Revelation 3:2
Wake up and strengthen what remains, which was about to die; for I have found your deeds incomplete in the sight of My God.
A Dead ChurchD. Tasker, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Life Akin to DeathC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:1-6
A Living ChurchH. Cooke, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Name to LiveT. Guthrie, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Show of LifeH. Macmillan, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Christ's Message to the FormalistJ. J. Ellis.Revelation 3:1-6
Death in the ChurchA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Formalism and True ChristianityC. Garrett.Revelation 3:1-6
God Knows the Works of MenW. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Moral DeathWm. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Nominal ReligionJ. W. Cunningham.Revelation 3:1-6
On Formality and Hypocrisy in ReligionS. Lavington.Revelation 3:1-6
SardisJ. Hyatt.Revelation 3:1-6
Sardis -- the Fickle ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Semblances of LifeC. Bowes.Revelation 3:1-6
Some Causes of Spiritual DeathC. P. Thwing.Revelation 3:1-6
That a Minister May be in Fault that the People are DeadWm. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Address to SardisG. Rogers.Revelation 3:1-6
The Epistle to the Church At SardisS. Conway Revelation 3:1-6
The Epistle to the Church in SardisR. Green Revelation 3:1-6
The Semblance of LifeC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:1-6
The Seven Spirits of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The State of All Men Known to ChristD. Wilcox.Revelation 3:1-6
The Warning Voice Re-Echoed from SardisJohn Gibson, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Words of Christ to the Congregation At SardisD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Words of Christ to the Congregation At SardisD. Thomas Revelation 3:1-6
Uselessness of Mere ProfessionJ. Trapp.Revelation 3:1-6
WorksH. H. Gowen.Revelation 3:1-6
God Will Search Whether We be PerfectWm. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:2-3
IndifferenceBp. Woodford.Revelation 3:2-3
Methods to be Taken for the Revival of ReligionD. Some.Revelation 3:2-3
Perfect the Work of Grace in the SoulC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:2-3
SardisJ. Hyatt.Revelation 3:2-3
Spiritual ConsumptionHomilistRevelation 3:2-3
Spiritual Graces Need InvigorationThomas Marten.Revelation 3:2-3
The Decline of Religion -- its Causes and RemediesJohn Griffin.Revelation 3:2-3
The Duty of Holding Fast the TruthJ. T. Judkin, M. A.Revelation 3:2-3
The Evidences and Causes of the Decay of Religion in the SoulT. Boston, D. D.Revelation 3:2-3
The True Method of Securing a RevivalF. Wagstaff.Revelation 3:2-3
The Weak Things of the SoulJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 3:2-3

Were any one visiting the actual sites where the several Churches spoken of in these letters once stood, he would, ere he came to Sardis, have gone a long way round the circle on the circumference of which they all were. Beginning with Ephesus at the southern end, and proceeding northwards along the seashore, he next would come to Smyrna, then to Pergamos, then to Thyatira, and then, coming down the inland side of the rude circle we have imagined, he would reach Sardis, and proceeding on would come first to Philadelphia and then to Laodicea, the last of the seven. But now we have come to Sardis - a notable city in the ancient world, because associated with the great names of Cyrus, Croesus, and Alexander. With this historic fame, however, we have nought to do, but with the religious condition of the Church there as shown in this letter. And, as in all the previous letters, so here, the title assumed by the Lord Jesus has special reference to the condition and need of the Church addressed. Ephesus needed encouragement and warning alike. The Lord, therefore, speaks of himself as "he who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand." Smyrna needed strong support under her heavy trial. The Lord therefore speaks to them as "The First and the Last, who," etc. Pergamos needed that the Word of God should be sharply and severely brought to bear upon her. The Lord therefore tells of himself as "he who hath the sharp sword with the two edges," etc. Thyatira needed to be reminded of the holy and awful wrath of the Lord against such as she was harbouring in her midst. The Lord therefore declares himself to be "he whose eyes are as a flame of fire," etc. And now this Church of Sardis needed to be won back again to true godliness, for though she had a name that she lived, she was dead. The Lord therefore speaks of himself to her as "he who hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars." Now note how this name of the Lord bears -


1. It was not that of others. Nought is said of Nicolaitans and followers of Balaam, or of such as Jezebel was. Nothing of false doctrines or of vicious life. These things which are denounced so terribly in other letters are not charged against this Church, and we may therefore assume that they could, perhaps they did, thank God that they were not as those other Churches were.

2. Nor was it that they did nothing. On the contrary, their works are mentioned repeatedly. No doubt there were all wonted ministries, religious observances, charities, and missions. There must have been, for:

3. They were no scandal to others. On the contrary, they had a name, a reputation, an honourable character, as a living Church. Laodicea deceived herself, thinking she was rich; but it is not said she deceived others. This Church, Sardis, did deceive others; she was reckoned by them to be really living, though in fact she was dead; and very probably she had deceived herself also. But:

4. Their works were not perfect before God. Well enough before men, but before him quite otherwise. They were of such sort that he said of those who did them, that they were "dead." They were done, as were the prayers, alms, and lastings of the hypocrites, "to be seen of men." Assuredly not with single eye or with pure motive. They had their reward: people talked of them, and gave them credit as having life. But before God they were dead. Let us remember that it is as "before God everything is to be estimated. Let all who engage in any form of Christian service remember this. It is terribly apt to be forgotten. Remember how St. Paul said, It is a small thing to me to be judged of you or of any human judgment: he that judgeth me is the Lord; I labour to be accepted of him." The one question for us all is, how will our work appear before God? For:

5. Their condition was one most displeasing to him. The severe tone of the letter proves this. True, we have had such severity before, and shall have it again; for rebuke, and often stern rebuke, was what was needed then and still is by the majority of Churches, always and everywhere. Nevertheless, there is no one of these letters in which the tone is more severe, or the smiting of the Sword of the Spirit sharper, or the solemnity of the appeals addressed to them more arousing or impressive. The epistle to Laodicea is the only one which can be compared with it, and it is to be noticed that the wrong in that Church, whilst very great, is like this in Sardis, that it is free from the foul stains tither of vice or heresy. In the sight of the Lord of the Church there is, it is evident, something more hateful to him than even these. Love to the Lord may linger in hearts even where these are; but if love, the true life of every Church and every individual soul, be gone, then are they to be described as none others are, for they are "dead." Hence in this letter there is no softening, mitigating utterance at all, no mention of good works, but the keynote of the epistle is struck at once, and a startling one it is. But:

6. What was the cause of it all? Now the name our Lord takes to himself in this letter reveals this cause. He by that name declares that in him and from him is all-sufficient grace. Treasure store inexhaustible, riches unsearchable, both for pastor and people. For his were "the seven Spirits of God," and his "the seven stars." And yet, in spite of all this, they were as they were. Oh, was it not shameful, is it not shameful, utterly inexcusable, when the like exists now, that, though abundance of grace is in Christ for us all, we should yet be what he terms "dead"? It was plain, therefore, they had not sought that grace; the fulness of the Spirit's help neither pastor nor people had implored; and so, as we find, they had given in to the world's ways. It is evident from the honourable mention of the "few" who had "not defiled their garments," that the rest had. That is to say, they had given in to the world's ways. Hence St. James speaks of pure religion as being in part this, "Keeping your garments unspotted from the world." And in proof of this there seems to have been a good understanding between the Church and the world at Sardis. They seem to have got along together very well. In every other Church, save this and Laodicea, mention is made of some "burden" which the enmity of the surrounding world laid upon the Church. But not here. As it has been well said (Archbishop Trench), "The world could endure it because it, too, was a world." This Church had nothing of the spirit of the "two witnesses" (Revelation 11:10) who "tormented them that dwelt in the earth" by their faithful testimony; or of the Lord Jesus either, who "resisted unto blood, striving against sin," and because he would not yield was crucified (cf. also Wisd. 2:12, etc.). But there was nothing of all this at Sardis. It might have been said of them, as was cynically said the other day of a certain section of ministers of religion amongst us, that "you would find them very well bred, and you might be quite certain they would say nothing to you about your soul." It is an ill sign when the Church and the world are so happy together. There has been compromise somewhere, and it is rarely the world which makes it. It is bad to have no life at all in God's love; it is worse to have had it and to have lost it; but it is worst of all - and may God in his mercy deliver us therefrom - to have the name and reputation of possessing this life, and yet to be, in fact, as it was with Sardis, dead in regard thereto. For all around us conduces to deepen such fatal slumber of the soul, and there is an everlasting soothing of them by themselves, the Church and the world alike, saying continually, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace.

II. ON THE PUNISHMENT WITH WHICH THE CHURCH IS THREATENED. (Ver. 3.) This solemn warning of danger speaks of the Lord's advent to judgment. But:

1. What is that judgment? The name the Lord has assumed in this letter reveals it. Now, that name was meant partly to show that they were without excuse, but also to remind that, as the Spirit is his to give, so also is it his to withdraw and to withhold. As he can open the doors of grace, and then no man can shut; so also can he shut them, and then none can open. This, then, was what they were to fear, lest he should leave them alone, lest he should take his Holy Spirit from them. David dreaded this, and implored that the Lord would not deal so with him. Better any punishment, any suffering, any pain, any amount of distress, than that the soul should be thus left alone of the Lord.

2. And this judgment would come as a thief; they should not know when or how. There was an ancient proverb that the feet of the avenging gods are shod with wool. Dii laneos habent pedes. The meaning is simply what is here said, that the Divine judgment comes silently, stealthily, secretly, invisibly, unexpectedly, "as a thief." Who can mark the hour when God's Spirit leaves a man? Who sees the master of the house rise up and shut the door? It is not always true, as the much misleading verse tells-

"While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return." Before that lamp is quenched, the Holy Spirit's blessed flame may have been quenched, and he, resisted, grieved, done despite to, may have for ever gone away. And it is equally untrue to affirm that the point of death bars all return. It is not death, but the determined character of the soul, that decides that matter. Death cannot shut the Spirit out nor life ensure that he remain, but the fixed bias and character into which we have settled down. And then:

3. There follows the blotting out of the name, etc. (Ver. 5.) Of him who overcomes Christ says, "I will by no means blot out his name." Hence it is implied that the rest he will blot out. Yes, the name may be in that book; through the blessed atonement and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ our names are there; but the question is - Will they be allowed to stay there? The branch may be in the Vine; it is so; but "if it bear not fruit, then," etc. Christ has put us all in, but we can force him, all unwilling, to blot us out again. And to be as Sardis was will do this. Have mercy upon us, O Lord!

III. ON THEIR RESTORATION. Their sin had not altered the fact that he still had "the seven Spirits," etc. And should the Lord's earnest word have the effect designed, it would, and we may well believe it did, awake many that slept, and arouse them from the dead, that Christ might give them life. And how would they be encouraged by this revelation of the Lord's grace! "How sweet the name of Jesus" would sound in their ears! Did it not enable them to say to their adversary, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." The effort they would have to make would be severe, but here in this name was abundance of grace for all their need. And to encourage them the Lord points them:

1. To the "few" who had overcome. There was, then, no irresistible might in the thraldom in which they were held. These had overcome, so might they. The grace that enabled these was waiting for them likewise. Not only would these "few" be greatly strengthened by the Lord's remembrance of and special promise to them, but the rest also would learn that victory was possible for them through him who had the "seven Spirits,': etc.

2. To means that, if faithfully used, would be effectual.

(1) Let them become wakeful - such is the meaning. This was a primary and imperative need. And when thus awake, let them

(2) remember how they had received and heard. With what earnestness and joy and devotedness of spirit they had begun their Christian career! Let them look back on that. And let them

(3) hold fast, i.e. keep, what remained, for all was not lost yet. The door of hope was not shut. And let them

(4) repent, i.e. have done with all habits, practices, and conduct, with all ways of thinking and speaking, which had lured them into and all but lost them in their deceitfulness. Let them confess it all before the Lord, and come away from it at once and for ever. And

(5) let them strengthen the things which remained. As the traveller crossing the Alps in snowstorm, all but benumbed, striking his foot against the body. of one who had just before passed that way and had sunk down in the snow, overcome by the deadly torpor of the cold - as he, roused by the blow and proceeding to use all efforts to awaken the fallen one, happily succeeds, he is made at the same time altogether wakeful and alive himself: so let any whose own spiritual condition is feeble try to make others strong, and they, too, in the endeavour will win strength. Let them thus act. And next he points them to:

3. The reward of these who overcome.

(1) The white robe, symbol of victory, purity, joy.

(2) The fellowship with Christ. "They shall walk with me in white." What enhancement of their blessedness this!

(3) The retention of their names in the book of life. "I will by no means blot out," etc. All the loving purposes which he cherished for them when he entered their names there, they shall realize and enjoy.

(4) The confession of their names before his Father and his angels. What a compensation for the contempt of the world! how insignificant and despicable is that contempt when placed over against this honour which Christ here promises! Ah! who would stay in the sad state of Sardis when a way like this is opened out of it for them? All grace is his, and his for us, if we will avail ourselves of it; for he "hath the seven," etc. - S.C.

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.

1. Some things from whence one's religion may seem to be brought to dying remains, while really it is not so.(1) The wearing away of violent affections and commotions of heart in religion, or the settling of flashes of affection.(2) One's not being able to go through with duties with that ease that sometimes they have done before.(3) The marks of the decay of natural vigour left on religious duties.(4) More felt stirring of corruption than before.

2. Some things that will evince one's religion to be brought to dying remains, whether they think it or not.(1) When the conscience boggles not but at gross outbreakings.(2) When one's conscience is strait in the circumstantials of religion, but lax in the substantials of it.(3) When there is any one thing lacking to the perfection of one's religion in parts.(4) When folks' strength against sin and temptation is abated: that is a plain indication of a decay, for "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18).(5) When the work of mortification is at a stand; the man's not watching his heart, and noticing the lusts rising there, and setting himself to mortifying them (Romans 8:13).(6) When, though the duties of religion be kept up, yet spirituality in duties is gone.(7) When one is become a stranger to the life of faith in Christ Jesus, what is left but dying remains.


1. Unwatchfulness (Revelation 3:2). Carelessness about one's body is ofttimes fatal to it; about one's substance, breeds a consumption in their estate; and unwatchfulness over the heart breeds a spiritual decay.

2. Spiritual sloth (Ecclesiastes 10:18). This is a bewitching sin, and if once Satan get men asleep on this enchanted ground, be sure they shall be robbed there.

3. Quenching of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

4. Slacking in diligence about the duties of religion (Proverbs 19:15).

5. Doing anything with a doubting conscience, doubting whether the practice be lawful or not.

6. Worldliness and carnality. When one goes aside from God to the world, he lies down among the lions' dens, and how can he come away without loss?

7. The entertaining of any one lust, or idol of jealousy (Psalm 66:18).


1. In blowing up the remaining spark that is ready to die out (2 Timothy 1:6).

2. In adding to the remains (2 Peter 1:5-7).

(T. Boston, D. D.)


1. A culpable inattention to the things which are necessary to preserve the spirit and life of religion.(1) Inattention to the characteristic spirit of the gospel is highly injurious to the life of religion.(2) Inattention to the means which God has appointed to preserve the life of personal religion, is a cause of its declension.(3) The next thing necessary to maintain personal religion, is serious attention to the motives which the gospel inspires, the neglect of which forms a powerful cause of its decline.(4) It is necessary also, in order to maintain the life of religion in the soul of individuals, that they should keep the principal design of the gospel in view; the neglect of this is one cause of its declension.

2. The pernicious influence of erroneous sentiments.(1) One of the pernicious effects of erroneous sentiments is, that they induce those who are under their influence to be more attentive to speculative opinions than to personal religion.(2) Their tendency is to make the Church less solicitous about the conversion of sinners to God, than the establishment of some favourite notions.(3) Erroneous sentiments produce evil passions, and prevent unity of exertion, and thus tend towards the decline of the Church. Peace and unity are of high importance to the prosperity of a religious community; whatever tends to engender evil tempers is therefore very injurious, and hastens its decline.(4) The introduction and prevalence of pernicious sentiments tend to fix an unfavourable character on the Church, and thus to prevent its prosperity, and hasten its decline.(5) The Spirit of God is grieved, and withholds His gracious presence from the people.

3. The destructive influence of a worldly spirit.(1) A worldly spirit is manifested when individuals or families struggle for preeminence.(2) When property is suffered to have all undue influence in the affairs of the Church.(3) When the members of the Church are attempted to be directed or governed more by the power and authority of its officers than by reason and Scripture — by love and persuasion.(4) When there is a want of suitable submission and subordination in the members of the Church.(5) The spirit of the world is manifested in a way very injurious to the Church, when its most prominent members so comply with the maxims and customs of the world as to have their Christian characters involved in that of the worldling and people of fashion.

4. The neglect of those Scriptural principles which were given by Christ for the direction and government of His Church.(1) The neglect of the nature and importance of the Scriptural principles given for the guidance of the Church, often involves in it consequences injurious to the peace and prosperity of the body.(2) One of the most important cases which imperatively requires an attention to right principles, is the choice of a minister. The decline of some Churches may be traced to imprudent steps taken on such an occasion.(3) Another thing which leads to the decline of religion and the Church, is the neglect of Scriptural principles in the admission of members.(4) The neglect of Scriptural principles in the conduct of the Church toward its minister sometimes operates as a cause of the decline of religion in that congregation.(5) The neglect of Scriptural principles by the Church with regard to their conduct towards each other, is often a cause of its decline.

5. The next general cause is the prevalence of a fastidious and a false taste in matters of religion. A false taste may effect

(1)the simplicity,

(2)the unity, and

(3)the energy of the gospel.

6. The last, and often the principal cause of the decline of religion in a Church, is an inefficient ministry.


1. That all the individuals in the congregation should use every means in their power to impress upon their own minds, and upon the minds of others, a sense of the necessity and importance of revival.

2. Endeavour to discover and remove the obstacles to its success.

3. Adapt the means of revival to the circumstances of the place.

4. Unite and combine the diversified talents of the people for the accomplishment of this end.

(John Griffin.)

In an age when so much is said and thought about revivals, the passage before us is peculiarly appropriate. The great secret, after all, consists in rightly cherishing those things that are already possessed.


1. Some degree of Church organisation. There was, in the case of Sardis, a "name to live"; they had "received" the oracles of God. It was a Church, although a weak one.

2. Some of the Church ordinances. They had the Word of God. The preaching of the gospel, if not accompanied by the saving power of former days, was still a privilege in their possession.

3. Some of the undertakings to which a Christian Church may address itself. "I know thy works."

4. The presence of a few godly men.


1. Human ingenuity would probably resort to one or other of these two methods:(1) Some would suggest entire reconstruction. They would remove the weak and sickly plants, and till the ground afresh.(2) Others would seek to accomplish the end desired by introducing some powerful revival element, such as they have heard of as successful elsewhere — revival preaching, revival services, revival hymns.

2. God's plan differs from both these. He neither destroys nor calls in the aid of foreign excitement. He simply says, "Strengthen the things that remain." Literally, "Make fast the surviving things that are about to perish." Here then we have —

(1)Church organisation consolidated.

(2)Church ordinances more diligently observed.

(3)Church work more actively performed.

(4)Godly men multiplied.

(F. Wagstaff.)


1. The graces of the soul.

2. The activities of the soul. Work is the best medicine for a weak soul.

3. The best talents of the soul. Grace, energy, thought, generosity, love, and enterprise — these gifts need culture, or they will perish.


1. They are to be strengthened by quiet meditation.

2. They are to be strengthened by earnest prayer.

3. They are to be strengthened by the influences of the Holy Spirit.

III. THE REASON WHY THE WEAK THINGS OF THE SOUL SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY STRENGTHENED. The weak things of the soul, being ready to die, are in imminent danger, and require immediate attention. This death should be avoided, because it is the extinction, not of the body, but of the invaluable energies of the soul; of its faith and love. Men cannot afford to let these things die; they have nothing to substitute in their place. Lessons:

1. That the soul of man has vitalities which require to be nourished by appropriate food and care.

2. That ii this attention is withheld they will perish.

3. That heaven is anxious for the quickening of the energies of the soul.

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









1. Consider what it is that is dying; it is vital and practical religion, the glory of our Churches.

2. The revival of religion among us may prevent the growth of infidelity and bigotry.

3. A regard to our reputation should engage us to attempt the revival of religion.

4. Our support in life depends upon the regard which our people have to true religion.

5. A consciousness of our having done our utmost for the revival of religion will be a noble support in our dying moments.

6. Our degree of glory in the future state will be proportionable to our present zeal for the revival of religion.

(D. Some.)

I. We may begin by defining what we mean by "Indifference." Now there are always two great periods of difficulty in the history of individual religious belief. The first is the difficulty of accepting a new faith. The greatness of St. Paul's conversion lies here, that it was the turning not of a bad man into a good, but of a sincere bigot from the faith in which he had been nurtured to a faith which he had despised. But there is a second trial belonging to more quiet times. If they who have inherited a settled form of religion are spared much which probes those whose lot it is to have a new creed proposed to them, they have a different danger of their own to face — the danger of holding loosely what they have been familiar with from childhood. Persons belong to the Christian Church by birth, by compliance with certain external usages, but the subject-matter inspires them with little interest. Their religion is unto them a matter of propriety, an element of the social system, but it does not stir the depths of their nature. But now, why may not a man whose tastes so incline him preserve as it were this state of neutrality, without taking any part in the conflicts of thought around him, or the struggles of the kingdom to overcome the ignorance and the sin of the world? It might be answered that a perfect neutrality amid conflicting principles and practices is almost an impossibility. "Indifference" is generally the result of one of two causes — pride of intellect or mental sloth. But the noblest argument against "Indifference," is that indicated in the text. "I have not found thy part fulfilled before God." In those solemn words, as they thrill across the border-line between eternity and time, I seem to hear of a part assigned to every individual, not to accomplish which to the full is a disappointing the very end of our creation. How vast soever be the Divine plan, whatever circles of the universe it may embrace, your life and mine has been knit up therewith. Every child born into the world is designed to contribute to the evolution of the purposes of the everlasting will. And this holds good more especially of religion. There is nothing more remarkable than the manner in which, in all that concerns God's revelation. man has been assumed as a fellow-worker with God. As in the great fundamental truth, the Incarnation, so in every after detail of the eternal plan, the everlasting decree changed not, that the work of religion in the world must be accomplished by and through man. And similarly with the Church of Christ; we may almost trace in its history the part allotted by God to each generation. It was the task of the early Church to lie hid, like leaven, in the midst of this polluted mass, breathing into the dry bones of this dead civilisation a new and healthier life. It has not perhaps been adequately noted how the existence of the Roman empire was protracted by the fresh vigour which Christianity was secretly throwing into the worn-out system. And now a new work was to be done in God's world. There is no more wonderful chapter of man's history than that which records how tribe after tribe poured down from the north, and upon every one as it drew near, while civil institutions crumbled before them, the Church of the living God laid its hand and moulded out of their fierceness a second and more vigorous civilisation. May we venture to indicate the work which seems allotted to ourselves? It is impossible not to observe two special features of our own age, the concentration of the population in a few centres of industry, and the general diffusion of knowledge. Both these bring with them their' trials; both oppose, each its own hindrance to faith and good living. When these obstacles are mastered, and the truth of God has won yet another triumph over what is now, as every trial once was, an unknown difficulty, doubtless some other form of evil will present itself until the victory of the Son of Man is complete. But now, if every generation be thus indeed God's appointed agency for winning some fresh triumph for Him, if we are a link in that chain which connects the beginning with the end, what an argument is here against that cold philosophic indifference in which so many stand aside from the work of God in their day. Shalt I hold in my hand an instrument imparted by my Creator, and not use it to the utmost?

II. BUT SECONDLY, "INDIFFERENCE" IS THE CONSEQUENCE AND PROOF OF AN IMPERFECT CULTIVATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL MIND AND CHARACTER. God has implanted in us two sets of faculties, those by which we deal with our present existence, and those by which we apprehend things unseen. Reason, prudence, foresight — these are the endowments which qualify us to act upon this world. But there are other endowments vouchsafed unto man. To him alone, of all that walks the earth, is given the power of looking beyond the earth. The one grand note of difference between man and the beasts lies in the simple power to utter the familiar words, "I believe in God." And this high gift carries with it a variety of gifts. It is the Divine ordination which sets the whole race apart as the priests of creation. The direction and exercise of these spiritual instincts, neither on the one hand to allow them to degenerate into bigotry and superstition, nor on the other hand to let them, as we may let them, die out of the soul, is perhaps the loftiest task which God has set us. The man who cultivates only those faculties which are called into play by the affairs of this life cultivates only half of his being. And hence another characteristic of "indifference." To stand aloof from the questions which have to do more immediately with the revelation of God, to have an acute interest in all except the truths, the worship, the progress, the influence of the Church of Christ, is to present the sure marks of an imperfect manhood, to evidence a one-sided development of the powers of the soul. We will not speak now of the selfishness of the attempt to isolate ourselves from the struggles of our contemporaries, to withdraw from the warfare of God, filling up the vacancy of the mind and the life with a thousand self-chosen imaginations and pursuits. It is to the secret world of the human soul that we would now carry down your gaze, and aa you gather in the mightiness of its organisation and walk through the chambers of its imagery, summing up all the powers with which its Maker hath equipped it, we bid you note how in the case of the man who lives on in indifference, one portion of the stately fabric lies hopelessly in ruins; how the part that is strongest, is in close contact with that which is weak; how around the well-wrought halls of thought, memory, reason, imagination, lie in disjointed fragments the kindred gifts of reverence, and love, and self-sacrifice, and faith, uncared for and unbuilt up, and so whatever admiration among men the exhibiting some rare mental faculty may procure, the man's part, when set in the light of God's countenance, is seen to be but half performed, the work imperfect before the Lord.

(Bp. Woodford.)

I. ITS SYMPTOMS. They are analagous to those of corporeal consumption.

1. Loss of strength to resist the wrong and to do the right.

2. Loss of appetite for holy service, wholesome doctrine.

3. Loss of enjoyment. All complaint; no pleasure in anything,

II. ITS CAUSES. Neglect of proper conditions of health.

1. Wholesome food.

2. Suitable exercise. Inaction must lead to disease. "Exercise thyself" rather unto godliness.

3. Pure atmosphere.


1. Appropriate remedial elements. "Balm in Gilead." "The tree of life whose fruit is for the healing of the nations."

2. Suitable applications of these elements. The medicine is of no service unless taken according to truly scientific prescription.


Would you have and keep up ardent desires? Do as they that would keep in the fire, cherish the sparks, and blow them up to a flame. There is no man lives under the means of grace, and under the discoveries of God and religion, but has his good moods and very lively motions. The waters are stirred many times, take hold of this advantage. Strengthen the things that remain and are ready to die, and blow up these sparks into a flame. God has left us enkindling means — prayer, meditation, and the Word. Observe where the bellows blow hardest, and ply that course. The more supernatural things are, there needs more diligence to preserve them. A strange plant needs more care than a native of the soil. Worldly desires, like a nettle, breed of their own accord, but spiritual desires need a great deal of cultivating.

(Thomas Marten.)

I have not found thy works perfect before God
First, man's search may be without finding; but now when God searcheth men, He is sure to find men out (Psalm 139:1). Secondly, man's searching hath ever ignorance foregoing, though after search maybe he comes to know, yet before searching he knows not (Job 29:16). God searcheth because He doth know, man because he doth not. Thirdly, man's searching is properly so called; but when searching is spoken of God, it is after the manner of men; God doth rather act a kind of searching, then search indeed. Fourthly, it is man's duty to search if he know not any particular passage of his life, whether it be warrantable or no. Fifthly, man's searching is for himself, that things may appear to himself; but when God searcheth it is that it may be manifest abroad, that a man's sell and others may see it. The reasons of this are, first, because it is God's prerogative thus to do, because the perfection of men's works; though men may give a guess at it, yet it is a secret. Secondly, as this is God's prerogative royal, so of all things in the world He will bring that which is secret out, whether men be sincere or no. Thirdly, because it is for the glory of God to search men out. Fourthly, it is for the truth of God; He hath said He will search every one out, as you may see (Job 34:22). Fifthly, this is for the justice of God, that God should search out every one what he is, and what his works be; how should God judge the world else? The first use may serve to reprove most men generally; we do not consider that God will search us. What a company of pleas are there to do evil? What a company of put offs to do good duties? The second use is to bid us take heed how we hide our sins from others, or from ourselves. The last use is for exhortation. Will God search us out? then we should search ourselves what our works are, whether good or evil; as the apostle saith (2 Corinthians 13:5). First, consider we can never repent of what is amiss in ourselves, or in our works, except we search ourselves (Lamentations 1:43). Secondly, consider it is a mark of the child of God that he doth desire, and is one that doth search himself; nay, he doth not only use all the means he can to do it, but he doth cry to God to help him (Psalm 139:23). Thirdly, consider, if we do not search ourselves, it will be the worse for us.

(Wm. Fenner, B. D.)

"We shall not," says Thomas Manton, "keep what we have received if we do not labour to increase it, as a house begun to be built goeth to decay, and droppeth down more and more, if we do not go on to finish it." Have we not all seen what are commonly called house-carcases standing in desolation, a blot upon the street, and a dead loss to the builder? To-day the slates are falling, to-morrow the windows are broken, and anon timber after timber falls.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard
I. THE MEANS PRESCRIBED FOR THE RESTORATION OF THOSE BACKSLIDERS WHICH WERE FOUND IN THE CHURCH AT SARDIS. Our Lord exhorted them to compare the past with the present state of their religious experience, in which they would perceive a distressing contrast. Such an exercise has a tendency to check arrogance.

1. Remember how you received the Lord Jesus Christ, when He was first revealed to your faith as a suitable and all-sufficient Saviour.

2. Remember how you heard the Gospel of Christ.

II. Our Lord exhorteth the Church at Sardis to "HOLD FAST."

1. The doctrines of the gospel.

2. The profession of their faith.

3. Their hope.

III. Our Lord called upon the Church at Sardis to "REPENT." True repentance includes hope of being restored to the enjoyment of spiritual prosperity.

IV. The exhortation of our Lord to the Church at Sardis, is urged by an AWAKENING THREATENING: "If therefore thou shalt not watch," etc. Promise and threatening unite to rouse backsliders.

(J. Hyatt.)

And hold fast
I. WHAT YOU ARE CALLED UPON TO HOLD FAST. You are exhorted to hold fast the truths of the gospel; to lay to heart those precepts, and commands, and promises, which the great God hath condescended to utter on your account.


1. With the assent of your judgment, holding fast that which is good, not suffering the sophistries and false arguments of others to blind and to confound you.

2. With the consent of the heart.

3. With faith. Not a mere historical faith; not a mere speculative faith; but a faith apprehending the greatness of the Son of God.

4. In our lives and conversations; walking in the truth of Jesus.

5. With meekness, but with resolution.

6. With prayer and perseverance.


1. Because of its excellency; the incomparable value of Divine truth. Truth reflects the Divine image; truth attempers the glories of the great God, and exhibits His perfections.

2. Because of the violence and the wrong which were otherwise offered to God.

3. Because of its blessed tendency; for, by making us holier, even in this life, that which we hear makes us happier.

4. You must hold fast the words of sound doctrine, because they affect the great and the coming destinies of the imperishable soul.

(J. T. Judkin, M. A.)

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