Addresses to the Seven Churches

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A human attempt at precision sometimes leads us astray.* The blessing meets the particular want of the church and characterizes the ways of God towards it as to the encouragement needed for its faith; but this does not mean that the church exclusively has the blessing. Thus in Laodicea he that overcomes will sit at Christ's throne—the lowest degree of promise, I apprehend; but that does not mean that only they will, for all will. Escaping the hour of temptation is not true only of Philadelphia; all who have died in the Lord before it comes will have escaped it. But this characterizes the blessing of Philadelphia, because they come so near towards it that a promise to escape it is of the greatest value to them—a cheering and welcome message and truth, in their weakness and consciousness of the power of evil and little strength. Others than those of Ephesus will eat of the fruit of the tree of life, others than those of Smyrna will not be hurt of the second death; but those were the suited encouragements to lead to overcome in the states and difficulties there described. We must seek elsewhere a positive revelation on the subject, and not draw conclusions, nor, I would add, the least weaken the warning; for the warning applies to the state in which Philadelphia is. A like conclusion has been drawn from "all those that love his appearing," and "to them that look for him will he appear;" but all the wise virgins were awaked to look for Him, and even others, too. We must distrust conclusions from scripture, forever man's mind enters into them.
(* ‘Rev. 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10).—The promise here seems made to a particular class described as those who have kept the word of Christ's patience, and who appear to be contrasted with those who " dwell upon the earth," which, I presume, expresses a moral condition. If this be so, on what ground can the whole Church take this promise to themselves? ')
Those in Laodicea who open to the Lord reign with Him; and He enters in and sups with them, and they with Him—have their part with Him in fellowship and joy under His reign. I do not say there may not be specialty in results which take the shape of reward; but the promises apply to the state of the church in which they are found, and woe to him who neglects them so applied, not to the exclusion thereby of others. Thus in Thyatira the whole millennial blessing of Christ Himself and the reign are promised, because it is the close of the ecclesiastical system, and the whole succeeding blessing is substituted for it: Christ, the heavenly Christ Himself, and the kingdom of power and judgment, for those who had been oppressed by the idolatrous rule of Jezebel.
The quotation from John 17 proves exactly the contrary of that for which it is cited.* That to which ἐκ applies, they are to be kept wholly out of; they are not to be taken ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, but they are to be wholly and absolutely ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ: so here (Rev. 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)), wholly and absolutely, not 'through' and ‘in,’ but ἐκ τῆς ὥρας.
(* ' When the Lord prays that His disciples should be kept from the evil of the world, it is plain He does not mean that they should be taken out of it.')
[1866.]