“To him that overcometh” (Revelation 3:21).
There are seven addresses of this kind, closing the seven epistles, which John was to write, and send to the Churches which were in Asia: to Ephesus, and Smyrna, and Pergamos, and Thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Overlooking what is peculiar in each of them, let us notice what is common to all. Four things are so.
First. All of them regard a particular character. It is a successful soldier—Him that overcometh. This reminds us of the nature of the Christian’s life. It is a warfare. It was such, unquestionably, in the Apostles’ days. We read of their wrestling with principalities and powers: of their fighting the good fight of faith: of their resisting unto blood. If it be said, “The language is figurative;” we allow it. But it must, or we are trifled with, imply realities—And what are these ? If it be said, “Religion is not the same thing now, as it was then;” we ask, When was it changed? And by whom? And what is it at present? What would be thought of a preacher, who should come forward in public, and say, A religious life was a difficult thing once; but it is a very easy one now. The first Christians were required, in order to be the disciples of Christ, to deny themselves, and take up their Cross, and follow him, in the regeneration: but all this is dispensed with now! He may prophesy falsely—and the people may love to have it so: but what will be done in the end thereof? If, therefore, you think yourselves in the way everlasting, without knowing any thing of this spiritual warfare, you are in a pitiable condition—and pertain to the strong man armed, who keeps his palace and goods in peace.
Secondly. All of them are attached to an individual—Not to them that conquer; but to him that overcometh. As much as to say—Each is perceived by me in the crowd: and if all in the Church should prove corrupt, and one only maintain his fidelity— faint, yet pursuing; let him not be ashamed, or afraid. He shall be confessed before my Father and the holy angels. For him that honours me, I will honour.
Thirdly. All of them contain the assurance of some reward of grace. The food of Paradise—a crown of life—the hidden manna, and the white stone—the morning star—white raiment—a pillar in the Temple of God—a seat with the Saviour on his Throne—But these—Who can describe? or comprehend? They are yet to be revealed. But we know enough to animate us in the conflict; and to convince us, that godliness is profitable unto all things.
Fourthly. All represent the Lord Jesus, as the Author and Bestower of every honour and indulgence. / will make; / will give ; / will grant— says He who procured all for us—and in whom all fulness dwells. The joy set before him, for which he endured the Cross, and despised the shame, was the gratification of his benevolence, in receiving gifts for men. And he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. He saves them spiritually now. And he shall raise up their bodies at the last day. And he shall say to those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
He shall come to be glorified in his saints; and to be admired in all them that believe. Amen.
The reading for today is an excerpt from “Morning Exercises” by William Jay.