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[1]

God's little remnant keeping their gar

ments clean in an evil day.

BEING A

SERMON preached at the Sacrament

of Strathmiglo, June 3, 1714.

By the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE.

Rev. iii. 4.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have

not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.

T

HE first fix verses of this chapter contain an epistle sent by Jesus Christ unto the Church of Sardis ; where we have, first,

the preface, and then the body of the epistle. In the body of the epistle we may notice these three things, (1.) An accusation or charge in the close of the first verse. (2.) An exhortation unto several duties, such as, repentance, watchfulness, and the like, v. 2, 3. (3.) We have a commendation given to this church in the words of my text, Thou kasi a few names even in Sardis, &c. Where, more particularly, we have, if, The commendation itlelf, Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments. 2dly, A reward, they shall walk with me in white. 3dly, The VOL. II,

B

reason

I say,

1. The

reason and ground of this, for they are worthy. First,

we have the commendation itself, where we may notice the commender, the commended, and the ground on which the commendation runs. commender, who he is may be gathered from the connection : It is he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars, v. 1. It is Christ himself; and his commendation

may
be depended upon;

for he trieth the heart and reins, and needs not that any should testify of man unto him, because he knows what is in man. 2. The party commended ; who are described, (1.) From their designation, they are called names, God bad given them a new name, a name better than of fons and daughters, even a name among the living in Jerusalem ; they were marked among

the rolls of his chosen, redeemed and sanctified ones; by their zeal, uprightness, integrity, and their honest appearance for God, in that degenerate day and place, they had distinguished themselves from others, and so purchased a name to themselves, and they were known to men as well as unto God: The Lord knoweth the righteous, and he knows them by name, they are marked out from among others. (2.) They are described by their paucity, they are a few names; they were comparatively few, when laid in the balance with the multitude and bulk of carnal secure professors in this church ; there was but a small part of them, that had kept themselves free of the corruptions and defections of that church, and that had not bowed the knee unto Baal. (3.) They are described from the place of their residence, Sardis, one of the seven churches of the Lesser Ajia. The expression here is observable, a few names even in Sardis. Christ's character of this church, in the close of the first

verse,

verse, was, that they were generally dead, tho’ they had a name to live; but, as if he had said, Tho' the generality of this church be dead, yet even there I have a few lively and tender Christians, But then

3. Notice the ground on which the commendation runs, they have kept their garments clean, or have not defiled their garments. Perhaps there may be an allusion in this expression unto the Jews, who were not to come near any thing that was unclean, by the law of Moses, or to touch them with their garments, left they should be defiled; or it may allude unto the practice of the eastern countries, who used to gird up their long garments, to keep them from being defiled, or spotted: The meaning is, that this little remnant in Sardis had maintained their integrity, like Job, they were perfeet and upright men, men that feared God and efchewed evil; they had not complied with the abounding errors and corruptions of their day, but exercised themselves to keep consciences void of offence towards God and man: When others were Sleeping, they were awake about their work; when others in that church were dead and secure, they were lively. So much for the commendation given by Christ unto this remnant. Secondly, In the words we have a reward, or rather we may call it a confolatory promise, made unto this little remnant, they shall walk with me in white. Perhaps the expression may allude unto the practice of the Romans, who clothed their nobility at any folemnity in white; or to their conquerors, who triumphed upon any victory obtained in white garments; or to the priests under the law, that ministred in the temple in white garments; they shall walk with me in white, that is, they shall be admitted to the im

B 2

mediate

1. The

reason and ground of this, for they are worthy. First, I say, we have the commendation itself, where we may notice the commender, the commended, and the ground on which the commendation runs. commender, who he is may be gathered from the connection: It is he that hath the seven fpirits of God, and the seven stars, v. 1. It is Christ himself; and his commendation may be depended upon ;

for he trieth the heart and reins, and needs not that any should testify of man unto him, because he knows what is in man. 2. The party commended ; who are described, (1.) From their designation, they are called names, God had given them a new name, a name better than of fons and daughters, even a name among the living in Jerusalem ; they were marked

among the rolls of his chosen, redeemed and sanctified ones; by their zeal, uprightness, integrity, and their honest appearance for God, in that degenerate day and place, they had distinguished themselves from others, and so purchased a name to themselves, and they were known to men as well as unto God: The Lord knoweth the righteous, and he knows them by name, they are marked out from

(2.) They are described by their paucity, they are a few names; they were comparatively few, when laid in the balance with the multitude and bulk of carnal secure professors in this church; there was but a small part of them, that had kept themselves free of the corruptions and defections of that church, and that had not bowed the knee unto Baal. (3.) They are described from the place of their residence, Sardis, one of the seven churches of the Lesser Asia. The expression here is observable, a few names even in Sardis. Christ's character of this church, in the close of the first

verse,

among others.

verse, was, that they were generally dead, tho’ they had a name to live; but, as if he had said, Tho' the generality of this church be dead, yet even there I have a few lively and tender Christians. But then

3. Notice the ground on which the commendation runs, they have kept their garments clean, or have not defiled their garments

. Perhaps there

may be an allusion in this expression unto the Jews, who were not to come near any thing that was unclean, by the law of Moses, or to touch them with their garments, left they lhould be defiled; or it

may allude unto the practice of the eastern countries, who used to gird up their long garments, to keep them from being defiled, or spotted: The meaning is, that this little remnant in Sardis had maintained their integrity, like Job, they were perfeet and upright men, men that feared God and efchewed evil; they had not complied with the abounding errors and corruptions of their day, but exercised themselves to keep consciences void of offence towards God and man: When others were sleeping, they were awake about their work; when others in that church were dead and secure, they were lively. So much for the commendation given by Christ unto this remnant. Secondly, In the words we have a reward, or rather we may call it a confolatory promise, made unto this little remnant, they fall walk with me in white. Perhaps the expression may allude unto the practice of the Romans, who clothéd their nobility at any solemnity in white; or to their conquerors, who triumphed upon any victory obtained in white garments; or to the priests under the law, that ministred in the temple in white garments; they mall walk with me in white, that is, they shall be admitted to the im

B 2

mediate

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