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power of Christ, in His people,—the “ lamp” of the virgins, the “light of the world”' of the Sermon on the Mount.
The Declaration praises the intensity of this in the Church, and—which is the notablest thing for us in the whole series of the charges-it asserts the burning of the Spirit of Christ in the Church to be especially shown because it “cannot bear them which are evil.” 3 This fierceness against sin, which we are so proud of being well quit of, is the very life of a Church ;—the toleration of sin is the dying of its lamp. How indeed should it shine before men,- if it mixed itself in the soot and fog of sin ?
So again, although the Spirit is beginning to burn dim, and thou hast left thy first love, yet, this “thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes.” 5 (See note below on Pergamos.)
The promise is of fullest life in the midst of the Paradise and garden of God. Compare all the prophetic descriptions of living persons, or states, as the trees in the garden of God ; and the blessing of the first Psalm.
21. (II.) Smyrna.— The attribute is that of Christ's endurance of death. The declaration, that the faithful Church is now dying, with Him, the noble death of the righteous, and shall live for evermore. The promise, that over those who so endure the slow pain of death in grief, for Christ's sake, the second death hath no power.
22. (III.) Pergamos.—The attribute is of Christ the Judge, visiting for sin ; the declaration, that the Church has in it the sin of the Nicolaitanes, or of Balaam,--using its
grace and inspiration to forward its worldly interest, and grieved at heart because it has the Holy Ghost ;—the darkest of blasphemies. Against this, “ Behold, I come quickly, and will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth.”
1 (Matthew xxv. 1.]
Matthew v. 16.]
The promise, that he who has kept his lips from blasphemy shall eat of the hidden manna: the word, not the sword, of the lips of Christ. “How sweet is Thy word unto my lips.” 1
The metaphor of the stone, and the new name, I do not yet securely understand.
23. (IV.) Thyatira.—The attribute: “That hath his eyes like a flame of fire” (searching the heart), “his feet like fine brass ”s (treading the earth, yet in purity, the type of all Christian practical life, unsoiled, whatever it treads on); but remember, lest you should think this in any
wise opposed to the sense of the charge to Ephesus, that you may tread on foulness, yet remain undefiled; but not lie down in it and remain so.
The praise is for charity and active labour,--and the labour more than the charity.
The woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess,* is, I believe, the teacher of labour for lascivious purpose, beginning by the adornment of sacred things, not verily for the honour of God, but for our own delight (as more or less in all modern Ritualism). It is of all manner of sins the most difficult to search out, and detect the absolute root or secret danger of. It is the “depth of Satan” 5 the most secret of his temptations, and the punishment of it, death in torture. For if our charity and labour are poisoned, what is there more to save us ?
The reward of resistance is, to rule the nations with a rod of iron—(true work, against painted clay); and I will
1 (Psalms cxix. 103.]
: f' To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation ii. 17). In his notes of 1854 Ruskin says:
"This holding the name in the white stone is very suggestive as well as mysterious. In one sense the White Stone may be the Heartalways a stone, compared to what it ought to be; yet a white one when it holds Christ (* Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God').") 3 [Revelation ii. 18.] • Revelation ii. 20. 5 (Revelation ii. 24.]
give him the morning star (light of heaven, and morningtime for labour)."
24. (V.) Sardis.—The attribute: “That hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” 2
Again, the Lord of Life itself—the Giver of the Holy Ghost. (“* Having said thus, he breathed on them.”) He questions, not of the poison or misuse of life, but of its existence. Strengthen the things that are left-that are ready to die. The white raiment is the transfiguration of the earthly frame by the inner life, even to the robe of it, "so as no fuller on earth can white them.”
The judgment: I will come unto thee as a thief (in thy darkness, to take away even that thou hast).
The promise: I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life.
25. (VI.) Philadelphia.—The attribute: He that is holy (separate from sin)—He that is true (separate from falsehood)—that hath the key of David (of the city of David which is Zion, renewed and pure; conf. verse 12); that openeth, and no man shutteth (by me if any man enter in ); and shutteth, and no man openeth,4—(for without, are fornicators, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie').
The praise, for faithfulness with a little strength, as of a soldier holding a little fortress in the midst of assaulting armies. Therefore the blessing, after that captivity of the strait siege—the lifting up of the heads of the gates, and setting wide of the everlasting doors by the Lord, mighty in battle.
The promise: Him that overcometh will I make, not merely safe within my fortress temple, but a pillar of itbuilt on its rock, and bearing its vaults for ever.?
(Revelation ii. 27, 28.]
? [Revelation iii. 1. The other Bible references in § 24 are John xx. 22; Revela. tion iii. 2, 5; Mark ix. 3 ; Revelation iii. 3; Mark iv. 25; and Revelation iii. 5.]
(John x. 9.]
[See Psalms xxiv, 7, 8.]
26. (VII.) Laodicea. The attribute: the Faithful witness —the Word—the Beginning of Creation."
The sin, chaos of heart,—useless disorder of half-shaped life. Darkness on the face of the deep, and rejoicing in darkness, -as in these days of ours to the uttermost. Chaos in all things—dross for gold-slime for mortar 8-nakedness for glory-pathless morass for path—and the proud blind for guides.
The command, to try the gold, and purge the raiment, and anoint the eyes,—this order given as to the almost helpless—as men waked in the night, not girding their loins for journey, but in vague wonder at uncertain noise, who may turn again to their slumber, or, in wistful listening, hear the voice calling—“Behold, I stand at the door!” 4
It is the last of the temptations, bringing back the throne of Annihilation; and the victory over it is the final victory, giving rule, with the Son of God, over the recreate and never to be dissolved order of the perfect earth.
In which there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, “ for the former things are passed away.”
“Now, unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you, faultless, before the Presence of His glory with exceeding joy;
* To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
The first seven years' Letters of Fors Clavigera were ended
in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 21st Nov., 1877.
1 [Revelation iii. 14.]
(Genesis xi. 3.]