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GOD'S FIDELITY TO HIS PEOPLE,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA.
REVELATION iii. 7–13.
My last discourse was occupied with a consideration of the promise, which closes the epistle to the Church in Philadelphia—“ Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon
him my new name.” The first portion of this promise was then fully discussed, and we now proceed to the consideration of the concluding part.
As if the description were not already overburdened with splendours, one more particular is added
“ And I will write upon him my new name.” Here again, my brethren, I recur for explanation to the custom already alluded to. It was the practice to engrave on the triumphal pillars the name not only of the conqueror, but of the leader under whose guidance the battle was fought and the victory
In modern Rome, the traveller still sees the triumphal arch which was erected by the haughty conquerors to convey to posterity the record of their triumph over the last remaining power of God's ancient people; and among the figures in relief, the Jews in chains, with the inscription Judea Capta, stands deeply cut the names or titles of Titus and Vespasian. This, then, is the import of the promise, that the same divine hand which prepared the city which hath foundations, and prepared the hearts of his people to enjoy its glories, stamps upon the conquering servant of the cross that new name by which God hath last revealed himself to his creatures. It was not till the period of the Exodus of Israel, that God revealed the peculiar name of his existence to his people : for he says to Moses, “I am the Lord, and I appeared unto Abraham, and unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty ; but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them.” So the new name by which God last appeared, was Jesus the Messiah, the Mediator, the anointed One, the Lord our righteousness; or as he is called in the magnificent description given in Revelation xix. 11th to 16th verses—"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself: and he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” The new name here considered is a far different matter from that which is mentioned in the promise to the Church of Pergamos—"And I will give him a new name written which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." This referred to the specific internal evidence of adoption; but the new name alluded to in the text is the name of Christ, and it seems to intimate that the believer in heaven will, superadded to all his other particulars of glory and of happiness, be always remembered that he is there as a trophy of the victory of Christ, the purchase of his agony and bloody sweat, of his cross and passion, of his conquest over death and hell, of his eternal Godhead.
Brethren, we have considered the particulars of this promise in detail, and this, perhaps, may in some measure have prevented that full impression which one so magnificent as a whole might have produced Let us for a moment see the amount of this
promise as one summary consideration—“To him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.” I will make him to stand as a stately ornament in that building, that celestial habitation, that eternal city, the peculiar residence of the majesty of the Godhead; and from the exaltation of that situation he shall never be removed; and he shall be there as a trophy of the Father's love, for on him shall be written the name of my God; I will give him all the immunities and privileges of the heavenly Jerusalem of which he becomes a citizen; no more a stranger and foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God; “And I will write upon him my new name,” Redeemer, Emanuel, Jesus, in token that he is an eternal monument of my reconciling love, the triumph of my cross, bought with my blood, sanctified by my grace.
Brethren, more than this would be an attempt to be wise above what is written, and I should darken counsel by words without knowledge.. We must turn to the practical remarks which grow from the whole subject, and
1. I remark, the glorious prospect of a real believer, a heart-changed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What must this glory be, my brethren, when even the
pen of inspiration seems to exhaust the imagery of earth and of heaven, to furnish a description which may give to our minds even some faint conception? The same writer tells us elsewhere in this book—“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper-stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east, three gates; on the north, three gates;
on the south, three gates; and on the west, three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof and the walls thereof. And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."
2. If these things be so, brethren, if a glory such as this belongs to the conquering Christian, and to him alone, of what unspeakable, of what infinite importance is it, that you ascertain
real condition; for of all that imagination can conceive of terror, of all that language can express of distress, nothing can equal the awful reality into which a self-deception will issue. Let it, my friends, ever be borne in your minds as one of the guiding lights of your