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While strong in our testimony against the false assumptions of evil persons, our hearts might decline in their warmth of affection toward Christ Himself; and get more occupied in that which is to be condemned in bad people, than in that which is to be loved in His own saints: and of this He says, I have it against thee.
Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen. In the Epistles to the churches at Pergamos and at Thyatira, He commences His allusion to their faults by saying, “I have a few things against thee"; but in declension in love, the Lord does not speak of a few things, but "Remember from whence thou art fallen.” The magnitude of this declension in His servants is a great one indeed.
And repent, and do the first works. It is quite possible to have much activity in service, and that in toilsome, trying, and righteous labour, and yet to have love wanting; and when this is so, the word is “ Repent." Continue no longer in such a course as this, but “do the first works”, that is, works of love. See 1 Thess. i. 3.a Or else I will comeb unto thee quickly, and will remove thy
candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. No righteous labour in testimony against evil, can compensate for the absence of love in those that are Christ's lights in the world.
The law gave a testimony against sin; but it was accompanied with blackness, and darkness, and a tempest. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and He is the Light of the world: in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. There was no life in the law. “ He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him; but he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded
& The most rigid acts of righteousness in service for Christ in the church, should spring from love. When Paul wrote as to the offender at Corinth, it was out of much affliction and anguish of heart he wrote unto them, with many tears; not that they should be grieved, but that they might know the love which he had more abundantly unto them. Compare 1 Cor. v. with 2 Cor. ii.
b"Epxopal, “ I am coming."
It is very important to see how much righteous zeal against evil was in this church; and that while Christ commended it, yet He could not continue them as His light while works of love were wanting. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the
Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He still commends their abhorrence of that which is evil; for while He would bring us back to that from which we have declined, He would equally preserve in that wherein we are right. There is failure in testimony where love is exercised at the sacrifice of true righteousness, as at Thyatira; and there can be no true testimony in acts of righteousness in the absence of love, as at Ephesus. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith
unto the churches. The churches are addressed as corporately responsible; but then they fail to act in that responsibility; and then individual responsibility is brought in. No individual can say,
6. How can I act out as Christ's servant, when the churches are so heedless of His words?" for the answer is, “ If the churches do not act out, then do so yourself.” If love has failed in the church, see that it does not fail in you; and if the church does not repent, see that you yourself do repent, and then the promise is made to you.
c In the Second Epistle of John, when the apostle testifies to his love in the truth of those in whom it dwells, he also testifies against the deceivers who have not this doctrine ; and says, “Receive them not into your house.”
a This individual call « to him that hath an ear,” is repeated in each of the seven Epistles to the churches. And I see nothing addressed to the churches corporately, that is not a very simple point of inidvidual conduct.
To him that overcometh will I yive to eat of the tree of
life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. While the epistles are in the first instance addressed to the Churches corporately, and afterwards made applicable to individuals, this is not the way in which the promises are presented. They are at once presented to the faithful individual, “ To him that overcometh.
The several promises to him that overcomethe are the subjects of detail in the four last chapters, where we see that the future glories of the Church, when taken to the Lord, are the subjects of promise to the faithful individual
now, in the corporate failure of the Churches
The individual who is faithful in the midst of corporate failure now will have his portion in corporate glories by and bye.
Man at his fall was driven out from the paradise that was in Eden, lest he should put forth his hand and take of the tree of life; but now, in the new creation, the tree of life, in the midst of the paradise of God, is the portion of the faithful in Christ Jesus.&
e A comparison of the several promises to him that overcometh in chapters ii. iii. with the further details of the subjects of those promises in chapters xix. xx. xxi. xxii.
Ephesus.--Compare chap. ii. 7 with chap. xxii. 2.
Thyatira.—Compare chap. ii. 26–28 with chap. xix. 11 – 16, and chap. xxii. 16.
Sardis.-Compare chap. iii. 5 with chap. xix. 8, 14.
I do not say that there is no promise made to him that overcometh that is not verbally expressed in the four last chapters, but it is a very positive witness of the exceedingly blessed
placé of individual faithfulness, while in the midst of corporate failure that the promises to him that overcometh, embrace within them those things which are the chief glories of all the saints in the closing chapters.
# The same word in the Septuagint is used for "garden” in Gen. ii. as that used for paradise in the New Testament. Only the one was in Eden, watered by the river Euphrates; the other is in the third heavens.
8 Godly affections will be sustained and fed.
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 presentation of Himself, He also takes from the things which John had seen.
When John fell at His feet as dead, he was restored by the words, " Fear not, I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and of death."
This same presentation of himself is made to the Church at Smyrna, to draw their thoughts away
from those who can kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.
There is a much deeper question of death, and. from it there is entire deliverance in Him; the other is a light affliction and but for a moment. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, but thou
art rich. Tribulation and poverty, as the results of faithfulness to Christ, are very precious badges in his servants. With the present trials of them He has sympathy in saying “ I know”; but to the deeper blessings He leads on in contrast by saying “ but thou art rich.”
And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are
Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. While Christ knows in sympathy the trials of His servants with their deeper blessings : so does he also know the false assumptions of wicked people and their real state.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. It does not follow that, because the Lord knows the tribulations and poverty of His people, and sympathises with them in it, that, therefore, he is about to deliver them from it now in the flesh: he assumes it to be their portion, but says, “ Fear not.” These words from Him tell us at once how harmless the suffering is, while at
the same time they warn us against the weakness of the flesh.
Behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that
ye may be tried.
The Lord would keep us from sudden fear, by telling us the things before they come to pass (see John xvi. 4; 1 Thes. iii. 4).
He would also lead us away from thoughts after the flesh, by showing us the source of the trouble in our spiritual enemy. While as a matter of fact, men cast them into prison, yet men are lost sight of in it, and the devil is presented as doing it. It was under his agency it was done. And then there was a great end in it all " that ye may be tried.” “ That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. i.).
And ye shall have tribulation ten days. If tribulation is the portion of the faithful, they have this consolation, that it cannot last long: he who allows the tribulation, also measures the period of it.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crownh
of life. All the associations of life with a natural man are followed by death: With a saint, the order is the reverse: resurrection-life is life from the dead. He who has eternal life has passed from death unto life. We mortify the deeds of the body and live. If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him. It is in this same order of association that the faithful are sustained in reference to them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
Some of the richest promises come in to meet us in the places of greatest trial in the flesh.
TOV otepavov (the crown-definite) rñs wñs.