The Gospel Removed
Revelation 2:1-7
To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…


1. The Jews are an eminent instance. They had the gospel in a type while they enjoyed the ceremonies, they had the gospel unveiled while they had the presence of Christ among them.

(1) They were a people that had the greatest titles. They were called by His name (Jeremiah 2:2, 3). They were His peculiar treasure; yet He hath flung this treasure out of His coffers.

(2) The privileges they enjoyed.

(3) The multitude of strange providences they had. He delivered them to the amazement of all round about them; they were a happy people, in being a people saved by the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:29). They never were conquered, but God raised them up some patrons. Yet notwithstanding all these providences, whereby God so miraculously owned them, and all the dangers from whence He so powerfully delivered them, they are now pulled up by the root, persecuted by man, abandoned by God, the generation of His wrath (Jeremiah 7:29). No spiritual dew falls upon these mountains of Gilboa.

2. The Seven Churches of Asia, to whom these Epistles are written, are another instance. How do their places know them no more, as once they were? Not only their religion, but their civil politeness is exchanged for barbarism. They have lost their ancient beauty for a Turkish deformity. Mahomet's horse hath succeeded in the place of the Gospel-Dove. The triumphant banners of an impostor advanced where the standard of the gospel had been erected.

II. THAT THE REMOVAL OF THE GOSPEL AND UNCHURCHING A NATION IS THE GREATEST JUDGMENT. Can there be a greater judgment than to have the Word of God removed, to want a prophet to instruct and warn? The shutting up the book of mercy is the opening the book of justice.

1. The gospel is the choicest mercy, and therefore the removal of it the sharpest misery. The gospel is so much the best of blessings, as God is the best of Beings. Without this we should sink into an heathen or devilish superstition.

2. It is made worse than those judgments that are accounted the severest. Plagues, wars, famine, are lighter marks of Divine anger than this. God may take notice of a people under the smartest afflictions, but when He takes away His Word He knows a people no longer. We may live in our souls by the influence of the Word, when we have not bread to convey strength to our bodies; but how must the soul languish when it is deprived of spiritual food to nourish her (Isaiah 30:20)? how doleful would it be to have the ground parched by the sun, the sky emptied of clouds, or the bottles of heaven stopped close without venting a drop of refreshing rain? But how much more deplorable is this judgment than the withholding the clouds from dropping upon our earth, or the sun from shining upon our fruits?

3. When the gospel departs all other blessings depart with it.

(1) The honour and ornament of a nation departs.

(2) The strength of a nation departs. The ordinances of God are the towers of Sion. The Temple was not only a place of worship, but a bulwark too. When the gospel of peace removes eternal peace goes with it, temporal peace flies after it; and whatsoever is safe, profitable, prosperous, takes wings and attends it.

4. God hath no other intention in the removing the gospel, and unchurching a nation, but the utter ruin and destruction of that nation. Other judgments may be medicinal, this is killing; other judgments are but scourges, this is a deadly wound.

5. This judgment is accompanied with spiritual judgments, which are the sorest. The pounding of the jewel is far worse, and of greater loss than the breaking the casket.Use: — Doth God often remove the gospel upon provocations, as the severest judgment he can inflict upon an unworthy people? Then —

1. Be afraid of this judgment. How do we know but that God hath limited the preaching of the gospel, and the standing of the candlestick in this and that place only for a time; and when that is expired, it may be carried to another place? We see it hath been so with others.

(1) Is not our profaneness a just ground of our fear? Have not many that have been lifted up to heaven by the presence of the gospel walked as if they had the seal of hell in their foreheads? A fulness of iniquity makes the harvest ripe and fit for the sickle (Joel 3:13).

(2) Is not the slighting of the means of grace a just ground of this fear? What can be expected, when children throw a precious commodity in the dirt, but that the parents should take it away, and lay it in another place, and lash them too for their vanity? God will not obtrude the gospel long against men's wills.

(3) And what shall I say of the barrenness of the Church? When the ground yields but a faint increase, and answers not the cost and labour of the husbandman, he lays it fallow. The abatement of the powerful workings of the spirit is a presage of a removal or dimming the light in the candlestick.

(4) And may not the errors in the nation step in as the occasion of our fears? Not little petty errors, but errors about the foundation.

(5) What should I speak of the divisions amongst us? These preceded the ruin of the Jews, and made way for the fall of the Seven Churches of Asia. We may justly fear God will take away that light which we quarrel by, instead of walking and working by.

2. If the removal of the gospel be so great a judgment we have reason to bless God for its continuance so long among us.

3. It should teach us to improve the gospel while we enjoy it. The time of the gospel revelation is the time of working. Good entertainment and good improvement invites the gospel to stay; ill-usage drives it out of doors.

4. Let us prevent by repentance and prayer the removal or eclipse of the gospel. The loss of your estates, the massacring of your children, the chains of captivity, are a thousand times more desirable than this deplorable calamity. Estates may be recovered, new children raised, fetters may be knocked off, new houses may be reared upon the ashes of the consumed ones, the possession of a country regained; but it is seldom the gospel returns when carried away upon the wings of the wind. Let us therefore seek to Him, chiefly to Him, only to Him; He only can remove the candlestick; He only can put His Hand as a bar upon the light.

(S. Charnock.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

WEB: "To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things:

The Fatal Flaw in the Ephesian Churches
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