And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things said he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David…
As deliverance out of temptation is undoubtedly one of the greatest mercies that God vouchsafes His people in this world, so there is nothing that more enhances the greatness of the mercy than the critical time of God's vouchsafing it. As in the "vicissitudes of night and day, the darkness of one recommends the returns of the other, adding a kind of lustre even to light itself, so it is the hour of danger which sets a price and value upon the hour of deliverance, and makes it more properly in season.
I. THERE IS A CERTAIN PROPER SEASON, OR HOUR, WHICH GIVES A PECULIAR FORCE, STRENGTH, AND EFFICACY TO TEMPTATION. Every fit of a burning fever is not equally dangerous to the sick person; nor are all hours during the distemper equally fatal. There is a proper time, sometimes called in scripture "the day of temptation" (Psalm 95:8); sometimes "the evil day" (Ephesians 6:13); and sometimes "the hour of temptation." A time in which temptation is infinitely more fierce and daring, more urgent and impetuous, than at other times.
II. BY WHAT MEANS, HELPS, AND ADVANTAGES, A TEMPTATION ATTAINS ITS PROPER SEASON OR HOUR.
1. For that which is most remote, but yet the very source of all the mischief which the devil either does or can do to the souls of men; namely, that original, universal corruption of man's nature, containing in it the seeds and first principles of all sins whatsoever, and more or less disposing a man to the commission of them. For it is this which administers the first materials for the tempter to work upon, and without which it is certain that he could do nothing.
2. The next advantage is from that particular corruption, or sort of sin, which a man is most peculiarly prone and inclined to.
3. A third advantage towards the prevailing hour of a temptation, is the continual offer of alluring objects and occasions extremely agreeable to a man's particular corruption.
4. The fourth advantage, or furtherance towards the maturity or prevalent season of a temptation: which
is the unspeakable malice and activity, together with the incredible skill and boldness of the tempter.
5. Over and above all this, God sometimes, in his wise providence and just judgment, commissions this implacable spirit to tempt at a rate more than ordinary. And this must needs be a further advantage towards the ripening of a temptation than any of the former.
6. A sixth advantage, by which a temptation approaches to its crisis or proper hour, is a previous, growing familiarity of the mind with the sin which a man is tempted to; whereby he comes to think of it with still lesser and lesser abhorrences, than formerly he was wont to do.
7. There is yet another way by which a temptation arrives to its highest pitch or proper hour; and that is by a long train of gradual, imperceivable encroaches of the flesh upon the spirit.
III. SOME SIGNS, MARKS, AND DIAGNOSTICS, WHEREBY WE MAY DISCERN WHEN A TEMPTATION HAS ATTAINED ITS PROPER SEASON OR HOUR.
1. When there is a strange, peculiar, and more than usual juncture and concurrence of all circumstances and opportunities for the commission of any sin, that especially which a man is most inclined to; then, no doubt, is the hour of temptation.
2. A second sign of a temptation's drawing near its hour is a strange averseness to duty, and a backwardness to, if not a neglect of, the spiritual exercises of prayer, reading, and meditation. Now as every principle of life has some suitable aliment or provision, by which both its being is continued and its strength supported: so the forementioned duties are the real proper nutriment by which the spiritual life is kept up and maintained in the vigorous exercise of its vital powers.
3. The third sign that I shall mention of a temptation's attaining its full hour or maturity, is a more than usual restlessness and importunity in its enticings or instigations. For it is the tempter's last assault, and therefore will certainly be furious; the last pass which he makes at the soul, and therefore will be sure to be driven home.Inferences:
1. That every time in which a man is tempted is not properly the hour of temptation.
2. That every man living, some time or other, sooner or later, shall assuredly meet with an hour of temptation; a certain critical hour, which shall more especially try what mettle his heart is made of, and in which the eternal concerns of his soul shall more particularly lie at stake.
3. That the surest way to carry us safe and successful through this great and searching hour of probation, is a strict, steady, conscientious living up to the rules of our religion, which the text here calls a "keeping the word of Christ's patience;" a denomination given to the gospel, from that peculiar distinguishing grace which the great author of the gospel was pleased to signalise it for, above all other religions and institutions in the world, and that both by his precept and example.
(R. South, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;
WEB: "To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write: "He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: