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fessors be taught that her ministry has more important work than going after stragglers to the utmost ends of the earth; let her members be accustomed to steady as well
as faithful ministrations; and, for this purpose, let it be · made the first, not the last, concern of all who would hear
the gospel, to present their willing and becoming offerings in the temple of the Lord of Hosts. If any church walk by this rule, she shall again revive; for God has promised to revive her: but if cowardice in her officers, or niggardliness in her members, preclude the happy renovation of ber or. der; there is no alternative, she must perish in her blood.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; these
things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David; he that openeth, and no man shutteh; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, (which say they are Jezus, and are not, but do lie;) behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spir. it saith unto the churches.”
. Rev. iii. 7–13.
· Next o the emotion excited by that plaudit, "well done good and faithful servant,” with which the redeemed of God are hailed, at the moment when the spirit, just freed
from the conflicts and sorrows of the world, stands before the Father's throne, next to the thrilling emotions of that spirit, must be the feelings of the man, to whom the voice of the Eternal testifies even on this side the grave, that the labours of his love are accepted at his hands. My brethren, it is a blessedness as exalted as it is rare. The prophets of the Lord who bore his messages to the sons of men, describing what they were, as well as what they ought to be, have long since left the world. The Re. deemer himself revisits the earth no more, till that day when the heavens shall depart. To the words of this prophecy nothing can be added declarative of the faith or fortunes of his people. We then can never expect that honor which was conferred upon this favoured churchour fears cannot be alarmed, nor our diligence excited, by such messages as were received by her sister churches. But though it can never be our happiness to receive such marked expressions of the presence and attentions of him who walks amidst his churches; yet let us not forget that he who observed and so accurately depicted the state of these churches, is as really present with us as he was with them; marks just as scrupulously our faith and our conduct; and will proclaim it at that day, when reformation will be impracticable, and regret come too late. Let us then remember that though the prophets and the fathers have long since left the earth, yet the testimony they delivered, they have left behind; the faults which dashed the prosperity of some, and the virtues which obtained an everlasting memorial for others, are still on record; the rule of judgment is common to us both; our acceptance or rejection may be, therefore, read in theirs. It is under this view of things that we would have you this day direct your attention to the passage that has been read.
Philadelphia was a city of Lydia, one of the provinces of Asia Minor. It was a place not very populous, nor of great consideration, being placed under the jurisdiction of Sardis, the principal city of that province. We have no certain accounts at what time the gospel was planted here; but as it lay far within the range of apostolic labours, and was not remote from some other places in which we know that the apostles planted churches as early as the year fifty-six, the probability is that Philadelphia received the gospel about, or, at farthest, not long after that time. It was forty-two years from that date to the persecution of Domitian, during which John was banished to Patmos, where this revelation was made to him. During this period the various_churches had had time to settle, and form their Various characters. And according to their real characters, the Redeemer selects his symbols, under which he describes himself to them. Thus, for example, to the church of Ephesus, the first addressed, which was like to fall away from its former love and devotedness to him, he describes himself by symbols well calculated to rouse her. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; these things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” Rev. ii. 1.--Her ministry, called stars, are in his hand, and he can deal with her in that respect as he pleases. "He walks amid the candlesticks,” the churches; and her backaliding could not be concealed from him. To the church of Pergamos, which was in danger of being corrupted, by the false doctrines and dangerous practices of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes, as "he that hath the sharp two-edged sword,” a symbol of the word of God, which is the great instçament appointed for þewing down error, and giving
success to his church in her conflicts with the world. So in this letter to the church of Philadelphia, he assumes a character correspondent to her case, and to the promises he makes. We shall see this correspondence more clear. ly when we come to the character the Redeemer gives her.
Thus saith he that is holy, he that is true," &c. The primary idea of holiness is devoted, or set apart, to the service of God. Thence it comes to signify purity; because purity is an indispensable prerequisite in them whose service is accepted by the holy God. In both these senses Jesus Christ was holy, for even he, says an apostle, “pleased not himself,” but came into the world to perform his Father's pleasure, and accounted it more than his meet and drink to do his Father's will. In this sense he was holy, or devoted to God. He was also pure; for, say the scriptures, "he did no sin, and in his lips was found no guile.” Thus then he was well qualified to give countenanee and encouragement to this people, whom he afterwards describes as being likewise devoted, and faithful, and pure. It was no small consolation given them to describe himself such as they were. Because they were such, he makes them a great and most important promise. And, as an assurance that this promise should not fail of its accomplishment, he describes himself as “he that is true,” whose professions are not deceitful, nor his predictions without foundation. But as the prediction related to something extremely im. probable; and in fact to human sense impossible to be performed, considering what would be the future circumstances of that part of the world, he not only tells them that he is true, faithful to his promises,—but likewise that he was possessed of all necessary authority and adequate