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Two-three warnings had been given, and now Sardis was dead-entirely dead. He seems to test her by the power of life, “the Spirits of God," and he finds her dead. She does not answer to it. There is a correspondence between this address and that of Ephesus.

Philadelphia opens to us a little revival in the time of the end. A little revival, I say. She has a little strength

I —not the strength; not the large place of Ephesus, but still a little strength. And let me say, beloved brethren, that that is our great power, that what we have should be real, held with God. It may not be as I said, the full compass of Ephesus, but yet it is real, her own, and that the Lord always honours. “A smoking flax He will not quench.” She has a little strength, keeps His word, and does not deny His name. She is suffering under false church pretensions, as a remnant always does at the close of an apostate dispensation (Is. lxxvi. 5; Malachi iii. 15, 16); but the Lord will make all manifest.

She keeps the word of his patience, when she can, comparatively and humanly speaking, and the Lord keeps her when the hour of temptation is such around, that none otherwise could. This hour of temptation here spoken of, and the promise, “Behold, I come quickly," first addressed to her, identify it with the time of the end (Compare ii. 25). An open door is set before her.

Laodicea closes the scene. Neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, nauseous to the Lord of love, He casts her out of His mouth. Her superior light to Sardis makes her superiorly responsible to Him. This state of things is around us. The Gospel not denied as in a Sardis state, but acknowledged, yet acknowledged without power, corrupted by political pursuit, worldliness, education, and science, substituted for Christian and alone saving or sanctifying light; does not this bear every feature of Laodicea ?

The cry of increased light, what is it?" Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art poor, and blind, and miserable, and naked. I counsel thee,

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etc. The last state of the Church seems come down upon us, and that at mid-day!

How true it is (Is. xxix. 11), “The vision of all is become as a sealed book," and for the same (verse 13), “ their fear is taught by the precept of men.” The Church in great measure deceiving the world, joining it in its cry of “Peace and safety !” deceiving and

being deceived; whereas sudden destruction comes.

We have thus traced the downward course of the Church. Throughout it all there is no command to separate--not even at Sardis, or Laodicea. Why? For one thing, I judge, love is best tested where there is no positive command. How many, doubtless, in different systems are waiting for a command to separate; while the evil may be pressing upon their consciences without a remedy. What are we to do then? Float down on the open stream, till we get into the wide gulf of Romanism in the eighteenth chapter? No! Whenever matters come to a test, whenever it comes to a question between adherence to a body on one hand, and, on the other, the deliberate giving up, and rejection of God's principles of truth, and holiness for His own house, then let the saints know what to choose, I see no other

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preservation from the “ great house," which Satan is now forming, and which he is ever seeking to draw around us.

May the Lord bless all that is of truth in these observations! “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen!”

G. c I strongly think there was this element in our Lord's refraining from giving positive command to separate. In the first place, the question with the seven churches was one of responsibility ("I know thy works”), and therefore the Lord lets that responsibility shew itself out, without interfering by positive command. Further, that responsibility was a responsibility of love, and that love was found at first trial, viz., Ephesus, decaying. What was wanting, therefore, mainly, was a renewal of first love, (“do thy first works"), without which a call to separate would have come without the power to do it aright, and you might say, useless when done. Neither has it been the Lord's way to forestall (though His word regulates) any movement of the Spirit, which He might bring about in the future course of the Church. Yet I believe we should notice, that constantly, if not always, any remarkable revival of the Spirit in the corrupted Church, has been with separation. Witness the Refor. mation, the Methodist revival (Wesley, Whitfield, etc.) in the last century, and His revival of truth to ourselves. The faithful found that the truth, by necessity, led them out. True wisdom is at such times not to dictate to, but to follow God.

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No. XIV.

DIVINE WARNING AND ENCOURAGEMENT

FOR " THE LAST DAYS.

(Epistle of Jude). In the first propagation of Christianity and earliest history of the church, there were markedly displayed two master-forms of evil, against which it had to contend. There was the self-righteousness of the Jew built upon his religion of heaven-appointed ordinances—the “shadows of things to come, (while] the body is of Christ;" —and the atheistic wisdom of the Greek; a wisdom tenaciously clung to by the whole civilised, and as it is called, “ Christian world”; which modifies their philosophy, ethics, and divinity, and has stamped its features on the whole range of their literature; and by which they would now correct and mould the precious revelation of God! Though the voice of inspiration declares concerning it, “ the world by wisdom knew not God.”

Accordingly, the preaching of Christ crucified was unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" ; but where faith overcame these obstacles, it is added, “unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." And in vain is God's power and God's wisdom, henceforth sought in dissociation from the cross. There alone is its illustration and display, in the person and work of Him who " was crucified through weakness, yet liveth by the power of God."

But before the canon of the New Testament is closed, the spirit of revelation is found in conflict with evil of altogether another type.

The elements of Judaism, and the principles of gentile philosophy, working separately or coalescing in the church of God, may have produced the primary features of this evil; but the evil itself has a generic character; marked

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as the mystery of iniquity;"_"a falling away," or apostasy; a departing from the faith,through “ giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” And it is to be remarked, that in order to forewarn and arm the faithful against this corruption of Christianity, the stream of revelation, in the latter epistles of the New Testament, leaves its accustomed channel, and flows entirely in another course. A single glance at the epistle of Jude is sufficient to show that the subject it treats of has no counterpart in the earlier portions of the New Testament. It is not occupied with the unfolding of divine doctrine, nor the enforcement of the details of practice, nor even with arming the believer against the common unbelief and wickedness of the world; but its entire instruction turns upon the characteristic evil, the course and issue of which it describes :-briefly giving this reason for its character, in the fourth verse “ For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained unto this condemnation: ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It may be no pleasant task to ponder this character of the epistle of Jude, and of other scriptures which present a a concurrent testimony, that in the very bosom of Christianity there should arise a defined and progressive system of evil-commencing in apostolic days—which no revival in the church ever sets aside, and no reformation ever eradicates; but which works on until the ripened iniquity brings the Lord himself in judgment upon the dispensation of Christianity, as surely as the corruption of the old world brought upon it the judgment of the flood; or the apostasy of Israel brought their overthrow in the wilder

Yet this corruption, which has for its seed-bed the very bosom of the church, is most necessary to be noted by the saints of God, if they would have God's estimate of the scene through which they must have their course; or if they would possess the only torch of guidance through the darkened labyrinth. It is necessary to follow the Spirit's course when it ceases to treat of "the common salvation,” because of the necessity of contending for the " faith once delivered to the saints.”

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The terms church and world, in the New Testament, are characteristically opposed; and are in their proper application as distinct as light and darkness: but alas ! in practical Christianity this distinctiveness no longer exists. It is not within the limits of a boundary line that truth and error are now confined-though " the foundation of God abideth sure." But it is not now as once it was -the Jew, outside the profession of Christianity, “ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish his own righteousness, and not submitting to the righteousness of God;” nor is it the Gentile, apart, scoffing in proud derision at the preaching of “ Jesus and the resurrection," or persecuting and imprisoning those who bore his name; but it is within the limits of a professed Christianity, that the mystery of iniquity works, and therefore the need of the precious exhortation on the one hand, and, on the other,

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” There was one who could

say

“I have kept the faith !" But through what contests had he to carry the sacred deposit, and by what incessant wiles was he tempted to betray his trust? The Lord give to his people courage

earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints;” and grace to “keep themselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life!” For then, the onward progress of corruption, instead of staggering the soul, will give but additional confirmation to the truth, as its lamp brightens amidst the increasing gloom. It is in the darkness of the night that the beacon-fire flashes most brightly, and warns of hidden dangers; and it is in the night that the light of the prophetic word, whether to direct or to warn, has its most special use. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. ”

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