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I. THE NAME.
do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ?” Have you, my fellow-believer, asked the Lord to (Numb. xxiii.)
show you, by the Holy Spirit, the meaning of this? Dear one in the Lord, we do wish--do we not?- I have, and trust you will. Do so now. to be of the number of those of whom the Son of God
In the first place, the Son of God notes only“ a says
little strength” in the church at Philadelphia. That “I HAVE LOVED THEE !"
church had not strength sufficient to go forward of And we do earnestly desire that all believers every- itself—it had strength enough to follow, follow the where may seek to be taught of the Spirit what is Lord, follow when He opened the way, and not till the mind of the Lord concerning Philadelphia and then. conform to it. Do we not? Let us, therefore, read How natural that the Great Shepherd of the Sheep the Epistle to Philadelphia together, and let me tell should smilingly approve of the patience and humble you, as I have this opportunity, what I think the dependence of that portion of His flock which, Spirit has shown me. But, I entreat you, dear one (instead of trying to force a way for itself,) waits in the Lord, to receive all that we say as the word patiently upon the Lord to provide a way—an open of man only. Say in your heart—"Lord, is it so ?" door. Let us, therefore, as churches, if we need any
temporal help, look to the Lord and wait. He de
. 1. In the first place, does not the name betoken lights to help
the helpless whose help is in the
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him.” (Hos. xi.) the special visible characteristic of this church?
"I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of “Philadelphia” means Brotherly Love. We rejoice Egypt.” (Jer. xxxi.) to think that this is increasing in our midst. Is it ** The Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, so in yours, beloved ? At your prayer-meetings is a
in all the way ye went, until ye came into this place.” (Deut.i.) lively interest shown and expressed in the circum
"But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked." (Deut. i.) stances of the members, individually ? do you come
There's the danger-and the result, trouble.
Shall we not, therefore, as churches, desire to together to “bear one another's burdens" to the throne of grace, and “ to cast those burdens upon the remain little in our own eyes, that we may have the Lord”? Are your meetings really in all simplicity, special help of the Lord ? What though in the eyes liberty, and love, as the children of the one family of of others we are a contemptible little crew! God ? Do you bear with one another, when things
“Fear not, worm Jacob!" are done or said in the assembly which seem to you It is not pleasant to be only a worm; ah, but it is to show a want of subjection to the Holy Spirit of conformity with Him whose experience down here God? Do you seek to “wash feet,"
or do you wasbrandish the rod, forgetting that the use of the rod
“I am a wory, and no man; a reproach of men, and desdevolves the Head of the family ?
pised of the people.” (Ps. xxii.) Then again, are the sick and the aged really cared for among you—visited, comforted, nourished ? the that much strength is desirable, and urges us to wish
Satan is ever seeking to delude us with the thought unemployed prayed for that their faith may not fail, for larger buildings, ablo men, more money. Hence and are they spoken for to others ? the needy the machinery some of us resort to-such as Reports, ministered to the wilful, the worldly-minded, and Annual celebrations, lists of donations, and censuses the young watched over, their fleshly tendencies
of members. What exultation if our church is added noted and arrested by timely united prayer ? If so, beloved, then, so far, is the name Phila- to! if our sum-total of money has run up! if we have
increased our roll of hired servants ! delphia deserved by you, and especially if, in
very fact of our craving visible resources shows addition, you mourn over and appropriate the failings of believers everywhere as your failings—the failings on our visible resources the Lord withdraws Himself,
that we lean on them, and in proportion as we lean of the One Body.
and then, that which comes to pass is this "As touching Brotherly Love, yo need not that I write Much outward strength--litile inward grace : unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." (1 Thess. iv.)
Little outward strength--much inward grace. "This is my commandinent, That ye love one another as I As is seen in comparing Philadelphia and Laodicea : have loved you." (John xv.)
“Behold, I have set be- “Because thou sayest, I am rich, Thus Philadelphia is the “Church of Brotherly fore thee an open door, and increased with goods, and have Love,” which makes it (with other good features and no man can shut it need of nothing, and knowest not
for thou hast a little that thou art wretched, and miseabout it), the Church of Christ's love also.
strength, and hast kept rable, and poor, and blind, and my word, and hast not de- naked, I counsel thee to buy of nied my name.”
me gold tried in the fire," &c. In the second place, let us note the three things
Beloved, is your place of meeting a small one, and of which the Lord approves in Philadelphia.
are your numbers few? Then you are like Philadel“I know thy works ; behold, I have set before thee an open and covet what other Christians have; but “wait on
phia, possessing "little strength." Don't look
upon door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast
the Lord; be of good courage; and He shall strengthen your hearts : wait, I say, on the Lord."
“He will withhold no good thing from them that Falk HAST NOT DENIED MY NAME."
A LITTLE STRENGTI,
HAST KEPT MY WORD,
A WAY INTO BLESSING.
Having "little strength,” however, must not be Now let us ask the Lord to show us what "opening confined to little outward strength, in respect to the door” means. Surely it meansnumbers and means. It means no confidence in them. A church may be comparatively large and wealthy ; but if its confidence is in the Lord, then it is Phila- If a church feel itself rather straitened for room delphia. It is strong in the Lord-not in itself. and means, let it wait upon the Lord, who will give Its strength is that of the true woman-weak in all that IIe sees needful for His own glory and its herself, but strong when leaning on the arm of the usefulness. But sometimes we suppose something to Beloved.
be needful of the nature of temporal means) which But while "little strength" spiritually may be the Lord sees to be not so. If, therefore, it is kept possible with large external means, it is doubtful if from us, it is the very best thing for us.
Let us they are often united. The Lord knows the danger beware lest, in our impatience, we do not press of riches
forward before the Lord. “ How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Suppose, from the increase of numbers, for inkingdom of God!
stance, a larger place of meeting is thought to be " And the disciples were astonished at his words. “ But Jesus answereth them, and saith unto them, Children,
desirable. Or, suppose, from the members in fellowhow hard is it for them who trust in riches to enter into the ship residing somewhat apart, an additional little kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the place of meeting is thought to be needful. Well, Needle's Eye (a small postern door), than for a rich man to what would Philadelphia do? Would it not say— enter into the kingdom of God." (Mark x.)
“Dear Lord, we look to Thee; give us what we In this passage is vividly shown that having and think we need, if it be to Thy glory. Not our trusting generally go together.
" will, but Thine be done." It also be noted that the Lord does not refer; how is Philadelphia to judge that it is a door of the
Now, suppose a place in which to meet offers itself, may in the above passage, to the increased difficulty of a rich man believing unto eternal life (though that Lord's opening?, The first question would be-Has may be true.) those who were on the ground of being God's people the rent were £40 a quarter? Can it be said that
- provided the means He speaks of "riches” hindering the Lord provided the means
BEFOREHAND, in His own gracious way? Suppose from “entering into the kingdom.”—that is, appre- the Lord has opened the door unless the rent for the hending and going on with that new and divine order of things at the head of which Christ is. first quarter is provided before the church goes in ? Or, in other words, if we possess riches we shall be
Surely not? in danger of walking by sight, not by faith.
It is the special duty of the Head, the Lord, the Now, what is dangerous to the individual is also Husband to provide-to provide for the Body, the dangerous to the assembly. Hence it is that the dear Church, the Spouse. Shall we, therefore, take future Lord, “who hath abounded toward us in all wisdom liabilities upon us for the Lord'? we? who " and prudence," (Eph. i.) sees it best to koep us in little
our own,” and may be called away to-morrow? Oh, companies and with slender (yet sufficient) resources.
this is a grievous failure. May we fall in with the will of God concerning us, thing in the future? We can only reckon on one
Again. How can any of us reckon and be content to have “little strength.”
thing in the future—and that is, the coming of the “Be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said, Lord. Suppose, then, the church be caught away I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. xiii.)
just before the end of the quarter-would it not be a Not content to stand still spiritually—10. But, slur upon our testimony? If the building rented " content with such things as ye have.” Spiritually belong to a man of the world, let us desire to be speaking, as assemblies, let us press on ; let us desire beforehand, in such a case ? It would be a special to see the work of the Lord going on in our unidst. opportunity of precious testimony. But let us be careful not to hang grace on bricks- Let us not provide by worldly shifts of our own, and-mortar, money and men. So shall we please the —such as giving “bills,"
giving "bills," or promises of payment, Lord, like the church at Philadelphia, by having- for materials and work done ; engaging to meet rent " A LITTLE STRENGTH.
when it becomes due; borrowing money on interest, and mortgaging the property to secure the principal
to the lenders, &c. 3. “HE TIAT OPENETII, AND NO NAN SHUTTETH.”
" Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." As the church is added to by the Lord, additional Are not such expedients forcing a door open, inplaces of meeting may be felt to be needful. Well, stead of looking to the Lord to open
"the door"? the Lord before the church which has " little Oli, the grief and the shame which would have strength,' and “
opens the door,” and the church | been spared to many if they had not gone before the has just strength enough to follow—and that degree Lord in this matter! of strength is all that is neediful.
Even when we meet our engagements, we have Blessed it is to wait, and to be kept waiting, till practically dishonoured the Lord, because we have we see the Lord Jesus going before. Io follow Him taken into our own hands what we ought to have is the path of safety and blessing to His dear sheep. left in lis. But-when we do not meet our engage
pon, who shall
ments, and go on in debt! What a failure and a has“ kept His word.” It is with much joy that we sin! Often does the Lord allow His dear ones to call to mind the fact that of late years there has been reap the results of their carnal sowing in the form of throughout the Church a gathering conviction of the monetary burdens and bondage, to show them that Sufficiency and Supremacy of the Word of God. He is not with them in it !
A passage of Scripture is required for everything. "Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he Believers are now to be met with who read nothing saveth them out of their distresses.” (Ps. cvii.)
but the Word of God. Indeed, this is the case with
us, with very occasional exceptions. Joyful day, They are helped, indeed, in answer to prayer; when saints have advanced to this state of real “ But let them not turn again unto folly.” (Ps. lxxxv.)
fellowship-dependence on the Holy Ghost, to lead
them into all truth by the Word of God. If, therefore, purchase is contemplated, let us pray,
The consequence is a general gathering back to and look, and wait till we get all the money : Scriptural simplicity on such subjects as
If the rental of a place is contemplated, let us pray, and look, and wait for the FIRST QUARTER's rent
The Certainty of Eternal Life to every one that before going in. Then, if it is the Lord's will that
believeth; we should stop, He will provide, by freewill offerings,
Baptism in Water ; during that first quarter the rent for the second. The Showing forth the Lord's death weekly ; same course should be taken with places rented by the
The duty of Individual and Collective “Holding week, month, or year.
forth the Word of Life;"! Saints may not have been acting exactly in this The Ministry of the Spirit; way heretofore: nor have we ourselves. But being
The Coming of the Lord. enlightened, we hope to do so for the future.
The Presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst. This, surely, may be regarded as one meaning of the blessed assurance, I have set before thee AN
Though these and other great and precious truths
are now being “ kept,” treasured, or held fast, by the OPEN DOOR." If the rent of each quarter is not thus provided singular “ word” is used—not words, (as in John xv.,
Church increasingly, yet it is noticeable that the before a fresh quarter is entered it is a door of the Lord's opening? It
" Xbide in me, and my words abide in you.”) тау
have been, but the means being withheld, it is shown to Lord alludes to? May it not be that “word," or
What "word” of His can it be that the dear be a door of His shutting ?
single commandment, expressed in this Church's “And shutteth, and no man openeth!”
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I hare Thus the Lord Jesus Christ does shut, as well as
loved you.” (John xv. 12.) open! Yes, indeed; it is a solemn fact !
" These things I command you, that ye love one anotker." If Satan can succeed in exciting strife in an assem, (John xv. 17.) bly—this will be a giving “ place to the Devil ;" and will not the door be shut, if such strife be not soon
Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ has laid down this
law twice. repented of? Christ not only shuts, but He also says—"No man
This one law - this great, simple, single comopeneth!" We may, by our contrivances, and nip- mandment is reiterated by the Holy Ghost ping, and pressing, manage to hold possession of
“ This is his (the Father's] commandment, That we should bricks-and-mortar, and the Lord will meet with us believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one therein, according to His assurance (Matt. xviii. 20). another, as he [the Lord Jesus] gave us commandmeat." But blessing will be comparatively limited.
We (1 John iii. 23.) shall not advance into blessing, as through an open door. Alas! how have we all failed in “keeping" this, Difficulties and depression will be felt, and that in our Lord's commandment or “word !” Individually, proportion to the light sinned against
. The Lord we must all feel our failure. And, as churches, must and will bring us to an end of ourselves—our alas! the bitterness we have shown towards those confidences and our devices, that He may be all in who have failed and fallen among us, and also all. And then how foolish to struggle to keep pos- towards other churches. There has been, in some session of a place, when the Lord, by withholding quarters, a vast deal of putting away" for matters the means before it is due, and by other signs, shows to deal with which the church has received no power. that He has shut the door!
The Lord tumn us from our evil ways! Let us Doubtless, an open door” means not only a remember that our Lord, whose we are-body, soul, place or places to meet in, but includes ALL opportuni- and spirit-has commanded us to love one anotherties of serving God and fellowship with one another and to love one another as He has loved us. in worship and work-widening out before a church. Would we be Philadelphia ? Let us love "all the
holy brethren with a pure heart fervently."
will the Lord Jesus approvingly regard us as "keepIV.-" AND HAST KEPT MY WORD."
ing His word.” The second feature which the Lord Jesus notes with approval in the church of His love, is that it
V.-"THOU HAST NOT DENIED MY NAME."
“ circumcision.” The place where Christians meet is
with them the “house of God.” The First Day of What is the Name of Jesus with reference to the the week is to regarded as holy as the Jewish Church? HEAD.
Sabbath, and for the same reasons. Then we have "The husband is the Head [Ruler) of the wife, even as yearly feasts and fasts with some; and vestments Christ is the Head of the Church.” (Eph. v.)
and imitations of tabernacle glory. “ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, All these errors are, however, secondary to, and there am I (as Head or lord) in the midst of them."(Matt.xviii. result from, their main position—their great assump
Now, do you meet to a human president, or head ? tion: which is this If so, you practically deny Christ's name! This did That they (or such as they) must aloxe minister in not Philadelphia. That church, in spite of contempt
the assemblies of saints. from others, did not deny Christ's name. Oh,
This is a practical denial of the name (or headship) dear one, meet with those who meet simply to Jesus of Christ and the ministry of the Spirit. in the midst. This was among the good things which
" They say they are Jews, and are not, but do lic." the Son of God noted in Pergamos.
“SCRIBES, PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES !" “ Thou holdest fast my
name." (Rev. ii.) All sorts of things are said against us for denying and to be called Rabbi, Rabbi. Pretty things ! who
Your moral progenitors loved Robes, High Places, the headship of man-in the presence of God!! We are said to be "spiritually proud, disdaining Your very dress, as most of you walk the streets,
would despoil you of them! You glory in your shame! “ to be taught by those who know better than our"selves!", We are said " to shut ourselves up from stamps you to be, a somebody! a holy one! á "everybody, cherishing the sentiment I-am-holier- favoured of heaven!
But you lie! You are an "adversary" of God and 6 than-thou!!"
Of course, all this is to be expected from men who His Christ! And (regarding you as a class) you are hire themselves out for religious work!
“ The Synagogue of Satan!” 6. Such men are called by the Son of God
A PROFESSION OF ADVERSARIES ! “THEM OF THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN!”
Oh, that would take heed to the words of the “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan—"
"Judge of all the earth "? *Synagogue” means assembly, and "Satan” means “ Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which adversary. "Those, therefore, who claim and take say they are Jews, and are not, but do lic! behold, I will place and power in the church, (as “heads" or make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know
that I have loved thee." leaders of meetings,) acting, as they do, adversely to the power and position of Christ, the Head, are - Know this, that Heaven and earth shall pass away, the synagogue of Satan.
but His "word shall never pass away.” They will be found to be "adversaries” of the
Says some oneFather as well of the Son, for
“ Šuch a threat as that can only apply to uncon“ He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father "verted men who claim to be teachers and leaders in which hath sent Him.” (John vi.)
" the Church. Surely, some believers will not bow Equally true is it that all such are adversaries “ down to others !” of the Holy Spirit of God, for while the saints are
Well, when I get home, I feel I could honour in love committed to this personal care, these "adversaries" all who have greatly honoured Jesus, (especially if I take the " care of souls,” and dreadfully hinder and have spoken ill of them,) even as far as to casting myself grieve and vex the Holy Ghost. Thus are they at their feet and embracing them, and confessing how convicted " adversaries” of the Father, and of the wrong I was. I shall rejoice that they honoured God Son, and of the Holy Ghost!
in one respect in which I did not. Oh, what a dreadful charge to lay against mortal Now this disparagement of speech is exactly what men!
was done by some of us, and is done by many These "adversaries” speak "great swelling words" Christians still, towards those who meet simply in of themselves. The Lord says they
the name of Jesus without any minister ! Such
believers are, as of old, a “sect everywhere spoken "SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE NOT, BUT DO LIE.” against.” Only press the walk of faith upon a
The thought of the Jew was that he was specially stranger-brother you have incidentally met, and forth favoured of God as an earthly one. So these will be comes the exclamation-" Oh, I see! you're one of found to take earthly ground for the Church ; their the Brethren!" Well, this state of things must be teachings and practices will be found to be deeply reversed. The “day" will declare all things. And coloured with Judaism ; they also practically claim then, should I not hasten to honour those who have to be God's favourite ones on earth.
honoured Jesus? Yes : surely. For instance, some will speak of “clergy and lay If Peter act wrongly, the Lord must needs say— workers” as answering to as the priests and levites ;" “Get thee behind me, Adversáry!" Why should we others, that “infant baptism” is the counterpart of foel difficulty, therefore, in admitting that true
believers may be associated, while down here, with passage, warns Philadelphia against man's taking synagogue of Satan "?
There is the fact its “crown." Hence the “crown” He refers to, may before our eyes—That both true believers and mere not so much be a future crown—that is in His own professors practically deny the Headship of the Master. blessed keeping, but a present “crown".
crown”. Surely, There will remain, therefore, but one course with both. to have His love resting upon us is a crown. When They shall admit the wrongness of their conduct at the He says— feet of Philadelphia. Those who are on Philadelphian
“I HAVE LOVED THEE." ground at the Lord's coming will doubtless be filled
Surely this is Philadelphia's crown! Of none of with a sense of their many shortcomings, but among the other six churches has the Lord said this. Not their failings will not be the sin of "denying the but that He loves all, in a general sense. But He name (headship]” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
does not love all when viewed in their earthly course. Not that the former [true believers] will bow The nearest approach to Philadelphia in this respect down at the feet of Philadelphia in the same manner,
is poor, persecuted Smyrna, whose crown istime, and place, as the unconverted “adversaries." Let this be marked. In the first case, it will be
" THOU ART RICH !" done with joyfulness; in the latter with dismay. Of But Philadelphia's crown is-"I have loved thee !" this let us be very sure :
This assurance is given, not because of the one “ God is no ResPECTER OF Persons." (Acts x.)
good thing-" loving the appearing" or
the word of Christ's patience.” But it is a special “I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”
word called forth by general correctness(Rev. ii.) “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ,
“ Little strength-kept my word-not denied my name." that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor.v.) | all three. At one little gathering of saints we know
Oh, that dear ones may be anxious to "hold fast."
of, it has been very grieving to hear enquiries conA Contrast
tinually — "Who's coming next Sunday ?" Surely PHILADELPHIA.
SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN. such are not “holding fast” the last of the three, “ Brotherly Lore."
Lording it over.” (1 Pet.) that is, Christ's Headship of the Church, which is His “ Little Strength.”... (Rev. ii.) “ A Green Bay Tree.” (Ps. 37, Body, and which He delights to nourish and cherish, L'eeping Christ's Word." Holding tradition of the ela
(Mark vii. 3.) | by the Spirit with the Word. “ Not denying His Name,” “ Not holding the Head," Col.ii. The Lord's admonition to Philadelphia is— i.e. His Headship.
but taking, leadership. “ Keeping the Word of His "My Lord delayeth His com
“ Hold that fast which thou hast." patience." ing." (Matt. xxiv. 48.)
So shall we “abide in His love"-that is, know His love upon usthat is, keep our crown, allowing no
man, * by science (knowledge) falsely so-called," to PATIENCE."
cause us to lose this blessed inward assurance of This is next characteristic of Philadelphia. His love resting upon us as a church. What is the word of the Lord's “patience"? “Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness." May it not be the assurance of His return? That Of all the churches it may be said - They are is å precious word
running “I WILL COME AGAIN!"
“ They which run in a race run ALL, but one receiveth it. The Lord says of that church which is treasuring prize. So run that ye may obtain.... Now they do it to obtais _"keeping”--this word :
à corruptible crown; but ide an incorruptible.” (1 Cor. ix.) “I have loved Thee!"
The chaplet about Philadelphia's brow, which Nay we all, in “ patience keep our souls ”--the faith is conscious of, is indeed blessed. Yes, but it is
'a "patient waiting for Christ," (2 Thess. iii. 5.)
joy through eternity of knowing that the special lor “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I of Christ was upon us when we were in our liv? have kept the faith : henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown state ! of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, sball give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also
The final word assuring future blessing (in additi. that love his appearing." (2 Tim. iv.)
to the present “crown,”) is very wonderful; may
the Holy Spirit lead us into those amazing as" VII.-LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN.” surances ending with—"I will write upon him mv Paul thus refers, in the above passage, to a future new name.”. crown for those who love the Lord's appearing. And now let us finally read the whole Epistle, the But does not the Lord Jesus Christ refer to a present italics showing the parts on which we have been le crown when He says to Philadelphia :
out: « Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia writ
: that no man take thy crown. When we are in the glory, men will not be able teth, and no man openeth; I know thy works : behold, I have
the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shuttetk ; and sie to touch our "crowns”. But the Lord, in this before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for tbca La
VI.-THOU HAST KEPT THE WORD OF MY