Revelation 4:1
After this I looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had previously heard speak to me like a trumpet was saying, "Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things."
Sermons
Man's Higher Sphere of Being: (1) Humanly AccessibleD. Thomas Revelation 4:1
The Open DoorH. J. Wilmot-BuxtonRevelation 4:1
The Divine Government SymbolizedR. Green Revelation 4:1-6
A Door in HeavenD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 4:1-11
A Door Opened in HeavenC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 4:1-11
An Invitation to GloryS. Fisher.Revelation 4:1-11
Element of the IdealC. E. Eberman.Revelation 4:1-11
Heaven NearDean Vaughan.Revelation 4:1-11
Heaven Near, Though HiddenT. M. Herbert, M. A.Revelation 4:1-11
Heaven Our HomeRevelation 4:1-11
HeavenwardWm. Guild, D. D.Revelation 4:1-11
Soul ElevationHomilistRevelation 4:1-11
The Heavenly Vision of the SoulJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 4:1-11
The High Court of HeavenS. Conway Revelation 4:1-11
The Open DoorD. C. Hughes, M. A.Revelation 4:1-11
The Upward CallH. W. Beecher.Revelation 4:1-11
The Vision of the ThroneG. Rogers.Revelation 4:1-11
The Vision of the ThroneJames Young.Revelation 4:1-11
Trumpet Voices Talking with UsH. J. Bevis.Revelation 4:1-11


If the portions of this book hitherto considered have had their difficulties, those on which we now enter are far more beset therewith. But the solemn sanctions given to the reading and study of this book send us, in spite of its difficulties, to the earnest examination of its sayings, certain that in them, even in the most mysterious of them, there lies a message from God to our souls. May he be pleased to make that message clear to us. This fourth chapter gives us the first part of the vision of what we have ventured to call "the high court of heaven." The next chapter reveals more. But in this part note -

I. THE VISION ITSELF. St. John begins his account of it with a "Behold." And well may he do so. He repeats this when he sees the "throne" and him that sat upon it. Again in Revelation 5:5, when he sees Jesus, the "Lamb as it had been slain." And if in like manner this vision come to us, we shall be filled, as he was, with wonder, with adoration, and awe. St. John saw:

1. A door set open in heaven. The sky was parted asunder, and in the space between, as through a door, he witnessed what follows.

2. The throne and its Occupant. He could see no form or similitude, any more than Israel could when God came down on Mount Sinai (cf. this vision and that, Exodus 19.). All that St. John saw was one "like unto a jasper stone and a sardius." The pure, perfect, flashing whiteness, as of a diamond, but with the carnelian redness, the fiery gleams of the sardius (cf. the "sea of glass mingled with fire," Revelation 15:2). Such was the Being who sat upon the throne - that throne, probably, as that which Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6.), being "high and lifted up," some stately structure befitting so august a court.

3. The rainbow, overarching the throne, the mild and beautiful green, emerald-like rays predominating amid its seven-hued splendour. Then:

4. The assessors of him that sat upon the throne. On either hand of the throne were twelve lesser thrones - twenty-four in all; and upon them were seated twenty-four elders, clad in white robes, and with crowns of gold on their heads.

5. Then in the space before the throne were seen seven burning torches. Not lamps, like those that symbolized the seven Churches, and which were after the manner of the seven-branched lamp which stood in the holy place in the ancient temple; but these were torches rather than lamps, destined to stand the rude blasts of the outer air rather than to gleam in the sheltered seclusion of some sacred edifice.

6. Then further off, beyond that central space, was the "sea of glass," like crystal. Clear, bright, reflecting the lights that shone upon it, but not tempest-tossed and agitated, unstable and ever restless, like that sea which day by day the exile in Patmos beheld barring his intercourse with those he loved, but calm and strong, firm and restful, - such was this sea. Then, also in the central space, or probably hovering, one in front, one on either side, and another at the rear of the throne, were:

7. The four living ones. The "four beasts," as, by the most melancholy of all mistranslations, the Authorized Version renders St. John's words, appear here to occupy the same relation to the throne as did the cherubim which were upon the ark of God in the Jewish temple. Strange, mysterious, unrepresentable, and indescribable forms. As were the cherubim, so are these; their faces, their eyes - with which it is said they "teem," so full of them are they - and their six wings, are all that we are told of; for the lion and ox-like aspect, the human and the eagle, tell of their faces rather than their forms, and do but, little to enable us to gain any true conception of what they were. Such were the mysterious beings whom St. John saw in immediate attendance on him who sat upon the throne; and as such, standing or moving around or hovering over the throne, we cannot certainly say which. And all the while there were heard, as "in Sinai in the holy place," voices, thunderings, and lightnings, proceeding from the throne. Such was that part of the vision with which this chapter is occupied. As we proceed we find the scene is enlarged, and more Divine transactions take place thereon. But now note -

II. THE MEANING OF THIS VISION. And:

1. The door set open in heaven. This tells, as did the vision of the ladder Jacob saw, of a way of communication opened up between earth and heaven.

2. The throne and its occupant. "The whole description is that of a council in the very act of being held. It is not to be taken as a description of the ordinary heavenly state, but of a special assembly gathered for a definite purpose" (cf. 1 Kings 22:19). And this symbol, which mingles reservation with revelation, and conceals as much as it declares, bids us think of God in his majesty, glory, supremacy, and as incomprehensible. "Who by searching can find out God?" It is a vision of the great God - we know that; but of his nature, substance, form, and image it, tells us nothing, nor was it intended that it should. But many precious and important truths concerning him it does tell. Of his awful glory, of his unsullied purity and spotless holiness, of the terror of his vengeance, of his interest in our concerns, of the worship and adoration of which he is worthy, and which he ever receives; of the character, condition, and service of those who dwell in his presence; of the ministers he employs; and much, more.

3. The fail,bow overarching the throne. This is the emblem (cf. Genesis 9:12-16) of God's gracious covenant which he hath established forevermore. And it told to St. John and to Christ's Church everywhere that, awful, glorious, and terrible as our God is, all that he does, of whatsoever kind, is embraced within the mighty span of his all-o'erarching grace. The Church of Christ was to pass through some dreadful experiences, to endure fearful trials, and they are not ceased yet; but she was to look up and see that all God's ways, works, and will were within not without, beneath not beyond, because and not in spite of, his all-embracing love. All were to find shelter, expanse, and explanation there. It was a blessed vision, and, unlike the ordinary rainbow, may it ever be seen by us, and its teaching believed.

4. The four and twenty elder's. These represent the whole Church of the Firstborn, the blessed and holy ones whom God hath made kings and priests unto himself. Their white robes tell of their purity, their victory, their joy, as white robes ever do; and their golden crowns (cf. Exodus 39:30), the peculiar possession of the priest of God, tell of their high and holy functions in the presence of God. The priest's office was to intercede with God for man and with man for God, to he - as was he, the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ - in sympathy alike with man and God, seeking to unite man to God, even as God was willing to unite himself with man. But seeing them there, associated with God, does it not tell that the holiest and most blessed of the saints know and approve of all he does? This is why the saint's are so blessed, because they do so know God. They understand what he does, and why; and hence those dark facts of human life which so bewilder and distress us cause no distress to them; for they, whilst in deep love and sympathy with us who are left sorrowing here below, have come to know, as here they could not, and as we cannot, the loving and holy wisdom and the omnipotent grace which are working in and through all these things. If, then, those who know are of one mind with God in regard to them, surely we may learn therefrom to "trust and not be afraid."

5. The torches of fire. These are said to be "the seven Spirits of God" - the holy and perfect Spirit of God in the varied diversity of his operations (1 Corinthians 12:4). The witness of the Spirit as well as of the Church to the ways of God is shown. He too, as well as they, testify that God is holy in all his ways and righteous in all his works.

6. The sea of glass. If it were merely the sea that was seen here, we should regard it, as many do, as the symbol of the depth and extent of the judgments of God (cf. Psalm 77:19). But it is a sea of glass, like crystal, and its clear calmness, its firm strength, its perfect stillness - for we are told (Revelation 15:2) that the redeemed "stand upon" it - all this reminds us of the results of God's holy rule. "Thou rulest the raging of the sea, the noise of their waves, and the tumults of the people" (Psalm 89:9; Psalm 65:7). Here, then, is another witness for God and his ways - the progress of peace on earth, concord amongst men; the orderly, quiet, and undisturbed life; the security and peace which are amongst the marked results of the progress of the kingdom of God in the world. Let the results of missionary enterprise amid savage peoples now civilized and at peace attest this.

7. The four living ones. The meaning of this part of the vision is not clear or certain. All manner of opinions have been held. We regard them as answering to the cherubim of the Old Testament, and they are apparently the representatives of those who stand nearest to God, and by whom he mainly carries on his work. Hence the chief ministers of the Church of God - prophets, priests, evangelists, and apostles. The ancient Church very generally regarded these "four living ones" as the representatives of the four evangelists, and in many a picture, poem, and sculpture this idea is portrayed. But we prefer to regard them as part of the symbol, and not the whole. And the different creatures which are selected for these four are the chiefs of their several kinds: the lion amongst beasts, the ox amongst cattle, the eagle amongst birds, and man amongst all. And these several creatures tell of the main qualifications for the ministry of God: courage and strength, as of the lion; patient perseverance in toil, as of the ox; soaring aspiration, "to mount up on wings as eagles," heavenly mindedness; and intelligence and sympathy, as of the man. Ministers so qualified God chiefly uses in his great work. Their wings tell of incessant activity; their being "full of eyes," of their continual vigilance and eager outlook on all sides, their careful watch and ward in the Divine service. Such are his ministers. It is said they represent the whole sentient creation of God. But we find them told of here as leaders of worship, as singing the song of the redeemed (Revelation 5:9), with harps and golden censers "full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." They say, "Thou hast made us kings and priests," etc. Surely all this belongs more to human, redeemed ministries than to vague abstractions, such as "representatives of creation." And if so, then such being the ministers of God is a further reason for the trust, the confidence, and the assured hope of the Church of God in all ages. And titan all are heard as well as seen, and that which we have is the Trisagion, the Ter-Sanctus, the "Holy, holy, holy," which Isaiah heard when in the temple. He also saw the vision of the Lord of hosts. And the uplifting of this holy song serves as the signal for the yet fuller outburst of praise which the twenty-four elders, rising from their seats and reverently placing their crowns of gold at the Lord Jehovah's feet, and prostrating themselves before his throne, render unto him that sitteth upon the throne, saying, "Worthy art thou," etc. (ver. 11). The vision is all of a piece. It strikes terror into the hearts of God's adversaries, as - to compare great things with small - do the pomp and paraphernalia of an earthly tribunal strike terror into the heart of the criminal who is brought up to be tried, and probably condemned, at its bar; but fills with holy confidence the hearts of all God's faithful people by the assurance of the holiness, the wisdom, the love, and might of him that ruleth over all, and in whose hands they and all things are.

III. ITS GENERAL INTENT AND PURPOSE. Beyond the immediate needs of the Church of St. John's day, surely it is designed to teach us all:

1. The reality of the heavenly world. The seen and the temporal do not a little dim and often shut out altogether the sight of the unseen and eternal. It is difficult to realize. Hence whatever tends to bring to bear upon us "the powers of the world to come" cannot but be good. And this is one purpose of this vision.

2. Another is to awaken inquiry as to our own relation to the judgment of God. How shall we stand there, abashed and ashamed, or bold through the atoning sacrifice of Christ which we have believed and relied upon? How shall it be?

3. To excite desire and aspiration after participation in its blessedness. Hence the door is set open in heaven, that we may long to enter there, and resolve through Christ that we will. "What must it be to be there?" - that is the aspiration which such a vision as this is intended to awaken, as God grant it may. - S.C.







Philadelphia.
Philadelphia furnishes us with the exemplar of the patient church; the exercise and training of patience is its peculiar call, and the perfection of patience is its reward. This message is one of high commendation and encouragement; although in its own consciousness, and in the regard of others, the condition of the church might seem pitiful, even deserving of rebuke. Those who have a wide experience of Christian churches and a sympathetic spirit will know how Philadelphia felt. The con. sciousness of their feebleness was dominant. Their resources seemed insufficient for the demand made on them. Theirs was a great occasion, and a distressing inability to meet it; overtaxed energy, urgent necessity, and poor means; it was a burden which seemed more than life could bear. Even the Lord's words of encouragement, "Behold, I have set before thee an open door," appeared to bring with them a special aggravation. The prospects of service were unusually attractive; so much could be done if there were only the strength to do it. Former prayers were answered; the longed-for opportunity had come; men were eager for the gospel; the way to preach was lying open; Christ Himself was calling, and at this critical hour there was paralysing inability. This last feature of the description lends a peculiar pathos to the message. It must have been hard for the church to rid itself of the sense of sin in that it was doing, could do so little. The faculty of spiritual self-tormenting, so subtle, in many persons so deep-seated, thrives in sorrowful experiences like this. The Lord's message supplies the comfort the church is in need of; corrects the error of its self-judgment. The whole meaning of the message is that to bear quietly may be as Divine a call as to hope largely, or to be enthusiastic in resolve. There is a discipline of disappointment, and that discipline must be borne. We are trained for future usefulness through pains and self-questionings, and the endurance of insufficiency. In all the clauses of this message we can read the endeavour to put heart into Philadelphia; the Lord gives Himself to awaken and sustain the self-respect of His troubled people. At first sight the images appear to lack tenderness; that is only because the tenderness is veiled in images of strength. A striking illustration of this feature of the message is in the title given to the Lord with which it opens, "These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth." The peculiar affliction of Philadelphia was the occurrence of favourable opportunities for doing Christ's work just when the church was at the far end of its possibilities. And the Lord says, "I know all about that." It is one of the ironies of life that the occasion we have longed for, and in our enthusiasm ceaselessly but fruitlessly tried to make for ourselves, may come with no effort of ours at the very time we can do nothing. This, says the Lord of Truth, is no mockery of fate; it is of the Divine appointment. "I have set before thee a door opened, and it shall continue open until you are able to enter in. You will enter in sooner than you think, and when your moment of invigoration comes, your strength will not be wasted in efforts to make the conditions favourable; you shall enter at once where I have prepared the way." Even in our times of waiting, we can often do a little; and all that little tells if the Lord has been beforehand with us. There is recognition, moreover, in the message, honourable recognition, of the actual achievement of the church. The faith had been kept; Christ's name had not been denied. Philadelphia ranks with Pergamum, the martyr-church. And then there is promised to Philadelphia a public vindication of its fidelity, a vindication to which even its enemies shall bear hearty witness, "Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them which say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." They who had mocked the patience of the church in its affliction will not be able to withhold their admiration; they are drawn out of reluctant into willing acknowledgment that God had loved His suffering people. Thus does Christ encourage the patient church. As there is no trial harder than that of prolonged inactivity and wasting strength, so none has consolations loftier and more direct. The way of access to God is intended to lie all open to those so sorely tried. The Divine approval is set over against accusations of self, the taunts of the ungodly, and the ironies of life. And out of this should come a steadfastness holding fast to the end. A twofold reward is promised to Philadelphia; there is a promise for time, there is also a promise for eternity; and each is set before us as the direct result of the sore discipline through which the church has had to pass, according to those far-reaching words of James, the Lord's brother, "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing."(1) There is the temporal promise. "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee," etc. This church shall emerge from the general tribulation, having lost nothing of her virtue, with her sense of the Divine protection confirmed and justified. When the shews of things are passing away, and the strong-seeming are as children, the tried shall prove the trusty.(2) There is also an eternal reward; and, as in some other of these messages, the eternal reward is not simply a personal blessedness, it is the high honour of being of service in the kingdom of God. "He that overcometh, I will make him," etc. There is in this image a note of personal consideration, of that tenderness, veiled in strength, which marks the whole message. Just as the Lord draws from the enmity of the Jews occasion to assure Philadelphia that the most gracious promises made to Israel are hers, so He introduces a touch of local colour which reveals sympathy. The city of Philadelphia was exposed to earthquakes; its geological formation was of lava, with trap-dykes intervening, and earthquakes were common occurrences in the people's experience. "The walls were not to be trusted, but every day some mischance made them tremble and gape. The inhabitants were on the constant look-out for faults in the ground, and were always attending to their buildings." The image of an unshaken pillar would have a special meaning for men with such an experience; and the Church was to be such a pillar. Not only was there prepared for them a city of sure foundations; they were to be among the foundations. This was the destiny for which their discipline had fitted them; this was their reward. But the promise goes further; it is an inscribed pillar which is presented to our view. "I will write upon him the name of my God," etc. Patience is the substruction of the godly character; on it may be reared all the graces of the heavenly life. It is a manly virtue, and needs but the touch of Christ's finger to be transformed into a Divine grace. It is a social virtue, conspicuously commemorated in the city of God. It is an onward-looking virtue; our "forward movements" are founded on it; it has promise of the future, "I will write on him My new name."

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

I. THE INTRODUCTION. Philadelphia was a city not far from Sardis, founded by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, a few centuries before the Christian era. Its situation was upon the side of a mountain, which had a commanding view of a fertile and extensive country. It was a place of considerable importance in the time of the apostles. It is still populous, but in a mean condition. The character which Christ assumes to this church is, "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." It was needful that the church in Philadelphia should know that He was "the Holy One," and consequently that a low degree of piety was not sufficient in His esteem. It was further needful to remember, that He was "the True One," that is, "the Truth," or the God of Truth, and consequently that sincerity of motive was required, as well as purity of conduct. Truth and holiness are inseparably allied. Every deviation from rectitude is a lie. The more specific aspect in which Christ appears before the church in Philadelphia is, "He that hath the key of David," etc. This alludes to part of the representation of His person in the first chapter. The imagery, however, is more extended in its present application, and has a more extensive signification. He now represents Himself as having the key of the kingdom of heaven, upon the earth as well as in the invisible state.

II. THE DECLARATION. "I know thy works." This is the usual commencement of these addresses. The declaration is, "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." The Christians in Philadelphia are comforted with the assurance that the design of their enemies would not be permitted to succeed; that their cause would survive; and that many from that city would continue to enter into the Redeemer's fold. That there are certain places and seasons in which the way is open for the spread of gospel truth, and others in which it is closed, the history of the church and daily observation and. experience abundantly prove. Nor is it less evident that this depends not upon any peculiarity of circumstances in relation either to the church or to the world, but to causes uncontrollable by human agency and design. As a general rule, indeed, where means are most used, and the prayers of the churches are most directed, the door is eventually thrown open; but occasionally all such efforts become ineffectual, and a door unexpectedly and unsolicited is opened in another direction. Sometimes a wide door is suddenly closed, and at other times a narrow door is opened wide. The prosperity which attends the preaching of the word in some places, and the discouragement in others, are not to be attributed to the different gifts and graces of men, so much as to the sovereign pleasure of Him who has the key of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth. Usefulness often depends upon a wise and prayerful observation of times and seasons, as much as upon actual labour. Many have succeeded by a readiness to discern and avail themselves of an opened door; and many, with greater energy and zeal, have failed, from striving to keep open a door which He has closed.

III. THE COMMENDATION, "For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name." The strength of this church was small, but it was strength of the right kind. The strength of a church does not consist in worldly wealth, or wisdom, or power, but in its fidelity to the word and profession of the name of Christ. This strength is termed "little," not with an intention to censure, so much as to show what a little strength of this kind can effect against the united powers of earth and hell, and how greatly a little of such strength is prized by "Him that is holy and true." Nevertheless, it may be designed by this epithet to teach us, that even such strength, under such circumstances, is small in comparison of that which from the full exercise of faith and prayer might and ought to be attained.

IV. THE THREATENING. This is addressed, through the church, to a party which professed to be the true church, and the only objects of Divine favour. "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not," etc. The Jews, here referred to, opposed Judaism to Christianity. The name of Jew was far greater, in their esteem, than that of Christian.

V. THE PROMISE. This is to the whole church, "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience," etc.

VI. THE ADMONITION. "Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."

VII. THE APPLICATION. A pillar is a needful as well as an ornamental part of a spacious building. It was so in the Jewish temple. It is the symbol therefore of a secure and prominent place in the temple of the new Jerusalem. It is not improbable that names were given to the pillars of the temple, and inscribed upon them. In 1 Kings 7. we are told, that when Solomon set up the two main pillars of the porch, he called the name of one Jachin, and the other Boaz, both of which chiefly denoted stability.

(G. Rogers.)

I. A CHARACTER TO BE ADORED.

1. Holy.

2. True.

3. Supreme. All the doors to human usefulness, dignity, and happiness, are at the disposal of Christ.

II. AN ENERGY TO BE COVETED.

1. The energy of true usefulness.

2. The energy of loyal obedience.

3. The energy of true courage.

4. The energy of moral sovereignty.

5. The energy of Divine approval and protection.

III. A DESTINY TO BE SOUGHT.

1. A crown lies within their reach.

2. Divine security is assured.

3. Sublime distinction is promised.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. THIS CHURCH WAS SMALL IN SIZE, AND POOR IN ITS TEMPORAL RESOURCES.

1. Its numerical power was small.

2. Its social power was small.

3. Its financial power was small.

II. THIS CHURCH WAS FAITHFUL TO THE WORD AND NAME OF CHRIST.

III. THIS CHURCH HAD OPENED TO IT MANY OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTENDED USEFULNESS. These openings are: —

1. Providential.

2. Welcome.

3. Progressive and useful.

4. Largely dependent upon the moral condition of the church.

IV. THIS CHURCH WOULD BE HONOURED BY THE SUBJUGATION OF ITS ENEMIES, AND BY A TRUE RECOGNITION OF THE DIVINE LOVE CONCERNING IT.

V. THIS CHURCH WAS TO BE FAVOURED WITH THE KINDLY GUARDIANSHIP OF CHRIST IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL.

1. Times of trial will come upon the church.

(1)The extent of the trial.

(2)The time of the trial.

(3)The design of the trial.

2. In times of trial to the church, faithful souls shall be favoured with the Divine guardianship.

(1)This safety is Divinely promised.

(2)This safety is a recompense.

(3)This safety is welcome.

3. That a church may be poor in its temporal circumstances, and yet faithful to Christ.

4. That a church may be poor in its temporal circumstances, and yet vigorous in Christian enterprise.

5. That a church, poor in its temporal circumstances, but rich in faith, will experience the guardian care of Heaven.

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

I. ITS CONNECTION WITH CHRIST.

1. Christ recognises it.

2. Christ honours it.

3. Christ imparts it. Power over —

(1)Circumstances.

(2)Society.

(3)Temptation.

II. ITS INFLUENCE OVER ERROR (ver. 9). The general idea is, that false religion shall pay homage to the moral power of Christians. How is this done? The moral power of Christianity comes in contact with corrupt human nature in three forms: —

1. As a morality. It is a regulated system, and its laws commend themselves both to man's natural love of his own rights, and his natural love of his own interests.

2. As an institution. The mind must have worship, must have a dietary and a ritual of devotion. Christianity, as an institution, appeals to that.

3. As a theology. It is a system of belief, and thus appeals to man's craving after truth.

III. ITS FUTURE REWARD.

1. Preservation.

2. Visitation.

3. Exaltation.

(1)Stability.

(2)Utility.

(3)Divinity.

(Caleb Morris.)

He that hath the key of David
The reference here is to Isaiah 22:22: "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder." This was said of Eliakim, who was thus set up as a type of a greater than himself — a greater than David. Eliakim was royal chamberlain, keeper of the house, like Joseph in Pharaoh's palace. So Christ is represented as not only being the royal possessor of the house, but He also to whom the keeping of its gate was entrusted.

I. THE KEY OF DAVID'S HOUSE. The palace is His, and He keeps the key of it, as the Father has given it to Him. He opens and shuts according as He will.

II. THE KEY OF DAVID'S CASTLE. Besides his palace David had a fort on Zion, which he took from the Jebusites — a stronghold against the enemy. So has our David a strong tower and fortress, into which we run and are safe.

III. THE KEY OF DAVID'S CITY. Yes, the key of Jerusalem, both the earthly and the heavenly.

IV. THE KEY OF DAVID'S TREASURE-HOUSE. That storehouse contains all we need. The unsearchable riches are here.

V. THE KEY OF DAVID'S BANQUETING-HOUSE.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. CHRIST IS THE PROVIDENCE OF OUR LIVES. What we call chances are not chances. The opportunities that come to us are God-given opportunities. The doors that open before us He flings wide open. The doors that are shut He bars and bolts.

II. IT IS OURS TO SEE THE OPEN DOOR AND ENTER IN THEREAT. There is a certain significance in the very word "Philadelphia," lover of man. This is a true designation of those that are pre-eminently workers among their fellow men, the type represented in this Epistle. He is one who sees the door that God opens, takes the key which God hands to him, enters in at the door, and takes charge of that which God has put before him. Such an one must have two qualities: power to perceive the opportunity, and the courage to avail himself of it; and these two qualities make what we call in secular forces genius. They are the foundation of the great successes of life.

III. OUR EPISTLE ADDS A COMFORTING WORD, A WORD OF PROMISE. "He shall be a pillar," etc. Observe that this promise is a promise, not to the great prophets, not to the men of transcendent spiritual genius, but to the faithful Christian workers, to men who love their fellow men.

1. They that thus gave themselves to God's service shall become pillars in God's Church. The reward which God gives for service is more service. What Christ says here to every man is this: If you will watch for your opportunity of service, and if you will be faithful in that service, though you have but little strength and are yourself of small account, you shall be a pillar in the temple of my God, you shall be the stay and strength of men less strong than you, you shall support the Church of Christ by your faith, here and hereafter.

2. They "shall go no more out." I think, for the most part, that in this life, we in the Church flow as the drops of water flow that are on the very edge of the Gulf Stream. They are brought in perpetual contact with the greater waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and by the waves and currents flowing back and forth. Now they are without, and now they are within. A few sainted souls flow, as it were, in the very centre of the Gulf Stream, and know not the cold of the battling waves without. But, for the most part, we are half in the world and half out of it, and count ourselves almost saints if we are out of the world half the time. Now, Christ says this: not to the man of prayers and visions and special experience and the monastic life, but to him who will seize the opportunity for work, and with fidelity pursue it; he shall more and more find himself taken out from all contamination and evil life, he shall find himself more and more following in a current pure and healthful, until, when the end shall come, he shall go no more out for ever.

3. "And on him I will write a new name — the name of my God, the name of the New Jerusalem, my new name." How is it that God writes names in human lives? A child is plucked out of the street and taken into a Christian family, and the father adopts him as his own, and gives him his own name; and in the nursery, in the school, in the business, in the household, in all the relations of life, father and mother are writing their own name in the life of their adopted child. And so the city of the New Jerusalem writes in the heart of every man who comes into allegiance to the kingdom of Christ a new name — the name of the kingdom of Christ.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

As one who sails along the Atlantic coast, exploring, comes to an indentation in the coast, and sets his sails toward it, and finds there is no opening there, and then, pushing out to sea again, sails along a little further, and comes to a second and a third, and at last reaches the Narrows, and pushes in between Staten Island and Bay Ridge, and enters the great bay, and sees the majestic waters of the Hudson River pouring down — as such an one has entered the door which God opened for all future commerce to go back and forth upon, so we sail in life, seeking our opportunity looking here, looking there, and coming at last to an open door. We call it a good chance; but God has made it for us, and it is of His purpose that we have found it. He sets before us our open doors.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

"Thou hast a little strength." The words do not mean that the persecution had been so oppressive as well nigh to exhaust the church, so that it had only a little strength remaining. Rather they describe the condition of the church before the terrible trial came upon it. From the very beginning its ability had been but small. Yet small as its strength was, its members had stood firm in the face of cruel threatenings and alluring promises. And lo! as the reward of their steadfastness, the Lord declares that He has set before them "an open door" which no man could shut. That is to say, through the gateway of their fidelity, feeble as they were, they went under the leadership of Christ to a sphere of usefulness, which was peculiarly their own, and which no mortal could prevent them from filling. "Thou hast but little strength." How many in all our congregations may be truly thus addressed? Now, I know few passages of Scripture more encouraging than this. For one thing it suggests to us that the having of but little strength is not a matter of which we need to be ashamed. If one has brought it upon himself by his own iniquity, then it may be a matter of disgrace; but if it come in the allotment of God's providence, there is no moral reproach to be associated with it. Christ did not overlook the Church of Philadelphia, weak though it was. Is it not written, "A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench"? "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength." The having of but a little strength may even come to be, in some respects, an advantage. For it is not a little remarkable that the two churches which received unqualified condemnation are those of Smyrna and Philadelphia, neither of which was strong; while on the other hand the severest reproof is addressed to the church of Laodicea, which any outsider would have spoken of as at once prosperous and influential. Thus we are reminded that where there is much strength there is also a disposition to trust in that; while, on the other hand, where there is conscious feebleness there is felt also the necessity of making application for the might of the Most High. But pursuing this line of thought a little farther we may see from my text that the having of only a little strength does not utterly disqualify us from serving the Lord. Feeble as they were, the Philadelphians had kept Christ's word, and had not denied His name. They kept their loyalty to Him even in their weakness. And,it is possible for every one of us to do the same. If my strength is small, God does not require of me that which only a larger measure of power could enable me to perform. Wherever I am, it is enough if there I keep His word; and however limited be my resources, He asks no more than that I use all these resources in advancing the honour of His name. Still further, if we proceed upon this principle, nay text affirms that a wider sphere will be ultimately opened up to us. Fidelity always rises. It is, in fact, irrepressible; for when Christ says to it, "Come up higher," no one can hold it down.

I. WE MAY LEARN THAT USEFULNESS IS NOT THE PRIMARY OBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN'S ATTENTION. Not what we can do for others, but rather what we are in ourselves, demands our first attention, for to do good to others we must first be good ourselves. Usefulness is to character what fragrance is to the flower. But the gardener does not make the fragrance his first or greatest aim. -Nay, rather his grand design is to produce a perfect flower, for he knows if he succeed in that, the fragrance will come of itself. In the same way the Christian's first concern should be with his own character. To be holy is our primary duty, and through that we pass to usefulness.

II. But if these things are so, we have, as another inference suggested from this text, AN EASY EXPLANATION OF THE GREAT USEFULNESS OF MANY WHO ARE IN NO WISE NOTEWORTHY FOR STRENGTH. Few things are more commonly spoken of among men than the fact that the most successful soul-winners in the ministry are not always those who are most conspicuous for intellectual ability or argumentative power. In the same way you will sometimes find a church whose members are poor in this world's goods, and not remarkable for that culture which modern circles have so largely deified, yet famous for its good works among the masses; and when you look into the matter you find the explanation in the consecrated characters and lives of those who are associated in its fellowship. They have sought their usefulness through their holiness, and not their holiness through their usefulness; and therefore it is they have had such signal triumphs.

III. Finally, if the principles which I have tried to deduce from this text are true, we SEE AT ONCE HOW SUCH APPARENTLY OPPOSITE THINGS AS CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT AND CHRISTIAN AMBITION ARE TO BE PERFECTLY HARMONIZED. The full discharge of duty on the lower level opens the passage up into the higher. We see that illustrated in secular departments every day. If the schoolboy wishes to gain a high position as a man, he must be content, as long as he is at school, to go through its daily round, and perform in the best possible manner its common duties. The better he is as a scholar, the more surely will the door into eminence open for him as a man. But if he trifle away his time, if he despise what he calls the "drudgery" of education, and so leave school without having learned those things which he was sent thither to acquire, then there will be nothing for him in after life but humiliation and failure. Doors may open to him, but he will never be ready to enter one of them. Fretting over our weakness will not make things better, but it will prevent us from bringing anything out of the little strength we have.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Doors are of many kinds. Everything has its door leading into its own reserves, by which easy entrance is furnished, but, apart from which, they are inaccessible. Some ways of entrance are very narrow and restricted, others are relatively wide and open. We have each our door by which we are accessible, and also doors through which we have access to others. Human reason finds a wide door, but human sympathy and love a wider and deeper. What a door, then, Wisdom has, who is the maker and mother of us all.

I. But, though her children, WE MAKE OUR BEGINNING OUTSIDE THE DOOR OF ALL THINGS. We are born without the gate, laid very humbly at the door. We make our beginning in unconscious weakness. "Behold," says the Father, "I have set before thee an open door, which no man can shut." This is the birthright of our childhood. God with His universe stands at the gate of His child in the joy of expectation, waiting for the awaking of his intelligence to declare to him his blessedness of Being, and the greatness of his inheritance. "Blessed is he that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my door." But, to descend to particulars, we may ask, to what is there not, at the first, an open door set before us? Only by ignorance, folly, and abuse, the door of our physical inheritance is closed against us. God's creatures are commissioned to befriend His children. To more than a sufficiency of worldly goods there is at first an open door. "The hand of the diligent maketh rich, but he that dealeth with slack hand becometh poor." No less is there a fellowship of mind which seeks to awaken our observation and inquiry, and minister to our knowledge. And the door of communication with the fountain-sources of all light and power of mind is ever widening. Earth draws nearer to and more partakes of heaven, and heaven has more of earth as generation after generation is "taken up." But to what social inheritance is there not an open door? We are born into families. If as youths we go forth from our first homes, it is only that we may be prepared as men to enter upon our own homes. But other worlds than earth, and higher life than is possible under nature is open to us, through the door that is set before us. The earth is neither prison-house, palace, nor true home for man. It is not an end, only a way, a marvellous thoroughfare to the Spiritual, the Infinite, and the Eternal. God has not opened up to us the kingdom of nature for our culture by means of our senses, and the kingdom of mind for the culture of thought, affection, and will, by the exercise of our souls, and kept His own door closed against us as His children. He has not doomed us to perish in the earth, much less appointed us to wrath, but to "inherit all things," and "live together with Him."

II. HE WHO MADE US AND LAID US AT THE OPEN DOOR HAS ANTICIPATED OUR PRAYER, AND MADE HIMSELF THE WAY OF ACCESS AND THE DOOR OF ENTRANCE. We are too accustomed to think of Christ merely as the door of mercy for our souls, but not of health for our bodies; as the door to heaven when we are dismissed from earth, but not the door to all earthly treasures; as the door of access to God, but not the door of access to men. We forget that His kingdom is an universal kingdom, and His dominion everlasting; that He exercises no divided sovereignty; that He made all things and gave them the laws of their several existence. He is also the light of all our seeing. "If the eye be single, the whole body will be full of light." And if we follow the light, we shall be led into all the ways of that hidden wisdom by which all things have been constituted and are kept in being. Having His spirit we stand in kindred relation to all things and all being; our minds possess a fellowship of nature with all thought in its impersonal diffusion and in its personal centres; our hearts are moved by a sympathy with the attractions, affinities, instincts, and personal affections which proclaim the drawing together of all things; whilst in our deepest nature is awakened a sense of our Divine childhood, which seeks and finds access to God.

III. But He who is the door to all things, and also the way to Himself, does not leave us to ourselves to find the door, BUT OFFERS HIMSELF AS OUR GUIDE, TO LEAD US NOT ONLY INTO HIS HOUSE, BUT ALSO TO CONDUCT US TO THE FEAST HIS WISDOM AND LOVE HAVE PREPARED. He stands at the door and knocks for admission. He offers Himself for our acceptance.

IV. He who so graciously offers to be our guide that He may lead us into our inheritance, ALSO WARNS US, LEST SLIGHTING THE OPPORTUNITY OF OUR DAY we should come to reject His aid, despise our birthright, and not "knowing the time of our visitation," "the things which belong to our peace should be for ever hidden from our eyes," and the door set open before us should be for ever closed against us.

(W. Pulsford, D. D.)

Thou hast a little strength
The Philadelphian church was not great, but it was good; not powerful, but faithful. The Philadelphian saints, like the limpet, which has but little strength, stuck firmly to the rock, and they are commended for it. They had little strength, but they kept God's word, and they did not deny His name.

I. A WORD OF PRAISE. I do not think that we should be Be slow in praising one another. There is a general theory abroad that it is quite right to point out to a brother all his imperfections, for it will be a salutary medicine to him, and prevent his being too happy in this vale of tears. Is it supposed that we shall cheer him on to do better by always finding fault with him? What had these Philadelphian believers done that they should be praised? "Thou hast kept My word, and thou hast not denied My name." What does this mean?

1. Does it not mean, first, that they had received the word of God; for ii they had not heard it and held it they could not have kept it. It was theirs; they read it and searched it and made it their own. It is no small privilege so to be taught o! the Holy Ghost as to have a taste for the gospel, a deep attachment to the truths of the covenant.

2. Next, we may be sure that they loved the word of God. They had an intense delight in it. They appreciated it. They stored it up as bees store away honey, and they were as ready to defend it as bees are to guard their stores. They meditated upon it; they sought to understand it. More, however, is meant than simply loving the word, though that is no small thing.

3. It means that they believed it, believed it most thoroughly, and so kept it. I am afraid that there are great truths in God's word which we do not intelligently believe, but take for granted.

4. Furthermore, in addition to the inner possession and the hearty belief of the truth, we must be ready to adhere to it at all times. That, perhaps, is the central thought here — "Thou hast kept My word."

5. No doubt, also, it was intended in this sense — that they had obeyed the word of God.

II. A WORD OF PROSPECT. "You have been faithful, therefore I will use you. You have been steadfast, therefore I will employ you." For a considerable period of human life, it may be, God does not give to all of us a field of usefulness. There are some to whom He early opens the gate of usefulness, because He sees in them A spirit that will bear the temptation of success; but in many other cases it is questionable whether they could bear promotion, and therefore the Lord permits them to be tried in different ways until He sees that they are found faithful, and then He puts them into His service, and gives them an opportunity of bearing witness for Him. You have been a receiver yourself until now, and that is well and good; but, now that you have become filled, overflow to others, and let them receive of your joy. "How do I know that they will accept it?" say you. I know it from this fact — that, as a general rule, the man that keeps God's word has an open door before him. Gird up your loins and enter it. Rush to the front. Victory lies before you. God means to use you. The hour needs its man quite as much as the man needs the hour. The Lord help you to keep His word, and then to go in for public testimony.

III. A WORD OF PROMISE. Those who keep God's word shall themselves be kept from temptation. The Lord returns into His servants' bosoms that which they render to Him: He gives keeping for keeping. This is the Lord's way of delivering those who keep His word: He shuts them away from the temptation that comes upon others. He seems to say, "Dear child, since you will not go beyond my written word, you shall not be tempted to go beyond it. I will cause the enemies of truth to leave you alone. You shall be offensive to them, or they to you, and you shall soon part company." Or perhaps the text may mean that ii the temptation shall come you shall be preserved from it. The deliberately formed conviction that the word of God is the standard of our faith, and the unwavering habit of referring everything to it, may not deliver us from every error, but they will save us from that which is the nurse of every error — that is, the habit of trusting to our own understanding, or relying upon the understandings of our fellow-men. I value more a solid confidence in the word of God than even the knowledge that comes out o! it; for that faith is a saving habit, a sanctifying habit, in every way a strengthening and confirming and preserving habit.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THEY KEPT HIS WORD. God's word, and not the traditions or commandments of men, is the only strength of the Church, and the only source of all true religion. By us, too, this word must be kept.

1. Intellectually. It is not a cunningly-devised fable, but the living word of the everlasting God, who cannot lie.

2. Affectionately. In religion we want not only glass windows that let in the light, but human hearts that are filled with love.

3. Practically. It has been well said "that the life of a Christian is the best picture of the life of Christ."

II. THEY HAD NOT DENIED HIS NAME.

1. Infidelity denies Christ's name.

2. Worldly-mindedness is a denial of Christ's name.

3. Religious formality is a denial of Christ's name.

4. Neglect of religious ordinances is also a practical denial of Christ.

(W. G. Barrett.)

I. THERE ARE MANY THINGS WHICH RENDER US FAINT AND WEARY, sadly conscious of our little strength.

1. The power and force of temptation, the thought that I, the creature of a day, with a nature prone to sin, and pitted, before God and His angels, against Satan and the legions of evil. Oh, Christian, if at any moment the spirit of evil tempts thee, and thou art about to give way, bethink thee of the church of Philadelphia, having a little strength, yet keeping the word of her Lord's patience, and not denying His name. Faint, yet pursuing! Let this be thy watchword in the fight. Rest not until the enemy has fled.

2. The Philadelphian church had kept the word of Her Lord's patience. Affliction is very apt to exhaust the Christian's little strength, so that he should lose patience and begin to doubt.

3. Another cause of discouragement is the coldness and unbelief of other Christians.

4. And then comes that which is so trying to all, to those who have escaped the above-mentioned temptations, to those even who have made great progress in the spiritual life — the sameness of religion. Over and over again the same work has to be done. We wanted to be quit of some, at least, of these old and troublesome tenants; but there they are still. We hoped to go on unto perfection, higher yet; and here we are still in the valleys, doing most undignified work, quite unworthy of our long experience and knowledge. It is very humiliating. But it is also uninteresting, and the want of interest discourages.

II. WHAT ARE THE REMEDIES FOR THIS DISCOURAGEMENT?

1. First, we may search out the promises of God made to His people in Holy Scripture, and therefore made to us. With this we may combine attentive meditation upon the person and character of the Lord Jesus. Most especially remarkable is His tenderness for the weak.

2. Then we must speak of the means of grace, prayer, reading God's holy word, etc.

3. There is one thing which we must especially guard against, that is, impatience. We must not expect an immediate and perfect cure of all our spiritual weakness. We cannot, by any process, make one step between earth and heaven. Is it nothing to hold fast that we have? By and by He will come and relieve us.

(W. Mitchell, M. A.)

I will make
I. THE DEBASEMENT OF THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST AND OF HIS PEOPLE FORETOLD. Haughty, presuming, and persecuting characters must be brought down. They shall one day be compelled to do honour to those whom they have ignorantly despised and cruelly tormented. They shall be irresistibly convinced that the objects of their cruel hatred were the objects of the infinite love of the Almighty Redeemer. Jesus can easily conquer His most potent adversaries and protect His weakest friends.

II. THE DISTINGUISHED PRIVILEGE OF REAL CHRISTIANS SHALL BE PERCEIVED BY THE AGENTS OF SATAN. "They shall know that I have loved thee." This is to know, that they are the' most highly honoured, that they are inviolably secure, and that they shall be eternally blessed. To be loved by the adorable Immanuel is to be raised to the summit of honour, and to be interested in a source of never-failing felicity. The love of Jesus Christ to His people is the source of all their consolation in time, and the basis of all their hopes for immortality.

III. THE REDEEMER'S APPROBATION OF THE PHILADELPHIAN CHURCH. "Thou hast kept the word of my patience."

1. The doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ is fitly called the word of His patience, because it describes His persevering patience under the cruel persecutions of ungodly men — the fiery temptations of Satan. The patience of our blessed Lord in bearing, and in forbearing, is most amazing.

2. The commendation expressed in the text may refer to the patience which the Philadelphians had exercised in keeping the word of Christ whilst they had been enduring reproaches, and temptations, and afflictions. It requires more than an ordinary degree of patience to keep the word of the Redeemer when we are called to suffer for its sake. The stronger is our faith, the more lively is our hope, and the more lively is our hope, the more steady is our patience in waiting for promised blessings. Patience is the grace that preserves the tried and tempted Christian from yielding to despondency: it keeps his mind peaceful in the storms of adversity by counteracting the baneful influence of pride and unbelief in the heart, which tend to produce discontent and impatience under trying and distressing circumstances. Nothing more recommends the religion d Jesus Christ than the exercise of the grace of patience under severe trials and cruel reproaches.

IV. THE PROMISE BY WHICH OUR LORD ENCOURAGED THE PHILADELPHIANS. "I also will keep thee," etc. The Lord foresees all the seasons of persecution which His servants will experience upon earth.

( J. Hyatt.)

Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, therefore will I keep thee from the hour of temptation
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.)

We are not to suppose that these good souls in Philadelphia lived angelic lives of unbroken holiness because Jesus Christ has nothing but praise for them. Rather we are to learn the great thought that, in all our poor, stained service, He recognises the central motive and main drift, and, accepting these, is glad when He can commend.

I. THE THING KEPT. This expression, "the word of My patience," refers, not to individual commandments to patience, but to the entire gospel message to men. What does the New Testament mean by "patience"? Not merely endurance, although, of course, that is included, but endurance of such a sort as will secure persistence in work, in spite of all the opposition and sufferings which may come in the way. The man who will reach his hand through the smoke of hell to lay hold of plain duty is the patient man of the New Testament.

II. THE KEEPERS OF THIS WORD. The metaphor represents to us the action of one who, possessing some valuable thing, puts it into some safe place, takes great care of it, and watches tenderly and jealously over it So "thou hast kept the word of My patience." There are two ways by which Christians are to do that; the one is by inwardly cherishing the word, and the other by outwardly obeying it. Let me say a word about each of these two things. I am afraid that the plain practical duty of reading their Bibles is getting to be a much neglected duty amongst professing Christian people. I do not know how you are to keep the word of Christ's patience in your hearts and minds if you do not read them. There never was, and there never will be, vigorous Christian life unless there be an honest and habitual study of God's word. The trees whose roots are laved and branches freshened by that river have leaves that never wither, and all their blossoms set. But the word is kept by continual obedience in action as well as by inward treasuring. Obviously the inward must precede the outward. Unless we can say with the Psalmist, "Thy word have I hid in my heart," we shall not be able to say with him, "I have not laid thy righteousness within my heart."

III. CHRIST KEEPING THE KEEPERS OF HIS WORD. There is a beautiful reciprocity. Christ will do for us as we have done with His word. Christ still does in heaven what lie did upon earth. Christ in heaven is as near each trembling heart and feeble foot, to defend and to uphold, as was Christ upon earth. He does not promise to keep us at a distance from temptation, so as that we shall not have to face it, but from means, as any that can look at the original will see, that He will "save us out of it," we having previously been in it, so as that "the hour of temptation" shall not be the hour of failing. The lustre of earthly brightnesses will have no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth, and, when set by the side of heavenly gifts, will show black against their radiance, as would electric light between the eye and the sun.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

When a hard winter sets in, and the earth is covered with a mantle of snow, and each little knot and spray in the hedgerow is encrusted with icicles, vegetation seems to be killed, and every green thing blighted. But it is not so. The genial forces of the earth are driven inward and work deep in her bosom. The snow mantle is doing for her what the fur mantle does for the human frame — concentrating and preserving the vital heat within. So it is in temptation: the time of temptation is a cheerless and dreary hour, when everything seems at a standstill, and the spiritual pulse can no longer be felt, it beats so faintly to the outward touch; but if the will is faithful and true, and the soul patient, the life is really concentrating itself, and rallying its forces within There have been moderate Christians, there have been shallow Christians, without very much temptation; but there never yet was a saintly Christian, never yet one who pressed so the higher summits of the spiritual life, never one whose banner bore the strange device "Excelsior," who was not made the victim of manifold temptations.

(Dean Goulburn.)

Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.

(C. Colton.)

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