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Members of the Church of Philadelphia, let this subject dwell in your hearts, and let it animate you whenever, in the providence of God, you are called upon, either for personal exertion or for pecuniary contributions. The time is rapidly coming when the great contest between Christ and his foes will be finished in their total overthrow. The signs of the times, the signs of the times, point to some speedy moral revolution; and the next half century, in all probability, will see the empire of Christ established in truth and righteousness over every form of error, and over every prostrate superstition. Some of you now present may see it. Prophecy now tells us that these are the last days of the world's existence, and wo, wo, wo to the men who let slip the opportunity. At the day of doom, the dark banner which shall wave over their heads will be, “Curse
ye Meroz.” In the flames of the passing universe, and in the melting of the elements, will sound, "Curse ye Meroz;" and on the brazen gates of hell will be written in characters of eternal fire_“Curse ye bitterly, the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” The door of opportunity is yours. If you would not bear the curse of heaven, shut it not; open it wider and wider, till he who hath on his thigh the name of King of kings, and Lord of lords, shall take to himself the kingdom and rule supreme over all the earth.
GOD'S FIDELITY TO HIS PEOPLE,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA.
REVILATIox iii. 7-13.
We come to-day, my friends, to take up a portion of the epistle to the Church of Philadelphia, which must have conveyed to the minds of those who were addressed a degree of consolation much more easily imagined than described—“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.” This constitutes the subject of the
IVth general division of my discourse; and reduced to terms of more easy comprehension, it contains a promise that God would, in some signal manner, interpose to rid the Church of Philadelphia of those internal enemies who were producing so much trouble and vexation to the true disciples of Jesus. These troublers of the Church of Philadelphia are described as the synagogue of Satan; and it will be necessary for us to enter into a somewhat minute investigation, in order that we may ascertain as nearly as possible who these persons were. Precisely the same phraseology is used in relation to a set of individuals who were acting the same ungodly part in the Church of Smyrna, and as they are described by the same terms, it is reasonable to conclude that they allude to a similar class of persons. By some it is supposed that the persons alluded to were actually Jews, but Jews who had no conception of the spirituality of their religion, and were consequently disposed to give trouble to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Those who entertain this opinion, found their ideas on a passage which is to be found in the Gospel according to St. John. Our Saviour once addressed himself to the Jews-"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” I can hardly suppose this the meaning, because, if the persons alluded to were Jews actually, they could have had no connexion with the Church of Philadelphia, whereas the difficulty complained of in the text seems to relate to those who had some right of interference in the business of the Church. I am inclined to the opinion that the persons alluded to were professing Christians, but those who had never known any of the true experience of religion in their hearts, and consequently the language is highly expressive. There are instances of the same. Thus, in one case the Apostle says—"For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter ; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” And again : "All are not Israel who are of Israel.” Now, by these expressions the Apostle would seem most decidedly to intimate that it was not the mere profession of religion which gave persons a claim to the title of Christians, but that they must enter into the spirit of the system; and if this be the view, by calling a set of mere nominal professors the troublers of the Church and a synagogue of Satan, he clearly intimates that the very worst enemies which a Church can have, are those who make high pretensions to be her exclusive friends, and yet do not by their spiritual character sustain the profession they have made. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his description, gives this trait—“they say that they are Jews but are not, but do lie;" that is, they set themselves forward as the true disciples of God. “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.” They make a prodigious noise and outcry in the Church as if they bore up the very pillars of it, and endeavour to cast all others into the shade, as if they were the enemies of the Church, and the foes of all godliness, and the offscourings of the earth. Now our Saviour says of these, “they lie;" they are not what they pretend to be ; they are not vitally religious people; instead of being the real friends of the Church, they are his most decided enemies, and the worst kind of enemies too, because they have wrapped themselves up so completely in the good opinion which they entertain of themselves. indeed pity the condition of the Church in Phila
delphia, when it had to contend with difficulties of this kind. But amidst all this, there were some blessed and consolatory circumstances. Our Saviour, as he describes the character of these troublers of the Church, so he describes their end
Behold, I will make them come and worship at thy feet;" that is, the time shall come when these persons shall be completely humbled. Their triumphing, like all the triumphing of the wicked, shall be short. They shall come and humbly confess that they have been in the wrong, and that you have been in the right. Our Saviour does not say that they will willingly do this; but that he would make them do so; and the expressions are very emphatic, for this term is twice and very significantly repeated—“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.” But this is not all. There was something further which our Lord said he would make them do. This is his language—“And to know that I have loved thee;" that is, that he would give these persons to understand, that though they had been permitted for a time to triumph, though they had, in their self-elevation and pride, trampled upon those whom they opposed, and had persecuted and distressed them; that all the while his love had been set upon the very persons who had thus been trampled under foot; he had all the while looked upon them as the spiritual Church, and not only so, but that these very persons themselves should at length come to know it and acknowledge it; that they should be compelled to confess, by some signal interposition of his right hand, that