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Those who repented and separated from this antinomian heresy, and the rest who had never received that doctrine, and had no acquaintance with those depths (as they called them) which they boasted of as being the products of profound knowledge and wisdom, and which they probably called the “deep things of God” (though they are pronounced by the Searcher of hearts as the depths of Satan), our Lord would not reprove for that mixture of infirmity which is to be found in all his churches; nor lay on them any other commands than those which they had already received from his ministers, and by the Scriptures. These were sufficient to regulate *their faith, charity, patience, and obedience; in which duties and graces he exhorted them to persevere till he came to remove them by death, or to judge the world. He also promised to all those who came off victorious from the temptations of sin and Satan, and who persevered in faith and holiness to the end of their warfare, that he would make them sharers of his own victories and conquests. They should participate with him in his kingdom of power and glory upon the earth. They should be assessors with him in the great day of judgment, when he will crush his enemies with irrecoverable ruin, as the vessels of a potter are broken to shivers. The promise implies that they should subdue every opposing power, that they should sit down with him on his throne; and that they should receive from him glory, honour, immortality, and an immoveable kingdom, even as he had received of his Father. He also engaged to give them the bright and “ morning Star." As this is one of the titles which Christ assumes in this book, it may imply that he himself would be their guide, their teacher, and their portion; or otherwise that he would invest them with such glory that they should hereafter shine in his presence like the “ morning star," when his bright beams break through the shades of night, and proclaim the approach of the sun. This epistle, like the preceding ones, is closed with a solemn charge to all who hear it, seriously to consider and attend to its contents. “He that hath an ear, let him “ hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
The city of Thyatira js at present called by the Turks Ak-hisur, or the White Castle, from the great quantities of white marble there abounding. It contains about thirty thousand inhabitants, of whom three thousand are Christians; all Greeks, except about two hundred Armenians. There is one Greek church and one Armenian. The rest of the inhabitants are Turks, who have many mosques in the city.
From the epistle to the church of Thyatira, the professors of Christianity are instructed to remember, that the eye of Christ penetrates the most hidden recesses, and that he searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men. Let them beware, therefore, that they cherish nothing, even in their hearts, which their great Master will behold with displeasure.-How awful are the threatenings against those who imbibe corrupt principles, and indulge in unholy practices! The Lord will ere long fight against them with the sword of his mouth. Whatever may be their boasts of their knowledge of the deep things of God, if they act under the influence of the devil, unless they repent, He “ who hath his eyes like a flame of fire” will speedily cast them into great tribulation.-But let those who war a good warfare be animated by the gracious promises of the Redeemer. He will afford them refreshment and delight, in partaking of the hidden manna and of the tree of life in the paradise of God. Let every believer, therefore, listen to the advice, and be encouraged by the promises, of the gracious Saviour. Let him be steadfast in the faith, and persevere in the Christian warfare, till every enemy be put under his feet, and the crown of victory be placed on his head.
Chap. iii. 146. 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. ... Sardis is situated about thirty-three miles to the south of Thyatira, and was once the renowned metropolis of Lydia, the kingdom of Crosus, celebrated for its riches. It is now called Sart or Sard, with little variation from its original name. The epistle to the angel, or presiding pastor, was sent as a message from Him 6 that had the seven spirits “ of God, and the seven stars," that is, the divine Saviour, who has authority to distribute the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit in all their variety and abundance to his churches; of which he is the proprietor and the ruler, and whose ministers he holds like stars in his right hand, retaining them under his direction, disposal, and government. The state of this church was far from such as Christ could approve. They had a name to live, but they were dead. Notwithstanding their Christian profession, they were “ alienated from the life of God, and “ were dead in trespasses and sins:" they professed the truth, and had the ordinances and forms of religion-they had been baptized-they met together for public worship, and partook of the Lord's supper -- but they were not spiritually regenerate. They might consider themselves so, and imagine that they were vitally united to Christ as living branches in the living and true vine; but He who had the seven spirits of God, knew that in general they were not so. He saw many of them “ dead in trespasses " and sins," and others of them in a dull and torpid and lifeless state. The Church in general was more like a dead corpse, than a compact symmetry of living members of the mystical body of Christ. Hence our Lord admonishes them to awake from their supineness, to be vigilant against their enemies, to look to Him who had the seven spirits, that they might obtain strength and vigour to the remains of those good things which still existed, though in some of them like dying embers. In this manner the lamp, which was ready to expire, might be trimmed again and burn bright. It is observable that the fault of the church of Sardis was not heresy or corruption of doctrine, but spiritual death in some of its members, and negligence and supineness in others. Our Lord, therefore, called upon them to remember the favours they had received, and the privileges with which they had been favoured, to hold fast pure and undefiled religion, and to repent of their defects and inconsistencies. If these warnings and admonitions did not awaken them and render them vigilant, Christ assures them, that he would come to them at an unexpected hour, even as a thief cometh in the night, and visit them with some terrible judgments, by which they would be overwhelmed.
But though this was the corrupt and degenerate state of the church of Sardis in general, there were a few Christians among them who had been found faithful among the faithless. They are called a few names, to intimate that Christ knew them perfectly, and that, if necessary or proper, he could have designated them accordingly. These had not “ de“ filed their garments," nor disgraced their Christian profession by that filthiness of flesh and spirit which had spread all around them. Hence the Redeemer promised they should “ walk with him in white,” in glory, honour, and purity; for “ they were worthy," or fit and meet, through the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, to participate in the happiness of his faithful friends both on earth and in heaven. A siinilar promise is made to every conqueror in the spiritual warfare; “ he shall be clothed in white “ raiment," and the gracious Redeemer will not blot his name out of the book of life, in which all his elect and accepted servants are registered. So far from this, the Lord Jesus would surely confess his name as one of his faithful friends and brethren before his Father and the holy angels, in the great day when, in all his glory and majesty, he will sit on the throne of judgment. “ He that hath an ear to " hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the
churches." What is here said to the church of Sardis concerns all others that may be in similar circumstances. today. This once celebrated city now lies in ruins, the
grandeur of which strikingly manifests its former magnitude and splendour. The following account respecting the state of Christianity there is given by