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Keeping and Kept

Keeping and Kept

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Published by glennpease
BY ALEXANDER MACLAREN


' Because thon hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.'— Rev. iii. 10.
BY ALEXANDER MACLAREN


' Because thon hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.'— Rev. iii. 10.

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Published by: glennpease on May 15, 2014
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KEEPIG AD KEPT BY ALEXADER MACLARE' Because thon hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.'— Rev. iii. 10. Thebe are only two of the seven churches which receive no censure or rebuke from Jesus Christ ; and of these two — viz., the churches of Smyrna and Phila- delphia — the former receives but little praise though much sympathy. This church at Philadelphia stands alone in the abundance and unalloyed character of the eulogium which Christ passes upon it. He doles out His praise with a liberal hand, and nothing delights Him more than when He can commend even our imperfect work. He does not wait for our perform- ances to reach the point of absolute sinlessness before He approves them. Do you think that a father or a mother, when its child was trying to please him or her, would be at all likely to say, ' Your gift is worth very little. I could buy a far better one in a shop'? And do you think that Jesus Christ's love and delight in the service of His children are less generous than ours ? Surely not. So here we are not to suppose that these good souls in Philadelphia lived angelic lives of unbroken holi- ness because Jesus Christ has nothing but praise for them. Rather we are to learn the great thought that, in all our poor, stained service, He recognises the central motive and main drift, and, accepting these, is glad when He can commend. 'Thou hast kept the 260 REVELATIO [ch. hi. word of My patience,' and, with a beautiful reciprocity,
 
' I will keep those that keep My word from ' and ' in the hour of temptation.' I. ow notice, in the first place, the thing kept. That is a remarkable phrase ' the word of My patience.' A verse or two before, our Lord had said to the same church, evidently speaking about the same thing in them, 'Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word.' This expression, 'the word of My patience,' seems to be best understood in the same general way as that other which precedes it, and upon which it is a commentary and an explanation. It refers, not to individual commandments to patience, but to the entire gospel message, the general whole of •the Word of Jesus Christ' communicated therein to men. That is a profound and beautiful way of char- acterising the sum of the revelation of God in Christ as ' the word of His patience,' and is one which yields ample reward to meditative thought. The whole gospel, then, is so named, inasmuch as it all records the patience which Christ exercised. What does the ew Testament mean by * patience ' ? ot merely endurance, although, of course, that is in- cluded, but endurance of such a sort as will secure persistence in work, in spite of all the opposition and sufferings which may come in the way. The world's patience simply means, ' Pour on, I will endure.' The ew Testament patience has in it the idea of persever- ance as well as of endurance, and means, not only that we bow to the pain or the sorrow, but that nothing in sorrow, nothing in trial, nothing in temptation, nothing in antagonism, has the smallest power to divert us from doing what we know to be right. The man who will reach his hand through the
 
T.IO] KEEPIG AD KEPT 261 flmoke of hell to lay hold of plain duty is the patient man of the ew Testament. 'Though there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the housetops, I will go in.' That speech of Luther's, though uttered with a little too much energy, ex- pressed the true idea of Christian patience. High above the stormy and somewhat rough determination of the servant towers, calm and gentle, and therefore stronger, the 'patience' of the Lord, and the whole story of His life on earth may well be regarded, from this point of view, as the record of His unfaltering and meek continuance in obedience to the Father's will, in the face of opposition and suffering. His life, to use a secular word, was the most ' heroic ' ever lived. Before Him was the thing to be done, and between Him and it were massed such battalions of antagonism and evil as never were mustered in opposition to any other saintly soul upon earth. And through all He went persistently, with 'His face like a flint,' of set purpose to do the work for which He came into the world. But there was no fierce antagonism about Jesus Christ's patience. His persistence, in spite of all obstacles and opposition, was the persistence of meek- ness, the heroism of gentleness. Patience in the lower sense of quiet endurance, as well as in the higher, of heroic scorn of all that opposition could do to hinder the realisation of the Father's will, is deeply stamped upon His life. We think of His gentleness, of His meekness, of His humility, of all the softer, and, as men insolently call them, the more feminine virtues in Christ's character. But I do not know that we often enough think of what men, with equal insolence and shortsightedness, call the masculine virtues of which,

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