Revelation of John 3* Epistles to the church at Sardis; (1-6) at Philadelphia;(7-13) and Laodicea. (14-22) #1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with allhis powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentabledecay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knewthat church well, and all her works. Outward things appearedwell to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not thepower; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was greatdeadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers werewholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifelessstate. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against theirenemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and toendeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, torevive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections ofthose yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever weare off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow andempty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deedsnot filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up withsuitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inwardaffections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when thespirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking arevival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needfulto compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on,that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that whichremains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threateningif it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leavethis sinful people without some encouragement. He makeshonourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes agracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed inwhite raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with theperfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a registerof all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembranceof all who live to God, and keep up the life and power ofgodliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book oflife, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and allthe angels, at the great day.7-13 The same Lord Jesus has the key of government andauthority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunityto his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers;he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the doorof heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day ofgrace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain andconfident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia iscommended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts alittle strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in alittle, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith,giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to hispeople, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it.This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, andmake them desire to be admitted into communion with his people.Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, asthe reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall begiven. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall bekept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divinegrace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will makethem faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises aglorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be amonumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the freeand powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never bedefaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new nameof Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer foughtthe good fight, and came off victorious. 14-22 Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches ofAsia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, "The Amen;" one steadyand unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religionis worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects menshould be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine areneither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needfulmatters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lessermoment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give afalse opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion;while others would conclude it could afford no realsatisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have beenheartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness fromthe world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency inreligion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; "Because thousayest." What a difference between their thoughts of themselves,and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we benot to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who oncethought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of Godthat we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves.Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Theirstate was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, whenthey said and thought they were rich. They could not see theirstate, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought theysaw it. They had not the garment of justification, norsanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their ragsthat would defile them. They were naked, without house orharbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul ofman can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christto this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for allothers must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know wherethey might have true riches, and how they might have them. Somethings must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is onlyto make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin andself-confidence, that you may be filled with his hiddentreasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment hepurchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousnessfor justification, and the garments of holiness andsanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word andSpirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way andtheir end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, andpray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take awayour pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to takethe rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love totheir souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings ofhis providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and theinfluences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his wordand Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Thosewho open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds wouldmake but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. Hewill give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In theconclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christhimself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, andwas more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in histrials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed withthe general demand of attention. And these counsels, whilesuited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeplyinteresting to all men.
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