Revelation 3:11
I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Fair WarningT. Kelly.Revelation 3:11
Graces Need KeepingJeremy Taylor.Revelation 3:11
Hold FastA. Raleigh, D. D.Revelation 3:11
Hold Fast Thy CrownJames Vaughan, M. A.Revelation 3:11
Hold that Fast Which Thou HastJohn F. Ewing, M. A.Revelation 3:11
PerseveranceJ Edwards.Revelation 3:11
PerseveranceT. Brooks.Revelation 3:11
Soul-TenacityJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 3:11
The Coming of ChristCanon Liddon.Revelation 3:11
Thy CrownA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:11
An Open Door for Little StrengthW. M. Taylor, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
Commendation for the SteadfastC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:7-13
God Opens DoorsLyman Abbott, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
God's Word in Safe CustodyW. G. Barrett.Revelation 3:7-13
Keeping and KeptA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
Letter to the Church At PhiladelphiaS. Conway Revelation 3:7-13
Opened DoorsLyman Abbott, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
Perseverance in WeaknessW. Mitchell, M. A.Revelation 3:7-13
Philadelphia -- the Patient ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
Subjugation of the Enemies of the Gospel J. Hyatt.Revelation 3:7-13
Temptation Consolidates CharacterDean Goulburn.Revelation 3:7-13
The Address to PhiladelphiaG. Rogers.Revelation 3:7-13
The Church Small in its Temporal ResourcesJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 3:7-13
The Epistle to the Church in PhiladelphiaR. Green Revelation 3:7-13
The Happiness of Being Kept from the Hour of TemptationR. South, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
The Key of DavidH. Bonar, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
The Open and Shut DoorW. Pulsford, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
The Words of Christ to the Church At PhiladelphiaD. Thomas Revelation 3:7-13
The Words of Christ to the Congregation At PhiladelphiaD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 3:7-13
Times of TrialC. Colton.Revelation 3:7-13
True Moral StrengthCaleb Morris.Revelation 3:7-13
If asked to sum up in a word the main lesson of this letter, I would quote the saying of our Lord recorded by St. Luke, "Fear not, little flock." Such is the effect of a right reading of this most precious epistle. It is a heart-cheering word to all such Churches, and to every one of like character. For Philadelphia was -

I. LITTLE. "Thou hast a little strength" (ver. 8), or rather, "Thou hast small power." It refers not to her spiritual strength, for that was not small, but perfected in her weakness. She was mighty through God who upheld and sustained her. Hence the expression is to be regarded as referring, probably, to her membership as but few in number, to her wealth as but very small, to her knowledge and gifts as being but slender, to great and distinguished men amongst her as being very rare, to her social position as being quite humble. Hence she was small in human esteem, one of those "weak things," which, however, God often chooses wherewith to accomplish his own purposes. And many a Church, beloved of the Lord, is like Philadelphia, having only "a little strength." But also she was -

II. MUCH TRIED. Looking at this letter, we can gather what some of these trials were. It seems that:

1. Their place amongst the people of God was denied. We gather this from what is said as to the assertion of the Jews, who, as at Galatia and everywhere else, affirmed that they only, the descendants of Abraham, were the Israel of God: none else had part or lot therein. In ver. 9 emphasis is to be laid on the word "they" in the sentence, "which say they are Jews." St. Paul was perpetually fighting against this exclusiveness, and was for ever teaching that in Christ Jesus there was "neither Jew nor Greek." But all the same, it caused considerable uneasiness amongst the early Gentile believers. There was much to be urged out of the Scriptures in favour of the real descendants of Abraham, especially if they were also "as touching the Law blameless." They seemed to many as a privileged order, a spiritual aristocracy, admission into whose circle was indeed to be desired. Hence so many Gentiles submitted to the rite of circumcision (cf. Epistle to the Galatians, passim). And the taunts of the Jews at Philadelphia against the Christians, as being not really God's people at all, was one form of the trials they were called upon to bear. And still there is many a believer, excommunicated by man, but not at all so by God; denied his place in earthly Churches, though it be abundantly his in the Church of the Firstborn. Catholics have denounced Protestants, and Protestants one another, and both have retorted, and all have been wrong, and sinful in being wrong, whenever those whom they have denounced have shown that they did unfeignedly trust and love and obey Christ the Lord. The cry, "The Church of the Lord, the Church of the Lord are we!" is often raised by those who have no right to it, and against those who have. Thus was it at Sardis.

2. They had to encounter active opposition. Endeavours seem to have been made to shut the door of usefulness which the Lord had opened for them. His emphatic declaration that none should shut that door implies that there had been those who had tried to do so. And how often since then have dominant and cruel Churches made the same attempt in regard to communities they did not like! Witness the persecutions of Vaudois and Waldenses in Switzerland, of Hussites and others in Bohemia, of Lollards, Protestants, and Puritans in England, of Covenanters in Scotland, and of Catholics in Ireland, - all has been, with more or less of difference, the repetition of what was done at Philadelphia in the days of St. John. And there appears to have been:

3. Attempts to make them apostatize. The meaning of the latter part of ver. 8 is, "Because though thou hast but little strength, nevertheless thou hast kept my word, and hast not denied my Name." Hence we gather - and the tenses of the verbs used imply it also - that there had been some definite attempt of the kind we have said. Like as Saul in his persecuting days forced the unhappy Christians who fell into his power "to blaspheme," so similar force had apparently been used, but, by virtue of Christ's sustaining grace, with no effect. For, notwithstanding all, they were -

III. FAITHFUL. They kept Christ's word, and did not deny his Name; and the first was the cause of the last. Their history illustrates the value of the word of Christ. They clung to it, they would not let it go, they had nothing but this, but this they had and clave to. Twice is it named: "Thou hast kept my word;" "Thou hast kept the word of my patience." And this latter and fuller form reveals a further aid to their faith which they found in Christ's word. "For the word of Christ, as the Philadelphians knew it, was not a word calling them to easy and luxurious and applauded entrance into the kingdom, but to much tribulation first, and the kingdom with the glory of it afterwards." And not only as a word which told them at the beginning that patience would be needed, did it help them; but yet more as the word which revealed Christ their Lord as the great Example and Source and Rewarder of patience; so that, however hard to bear their trials might be, they could turn in thought to their Lord, and behold him meekly bearing his cross - so much heavier than theirs; and they had seen him also sustaining his tried servants again and again, and they knew that he would do the same for them, and they believed that he would assuredly reward their patience. Yes, it was the word of his patience to which they clung, and in the strength of which, though tempted and tried sorely, they would not deny his Name. And their way must be our way, their strength ours, when we are tried. And they were -

IV. GREATLY BLEST. The Lord gave them large reward. To this day the suffering Smyrna and the much-tried Philadelphia alone remain of these seven Churches. Through all manner of vicissitudes the Christian faith has been upheld by them to this day. But see the recompenses spoken of here.

1. Christ confesses them, and denies their slanderers. He pronounces for them and against their foes. Such is the significance of the august and sublime title which the Lord here assumes. It tells of the names of the Lord God of Israel. He was the Holy, the True, the King of Israel, of whom David, with his great authority opening and shutting according to his will, was the Old Testament type and representative. "The key of David" means the power and authority of David, and Christ claims to be as he was, and far more, the Representative of God, and the Possessor of his authority and power. Now, it was by this great and glorious Jehovah that the Jews at Philadelphia affirmed that the Church there was disowned and denied. They said, "You have no part in this God, but we only." But in utter contradiction of this falsehood, he, the Holy One himself, comes forward, and declares that the persecuted Church had part in him, but that they, her slanderers, had not. "Ye Jews say ye are Jews, but in any real sense ye are not; ye do lie; but this my despised, yet faithful Church, I have loved her, and I, the Holy, the True, the King of Israel, do now confess her as she has confessed me." And often and often has the Lord done the like of this. "When wrong has been done to any of his servants here on earth, he will redress it in heaven, disallowing and reversing there the unrighteous decrees of earth. It was in faith of this that Huss, when the greatest council which Christendom had seen for one thousand years delivered his soul to Satan, did himself confidently commend it to the Lord Jesus Christ; and many a faithful confessor that at Rome or Madrid has walked to the stake, his yellow san benito all painted over with devils, in token of those with whom his portion should be, has never doubted that his lot should be with him who retains in his own hands the key of David, who thus could open for him, though all who visibly represented here the Church had shut him out, with extreme malediction, at once from the Church militant here and the Church triumphant in heaven." And the grim cells of Newgate, and the bare bleak hedgerows of our own land, have often been the scenes of similar revelations to God's persecuted ones. God has taken their side, and pronounced for them as he did for the Church at Philadelphia.

2. Their Lord makes them abundantly useful. "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." His Name declared his power to do this, and here he affirms that he has exercised that power on their behalf. By the "open door," usefulness, opportunity of service and of doing much good, is meant (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 14:27; Colossians 4:3). Now, this Christ declared he had done for them. Perhaps it was by giving them favour in the sight of the people, or by breaking the hold of heathenism, arousing a spirit of inquiry, raising up able teachers, giving them entrance into fresh circles. Fidelity to Christ has given to it a key that will turn the most difficult lock, and open the most closely shut door.

3. Their enemies should submit themselves. As Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle. And again and again out of the ranks of the Church's fiercest foes have come those who have first surrendered their hearts to her cause and then their lives to her service (cf. the conversion of Constantine and of Rome generally). In that this word was literally fulfilled.

4. They should be delivered from the hour of temptation - that dread hour which was drawing near so swiftly (cf. Psalm 91.). Perhaps they would be taken home first, delivered so "from the evil to come." And if not that, raised in heart, as the martyrs perpetually were, above all fear; or some wondrous deliverance should be found for them. They knew that hour was coming, and no doubt they had often shuddered at the prospect. But oh, what joy to be told by their Lord that he would deliver them!

5. The eternal recompense - the crown. Their Lord was quickly coming; let them hold on but a little longer, and then this crown should be theirs. In ver. 12 this crown of recompense is more fully described:

(1) As being made "a pillar in the temple of my God," i.e. they should perpetually abide there, dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever. Now we come and go, in fact and in spirit. Not so there. "He shall go no more out." It is a curious coincidence that amongst the ruins at Philadelphia there stands to this day a solitary tall pillar; it strikes the eye of the traveller, and suggests irresistibly this glorious promise made to the believers who lived there long ago. An ancient geographer says of the place, "It is full of earthquakes, and is daily shaken, now one part, and now another suffering, so that one wonders any should have been found to build or inhabit it." Now, to the Christians, who saw daily in their city the image of their own precarious position, Christ says, "I will make him who overcomes a pillar in the temple of my God," and he shall go no more out" - shall not totter and fall as these stone pillars do, but shall abide stable and sure for ever.

(2) As being identified with:

(a) God. "The Name of my God" Christ will write upon him. It shall be evident that he belongs to God. "Surely this was the Son of God" - so spake they who had crucified the Lord: they could not help seeing the Name of God written upon him.

(b) "The city of my God." Jews had cast them out, but the God of the true "holy city" had declared it theirs, and that their true home was his own city. There are many of whom we say, "We hope they are going to heaven;" there are some of whom we say, "We are sure they are," for their identification with heaven is so complete.

(c) Christ's own Name - that aspect of Christ's love by which the believer realizes that he is Christ's and Christ is his.

"So, gracious Saviour, on my breast,
May thy dear Name be worn,
A sacred ornament and guard
To endless ages borne." S.C.

Behold, I come quickly.
It is not improbable that this bishop was no other than the Demetrius who is mentioned in St. John's third Epistle as having a "good report of all men and of the truth itself," and if this is the case we have before us a holy man who, probably, was not a very resolute one, and was placed in a position of much difficulty. "Behold, I come quickly." If our Lord's words are understood of His second coming, it is obvious to reflect that the good Bishop of Philadelphia died without witnessing their fulfilment. Nay, he has been in his grave something like eighteen centuries, and our Lord has not yet come to judgment. Man sees only a little distance, and he is impatient, because his outlook is so limited; to him it seems that an event will never arrive, if it has been delayed for some centuries, and so the judgment long apprehended, and also, perhaps, through a series of years long delayed, will not really take place at all, but may at once be classed among the phantoms of a morbid and disordered brain. With God it is altogether otherwise, long and short periods of time do not mean to Him what they mean to us. We see this truth more clearly if we reflect that to us men the passage of time seems slow or rapid, its periods seem long or short according to our varying moods and tempers. When we are suffering acute pain of body or very great anxiety of mind time hangs heavily. We seem to extend the duration of time by the suffering that we compress into its constituent moments. And on the other hand, when we are experiencing great pleasure, whether of mind or body, we become almost or entirely insensible to the flight of time, and from this we may understand how one being, who is the fountain of all goodness, because He is in Himself infinitely blessed, blessed in contemplating His own perfections, blessed in surveying the works which His hands have made, would be, as such, insensible to the impression of time. "Behold, I come quickly." The Bishop of Philadelphia, Demetrius, probably felt that, as far as he was concerned, these words received their fulfilment when, his pastoral labours being completed, he laid himself down to die. In death our Lord comes to each of us, He comes in mercy or in judgment to bring the present state of existence to an end, to open out upon us another. There are two things about death which are full of meaning, and which do not admit of any sort of contradiction. The first is the certainty that it will come to each of us some day, and the second is the utter uncertainty of the day at which it will come. "Behold, I come quickly." The expected coming of Christ throws a flood of light on the various aspects of existence. We are struck, perhaps, with the insignificance of life. Even when man is in possession of all his faculties of mind and body he is often obliged to pass his life in occupations which are at once exacting and mechanical — occupations which make scarcely any demand upon the mind beyond that of attention to the movement of the feet or of the fingers; occupations which might almost or altogether be discharged by machinery, and which, taken by themselves, appear unworthy of a being capable of comprehending truth, capable of growing in the comprehension of it, capable of enjoying a happiness proportionate to his vast desires. "Behold, I come quickly." If Christ's coming means anything, it will be no sorrow nor crying; it means the exercise of man's higher powers to that fullest extent of their capacity — the beginning of an existence in which thought and heart and will will rest in perfectly ecstatic satisfaction on their one true object, and an existence which will last for ever.

(Canon Liddon.)

Hold fast: —

I. WE ARE ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF A GREAT PROPERTY. "That which thou hast." As Christians, we are not only striving to gain, but also striving to keep "that which we have." That is the gospel, salvation, Christ, and heaven in Him.


1. "That which we have" is contemplated more in the light of a trust than of a privilege.

2. Of course, this whole injunction implies the presence of opposition, making this a matter of difficulty. A Christian holding fast against the world, its spirit, and way, is like a man pulling a boat up-stream, when the waters are deep and the current strong. Whether in the boat or on the bank, pulling by a rope, he needs to pull always — a strong, steady, constant pull — that is it! He meets a great many people coming down stream; and they do not need to pull much — a touch of the helm now and again, and a dip of the oar is all that they need. Sometimes a Christian is discouraged by observing that so many more seem to be going with the stream than seem to be going against it. He may be in a great measure mistaken in this. Christians sometimes have a feeling of loneliness. It seems as if all the world were against them. "Hold fast!" you are not so solitary as you imagine.

III. THY CROWN. Every duty has a crown when it is well done, and every affliction patiently borne, and every day well spent, and every year well lived through, a crown which hangs trembling on its last hour. There is a sense, too, in which one man can take the crown of another in daily life. To put the matter plainly: if any of us shall be blind or heedless before the face of rich opportunity — if we shall hear, without hearing, the Master say, "Behold, I have set before thee an open door," and if another, listening, catch the Master's words and enter in, that man "takes our crown." He is no richer, for the faithfulness that has proved itself here would have proved itself somewhere else, and in some other service; but we are the poorer — we have lost that little crown. And to lose many of these lesser crowns will diminish the lustre, if indeed it do not also affect the security of the great final crown.


(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Those who are overtaken by spiritual bankruptcy and ruin are probably often very much surprised by such a result befalling them. Every one who has ever had spiritual treasures is tempted to think that his spiritual treasure must be secure. Every one who has had a religious reputation is apt to think that such a reputation is abiding.

I. THE CAPACITY OF RELIGIOUS FEELING AND EFFORT, LIKE ALL OTHER POWERS OF THE SOUL, DIES OUT FOR WANT OF USE. There is a tendency to believe that because we could once do a thing, or understand a thing. the power or capacity must remain, although for years we have been out of practice. "Oh yes, of course, I can do that; I have done it often." How frequently you have heard a man say that, and then, after a desperate, pitiful struggle, he has to give it up and admit his failure. A man has been an expert in rowing, or running, or climbing. Mature years are upon him now, but he laughs at the suggestion that his lungs are not still as strong and his arms as muscular as ever. He makes a severe drain some day on his bodily strength, and finds to his surprise and vexation that the nervous force is giving out long ere the day's work is done. Or we once knew a foreign language. We fancy it must still flow to our tongue as easily as ever. We are suddenly called upon to use it, and are chagrined to find that the words will not come at our bidding. Now, what is true of our physical and of our intellectual nature is quite as profoundly and terribly true of our spiritual nature. There are organs by which we live to God, and these, if they get no exercise, decay. The practice of ten years ago does not secure their existence and activity now. Their present existence depends upon their present use; but once they have declined, all that province of our nature becomes incapable of impression and feeling, just as to the unintellectual man. Shakespeare has no more significance than a daily newspaper. The inner eye loses its faculty of discerning spiritual things; and yet the tongue may go on talking of them as fluently, perhaps even more fluently than ever. Others will very likely detect the change. For ii a man attempts to describe what he has never seen, or gives merely the loose recollection of ten or twenty years ago, an intelligent listener will soon find out something amiss. But the man himself thinks it is all as it should be. He knows the expressions about revealed truth as well as before. Perhaps he is even a trifle more orthodox than he was before; but for all that the spiritual faculty may be gone, perhaps for ever. Let us apply some tests to ascertain our spiritual vitality, the keenness of our spiritual vision. Your nature is perhaps active enough on some sides. You are not suffering from intellectual or emotional lethargy. Your wants and desires have multiplied in number; but are they as baptized with the Christian baptism as they were ten years ago? You have acquired means, you have greatly increased your resources; but is there as much of the gold of the kingdom, of the treasure of heaven there? There are wide harvests of the heart waving from carefully sown seed; but are you sure their roots would not be as rottenness, and their blossomings up as the dust, if the fiery winds of God began to blow across them? In the remote recesses of the soul, in its hidden depths, what response are you making now to spiritual appeals and promptings? Is there a deep undercurrent of your life setting towards Christ?

II. WE ARE NOT AT ALL SO NECESSARY TO GOD, SO ESSENTIAL FOR HIS PURPOSES, AS WE SOMETIMES THINK WE ARE. We can be useful to God, helpful in carrying out His purposes. It is right that the ambition of being a fellow-worker with God should stir a man. One of the grandest features in the character of the Puritans was that they learned thus to regard themselves, unreservedly. We may not use precisely the same phrases, or give exactly the same colour and form to our thinking. It is in some respects better that we should not, but it is as possible now as then to be representatives of God's cause, fighters for God, enthusiasts, zealots in His behalf; to have our joys and sorrows completely wrapt up with His joys and sorrows. It is as possible and as blessed. But close behind this spiritual attitude lies a subtle temptation. It lurks even in that extreme doctrine of predestination in which the Puritans found so much support and consolation. When fighting God's battles amid discouragement and failure of hope, against great odds, they comforted themselves with the thought that they were safe in God's hands; that their salvation and ultimate triumph were guaranteed by a Divine decree. This decree was irreversible, they felt and said, and in its absolute certainty they gloried. But you see how dangerous this position may become. So long as we are certain that our heart is beating with God's, our souls yearning for His righteousness, our hands busy about His work, we are right to comfort ourselves with the thought of the Divine decree, and to take for granted that it is in our favour. But the attitude may change, and the old idea remain. We are far too inclined to take for granted that we must be on God's side — that His decree must be in our favour. Do we suppose that God has special favourites — that He is a respecter of persons? What is there in us, apart from His grace, which makes us specially attractive or necessary? The history of Christ's Church is one long tale of gifts forfeited and privileges transferred. The crown is not lost, but with a little alteration it is made to fit another's brow. The talent is not melted down; it becomes another man's. There is no empty space either in the arena of conflict below or in the place of victory and banqueting above.

III. SALVATION AND ULTIMATE REWARD DEPEND ENTIRELY ON FAITHFULNESS TO PRESENT LIGHT AND STEADFASTNESS IN PRESENT DUTY. Our crowns are being shaped by our present efforts and prayers and sacrifices. We are like men moulding in clay. God pours in gold and brings the crowns out in gold. The crowns will be out of proportion to our deserts, yet will bear the impress of our personality. Each of Christ's disciples has something — some attainment, some experience, it does not matter how humble. Whatever be his ultimate salvation and reward, his crown depends on his holding it. You have learnt, perhaps, some rudiment of Christian faith — as, for example, that you cannot keep your own feet when the enemy assails; and you have learnt when you feel your own weakness to cry out to God. Well, that is not much, but it is something. "Hold that fast." You have perhaps got further — acquired some deeper laws of the Christian life. You have found that the soul grows by giving. You have tasted the strange, Christlike sweetness of doing good; the new strength won by bold witness-bearing. "Hold that fast." Or you have found out that, however it may be with others, there are certain assaults of evil which have for you a special danger; certain places and atmospheres peculiarly perilous; a certain set of truths on which your soul must feed. It is much to have found out what these are. "Hold that fast." Don't think it a small thing merely to hold what you have. Don't think it always necessary to be opening your hands and grasping at more, sometimes, in your eagerness, dropping what you were holding. It is well to think and speak of progress, but let your edifying, your building up, be done carefully; see that the new stones lie evenly on the top of the old. Permanence in spiritual things is as important as progress, and a permanence that is essential is sometimes sacrificed to a progress that is not essential. Let us make sure that we are husbanding what we have won. To gather up, to retain, to make use of all the wisdom we have ever got from God; never to fall behind the best epochs of our former spiritual selves — if we do this we shall not fall.

(John F. Ewing, M. A.)

I. THE THINGS OF WHICH THE SOUL IS TO BE TENACIOUS. The soul of man is not to be tenacious of riches, of fame, or of the things of this life; these it cannot long retain in its grasp.

1. It must hold fast the truths of the Bible.

2. It must hold fast the reality of the Christian character.

3. It must hold fast the determination of the Christian life. The tenacity of the soul must be brave; it must be meek; it must be wise; it must be prayerful; and it must be hopeful of the end.


1. Because they are valuable.

2. Because they are threatened by vigilant enemies.

3. Because the advent of Christ is near.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. THE POSSESSION IMPLIED. "That which thou hast."

1. If unsaved, still we have —

(1)The offer of salvation.

(2)The means of grace.

(3)The Bible.

(4)The commanding voice of conscience.

(5)The convictions of the Holy Ghost.

(6)The precious, ennobling possibilities of a blood-bought probation.

2. If saved, we have all these, and —

(1)Saving faith.

(2)The witness of the Spirit.

(3)God's approving smile and fellowship.

(4)Saintly communion and fellowship.

(5)Place among the people of God.

(6)Hope of glory.

II. THE DUTY URGED. "Hold fast."

1. Do it publicly.

2. Persistently.

3. Fearlessly.

4. Humbly.

5. In faith, and humble reliance upon Jesus Christ.

6. Do it in self-defence. "That no man take thy crown."

III. THE MOTIVE PRESENTED. "Behold, I come quickly."

1. The majesty and power of the person coming. "I." Describe him:

(1)His pre-incarnate glory.

(2)His humiliation and sacrifice.

(3)His mediatorial glory and coming to judgment.

2. The solemnity of the event. "I come."

3. The impressive manner of His approach. "Quickly."

4. The attention the subject demands. "Behold." This great crisis will be sprung upon no man unaware or unwarned. He exhorts, entreats, warns, so that all may be ready to meet Him with joy.

(T. Kelly.)

Those who are sincere Christians ought to be very careful that they hold fast and preserve that which they have. You must by no means abandon the faith and truth which ye once espoused, you must continue in grace and persist in the ways of virtue, through all opposition. A Christian ought to strive and endeavour for final holiness. He must persevere not only in the profession of all Divine truths, but in the performance of all the duties which are enjoined by the Christian religion.


1. As to the benefit and advantage of persevering, it were enough to say that this is that which will give us an assurance of the sincerity of our hearts, and of the reality of our holiness. Many men's beginnings are tolerably good, but they grow worse afterwards, and their end is worst of all. Therefore it is the conclusion that must be the trial of men. Next, I will show the advantage of this admirable gift from that portion of Scripture to which my text belongs: "Thou hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name." Now, observe what are the advantages. "Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee," i.e., I will make heretics, apostates, and false brethren ashamed: they shall at last be forced to condemn their own hypocrisy and apostasy, and to reverence that sincerity and uprightness which appear in the lives of those holy men whom no temptations could withdraw from their duty, but who in all seasons held fast their integrity. It follows, ver. 10. "Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep," etc. Here is another benefit of perseverance, namely, God keeps those who keep His Word, who continue in it, and forsake not the profession and practice of it. Such persons shall be kept in an hour of temptation, i.e., in a remarkable time of distress. And He adds, "That no man take thy crown": where, according to the different sense of this clause, there is a double reason suggested, that we should not apostatise from the ways of God. If by crown be meant religion itself, then we have reason to hold it fast, because it is a thing of so excellent a nature. It is our crown, our dignity, our glory. Or, we may understand this of the crown of perseverance, and then the sense may be this, Hold that fast which thou hast, continue so steadfast in your religion and in your duty that no man may be able to take your crown from you, i.e., to rob you of your constancy and perseverance, for these are the crown of a Christian. And they are called so because they are the consummating of all, according to that known maxim, the end crowns the work, i.e., accomplisheth the whole enterprise. Again, perseverance is deservedly called a crown, because it is this which entitles you to a crown of glory. It is in vain that we set out well at first, and run swiftly, if we reach not the end of the race, and come up to the very goal. This may convince you of the benefit and advantage of this duty. So that I need not insist much on the evil of apostasy. Apostasy is near akin to the unpardonable sin (Matthew 5:13). This doctrine condemns the apostasy of these times we live in.


1. The first effectual help is serious deliberation and choice. For it is certain that this is one cause of apostasy that men do not sit down and consider before they enter into religion. They take up the principles and practice of religion too hastily; and so it is no wonder that as they rashly took them up, they as suddenly lay them down. The old aphorism is true here, "Nothing that is violent lasts long." Force a stone upwards with never so great strength, yet you shall soon see it fall down again. And to this purpose furnish yourselves with a sufficient stock of knowledge; for this will help to preserve you from falling away (Proverbs 2:11, 12). They are the ignorant and novices that usually leave the paths of uprightness. Let religion be founded in serious consideration and choice, and then you will not bid farewell to it in evil times, when you come to be tried; then you will not shrink and fall back, and, like ill-built ships, sink in the launching.

2. That you may do so, carefully look to your heart, for thence is the rise of all your backsliding. What you can do in religion, though it be never so weak and mean, do it heartily.

3. That you may hold fast that which you have, and not revolt from God and His ways, see that you be very humble Unless you lay your foundation low, your fabric will not stand long.

4. To humility you must not forget to join fearfulness, according to that of the apostle, "Be not high-minded, but fear." I do not speak of such a fear as is accompanied with cowardice; but such a religious awe upon our minds, whereby we are sensible of our own inability to stand, and therefore we are wary and cautious.

5. Are you desirous to persevere, and continue to the end in the ways of truth and holiness? Then see that your affections be not immoderately carried out towards this world.

6. That you may not be of this number, fix and establish yourselves by faith. "Thou standest by faith," saith the apostle (Romans 11:12). This grace is an establishing, confirming, strengthening grace; and as long as we maintain this, we shall never fall away. But on the contrary, know this — that unbelief is one grand cause of apostasy — which was the occasion of that caution given in Hebrews 3:12. Such as your faith is, such is your fortitude; therefore endeavour to attain great measures of this, that you may with undaunted valour withstand the temptations of the evil spirit, and keep your station when he is most desirous to put you to flight. Cleave to the Rock of Ages, and you shall stand immovable; rely on Him, and you shall be upheld; depend on His promises, and you shall never fall.

7. That you may never turn apostates, entertain a love of God and goodness in your breasts. Love as well as faith is an establishing grace. Therefore St. Jude had reason to speak thus to the Christians of his days (ver. 28), "Keep yourselves in the love of God." If they would be steadfast in their religion, they must embrace it out of love.

8. In order to perseverance be careful to nourish a patient and resigning temper of mind.

9. Grow in grace, strive for the utmost attainments in Christianity; for this likewise is an approved remedy against apostasy. See then that you cast off all slothfulness, and remember that constant endeavours and the continual exercise of Christian graces are the conditions of perseverance. Be diligent, then, to improve your graces, and to make accessions to what you have.

10. That you may continue and persevere in all holiness, take care that those means, those institutions, those ordinances, which were appointed for this purpose, be not neglected by you. Lastly, Be ever watchful and circumspect, if you would hold fast what you have.

(J Edwards.)

We must all feel that to "have," and then to "lose," is worse than never to have had. For a man is to be responsible — not according to what he is to be found having at the last, but according to what he once possessed and the capability that possession gave him of possessing much more. But then you must remember what is the Bible sense of that word to "have." To "have" is to "hold" anything that so you can and do use and enjoy it. First, then, there are stores of memory. It is no trifling possession to have passages of Scripture, of sacred poetry, of holy authors, laid up in the mind. Increase the power of a sacred memory by always adding something more to the stock. And never forget that it is one of the offices and prerogatives of the Holy Ghost to assist and to empower the memory in Divine things. Secondly, the acquisition of a new truth, or a clearer perception of any truth, is a very real and very delightful possession. But, if you would "hold" a truth "fast" you must turn that truth to some practical account, for God is very jealous that His truth be not an idle thing; you must make that truth a centre, round which you are always gathering another and another truth. Then you must live that truth inwardly; and then you must live that truth outwardly. You must live it, not only for yourself; but you must live it for others. You must glorify God in it. And that truth will abide; and that truth will grow. Thirdly, you have enjoyed the things of God, the means of grace. You must be coming down from your mount to the plain — to the simple duty of daily life, to do that duty better because you have been upon the mount. Fourthly, a soft, tender heart — feelings much drawn out in strong love to God or man — is a thing greatly to be prized. But to maintain that blessed state of a mental affection, it is necessary that you live very close to God. The wax will only be soft if it is kept in the sunshine. Fifthly, an open door of usefulness is an exceeding boon when God gives it to a man. Have you it? Sixthly, to some of you it has been given to know, and not to doubt, that you can call Christ yours. And can all this pass away? Yes, it can. If that light go out, how great will that darkness be! It all depends upon the firmness and the continuance with which you hold it. Therefore, spend life in "making your calling and election sure." Do not grieve, by small resistances, that Holy Ghost which is in you. The only way to "hold fast," is to be "held fast." Under our weak hand, God's own omnipotence must lie; and we must be apprehended, that we may apprehend.

(James Vaughan, M. A.)

I. THE CROWN spoken of here is not the symbol of royalty, but the floral wreath which in ancient social life played many parts: was laid on the temples of the victors in the games, was wreathed around the locks of the conquering general, was placed upon the anointed heads of brides and of feasters, was the emblem of victory, of festivity, of joy. And it is this crown, not the symbol of dominion, but the symbol of a race accomplished and a conquest won, an outward and visible sign of a festal day, with all its abundance and ease and abandonment to delight, which the apocalyptic vision holds out before the Christian man. The crown is spoken about under three designations — as a crown of "life," of "righteousness," of "glory." The crown is the reward of righteousness, and consists of life so full that our present experience contrasted with it may almost be called an experience of death; of glory so flashing and wonderful that, if our natures were not strengthened, it would be an "exceeding weight of glory" that would crush them down, and upon all the life and all the glory is stamped the solemn signature of eternity, and they are for ever. Christian men, it much concerns the vigour of your Christianity that you should take time and pains to cultivate the habit of looking forward through all the mists of this petty present, and of thinking of that future as a certainty more certain than the contingencies of earth, and as a present possession, more real by far than any of the fleeting shadows which we proudly and falsely call our own. "Thy crown" will fit no temples but thine. It is part of thy perfected self, and certain to be thine, if thou hold fast the beginning of thy confidence firm unto the end.

II. THE GRIM POSSIBILITY OF LOSING THE CROWN. "That no man take" it. Of course we are not to misunderstand the contingency shadowed here as if it meant that some other person could filch away and put on his own head the crown which once was destined for us, which is a sheer impossibility and absurdity. No man would think to win heaven by stealing another's right of entrance there. No man could, if he were to try. The results of character cannot be transferred. Nor are we to suppose reference to the machinations of tempters, either human or diabolic, who deliberately try to rob Christians of their religion here, and thereby of their reward hereafter. But it is only too possible that men and things round about us may upset this certainty that we have been considering, and that though the crown be "thine," it may never come to be thy actual possession in the future, nor ever be worn upon thine own happy head in the festival of the skies. That is the solemn side of the Christian life, that it is to be conceived of as lived amidst a multitude of men and things that are always trying to make us unfit to receive that crown of righteousness. If we would walk through life with this thought in our minds, how it would strip off the masks of all these temptations that buzz about us!

III. THE WAY TO SECURE THE CROWS WHICH IS OURS. "Hold fast that thou hast." The slack hand will very soon be an empty hand. Anybody walking through the midst of a crowd of thieves with a bag of gold in charge would not hold it dangling from a finger-tip, but he would put all five round it, and wrap the strings about his wrist. The first shape which we may give to this exhortation is — hold fast by what God has given in His gospel; hold fast His Son, His truth, His grace. Use honestly and diligently your intellect to fathom and to keep firm hold of the great truths and principles of the gospel. Use your best efforts to keep your wandering hearts and mobile wills fixed and true to the revealed love of the great Lover of souls, which has been given to you in Christ, and to obey Him. But there is another aspect of the same commandment which applies not so much to that which is given us in the objective revelation and manifestation of God in Christ, as to our own subjective degrees of progress in the appropriation of Christ, and in likeness to Him. And possibly that is what my text more especially means, for just a little before the Lord has said to that Church, "Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name." "Thou hast a little strength... hold fast that which thou hast." See to it that thy present attainment in the Christian life, though it may be but rudimentary, is at least kept. Cast not away your confidence, hold fast the beginning of your confidence firm, with a tightened hand unto the end. For if we keep what we have, it will grow.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Where we are most tempted, know that there is some special grace to be kept or lost. A thief will not hanker after an empty chest; but if he knows where jewels or treasure is, he haunt there.

(Jeremy Taylor.)

No grace, not even the most sparkling and shining, can bring us to heaven without perseverance in following Christ; not faith, if it be faint and frail; nor love, if it decline and wax cold; nor humility, if it continue not to the end; not obedience, not repentance, not patience, no, nor any other grace, except they have their perfect work. It is not enough to begin well, unless we end well.

(T. Brooks.)

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