Abbott's Hill and Principles; Addresses to the Seven Churches; Epistle to Philadelphia; Setting Up to Be Philadelphia; Park Street

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I was happily away, at [the time of] the Manchester meeting.—-, who had a mania for publishing, did so with this, very wrongly. I looked at it hastily, but found it all full of themselves-Philadelphia and Laodicea. It was we, it was the first alarming sign of mischief: Laodicea began in John's time.
I do not doubt there is a consecutive history in the passage- which I divide into two parts, chapters 2 and it ends in Thyatira or popery. In chapter 3 we have Protestantism alongside. Philadelphia is a church without pretension which keeps Christ's word and does not deny His name; which further keeps the word of His patience; which still expects Christ, though it may seem He will never come; He is waiting, and in the patience in which He waits-for the long-suffering of God is salvation, He is not slack concerning His promise- taking His word to guide and still waiting; and such will be kept. But it is not the party which outwardly characterizes the church which is addressed-all, in a general sense-but (I believe) those who have ears to hear.
It is not apostasy which characterizes Laodicea, nor heresy, nor Babylon, but much worse, I think; professed light from human sources, from the human mind-and has not God's eyesalve (nor gold tried in the fire, Christ as divine righteousness), the sense of the value of all things. It is just the reality of that which is divine, known by divine teaching.
I do not think the seven churches go down a regular declivity. Smyrna is God's stopping declining by persecution. Philadelphia is not decline on Sardis. The tendency is there, but it is not absolute, or universal. A great deal that is neither here nor there has been said as to Philadelphia and Laodicea; but those of Philadelphia are not the description of the progress of evil. Not keeping Christ's word, but denying His name, was their danger; and in this they had overcome: the other was dropping the expectation of the Lord, the word of His patience; in this, too, they had overcome: and they had two promises—kept from the hour of temptation—they would be off before it (not διά; ἐκ) and the ecclesiastical powers which had despised them should be humbled to recognize that Christ had loved them. In verse 12 They are singularly identified with Christ. But the faithful in Philadelphia are called to overcome as much as in Laodicea. Faithfulness in the circumstances of each particular assembly is what each are respectively called to.
The Park Street declaration was the act of that assembly -of Park Street—being the reception of a letter of commendation, which in no case went beyond the assembly receiving it—indeed, in most cases would be useless, as people came up for a Lord's Day and went away: only that as it really involved serious questions it was sent down to Cheapside, as courtesy to brethren. Secondly, I never meddled with the Original Park Street declaration, and all would not go to the meeting. What I objected to was sending out the notice. What I did as to those outside not being associated—it had been proposed to them and they would not go—was to urge that Cheapside had owned them as Kennington when they were going wrong, and could not now reject them when they were going right. I took pains, too, in communication with-and those outside, showing them that those who remained in as to their action had now joined with them. Finally they accepted the common action.
Perhaps I should tell you it has been a question with me of dying all night, and even now I cannot answer your letter very easily. But to be blackened—I am used to it.
London, January 25th, 1882.