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Full text of "The Holy Land of Asia Minor;"

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THE HOLY LAND OF ASIA MINOR 



OCT 1 7 1914 



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HOLY LAND OF ASIA MINOR 



THE SEVEN CITIES OF THE BOOK OF 
REVELATION 

THEIR PRESENT APPEARANCE, THEIR HISTORY, 

THEIR SIGNIFICANCE, 

AND THEIR MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH OF TO-DAY 



BY 

REV. FRANCIS E. CLARK, D.D., LL.D. 

AUTHOR OF "OLD HOMES OF NEW AMERICANS," "THE 
CONTINENT OF OPPORTUNITY," ETC. 



ILLUSTRATED 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1914 



COPYBIGHT, 1914, BT 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



Published September, 1914 




TO THE MEMORY 

OF 

REV. EDWARD RIGGS, D.D. 

FOR MANY TEAR3 AN HONORED MISSIONARY OF THE 
AMERICAN BOARD IN TURKEY, WHOSE COURTESY, 
PATIENCE, AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE NATIVE LANGUAGES 
SMOOTHED THE DIFFICULTIES OF OUR JOURNEY TO THE 

SEVEN CITIES 

AND WHO HAS SINCE TAKEN A LONGER JOURNEY TO THE 
NEW JERUSALEM, OF WHICH, ALSO, THE REVELATOB WROTE 



TO 
MRS. EDWARD RIGGS 

AND TO 

MY WIFE 

MY OTHER TRAVELLING COMPANIONS IN THE 

HOLY LAND OF ASIA MINOR 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED 



INTRODUCTION 

When we speak of the "Holy Land" 
we usually refer solely to the little sec- 
tion along the shores of the Mediterra- 
nean, called Palestine, which was trodden 
by the feet of our Lord and his im- 
mediate disciples. But there is another 
Holy Land and one scarcely less sacred 
to the Christian. It is the Holy Land of 
Asia Minor, especially its western part, 
which was comprised largely in the an- 
cient province of Asia. Here the Apos- 
tles laboured and taught. Here some of 
the earliest churches were formed. Here 
martyrs suffered for their faith as in no 
other part of the world. 

Over these hills (and a traveller in 
Asia Minor is never out of sight of them) 

• • 

vu 



viii INTRODUCTION 

and along these river-courses Paul made 
his toilsome way, and Timothy and John 
Mark, and, in later years, Irenaeus and 
Polycarp and others scarcely less distin- 
guished in the history of the church. 

Through the ports of Smyrna and 
Ephesus so many eminent Christians 
and church fathers sailed on their way 
to Rome and to death that they were 
called "The Gateways of the Martyrs." 

Here Christianity received its earliest 
development as a universal religion, a 
faith for Jew and gentile alike. 

Above all, it was here that the gentle 
Apostle who leaned on Jesus' breast 
planted his churches and watched over 
them with more than a father's solici- 
tude, rejoicing in the steadfastness of 
some, mourning over the declension of 
others, and to them he wrote the mes- 
sages inspired by the Spirit of God which 
have been for the encouragement, the 
comfort, the warning, the rebuke of the 






INTRODUCTION ix 

churches in all the continents and in all 
the ages since. 

In this Holy Land of Asia Minor, as 
we shall see, were the churches that 
epitomised all the churches of the future, 
and as to-day we wander beside the 
Meander and the Caicus and the golden 
Pactolus; as we stand beside the ruins of 
Satan's Throne"; as we go through the 
open door" to the Regions Beyond, 
which the church of Philadelphia entered 
and the church of Laodicea refused to 
enter; as we think of those who, among 
these hills and valleys, preached and 
wrought and suffered and lived and died 
for their Lord, and who have left their 
undying impress upon the churches in all 
the ages, we say to ourselves: "Take off 
thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place 
whereon thou standest is holy ground." 

It had long been my dream and hope 
that some time I might visit the site of 



x INTRODUCTION 

the Seven Cities of Asia. Recently, in 
connection with other duties, I was able 
to carry out my long-cherished design of 
visiting the sites of these seven historic 
cities. It was considered just at that 
time, in March, 1912, a somewhat fool- 
hardy attempt by many of my friends, 
since Turkey was at war with her neigh- 
bours, her harbours were mined and in 
danger of bombardment, and an out- 
break of cholera was threatened at any 
moment. However, the lions disappeared 
as they were faced, and we found no 
serious difficulty, though some hard- 
ships and many inconveniences, in visit- 
ing Ephesus and Smyrna, Pergamos and 
Thyatira, and Sardis and Philadelphia 
and Laodicea. 

It is surprising how few people attempt 
to visit, at least in any consecutive man- 
ner, these cities of the Apocalypse. Jeru- 
salem numbers its pilgrims by tens of 
thousands. Bethlehem, Nazareth, Da- 



INTRODUCTION xi 

mascus have fewer, but still a great com- 
pany each year. But the Seven Cities of 
Asia Minor to which the Alpha and 
Omega wrote wonderful messages, which 
were not for them alone but for the 
churches of all time, are seldom visited 
and still more seldom described. Li- 
braries of volumes have been written 
about Jerusalem and the holy places of 
Palestine, but the literature of the holy 
places of Asia Minor is scanty indeed. 

Ephesus, being but a short distance 
from the great port of Smyrna, is visited 
by many tourists, or at least many get as 
far as Ayasolouk, the railroad station 
three miles from the ruins of ancient 
Ephesus, though many of these tourists 
are satisfied with a hasty glimpse of the 
ruins of the Church of Saint John, so 
called, the few scattering marbles that 
mark the site of the ancient Temple of 
Diana, and a good dinner at the Ephesus 
Hotel, after which they return on a fast 



xii INTRODUCTION 

train to Smyrna and the steamer which 
brought them there, having accomplished 
their hasty mission to one of the Seven 
Churches in the space of some five hours. 
Even the missionaries and Christian 
workers who live in the country have 
seldom been permitted by their arduous 
duties to visit these sites of such intense 
interest to the Christian. But such a 
journey now is altogether practicable. 

Since the Young Turks came into 
power the former restrictions and annoy- 
ances that attended travel in Turkey 
have been largely removed. The Turk- 
ish custom-house has no longer any terror 
for the honest traveller. The officials 
are polite and courteous and are willing 
to give what information they possess. 
The meagre railway service of Turkey 
has been extended of late years so that 
the traveller can go by rail to six of the 
Seven Cities, and he can travel with as 
much safety to life and limb, if not with 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

as much comfort, as he can in England 
or America. On one line of railway, which 
is controlled by a British company, he 
can, by starting from Smyrna, visit 
Ephesus and Laodicea and the no less 
interesting Hierapolis, which lie to the 
south and east of Smyrna. By another 
line he can reach, in a few hours, Sar- 
dis and Philadelphia, which are almost 
directly east of Smyrna. Going north 
from Sardis, on a branch line, he comes 
to Thyatira. Northeast of Thyatira is 
Soma, the present terminus of this French 
line of railway. A six-hour journey from 
Soma by araba or on horseback brings 
him to Pergamos, where " Satan's Throne " 
was, the only one of the Seven Cities 
which is not directly on a railway line. 

There are many by-products of such a 
journey which should not be forgotten, 
though not of chief interest to the Chris- 
tian traveller. The scenery in which 
one finds himself in visiting the Seven. 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

Churches is grand and picturesque, almost 
beyond the power of expression. The trav- 
eller is never far from lofty mountains, 
at some seasons of the year snow-capped, 
at other times cloud-capped, but always 
magnificently impressive. The curious 
serrated walls and battlements of the 
hills in the vicinity of Sardis and Phila- 
delphia, worn by the gnawing tooth of 
time into a thousand fantastic shapes, 
are worth going far to see. 

At other times the traveller finds him- 
self journeying up the peaceful valley of 
the serpentine Meander, or crossing by 
stepping-stones the waters of the fabu- 
lously rich Pactolus, or looking down from 
the acropolis of Pergamos upon the beau- 
tiful green valley of the Caicus. He will 
see much that will interest him in the 
Turkish villages and larger towns, in the 
cosmopolitan population of the region, 
with its many types of humanity and its 
vast variety of costume. If he is not too 



INTRODUCTION xv 

squeamish he will enjoy the nights in a 
Turkish khan, or a Greek hotel, or the 
restaurant where no one has the fear of 
microbes before his eyes, and where the 
edict against the pestiferous fly has not 
gone forth. 

The archaeologist will find more in 
this ancient province of Asia to interest 
him than in any similar portion of the 
earth's surface, more great cities of an- 
tiquity awaiting the pick and shovel of the 
excavater, more ruins of magnificent tem- 
ples, palaces, gymnasiums, and theatres, 
than he can find elsewhere in the same 
space if he should search the world around. 

But our interest in these chapters lies 
chiefly in the religious significance of the 
Seven Cities of Asia, for they still have a 
meaning and a message for every city in 
the world and for every Christian as well. 

While this book is largely a record 
of personal experiences and conclusions, 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

the best authorities have been consulted, 
and the author desires to express his 
especial obligation to Sir William Ram- 
say, whose researches in Asia Minor and 
whose illuminating books have made the 
whole religious world his debtor. 

Much of the material in these chapters 
was printed serially in the Christian 
Herald, and the kindly reception it re- 
ceived has induced the author to put it 
in more permanent form. 

Boston, June, 1914. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTEB p AGH 

I. The Revelator and the Revelation 3 

II. Ephesus, the Church of Waning 

Enthusiasm 14 

III. Smyrna, the City of the Noble Crown 33 

IV. Pergamos, the City of Satan's Seat 52 

V. Thyatira, the City of the Iron Rod 

and the Morning Star .... 73 

VI. Sardis, the Buried City .... 92 

VII. Philadelphia, the City of the Open 

Door 113 

VIII. Laodicea the Lukewarm .... 135 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING 
PAGE 



Grotto of St. John, Isle of Patmos, in which, by- 
tradition, he saw the visions in Revelation. 
The Monastery of St. John on the hill-top . . 6 

Ruins of the Double Church of Ephesus ... 24 

Ruins of the theatre, Ephesus 26 

Ancient Roman aqueduct, near Smyrna ... 34 

Two famous mosques of Smyrna 40 

Ruins of the gateway to the theatre of Pergamos. 
The city is seen through the archway in the 
distance 58 

Some modern Pergamonians 66 

Ruins of Roman bath of Pergamos, dating from 
early Christian times. Part of this bath is 
used as a Greek Orthodox church to-day . . 70 

Street in modern Thyatira 74 

An ancient sarcophagus of Thyatira converted 
into a fountain. A Turkish bey (or feudal 
lord), a Greek Protestant pastor, and Dr. 
Clark. The bey in the centre 84 

Sardis. The excavations in April, 1910 . . . 94 

xix 



xx ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING 
PAGE 



The old acropolis of Sardis, part of which fell and 
buried the city in 17 B. C. House of the Amer- 
ican excavaters at the right 104 

Sardis. The excavations as they are to-day . . 106 

Some of the very few objects as yet discovered at 
Philadelphia — ancient Greek funeral monu- 
ments 120 

Ancient sarcophagus at Philadelphia made into a 
fountain. Two eminent missionaries, Dr. and 
Mrs. Riggs, standing at either side .... 122 

Ruins of the fortress of Laodicea 144 



THE HOLY LAND OF ASIA MINOR 



THE HOLY LAND OF 
ASIA MINOR 

CHAPTER I 

THE REVELATOR AND THE 
REVELATION 

How magnificently the message to the 
seven churches is prefaced: "Grace be 
unto you and peace," says the revelator, 
"from him which is and which was and 
which is to come, and from the seven 
spirits which are before the throne, and 
from Jesus Christ who is a faithful wit- 
ness, and the first-begotten of the Head, 
and the prince of the kings of the earth." 
Was ever a series of letters begun in such 
an exalted strain! "The Alpha and the 



4 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, 
the Lord who is and was and is to come, 
the Almighty One," told the revelator 
what to write and what to send to 
Ephesus and Smyrna and Pergamos and 
Thyatira and Sardis and Philadelphia 
and Laodicea. 

A pathetic interest is added to the 
preface to these letters in the personal 
and intimate word of greeting from John, 
the scribe of the Spirit, "your brother and 
companion in tribulation," as he calls 
himself, "and in the kingdom and pa- 
tience of Christ." He had need of pa- 
tience, indeed, for in his old age he had 
come to a period of the severest Ro- 
man persecutions, probably in the reign 
of Domitian, most cruel of persecutors. 
His punishment took place, we are told, 
"at a time when the penalty for Chris- 
tianity was already fixed as death in the 
severer form, that is, by fire or cruci- 
fixion, or as a public spectacle at games 



THE REVELATOR 5 

or festivals for persons of humbler pro- 
fession or provincials, and simple exe- 
cution for Roman citizens. . . . Banish- 
ment, combined with hard labour for life, 
was one of the grave penalties. Many 
Christians were punished in that way. 
It was a penalty for humbler criminals, 
provincials, and slaves. It was in its 
worst forms a terrible fate; like the 
death penalty it was preceded by scourg- 
ing, and was marked by perpetual fetters, 
scanty clothing, insufficient food, sleep 
on the bare ground in a dark prison, and 
work under the lash of military over- 
seers. It is an unavoidable conclusion 
that this was Saint John's punishment." 
As we think of this fate, which would 
be so terrible for any one who was not 
"in the spirit" and who could not see 
the vision of the new heaven and the 
new earth, we find a new and tear- 
compelling pathos in the words: "Your 
companion in tribulation and in the 



6 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, 
who was in the isle that is called Pat- 
nios, for the word of God and for the 
testimony of Jesus Christ." 

Patmos is one of the group of islands 
called the Sporades. It is now called 
Patino, and lies twenty-four miles dis- 
tant from the coast of Asia Minor, a 
little south of Ephesus. It is a tiny 
little islet compared with some of its 
larger neighbours, and has an area of 
only sixteen square miles and at pres- 
ent a population of four thousand souls. 
In John's time there were still fewer in- 
habitants. Yet before the days of re- 
corded time the island was inhabited, 
for cyclopean remains are found there 
which show its prehistoric antiquity. It 
is said that in the Middle Ages it was 
called Palmosa because of its numerous 
palm-trees, but the traveller who to-day 
sees its scorched hillsides, its scanty, 
seared vegetation, and its forbidding 



THE REVELATOR 7 

rocks can scarcely believe that it ever 
deserved this name. 

There are not many things of great in- 
terest in Patmos except as the memory 
and the spirit of Saint John suffuses 
every landscape with his gentle spirit of 
love. There is, however, the Cave of the 
Apocalypse, in which, tradition tells us, 
the Apostle saw the vision which he has 
recorded in the last book of the New 
Testament. There is also the Monas- 
tery of Saint John, founded eight hun- 
dred years ago, which once contained 
an important and valuable library now 
found in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. 

But it is not what Saint John saw in 
Patmos that interests us, but what he 
saw far away as he looked out from his 
island prison. Looking to the north and 
east, he could doubtless see the great 
mountains of Asia Minor, among which 
lay the seven churches to which the letters 
were written. 



8 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

The scenery and situation of Patmos 
give us a key to much of the imagery 
of the book of Revelation. Patmos was 
one of the islands of an archipelago. High 
and rocky headlands could be seen on 
every side, and around all, shutting him 
in from country and plain and fellow dis- 
ciples, was the mysterious sea, the real 
prison wall, mysterious and dangerous. 
As we think of this situation of the aged 
seer we can more fully understand his 
imagery when he tells us that "every 
mountain and island shall be moved out 
of their places"; "that every island fled 
away and the mountains were not found." 
Everywhere throughout Revelation we 
read of the sea: the things that are "in 
the heaven and in the earth and in the 
sea"; "the mountains which shall be 
cast into the sea"; "the angel that stood 
with his right foot upon the sea"; 'the 
sound of many waters," and at last, 
toward the end, the revelation that must 



THE REVELATOR 9 

have seemed so joyous to this sea-im- 
prisoned saint, the revelation of the time 
when there shall be "no more sea." 

In writing the Apocalypse Saint John 
adopted a common literary style of Jew- 
ish writers called the apocalyptic style. 
It was not exactly prophecy, though al- 
lied to prophecy, and the letters to the 
Seven Churches were not epistles intended 
to be read to the churches, but to be 
read together with the rest of the book of 
Revelation. The Seven Churches to which 
they were addressed stood as representa- 
tives of seven groups of churches, and 
yet all the Seven Churches were not of 
equal importance. Smyrna, Ephesus, 
and Pergamos were three of the great 
cities of Saint John's time; three of the 
mighty capitals of the world. Phila- 
delphia and Thyatira were humbler cities, 
cities of the second class we should call 
them. Sardis had had a magnificent his- 
tory and perhaps even then might have 



10 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

been numbered with the three foremost 
cities already mentioned, though it had 
lost much of the ancient glory and im- 
portance which it had when it was the 
capital of Crcesus and of Cyrus the Great. 

Laodicea lay at some distance from 
Ephesus, its nearest neighbour among the 
seven, and though by no means equal to 
the great four was an important centre 
of trade and commerce, not far from two 
other large centres with which the Bible 
also makes us familiar, Hierapolis and 
Colossae. 

The Seven Cities were evidently cho- 
sen not because they were all the greatest 
and most important, but because they 
were representative cities and each was 
a centre of other churches. It is sup- 
posed, too, that each of them was a postal 
centre; and, though the government had 
established no letter route, commercial 
houses had already done so, and the 
Christians of the different churches in 



THE REVELATOR 11 

the vicinity followed their example and 
were in peculiarly close communication 
with the other churches in their particu- 
lar group. 

Each church had its own individuality, 
but each was also a representative of 
other churches, and it may be said that 
the seven epitomised all churches in all 
ages — churches which were ardent and 
faithful; churches that had lost their 
early enthusiasm; churches that har- 
boured heresy and unbelief; churches 
that temporised with the world; churches 
that did not rebuke sin in its grossest 
forms; and, on the other hand, churches 
that maintained the faith, kept their 
early zeal aglow, reprobated the wrong, 
stood steadfast unto the end, and which 
should receive at last the crown of life. 
Such were the Seven Churches of Asia, 
and such are the seventy times seven 
thousand churches of to-day. In this 
universal quality lies the special interest 



n THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

of the Seven Churches of Asia to us of the 
twentieth century. As the great French 
preacher, Bossuet, said when contem- 
plating the book of Revelation: "All the 
beauties of the Scripture are concen- 
trated in this book; all that is most 
touching, most vivid, most majestic in 
the law and in the prophets, receives 
here a new splendour and passes again 
before our eyes that we may be filled 
with the consolations and the graces of 
all past ages." 

In succeeding chapters we will visit 
each of the Seven Cities, see them as they 
look to-day in their ruins or inhabited 
with their twentieth-century population; 
consider their present characteristics as 
we try to recall their ancient glories; 
look upon the mountains that tower 
above them, the streams that peacefully 
wend their way through them, and the 
unchanging yet ever-changing clouds and 
sky that bend above them; thus we hum- 



THE REVELATOR 13 

bly hope to make more vivid and real to 
our readers the messages to the Seven 
Churches which were in Asia. 



CHAPTER II 

EPHESUS, THE CHURCH OF 
WANING ENTHUSIASM 

I know of no passage in the Bible which 
is more important for the modern church 
to read and ponder than the message 
to the ancient church in Ephesus. This 
church had many good points and is 
praised for its good works; nor is it con- 
demned unqualifiedly in any respect as 
are some of the Seven Churches. But it 
had lost its first love. The fine enthu- 
siasm of its earliest days, when Paul lived 
there and when Timothy, Aquila, Pris- 
cilla, Tychicus, and Apollos helped to 
mould its character, had evaporated. 

This message was probably written 
some thirty years after the founding of 

14 



EPHESUS 15 

the church by Saint Paul. The luxury, 
the intellectual atmosphere of which the 
inhabitants were so proud, the spirit of 
criticism and unbelief, the natural ac- 
companiment of such an atmosphere, the 
undue emphasis on Christian liberty, had 
all united to bring about a degeneration 
in the sturdy fibre of the early Christian- 
ity of the Ephesian church. 

This church has ten thousand proto- 
types to-day. Churches that are active 
and zealous in philanthropies, whose be- 
nevolences are unstinted, whose patient 
continuance in well-doing is to be com- 
mended, and yet they have lost their 
enthusiasm, their joy in service, their 
aggressive, compelling power to awaken 
sinners and turn them to Christ. 

In a recent article describing an at- 
tempt to evangelise a community where 
various social means were used to inter- 
est the people and where a Gospel address 
concluded the effort, the writer takes 



16 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

much pains to declare that there was no 
emotion and to repeat that "emotional 
excitement was entirely absent." I im- 
agine the same thing might have been 
said of the church of Ephesus. It had 
left its "first love"; it had lost its emo- 
tion, and, consequently, though it did 
good work and laboured with patience, 
it was not doing its "first works' with 
the zeal and love and holy joy of its 
earliest days. 

The site of a church which has so 
much in common with many churches of 
these latter days is of peculiar interest. 
To visit it we started from the great sea- 
port of Smyrna, where was situated also, 
as we remember, one of the Seven Churches 
of Revelation. The journey to Ephesus 
is by no means a long or arduous one. 
Indeed, so short and easy is it that more 
tourists by far visit the site of ancient 
Ephesus each year than all the other six 
together. 



EPHESUS 17 

We take the train at the substantial 
Caravan Bridge station, in the heart of 
Smyrna. A score or more of two-horse 
public carriages are hurrying passengers, 
each with a great pile of miscellaneous 
baggage, to the station. Ragged camels, 
loaded with huge panniers on either side, 
dispute the way with the modern landaus. 
On the railway platform boys are selling 
the morning papers. Others tempt the 
passengers with large rings of bread 
hung upon a long pole, while others offer 
for sale rahatlakoum, or Turkish delight, 
or perhaps refresh the thirsty traveller 
with booza, a concoction far more harm- 
less than its name sounds, or with silep, 
a drink made from orchid roots with a 
sprinkling of cinnamon and ginger on 
top. 

Soon the train pulls into the station 
from Smyrna Point, and we take our seats 
in a comfortable car built mainly after 
the American style, though the train also 



18 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

contains some small compartments for 
travellers who do not like to mingle with 
hoi polloi. 

Our train may be said to start in a 
cemetery, for the Caravan Bridge station 
is barely outside of a great cypress grove 
which contains two large Turkish ceme- 
teries with their leaning and dilapidated 
and altogether disreputable headstones. 
A minute or two after pulling out of the 
station we pass the burial-ground of the 
Jews, and another of the Christians, with 
beautiful monuments of white marble. 

Every rod of the way has its peculiar 
interest to the traveller. Under frown- 
ing Mount Pagus, crowned with the 
ruins of the ancient citadel, the rail- 
way passes and ascends a lovely valley, 
through which chatters a beautiful brook. 
A magnificent aqueduct, built only two 
centuries ago, spans the valley, and 
higher up is a far older aqueduct which 
takes us back, perhaps, to Roman times. 



EPHESUS 19 

At the first stop, four miles out of the 
city, the guard cries out: "Paradise! 
Paradise!" We are not looking for para- 
dise in Turkey, but if any place in the 
Sultan's domains deserves the name it is 
doubtless this little station, for here are 
the fine buildings of the International 
College of Smyrna, an American Chris- 
tian college manned by American teach- 
ers and built by liberal donations of 
American money. Here are gathered 
hundreds of students of different races 
and languages, to be trained not only in 
the lore of the schools but in the higher 
knowledge which is "the beginning of 
wisdom." 

Every few miles we stop at some little 
Turkish town, but few of them have any 
special interest for the modern travel- 
ler, though each of them has a history 
that runs back thousands of years, and 
through each of them has probably passed 
victorious or defeated armies, marching 



20 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

proudly in their triumph or straggling 
dejectedly in their defeat. 

Everywhere are hills; the narrow val- 
ley through which we pass is by them 
guarded closely on every side. Every- 
where, too — at least when we made the 
journey, in the early spring — are beauti- 
ful flowers. Gorgeous anemones, scarlet 
and purple and white, some of the blos- 
soms as large as a silver dollar, make the 
banks of the railway gay. 

After two and a half hours, some forty- 
eight miles from Smyrna, "Ayasolouk" 
is called by the guard with stentorian 
voice, and we find that we have come 
to the railway station of the Church of 
Waning Enthusiasms that Saint John and 
Saint Paul knew. Ayasolouk, which 
means "Holy Theologian" (referring to 
Saint John), is itself full of interesting 
ruins. Before we step off the railway 
train the great Roman aqueduct looms 
upon the landscape, an aqueduct so 



EPHESUS 21 

enormous that it can be seen when many 
miles away. In the wretched little vil- 
lage of Ayasolouk, which now boasts only 
a few hundred inhabitants, the pillars of 
this aqueduct, forty-five feet tall, stand 
high above the huts like enormous monu- 
ments, on the tops of which the storks 
have built their nests and at the base of 
which they stalk about majestically, sure 
that their sacred character will protect 
them from harm. 

Just beyond the columns of the mighty 
aqueduct we come to an ancient gate 
which leads to the ruins of the Church of 
Saint John, whose enormous size shows 
how huge was the basilica dedicated to 
the writer of Revelation, while not far 
away are the well-preserved ruins of a 
great Turkish mosque. 

But the most interesting spot in Ayaso- 
louk is that which once contained one of 
the seven wonders of the world, none 
other than the temple of "the great god- 



22 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

dess Diana, whom all Asia and the in- 
habited earth worshippeth," as Deme- 
trius, the silversmith, proclaimed. This 
is the temple concerning whose goddess 
the mob that would have killed Saint 
Paul cried out for the space of two hours 
in the theatre: "Great is Diana of the 
Ephesians." Or, more likely, it was an 
invocation to the goddess which they 
repeated vociferously for two hours: 
"Great Diana of the Ephesians!' 

It is hard to realise as one looks at the 
few marbles that are left on the swampy 
site near Ayasolouk, stones often covered 
with water, that this could have been the 
site of one of the wonders of the world, a 
temple that rivalled in magnificence, if it 
did not excel, the Taj Mahal of Agra, 
the most perfect example of ecclesiastical 
architecture that the world knows to-day. 

We must hurry on to the ruins of the 
Roman city of Ephesus, some two miles 
beyond Ayasolouk. Here one who longs 



EPHESUS 23 

to follow in the footsteps of the saints 
feels that he is indeed on holy ground. 
Much of the ancient city has been ex- 
cavated. On these marble pavements, 
doubtless, Paul and Apollos walked, per- 
haps arm in arm, as they talked over the 
affairs of the infant church and the prog- 
ress of the kingdom of the Master whom 
they loved. Over these pavements, too, 
doubtless, John walked in rapt contem- 
plation of the things which afterward he 
might reveal. According to the ancient 
legend, which, unlike many legends, has 
marks of verisimilitude, in his extreme 
old age the saint was carried through 
the streets of the city day by day, saying 
to his disciples: "Little children, love one 
another!" 

The poet Eastwood has beautifully 
told this story in his lines about Saint 
John the Aged: 

"What say you, friends? 
That this is Ephesus and Christ has gone 



24 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Back to His kingdom? Ay, 'tis so, 'tis so: 
I know it all: and yet, just now, I seemed 
To stand once more upon my native hills, 
And touch my master. . . . 
Up! Bear me to my church once more, 
There let me tell them of a Saviour's love: 
For by the sweetness of my Master's voice 
I think He must be very near. 

"So, raise up my head: 
How dark it is! I cannot seem to see 
The faces of my flock. Is that the sea 
That murmurs so, or is it weeping? Hush! 
'My little children! God so loved the world 
He gave His Son: so love ye one another, 
Love God and men. Amen.' " 

In one of these side streets which lead 
out of the main marble thoroughfare 
very likely Priscilla and Aquila wrought 
at their trade, perhaps with Paul's help, 
during the long winter evenings. 

There are so many spots of supreme 
historical and Biblical interest about 
Ephesus that a volume might be written, 
as many volumes have been written in 
the past, about this most fascinating 




Ruins of the Double Church of Ephesus. 



EPHESUS 25 

city. Here is the great " Double Church," 
so called, where one of the important 
councils of the church was held. Here 
are ruins of tombs, one of which is 
called the tomb of Saint Luke, and the 
temples of many gods, the ruins of the 
agora, or market-place, of the great gym- 
nasium, of the stadium where the Gre- 
cian youths exercised themselves, more in 
physical than intellectual life, somewhat 
according to the custom of the youth of 
our own day. 

But perhaps the most interesting of 
these perfect ruins is that of the great 
theatre, capable of seating 24,500 people. 
As in all these old theatres, the seats 
followed the semicircular excavation in 
the hillside. The marble slabs on which 
the people of Ephesus sat as they wit- 
nessed the games have been taken away, 
though it is not difficult to mark their 
former position. In the proscenium are 
heaped together in endless confusion 



26 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

capitals and friezes and drums of columns 
and architraves. Here it was that the 
mob shouted their praise of Diana for 
two long hours. Here it was that at last 
the town clerk of Ephesus quieted the 
people by telling them that every one 
knew that Ephesus was the temple-keeper 
of the great goddess Diana and of the 
image that fell down from Jupiter, and 
thus, by his shrewd opportunism and ap- 
peal to their religious pride, he quieted 
the people, assuring them that Paul and 
his companions were neither robbers of 
temples nor yet blasphemers of the god- 
dess, and that Demetrius, if he had any- 
thing against them, could prosecute them 
in the courts. 

As we stand in the theatre to-day we 
can hear in imagination the hoarse shouts 
of the angry mob as they monotonously 
invoked the goddess. We can hear the 
politic words of the town clerk and see 
Alexander the Jew vainly trying to gain 




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EPHESUS 27 

a hearing from the people who would not 
listen to a despised Israelite. 

But the message in Revelation comes 
to a church that has escaped its early 
dangers, and that, likewise, as is often 
the case, has lost its early enthusiasm. 
In Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians there 
is no indication that he noticed any spir- 
itual declension. His words are words 
of confidence and approbation, quite dif- 
ferent from his letter to the Galatians 
and the Colossians. 

But a generation had passed when 
Saint John wrote the book of Revelation, 
and though their works and the labour 
and the patience of the Ephesian church 
and its reprobation of evil are still known, 
yet the Master has somewhat against 
it. It had lost its first love. "No evil 
is more marked among the Christian 
churches of this day," said Horace Bush- 
nell, "than precisely the absence of this 
spirit of burning which the Ephesians 



28 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

lacked. There is plenty of liberality and 
effort, there is much interest in religious 
questions, there is genial tolerance and 
wide culture, there is a high standard of 
morality and, on the whole, a tolerable 
adherence to it, but there is little love 
and little fervour. Where is that Spirit 
which was poured out on Pentecost? 
Where are the cloven tongues of fire? 
Where the flames that Christ died to 
light up?" 

For this lack of its earlier and more 
fervent zeal the Ephesian church is 
warned to remember whence it has fallen 
and to repent and do the first works, 
or else the Master will come quickly and 
remove the candlestick out of its place. 
This threatened penalty has been under- 
stood to mean not an utter destruction 
of the church of Ephesus but as indicat- 
ing that the church would be removed to 
another spot. Grotius interprets it: "I 
will cause thy population to flee away to 
another place." 



EPHESUS 29 

Sir William Ramsay characterises Eph- 
esus as the "city of change." And 
truly it has seen marvellous changes and 
its inhabitants many removals. In the 
days of Saint Paul and Saint John 
Ephesus was a city of the seacoast; the 
waters of the iEgean lapped its busy 
wharves; now the traveller in Ephesus 
cannot imagine that he is near the sea. 
To all appearances he is as far away as 
on one of our inland prairies. The 
Cayster during all these ages has brought 
down mud and silt from the mountains 
until now Ephesus is miles from the sea- 
shore. Even in Saint John's time the 
port was kept open only by strenuous 
effort and constant dredging. 

These changes wrought by nature have 
compelled frequent changes on the part 
of the inhabitants. "The original city 
was built not far from Ayasolouk, and 
the whole Ephesian valley was an arm 
of the sea dotted with rocky islands and 
bordered by picturesque mountains and 



30 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

wooded promontories," we are told. As 
the sea receded in the course of the cen- 
turies the population moved with it, 
until the Roman city, the city of Saint 
Paul and Saint John, was some miles 
from the original site. At last this port 
became impossible, and the inhabitants 
moved farther back, nearer to the site 
of the more ancient city, where to-day 
the few inhabitants that still remain are 
found. 

In its government as well as its situ- 
ation Ephesus has been a city of change. 
Among the earliest inhabitants the Phoe- 
nicians introduced their religion, and 
the people worshipped the symbol of 
the moon as the goddess of the sea; the 
priests were named "king bees" and the 
priestesses "bees," and bands of armed 
women as well as men — for suffragettes 
then had all their rights — formed the 
temple guard. 

Then came the Ionians, a thousand 



EPHESUS 31 

years before Christ, who had to fight 
with the armed virgins, afterward known 
as Amazons. Following them came the 
Greeks as conquerors, who in turn were 
conquered by Croesus, and he by Cyrus 
the Great and later by Xerxes. Then 
came Alexander the Great as the ruler 
of the world, who made Ephesus one of 
its chief capitals. Octavius Caesar with 
Mark Antony, after the battle of Phi- 
lippi, were the rulers of the city. Under 
all these monarchs it maintained its 
pre-eminence, and the great temple of 
Diana was its chief glory. The Ephesians 
were even proud of the title of Neocori, 
or "Temple-Sweepers " of the great Diana. 
In Christian times it was important 
ecclesiastically and politically, and in the 
Middle Ages the Church of Saint John 
at Ayasolouk was almost as famous as 
the old temple of Diana. Its annual rev- 
enues amounted to nearly one hundred 
thousand dollars. Then came the Turks 



32 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

in the twelfth century, and there they 
have been ever since. Truly it has been 
a city of change in every sense of the word. 
The Lord's prophecy has been fulfilled, 
and the "lamp of the church," as the 
"candlestick" should be translated, with 
its light and glory, has been removed out 
of its place. 

For a time the warning of Saint John 
seemed to have had a good effect. The 
church was revived and regained its 
first love, according to Ignatius, but in 
later centuries it again lost its enthusiasm 
and its devotion; and at last the Moham- 
medan crescent supplanted the Christian 
cross. The church was, indeed, removed 
out of its place and that forever. Every 
memorial that there was once a church 
there has departed, and not one Christian 
family now lives in the desolation, the 
dry land, and the wilderness that Ephe- 
sus has become. 



CHAPTER III 

SMYRNA, THE CITY OF THE 
NOBLE CROWN 

It is an interesting fact, and perhaps 
not altogether without genuine spiritual 
significance, that Smyrna, the only city 
of the seven except Philadelphia whose 
church receives from the Master un- 
qualified praise, is also the only city of 
the seven which is to-day great and 
prosperous. Next to Constantinople, it 
is the largest and most important city 
of the Turkish Empire. Its situation, 
too, is almost as fine as the peerless site 
of the city on the Bosphorus. 

Seated majestically on rising ground 
on the southeast shore of the Gulf of 
Smyrna, it seems as one looks from its 
wharves as though built on the banks 

33 



34 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

of a great inland lake. A large island 
blocks the view as one gazes out to the 
iEgean, and yet the entrance is so deep 
and safe, and the harbour itself so spa- 
cious, that, according to the hackneyed 
saying, the navies of the world can ride 
at the water-front of Smyrna. 

To be sure, the city has no mighty 
Olympus to keep guard over it as has 
Salonica; it has no narrow thoroughfare 
through which constantly ply the vessels 
of many nations as has Constantinople; 
but it has glories all its own. Splendid 
mountains surround it on almost every 
side. Mount Pagus, the old citadel of 
Smyrna, up whose steep side many of 
the houses of modern Smyrna are climb- 
ing, is like a great fist, as some one has 
expressed it, thrust out by the hills be- 
hind the city and connected with the 
mountain ranges to the south — a fist 
which in the early days, when crowned 
with a mighty fortress and manned by 



SMYRNA 35 

tens of thousands of soldiers, seemed to 
be shaken threateningly in the face of 
every invader. 

I have approached Smyrna both from 
the sea and from the land, and whether 
one journeys across the iEgean from 
Athens, after an eighteen hours' voyage, 
or comes overland from Constantinople 
by rail, a long two days' journey, he is 
impressed not only with the picturesque- 
ness of the situation but also by the 
seeming vigour and vitality of the city. 
Though Smyrna claims to be at least 
three thousand five hundred years old, 
and her recorded history goes back for 
nearly three thousand years, she is as 
alert, enterprising, and busy as though 
she had her birth in the last century, on 
one of our own great lakes, instead of 
on the shore of the oldest sea of the civi- 
lised world. 

Let us in imagination go ashore from 
one of the great black steamers of the 



36 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Messageries Maritime. We land on a 
noisy, bustling quay alongside of which 
runs a little horse-railway. Great ships 
from most of the leading ports of the 
world are tied up to the quay by their 
stern. On the other side of this broad 
street, the only one in Smyrna to which 
this adjective can be applied, are large 
warehouses and one or two pretentious 
hotels. 

Passing through a cross street, we come 
to the great business artery of Smyrna, 
the so-called "Frank Street," which has 
doubtless obtained its name from the 
fact that so many Franks, a generic name 
for foreigners, do business on it. This 
street is only fifteen feet wide, and yet it 
is the chief business thoroughfare of a 
city of a quarter of a million inhabitants. 
Two people stretching out their arms and 
touching hands in the middle could span 
the street, and yet through it hurries a 
constant stream of foot-passengers, dash- 



SMYRNA 37 

ing cabs, stately camels, donkeys and 
donkey-boys, beasts of burden and men 
of burden, carrying every conceivable 
article that people of the Orient or the 
Occident might want; for this is one of 
the chief cities where East and West meet 
on a common footing. 

At its upper end Frank Street de- 
bouches into one of the ever-fascinating 
Oriental bazaars. A celebrated English 
author speaks of these bazaars as " a net- 
work of narrow, ill-paved, dirty lanes" 
forming the great business centre of 
Smyrna. Everything is sold in these 
dismal quarters, he says, "and they 
doubtless give a faithful picture, in the 
unchanging East, of the Smyrna of the 
days of the Apostles." 

There is no doubt that these bazaars 
are narrow, ill paved, and dirty, but they 
cannot be said to be dismal, for there is 
no mart of trade in all the world that has 
more kaleidoscopic changes, more bril- 



38 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

liant colours, or, to the stranger, more 
interesting people than the bazaars of 
Smyrna. Here every trade is being car- 
ried on under your very eye; all the 
goods, so to speak, are in the shop-win- 
dows. Not that there are any shop- 
windows or windows of any other kind 
in these bazaars, which are lighted from 
the open ends and from apertures in the 
roof, but every merchant has brought 
all his goods to the front, and usually 
sits cross-legged behind them, waiting 
for a customer, while he sips his thick 
coffee and reads the paper or the Koran. 
Some of the bazaar merchants of 
Smyrna, however, are more enterprising 
than their brethren in other cities, and 
send out touts and barkers to induce you 
to patronise their shops, especially those 
who, to tempt the unsophisticated for- 
eigner, deal in curios, ancient armour, 
antiquated daggers and weapons, all of 
which very likely were made day before 



SMYRNA 39 

yesterday. It is hard to shake off these 
persistent salesmen, who plead with you 
a thousand times over to "Come, visit 
my shop? Very fine antikkers. You no 
need buy anything; you just look!" If, 
however, one is beguiled to go and look, 
he will find it exceedingly difficult to get 
away from the wily, persistent merchant 
without buying some trinkets for which 
he will afterward find but little use. 

Jewellers and money-changers, rug- 
dealers and saddlers, spice-merchants 
and sellers of figs and dates and oranges 
and grains, shoe-stores and fez-shops, 
hardware and dry-goods and guns, are 
all mixed up in endless confusion, or at 
least appear so to the newcomer. At one 
end of the bazaar we hear a tremendous 
din, as though we were approaching a 
dozen boiler-shops, but we find that we 
are only drawing near to the copper 
bazaar, where the workmen are labori- 
ously pounding out bowls and platters 



40 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

and water-pots and saucepans and dishes 
of all shapes and sizes. Through these 
bazaars drivers with two-horse phaetons 
are constantly charging, and the un- 
lucky foot-passenger must flatten himself 
against the wall to avoid being crushed 
either by a carriage or a loaded camel. 
All sorts of vehicles and four-footed 
creatures as well as human bipeds are 
straggling or rushing through the shops 
instead of through the streets where they 
would seem to belong. 

Not far from the bazaars is Fish-market 
Street, another interesting though some- 
what unsavoury and ill-smelling thorough- 
fare. Here fine mackerel, sole, and cod 
have to compete for popularity with the 
humble squid, the hideous devil-fish, the 
octopus, and the inky cuttlefish. The 
streets are all narrow and tortuous, and 
there are fewer fine buildings, mosques, 
and churches than either in Salonica or 
Constantinople. 





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SMYRNA 41 

Architecturally Smyrna must have de- 
generated since the ancient days, for we 
are told that then the streets were broad 
and handsome, well paved and running 
at right angles with each other. There 
were then a number of squares and por- 
ticoes and public libraries, a museum, a 
stadium in which Olympic games were 
celebrated with great enthusiasm, a grand 
music-hall or Odeion, a Homerion, and 
many temples, of which the most famous 
was that of the Olympian Jupiter, in 
which the reigning emperor was prac- 
tically the god worshipped. 

The ancient Smyrniotes were inordi- 
nately proud of their city; they called it 
the "First of Asia," though the Ephesians 
violently disputed this claim. The in- 
habitants also called their city the "City 
of Homer," who they claimed had been 
born and brought up beside their sacred 
river Meles. They put his image upon 
their coins, which they called a Home- 



42 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

rion, a name also given to one of their 
temples. 

A paragraph from Apollonius of Tyana 
is worth quoting, not only for the beauti- 
ful sentiment it contains, but because it 
shows the esteem in which ancient Smyrna 
was held by famous writers of the day. 
"Though it is the most beautiful of all 
cities under the sun," he writes, "and 
makes the sea its own, and holds the 
fountains of Zephyrus, yet it is a greater 
charm to wear a crown of men than a 
crown of porticoes, and pictures and gold 
beyond the standard of mankind, for 
buildings are seen only in their own place, 
but men are seen everywhere and spoken 
about everywhere, and make their cities 
as vast as the range of countries which 
they can visit." 

This allusion of the ancient writer to 
the crown of porticoes suggests the most 
imposing characteristic of ancient Smyrna, 
a characteristic to which the writer of 



SMYRNA 43 

Revelation evidently alludes, and that 
was the crown of noble towers and for- 
tresses and other buildings that sur- 
mounted Mount Pagus, the mighty acrop- 
olis of Smyrna. "iElius Aristides, who 
himself lived in Smyrna," says Sir Wil- 
liam Ramsay, "compares the city as the 
ideal city on earth to the crown of 
Ariadne shining in the heavenly constel- 
lation. He can hardly find language 
strong enough to paint the beauty of the 
crown of Smyrna. Several of his highly 
ornate sentences become clearer when we 
note that he is expressing in a series of 
variations the idea of a crown resting on 
the summit of the hill." 

Mount Pagus is still there, but its 
crown has largely disappeared. Enor- 
mous fragments still remain, to be sure, 
showing what tremendous buildings once 
occupied the broad plateau on the sum- 
mit of the acropolis, and, as one rebuilds 
in imagination these wonderful piles, he 



44 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

can easily forgive the Smyrniotes of old 
for their grandiloquent praise of their 
lovely city and its beautiful crown. 

On the side of this crowned hill is the 
most interesting spot for the Christian 
pilgrim to-day, the tomb of the martyr 
Polycarp, who, in the middle of the 
second century, was here burned at the 
stake. He was the Bishop of Smyrna 
and disciple of Saint John himself. Ire- 
nseus, who was Bish p of Lyons at the 
close of the second century, was the 
pupil of Polycarp and writes about him 
most lovingly and touchingly. Thus we 
have unbroken links in a chain of testi- 
mony extending through two centuries 
which take us back to Christ himself: 
Irenaeus the disciple of Polycarp, Poly- 
carp the disciple of Saint John, Saint 
John the disciple of Christ. Who does 
not cherish the beautiful saying of the 
aged bishop, when on the stadium of 
Smyrna at two o'clock of a Saturday 



SMYRNA 45 

afternoon in the year 156, as the flames 
mounted around him and he was asked 
to save his life by renouncing Christ, he 
cried out: "Eighty and six years have I 
served Him, and He has done me no ill; 
how then can I blaspheme my King who 
hath saved me." 

The traditional spot of his martyrdom 
is now guarded by a great cypress-tree, 
and under this is a green-painted Mo- 
hammedan tomb with a marble fez, the 
Moslem embellishment of a grave, on the 
top, and this is said to be Polycarp's 
tomb! It seems strange and sad that 
even his traditional resting-place should 
be in a Turkish cemetery and in a Turk- 
ish tomb, for he belongs pre-eminently 
to the Christian church, though the 
Moslems also regard him as a famous 
saint. "Polycarpa Tomba! Polycarpa 
Tomba!" cried a little black girl as we 
approached the tomb. These were her 
two English words, though she was 



46 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

abundantly familiar with the word "back- 
shish," and followed us half a mile from 
the tomb, begging for a few more paras. 

Some forty years before he died, Poly- 
carp wrote an epistle to the Philippians, 
in which he quotes profusely from the 
apostolic writings, showing that they 
were well known in the Christian church 
only a few years after the death of Saint 
John. 

Ephesus was called "the passageway 
of the martyrs,'' because through Ephesus 
most of them passed on their way to die 
at Rome. But Smyrna, also, was a high- 
way of the martyrs, and through this 
city the great Ignatius, Bishop of An- 
tioch, passed to his glorious death at 
Rome. Here he was met and comforted 
by the Christians of Smyrna, and in writ- 
ing back to Poly carp he says: "I give 
exceeding glory that it hath been vouch- 
safed me to see thy blameless face." 

We have been describing modern Smyr- 



SMYRNA 47 

na and old Smyrna, but there was an 
older Smyrna still, for the most ancient 
city was said to have been founded by 
Tantalus some three thousand five hun- 
dred years before Christ at the extreme 
end of the bay, some three or four miles 
from the modern city, which was also the 
site of the city of Polycarp and Saint 
John. As I climbed the rough and rugged 
hill, leaping from boulder to boulder, 
dodging the prickly shrubs where the 
hardy goats alone can find any suste- 
nance, I felt that indeed I was getting 
back to ancient days, as I gazed at the 
so-called tomb of Tantalus and the cy- 
clopean wall which surrounds it, which 
antedates the records of historic times. 

Two characteristics of Smyrna, it has 
been pointed out by eminent authorities, 
are alluded to in the beautiful commen- 
datory words of Saint John. A thousand 
years before Christ Smyrna was a great 
Grecian city, but it was conquered and 



48 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

destroyed, wiped off the face of the map 
indeed, by the Lydian King Alyates about 
six hundred years before Christ. Smyrna 
was dead, and yet, though the city was 
destroyed, it lived, for there were many 
villages round about the ancient city that 
constituted a state named Smyrna. The 
One who sends the message to Smyrna 
through John is spoken of as the One 
"who was dead and is alive," alluding, of 
course, to our Lord's death and resur- 
rection, and perhaps with a secondary 
allusion to the city which for hundreds 
of years was dead and then lived again, 
for the writer in a wonderful way makes 
every part of the message, even the in- 
scription, appropriate to the history and 
the situation of the city to which he 
writes. 

Not a word of censure or a suggestion 
of blame is found in this message. This 
absence of reproof it shares alone with 
the message to the church of Philadel- 



SMYRNA 49 

phia. But it was not a rich church in 
the usual sense of the word. The Reve- 
lator knew its poverty and its tribula- 
tions as well as its good works. And here 
is inserted that significant and beautiful 
parenthesis, "but thou art rich"— rich 
in good works, rich in heavenly treasure, 
rich in the truest kinds of wealth. 

Then the writer predicts the sufferings 
which would surely come to this noble 
church: "The devil shall cast some of 
you into prison that ye may be tried, 
and ye shall have tribulation ten days." 
Ten days is a limited period of time 
which will come to an end. The tribu- 
lation is not hopeless and measureless. 
Even if death comes it matters little, as 
was proven in the case of Polycarp and 
many another martyr in the awful per- 
secutions of those terrible years of suffer- 



ing. 



Then comes the glorious reward. "Be 
thou faithful unto death," faithful as 



50 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Smyrna had been to the Roman power, 
with which she had early thrown in her 
lot and been known as the "faithful 
city' during all the vicissitudes and the 
many changes of Roman rule. So be 
thou faithful to thy religion and thy 
Master, says the Revelator, "and I will 
give thee the crown of life"; a nobler 
crown than that which surmounted the 
citadel of Mount Pagus; a nobler crown 
than the splendid fortresses and buildings 
to which every citizen of Smyrna looked 
up with admiration and pride; a nobler 
crown even than Apollonius described 
when he told them it was a "greater 
charm to wear a crown of men than a 
crown of porticoes" — even the crown of 
life, which should be given to the faith- 
ful church by him who was the First 
and the Last, who was dead and yet lived 
again. 

This, too, is a message that every 
Christian may well take to heart. The 



SMYRNA 51 

poor, those who have much tribulation 
and suffering, those who are ostracised, 
as were the Christians of Smyrna by the 
Jews who belonged to the synagogue of 
Satan, all these sons and daughters of 
men, yea, all true Christians, may well 
take to heart these words: "Be thou 
faithful even unto death, and I will give 
thee the crown of life. He that over- 
cometh shall not be hurt of the second 
death." 



CHAPTER IV 

PERGAMOS, THE CITY OF 
SATAN'S SEAT 

We left Soma, the terminus of one 
branch of the Anatolian Railway, early 
one bright February morning for Per- 
gamos, or Pergamum as it is called in 
the revision, the ancient capital and 
most important city of the province of 
Asia. Soma is a good place to get away 
from, and, to vary a modern gibe, con- 
cerning Boston, of which New York peo- 
ple are fond, the best thing about Soma 
was the araba which took us away from 
it. This araba is a strong spring cart, 
covered with dirty white canvas, looking 
not unlike a butcher's cart. It has no 
seats and our two missionary friends and 

52 



PERGAMOS 53 

ourselves piled our suitcases, our rugs, 
and other impedimenta in the bottom of 
the araba to afford as comfortable seats 
as possible for the bouncing, jolting 
journey of forty-two kilometres that lay 
before us. Our driver was a picturesque- 
looking Greek, sad and gloomy but hand- 
some and with a Byronic cast of feature. 
But his actions were not as handsome as 
his face and he proved, before we were 
through with him, to be a grasping rascal. 
Pergamos is the only one of the seven 
cities that must be reached by araba or 
on horseback, for all the rest lie within 
walking distance of one of the three lines 
of railway in Turkey. The February air 
was crisp but not too cold, for spring 
comes early in this part of Asia Minor. 
The apricot and peach-trees were in full 
bloom and the almond-trees flourished on 
every side, reminding us of Solomon's de- 
scription of the hoary head of the aged 
saint. 



54 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

The ride is a charming one, so far as 
the scenery is concerned, and if as much 
could be said for the road over which we 
travelled one could not wish a more de- 
lightful journey than that from Soma to 
Pergamos. But like all Turkish roads the 
highway in many parts is abominable. 
There are stretches of decent road alter- 
nating with other stretches which are 
quite indescribable, where the araba sways 
and pitches and rolls like a ship in a 
heavy sea. Much of the way we seemed 
to be on the edge of a great natural bowl 
or saucer, with the valley below us and 
the outer rim of the bowl on the opposite 
horizon. In the early morning and in 
the sunset light the purple hills in the 
distance are beautiful beyond compar- 
ison. Especially in the evening a long 
afterglow illumines them, a glow even 
more characteristic of Asia Minor than 
of Switzerland. 

We pass many groves of olive-trees 



PERGAMOS 55 

and others of mulberries, while cherries 
and peach orchards abound in many 
places. This is a cotton country too, and 
the bolls of last year's crop, a few still 
ungathered, decorate the dried stalks. 
Now and then we pass a rude little 
Turkish village, heralded in advance, 
usually, by a cemetery filled with cypress- 
trees and dilapidated tombstones. 

As we drive farther from Soma small 
streams become more numerous and we 
rattle across many rude wooden bridges, 
unless our arabaji prefers to drive 
through the stream in order to tighten 
up his tires and lave the feet of his tired 
horses. Kilometre after kilometre is 
passed and at last a turn in the road 
shows us a glorious spectacle — the lofty 
citadel of ancient Pergamos, the city 
which for some hundreds of years was the 
most noted, wealthy, and powerful me- 
tropolis in the whole province of Asia. 
A noted traveller and archaeologist writes : 



56 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

"History marked it out as the royal 
city, and not less clearly has nature done 
so. No city of the whole of Asia Minor, 
so far as I have seen, and there are few of 
any importance which I have not seen, 
possesses the same imposing and domi- 
nating aspect. It is the one city of the 
land which forced from me the exclama- 
tion: 'A royal city!' There is something 
unique and overpowering in its effect, 
planted as it is on its magnificent hill, 
standing out boldly in the level plain, 
and dominating the valley and the moun- 
tains on the south." * 

Though I can scarcely share to the full 
Sir William Ramsay's enthusiasm for the 
site of Pergamos, it is certainly striking 
and imposing, and still more so when 
viewed as he viewed it in the light of its 
splendid history. 

For twenty-five hundred years a city, 
larger or smaller, has stood upon the 

* Sir William Ramsay. 



PERGAMOS 57 

slope of this commanding hill or nestled 
at its feet, but it was not until three cen- 
turies before Christ that Philetaerus re- 
volted from King Lysimachus, whose 
vassal he was, and founded the kingdom 
of Pergamos. A succession of brilliant 
kings named Attalus reigned in Perga- 
mos, and the last of them, Attalus III, 
when he saw that the Roman power was 
to become dominant throughout the 
world, made over by will his kingdom to 
the Roman Emperor. Then it became 
the "Province of Asia," to which fre- 
quent allusion is made in the Bible, and 
Pergamos for two centuries and a half 
more was the capital of this great prov- 
ince. 

A fact most interesting to us in study- 
ing the history of the seven churches of 
Asia — and, by the way, all these Seven 
Churches were situated within the borders 
of the ancient kingdom of Pergamos — is 
the fact that the first temple where the 



58 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Emperor was worshipped in any provin- 
cial Roman city was Pergamos. Here, 
about thirty years before Christ, was 
built this splendid temple in honour of 
Rome and Augustus, and to it was 
brought in after years many a Christian 
who was commanded to worship the 
statue of the Emperor and burn incense 
before it. If he refused, the most awful 
fate probably awaited him — martyrdom 
by burning at the stake. Or perhaps he 
would be transported to Rome and there 
thrown to the wild beasts in the Colos- 
seum. 

When we remember these facts, and 
that this temple was the place where 
idolatrous worship was enforced by all 
the mighty power of Rome, we can under- 
stand why Saint John, the Revelator, 
should call it " Satan's Seat," or "Satan's 
Throne." Pergamos had long been a 
peculiarly idolatrous city. The native 
Anatolians worshipped animal gods, and 




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PERGAMOS 59 

though, when the Greeks came, they in- 
troduced more spiritual or at least more 
artistic divinities like Jupiter, Minerva, 
and iEsculapius, yet the animal gods 
still were worshipped by the common 
people, the natives of the province. One 
of the coins of Pergamos represents 
Caracalla, the Emperor, adoring the ser- 
pent god at Pergamos. Another coin 
represents a serpent wriggling out of the 
mystic box of Dionysos. 

Another characteristic of Pergamos 
was that its governor had the right of 
life and death. He had absolute author- 
ity to kill or to spare, and in Saint John's 
time this absolute authority with which 
the ruler of Pergamos was invested was 
bitterly hostile to the Christians. The 
one who wielded the power of life and 
death, the Jus gladii, or the right of the 
sword, hated them with a cruel hatred. 

All of these facts we must bear in mind 
as we study the words of the Revelator, 



60 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

the one who styled himself, when he 
wrote to the angel of the church at Per- 
gamos, as "He that hath the sharp sword 
with the two edges," an evident refer- 
ence to the right of the sword possessed 
by the proconsul of Pergamos. 

It may be of passing interest to know 
that Pergamos to-day seems to be the 
seat of a considerable manufacture of 
cutlery and swords, and one of the me- 
mentoes which I have brought away from 
the modern city was not a sharp sword 
but a sharp knife with two edges of a 
style such as I have seen in no other part 
of the world. 

The Revelator goes on to say to the 
beleaguered Christians in this idolatrous 
city, "I know where thou dwellest, even 
where Satan's throne is," the great Tem- 
ple of Rome and Augustus, where is set 
up the image of the Emperor before 
which the inhabitants bow down and to 
which they burn incense as a sign of 



PERGAMOS 61 

their loyalty to him. But even there 
where Satan's throne is "thou holdest 
fast my name, and hast not denied my 
faith." 

These must have been precious, com- 
forting words to the faithful few. One 
of these faithful ones is singled out and 
mentioned by name: "Antipas, my faith- 
ful witness, who was slain among you 
where Satan dwelleth." But doubtless 
there was many another Christian who 
shared the same fate, perhaps hundreds 
of them brought from all the country 
around and taken to "Satan's throne' 
to be tested as to the reality of their 
faith in Jesus Christ. Alas ! all the Chris- 
tians of Pergamos were not like An- 
tipas, and the One that hath the sharp 
sword, because of them, had a "few 
things" against the church in Pergamos. 

Those that held the doctrines of Ba- 
laam were largely represented in the 
church. Doubtless these doctrines were 



62 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

the same as those of the Nicolaitans, who 
were elsewhere denounced. 

They were the lax, yielding Christians 
of their day, who found it easy to conform 
to the ways of the world and the temp- 
tations of the time. They had little of 
the Puritan blood in their veins, and they 
could easily excuse themselves, doubtless, 
not only for eating things sacrificed to 
idols but for occasionally bowing before 
the statue of the Emperor and burning 
a little incense before it. 

"The Lord knows," they doubtless 
said, "that we are simply showing our 
loyalty to Rome by conforming to the 
custom of the day. The Emperor is a 
mere man and his image we do not wor- 
ship, but only bow before it to show our 
obedience to the authority of our Em- 
peror." 

Doubtless the Nicolaitans of those 
days had quite as many excuses for their 
worldly practices as the Nicolaitans of 



PERGAMOS 63 

modern times. But to them comes the 
sharp and terrible reproof: "Repent or 
else I will come unto thee quickly and 
fight against thee with the sword of my 
mouth." 

But to the faithful members of the 
church in Pergamos comes a blessed and 
appropriate reward. The "hidden man- 
na' was to be theirs, which they might 
eat and gain strength for their terrible 
trials. According to Jewish history, King 
Josiah, or the prophet Jeremiah, when 
Solomon's temple was destroyed, hid a 
pot of manna which the Israelites had 
gathered in the wilderness, and had kept 
it in the holy of holies that it might not 
be captured by Nebuchadnezzar's army. 
What became of this pot of manna was 
the subject of different traditions — one 
that it had been carried up into heaven, 
another that it was concealed in a cave 
of Mount Sinai to be revealed when the 
Messiah came. 



64 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

But more significant still was the white 
stone which was to be given to the 
Christian who did not deny his Lord, 
even in Satan's seat. In the stone was 
his new name. It was an old Jewish 
custom, when a man was sick even unto 
death, as it was supposed, to give him 
another name by which, if he recovered, 
he was known throughout the rest of his 
life. To those who were faithful, who 
overcame the sharpness of death and were 
not afraid of its terrors, a new name 
was to be given, written upon the white 
stone, a name showing that they were 
Christians. This very word itself was a 
new name, given not many years before 
at Antioch to this despised and perse- 
cuted sect. 

What do we find at Pergamos to-day? 
We see, in fact, two cities: a city of ruins 
without a single inhabitant and a city 
of the living, now called Bergama, mean 
and squalid, to be sure, in comparison 



PERGAMOS 65 

with its ancient glory, but busy and 
bustling and interesting as a typical cen- 
tre of modern Greek and Turkish life. 
Long caravans of camels march through 
its streets in almost endless procession, 
loaded with wood charcoal, chick-peas, 
millet, wheat, sesame, lentils, leeks, car- 
rots, black turnips, chopped hay, and 
other kinds of produce. The bazaars 
are gay with bright cloths, wadded jack- 
ets, embroidered saddle-bags, tinsel orna- 
ments for the heads of women, and all 
sorts of cheap jewellery that Birmingham 
or Attleboro can furnish. 

The streets are paved with cobble- 
stones set on edge and are horrible for 
the pedestrian. A sewer runs down the 
middle of each street, and garbage and 
refuse of all kinds are thrown out of ev- 
ery doorway for the pariah dogs to fight 
over. There seem to be as many dogs 
as men, most of them miserable, depressed 
creatures who fight with one another over 



66 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

a swill-pail or lie curled up in the sun by 
the hour together. 

One of the most attractive features of 
Bergama are the fountains, and many 
an old sarcophagus beautifully sculptured 
on every side is now used as a water- 
ing-trough. Veiled Turkish women with 
the tips of their noses showing, unveiled 
Greek women, and a multitude of men 
in baggy blue trousers are the principal 
people whom one meets on the street. 
In the provision-shops one sees groceries 
of various kinds : oranges, dates, and pea- 
nuts; leeks, onions, and garlic; spinach, 
turnips, and potatoes; long strings of 
dried okra, cauliflower, and cabbages; 
dried squid and devil-fish from the iEgean, 
and the various kinds of helva in which 
the Turkish heart delights. 

Such a modern city, however, you 
might find almost anywhere in Turkey, 
but no other such city as the ancient 
Pergamos do you find the wide world 




Some modern Pergamonians. 



PERGAMOS 67 

around. Climb with me the steep slope 
of the ancient citadel, at first through 
the narrow street lined with the stone 
huts of modern Pergamenians, and very- 
soon we come to the borders of the an- 
cient walled city. 

More than thirty years ago the Ger- 
mans began to excavate ancient Pergamos 
and made some wonderful finds, most of 
which are transported to the Pergame- 
nian museum in Berlin, but still there 
is much left to remind the traveller of 
the glorious city on whose grave he is 
walking. There are many white stones 
lying about on every hand, not the white 
pebbles of which the revelator spoke, on 
which the new name was to be written, 
but great masses of marble, fine capitals 
beautifully carved, lofty columns, some 
standing erect and others prostrate, wuth 
their drums scattered about. A few 
headless torsos and fragments of arms 
and legs strew the ground. Here is a 



68 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

great gymnasium, covering many rods in 
length, with many beautiful columns still 
standing, where the Grecian youths exer- 
cised themselves in games of all sorts, 
and there the remains of a stately old 
palace. 

Above this, on a higher slope, are thea- 
tres and temples, the great altar of Zeus, 
of which there is nothing left but an 
enormous base of solid masonry. Still 
higher up on the hill is the Temple of 
Athense Polias, a library, and beyond 
this, perhaps the most interesting spot 
of all to the Christian, the ruins of the 
Temple of Rome and Augustus, "Satan's 
Seat" or "Satan's Throne," where the 
cruel test which meant either death or 
denial of their Lord was offered to so 
many Christians. Not far away are the 
ruins of the Temple of Julia and, most 
massive of all, a magnificent piece of the 
acropolis wall, built of enormous stones, 
fully a hundred feet in height and but- 



PERGAMOS 69 

tressing part of the hill itself and extend- 
ing some feet above it. 

No description can give the reader an 
adequate account of these extensive ruins. 
They cover acres and acres and acres. 
To see them all one must wander for 
miles over rough and steep paths, 
often climbing over huge fragments of 
marble and masonry, mute relics of past 
glories. 

The view from the summit is far more 
beautiful and scarcely less impressive 
than the ruins themselves. Fifteen miles 
away one catches a glimpse of the bright 
waters of the Mgesm. In the nearer 
distance rise three great tumuli some 
hundreds of feet in height, the graves of 
forgotten kings. Pausanias, writing nine- 
teen hundred years ago, tells us that they 
are the tombs of Auge, the mother of 
Telephus, of Andromache, and of Per- 
gamos. 

Close to the base of the citadel lies 



70 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

the modern town, which we have al- 
ready described, but it looks better from 
a distance, and its fifteen slender min- 
arets relieve the city of the sordid ap- 
pearance which it presents when one is 
in its crowded streets. 

The most striking ruin within the con- 
fines of the modern town is a vast library 
of Roman times. This reminds us that 
our word parchment is derived from 
the name Pergamos or Pergamum, where 
sheepskins were first tanned for literary 
purposes. In this library, it is said, were 
stored no less than two hundred thousand 
volumes, or rolls of parchment, which 
Mark Antony gave to Cleopatra in or- 
der that her great library at Alexandria 
might not be surpassed by the library of 
Pergamos. 

Beyond the city stretches the wide and 
beautiful valley of the Caicus, charm- 
ing as we saw it in the greenery and 
blossoms of early spring, and hemmed in 




o 



PERGAMOS 71 

on the farther side by glorious moun- 
tains that stretch far up toward the 
clouds. 

A little touch of homely modern life 
did our hearts good as we stood upon 
the ancient citadel, for some young girls 
from the modern town had come up to 
the ruins with their baskets of provisions 
to enjoy a picnic amid the marble col- 
umns. Here they played "Drop the 
handkerchief," "Puss, puss in the cor- 
ner,' and other games as familiar to 
the children of America as to the de- 
scendants of the ancient Pergamenians. 
From a spot of greensward below came 
the voices of many smaller children that 
sounded pleasantly as they mingled with 
the tinkling of the distant camel bells, 
the lowing of the water-buffaloes, and the 
occasional cry of the muezzin calling to 
prayer from the minaret. 

There is no Protestant church and per- 
haps no Protestant disciple in Pergamos, 



72 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

but the representatives of the Christians 
to whom the Revelator wrote belong to 
the Greek Orthodox faith. 

As a last view from the citadel it is 
pleasing to rest our eyes upon one section 
of the ancient library, before alluded to, 
which has been made over into a Chris- 
tian church, the Church of Saint Antipas. 
It is an enormous circular church forty- 
five feet in diameter and over seventy 
feet high, while the walls are seven feet 
thick, and there is an opening in the top 
something like that in the Pantheon at 
Rome. Let us hope that in this Church 
of Saint Antipas there may be many 
Orthodox Greek Christians who, like 
Antipas of old, are Christ's faithful wit- 
nesses, who will receive at last the "hid- 
den manna' and the "white stone with 
the new name." 



CHAPTER V 

THYATIRA, THE CITY OF THE 
IRON ROD AND THE MORN- 
ING STAR 

At first sight nothing would seem more 
incongruous than the conjunction of 
these two figures of speech, the iron rod 
and the morning star, and yet the 
promise is given to the faithful in Thya- 
tira that they shall "rule the nations 
with a rod of iron" and that to them 
shall be given "the morning star." We 
may be able to see later the significance 
of these striking figures. 

It cannot be said that the traveller, as 
he approaches the modern city of Thya- 
tira, or Ak-Hissar (White Castle, in En- 
glish), as it is called to-day, can see in 

73 



74 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

this second-rate Turkish town anything 
to remind him of iron power over the 
nations or of the brightness of the morn- 
ing star, for it is mostly built of mud, 
the streets are narrow and straggling, its 
bazaar is uninteresting, and it has all 
the appearance of a decadent but self- 
satisfied little city whose position in the 
centre of the long valley that connects 
the two great valleys of the Hermus and 
the Lycus gives it a certain amount of 
business importance which its own en- 
terprise or spirit of progress scarcely de- 
serves. 

Now, as always, Thyatira is on an 
important trade route. Now a branch 
railway line runs one or two mixed and 
exceedingly slow trains of freight and 
passenger cars through the city each day. 
In the ancient times the caravans of 
horses and camels brought much busi- 
ness to its doors, as a sort of half-way 
house between the great capitals of Sar- 




Photograph by Mrs. F. E. Clark. 

Street in modern Thyatira. 



THYATIRA 75 

dis and Pergamos. Moreover, in Roman 
times, when John wrote the message of 
the Son of God to Thyatira, the city was 
a station on the imperial post-road that 
connected Rome with all the great cities 
of the East. 

To-day Pergamos is a mere shadow of 
its former greatness; Sardis is a heap of 
ruins buried under a mountain avalanche; 
Rome is no longer the world's capital, 
and the great cities of this old post-road 
are of no consequence as emporiums of 
trade. In consequence of this, Thyatira 
has declined with them, for she was al- 
ways dependent for her prosperity upon 
her greater and stronger neighbours. 
And yet we find much that is interesting 
in one of these back eddies of civilisation 
such as Thyatira has become. 

In going from Smyrna by rail we change 
cars at Manisa, a place of considerably 
more importance to-day than Ak-Hissar. 
Manisa is the old Magnesia, which gave 



76 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

its name to the magnetic iron which was 
first found in its vicinity, and hence to 
our common English word magnet and 
its derivatives as well as to the well- 
known drug magnesia. 

Two hours by rail from this junction 
brings us to a substantial stone sta- 
tion across the front of which we read 
the name "Ak-Hissar." We have come 
to old Thyatira. One of the broadest 
streets in Turkey, lined with pleasant 
trees, leads from the station to the heart 
of the town half a mile away. There is 
little of striking and unusual interest to 
describe in modern Thyatira. It has no 
great citadel or acropolis as has each one 
of the other Seven Cities. The little rise 
of ground which formerly contained the 
fortifications of the city is now a Turkish 
gentleman's private grounds. The great 
cypress-trees are the one redeeming fea- 
ture which add a touch of beauty to the 
town. 



THYATIRA 77 

Some twenty thousand people live in 
Ak-Hissar to-day, and the nationalities 
are about equally divided between the 
Greeks and the Turks. Our hotel is a 
kind of khan, with a few tolerably clean 
rooms opening upon a wide courtyard, 
in the centre of which is a great plane- 
tree shading an ever-flowing fountain. 
Horses, goats, camels and donkeys, hens 
and ducks, and a multitude of doves 
flying to their windows, share the hos- 
pitality of the courtyard with ourselves. 
Our landlord furnishes only room and 
bed for the two "pieces of eight' which 
he charges us, and so we must go out 
and forage for ourselves for supper. In 
the straggling bazaar it is not difficult to 
find sufficient food for a frugal supper, 
with eggs at ten paras, or one cent, each, 
small oranges at two for a cent, a large 
loaf of bread hot from the oven for four 
cents, and buffalo's milk for three cents 
a quart. 



78 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Commonplace and uninteresting as 
Thyatira appears at first sight, it is yet 
a city with a great and varied history. 
Its position on one of the great com- 
mercial routes of the world made it 
indispensable to the successive rulers of 
Asia, and yet it was impossible, owing 
to its exposed situation, in the midst of 
a fertile valley, with no great citadel and 
no commanding hills near by, to defend 
itself from a stronger foe. So, more than 
almost any city of antiquity, it has been 
captured and recaptured, destroyed and 
built up and destroyed again, sacked 
and pillaged and burned and laid low, 
and then has risen once more from its 
ashes. 

It was founded first by Seleucus I, 
one of the greatest generals of Alexander 
the Great, whose mighty realm stretched 
far to the eastward from the Hermus 
valley to the mountains of India. Ly- 
simachus was a contemporary ruler to 



THYATIRA 79 

the westward, and, in order to defend 
Thyatira against his invasions, a colony 
of Macedonian soldiers was established 
in Thyatira about three hundred years 
before Christ. But Thyatira was be- 
tween the upper and nether millstones of 
Pergamos on the north and the kingdom 
of the Syrian King on the south and east, 
and it did not escape the fate of the corn 
between the millstones. 

About the year 190 B. C. it came under 
the power of Rome, and, though in the 
days of the Republic it suffered much 
from oppression and extortion, great 
commercial prosperity came to it with 
the inauguration of the Roman Empire. 
About the time that Saint John wrote 
the Revelation it was at the height of its 
wealth and prosperity as a great business 
city. It is known that there were more 
trade guilds in Thyatira than in any 
other city of Asia, for inscriptions tell us 
that there were guilds of linen-workers, 



80 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

wool-workers, dyers, bronze-smiths, pot- 
ters, bakers, tanners, and slave-dealers. 
The selling of ready-made garments was 
an important business of Thyatira, but 
whether there was the accompaniment 
of Jewish sweat-shops, long hours, and 
scanty pay, as with us in the same busi- 
ness, we are not told. 

There were certainly Jews in Thyatira, 
however, for Seleucus was always hos- 
pitable to this race when he founded a 
new city. One of these was Lydia, though 
she was probably a proselyte to the Jew- 
ish religion from among the heathen. At 
any rate, she was a woman of Thyatira 
and a "seller of purple," and of all the 
people that ever lived in this ancient city 
she alone is of special interest to the 
modern Bible student. 

We remember how Paul found her by 
the riverside in Philippi, when on the 
Sabbath day he went there to the place 
" where prayer was wont to be made." 



THYATIRA 81 

We know how attentive she was to the 
words of Paul, how she was baptised with 
her household and "besought" Paul and 
his companions and even "constrained" 
them to come into her house and abide. 
Since Thyatira was settled first by Mace- 
donian soldiers, it was natural that the 
city should keep up its trade connections 
with the parent country, and equally 
natural that Lydia should go there to 
sell her fine wares. 

The purple with which she dyed her 
linen was made from roots found in the 
vicinity of Thyatira, where it still grows 
in abundance. We should scarcely call 
the colour purple, however, nor does the 
Greek word indicate the colour which we 
now know as purple. One of our party 
obtained a quantity of this madder root 
in Thyatira, and after boiling it for sev- 
eral hours produced a dye of a rather 
unsatisfactory reddish colour. Doubtless, 
had she had Lydia's recipe for making the 



82 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

dye, the results would have been more 
satisfactory. It is pleasant to believe, 
though we have no scriptural authority 
for it, that the devout Lydia, after she 
was baptised and had been instructed in 
Philippi by Paul and Silas and Luke and 
Timothy, went back to Thyatira and es- 
tablished the church of good works and 
love and service and faith of which the 
Revelator speaks. 

The fact that the one who sent the 
message to the church at Thyatira is 
described as "One with eyes like unto a 
flame of fire, and his feet like molten 
brass," or shining bronze, as it might be 
translated, reminds us that the bronze- 
smiths of Thyatira constituted a famous 
guild. One of the extant coins of the 
city represents a bronze-worker fash- 
ioning a helmet for Minerva. Thus, in 
every way the message is fitted to the 
people to whom it is sent. 

Modern Ak-Hissar, like ancient Thya- 



THYATIRA 83 

tira, is still in the midst of a bountiful 
valley and the fertility of the soil seems 
unimpaired. Cotton and wheat, maize 
and olives, still constitute the riches of 
the city. We made an interesting call on 
a feudal lord who lives on a low hill com- 
manding the town, the ancient acrop- 
olis of Thyatira. The bey is an inter- 
esting, well-educated man, belonging to 
the youngest Young Turk party — that is, 
the party that protests against the re- 
actionary element of the Young Turks. 
He lives in a fine stone house, and in his 
large and well-furnished reception-room 
he showed us a picture of the landing of 
King George and Lord Kitchener at Port 
Said, an event which had just taken 
place, as well as a statuette of the late 
King Edward, for he is an admirer of 
England and her institutions. 

In his ample grounds is a large foun- 
tain made from an old sarcophagus, 
covered with an inscription in ancient 



84 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

Greek which tells us that it was erected 
in memory of a beloved wife. How little 
we know and, alas, how little we care for 
the unknown widower of two thousand 
years ago and the dear wife whose death 
caused him so much grief! 

Another interesting feature of modern 
Thyatira is the manufacture of carpets. 
This is carried on in many rather humble 
and obscure quarters, but most beautiful 
fabrics are the output of these factories. 
The girls who weave them are exceedingly 
skilful, and they tie and cut the woof of 
the rugs with motions so rapid that we 
could not see their hands go back and 
forth, as when watching the most skilful 
piano-player the eye is not quick enough 
to follow his swift motions. A rug 
that four girls were making, we were 
told, would sell on the spot for a hundred 
dollars, but it would take these girls 
fifteen long days to make it. 

Ak-Hissar is in the earthquake re- 




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THYATIRA 85 

gion, and two years before our visit was 
terribly shaken. Several minarets were 
thrown down, and now on the broken 
fragment the muezzin comes out five 
times a day to proclaim to the people 
that "God is great," that "prayer is bet- 
ter than sleep," that "prayer is better 
than food,"' and that they should "come 
to prayer, come to prayer." 

Since the message to Thyatira, as to 
the other churches, was addressed to the 
"angel," who is supposed to be the min- 
ister of the church, it is interesting to 
know that there is an angel of what we 
believe to be the true church still in 
Thyatira. His name is George Prus- 
saevs. He is the pastor of the Protestant 
Greek Church in this city, the only one of 
the seven, save Smyrna, that can, so far 
as we know, boast a single Protestant 
Christian. He is an earnest, faithful 
minister of the church, trained in one 
of the mission theological schools of the 



86 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

American Board, with a wife who is a 
true helpmeet and three beautiful little 
children, Syntiche, Lydia, and Chloe. 
May the little Lydia of Thyatira, as she 
grows up, rival in faith and good works 
the older Lydia, the purple-seller who 
made her native city famous! 

As to the message to the church in 
Thyatira, it is an obscure and difficult 
one to interpret, since we know so little 
of the prevalent customs and heresies of 
that time. Commentators differ as to 
the "woman Jezebel," some claiming that 
she was a heathen priestess who stood 
for all manner of licentious rites and evil 
practices, and others that she was the 
leader of the Nicolaitans, a division of 
the church that claimed to be none the 
less Christian because it tolerated some 
heathen customs, like eating meat offered 
to idols, offering incense to the statue of 
the Emperor, joining social clubs, which 
were numerous in those days and which 



THYATIRA 87 

often fostered much debauchery and even 
licentiousness. 

Many of these clubs were connected 
with the trade guilds, and on this account 
Thyatira, which was famous for these 
guilds, offered special temptations to the 
Christians who belonged to them to con- 
done, even if they did not approve of, 
the unchristian practices of many of the 
members. 

The praise accorded in the first part of 
the message to the church of Thyatira 
seems to give colour to this interpretation, 
for the Son of God himself says: 'I know 
thy works, and love and service and 
faith, and that thy last works are more 
than the first/' It is thought by many 
that the Nicolaitans, though their doc- 
trines were wrong, and their compliance 
with the practices of the heathen neigh- 
bours was most dangerous, yet were still 
active in good works, and perhaps vied 
with their stricter and more puritanical 



88 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

church members in acts of benevolence 
and subscriptions to all good causes, so 
that the "last works were more than the 
first." 

Nevertheless, the seeds of failure and 
destruction of the church lay in the lax- 
ness of the Nicolaitans. It is the old, 
ever-recurring struggle of expediency 
against duty. How far shall we go? 
how far conform to the world, indulge in 
their amusements, join their clubs, and 
live their life? Doubtless, the Nicolaitans 
had a thousand good reasons, or reasons 
that seemed to them good, for their doc- 
trines and their manner of life. "They 
could do more good by remaining in 
these clubs and exerting a good influence 
within them." They did not wish to 
appear "sour" and "strait-laced' and 
'puritanical." They could perform just 
as many acts of charity and benevolence 
as though they were the strictest puri- 
tans. 



THYATIRA 89 

But the Revelator does not accept 
their excuses or their reasoning. He 
knows that either the church or the 
world must prevail, and that to conform 
to the heathen world is sure death to the 
church. Therefore, he had "a few things" 
against the church of Thyatira: it has 
not cast out the " woman Jezebel, " but al- 
lows her and her followers to remain in 
good and regular standing in the church. 

A terrible woe is denounced against 
this woman who called herself a proph- 
etess and was a leader of the Nicolai- 
tans, but not, perhaps, exactly the woe 
that the words at first blush seem to in- 
dicate. The "bed' is supposed to be 
the couch where, at the club, the revellers 
reclined while they feasted, and the pas- 
sage denouncing Jezebel has been freely 
translated: "I set her on a dining-couch 
and her vile associates with her. I gave 
her space to repent and she repented not, 
and I will kill her disciples with a mys- 



90 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

terious disease, and all the churches shall 
know that I am He that searcheth the 
reins and the heart." 

But, in spite of Jezebel and the Nico- 
laitans, the writer is sure of the final 
triumph of the church and of the right. 
Those who have not followed the teach- 
ings of Jezebel are not required to leave 
the world for a hermit's cave, to cut off 
all intercourse with the heathen, for "no 
other burden' is put upon them than 
that which was decided by the Apostles 
in former days to be absolutely necessary 
for the preservation of the purity of the 
church, "that they abstain from fornica- 
tion and from things offered to idols. ' : 

To those who keep themselves pure a 
glorious reward is promised. Their power 
shall exceed the power of Rome that 
ruled over the nations. They, too, shall 
rule with a rod of iron. Even this di- 
vided church in this comparatively ob- 
scure and unimportant city of Thyatira 



THYATIRA 91 

shall triumph, and its faithful members 
shall become ruling princes with the al- 
mighty power of the Father. The con- 
trast between weak Thyatira and this 
promise of victory and mighty power is 
all the more striking. But not only shall 
the faithful have power, but brightness 
and glory, for the morning star shall be 
given to them. Obscure, despised, re- 
proached for their puritanism and their 
separateness, they shall yet shine in the 
firmament, the observed of all observers. 
By this beautiful passage we are re- 
minded of the glorious promise of the 
prophet: "They that be wise shall shine 
as the brightness of the firmament, and 
they that turn many to righteousness as 
the stars for ever and ever." 

He that hath an ear let him hear what 
the Spirit saith unto the churches. 



CHAPTER VI 

SARDIS, THE BURIED CITY 

Of all the Seven Cities of Asia, perhaps 
Sardis has the most interesting and ro- 
mantic history, and yet, with all its nat- 
ural advantages — its wealth, its famous 
rulers, its wise counsellors, its victorious 
armies — it was the greatest failure of 
them all, and its church merited the 
severest reprimand from the Revelator of 
any of its sisters. The richest man in 
the world, Crcesus, had been the King of 
Sardis; the wisest man, Solon, had been 
her guest; and yet, as we shall later 
see, through overconfidence and lack of 
watchfulness, time and again it was sur- 
prised, conquered, and all but destroyed, 
until at last the disintegrating rock and 

92 



SARDIS 93 

soil from its own citadel, loosened by 
the winter rains and hurled down by 
destructive earthquakes, buried the city 
thirty feet deep from the sight of man. 

It became a dead city and it was buried 
by the forces of nature. The church in 
Sardis seems to have shared the charac- 
teristics of the city. It, too, was dead, 
as we are told, and apparently through 
lack of watchful care, for, twice over, 
practically the same message comes to it : 
"Be watchful; if, therefore, thou shalt 
not watch I will come on thee as a thief, 
and thou shalt not know what hour I 
will come upon thee." This interesting 
correspondence between the history of 
the city of Sardis and the message to the 
church of Sardis will be understood as 
the story of the city and of the church is 
developed. 

Sardis was a very old city, far older 
than Thyatira or Pergamos or even 
Ephesus. More than three thousand 



94 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

years ago it was a great city. Before the 
dawn of recorded time it was very likely 
inhabited, at least as a robber strong- 
hold, for its original situation made it 
seemingly impregnable and enabled it 
to lay all the country round about under 
tribute. But the day of its greatest 
glory and splendour did not come until 
about twenty-five hundred years ago, 
when Croesus became its king. He was 
the more famous son of a famous father, 
Alyattes. He conquered all the people 
round about and reigned in unparalleled 
magnificence in his splendid capital. 

Sardis, which had at first been merely 
the citadel on a steep and almost inac- 
cessible plateau five hundred feet above 
the plains, had by this time moved down 
from its lofty perch to the valley below, 
and palaces and temples and gymnasiums 
and magnificent private homes made it a 
metropolis to be spoken of with wonder 
and respect by all the peoples of the 






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SARDIS 95 

world. The river Pactolus, renowned for 
its golden sands, which, according to 
tradition, Midas, who turned everything 
that he touched into gold, had enriched 
as he ploughed his way along its watery 
flood, ran through the heart of the city. 

Croesus, first of all the kings of an- 
tiquity, minted gold and silver coins, 
which were a medium of exchange both 
in the East and the West, from Baby- 
lonia to Greece. Thus, by his shrewd- 
ness, he became the banker of the Occi- 
dent and the Orient, the Rothschild, the 
Rockefeller, the J. P. Morgan of his day, 
all combined into one, for his wealth 
came not only from the soil but from 
his shrewdness as a banker and money- 
lender. 

But he was not satisfied with his pos- 
sessions or glory, and so set out to con- 
quer the Persians. He apparently gave 
little heed to Solon, the wisest man of 
Athens, who visited him in Sardis and 



96 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

told him to beware of overconfidence 
and not to esteem any man happy until 
he was dead and his record fully made up. 
He consulted the Delphic oracle of 
Greece, and received the answer, which 
to him seemed to be reassuring, that if 
he crossed the Halys he would destroy a 
mighty empire. Full of assurance of his 
own resistless might, he did cross the 
Halys, and a great empire was destroyed 
but not the empire of Cyrus the Persian, 
but of Crcesus the Lydian, for after his 
first victory Cyrus followed it up by 
boldly attacking Sardis the impregnable. 
His soldiers, one by one, by digging their 
toes into the cracks of the rocks, climbed 
up the almost perpendicular slope of the 
acropolis, on the side which was thought 
to be absolutely unscalable and was hence 
left unguarded, and, to the amazement 
of the Lydian capital and the surprise of 
the whole world, Sardis was taken, its 
multimillionaire king was a prisoner, and 



SARDIS 97 

the lingering death of the proud city had 
begun. 

It had revivals, to be sure, as well as 
reverses, but it never regained the emi- 
nence that it enjoyed in the palmy days 
of Croesus, and when Saint John wrote 
the Revelation it was decadent and still 
decaying, and the church was apparently 
sharing the fate of the city. 

The city still had "a name to live"; it 
prided itself on its glorious past; it re- 
counted its noble history; it made a plea 
in the commune of Asia to erect a temple 
to Tiberius and Livia, his mother. 

It had little present power or glory to 
plead, but only its renowned history, and 
the judges who had to decide among 
nine cities that claimed the honour of the 
temple gave it to Smyrna, the living, in- 
stead of Sardis, the dead. 

Three centuries after the defeat of 
Crcesus the city again suffered the same 
fate through carelessness and overcon- 



98 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

fidence, for Antiochus surprised and cap- 
tured it from its reigning king, Achaeus, 
in the same way that the soldiers of Cyrus 
had done, by stealing into the fortifica- 
tions after scaling what was believed to 
be the unscalable mountainside. Sardis 
had learned nothing by the experience 
of the past, and still needed the warning 
words: "Be watchful/' 

Upon the later history of Sardis we 
need not dwell. It was a city of con- 
siderable importance in the Byzantine 
times. Its citadel was again a robber 
fastness in the early Mohammedan rule, 
but it is now absolutely dead, deserted 
and buried, for, as has been said, the 
mountain, which was once its stronghold 
and citadel, disintegrated in the slow cen- 
turies, hastened by earthquakes, fell over 
in part upon the city it had so long 
defended, and thirty feet deep beneath 
the soil Sardis lay for centuries, until re- 
cent American excavaters brought its 



SARDIS 99 

temples and its tombs again to the light 
of day. 

Yet, among all the cities that I have 
visited, I know of none which even in its 
deadness and desolation is of more thrill- 
ing interest to the modern traveller. We 
leave the Ottoman railway at Sardes, as 
it is called in the time-table, or Sart, as 
the Turks call it, a hundred and twenty- 
four kilometres from Smyrna, or about 
seventy-five miles. There is absolutely 
nothing at first sight to remind us that 
there was once a great city with its 
teeming population in this vicinity. 

Few ruins are seen, and those of a com- 
paratively modern date, as we follow the 
valley of the Pactolus for a mile or more 
from the railway station; only the blue 
heavens above, some fleecy clouds that 
fleck them, and the sun shining in its 
strength are the same as in the days of 
Croesus. Even the everlasting hills have 
changed their shape, for they are made 



100 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

up of a friable substance scarcely more 
solid than hardened mud, and the great 
acropolis which once terminated in a 
broad plateau, on which a fortified city 
could be built, has now been so washed 
away and overthrown by the convulsions 
of nature that in places it requires a 
steady nerve to thread its narrow, roof- 
like summit. Still, it is a most striking 
feature of the landscape, more pictur- 
esque, possibly, than in the ancient times. 
A few ruins of ancient buildings with 
enormously thick walls are passed ; a few 
miserable huts made of reeds and oc- 
cupied by Yuruks, the wandering nom- 
ads of this country, are seen; the little 
Pactolus gurgles over its rocky bed on 
its way to join the Hermus, and the whole 
scene is one of desolation and untamed 
nature. Scarcely can the furrow of a 
plough be seen in any direction as one 
approaches ancient Sardis. The beau- 
tiful anemones and other wild flowers add 



SAUDIS 101 

their grace to the scene, but there are no 
touches of man's embellishment. 

At last, after walking about a mile, 
two tall pillars loom upon the sight, and 
we know that we are approaching the 
ancient Temple of Cybele, or Artemis, as 
it is called by more modern explorers. 
As we draw still nearer a busy scene pre- 
sents itself to our eyes. Two hundred 
workmen and more are industriously 
digging in the sandy soil. A busy little 
tramway loaded with gravel and loam runs 
down a slight descent toward the Pac- 
tolus by force of gravity, while the empty 
trucks are pushed back by the sturdy 
Turkish workmen. Half a dozen Amer- 
ican scholars and archaeologists and 
engineers, under the leadership of Pro- 
fessor Butler, of Princeton, are directing 
the operation. An eighth of a mile away, 
under the crowning acropolis of old, stands 
the comfortable house and temporary 
museum built by these American archae- 



102 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

ologists for their occupancy during the 
years that will be required to dig out 
this ancient city. All around the ruins 
are glorious hills. Opposite the acropolis 
that has played so great a part in the 
story of Sardis, and perhaps half a mile 
away, is another great hill of about the 
same height, which was the necropolis 
of the ancient city. Here, too, the ar- 
chaeologists are at work and have dis- 
covered hundreds of tombs of Lydian 
and Persian times. 

The very day that we reached there a 
new sarcophagus had been unearthed in 
the hillside, a Persian sarcophagus of 
black terra-cotta, beautifully striped and 
marked and of oblong shape. It was 
opened, and there, seeing the light of the 
sun for the first time for thirty-five hun- 
dred years, was the body of a Persian 
girl, perhaps of the period of Cyrus the 
Great. Her glossy black hair was still 
perfect, and the jewels and tear-bottles 



SARDIS 103 

and vases that were buried with her were 
unbroken and untarnished. Who wert 
thou, O maiden of long ago? What was 
thy name and what was thy story? Who 
mourned for thee as thou wast laid in thy 
grave? Did father or mother or brother 
or lover drop tears on thy beautiful cas- 
ket? There is no answer to these ques- 
tions, but our imaginations are stirred 
as we gaze at the dust of this maiden of 
the long ago. 

Interesting as is this ancient cemetery, 
yet the chief centre of attraction is in 
the valley between the acropolis and the 
necropolis, the citadel and the cemetery, 
where the busy workmen are revealing 
day by day the glories of ancient Sardis. 
The two pillars of which we have already 
spoken are only samples of scores of others 
belonging to the same Temple of Artemis 
which, until the Americans fell to digging 
them out, were buried many feet beneath 
the soil. These two only were upright, 



104 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

with their capitals intact, and stood 
thirty-five feet above the ground after 
the storms and earthquakes of a thousand 
years had done their worst. But even 
these were half buried, for almost thirty- 
five feet below the surface the workmen 
had to dig before they reached the foun- 
dation of these pillars of the mighty 
temple, each one of which stood sixty- 
nine feet above the floor of the temple 
and each one of which was six feet in 
diameter. 

The other pillars are only partially 
intact, and some of them entirely pros- 
trate, with their enormous drums or 
sections scattered about in every direc- 
tion. This temple was probably built in 
the time of Alexander the Great, about 
350 B. C, or perhaps only repaired in his 
time, for he was one of the conquerors 
of this often-conquered city. Indeed, the 
temple seems to have been undergoing 
extensive repairs when it was completely 



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SARDIS 105 

destroyed in the year 17 A. D., for some 
of the great columns are not yet fluted, 
showing that they were still unfinished. 

But more marvellous still are the ruins 
of a temple found in a yet lower stratum, 
and built not of marble, like the one I 
have described, but of a coarser, darker 
stone. This is believed to be, without 
question, a temple of Croesus, the most 
famous of the many kings of Sardis. 

Everything of value found here must, 
according to the agreement, be sent to 
Constantinople, but temporarily they are 
stored in the little museum under the 
steep acropolis. Here are many curious 
things — alabaster vases so thin that they 
could easily be crushed in the hand like 
an egg-shell. Just such a vase Mary 
Magdalene broke when she bathed her 
Lord's feet with the precious ointment. 
Great earthen jars used for the ashes 
and the charred bones of the dead who 
had been cremated are found here. Mar- 



106 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

ble slabs are here covered with Lydian 
inscriptions which cannot yet be trans- 
lated, for no one is yet wise enough to 
read the ancient Lydian, though the 
letters are as sharp and clear-cut as 
though chiselled yesterday. I cannot de- 
scribe these remarkable finds at length, 
nor would I if I could, for that honour 
and privilege must be given to the pa- 
tient excavaters whose monograph on 
the ancient Sardis will be awaited with 
the utmost interest by scholars in many 
lands. 

One of the most marvellous sights that 
the traveller sees from the hills of Sardis 
is the Bin Tepe, or the plain of a thou- 
sand mounds, where the kings and priests 
and great men of Lydia were buried, not 
in the hillside necropolis which I have 
already described, but in a great, wide 
plain some two hours' ride from Sardis. 

Some of these mounds, or tumuli, are 
enormous in extent, one of them being 




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SARDIS 107 

larger than the Pyramid of Ghizeh in 
Egypt. There are not a thousand of 
these tombs, but, to be more exact, about 
six hundred and sixty-six of them. The 
largest is that of the great King Alyat- 
tes, which Herodotus minutely describes. 
This is circular in form and twelve hun- 
dred feet in diameter. As one looks 
through the cleft of the mountains that 
hem in Sardis, it seems as if this plain 
were dotted with green hills, some of 
them of a considerable height, but each 
one of them is a single tomb of one of 
the great men of the mighty kingdom of 
Lydia. 

Such are the scenes, picturesque and 
striking, but, at the same time, desolate 
and depressing, which strike the traveller 
as he visits the dead and buried city of 
Sardis. What is the message sent by 
"Him that hath the seven spirits of God 
and the seven stars"? 

It is the saddest of all the seven mes- 



108 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

sages. The Revelator knows the works of 
the church, but has no word of praise for 
them, as he had for the church of Ephesus, 
though in many respects the messages to 
these two churches are much the same. 
Sardis had not only left its first love, as 
had Ephesus, but it was dead, though 
it had a name to live. The church was 
an empty organisation without life. It 
had wheels within wheels, perhaps, but 
no living spirit within the wheels. Even 
the church at Pergamos that dwelt be- 
side "Satan's Seat" was praised for hold- 
ing fast the holy name and for not deny- 
ing the faith; but there was no faithful 
martyr Antipas in Sardis to receive such 
praise. 

Yet, though the church as a church 
was dead, like many another church, 
alas, far away from Sardis, there were 
a few names even there that had 
not defiled their garments. Some things 
remained even in a dead church, as to-day 



SARDIS 109 

a faithful and scanty minority may keep 
alive in their own heart the love of 
Christ even when they cannot revive 
the church of which they are members. 
Twice over to the faithful few came the 
message: "Be watchful!" Even as the 
citadel of Sardis was surprised and taken 
twice over and two great dynasties over- 
thrown for lack of watchfulness, so the 
faithful ones are exhorted to watch that 
they may save at least their own souls 
and at last be worthy to walk with the 
Son of Man in white. 

To these few came even a more beau- 
tiful and consoling message than to any 
other church of the seven. These few 
that have overcome shall be clothed in 
white garments, like the pure white toga 
worn by Roman citizens on days of 
triumph as they walked through the 
streets of Rome, following the victorious 
general who had come with trophies won 
in battle over a foreign foe. 



110 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

So the faithful ones of Sardis shall 
triumph though the dead church shall be 
blotted out and buried. The kingdom of 
our Lord will win the day, though a 
church here and there may become ut- 
terly extinct. Though a church lose 
even its name to live and be buried deep 
as the temples of Sardis, yet, if there is 
but one faithful soul who has not defiled 
his garments, he shall triumph in the end 
and walk in the white procession of vic- 
tory, for the kingdom of God cannot 
suffer defeat whatever may be true of 
the individual church. 

This lesson also is for us and for all 
time. It is a lesson which every church 
may well take to heart. Every individual 
Christian whose name, like those of the 
faithful few in Sardis, is written in the 
Book of Life may be sure that it will not 
be blotted out. 

It is interesting to note that a rem- 
nant professing a purer religion than the 



SARDIS 111 

Mohammedans around them still sur- 
vives in the plain of the Hermus, which 
was once part of the dominion of Sardis. 
We are told that their women usually 
bear Christian names. They practise 
monogamy and divorce is not permitted, 
and they violate many Mohammedan 
precepts. It is believed by those who 
know them best that they would become 
Christians if such a change of faith did 
not mean instant death by the Moham- 
medans, who consider them as belonging 
to one of their own sects. 

There is, moreover, in this same plain 
a settlement of Slavs from Russia who 
preserve at least the Christian name, and 
among these people, too, we would fain 
see the present-day remnant of the an- 
cient church of Sardis. 

A dozen filthy Turkish huts, the only 
native village near the site of ancient 
Sardis, serve to emphasise the fact that 
the ancient city of wealth and magnifi- 



112 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

cence is dead; but its desolation also 
brings out in clearer light and more 
vividly the promise to those who over- 
came, who are clothed in white garments, 
and whose names will never be blotted 
out of the Book of Life. 



CHAPTER VII 

PHILADELPHIA, THE CITY OF 
THE OPEN DOOR 

In our journey to the Seven Cities of 
Asia we approached Philadelphia from 
the great table-lands that cover a large 
part of the interior of Asia Minor and 
which lie for the most part to the north 
and east of the Seven Cities. Very early 
on a crisp winter morning we had left 
Ushak and its unspeakable hotel for a 
railway journey that takes one over as 
wild and picturesque a region as he is 
likely to find in the five continents. 

Ushak itself is by no means uninter- 
esting; the minarets of the mosques are 
tipped with metal, and as we left the 
little city they glittered in the light of 

113 



114 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

the sun's earliest rays. Barley, wheat, 
and opium grow in the rich red earth of 
this district, and it is especially famous 
as the headquarters of the kind of heavy 
carpets which we call Turkish carpets. 
These are largely made in private houses 
and some thousands of women and girls 
are employed as weavers, while the men 
wash and dye the wool. Since carpet- 
weaving is the chief mechanical business 
of this region and is a recognised indus- 
try of at least three of the Seven Cities, 
Smyrna, Thyatira, and Philadelphia, it 
may interest my readers if I quote a 
paragraph or two to show, a little more 
at length than in a former chapter, how 
these carpets are made. 

"Imagine a large bare room in a pri- 
vate house; in front of us is a great 
frame, perhaps twenty feet in width; in 
front of the frame are seated half a dozen 
women and girls whose deft fingers fly 
in and out like lightning as they break 



PHILADELPHIA 115 

off two or three inches of yarn from 
several bunches of different colours that 
hang over their heads. With incredible 
activity they knot this little piece of 
yarn to one of the threads of the web, 
choosing with marvellous exactness the 
right shade to match the pattern that is 
before them. So rapidly do their fingers 
move that one can scarcely follow them 
as with all the skill and exact precision 
of a practised piano-player they break 
off and tie the little piece of yarn, reach 
for another of a different colour, break it 
off and knot it, keeping up this exacting 
task for hours at a time, until one aches 
in sympathy with the tired hands that 
are flying in and out in front of the great 
frame to make the carpet which will soon 
be trodden by profane and dirty feet. 

"After a little of the wool has been 
knotted to the web it is combed out and 
cut even with large shears, and then 
pounded down with a peculiar-shaped 



116 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

hammer; and yet the most that a skil- 
ful woman can weave in a long day's 
work is only about ten inches of a carpet 
two feet wide. The most important of 
the colouring matter used is obtained 
from the madder root, which grows abun- 
dantly in all this region as well as about 
Thyatira, and is doubtless, as we have 
seen, the colour with which Lydia dyed 
her so-called purple. Of late years the 
aniline dyes have largely supplanted the 
old Turkey red produced from the mad- 
der root, the indigo which came from 
India, and the cochineal from the Indies, 
greatly to the deterioration of the car- 
pets and the loss of the carpet-buying 
public." 

But we are on our way to Philadelphia 
and cannot linger long among the car- 
pet looms of Ushak. Soon after leaving 
that little city our road begins to wind 
down-hill, for Ushak is three thousand 
feet and more above the sea, while Ala 



PHILADELPHIA 117 

Shehr, as the ancient Philadelphia is now 
called, is only a few hundred feet above 
the sea. During the last part of the 
journey to Philadelphia the descent is 
very rapid, and the scenery grows every 
moment more wild and rugged. Through 
tunnel after tunnel the train shoots, 
while far down below us we can see a 
great plain covered with curious columns 
and mounds of soft rock, which have been 
sculptured by the storms of many winters 
into all sorts of curious shapes. 

At last the foot of the hill is reached 
and we come to the valley of the Cog- 
amus, a tributary of the greater Hermus. 
After the magnificent views which the 
valley of the Hermus affords and of the 
magnificent Boz Dagh the Cogamus val- 
ley seems rather tame, but Philadelphia 
itself is relieved by some fine mountains 
of the Tmolus range which form a splen- 
did background for the ancient city. 

A walk of half a mile or thereabouts 



118 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

from the railway station brings us into 
the heart of the modern city of Ala 
Shehr, which, though by no means re- 
markable for cleanliness, is yet one of 
the most attractive and well-kept of the 
Turkish cities of the interior. As we ap- 
proach the city we see a rapid stream, 
two or three feet wide, tumbling riotously 
down the main street over the sharp cob- 
blestones, and spanned every now and 
then by a board a foot wide for the 
benefit of pedestrians. This water comes 
from the hills and is on its way to the 
vineyards on the other side of the city. 

When one series of vineyards has been 
irrigated the water is turned into another 
street, and beyond that, irrigates other 
acres of vines, for Ala Shehr is famous 
to-day, as was Philadelphia in the olden 
times, for its grapes and its wine, which 
Strabo eulogised two thousand years ago. 

Ancient volcanoes are not far away to 
the east and the north, and, as we shall 



PHILADELPHIA 119 

see later, Philadelphia has suffered ter- 
ribly from earthquakes, due perhaps to 
the proximity of these volcanoes. But 
some compensation has been afforded in 
the volcanic tufa the craters have vom- 
ited forth and which in the course of the 
ages has made the fertile soil in which 
the vines, the almond, and the peach 
abundantly flourish. 

It was winter when we left the table- 
lands about Ushak in the early morning; 
it was late in the spring when we reached 
Ala Shehr a few hours later; the almond- 
trees flourished, and the cherries and 
peaches were great bouquets of pink-and- 
white bloom. 

There is little of special interest to the 
modern traveller in the Philadelphia of 
to-day except as everything reminds him 
of the city of the Revelator. In Sardis 
and Pergamos the patient pick and spade 
of the excavater have laid bare the an- 
cient glories of these magnificent cities. 



120 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

But in Philadelphia scarcely a sod has 
been turned by the archaeologist, except 
where a cellar has been dug for some 
modern house and a few treasures of 
ancient times have been unearthed. 

Yet the every-day life of these modern 
cities of the Orient is always of interest 
to the traveller. Toward sunset great 
herds of ugly black water-buffaloes stum- 
ble bellowing through the streets, driven 
usually by a small boy perched on a 
donkey's back. The public bakeries are 
found in almost every street, and, mak- 
ing their way toward these bakeries, one 
often sees a line of women with long 
wooden trays filled with unbaked loaves 
which will be thrust far into the capa- 
cious mouth of the public oven. The 
Greek women can be distinguished from 
the Turkish women by their unveiled 
faces, but you will see no Jews in Ala 
Shehr, because its market-day, when al- 
most all the trading is done, comes on 



PHILADELPHIA 121 

Saturday, and it would be a profanation 
for a devout Jew to buy or sell or get 
gain on the Sabbath day. 

Possibly the shrewd Greeks, who num- 
ber about five thousand out of twenty 
thousand men, women, and children of 
modern Philadelphia, have decreed that 
the Jewish Sabbath shall be their market- 
day for the express purpose of excluding 
the Hebrews from their city. 

One of the most interesting and be- 
neficent natural products of Ala Shehr 
is a splendid spring of mineral water, 
famous from the time of the Apostles. 
The spring rises a mile from the city 
and is brought in pipes to a modest hy- 
dropathic establishment near the town, 
where the water is bottled in large quan- 
tities and sent all over Asia Minor. It 
is a refreshing, tonicky water, something 
like Apollinaris, and is an untold boon 
to travellers in Asia Minor, since it can 
be had in almost every town of any size 



122 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

where the ordinary water is filled with 
all sorts of dangerous microbes and is 
undrinkable by the stranger. 

Though almost no excavation work 
has been done in Philadelphia, there are 
many indications that it would be most 
rewarding could any one be found with 
time and money to unearth the buried 
treasures. In digging the foundations 
for a Greek school an ancient Greek 
cemetery was discovered with many beau- 
tiful stelae, funeral urns, and mourning 
figures; these are preserved in one of the 
rooms of the school, which appeared to 
be an admirable institution for so remote 
a town. 

We were told that in a vineyard near 
by the workmen who were setting out 
vines had recently fallen through the 
earth into some large underground cham- 
bers. Going out to the vineyard, we 
found that the rumour was true, and 
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PHILADELPHIA 123 

arches of brick and stone and chambers 
with mural decorations still fresh, though 
the painter had been dead perhaps for 
two thousand years. Wreaths of flowers 
tied with ribbons seemed to be the chief 
decorations for these chambers, which 
perhaps were sepulchres of the olden 
times, though so far as I know no one 
has yet discovered their use. 

The ruins of Philadelphia are few and 
uninteresting, and I was not able to dis- 
cover the great pillar which some mod- 
ern commentators declare is to be found 
there, reminiscent of the pillar spoken of 
in the Revelation. The most interesting 
Greek church which we visited contains a 
picture of the Revelator's vision, painted 
by an artist whose name and fame have 
been forgotten in the long passage of 
the centuries. It represents our Lord in 
the midst of the "seven golden candle- 
sticks" clothed with a long garment 
down to his feet and girt about with 



124 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

a golden girdle. In his right hand were 
the seven stars, and out of his mouth 
went a sharp two-edged sword. In 
various corners of the picture were the 
seven churches, some of which looked 
not unlike old New England meeting- 
houses, while at the bottom of the pic- 
ture, under the feet of his Lord, lay the 
prostrate John. The crude literalism of 
the painting was most interesting, es- 
pecially as one viewed it in one of the 
Seven Cities to which He wrote who had 
in His right hand seven stars, out of whose 
mouth went a sharp, two-edged sword, 
whose countenance was as the sun shin- 
ing in his strength, and before whom the 
Revelator fell at his feet as dead. 

Ala Shehr rises from the plain through 
which the railway runs and largely covers 
the slope of a commanding hill from the 
top of which a splendid view can be ob- 
tained. Between this hill and the Tmolus 
is a deep valley, and up the long cleft of 



PHILADELPHIA 125 

the Hermus to the table-land of Asia 
Minor the eye is never tired of gazing, 
so charming is the scene. It was this 
situation that gave to the Philadelphia 
of old its importance and its unique in- 
terest. This long valley of which it 
seemed to be the guardian was the open 
door to Phrygia and all the region be- 
yond, and the most striking figure of the 
sacred message to this church is derived 
from this thought of Philadelphia as 
"the open door which no man could 
shut" to the regions beyond. 

Sir William Ramsay designates it as 
the "missionary city," because it was 
established by its founder, Attalus II, 
about a century and a half before Christ, 
to become the centre of Graeco-Asiatic 
civilisation, to spread the knowledge of 
the Greek language and customs through- 
out the eastern part of Lydia, where it 
was situated, and far on into Phrygia. It 
was a missionary city, he says, from the 



126 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

beginning, founded to promote a cer- 
tain unity of spirit, customs, and loyalty 
within the realm, the apostle of Helle- 
nism in an Oriental land. 

It was a successful teacher. Before 
A. D. 19 the Lydian tongue had ceased 
to be spoken in Lydia and Greek was 
the only language of the country. We 
have already seen in our chapter about 
Sardis how completely the Greek lan- 
guage had supplanted the Lydian, and 
the Lydian tablets which have recently 
been discovered by the American ar- 
chaeologists are still untranslatable, so 
completely did Philadelphia do its mis- 
sionary work and make the Greek lan- 
guage and literature and spirit dominant 
throughout all the land. 

The beautiful name Philadelphia was 
derived from the founder of the city, 
Attalus Philadelphus, who was so called 
because of his marked affection and loy- 
alty to his brother Eumenes. On the 



PHILADELPHIA 127 

ancient coins of Philadelphia are shown 
the two brothers exactly alike in limb 
and feature and garb, an identity which 
symbolised their mutual unity and affec- 
tion. One of these coins represents them 
as looking upon the genius of Ephesus as 
she carries an image of her own goddess 
Diana toward her temple. This coin was 
struck to commemorate the alliance of 
Philadelphia and Ephesus. 

I have already said that Philadelphia 
occupied a strategic position at the en- 
trance to the long Hermus valley, and 
that it was the open door to all the region 
beyond. It was also on the imperial 
post-road which, starting from Rome, 
crossed Italy, the Adriatic, Macedonia, 
and the ^Egean, and then, after reaching 
Asian soil, went by way of Troas, Perga- 
mos, and Sardis, through Philadelphia 
and on to the far East. So by nature, 
as well as by the works of man (and for 
nothing were the Romans more famous 



128 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

than for their magnificent post-roads), 
Philadelphia was the "open door" to the 
more undeveloped peoples in the far 
region eastward. 

Another event in the history of Phila- 
delphia must be recorded before we can 
fully understand the message of the 
Revelator. In the year seventeen of the 
Christian era occurred a terrible earth- 
quake. We have already noted how it 
destroyed the great Temple of Artemis 
in Sardis, built by Alexander the Great. 
Sardis was perhaps the more completely 
ruined in this awful cataclysm, but 
twelve other cities were also destroyed; 
one of these was Philadelphia. 

Strabo tells us that in some respects 
Philadelphia was the worst sufferer of 
all, since for several years after the earth- 
quake the earth tremors continued, mak- 
ing it unsafe to live within the confines 
of the city, so that the great majority of 
the inhabitants moved away or estab- 



PHILADELPHIA 129 

lished themselves in tents in the sur- 
rounding country. Every one who chose 
to live in Philadelphia at this period was 
considered a fool by outsiders, just as 
we wonder to-day how the natives in the 
region of Vesuvius can build their houses 
and plant their vineyards time after time 
on the slopes of the mountain which has 
so often poured forth its burning lava 
and swallowed up the farms, the homes, 
and people who trustingly built their 
houses upon its side. 

The whole earthquake region on the 
edge of which Philadelphia was situated 
was called Katakekaumene, or Burnt 
District. The Emperor Tiberius, who 
was then upon the throne, provided 
liberally from the royal treasury for 
Philadelphia and the other ruined cities, 
and in memory of his generosity the 
Philadelphians took another name and 
called their city Neokaisareia, the New 
Caesar. A temple was also built in honour 



130 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

of the Emperor, but whether of Tiberius 
or Germanicus, his son, is not quite cer- 
tain. However, this temple and the new 
name of the city apparently did not last 
long. It soon resumed its ancient and 
more mellifluous name, and the new tem- 
ple, it is thought, soon fell into decay. 

Now we can understand, perhaps, more 
clearly the message of the Spirit unto the 
church of Philadelphia. He who wrote it 
was the holy and the true, the one who 
had the key of David, the one who 
openeth and no man shutteth, and shut- 
teth and no man openeth. His very title 
evidently refers to the open door, which 
in the next verse he says he has set before 
the church of Philadelphia. 

The open door was a familiar metaphor 
to the Christians of Saint John's time. 
Saint Paul used it over and over again. 
At Ephesus he tells us a "great door 
and effectual' is opened to him. At 
Troas, too, a door was opened, and the 



PHILADELPHIA 131 

Colossians were asked to pray that God 
may "open unto us a door for the word 
of utterance to speak the mystery of 
Christ." Though the church has only 
a little strength, no man can shut this 
door of opportunity. It is interesting 
to note that no word of even implied 
censure is spoken to the church of Phila- 
delphia. It shares this distinction with 
Smyrna alone, and it seems no mere 
coincidence, in spite of the ridicule that 
Mark Twain cast upon the idea, that 
these two cities alone of all the seven 
have maintained continuously the wor- 
ship of Christ through all the centuries 
since this letter was written, while the 
others have been given wholly over to the 
worship of the Turks. 

'Because thou didst keep the word of 
my patience, I also will keep thee from 
the hour of trial," says the Revelator. 
The Philadelphians, indeed, knew what 
the hour of trial was: the terrible earth- 



132 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

quake, the ruin of the city, its bad name 
as an unsafe place for residence — which 
adhered to it, perhaps, until the time 
that this letter was written, for during 
many years the inhabitants dared not 
live within the confines of the city but 
camped out in the open fields. 

All these memories were fresh at this 
time and gave new significance to the 
beautiful promise to him that over- 
cometh: "I will make him a pillar in the 
temple of my God, and he shall go out 
thence no more." No longer in the new 
Jerusalem the inhabitants would have to 
leave an earthquake-shaken city, but he 
would be established as a pillar immov- 
able in the holy temple, and upon him 
would be written a new name. On the 
pillars of the temple dedicated to the 
Roman Emperor was doubtless written 
the new name of Philadelphia, Neo- 
kaisareia, but neither this name nor the 
temple on which it was engraved lasted 



PHILADELPHIA 133 

long, but the name in the temple of the 
new Jerusalem would endure for ever. 

The later history of Philadelphia was 
worthy of its early promise and of the 
cordial commendatory words of the Spirit. 
It long maintained itself as a Christian 
city when all the rest of Asia Minor had 
yielded to the Turk. It endured siege 
after siege. It was defended with heroic 
valour by its Christian inhabitants. They 
endured starvation, massacre, almost an- 
nihilation before at last they yielded to 
the Seljukian Turks toward the end of 
the fourteenth century, hundreds of years 
after the companion cities had been con- 
quered. Even the cool-blooded and often 
contemptuous Gibbon is aroused to some- 
thing like enthusiasm as he contemplates 
the heroism of the early Philadelphians, 
and we may well close this story of the 
City of the Open Door with his eulogy: 

"In the loss of Ephesus the Christians 
deplored the fall of the first angel, the 



134 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

extinction of the first candlestick of the 
Revelation. . . . The circus and three 
stately theatres of Laodicea are now peo- 
pled with wolves and foxes; Sardis is 
reduced to a miserable village; the God 
of Mahomet without a rival or a son 
is invoked in the mosques of Thyatira 
and Pergamos, and the populousness of 
Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade 
of Franks and Armenians. Philadelphia 
alone has been saved by prophecy or 
courage. . . . Among the Greek colonies 
and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still 
erect, a column in a scene of ruins, a 
pleasing example that the paths of honour 
and safety may sometimes be the same." 



CHAPTER VIII 

LAODICEA THE LUKEWARM 

I have considered the Seven Cities of 
Asia in the order in which they are given 
in the book of Revelation, but the order 
in which the modern traveller naturally 
visits them is to combine in one excursion 
the first and the last, Ephesus and Laod- 
icea, for these two cities are upon the 
same line of railway— a well-managed 
English line that runs southeast from 
Smyrna. If we examine a map of the 
ancient province of Asia which occupied 
the western part of Asia Minor in Roman 
times we shall see that a line drawn 
through the Seven Cities forms an ir- 
regular, oblong figure with Pergamos at 

135 



136 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

its northern point, Smyrna and Ephesus 
on the extreme western edge, Thyatira, 
Sardis, and Philadelphia on the north- 
east, and Laodicea at the extreme south- 
eastern point. The distance, in a straight 
line between Ephesus and Pergamos, is 
something over a hundred miles. Ephe- 
sus is some forty miles from Smyrna and 
about eighty miles from Laodicea. 

While no one of the Seven Cities is, as 
the crow flies, more than two-score miles 
from one of its neighbours, the extent of 
the country occupied by these cities is 
very considerable. 

The journey from Ephesus to Laodicea 
is a most interesting one. Throughout 
the whole distance it follows the valley 
of the Meander or its scarcely less cele- 
brated tributary the Lycus, which joins 
the Meander shortly before we get to 
Laodicea. This is the greatest fig region 
in the world, for most of the celebrated 
Smyrna figs come from the Meander 



LAODICEA 137 

valley, and throughout almost its whole 
length we see the beautiful, shapely 
trees, with their smooth white bark, 
which have contributed throughout all the 
ages so much to the wealth of the prov- 
ince. Cotton and tobacco and maize are 
also raised in this fertile valley. We look 
with constant interest upon the crooked 
Meander, which winds in and out through- 
out the whole length of the valley. Visions 
of college classics, of the mythical stories 
of childhood, are brought to our minds 
by every turn of the meandering stream, 
and its banks in the springtime, bright 
with millions of gorgeous anemones, make 
it seem the fit abiding-place for the 
spirits and sprites with which mythology 
peopled its banks. 

Every town at which our train stops 
beckons to us to leave the cars and pay 
it a visit, for each one is full of classic 
interest. But we cannot linger to see 
the ruins of old Magnesia, so old that it 



138 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

was destroyed by Cimmerians more than 
twenty-five hundred years ago, or Tralles, 
where the great Attalus once had his 
palaces, or Sultan Hissar, where Strabo, 
the historian, to whom we are so much 
indebted for our knowledge of ancient 
men and manners, once went to school. 
The modern Turkish names of many of 
these stations on the way to Laodicea are 
most interesting; for instance, Balachik 
means "Little Place up Above"; Deir- 
manjak means "Dear Little Mill"; while 
a station still farther south, called Kuyu- 
kak, means "Dear Little Well." 

At last, after a journey which had 
taken nearly the whole day, though we 
had covered less than a hundred miles 
from Ephesus, the conductor calls out, 
"Gonjeli," and we know that we have 
reached the station at the foot of the 
great hill which is covered with the ruins 
of Laodicea, where once was a proud, 
rich city and a church which received the 



LAODICEA 139 

most scathing rebuke of any which was 
spoken by the Spirit to any one of the 
Seven Churches of Asia. 

Laodicea, like Philadelphia, was a City 
of the Open Door. It was founded by 
Antiochus III some two hundred and fifty 
years before Christ as a guardian of the 
great road from Smyrna and Ephesus to 
the Meander valley, to Phrygia and to 
the uplands of Anatolia. It had a com- 
manding position on the lower valley of 
the Lycus, and all the merchandise and 
all the soldiers and their equipments, and 
all the officials of the Greek and Roman 
empires, in their turn, had to pass through 
this great city on their way to the far 
East or on their return from the interior 
of Asia. 

To be sure, the important highway 
that passed through Philadelphia reached, 
in a measure, the same back country, but 
the pass to the uplands which was guarded 
by Laodicea was less steep and rugged 



140 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

than the road beyond Philadelphia, and 
the natural advantages were apparently 
altogether with the former city. By rea- 
son of these advantages Laodicea grew 
rich and prosperous. It became famous 
for its banking-houses and its million- 
aires, but with all its wealth and pros- 
perity it did not perform its mission as 
well as poor Philadelphia. It seems to 
have made little impression on the Phryg- 
ian tribes and to have accomplished 
little for the introduction of the Greek 
language and civilisation in which Phila- 
delphia was so successful. 

Laodicea was especially famous for 
two things, its wool and its medicine. 
A peculiar kind of sheep with long, soft, 
glossy black wool had long been bred in 
this neighbourhood. The secret of rais- 
ing this breed of sheep has now been 
lost, but in the days of Saint John this 
glossy wool, which came from Laodicea 
and was there woven into beautiful and 



LAODICEA 141 

costly garments, was famous throughout 
the world. 

The city was also famous for its phy- 
sicians and its medicines. An especial 
and noted school of medicine flourished 
in Laodicea. We are told "that this 
school of physicians followed the teach- 
ings of Herophilos, who lived about three 
hundred years before Christ, and who, 
on the principle that compound diseases 
require compound medicines, began that 
strange system of heterogeneous mix- 
tures, some of which have only lately 
been expelled from our own pharmaco- 
pceia. 

The fearful and wonderful combina- 
tion of drugs given by some modern 
doctors would seem to indicate that they 
still belong to this school of Laodicea. 
One of the medicines for which Laod- 
icea was famous was an ointment for 
"strengthening the ears," whatever that 
may mean, while another medicine of 



142 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

still more interest to the student of 
Revelation was the "Phrygian powder," 
made in part from a peculiar kind of 
stone pressed into tabloids, afterward 
powdered and mixed with some ingre- 
dient, to be rubbed on the eye as a cure 
for the various diseases which afflict the 
optics in Eastern countries. The world- 
famous Galen speaks of both these rem- 
edies in his pharmacopoeia. 

Another far more useful medicine, 
which, so far as we know, Galen does not 
mention, also grows now and probably 
in his time grew in great abundance 
about Laodicea. This is the humble 
licorice root which is exported in large 
quantities from all this region. One of 
the commonest sights about Laodicea in 
the spring of the year is a company of 
veiled Turkish women pulling the long 
roots of licorice which grow wild and in 
great abundance, and which will after- 
ward be chewed with supreme delight by 



LAODICEA 143 

small boys in many parts of the world 
and will also be made up into powder for 
medicinal purposes. 

On this great hill, whose base the rail- 
way now skirts, once stood the proud 
and wealthy city of Laodicea. Its banks, 
its woollen factories, its medical schools, 
its impregnable fortifications, its great 
garrisons of soldiers, were famous in all 
the region round about. The great men 
of the world visited it. Its products 
were sought for in the bazaars of all the 
nations. It was "rich and increased with 
goods and had need of nothing.' 5 But 
what do we see to-day? It is the most 
desolate and God-forsaken of all the 
Seven Cities. Even Sardis, though quite 
as dead, is far more interesting to the 
traveller. The barren, utterly deserted 
hill on which Laodicea stood rises above 
the mean little Turkish village of Eski 
Hissar and contains not a single inhabi- 
tant. No wandering shepherd, even, 



144 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

pastures his flocks among the ruins; no 
living creature picks a scanty subsistence 
from between the rocks which strew the 
ground so thickly that scarcely a blade 
of grass can grow. 

At least, this was the impression that 
we received when late on the day of our 
arrival at the ruins we made our way 
over the historic blocks of marble and 
granite and tried to reproduce in our 
imagination the ancient glories of Laod- 
icea which have for ever passed away. 
Its former greatness, however, is shown 
by its ruins. They cover hundreds of 
acres, and though they have been quar- 
ried for a thousand years by all the vil- 
lagers round about, who have built their 
walls, their houses, and their pigsties 
from the marbles of the ancient city, yet 
there is good building material enough 
left to erect another city to-day on the 
site of the ancient metropolis. 

Here are the ruins of a mighty temple. 



LAODICEA 145 

Some of its stones I measured, and found 
them to be four feet long and three feet 
thick. There are the ruins of a noble 
aqueduct which brought water from a 
hill miles away through a valley which 
lies between the Hill of Fountains and 
Laodicea, and then carried the water by 
a siphon system, which would do credit 
to any modern hydraulic engineer, to the 
top of a large stone tower, part of which 
is still standing with the pipes yet visible 
which tell of ancient Laodicea's splendid 
water-works. But this aqueduct also 
tells of Laodicea's weakness, for all the 
water had to be brought from a distance, 
and in the case of war with a determined 
enemy, though the pipes were brought 
underground much of the way, a water 
famine in Laodicea would soon be threat- 
ened. 

But what impressed me most were the 
vast theatres and the stadium, for they 
seemed to tell more of the character of 



146 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

the people than any of the other ruins. 
The two theatres are still in a very fair 
state of preservation. Many of the 
stone seats are still in place. Each one 
is built in a natural amphitheatre, and I 
estimated that together they would seat 
from fifty to seventy thousand people. 
The great stadium, where the athletic 
events took place, was also an enormous 
affair, whose outlines are plainly visible. 
Many of the seats of the stadium are 
also still in place, and on pacing its length 
I found it to be at least half as long again 
as the magnificent stadium in Athens, 
which seats ninety thousand people. 
Probably not less than one hundred and 
fifty thousand people could find seats in 
this mighty amphitheatre. 

And yet Laodicea was not a world 
metropolis. Though prosperous and pop- 
ulous, it was still a small city as com- 
pared with the great capitals of antiquity. 
Do not these great theatres and this 



LAODICEA 147 

mighty stadium give us one clew to the 
degeneration of Laodicea, and the sever- 
ity of the message which the Spirit sent 
to the angel of its church? 

It was evidently a pleasure-loving city, 
whose places of amusement provided 
seats at one time for all the inhabitants 
of the city and the surrounding country. 
They would not have been built on this 
immense scale were they not well pa- 
tronised. The theatres of a city tell of 
its character, as well as its churches. 

The only relief which the traveller 
finds in visiting Laodicea he gains from 
the mighty mountains of God which sur- 
round it. Snow-clad hills eight thousand 
and ten thousand feet high keep guard 
over the city to the south. In no other 
part of Asia Minor did we see more mag- 
nificent mountains. One of our party 
described them as rising in tiers one be- 
hind the other, peering over each other's 
shoulders as they seemed to gaze down 



148 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

upon the doomed city which was once so 
proud and self-satisfied. It had all that 
heart could wish. Money flowed into it 
from all quarters. The Phrygians con- 
tributed their share; from Ephesus and 
Smyrna came golden stores; its glossy 
black sheep were found nowhere else 
and greatly contributed to its wealth ; its 
medicines were believed in implicitly and 
were sought by the credulous from all 
parts of the world. 

And yet it made no great impression, 
morally or religiously, upon the people 
round about it. It was not a missionary 
city like Philadelphia; it did not enter 
the open door which was placed before it; 
it seems to have done little or nothing 
to civilise the rude tribes of the uplands 
though the road to them led past its very 
gates. It was content to make money 
and to care for its own interests. 

In the reign of Nero it was shaken by a 
tremendous earthquake and partially de- 



LAODICEA 149 

stroyed, but it was too proud to receive 
aid from the government or from the 
neighbouring cities as other municipali- 
ties had done under like circumstances. 
It took care of its own destitute people 
and managed its own affairs, apparently 
neither borrowing from nor lending to 
others. 

And yet, so far as we know, it was not 
an unusually wicked city. It was not 
famed for its licentiousness or its roguery, 
as were some of the other cities of the 
Roman Empire. It had a good name in 
the commercial world. It paid its bills 
and set a good example of law and order, 
but it missed the highest aims. It ap- 
parently had no great ideals. Money- 
making and money-spending satisfied it. 
The Christians of the city evidently fell 
into the same complacent, self-satisfied 
attitude as the rest of the people. They 
were content to let well enough alone, 
and to seek not first the kingdom of God 



150 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

and his righteousness but their own ease 
and comfort and wealth. 

Because of this came to them the 
scathing rebuke of the Revelator, and be- 
cause of this the very name of their city 
has become a reproach and a byword 
throughout the world. A Laodicean is 
one of the meanest types of mankind. 
He is neither cold nor hot; he has lost 
his enthusiasm; he has no great purpose 
except to be comfortable, and so he 
causes the man of fine moral purpose to 
spew him out of his mouth. 

The seventeenth verse of the third 
chapter of Revelation describes the at- 
titude of the Laodiceans. "I am rich," 
they say, "and increased with goods and 
have need of nothing." But the Spirit 
said to them: "Thou art wretched and 
miserable and poor and blind and naked." 
Physical repletion and moral emptiness; 
material wealth and spiritual poverty: 
that was the character of Laodicea. 



LAODICEA 151 

But evidently their case was not quite 
hopeless. They were counselled to buy 
true gold, gold which would make them 
rich in spirit rather than in purse, and 
white raiment, the robe of righteousness, 
that they might be clothed, instead of the 
glossy black cloth made from their fa- 
mous wool, and eye-salve which would 
open their spiritual eyes instead of the 
Phrygian powder which might benefit 
their weak physical sight. 

In this message, as in every other, the 
Spirit fits his words of warning to the 
peculiar circumstances of the church to 
which he writes, and none more exactly 
suits the circumstances of the time and 
place than the warning to the lukewarm 
city. 

Now we come to the end of the mes- 
sages of the Seven Cities. There are but 
four verses more. Sir William Ramsay 
considers them as an epilogue which ap- 
plies not to Laodicea but to all the 



152 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

churches. "All reference to the Laodi- 
ceans has ceased," he says, "and the 
writer is drifting further and further 
away from them." However, since that 
is a matter of opinion, I prefer to believe 
that these later and more hopeful words 
of the chapter apply to the Laodiceans 
as well as to the other churches: "As 
many as I love I rebuke and chasten." 
Surely the Laodiceans were chastened in 
the years that follow. Though their love 
had grown cold and their zeal feeble, yet 
the Master says: "Behold I stand at the 
door and knock." There was still a 
chance for the church of Laodicea to open 
the door of its heart to him that he might 
come in and sup. There was still a chance 
for them to repent and overcome and to 
sit with him on his throne. 

Many a tribulation came to the city in 
later years, earthquake shock and fire and 
siege; and for long it held out against 
the Mohammedans, as did its sister city 



LAODICEA 153 

Philadelphia, though not so long nor so 
courageously as did that valiant town. 
We read of another city in this same 
region, Eumeneia by name, which en- 
dured great persecution. In its days of 
prosperity it was much like Laodicea it- 
self. Christians accepted the Greek cul- 
ture, accommodating themselves to the 
life of the times, apparently in no very 
heroic spirit, but when the persecutions 
of the early part of the fourth century 
arose, the last great Christian persecu- 
tion, the people all gathered in the 
church, contrary to the imperial edict. A 
battalion of Roman soldiers surrounded 
the church. They offered to spare the 
lives of the Christians if they would re- 
cant, but not one accepted the proposal. 
Every one clung to his faith and all were 
burned with the church in which they 
had taken refuge. 

May we not also hope that in the 
neighbouring city of Laodicea the luke- 



154 THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

warm Christians, aroused by the message 
of the Revelator, rebuked by his stinging 
reproaches, chastened by misfortune, re- 
pented and renewed their zeal, opened the 
door for the Master's entrance, and finally 
were among those who overcame the luke- 
warmness of the past, the disadvantages 
of an easy prosperity, and at last "sat 
down with Him on His throne 5 because 
they had heard and heeded what the Spirit 
said unto the churches ? 





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