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BY REV. JOH MASO EALE, D.D.
"I know thy works .- behold, I have set before thee an open
door, and no man can shut it : for thou hast a little
strength" Rev. iii. 8.
I THIK, my dear Sisters, that you will all con
fess that part of this verse applies to each of
you. " Thou hast a little strength." I am
sure that you must all feel that some strength
you have : that you are able to do some things
which in the native weakness and infirmity of
your nature you could never do : that some
victories you obtain, which, if you went forth
to the battle trusting in yourselves, you never
could win ; that if as yet you cannot do every
thing, at all events you can do much through
CHRIST which strengtheneth you. And this I
am sure you all know : that this strength is but
a little strength ; that when you would do good,
evil is present with you : that in trying, and
* Preached on the evening of the Twenty-sixth Sunday
after Trinity, 1856.
A LITTLE STREGTH. 47
you do try, to conquer yourselves and your
great enemy, you are often cast down and
Well then ; if this be so, the promise to the
Church of Philadelphia must also hold good to
you. " I know thy works : behold, I have set
before thee an open door, and no man can
ow, to understand this promise, we must
remember that in one sense an open door is set
before every man, whether he be in earnest or
not, whether hereafter he shall enter into the
Kingdom of Heaven or not. But this is an
especial blessing, and far beyond that : let us
see what it means.
And I think you may judge for yourselves,
by yourselves. You know that GOD has put it
into your hearts to serve Him in a more espe
cial and immediate way. He has given you,
my dear Sisters, the resolution to give up every
thing else for His love. That, in your case,
is the open door : and for your comfort it is
written that no man can shut it. o man ?
o : nor any power of earth or of hell : that is
your strength as well as your consolation.
An open door, by which you are to enter
into what ? And the answer is easy. What
sort of lives to view them as the world does
48 A LITTLE STREGTH. [Su.
all your future lives will be, I think you know.
There is not one natural taste or feeling or wish
that you will not, in turn, be called to give up.
There is nothing that you must think too mean
to do for our LORD S sake : there is nothing
that you must think too difficult to do for His
sake. You have all asked a hard thing;, and a
hard thing cannot be obtained in an easy
manner. But then the promise goes on to
assure you that there is no amount of self-
denial too difficult for you to obtain ; no service
that you can render to GOD too difficult to be
performed. o man can shut it.
And mind, He does not say, o man will,
shut it; but no man can : can, that is, save by
your own consent. That Satan will try again
and again to shut it that he will endeavour
his very utmost to shake your resolution, to
make you look back from the plough, to make
you fainthearted in your own particular battle,
I do not doubt. He has temptations enough :
and he knows how to suit them to the particular
mood of the moment. And of course, for it is
only to be expected, he will, of all people,
endeavour to attack you ; because this is your
very profession, your name, your glory, that
you endeavour to attack him. And there are
three ways by which he tries to shut this door.
VI.J A LITTLE STREGTH. 4Q
Sometimes it is after the fashion of Judas :
sometimes after that of the twelve spies : some
times after that of the men sent to search out
Ai. Sometimes it is, " To what purpose is this
waste ? You are sacrificing time," strength, it
may be life itself, at all events everything that
can make life dear or valuable ; and why ?
why not be content to serve .GoD as others ?
why choose out the roughest road, and take up
the heaviest Cross ? Then again, he tries to
close the door on you as the unfaithful spies
endeavoured to close the entrance of Canaan
on the children of Israel. " Surely the land
floweth with milk and honey, and this is the
fruit of it. evertheless the people be strong;
we be not able to go up against them, for they
are stronger than we." Or yet again, like those
who went to spy out Ai, who said, " Make not
all the people to labour thither, for they are
few." He would set before you that you
may still lead this life, that you may still
more especially serve GOD, without so much
watchfulness, without so continual prayer,
without obedience, without self-denial. Yes :
he does indeed try to close that door of
serving GOD : and your comfort must be in
one word of the text. "I have set before thee
an open door." " I, even I, am He that com-
5O A LITTLE STREGTH.
forteth you : who art thou, that thou shouldest
be afraid ? "
And see how the promise in the Revelation
follows the praise given to the Church of Phila
delphia. " Thou hast a little strength, and hast
kept My word, and hast not denied My ame.
Because thou hast kept the word of My patience,
I will also keep thee from the hour of tempta
tion." And, as you know, that has been marvel
lously fulfilled in the case of Philadelphia. This
Church, that had a little strength, this Church,
the only one with which no fault is found,
this Church, which was .to be guarded in the
hour of temptation, this Church, alone of the
seven, Ephesus excepted, (and that scarcely
excepted,) still exists. That " little strength "
bears fruit still, that little strength is still
prevalent, nearly 1800 years after the Epistle
was written. That open door never has been
shut, never could be shut ; in spite of persecu
tion, and fire, and sword, and famine, it is open
And your little strength, my dearest Sisters,
believe me, it is sufficient for anything, if you
will only make good in yourselves the commen
dation of this Church. " Because thou hast kept
the word of My patience." It is a remarkable
expression : not patience only, but My patience.
VL] A LITTLE STREGTH. 5!
And what are we called to remember by that ?
My patience : when He endured such contra
diction of sinners against Himself; My
patience : when He laboured so long, and appa
rently to so little effect : My patience : when
He was denied by His chief Apostle, betrayed
by another, forsaken by all ; My patience: when,
in the very moment that He was taken by the
soldiers, He said, " Suffer ye thus far;" My
patience : when He gave His back to the
smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked
off the hair, when He hid not His face from
shame and spitting.
" Ye have need of patience : that after ye
have done the will of GOD, ye might inherit the
promise." Because we are all for reversing that
order : we want first to see the fulfilment of
the promise, and then to perform the will of
GOD. But it will not do : it is not GOD S order.
I know how difficult it is : but then, if it is diffi
cult, see what a glorious promise it has to its
reward. " Because thou hast kept the word of
My patience, I also will keep thee from the
hour of temptation." Ah, dearest Sisters, and it
must be My patience in another sense too : not
only a following of our dear LORD S patience,
but a patience that none but He can give us.
" My hour is not yet come, but your time is
52 A LITTLE STREGTH. [8aa. VI.
alway ready " : " LORD, wilt Thou at this time
restore the Kingdom to Israel? It is not for
you to know the times and the seasons." That
was His answer then : that is His answer to
all such questions now.
"Thou hast a little strength." But it is written,
" They shall go from strength to strength." Ad
vent is drawing very near ; and then it will be
a time for you all to examine with all your
strength and earnestness, whether this is so.
And GOD grant that, in its fullest and deepest
sense, the promise may be fulfilled to you.
" Because thou hast kept the word of My
patience," I will keep thee from the hour of
temptation, that last and fiercest flood of
temptations in the moment of death : that temp
tation which, once over, the very name of temp
tation can never so much as be heard again.
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