"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." "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." "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
There may be a way of combining all of these into one picture. Courage came through great conflict, which left only a few. This few had the features of the new, and the new marked the rule of measure for the future.
All of this may be quite ingenious. But out of the conditions of the church grow the type more particularly.
This was certainly true of those days during the period of the Reformation. The church acquired a great reputation, but dead so far as real Christian ministry was concerned. It had made a move in the direction of doctrine, but there was little purity of life. Only a few real saints existed in this vast concourse of people.
Nevertheless, there was something left to hold on to, and this paved the way for the period of evangelization which finally came.