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lead to that supineness in religion, and profligacy of morals, which in this address are so alarmingly rebuked.
Sardis is now no more than a village. An ancient Christian church supplies the Turkish inhabitants with a mosque. The few Christians, if such they may be called, remaining here, have neither church nor minister.
He that hath the Seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.] In addressing the Church of Sardis, our Lord represents himself to them under the awful attributes, with which he had appeared to St. John at the opening of the vision, being such as more immediately concerned their state of religion. He hath that wondrous Spirit of God, in its perfection, which “ searcheth the reins and the heart," he is the great Ruler of all the ministers of God. No hidden moral or religious defect can be concealed from him, nor escape his animadversion. (See ch. i. 20.)
Thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead.] By a metaphor, frequent in the holy Scriptures, a person living in the defilements of this world, and neglectful of preparation for another, is said to be · dead while he liveth;" while he who meets death in the discharge of his Christian duty is pronounced “ living though he die.” (John xi. 25, 26; 1 Tim. v. 6; 1 John iii. 14; Jude 12.) It is in this sense that our Lord commanded the disciples to “ let the dead bury their dead,” (Matt. viii. 22.) And in this sense he now declares, that the Sardian Church, although it had the reputation of flourishing in life and vigour, is dead. The use of this metaphor was common amongst the Jews, (see Whitby on 1 Pet. iv. 6,) and the early fathers of the Church. Ignatius, Tertullian, &c., make frequent use of it.
Sardis, being thus dead, or asleep, to Christian duty, is called to wakefulness and vigilance. So in Ephesians, ch. v. 14. “ Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,” &c.
Ver. 3. I will come on thee as a thief, &c.] See 1 Thess. v. 1-7, the best comment on this text.
Ver. 4. Names.] Christian persons, whose names are registered in “ the book of life.” So Acts i. 15, and Rev. xi. 13. Grotius and Mede. Garments—white.] By
By an obvious metaphor, what raiment is to the body, namely, its covering and ornament, such is the habit of practice to the soul. " I put on righteousness, and it clothed me,” says Job; “ my judgment was a robe and a diadem.” Thus the Christian is required “ to put off the old sinful man, and to put on the new, to put on Christ, to put on the righteousness which is by faith.” The guest, who appears at the wedding of his Lord not so clothed, is cast into outer darkness. The wedding garment of the true Christian is white, pure, free from sinful stain, “ made clean by the blood of the Lamb.” To obtain this heavenly clothing, without which there is no admission to the presence of God, we must put on “ faith working by love;" in conformity with which, this white raiment is called " the righteousness of the saints,” (ch. xix. 8. See also Eph. iv. 22, 24; Gal. iii. 27 ; 1 John i. 7; Rev. vii. 14.) Such must be the clothing of those, who, as a reward of their victory over temptation, shall be admitted to walk with their Redeemer " in white raiment,” ev devkois; which expression is peculiar to St. John. See his Gospel, (ch. xx. 12,) where it is used to express the clothing of the heavenly angels.
Ver. 5. The book of life.] As in states and cities, they who obtained freedom and fellowship, were enrolled in the public register, and thence proved their title to citizenship; so the King of Heaven, and of the New Jerusalem, engages to preserve in his enrolment the names of those, who, like the good Sardians, shall preserve their allegiance by a faithful discharge of duty. He will own them, as his citizens, before en and angels. (Matt. x. 32; Luke x. 2; Psa. Ixix. 28; Ezek, xiii. 9; Exod. xxxii. 33; Dan. xii. 1.
Address to the Church in Philadelphia.
CHAP. iii. ver. 7–13.
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;
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.
9 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.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly; bold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is
new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Ver. 7. Philadelphia.] This city had its name from the founder of it, Attalus Philadelphus. Strabo relates that in his time,-not long before the date of this vision,-it had been greatly reduced in the number of its inhabitants, by frequent earthquakes, (lib. xii.) In 1312, it resisted the Turkish armies more successfully than the other cities of maritime Asia; but at length sunk under the common calamity, (Gibbon's Hist. vi. 314.) It now contains more Christians than any other of these cities, a consequence, perhaps, of its later subjugation. Four Christian churches, and above two hundred houses inhabited by Christians, are said to be standing in this city.
He that is holy, he that is true, &c.] To the Church of Philadelphia, whose faithful perseverance in Christian duty is afterwards so highly commended, the Lord represents himself in most consolatory terms. He takes to himself the epithets of holy and true; epithets appropriate to the great Father, who alone is the Holy One, and the only true God. But the same nature and attributes descend to “the only begotten Son, who is pronounced to be the express image of the Father," -" the holy one, the truth and the life,”—“ the true God and eternal life,” (Psa. xvi. 10; Mark i. 24; Acts iii. 14; John xiv. 6; 1 John v. 20.) He declares himself to be the great person typified and expressed in Isaiah xxii. 22, and ix. 6, who alone exercises complete rule in the house of his Father, the Church of God; who alone possesses the key which opens and shuts to eternal happiness or misery. See Bishop Louth on Isaiah xxii. 22.
Ver. 8. An open door.] Ovpav avewyucvnv, an opened door, opened by him who alone has the key of it, as above described. For our Lord has rendered the everlasting glories of his kingdom easy of access, to his faithful and repentant servants, by atoning for their past sins, by affording them spiritual assistance, and by supplying them with rules of conduct illustrated by his example. Hence he calls himself the way and the door, (John x. 9.) No one entereth but through him.
Ver. 9. Jews-of the synagogue of Satan.] It seems, that some Israelites, unworthy of the name, and like those described in ch. ii. 9, as disturbing and persecuting the Church at Smyrna, were also mischievously employed against this Church. Lord promises to these, his faithful servants a complete triumph over them. This certainly took place in its proper time, though no account of it has come down to us. And with this probably was connected the preservation promised to the Philadelphian Christians, during a general persecution which was to follow.
Ver. 12. Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.] To the Christian, conquering in his spiritual warfare, his Lord promises to make him a pillar, or column, in God's temple or church. Such an honourable station is assigned to the apostles James and Peter, (otulo, Gal. ii. 9,) as supporting the Christian Church in their days. So in the second century, the martyr Attalus, of Pergamos, one of the seven Churches, was accounted ; and in the third century, the Alexandrian martyrs, otuloi tov Osov, (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. v. 1. and vi. 41;) and, as, upon the columns of temples, it was the ancient custom to inscribe names, the honour