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Spirit saith unto the churches, He that overcometh , before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed shall not be hurt of the second death.
unto idols, and to commit fornication." 12 And to the angel of the church in Perga- 15 So hast thou also them that hold the docmos write; These things saith she which hath the trine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. sharp sword with two edges:
16 Repert; or else I will come unto thee quichir, 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, and ywill fight against them with the sword of my even where Satan's seat is : and thou holdest fast mouth. my name, and hast not denied umy faith, even in 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what dr those days wherein Antipas was my faithtul martyr, Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overwho was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. cometh will I give to eat of the hidden “manna, and
14 But I have a few things against thee, because will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Ba-"name written, which no man knoweth 'saving he laam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block that receiveth'it.
thereby. 2. With a gracious promise to the conquering Chris- that, as the wife bears the name of the husband, so thou art tian; (v. 11,) He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second called by my name; this thou holdest fast, as thine bar and death. Observe, (1.) There is not only a first, but a second privilege.” (2.) That which has made thee thus faitfa', is, death; a death after the body is dead. (2.) This second death ihe grace of faith; thou hast not denied the great deines of is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in the dying the Gospel, nor departed from the Christian faith, and is that pangs and agonies of it—which are the agonies of the soul, means thou hast been kept faithful. Our faith will have a great without any mixture of support, and in the duration-it is eter- influence upon our faithfulness; men who deny the father nal death, dying the death, to die, and to be always dying ; this Christ, may boast very much of their sincerity, and fantik is hurtful indeed, it is fatally hurtful to all who fall under it. ness to God and conscience; but it has been seldom koota (3.) From this hurtful, this destructive death, Christ will save that those who let go the true faith, retain their fidelity; ys 2.) all his faithful servants; the second deuih shall have no power on that rock on which inen make shipwreck of their faith, Lw over those who are partakers of the first resurrection; the first make shipwreck of a good conscience too: and here our based death shall not hurt them, and the second death shall have no Lord aggrandizes the fidelity of this church from the core power over them.
stance of the times, as well as of the place where they lived V. 12–17. Here also we are to consider,
they had been steadfast even in those days where Antipas bar I. The inscription of this message. 1. Whom it was sent faithful martyr was slain among them : who this persones to; to the angel of the church of Pergamos. Whether this was and whether there be any thing mysterious in his canr, a city raised up out of the ruins of old Troy, a Troy nouveau, have no certain account; he was a faithful disciple of Cristo (as our London was once called,) or some other city of the he suffered martyrdom for it, and sealed his faith and 6 -T same name, is neither certain nor material; it was a place with his blood in ihe place where Satan dwelt; and theagh the where Christ had called and constituted a Gospel church by rest of the believers there knew this, and saw it, yet they sere the preaching of the Gospel, and the grace of his Spirit making not discouraged nor drawn away from their stcadfastness : List the word effectual. 2. Who it was, that sent this message 10 is mentioned as an addition to iheir honour. Pergamos; the same Jesus who here describes himself as one 3. He reproves them for their sinful failures; (r. 14, Bul that hath the sharp sword with two edges; (ch. 1. 16,) out of his have a few things against thee, beenuse thou hast there then the mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.
hold the doctrine of Baltam, &c. and them that hold the battle Some have observed, that, in the several titles of Christ of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. There were sony 30 which are prefixed to the several epistles, there is something taught it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and the suited to the state of those churches; as in that to Ephesus, simple fornication was no sin; they, by an impure som what could be more proper to awaken and recover a drowsy drew men into impure practices, as Balaam did the Isracea and declining church, than to hear Christ speaking as one that Observe, (1.) The filthiness of the spirit and the filthineas i de held the stars in his hand, and walked in the midst of the golden flesh often go together; corrupt doctrines and a corrupt 37 candlesticks ? &c.
ship often lead to a corrupt conversation. (2.) It is very laro The church of Pergamos was infested with men of corrupt ful to fix the names of the leaders of any heresy upen tonen minds, who did what they could 10 corrupt both the faith and follow them; it is the shortest way of telling whom we mer manners of the church ; and Christ, being resolved to fight (3.) To continue in communion with persons of corrupt print against them by the sword of his word, takes the title of him ples and practices, is displeasing to God, draws a gru: 51 that hath the sharp sword with two eilges. (1.) The word of blemish upon the whole society; they become partakers of God is a sword; it is a weapon both offensive and defensive, other men's sing. Though the church, as such, has no paint it is, in the hand of God, able to slay both sin and sinners. to punish the persons of men, either for heresy or immece (2.) It is a sharp sword; no heart is so hard but it is able to with corporal penalties; yet it has power to exclude them to wound it, no knot so closely tied but it is able to cut it; it can their holy communion; and if it do not so, Christ
, the Heart divide asunder between the soul and the spirit, that is, between and Lasgiver of the church, will be displeased with it. the soul and those sinful habits that by custom are become 1. He calls them to repentance; (v.16) Repert; er nie! another soul, or seem to be essential to it. (3.) It is a sword will come unto thee quickly, &c. Observe here, (1.) Roes with two edges; it turns and cuts every way; there is the edge ance is the duty of saints as well as sinners; it is a Gispert of the law against the transgressors of that dispensation, and duty. (2.) It is the duty of churches and communities as wel the edge of the Gospel against the despisers of that dispensa- as particular persons; they who sin together, should great tion; there is an edge to make a wound, and an edge to open a together. (3.) It is the duty of Christian societies to pa! festered wound in order to its healing'; there is no escaping of other men's sins, as far as ihey have been accessary to the the elge of this sword; if ye turn aside to the right hand, it though but so much as by connivance. (4.) When Gedora has an eilge on that side; if on the left hand, ye fall upon the to punish the corrupt members of a church, he rebukes ita: edge of the sword on that side; it turns every way.
church itself for allowing such to continue in its common II. From the inscription we proceed to the contents of this and some drops of the storm fall upon the whole seziety. epistle, in which the method is much the same that is observed (5.) No sword cu's so deep, nor inflicts so mortal a wound, as in the rest. Here,
ihe sword of Christ's mouth; let but the threatenings 1. Christ takes notice of the trials and difficulties this church word be set home upon the conscience of a sinner, and he wi encountered with; (v. 13,) I know thy works, and where thou soon be a terror to himself; let these threatenings be everpress dwellest, &c. The works of God's servants are best known, and the sinner is utterly cut off: the word of God will take bain when their circumstances, under which they did those works, of sinners, sooner or later, either for their conviction or thed are duly considered; now ibat circumstance which added very confusion.' much lustre to the good works of this church, was, the circum- III. We have the conclusion of this epistle, where, after the stance of the place where this church was planted, a place usual demand of universal attention, there is the promise where Satan's seat was. As our great Lord takes notice of all great favour 10 those that overcome'; (4.17,) 'They shal the advantages and opportunities we have for duty by the of the hidden manna, and have the 'new name, and the morning places where we dwell, so he takes notice of all the temptations stone, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. !. 7 and discouragements we meet with from the places where we hidden manna, the influences and comforts of the Spirit of dwell, and makes gracious allowances for them. This people Christ in communion with him, coming down from heaven dwelt where Satan's sent was, where he kept his court ; his the soul, from time to time, for its support, to let it taste circuit is throughout the world, his seal is in some places that thing how saints and angels live in heaven; this is hulle are infamous for wickedness, error, and crnelly; some think that the rest of the world ; a stranger intermedidles not rrett the Roman governor in this city was a most violent enemy to and it is laid up in Christ, the Ark of the covenant, in the **** the Christians; and the seat of persecution is Satan's seat. of holies. 2. The white stone, with a new name engraxalpe
2. He commends their steadfastness ; (v. 13,) Thou holdest it: this white stone is absolution from the guilt of sin, alzin fast my name, and hast not denieil my faith. These two ex- to the ancient custom of giving a white stone to those arquitet pressions are much of the same sense; the former may signify on trial, and a black stone to those condemned. The series the the ctfect, and the latter the cause or means. (1.) “Thou hold is the name of adoption : adopted persons took the name of 2 pat fast my name ; thou art not ashamed of thy relation to me, family into which they were adopted: none can re aut the moment but 'accountest it thine honour that my name is named on thee, I dence of a man's auloption but himself; he cannot a'ways režil
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18 And unto the angel of the church in Thya-, all the churches mshall know that I" am he which tira write; These things saith the Son of God, who searcheth the reips and hearts; and I will give hath his eyes (like unto a flame of fire, and his feet unto every one of you according to your works. are like fine brass;
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thya19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, tira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; the last to be more than the first.
I will put upon you none other burden. 20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against 25 But that? which ye have already hold fast till thee, because thou suflerest that woman Jezebel,' I come. which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach, and to
26 And he that overcometh," and keepeth my seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to works® unto the end, to him will I give power over eats things sacrificed unto idols.
the nations: 21 And I gave her space to repent of her forni- 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron : as cation; and she repented not.
the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers : 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them even as I 'received of my Father. that commit adultery with her into great tribula- 28 And I will give him the morning star." tion, except they repent of their deeds.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the 23 And I will kill 'her children with death; and Spirit saith unto the churches.
4 c. 1.14, 15. e Ver. 2. fi Kings 16.31. & Ex. 34. 15. I Cor. 10. 20, 28. h Rum. 2. 4. 2 Pet. 3. 9. i c. 9. 20. k Ez. 16. 37. 23. 29. lc. 6. 8. in Zopli 1. 11. n I Chr. 28. 9. 2 Chr. 6. 30. Pa. 7.9, Jer. 17. 10.
0 Ps. 62. 12. p 2 Thes. 2.9.-12.
9c, 3. 11. r ver, 7, 11, 17. c. 3. 5, 12, 21. & Pa. 49. 14. 149.5-9. 4 Ps. 2. 9. o c. 22.
it; but, if he persevere, he shall have both the evidence of son- work, and a work of time. [3.] Where God gives space for ship and the inheritance.
repentance, he expects fruils meet for repentance. [4.] Where V. 18—29. The form of each epistle is very much the same; the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a and in this, as the rest, we have to consider the inscription, double destruction. contents, and conclusion.
Now why should the wickedness of this Jezebel be charged I. The inscription, telling us,
upon the church of Thyatira? Because that church suffered 1. To whom it is directed; to the angel of the church of Thya- her to seduce the people of that city. But how could they help tira, a city of the proconsular Asia, bordering upon Mysia on it? They had not, as a church, civil power to banish or imthe north, and Lydia on the south, a town of trade; from whence prison her; but they had ministerial power to censure and to came the woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, who, being excommunicate her: and it is probable that neglecting to use at Philippi in Macedonia, probably, about the business of her the power they had, made them sharers in her sin. calling, heard Paul preach there, and God opened her heart, that 3. The punishment of this seducer, this Jezebel, v. 22, 23. ske atiended to the things that were spoken, and believed, and was In these words is couched a prediction of the fall of Babylon: baptized, and entertained Paul and Silas there: whether it was 1(1.) I will cast her into a bed, into a bed of pain, not of pleasure, by her means that the Gospel was brought into her own city into a berd of flames; and they who have sinned with her, shall Thyatira, is not certain; but that it was there, and successful suffer with her; but this may yet be prevented by their repentto the forining a Gospel church, this epistle assures us.
ance, (2.) I will kill her children with death, that is, the second 2. By whom it was sent; by the Son of God, who is here de- death, which does the work effectually, and leaves no hope of scribed as having eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like as fine future life, no resurrection for those that are killed by the second brass; his general title is here, the Son of God, that is, the eter death, but only to shame and everlasting contempt. niil and only-begotten Son of God, which denotes that he has 4. The design of Christ in the destruction of these wicked the same nalure with the Father, but with a distinct and subor- seducers; and that was the instruction of others, especially of dinate manner of subsistence. The description we have here his churches; all the churches shall know that I am he that of him, is in two characters: (1.) That his eyes are like unto a searcheth the reins and the hearts; and I will give to every one of Name of fire, signifying his piercing, penetrating, perfect know you according to your works. God is known by the juugments ledge, a thorough insight into all persons, and all things; one that he executeth; and, by this revenge taken upon seducers, he who scarches the hearts, and tries the reins of the children of men, would make known, (1.) His infallible knowledge of the hearts (v.23,) and will make all the churches to know he does so. of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper; their (2.) That his feet are like fine brass; that the outgoings of his formality, their indifference, their secret inclinations to symprovidence are steady, awful, and all pure and holy; as he bolize with idolaters. (2.) His impartial justice, in giring judges with perfect wisdom, so he acts with perfect strength every one according to his work, that the name of Christians and steadiness,
should be no proiection, their churches should be no sanctuaries II. The contents, or subject matter of this epistle, which, as for sin and sinners. the rest, includes,
5. The encouragement given to those who kept themselves 1. The honourable character and commendation Christ gives | pure and undefiled; (v. 24,) But to you I say, and to the rest, of this church, ministry, and people; and this given by one who &c. Observe, (..) What these seducers called their doctrines, was no stranger to them, but well acquainted with them, and depths, profound mysteries; amusing the people, and endeawith the principles from which they acted. Now in this church vouring to persuade them that they had a deeper insight into Christ makes honourable mention, (1.) Of their charity ; either religion than their own ministers had attained to. (2.) What more general, a disposition to do good to all men, or more spe- Christ called them, depths of Satan, satanical delusions and cial, to the householl of faith: there is no religion where there devices, diabolical mysteries; for there is a mystery of iniquity, is no charity. (2.) Their service, their ministration; this re- as well as the great mystery of godliness; it is a dangerous thing spects chiefly the officers of the church, who had laboured in the to despise the mystery of Goil, and it is as dangerous to receive word and doctrine. (3.) Their faith, which was the grace that the mysteries of Satun. (3.) How tender Christ is of his faithe actuated all the rest, both their charity, and their service. (4.) ful servants! (v. 25,) "I will lay upon you no other burden; Their patience; for those that are most charitable to others, but that which you have alreadly, holul fust till I come. I will not most diligent in their places, and most faithful, must yet expect overburden your faith with any new mysteries, nor your conto meet with that which will exercise their patience. (5.) Their sciences with any new laws; I only require your atiention to growing fruitfulness; their last works were better than the first; what you have received; hold that fast till I come, and I desiro this is an excellent character; when others had left their first no more." Christ is coming to put an end to all the temptations love, and lost their first zeal, these were growing wiser and of his people; and if they hold fast faith and a good conscienco beiter: it should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Chris- till he comes, all the difficulty and danger are over. tians, that their last works may be their best works, that they III. We now come to the conclusion of this message, v.26may be better and better every day, and best at last.
29. Here we have, 1. The promise of an ample reward to the 2. A faithful reproof for what was amiss; this is not so di- persevering, victorious believer, in two parts: (1.) Very great rectly charged upon the church itself as upon some wicked se- power and dominion over the rest of the world; power over the ducers who were among them; the church's fault was, that she nations; which may refer either to the time when the empire connived too much at them; these wicked seducers are com- should turn Christian, and the world be under the government pared to Jezebel, and called by her name; Jezebel was a pers of the Christian emperor, as in Constantine's time; or to the secutor of the prophets of the Lord, and a great patroness or other world, when believers shall sit down with Christ on his idolaters and false prophets; the sin of these seducers was, they throne of judgment, and join with him in trying and condemnattempted to draw the servants of God into fornication, and to ing and consigning over to punishment the enemies of Christ offer sacrifices to idols ; they called themselves prophets, and so and the church. The upright shall have dominion in the mornwould claim a superior authority and regard to the ministers of ing. (2.) Knowledge and wisdom, suitable to such power and that church. Two things aggravated the sin of these seducers, dominion; I will give him the Morning-star. Christ is the who, being one in their spirit and design, are spoken of as one Morning-star; he brings day with him into the soul, the light person: (1.) They made use of the name of God to oppose the of grace and of glory; and he will give his people that perfectruth of his doctrine and worship; this very much aggravated tion of light and wisdom, that is requisite to the state of dignity their sin. (2.) They abused the patience of God to harden and dominion that they shall have in the morning of the resur. themselves in their wickedness; God gave them space for re-rection. 2. This cpistle ends with the usual demand of attenpentance, but they repented not. Observe, 11.) Repentance is tion; Ile that hath an ear, ld him hear what the Spirit saith necessary to prevent the sinner's ruin. (2.) Repentance re- unto the churches. In the foregojng epistles, this demand of quires time, a course of time, and time convenient; it is a great l attention comes beforo the concluding promise'; but in this, and upon thee.
e c.5. 6. 6 c. 2. 2, &c. c I Tim. 5. 6.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III.
and heard ; and hold fast, and repent. If therefore
thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, Here we have three more of the epistles of Christ to the churches: 1. To Sardis, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come v. 1-6. II. To Philadelphia, v. 7–13. III. To Laodicea, v. 14, to the end. ND unto the angel of the church in
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which seven “Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know walk with me in white: for they are worthy. thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed Cand art dead.
in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name 2 Be watchful, and strengthen dthe things which out of the kbook of life, but I will confess his name remain, that are ready to die : for I have not found before my Father, and before his angels. thy works perfecte before God.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the 3 Remember Stherefore how thou hast received Spirit saith unto the churches.
e Dan. 5. 27. f Heb. 2. 1. & ver. 19. c. 16. 15. i c. 7. 9. 19.8. á c, 17.8. I Luke 12. 8. all that follow, it comes after, and tells us, that we should all them; there is the shell, but not the kernel; there is the carcass, attend to the promises as well as to the precepts that Christ but not the soul; the shadow, but not the substance; the inward delivers to the churches,
thing is wanting, thy works are hollow and emply; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filed up with
true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable dersion of coal V.1-6. Here is,
to God; there are not inward affections suitable to wutward 1. The preface, showing, 1. To whom this letter is directed; acts and expressions ; now when the spirit is wanting, the to the angel of the church of Sardis, an ancient city of Lydia, on cannot long subsist. (3.) To recollect themselves, and remet the banks of the mountain Tmolus, said to have been the chief ber how they have received and heard, (v. 3;) not only to te city of Asia the Less, and the first city in that part of the world member what they had received and heard, what messages they that was converted by the preaching of St. John; and, some say, had received from God, what tokens of his mercy and farm the first that revolted from Christianity, and one of the first that toward them, what sermons they had heard, but how they had was laid in its ruins, in which it still lies, without any church received and heard, what impressions the mercies of God or ministry.
made upon their souls at first, what affections they felt working 2. By whom this message was sent; the Lord Jesus, who here under the word and ordinances, the love of their espousas, be assumes the character of him that hath the seven Spirits of God, kindness of their youth, how welcome the Gospel and the grace and the seven stars ; taken out of ch. 1.4, where the seven Spirits of God were to them when they first received them; where is the are said to be before the throne. (1.) He hath the seven Spirits, blessedness they then spake of? (4.) To hold fast what they were that is, the Holy Spirit, with his various powers, graces, and received, that they might not lose all, and repent sincerely that operations; for he is personally one, though efficaciously va- they had lost so much of the life of religion, and had run the rious; and may be said here to be seven, which is the number of risk of losing all. the churches, and of the angels of the churches, to show that to 3. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening in every minister, and to every church, there is a dispensation and case it should be despised; (v. 3,) I will come unto the di measure of the Spirit given for them to profit withal; a stock of thief, and thou shalt not know the hour. Observe, (1.) Wha spiritual influence for that minister and church to improve, both Christ leaves a people as to his gracious presence, he cons for enlargement and continuance; which measure of the Spirit to them in judgment; and his judicial presence will be very is not ordinarily withdrawn from them, till they forfeit it by mis- dreadful to those who have sinned away his gracious prescace. improvement; churches have their spiritual stock and fund, as (2.) His judicial approach to a dead declining people wil be well as particular believers; and this epistle being sent unto a surprising; their deadness will keep them in security, as, languishing ministry and church, therefore they are very fitly it procures an angry visit from Christ to them, it wil peeters put in mind that Christ has the seven Spirits, the Spirit without their discerning it, and preparing for it. (3.) Such a sisil inta measure, and in perfection, to whom they may apply themselves Christ will be to their loss; he will come as a thief
, to ser for the reviving of his work among them. (2.) He hath the them of their remaining enjoyments and mercies, not by frauen seven stars, the angels of the churches; they are disposed of by but in justice and righteousness, taking the forfeiture they hare him, and accountable to him ; which should make them faithful made of all to him. and zealous. He has ministers to employ, and spiritual influ- 4. Our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people wikipet ences to communicate to his ministers for the good of his some comfort and encouragement; in the midst of judgmen!! church; the Holy Spirit usually works by the ministry, and the remembers mercy, (v. 4,) and here, (1.) He makes honorabien ministry will be of no efficacy without the Spirit; the same mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, though bur seal; divine hand holds them both.
Thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not defiled their II. The body of this epistle; there is this observable in it, that garments ; they had not given into the prevailing corrupit whereas in the other epistles Christ begins with commending and pollution of the day and place in which they lived. * what was good in the churches, and then proceeds to tell them takes notice of the smallest number of those who abide what was amiss, in this (and in the epistle to Laodicea) he him; and the fewer they are, the more precious in his size
(2.) He makes a very gracious promise to them; These 1. With a reproof, and a very severe one; I know thy works, walk with me in white ; for they are worthy ; in the shelte, the that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Hypocrisy, white robes of justification and adoption, and comfort; ut and a lamentable decay in religion, are the sins charyed upon the white robes of honour and glory in the other world: 18% this church, by one who knew her well, and all her works. shall walk with Christ in the pleasant walks
of the brave (1.) This church had gained a great reputation ; it had a name, paradise; and what delightful converse will there be bele eta and a very honourable one, for a flourishing church; a name Christ and them when they thus walk together! This is a for vital, lively religion, for purity of doctrine, unity among them- honour proper and suitable to their integrity, which the licet selves, uniformity in worship, decency, and order; we read not ty has prepared them for, and which is no way unbecimus of any unhappy divisions among themselves; every thing ap- Christ to confer upon them; though it is not a legal
, but a G. peared well, as to what falls under the observation of men. pel worthiness that is ascribed to them; not merit, lat (2.) This church was not really what it was reputed to be; ( ness; they who walk with Christ in the clean garments of red they had a name to live, but they were dead; there was a form practical holiness here, and keep themselves
unspotted fres dhe of godliness, but not the power ; a name to live, but not a prin- world, shall walk with Christ in the white robes of honcuar as ciple of life, if there was not a total privation of life, yet there glory in the other world; this is a suitable reward. was a great deadness in their souls, and in their services; a II. We now come to the conclusion of this epistle, in which great deadness in the spirits of their ministers, and a great as before, we have, 1. A great reward promised to the cute deadness in their ministrations, in their praying, in their preach- quering Christian, (v. 5,) and it is very much the same time ing, in their converse ; and a great deadness in the people in what has been already mentioned ; He that orercometh shart hearing, in prayer, and in conversation ; what little life was yet clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded left among them, was, in a manner, expiring, ready to die. with the perfect purity of glory; holiness, when perfected, c
2. Our Lord proceeds to give this degenerate church the best be its own reward ; glory is the perfection of grace, differing (..) Je advises them to be upon their watchi; the cause of their mise very suitable to the case; I will not blot his marae testing sinful deadness and doclension was, that they had let down their the book of life, but will confess his name before my Father, sed therefore must return to our
watchfulness against sin and Satan, register and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life. L. The and whatever is destructive to the life and power of golliness. book of eternal election : [2.] The book of remembrance of a die. Some understand this of persons; there were some few who power of godliness in evil times. (2.) Christ will not did it had retained their integrity, but they were in danger of declining names of his chosen and faithful ones out of this book page with the rest. It is a difficult thing to keep up to the life and men may be enrolled in the
registers of the church, as bap power of godliness ourselves, when we see a universal deadness as making a professjon, as having a name to live, and the stood of practices, as it follows, I have not
founl thy works per- was but a name, a name to live, without spiritual life : such fina fece before God, 'nui filled up; there is something wanting in lose the very name before they die, ency are left of God te bent
n 1 Joha 5. 20.
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my pawrite; These things saith he that is holy, he that tience, I also will keep thee from the hour of tempis true," he that hath the key of David, he that tation, which shall come upon all the world, to try openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and them that dwell upon the earth. no man openeth;
11 Behold, I come quickly : "hold that fast which 8 I know thy works : behold, I have set before thou hast, that no man take thy crown. thee an open "door, and no man can shut it: for 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out: and hast not denied my name.
and I will write upon him the name of my God, and 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of the name of the city of my God, which is New Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from lie; behold, I will make them to comes and worship my God: and I will write upon him my new name. before thy feet, and to know that I have loved 13 He that hath an ear, let himn hear what the thee.
Spirit saith unto the churches. m Acts 3. 14.
o Is. 22. 22.
& Is. 60. 14. 2 Pet. 2. 9. u Zeph. 1. 14. u ver. 3. 1 c. 21.2, 10. out their own names by their gross and open wickedness; but thee, yet is true grace, and has kept thee faithful." True the names of those that overcome, shall never be blotted out. grace, though weak, has the divine approbation ; but though (3.) Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers should not rest of the faithful who stand there, before God and all the angels; satisfied in a little, but should strive to grow in grace, to be he will do this as their Judge, when the books shall be opened; strong in faith, giving glory to God. True grace, though he will do that as their Captain and Head, leading them with weak, will do more than the greatest gifts or highest degrees of him triumphantly to heaven, presenting them to the Father; common grace, for it will enable the Christian to keep the Behold me, and the children that thou hast given me. How great word of Christ, and not to deny his name. Obedience, fidelity, will this honour and reward be! 2. The demand of universal and a free confession of the name of Christ, are the fruits of attention finishes the message: every word from God deserves true grace, and are pleasing to Christ as such. attention from men; that which may seem more particularly 3. Here is a promise of the great favours God would bestow directed to one body of men, has something in it instructive to all. on this church, v. 9, 10. This favour consists in two things :
V.1-13. We are now come to the sixth letter sent to one (1.) Christ would make this church's enemies subject to her. of the Asian churches; where observe,
[1.] Those enemies are described to be such as said they were I. The inscription, showing, 1. For whom it was more im-Jews, but lied in saying so; pretended to be the only and pecumediately designed; the angel of the church of Philadelphia ; | liar people of God, but were really the synagogue of Salan, this also was a city in the Lesser Asia, seated upon the borders Assemblies that worship God in spirit and in truth, are the of Mysia and Lydia, and had its name from thai brotherly love Israel of God; assemblies that either worship false gods, or the for which it was eminent. We can hardly suppose that this true God in a false manner, are the synagogues of Satan ; though name was given to it after it received the Christian religion, they may profess to be the only people of God, their profession and that it was so called from that Christian affection that all is a lie. [2.] Their subjection to the church is described; believers have, and should have, one for another, as the chil- They shall worship at thy feet; not pay a religious and divine åren of one Father, and the brethren of Christ; but rather that honour to the church itself, or to the ministry of it, but shall be it was its ancient name, on the account of the love and kind convinced that they have been in the wrong, that this church is ness which the citizens had, and showed, to each other as a in the right, and is beloved of Christ, and they shall desire to be civil fraternity ; this was an excellent spirit, and, when sancti- taken into communion with her, and that they may worship fied by the grace of the Gospel, would render them an excellent the same God after the same manner. How shall this great church, as indeed they were, for here is no one fault found with change be wrought ? By the power of God upon the hearts of this church, and yet, doubtless, there were faults in it of com- his enemies, and by signal discoveries of his peculiar favour to mon infirmity; but love covers such faults. 2. By whom this his church; They shall know that I have loved thee. Observe, letter was signed; even by the same Jesus who is alone the First, The greatest honour and happiness any church can enjoy, universal Head of all the churches; and here observe by what consist in the peculiar love and favour of Christ. Secondly, title he chooses to represent himself to this church; he that is Christ can discover this his favour to his people in such a manholy, he that is true, he that hath the key of Davidl, &c. You have ner that their very enemies shall see it, and be forced to achis personal character, he that is holy, and he that is true; holy knowledge it. Thirdly, This will, by the grace of Christ, in his nature, and therefore he cannot but be true to his word, soften the hearts of their enemies, and make them desirous to for he hath spoken in his holiness; and you have also his politi- be admitted into communion with them. cal character, he hath the key of David, he openeth, and no man (2.) Another instance of favour that Christ promises to this shutteth; he hath the key of the house of David, the key of govern- church, is persevering grace in the most trying rimes, (v. 10,) ment and authority in and over the church.
and this as the reward of their past Gidelity; To him that hath, (1.) Observe the acts of his government: (1.) He opens. He shall be given. Here observe, [1.] The Gospel of Christ is the opens a door of opportunity to his churches, he opens a door of word of his patience; it is the fruit of the patience of God to a utterance to his ministers, he opens a door of entrance, opens sinful world, it sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ the heart, he opens a door of admission into the visible church in all his sufferings for men, it calls those who receive it to the laying down the terms of communion, and he opens the door of exercise of patience in conformity to Christ. [2.] This Gospel admission into the church triumphant, according to the terms should be carefully kept by all that enjoy it; they must keep up of salvation fixed by him. [2.] He shuts the door; when he to the faith and practice and worship prescribed in the Gospel. pleases, he shuts the door of opportunity, and the door of utter. (3.) After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptaance, and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of tion; a day of Gospel peace and liberty is a day of God's patheir hearts; he shuts the door of church fellowship against tience, and it is seldom so well improved as it should be, and unbelievers and profane persons, and he shuts the door of hea- therefore it is often followed by an hour of trial and templation. ven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of (4.) Sometimes the trial is more general and universal; it grace, and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and con- comes upon all the world, and when it is so general, it is usufident soever they may be.
ally the shorter. (5.) They who keep the Gospel in a time of (2.) The way and manner in which he performs these acts, peace, shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation ; by and that is absolute sovereignty, independent upon the will of keeping the Gospel they are prepared for the trial; and the men, and irresistible by the power of men ; He openeth, and no same divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man opens ; he works to will will make them faithful in times of persecution. and to do, and when he works, none can let. These were pro
4. Christ calls the church to thai duty which he before proper characters for him, when speaking to a church that had mised he would enable her to do, and that is, to persevere, to endeavoured to be conformed to Christ in holiness and truth, hold fast thrt which she had. (1.) The duty itself; “Hold fast and that had enjoyed a wide door of liberty and opportunity that which thou hast; that faith, that truth, that strength of under his care and government,
grace, that zeal, that love to the brethren; thou hast been posII. The subjeet matter of this epistle; where,
sessed of this excellent treasure, hold it fast.” (2.) The mo1. Christ puts them in mind of what he had done for them; tives taken from the speedy appearance of Christ; “Behold, I (v. 8,), I have set before thee an open door, and ng man can shut come quickly. See, I am just a coming to relieve them under it. I have set it open, and kept it open, though there be many the trial, to reward their fidelity, and to punish those who fall adversaries. Learn here, (1.) Christ is to be acknowledged away ; they shall lose that crown which they once seemed to as the Author of all the liberty and opportunity his churches have a right 10, which they hoped for, and pleased themselves enjoy. (2.) He takes noice, and keeps account, how long he with the thoughts of; the persevering Christian shall win the has preserved their spiritual liberties and privileges for them. prize from backsliding professors, who once stood fair for it." (3.) Wicked men envy the people of Gol their door of liberty, III. The conclusion of this epistle, v. 12, 13. Hero, after and would be glad to shut it against them. (4.) If we do not his usual manner, our Saviour promises a glorious, reward to provoke Christ to shut this door against us, men cannot do it. the victorious believer, in two things:
2. This church is commended; (v. 8,) Thou hast a little 1. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; strength, and hast kept my word, and hasl not denied my name. not a pillar, to support the temple, (heaven needs no such props,) In this there seems to be couched a gentle reproof;" Thou hast but a monument of the free and powerful grace of God, a monua little strength, a little grace, which, though it be not propor- ment that shall never be defaced nor removed, as many stately tionate to the wide door of opportunity which I have opened to pillars erected in honour to the Roman emperors and generals are. VOL. III.-158
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• or, in Laodicea.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Lao- not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, diceans write; These things saith the Amen, the and blind, and naked : faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the creation of God:
fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of nor hot: I would ythou wert cold or hot.
thy nakedness bdo not appear; and anoint thine 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and nei- eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see, ther cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth, 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased zealous therefore, and repent. with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If x 14. 65. 16. y 1 Kings 18. 21. : Hos. 12. 8.
a Is. 55. I. b c. 16. 15. c lleb. 19. 5, 6. d Cant. 5. 9. Luke 12. $. 2. On this monumental pillar there shall be an honourable the thoughts they had of themselves, and the thoughts that inscription, as in those cases is usual: (1.) The name of God, Christ bad of them. in whose cause he engaged, whom he served, and for whom he suf- (1.) The high thoughts they had of themselves; Thox fered in this warfare; and the name of the city of God, the churchest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have nei of of God, the new Jerusalem, which came down from heaven; on nothing; rich, and growing richer, and increased to that degree, this pillar shall be recorded all the services the believer did to as to be above all want or possibility of wanling. Perhaps they the church of God, how he asserted her rights, enlarged her were well provided for as to their bodies, and that made theo borders, maintained her purity and honour; this will be a greater overlook the necessities of their souls; or they thought themname than Asiaticus, or Africanus; a soldier under God in the selves well furnished in their souls; they had learning, and wars of the church. And then another part of the inscription is, they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them für
(2.) The new name of Christ, the Mediator, the Redeemer, grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they the Captuin of our salvation ; by this it will appear under whose had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God banner this conquering believer was enlisted, under whose of ordinances. How careful should we be not to put the cheat conduct he acted, by whose example he was encouraged, and upon our own souls! Doubtless, there are many in hell, tant under whose intluence he fought the good fight, and came off once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us victorious. The epistle is closed up with the demand of atten- daily beg of God that we may not be left to fatter and deceive tion; He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith ourselves in the concerns of our souls. unto the churches, how Christ loves and values his faithful peon (2.) The mean thoughts that Christ had of them; and be ple, how he commends, and how he will crown their fidelity. was not mistaken. He knew, though they knew not, thathey
V. 14--22. We are now come to the last and worst of all were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; the seven Asian churches, the reverse of the church of Philatel- their stale was wretched in itself, and such as called for pity phia; for as there was nothing reproved in that, here is nothing and compassion from others; though they were proud of the commended in this; and yet this was one of the seven golden selves, they were pitied by all who knew their case. For candlesticks; for a corrupt church may be still a church. Here [1.] They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought we have, as before,
they were rich; they had no provision for their souls to live apa; I. The inscription, to whom, and from whom : 1. To whom; their souls were starving in the midst of their abundance : Bey to the angel of the church of Laorlicea; this was once a famous were vastly in debt to the justice of God, and had noth so pay city near the river Lycus, had a wall of vast compass, and three off the least part of the debt. (2.) They were blird; they wond marble theatres, and, like Rome, was built on seven hills. It not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger; tercana seems, the apostle Paul was very instrumental in planting the not see into themselves; they could not look before them; tey Gospel in this city, and from hence he wrote a letter, which he were blind, and yet they thought they saw; the very listo ta mentions in the epistle to the Colossians, the last chapter, and was in them was darkness ; and then how great must that darksends salutations to them, as being not above twenty miles dis- ness be! They could not see Christ, though evideoly set tant from Colosse. In this city was held a council in the forth, and crucified before their eyes; they could not see God fourth century, but it has been long since demolished, and lies in by faith, though always present in them; they could noi sce its ruins to this day, an awful monument of the wrath of the Lamb. death, though it was just before them; they could not ku smo
2. From whom was this message sent; here our Lord Jesus eternity, though they stood upon the very brink of it con panty. styles himself the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the [3.] They were naked; without clothing, and without bruise Beginning of the creation of God. (1.) The Amen, one that is and harbour for their souls; they were without clothing, had steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises, neither the garment of justification, nor of sanctification their which are all yea, and all amen. (2.) The faithful and true nakedness both of guilt and pollution had no covering: they ay Witness, whose testimony of God to men ought to be received always exposed to sin and shame; their righteousnesses were and fully believed, and whose testimony of men to God will be filthy rags; they were rags, and would not cover thet: tliby fully believed and regarded, and will be a swift but true wit- rags, and would defile them; and they were naked, wibout ness against all indifferent lukewarm professors. (3.) The house or harbour, for they were without God, and he has been Beginning of the creation of God, either of the first creation, the Dwelling-place of his people in all ages; in him al-de the and so he is the Beginning, that is, the first Cause, the Creator, soul of man can find rest and safety, and all suitable are mm and the Governor of it; or of the second creation, the church; |dations. The riches of the body will not enrich the scul: te and so he is the Head of that body, the First-born from the sight of the body will not enlighten the soul; the most convenient dead, as it is in ch. 1. 5, from whence these titles are taken. house for the body will not afford rest or safety to the suul: the Christ, having raised up himself by his own divine power, as soul is a different thing from the body, and must hare accommothe Head of a new world, raises up dead souls to be a living dation suitablo to its nature, or else in the midst of bodily prustemple and church to himself.
perity it will be wretched and miserable. II. The subject matter; in which observe,
4. We have good counsel given by Christ to this sinful people, 1. The heavy charge drawn up against this church, ministers and that is, that they drop their vain and false opinion they had and people, by one who knew them better than they knew them- of themselves, and endeavour to be that really which they soud selves; (v. 15,) Thou art neither cold nor hot, but worse than seem to be ; (v. 18,) I counsel thee to buy of me, &e. Observe, either; I would thou wert cold or hot. Lukewarmness or indif- (1.) Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to give good counsel to ference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If relin those who have cast his counsels behind their backs. (2.) The gion be a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore condition of sinners is never desperate, while they enjoy ibe we should be in good earnest in it; if it be not a real thing, it is gracious calls and counsels of Christ. (3.) Our blessed Land, the the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If Counsellor, always gives the best advice, and that which is most religion be worth any thing, it is worth every thing; and indif- suitable to the sinner's case; as here, (1.] These people nero ference here is inexcusable; IV hy halt ye between two opinions? poor; Christ counsels them to buy of him gold tried in the dire, If God be God, follow him; if Baal (be God) follow him. that they might be rich; he lets them know where they might Here is no room for neutrality. An open enemy' shall have have true riches, and how they might have them ; where they fairer quarter than a perfidious neuter; and there is more hope might have them--from himself; he sends them get to the of a heathen than of such. Christ expects that men should streams of Pactolus, nor to the mines of Polosi, but inviies then declare themselves in earnest either for him or against him. to himself, the Pearl of price. And how must they bave this
2. A severe punishment threatened; I will spew thee out of true gold from him? They must buy it. That seems to be my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach, and pro- unsaying all again. How can they that are poor, bus gold? vokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ Just as ihey may buy of Christ wine and milk, that is, me against them; he is sick of them, and cannot long bear them; money and without price, Is. 55. 1. Something indeed must they may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, moderation, parted with, but it is nothing of a valuable consideratit, it is and a largeness of soul; it is nauseous to Christ, and makes only to make room for receiving true riches, " Part with sin those so that allow themselves in it; they shall be rejected, and and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of you finally rejected; for far be it from the holy Jesus to return to poverty and empliness, that you may be filled su job his hidden that which has been thus rejected.
Treasure." [2.) These people were naked; Christ tells thro 3. We have one cause of this indifferency and inconsistency where they might have clothing, and such as would cover the in religion assigned, and that is, self-conceitedness and self-shame of their nakedness. This they must receive from Christ; delusion; they thought they were very well already, and there and they must only put off their filthy rags, that they might pat fore they were very indifferent whether they grew better or no; on the white raiment that he had purchased and profited for (v. 17,) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the goods, &c. Here observe, what a difference there was between garments of holiness and sanctification. (3.) They were band;