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our friends; whereas the true friend rebukes those whom he loves: Be zealous therefore; and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' Then he repeats what occurs at the end of almost every message sent to these Churches, 'To him, that overcometh'-to the conqueror-To him, that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.'
There are three things before us.
1. A CONFLICT-For there can be no Conquest. but what first implies a Conflict.
2. A CONQUEST, following the Conflict.
3. A CROWN:-The sitting down with Christ upon his throne. This Crown he secures to the man, who enters into the Conflict, and obtains the Conquest.
I. We will consider the CONFLICT.
Some one is to be contended with: enemies are to be overcome: for conquest, as I have said, implies conflict.
The Church of Laodicea had fallen into a careless and sleepy state. It was all well! They were a Church of Christ, and Christ would take care of his church!-whereas Christ says, "I come as a refiner." You are a Church, but a Church of what kind? Rise, and maintain the conflict, if you would receive the crown."
This conflict will be in this world perpetual. Who can say that he has done conflicting, while he has to combat with the world, the flesh, and the devil? If any man might seem to have gained the complete victory, it must have been Paul the Apostle, who 'laboured more abundantly than all the apostles:' yet had he done with the conflict? No! says he, "Know
ye not, that they, which run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize? so run that ye may obtainI therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.' I must never lay down the conflict, while I am in this world; but I must labour and strive, I must run and fight, and I must fight and run, in order that I may gain the victory."
The day is coming, Brethren! which will declare the Christian Hero to be a Hero indeed! Then shall his achievements be recorded, when the great conquerors of this world are all passed by and forgotten! He shall be found to have been fighting the battles of his God proposing nothing short of an everlasting victory over all his enemies! Then will he be found the only truly honourable, noble, and successful conflictor! more worthy to be regarded of God, of angels, and of saints, than all the conquerors who have glittered on the page of history!
II. We will consider the CONQUEST here spo
A Christian hopes to conquer, by simply trusting to the Captain of his Salvation-following his stepsusing his arms-looking up daily to him for help and strength, that he may not contend in vain. That conflict will not be crowned, which will not endure to the end; and, in order to endure, it must have a right spirit-warrant—and power. The hope, which we have, is this: that 'greater is he, that is in us; than he, that is in the world.-I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.' Christ is our strength-our merit-our leader,-and our light to walk by.
Brethren! in order to maintain a conflict, with any prospect of conquest, we must set out in the name of
the Lord: 'I will go forth,' says David: but it shall be 'in the strength of the Lord God.' In such a conflict as this, the battle is not ours, but God's. A Christian may be foiled, indeed, and trodden down; and yet he may, at length, win the battle: and in this way of using his Master's armour, and treading in his steps, he shall undoubtedly gain the victory.
Religion is a much more deep and spiritual warfare, 'We wrestle not' only against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.' But, remember, also, that your help lies in the power of God, and the armour of righteousness on your right-hand and on your left. Victory is assured:
than many of you, perhaps, suppose.
"The feeblest saint shall win the day,
Though death and hell obstruct his way."
If you ask me what a Christian has to overcome, I answer, with the Apostle, 'This is the victory, which overcometh the WORLD, even our faith. The World is the Christian's grand enemy. There Satan is displaying his baits before the eyes of men; ever crying, as it were, Look here!-Look there!" There, the Flesh is alarmed by frowns and allured by favours: its reasonings-its sensualities-are all called into action there. There, are ten thousand deceits suited to different frames and constitutions. Satan has his snares
for the young man, and his snares for the old: he has something for the depressed, to sink them into despondency; and something for the proud and presumptuous, to push them on to ruin. We have to meet the day in which we live, with its errors and evil customs: and we have to encounter the difficulties peculiar to our individual path-peculiar to the dispensation of Providence under which we are cast. Painful, tedious, and puzzling discouragements, perhaps, make the pilgrim weary because of the way. Difficulties rise
up in the family, and difficulties in our profession : there are different things at different times, all of which have a united influence in stopping the Christian Soldier in his course. But-To him, that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne !'
While we are stating the difficulties of the Christian warfare, some one may, perhaps, say, "You alarm me!--What am I, a feeble and helpless creature, to do under such difficulties ?"-Of yourself, nothing at all! You are not called to fight in your own strength; nor to carry on this war at your own charge. But, Brethren! attend to this peculiarity of the Gospel: it places things before your eyes in their true colours. An enemy is aiming at the life of but, when God speaks of victory over him, he speaks your souls; of what he promises strength to achieve, provided we war according to his command.
Observe the promise: To him, that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' You are to conquer, as Christ conquered -expecting the Holy Spirit to work in your souls, what it wrought in Him when it raised him from the dead.
In the twelfth chapter of this book, we read, ‘I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him'-but how? I particularly call your attention to the means of their victory-They overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.'
They overcame BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. Satan might charge guilt on the conscience, and attempt to drive them away in despair: he might tell them there was no hope, and tempt them to cast away
their confidence. But they would point 'to the blood of the Lamb' to the infinite merit of the atoning Saviour to the obedience by which many become righteous to the ransom found by God. They might say, 'If God be for us, who can be against us? He, that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.' They overcame him 'by the blood of the Lamb.'
They overcame, BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY. While Satan was sowing tares, and trying to confound the truth, they were steadfast in confessing Christ before men. They spake his truths: they held fast these truths: on these they lived, and by them they overcame.
And THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH. As if they should say, "Of what importance is it whether we live or die? If we live, we live unto the Lord; and, if we die, we die unto the Lord; the sooner we die, the sooner we shall be glorified-shall begin the praises of God and of the Lamb. Of what value then are our lives to us? Let us take hold of life eternal! Let no man take our crown!"
This conquest proceeds upon a very different principle from every other. It is pursued, and in some degree obtained and enjoyed, in this world; but it has its completion when Christ says, "Well done," good and faithful soldier! thou hast fought the good fight! thou hast kept the faith! I have no more for thee to do on earth: come up and take thy crown!" for-To him, that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.'
III. Here is not only a Conflict implied, and a Conquest mentioned, but a CROWN that shall be bestowed.