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This Chapter contains the remaining Messages of Christ to the Churches, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Jesus manifests his Grace in the sweet Promise of coming and supping with his People.
(1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. 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. (4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (5) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
If, as some have supposed, the former Church-state of Thyatira, had reference to Papal Rome, and the Jezebel there spoken of with her fornications, alluded to the Whore of mystical Babylon; then it will follow, that the reformation was that period when the scripture was fulfilled, which describes her impoverished state, expressed under the figure of casting her into a bed of sickness, and killing her children. And then from the same circumstances it will follow, that this Epistle to Sardis, is directed to the Church of the present hour; and we are in the Sardis state. But we have seen, upon many occasions, the calculations of great and studious men, notwithstanding the most plausible appearances, found to be wrong; that I am free to confess, I am not much disposed to give credence to any. So incompetent are we to judge, by the mere appearances of things, that while a few years ago the Reformed Church of Christ in this land, was led from apparent signs, to hope Antichrist in the heresy of Papal Rome was dwindling away, we now behold the Beast propped up, with more human power than she hath had for more than two Centuries past. And together with her revival, another Antichrist in the denial of Christ's Godhead, and now, unrestrained by law, is coming forth, with an uncovered brow in our land. So that while those learned and studious men, speak of the present day of the Church being the Sardis state, and that this will shortly be succeeded by the Philadelphian; when universal love, and universal light and knowledge, will be diffused through the earth; I read those scriptures differently, and rather am inclined to conclude, very awful events will take place in the Church of Christ, before those bright periods come on. But with whomsoever the truth is one thing is certain; what the Lord here saith to the Church of Sardis, opens a very blessed subject of improvement at all times, and especially in the present hour. And I humbly conceive, it will be more suited to the object of a Poor Man's Commentary, to seek grace from the Lord, to draw improvements for our present use, than enter into enquiries of what may be hereafter, with which we have no concern. What the Lord said to Daniel, suits all of Daniel's faith; Go My way till the end be. Thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days, Daniel 12:13 .
Sardis was the chief city of Lydia, but now it is a mere village. Its distance was not above thirty miles, or thereabouts, from Thyatira. So that those places, which were rather in flourishing circumstances at the time the Lord Jesus sent these Epistles to them, have not a vestige remaining, and are all of them awfully under the delusion of the impostor of the East. Reader! what a precious consideration it is to my soul in the moment of writing, that amidst all changes of places, or nations, or men, or things, Jesus changeth not. Neither his Person, nor his love to his Church, can admit the smallest alteration; he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, Hebrews 13:8 .
How blessedly the Lord Jesus begins his Epistle to this Church. These things, saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars. Here the Lord assumes to himself a sovereignty suited to his Almighty character, and which can be said by no other but by Him in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9 . By the seven Spirit s of God, as hath been before observed, (see Revelation 1:0 ) is meant the Holy Ghost in his sevenfold gifts and graces. And, therefore, the Lord Jesus speaking as Mediator, describes his fulness for his body the Church, God giving not the Spirit by measure unto him, John 3:36 . And by having the seven stars is meant, that Jesus it is which holds his servants whom he hath appointed to minister in his name. Sweet thought to the faithful, under pastors in the Lord's house! Oh! how blessed to be upheld, taught, guided, sent, blessed, and owned by Him!
If we are under the Sardis state, it is a very humbling state. Jesus saith, I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead! Reader! if the Lord spake of us nationally, bad enough as that would be, yet the true Church of Christ might find comfort, that amidst the mere profession of the Gospel, by those who know nothing of the Gospel but in the name, the Lord's people possessing Christ would learn rightly to estimate their privileges. But it is the general state of the Church, in Gospel Churches, of whom Christ speaks. Numbers there are who take up with a name to live, who never were regenerated, and consequently are still dead in trespasses and sins. And others, who, though quickened by the Holy Ghost into a new and spiritual life, yet are such babes in the life of grace, as to remain in the weakness and imbecility of childhood the greater part of their days.
That the Church, yea, the true Church of Sardis, had many of her members in this state is evident, from what the Lord Jesus immediately added, Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. Now, here we find, that though so weak and languishing that, to all outward appearances, they were ready to die, yet not dead. There is a mighty difference between spiritually dying and spiritual death. The former may be, and too often is, the case of God's children. The latter can only be said of such as are still in the Adam-nature of the fall, unquickened by the Holy Ghost, and, therefore, dead in trespasses and sins. Reader! do mark the different features of character. Painful as it is, and reproachful as it is to a child of God whom the Lord hath regenerated, and called by grace to live in the neglect of ordinances, the throne of Christ, reading the scriptures, and the various ways which the Holy Ghost is pleased to appoint, for keeping up communion in the soul; yet death and dying are two very different things. The latter may be, and certainly will be restored, through the favor and life-giving principle of Him that quickeneth. The former hath no part nor lot in the matter, nor ever will, notwithstanding the most flaming profession, except the Lord the Holy Ghost quicken. It is only by regeneration, or the new-birth, that the child of God enters into Christ's sheepfold. But he that climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber, John 10:1-2 .
Reader! do not overlook what the Lord Jesus here saith, in enforcing watchfulness, to hold fast, and to repent, in every instance of truly regenerated child of God, who by the new-birth hath received and heard. Oh! how necessary in the present awful day of much profession, must it be in every child of God, to give all diligence as the Holy Ghost commands, to make our calling and election sure, see 2 Peter 1:10 . And what a blessed thing it is, whether the present day of the Church be, or be not, under this Sardis state, that Jesus hath graciously added, for to keep up the spirits of his true children, that even in Sardis he hath a few names, that is, a few persons, which have not defiled their garments; that is, have not polluted the robes of Jesus righteousness, in patching them up with a pretended righteousness of their own. Oh! how blessedly Jesus speaks of them. They shall walk with me, saith the Lord. Yes! they do walk with Christ, and by the strength of Christ. For so the Holy Ghost gives testimony of them. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted, Psalms 89:16 . And the Lord declares them worthy. For they are accepted in the Beloved, Ephesians 1:6 .
What Jesus saith of coming as a thief in the night, means, the suddenness, and unexpectedness of his coming, at the moment he comes. But this coming to his people, though sudden to all such as are not always on the look-out for his coming, is not meant in a way of judgment, to condemn them, much less to destroy. The Lord saith, he will correct his children, when they forsake his law, and walk not in his judgment: nevertheless his loving kindness he will not utterly take from him, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail, Psalms 89:30-37 . And in this very Chapter, (Revelation 3:10 ) he will keep his people from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world. Reader! what saith your heart's experience to these things? If this be the Sardis state, under which you and I this day are; if Jesus gives this account of it; if, amidst the wonderful relations we hear of, and meet with, every day, the compassing sea and land to make proselytes; if they that have such a name to live, are yet dead before God; if some are totally dead in trespasses and sins, mere professors without life; if others, who have been quickened, have need to strengthen the things which remain, which are ready to die; and, if the Lord hath a few, even in Sardis, who by living to him, and living wholly upon him, the Son of God declares to be worthy, and shall walk with him; pause, and ask your own heart, to which class do you belong, ? Oh! Lord! give the hearing ear, to all thy redeemed, that they my hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches!
(7) 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 shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (8) 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 hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (9) Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, 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. (10) 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. (11) Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (12) 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. (13) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Philadelphia was another of the cities of this province in Asia. It is now in the hand of the Turks. But though it bears by them the name of the fair city, yet, if we may credit Travellers, it is wretchedly inhabited. In distance it is nearly thirty miles from Thyatira. Our Lord begins this Epistle with those distinguishing characters he assumes to himself, and by which he is personally known, throughout the whole scriptures. These things, saith he that is holy, he that is true. He that hath the key of David. Be that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. In whatever point of view we contemplate our Lord, as God, one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, or as God-Man Mediator, he is only holy, and true, such an High Priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heaven, Hebrews 7:26 . And what tends to endear this part of our Lord's character the more to his people is, that in this holiness and truth, all his chosen are interested, So God the Father, at the first, chose the Church, that it should be in him, holy, and without blame, before him in love, Ephesians 1:4 . So that he, that is, the true and faithful Witness, is also the holiness of his people. He is their sanctification and wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:30 , they are sanctified in him, and from him, and by him. Sweet consideration to the faithful in Christ Jesus! And by the key of the house of David, considering David as a type of Christ, and the Church Christ's house; Hebrews 3:6 . It is his office, both to open and shut, and to none beside doth this belong. This was predicted of Christ, under the character of Eliakim, by one of the Prophets; and Christ confirmed it, in the first opening of this vision to John, Revelation 1:18 ; Isaiah 22:20-25 . Reader! pass not away, from this precious scripture, without first bending the knee of adoration, love, and praise, to this Almighty Savior, at whose girdle hang all the keys of government, in all the departments of nature, providence, grace, and glory. He hath the key to open to all appointments, to give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him, to gather his people, to pardon, to cleanse, to justify, to sanctify, to glorify them. None can open the grave to his saints, but Jesus. And when he opens, to each and everyone he saith, as he did to Jacob, fear not to go down into Egypt, I will go with thee, Genesis 46:3-4 . None can open heaven but Jesus. None cast into hell but Jesus. Oh! the preciousness of knowing Him; and his Almighty power; and, that that power is everlastingly in exercise, for blessing and protecting his people!
The Lord having made himself known to his Church of Philadelphia, by the special, and personal features of his character, next proceeds to inform them of his knowledge of them, of his grace towards them, in setting before them an open door which none can shut, and of his securing them in the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world; and of his making all their enemies to come, and bend before their feet, and to know that Jesus hath loved them.
The good works Jesus speaks of, are the graces of the Spirit, producing in them faith, and love, and trust in Christ. And by an open door, it should seem to imply, the freeness the Lord would give, under this time-state of the Church, to the preaching of the pure Gospel. And, indeed, what is said here concerning the Church of Philadelphia, carries with it an assurance, of a greater out-pouring of the Spirit, and a greater in-gathering of Christ's scattered ones, than in any other period of the Gospel, from the first descent of the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost. The coming of the synagogue of Satan, in them that say they are Jews, and are not; evidently means, a great work of conversion by the Lord's grace, upon those that before persecuted the Church of Christ. By the synagogue of Satan, is intended those of the Lord's children, which, while in the blindness of nature, and dead in trespasses and sins, were in his service, and wore his livery, and did his work; but now, by regenerating grace, were called out of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. But, by coming and worshipping before the Church's feet, doth not mean worshipping the Church, for the Church is no object of worship, but worshipping, with the Church, the Lord; and to know, that the whole Church share in the common love of God her Savior. So that those converts from Satan, will know their joint interest with the Church in Christ.
The glorious things here described, of being kept from the hour of temptation, while the whole carnal world is involved in it; of over - coming in, and by Christ; being made a pillar in God's temple, and having God's name, yea, Christ's new name, which, as Mediator, by his righteousness and blood-shedding, he hath purchased; the going no more out, and the like; these are allusions, not to the Church in glory above, but to the period of triumph below. For the Lord saith, let no man take thy crown. The heavenly crown cannot be supposed as meant, for who in heaven of the ungodly shall be there to take it. But it means the faith of assurance here below, Hold that fast, saith Christ, which thou hast; meaning your consciousness, that it is yours, in Christ. Faith gives present right, though not present possession. It becomes a reversionary interest, perfectly sure, and perfectly certain, after death, Faith, therefore, looks at it as such, and grasps it, as certain, as the heir of an inheritance, when he shall attain his majority, and is God out of his nonage. Reader! what saith your experience to these things? If the Lord the Spirit hath regenerated you from the Adam-nature of the fall, in that new birth; you are begotten to this lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to this inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The thing is certain, and the interpretation sure. Oh! the unspeakable mercy! There is no suspense, no doubt, no peradventures. A regenerated child of God, is in no uncertainty, as to the final issue. If Christ and his righteousness be mine now, it will be then, and then forever!
One word more, as to the period of this Philadelphian state. Here I presume not to speak in the least decidedly, In the general observations at the opening of this mysterious Book of God, I have assigned my reasons, why the Lord hath been pleased to keep the time a secret, until the events he accomplished. And the more I ponder the subject, the more I am convinced that these things are hidden from the Church generally speaking; though, as in the instance of Daniel, a child of God, here and there, may have secret intimations given him. See Daniel 9:0 throughout. And, with respect to carnal men, who have presumed to write on the prophecies of Scripture, unenlightened by grace, untaught of God; we have seen what awful business they have made of it. They run upon the thick bosses of God's bucklers, Job 15:26 . From such men, everyone truly taught of God, cannot but turn away. Whether the Church of Christ be under the Sardis-state in the present hour, how far that state is advanced, whether this Philadelphian is to succeed it, and how near at hand, I am humbly inclined to believe, no man knoweth these things. As to the features of the Church of Sardis being suited to the present hour in many particulars, this may safely be allowed, and yet no conclusion therefrom drawn, how much of it is run out, and how, much longer it hath to last. And, though the Church of Sardis may be said to be more like the present state of Christ's Church in the earth, than any of the former; yet, it should he observed, that there is not one of the foregoing, but what in it may be discovered spots like our own. In a word, I may be singular, and I may be wrong; but, as I solemnly believe, that there never was a period since the emancipation of this kingdom from Popery, in which vital godliness was at a lower ebb than the present, I am inclined to think, that, before the Philadelphian-state, as here described, comes on, there will be a sifting time, Amos 9:8-10 . Then, if the Lord so appoint, may succeed the blessed promises that follow, verse 11 to the end; which are in correspondence to the Philadelphian-state, as here described. But the scena ante penultima, that is, the scene before the last, will be perilous. So Christ seems to intimate, in closing up the Sardis - state. I will come on thee as a thief; and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee, Revelation 3:3 .
(14) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
We are here brought acquainted with the Lord's Epistle to the seventh Church, Laodicea. We have a certain account of this Church in the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians; for he thrice makes mention of it, Colossians 2:1 ; Colossians 4:13 and Colossians 4:15 . Its situation was in the province of Asia. Like all the former, it is occupied at present by the Turks. If, as this Epistle is placed last in point of order, it be thereby meant to say, its period will be last, and succeed the Church of Philadelphia; We may generally learn from it, that the glorious spiritual reign of Christ, during the Philadelphian-state, will be succeeded with an awful lukewarm, and lifeless condition, under this Laodicean; and afford a striking display of the Lou's grace, and their undeservings.
The Lord opens this Epistle, as he hath all the foregoing, with ushering in his message with the proclamations of his sovereignty and power. He here calls himself the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Now all these are distinguishing names, belonging only to the Son of God; as God in the first of them, and as God-Man Mediator in the two last. The Old Testament scripture, Isaiah 65:16 , declares, that whosoever blesseth himself in the earth, shall bless himself in the Amen; that is, the God of truth and he that sweareth in the earth, shall swear by the Amen. that is, the God of truth. Everyone knows, that is acquainted with the original, that this is the rendering of it. Now, in the great acts of blessing, or appealing for the confirmation of truth, these distinguishing acts belong only to God. And hence Christ, when calling himself Amen, plainly proves his Godhead, But the faithful and true witness, and the beginning of the creation of God, are features of character which belong to him, as God-Man Mediator. And by both these, he hath demonstrated his twofold nature, most plainly and blessedly. If the Reader will turn to Colossians 1:15 , and following verses, and the Poor Man's Commentary thereupon; it will supersede the necessity of my enlarging, upon them, in this place.
Jesus having opened his epistle to the Church of Laodicea with the glories of his names and authority, next begins to speak on the subject for which he sent the message to the Church. And, in the description which the Lord hath given of the state of this Church, it is difficult to know which to admire most, the Lord's compassion, or their awful degeneracy. Considered as the last Church which Christ would have upon earth, it is truly distressing. Most of the former had spots upon them, but this of Laodicea was over-run with a gangrene. And, what made it, if possible, yet more awful, she is represented as speaking peace to herself, as needing nothing; while, in Christ's eye, she was everything the reverse, and drenched in the deepest poverty. Reader! how oft have I seen in sick rooms, and dying chambers, deceptions of this kind, both spiritually and bodily. It is indeed no uncommon thing in life, by reason of this self-deception, for those who have the spots of death upon them, to be talking of a speedy recovery. And, while every looker-on, but themselves, beholds death approaching, the poor unconscious man himself believes it not, till he drops into eternity. And what it is by the body, so is it by the soul! But, oh! how much more horrible! to behold a sinner without a single work of grace upon his soul; no sense of sin, no knowledge of salvation, ignorant of the plague of his own heart, ignorant of the love and grace of God, a stranger to the Person, work, righteousness, and blood shedding of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, with respect to the regenerating mercy of God the Spirit, as it concerns himself, he hath not so much as heard; whether there be any Holy Ghost! Reader! how readest thou? What think you of these things?
It appears from this message to the Church of the Laodiceans, that, notwithstanding the great mass, of the people, who professed to be apart in the visible Church, were in this awful state; and concerning whom Jesus declared, that he would spue them out of his mouth; yet the Lord had a people among them, for whom he sent this Epistle, and to whom he gave counsel, to buy of him gold and white raiment, and eye-salve. There is somewhat very sweet and endearing in this counsel of Jesus, who is the Wonderful counsellor, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Isaiah 9:6 ; Colossians 2:3 . It holds forth to my view, so very interesting an account of the wisdom, grace, and loveliness of Jesus, that I would beg the Reader's indulgence to dwell a moment upon it.
By gold tried in the fire, can mean no other than Christ himself. He hath been tried, indeed, in the fire of every exercise, when for his people he bore the sins and sorrows of his redeemed, in his own body, on the tree. As the Church's Surety, he stood exposed to the fire of God's wrath as a burnt-offering; and all the fiery darts of Satan, which in the days of his temptation he endured. And, by white raiment, we may well conceive, the Lord means that spotless robe of righteousness, which on the cross he wrought out, for the clothing all his people. And by the eye-salve to anoint the eyes of his spiritually blind, can mean no other than the unction of the Holy Ghost, by which, in regenerating grace, in the new birth, and in divine teaching, the Church are brought to know all things, 1 John 2:27; 1 John 2:27 . And it is not the smallest beauty of this scripture, in the counsel of Christ, that what Jesus calls to buy of him, means without money and without price. It is all a free gift, free grace, free love. And he that counsels his people thus to buy, gives them the disposition how to buy; namely, coming to him to receive, not to give. The precious things Jesus sells are too precious for purchase. If a man would give all the substance of his house for this love of God in Christ, it would utterly be contemned, Song of Solomon 8:7 . Moreover: these incalculably great blessings, have all been purchased before, by Jesus himself, and with no less a price than that of his own blood. So that, as he bought them for his people, so he counsels them to come and buy of him, in this unusual way of buying; not only without money, but without anything; neither credit, nor promise, nor deserving. Was there ever heard of such a free grace market as this? Reader! Shall you and I take the counsel of this wonderful Counsellor? Shall we seek Him, as our true riches? Accept his white raiment for our only covering before God, for acceptance? And shall we bless him, for the Unction of his Holy Spirit, in anointing our eyes, to behold thereby, our nothingness, and his All-sufficiency? Shall we hesitate to accept the free gift, and the free grace of God in Christ Jesus? Shall we indeed, be so proud, as rather to purchase, than receive free, rather come before God in bur rags, than in the robe of Jesus righteousness? And all this, at a time when we know, and are told, that Jesus IS too rich to need anything of us; and his only motive for selling in the way he doth, is to show us, that be needs not us, but that our blessedness he hath in view, and will thereby promote his own glory in our happiness?
This verse, of Jesus telling his Church of his love, in rebukes and chastenings, comes in very blessedly after the former; because, whatever exercises the Lord calls his people to, he will enable them to bear up under: and, having given them gold tried in the fire, and white raiment, and eye-salve, meaning himself, with all his graces, and gifts, and righteousness, in the Holy Ghost; afflictions in the world ought not to be regarded. Indeed, they are so many sweet and precious love-tokens of his favor, James 1:12; James 1:12 .
I admire the love-calls of Christ; and the method here spoken of, by which Jesus makes them known to his people. It is a sweet verse indeed, of the Lord Jesus, in which, as we commonly say, every word tells. The Son of God a Petitioner at the heart of his people. And the account is ushered in, as it well may, with a behold! A note of admiration, that Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, should thus ask an entrance! Moreover: where is he? He saith, I stand at the door and knock. Marvellous condescension! Jesus stands without! He that by right of creation, redemption, marriage, purchase, conquests, grace, might command all gates to open at his approach, is nevertheless an humble suitor, and stands without. Oh! must not everyone that hears of such grace, or that is conscious of such unparalleled mercy, be constrained to cry out, with one of old: Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without, Genesis 24:31 .
But, observe not only the Redeemer's posture, but the Redeemer's method, to gain admission. He knocks at the door of our heart. And how is this done? Oh! who shall count over, or sum up, all the love-calls of Christ. By his word, by ordinances, by means of grace, by afflictions, wants, sicknesses, sorrows, bereaving providences in our friends, the near prospect, as it should seem, of death to ourselves; the Lord knocks, and knocks again and again, and rings loud peals through all the chambers of our consciences; all which we totally disregard, hear, but turn from: neither can the Lord, by soothing or by threatening, by judgments or by mercies, have the least effect upon our stony hearts, until He himself put in his hand by the hole of the door, opened to his own entrance, and caused our bowels to be moved for him. So said the Church? of old! And so, blessed be God, I know, Song of Solomon 5:2-4 . Reader! what saith your heart to these things? Have you known Jesus at the door? Have you heard his calls? Hath he made you willing in the day of his power? Psalms 110:3 .
Let some child of God, that. knows what supping with Jesus means, describe those words of the Redeemer. For, though I trust I know well what it is; yet, sure I am, angels pare not competent to describe it. The Holy Ghost hath taught the Church to tell the people somewhat of it, in her love songs, when she describes Jesus as her Husband, bringing her into his banqueting house, and his banner over her was love; Song of Solomon 2:4 . but, oh! how far short all language is, to convey the full meaning of such unequalled joy? Our poor, cold, and lifeless nature, by reason of that body of sin and death we carry about with us, renders us but too often insensible to the visits of Jesus. Often he comes, looks in at the window, shows himself at the lattices of ordinances; and we, alas! sometimes hardly glance at him, before our thoughts run away to other objects. But, very mire I am, if our souls were but more alive to the visits of Jesus, we should find that this promise of Jesus would be often fulfilled, and night by night He would come with such love, and bring of that love with him, which is better than wine to make the feast with, and in such fulness, as to be both our company, our food, our bread, and our wine, Song of Solomon 5:1 .
I Must not close our view of this Epistle, before that I have first taken notice of what the Lord Jesus hath said of his throne, and of his Father's throne. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. I pray the Reader to observe the distinction which is here made, in what is said of these thrones. The throne of Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the throne of the essential Godhead. Here, on this throne, none but God himself in his threefold character of Person sits. Nothing created can possibly ascend here. But there is another throne, namely, the Mediatorial throne. And this belongs to Christ, as God-Man. And Jesus, having married our nature, and thereby having brought that nature into union with himself, brings his redeemed into a participation of this throne. Therefore, Christ saith, To him that overcometh, that is, to everyone truly regenerated by the Holy Ghost, whom God my Father hath given to me, and whom I have betrothed to myself, and redeemed by my blood and righteousness; having thus overcome sin and Satan, he shall sit with me on my Mediatorial throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne of Godhead.
Reader! Once more, as we close this Chapter, and with it the Lord's Epistles to the Churches, we are reminded of the hearing ear. He that hath an ear! Lord, give the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, that we may hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
BLESSED Lord of thy Churches! Give thy servants grace to praise thee for such love-tokens of thy favor, that in thine infinite condescension thou didst send those gracious messages to thy Churches; and still more, didst cause them to be handed down to us, even to the present hour. Lord! we see enough to be humbled to the dust in all. There are now the same features of character among thy people. Like Ephesus, too many of thy dear children have left their first love. Like Smyrna, we have the blasphemy among us of those who profess the truth, but are not. Like Pergamos, we have men of corrupt minds, who follow doctrines in head-knowledge, but void of hearth influence: and, like Thyatira, we have multitudes now in our land, who not only suffer, but follow the doctrine of Jezebel, and are running back to the idolatry, of false worship. Lord Jesus! do thou purge the land! And amidst the Sardis state, if we are in that state, prepare us for the more glorious one that is to follow, under the Philadelphian, and bring on the great day of our God. Lord make it a short work among all Laodicean spirits, and hasten that blessed period, when Jesus will close up all in glory.
In the mean time, blessed Lord Jesus, be not sparing of the sweet visits of thy love to thy people! Oh! for grace to hear thy voice, at the door of our hearts, and to receive Christ to his holy supper, and to be among those that eat bread in thy kingdom. Even so, Amen. The Lord be praised for these sweet Epistles to his Churches.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28