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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 you, 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
nerally lose the power of religion, and sink into a dull and cold and formal state; a state from which nothing seems effectual to rouse them, until they are brought either into outward difficulties or some spiritual calamities, or what is more frequently the case, until God in some signal outpouring of his Spirit, sees fit to revive his work; to stir up the slumbering spirits of his own people to prayer and supplication, and to pour conviction on the souls of sinners, till they cry, in the mightiness of their anguish, “what shall I do to be saved ?" The case of the Church of Thyatira, however, was a Church in a state of religious progression—a rare instance, but a blessed
I have endeavoured, my brethren, to combine with the explanatory part such practical remarks as appeared particularly called for ; but this commendation opens before me a most wide and delightful field of observation on that which constitutes a growing state of religious experience. I dare not, however, touch it now, as I fear it would carry me utterly beyond the limits which must be prescribed. Neither do I know that it will be possible to reach it in the next discourse, as you will perceive that I shall be obliged to encounter some most formidable difficulties in the way of elucidation ; for there is no portion of this epistle surrounded by so many and such varied obstacles, as that which is contained in the censure and the threat which will be the subjects of our next discourse. If God, however, shall graciously allow us space and opportunity, we shall, before this epistle is concluded, make an appeal to your hearts, most solemn and important, on the Christian's growth in grace.
And now, my brethren, as a very brief conclusion to the present discourse, what learn we from the matters already considered? Do we not discover that kind of religion which meets the approbation of Him whose eyes, like a flaming fire, penetrate to the very inmost heart? Let me read it to you as it stands in the Gospel order. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the animating principle of all; love to God, with all the heart and soul and strength; love to men, as the genuine charity of the Gospel; a holy regulated obedience, as the fruits of faith; service, pious, devoted, Christian service to the poor and needy; patience and perseverence; a growth in grace. Is this your case, or is your religion something which fixes to itself a lower standard ? Much of that religion which is current in the world could not endure the measurement of God, and if weighed in the righteous balance of the sanctuary, would be found inscribed with the fatal characters which told Belshazzar his deficiency—TEKEL. And yet God's standard will never be lowered to meet the deficiencies of men. We must raise ourselves to its measurement, or we are lost. I may not use a softer language. Men are now fond of a puny religion, and the stature to which they would aspire, is only and completely lilliputian. God will not abide it. Christians, is your religion such as God commends in the Church of Thyatira ? If not, tremble and fear, for He who hath eyes like a flaming fire is this very moment reading, by the brightness of his own shining, the state of your hearts; the keenness of his vision penetrates them. Every heart in this assembly is this moment under his inspection. Think not to hide them. Oh, brethren, what does the eye
of the Lord Jesus Christ see this instant? I do thank God that I cannot see what he sees. It is in mercy that he “hides from every being but himself, that hideous sight, a naked human heart.”
Naked human heart—what a sight for God to look upon. But more than this—as he sees with eyes like a flaming fire, so with feet like fine brass will be the motions of his dealing; for on his foes will he trample and they shall be broken in his indignation. Kiss the Son, the eternal Son, lest he be angry and ye perish from the way when his anger is kindled but a little; and if when kindled but a little, what when it burns like fire, and like the brightness of the flaming brass is terrible. Blessed, blessed are they alone, who put their trust in him.
FAILURE IN DISCIPLINE,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA.
REVELATION ü. 18—29.
We have already considered the introductory description of our Saviour, and have endeavoured to point out the peculiar force attached to the term, “Son of God.” We have enlarged on the meaning of the phraseology.—“These things, saith the Son of God, who hath eyes like unto a flaming fire, and whose feet are like fine brass.” After this, your attention was directed to the high commendation passed on this Church of Thyatira—“I know thy works, and thy charity, and thy service, and thy faith, and thy patience, and the last to be more than the first.” After this high-wrought commendation, it would hardly have been supposed that the members of this Church would have been liable to any degree of censure. But so it is; they were censured, though the censure was not on account of any deficiency of faith or any relaxation in the graces and