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tion could not move them. But do you not observe that stratagem may do what persecution never could accomplish? Thus there were some in the city of Pergamos, who, absolutely enemies to the cross of Christ, had nevertheless joined themselves to the Church for the purpose of drawing away by slow and imperceptible degrees those whom they thought could not be openly destroyed. They had taken the hint from Balaam, and they pursued their wily plans as he did. They first attempted to beguile the Christians into intercourse with them-perhaps it was as something merely social-then they proceeded a step further, and induced their unwary victims to attend with them their feasts; they called them innocent amusements perhaps; by and by, as the friendship of the world is enmity with God, these persons first alluded to some small and occasional departures, thus became prepared for more direct assaults, and at last made shipwreck of their faith. This is what is meant by having there those who held the doctrine of Balaam-that is, to reduce it to as plain a proposition as possible; the Church of Pergamos was generally censured, because they had those among them who were pursuing the same course, to draw them from the faith of Christ and the practice of godliness, as Balaam advised Balak to pursue, in order to draw the Israelites from the service of the true God to the worship of idols-and precisely with the same object, for both were instigated by the suggestions of that great adversary who seeketh whom he may devour. And, my brethren, this is a stratagem' which to this day is practised and practised successfully; for there is many an one whom persecution never could bring down, who

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nevertheless is often drawn away by the seductions of mere sinful compliance. There are many ways in which the devil tries to entrap the individual who even thinks on the subject of religion, and what he cannot do by open opposition, he does by some more insidious measures. It was for tolerating such things in the Church of Pergamos that this Church was censured, and this is the amount of the first charge brought by Christ against it. I hope, my friends, that these remarks will be carried in your minds, because, in connexion with this part of my subject, I shall offer you before this discourse is concluded, I trust, some valuable practical remarks on the danger of sinful compliances and worldly conformity.

Having thus explained and disposed of the first charge against this Church of Pergamos, I propose briefly to call your attention to the second-viz: that they had those there who "held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans," which thing was hateful in the eyes of God. On this part of my subject I need occupy your attention but a moment, as all that I could gather relating to these Nicolaitans, has been considered at large in my lecture on the epistle to the Church at Ephesus. They appear to have been a set of most abandoned sensualists, who sought, at least in some measure, to cloak their abominations under the sacred garb of religion.

Taking all these things into consideration, and from as close an observation as I have been able to bestow upon the subject, the members of the Church of Pergamos appear to have been of a very mixed and heterogeneous description. On the fundamental principles of what may be called doctrinal Chris

tianity, they appear to have been generally correct, all of them, so far as speculation goes; but that was all; for while some of them adorned the doctrine of God their Saviour, the generality were of those, either who entered the Church for the horrible purpose of seducing others from the faith, or as a cloak for their own licentiousness. And hence it is to be observed, as a most melancholy conclusion, growing out of the state of things at Pergamos, that it is possible to be willing to suffer persecution and even martyrdom for a barren and speculative faith; that it is possible to unite a pure speculative faith with a worldly spirit and a mind totally set on earthly things; that it is possible, still more deplorably possible, to unite a pure speculative faith with a most impure and unholy life. And would to God, my brethren, that Pergamos had been the only place in which these things had been exemplified.

These remarks lead me to the

IVth. general division of my subject-the exhortation and the threat with which the Spirit of God accompanies this censure-" Repent, or else I will come to thee quickly, and will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth."

You will here observe, my brethren, that the whole Church of Pergamos is called upon to repent for the wickedness of those who held these abominable opinions, and followed these degrading practices; for it is to be remarked, that though all may not have been personally guilty, yet all knew the existing state of things, and all were responsible so long as they did not strain every nerve, and exercise every principle of discipline to root out from

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the profession of Christianity, such pernicious and disgraceful practices. By their apparent indifference to the existing state of things, though they were zealous for the truth, they rendered themselves liable to the charge of being partakers of other men's sins; and God calls upon the whole of them to repent, not only of their sins, but of their worldly compliances; their indifference to practical ungodliness; and their unrighteous toleration of viciousness in life. The term repent, as applied to them, therefore meant, that they should root out every evil that was among them; cut off from the communion of their Church, those who dared to name the name of Christ, and yet refused to depart from iniquity; and henceforward show their faith, not by their mere willingness even to suffer martyrdom for its purity, but to show it as influential on their hearts, by a conduct and a conversation growing from the deep-laid principles of the Gospel, and exhibited in the fruits of holiness produced. In case they would not thus repent, God threatens them that he would come to them quickly, and fight against them by the sword of his mouth. That is, that they should have some speedy intimation of those righteous judgments which would be brought upon them, and not only so, but that he himself would make the pouring out of his vengeance so signal, that they would be at no loss to discover who it was that was armed against them. You perceive that, in this respect, this epistle differs as broadly from that to Smyrna, as did the members of the two Churches differ in their characters. In Smyrna, they were rich in the graces and virtues of the Christian life, and their persecutions are attributed

to the malice of the adversary. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation for ten days;" but in the midst of all this, God says, fear them not, for he would sustain them. But in the case of Pergamos, he places himself in the forefront of the battle against them. "Behold I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against thee with the sword of my mouth." In the case of Smyrna, they could say with boldness-If God be for us, who can be against us? In the case of Pergamos, they would be compelled to reverse the sentence, and conscious of their liability to God's most severe dispensations, say-Who can be for us, if God shall be against us?

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In the midst of all this threatening, how are we constrained to remark the tenderness and the loving kindness of God; for he does not leave the members of the Church of Pergamos to smart under the terrific wound of this fearful threat, without some more cheering prospect of a remedy; and hence, the threat is followed by the encouragement of a promise, which promise constitutes the

Vth. And last general division of my subject"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in that stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he which receiveth it."

I frankly confess to you, my brethren, that reluctant as I am to close this discourse without closing my remarks on this espistle, I am nevertheless constrained, by a sense of duty, to defer the elucidation of this concluding promise till we are again permit

VOL. II.

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