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best of our church governments at this present day, would be found vastly more defective.
Verse 8: "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna, write These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive."
This church is commended for its works, the tribulation which it endured, the poverty it labored under; but it was found rich in grace, though at the same time there were hypocritical members attached to it, who said they were Jews, but were found to be of the synagogue of Satan. For a trial of their faith, it was foretold that some of them should suffer imprisonments by temptation from the evil one. They were also to suffer persecution for ten days, or prophetic years. This church is exhorted to continue faithful until death, that they may obtain a crown of life.
Verse 11: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Happy death of the righteous, when they shall receive a crown of life that fadeth not away. It is worthy of notice that the faithful members of those seven churches have seven different kinds of blessings promised, all of which centre in eternal happiness.
Verse 12: "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos, write These things saith he that hath the sharp sword with two edges."
It appears that this church was situated in a very corrupt part of Asia, “even where Satan's seat is." But even there they held fast the name, and supported the faith, of the Redeemer - even in those days wherein Antipas, a faithful martyr, was slain among them. But he who knows the mind and secrets of all men, found vices and crimes among them; those that held the doctrine of Baalam, and threw stumbling blocks in the way of the truth. They had among them those who inclined to idolatry, and were guilty of fornication. They had also among them those that held the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, now call polygamy, or a plurality of wives.
Verse 16: "Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." From these words we may perceive how unequal the combat, when the sinner is to be fought by strict justice.
Verse 17: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." Blessed state of the righteous, to be fed with the bread which cometh down from heaven to receive spiritual nourishment from the Lord of Life, and to enjoy a blessing which the world can neither give nor take away.
Verse 18: "And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira, write: "These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass."
Verse 19: "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more that the first."
It would appear from these verses that the church was in a progressive state of spiritual improvement. But yet, when tried by him who knoweth all our ways, it was found in some things defective. It was charged with having some who taught false doctrines, and thereby seduced others. It was also tinctured with idolatry; a space was given it to repent of these fornications, but she repented not.
Verse 22: "Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except. they repent of their deeds." From these words we may see the danger of continuing in sin. God's Spirit will not always strive with man.. Man may be given over to a reprobate mind, and no place for repentance found. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He is not to be mocked by those in an unregenerate state.
Verse 23: "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."
Verse 24: "But unto you, I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, As many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.”
Verse 25: "But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come."
From these words we may see the purity of heart and life which the gospel law requires, and the dreadful effects of teaching false doctrines. It is a fact that in these last ages, men have considered the Redeemer as incapable of ruling over us. They have decreed rites and ceremonies which neither he nor his disciples ever ordained. They have made canons and injunctions which the gospel never enjoined, and have treated with contempt the glorified Redeemer, and his heavenly Father.
Verse 26: "And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations." "The meek shall inherit the earth."-Matt. 5: 5.
Verse 27: "(And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers ;) even as I received of my Father."
Verse 28: "And I will give him the the morning star." This will lead us on to perfect day.
Verse 29: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Verse 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."
Verse 2: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God."
Verse 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."
From the foregoing verses, we find that at Sardis they had a name among the churches; that they had received the important truths of the gospel, and were content therewith. They thought the name sufficient, but made no spiritual improvement. They had the form of godliness, but not the power, and therefore were considered as dead, or ready to die. From hence we may learn the danger of living in a state of carnal security. If we are not growing better, we are growing worse. We must grow in grace and power with God, before we can arrive at perfection; and perfection is positively required, before we are admitted into glory. Anything that is impure, or unclean, cannot appear in the presence of him with whom we have to do. See what the Redeemer says we must be, in order to attain to eternal life:
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."—Matt. 5: 48.
Here the commandment is to be watchful, and to strengthen the things which remain, and are ready to die. If we do not, our works will not be found perfect before God. I do not mean absolute perfection. No mortal on earth can attain to that by his own works. But if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us; and our merciful High Priest and Intercessor is able and willing to perform the rest. We are also commanded to remember how we have received and heard. As we have the voice of scripture and the voice of reason to direct us, we are to hold fast those things, and repent, lest death may come upon us as a thief, and we not know what hour he may come.
Verses 4, 5: It appears that even in Sardis, there were some who had not defiled their garments; 66 therefore," "said Christ," they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 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." Gracious encouragement! May - we grow in grace, that our works may be perfect before God
Verse 6: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Verse 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:
Verse 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.'
The church addressed in these verses, and I may add, all people to whom the description applies, are greatly encour