To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…
I. THAT THE CHURCH WHICH IS DECLINING IN MORAL ENTHUSIASM MAY BE CHARACTERISED BY MANY COMMENDABLE EXCELLENCES.
1. This Church was active in work. Ministerial and Church work ought to be labour — so earnest in its spirit and determined in its effort that it shall not be mere occupation, but a moral anxiety.
2. This Church was patient in suffering. The Church, in our own time, has great need of this virtue, to prayerfully await the culmination of all its purposes, when its victory shall be complete and its enthronement final. We have far too many impatient men in the Christian community who cannot bear reproach or impediment.
3. This Church was keen and true in moral sensibility. The world delights in calling the Church intolerant, how can it be otherwise of evil? It cannot smile upon moral wrong.
4. It was judicious in the selection of its officials. Who these false apostles were we cannot determine; suffice it to say that their credentials were examined and found defective. Such deceivers have existed in all ages of the Church, and have become the authors of innumerable heresies. Christians should always test the conduct and doctrine of those whose pretences are great, and who seek to obtain authority amongst them; as men will even lie in reference to the most sacred things of life, and as zeal is not the only qualification for moral service.
5. It was inspired by the name of Christ. His name is influential with the pious soul, because it is the source of all its good and hope.
II. THAT THE CHURCH WHICH IS DECLINING IN MORAL ENTHUSIASM IS IN A MOST SERIOUS CONDITION, AND INVITES THE DIVINE REBUKE.
1. In what may the first love, or moral enthusiasm of the Church, be said to consist? It is, indeed, sad when the Church is beautiful in the face but cold at the heart.
2. What is it for a Church to decline in first love or moral enthusiasm?
3. What is it that occasions a decline in first love or moral enthusiasm?
4. What is it that Christ has against the Church which declines in first love or moral enthusiasm? He regards such a Church as neglectful of great privileges; as guilty of sad ingratitude; as inexcusable in its conduct; and earnestly calls upon it to repent and do its first works.
III. THAT THE CHURCH DECLINING, IN MORAL ENTHUSIASM MUST EARNESTLY SEEK THE RENEWAL OF ITS FERVOUR.
1. A Church in such a condition must have a vivid remembrance of its past glory.
2. A Church in such a condition must have deep contrition of soul.
3. A Church in such a condition must repeat the loving activities of its new and early life.
IV. THAT THE CHURCH NEGLECTING TO REGAIN THE MORAL ENTHUSIASM OF ITS EARLY LIFE WILL MEET WITH TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION.
1. The retribution of such a Church will consist in the solemn visitation of Christ. It means affliction — it may be judgment.
2. The retribution of such a Church will consist in woful obliteration.
V. THAT THE CHURCH DECLINING IN MORAL ENTHUSIASM SHOULD GIVE TIMELY HEED TO THE THREATENED RETRIBUTIONS OF GOD. Lessons:
1. That the Church is surrounded by many hostile influences.
2. That the Church should, above all things, seek to retain its moral enthusiasm.
3. That the discipline of heaven toward the Church is for its moral welfare, but, if not attended to, will issue in great dejection.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;