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motive and directed to a proper end, is nevertheless not that which is expressed by the term love. The members of the Church of Thyatira gave evidence of love to God, by a devotion of themselves to his service, and of love to men, by every effort to do good which could possibly be devised. “I know thy works, and thy charity, and thy service.” This is a term which means the benevolent and pious care which they took of the poor and needy, especially of the widow and the orphan. It certainly was a high commendation that the members of the Church at Thyatira nourished their own poor; they considered them as a part of the legacy of the Lord, and the orphan and the widow found in the Christian service of their brethren that they were not deserted. There are no claims upon the Christian sympathies of a religious people which so touch upon the tender sensibilities of the soul as these. There is something inexpressibly cheerless and desolate in that one single term orphan ; and there is every thing of melancholy retrospection in that single term widow; and when to these is superadded the terrible appellative of poverty and want and wretchedness, the poor widow and the orphan are among the most tender objects of Christian guardianship. The term service in the text, as I said, applies particularly to the care which was bestowed on these objects by the members of the Church of Thyatira, and they read us a lesson by which I trust we may be disposed to profit; and well would it be for us, if animated by a real love to God, we could catch the enlivening spirit of the ancient prophet as he sung,
When thine harvest yields thee pleasure,
Thou the golden sheaf shall bind;
These thy God ordains to bless
We have abundant reason in these things to emulate the service of the Church of Thyatira.
“I know thy works, and thy charity, and thy service, and thy faith.” Their faith is commended as a living faith; it was pure in its principle, and it was operative in its effects. The faith which is commended in the Scriptures, is that living principle whose province it is to work by love, to purify the heart and to overcome the world. Faith and salvation are inseparably joined together in the Scriptures. If we have faith, we shall certainly be saved; and if we are destitute of this grace, we shall as certainly perish; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The tenor of our Lord's commission to his Apostles was—“Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; he that believeth not, shall be damned.” Let me not be misunderstood, my friends, for on this very subject there are most powerful and fatal delusions. Faith is something widely different from that which it is generally supposed to be, and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to the saving of the soul, a work of mighty and most difficult accomplishment. If faith indeed were nothing more than giving credit to the facts related, and entertaining a kind of vague and undefined idea that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; if it were nothing more than a mere unmeaning re
cognition of what we may suppose the doctrines of the Gospel, it would be reduced to a mere exercise of mind easy of accomplishment, because the mind can be convinced by evidence, while the heart is totally untouched. But that faith which the Spirit of God will condescend to commend, as in the case of the Church of Thyatira, is something far different from this, and transcendently glorious, both in its nature and its effects. It is a work wrought in the heart by the spirit of all grace and truth. It is a sincere and a cordial acceptance of the high and holy offers of the Gospel, and it includes every thing which is contrary to the bent and tenor of the natural heart. It necessarily implies that we have a deep sense of our guilty and ruined state by nature; it presupposes an utter renunciation of our own righteousness; it presupposes a holy abhorrence of sin; an entire submission to the will of God; a devotion of the heart to the service of God; and an humble, simple dependance on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. It leads to a Gospel-regulated conduct and conversation. For, unfounded is the faith of that man, and unsubstantial as the veriest day-dream of the most distempered imagination, who can suppose that faith can exist in the heart, without its producing in the life the corresponding fruits of righteousness. He who truly believes in God, will be careful to maintain good works; he will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and being transformed by the renewing of his mind, he will prove to the world, to himself, and to God who searcheth the heart, what is that holy and perfect and acceptable will of God. That faith which is a grace-implanted principle, which is a principle by grace preserved, and which nourished by grace brings forth the fruits of holiness, is the faith commended by the Spirit of God when he declares, as in the text—“I know thy faith, mine eyes like a flaming fire see that it is seated in the heart."
“I know thy works, and thy charity, and thy service, and thy faith, and thy patience.” Patience, as used in Scripture phraseology, generally denotes a meek and quiet endurance of affliction, and persecution for the cause of Christ. The Greek word, rendered patience under some circumstances, signifies perseverance under afflictions and persecutions ; not only the meek endurance of them for the sake of Christ, but an unhesitating perseverance in the course of holiness, unawed by the frowning aspect which afflictions and persecutions may wear. These, my friends, were the graces and virtues of the Christian life, for the exhibition of which the members of the Church at Thyatira were so highly commended. Their works were works and labours springing from the most pure and holy principles. Their charity was the genuine love of the Gospel; first supreme to God, and then reflected back upon his creatures. Their service was the kind and constant ministration to the wants of the widow and the orphan. Their faith was vital; resting on that foundation than which none other can be laid, and carried out into the brightest evidences and the richest fruits. Their patience was their meekness under trial, combined with their undaunted resolution and their most unhesitating perseverance. These, it would seem, were sufficient to raise the spiritual character of this Church to the highest station it could possibly assume. But even this was not all; still higher is this Church to
be exalted; for when the Son of God, whose eyes are as a flaming fire, says, “I know thy works, and thy charity, and thy service, and thy faith, and thy patience,” he adds, as the very climax of their excellencies, "and the last to be more than the first;'' as if he had said—I commend you most of all for the progress you are making; you not only retain what you first had when you were called to the fellowship of the Gospel of the Son of God, but you are growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. You are among the number whose path is as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. You truly are forgetting the things which are behind, and looking forward to the things which are before
all pressing to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. You are daily adding to your works and labours of love. Your love to God burns with a brighter and still brighter flame, and your love to man has a correspondent progression. Your service to the poor and the destitute grows as grows your spiritual condition. Your faith is ever on the increase; it pervades all your doings, and gives its lively animation to every motive and to every movement. Your patience and your perseverence have a steady, onward march; nothing dismays, nothing allures, nothing stops your progress.
Brethren, the case of the Church at Thyatira is one among ten thousand. Where there is one case of progress, there are many of declension in religion. Such is the deceitfulness of the heart, and such are the wiles of the adversary, that most Christian Churches, however well they may begin, ge