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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 3


7. The Counsel of the Spirit




As long as an ecclesia is a called-out association, the Lord the Spirit waits to restore it from the lowest conceivable ebb of faith; so that if she of Laodicea had taken the warning of the ejectment prepared for her in the future, she might have recovered, and not been spued out at all. It was to save her from this catastrophe that the Spirit counselled her to buy gold and garments of him, and to anoint her eyes with salve.

"Gold refined by fire," is the symbol of a tried faith. This appears from the comparison in 1 Pet. i. 7, where the faithful are said "for a season to be in heaviness through manifold persecutions; that the trial of their faith, being much more precious than of gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Anointed." The condition of which they boasted, in which they were rich and abounding in wealth, and needing nothing, could not develop faith of this character. A tried faith comes forth of tribulation, not of worldly prosperity, which is only calculated to pervert, weaken, and corrupt. The Spirit, therefore, counselled them to buy a tried faith, which could only be purchased in those days at the cost of "much tribulation," which "worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed." To become subject to the tribulation, they had only to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints," which would put them into antagonism with the world without, and the lusts of the flesh within. They would not then be able to say that they had need of nothing, for they would most likely find themselves stripped of everything, and reduced to an humble dependence on the goodness and bounty of God. To buy a tried faith, then, would be the fruit of zeal, and of a change of mind, and the cause of their justification, or investment with the "white garments" of righteousness.

But to arrive at this most desirable anti-Laodicean state, it was necessary that the eyes of their understandings be anointed with the unction of the Spirit, that they might perceive what, with all their piety and wealth, they were perfectly blind to. The Spirit's eye-salve is the word of the testimony contained in the writings of the prophets and apostles. If they would work this into their eyes, "anoint" them well with it, they would be brought to see how wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked they really were. They would discover that instead of having need of nothing, they were in need of everything; and "needed that one teach them again the first principles of the oracles of the Deity; and had become such as had need of milk, not of strong meat." Possessed of a tried faith, and invested with righteousness, with the gifts of the Spirit, they would have been rich indeed, and well clothed, and enlightened, and fit to appear before the Anointed Jesus with praise and honor and glory at his apocalypse; for God hath chosen, not the rich and increased in goods, who have need of nothing, with poverty of faith, but "he hath chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, to be the HEIRS of that kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him (James ii. 5).




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