, among the world’s holiest sanctuaries. Our emotions awakened at beholding the exile home of the Beloved Disciple—the very spot where, before the eye of the rapt prophet, there passed the dream of all dreams—”the visions of God”—where the portals of heaven seemed as if they had descended and the gates of pearl had been flung open, while he heard unspeakable things which it is not possible for a man to utter!