Sivut kuvina

supply be not constantly kept up. The graces and virtues of the Christian life, like plants of the rarest description, and requiring the tenderest culture, will inevitably grow languid and fall into decay, if not kept alive by the most strenuous exertion for their cultivation, and the most earnest application for those supplies of grace, which are, to the pious heart, what the rain, the dew, and the sunshine of heaven are to the flowers of the field. That the Church of Ephesus had left its first love—that there was not the warm and animated zeal in the cause of Christ, which there once had been, was more than a counterbalance for all their works and labour and patience, and even steady adherence to sound doctrine, for which they were commended. This was a strong and melancholy—nay, decided evidence of decay in real religion-personal piety-a decay which, if not speedily stopped in its progress, would undermine the very foundation of that noble edifice which had been reared, and bury them in the ruins. To prevent the occurrence of this most dreadful catastrophe; to snatch them, as it were, from the brink of that precipice on which they were standing; the Spirit of the Lord accompanies the rebuke with the following exhortation, which constitutes our second subject of consideration.

II. “Remember, therefore, whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works.”

In this exhortation you will at once observe that there is a striking climax ;

Remember whence thou art fallen:
Do thy first works.

Remember whence thou art fallen; call to mind the piety, the zeal, the order which once existed among you, that spiritual religion which had prevailed in holy motives, and Gospel-regulated conduct. Consider that noble elevation once occupied by your Church among the Churches of Asia. Remember the grace in which you stood; the happiness, the love, the joy, which you formerly experienced. Remember your ardent love and lively zeal for the glory of God and the happiness of your fellows. Remember the heavenly-mindedness which had characterized your walk and conversation. Call to mind your weanedness from the world, your fervour in private prayer, and in the various duties of the sanctuary. Consider your precious enjoyment of the various ordinances of religion; your willing obedience to the commands of that God, by the inspiration of whose grace you appear to have been comforted and edified. Contrast these things with your present condition of decay. You have still the form of godliness, but the power thereof, though not destroyed as yet, is most grievously weakened. You contend indeed for the faith, and patiently endure, but you want that ardour, that animation, that holy love, which once pervaded the whole body of your Church at Ephesus. For some things I commend you, but for this I am constrained to administer a severe rebuke. Carry back your thoughts to periods of former spiritual prosperity, and let the remembrance of the situation from which you are fallen be sanctified to your good; let it lead you to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God; and I exhort you in that retrospect to understand your condition, and to feel the stern necessity of repentance. “Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent.Be grieved, be ashamed, be confounded, be filled with godly and pungent sorrow, for having suffered yourselves so unnecessarily to have fallen from your state of spiritual prosperity; confess yourselves guilty in the sight of God; add to your zeal in externals, that humble and contrite spirit which your declining condition most imperiously demands. Judge yourselves, that ye be not judged of the Lord; condemn yourselves, that ye be not condemned, and turn from your evil ways; repent, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance; testify the sincerity, the depth, the reality of your repentance, by returning to the Lord your God with all your heart, and by regaining the situation you have lost. “Remember whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do thy first works.

This is the height of the climax in this exhortation. As if it had been said, you must begin again; the steps you have taken backward must be retraced; the zeal and diligence which had been formerly your characteristic, must again animate your bosoms; that watchfulness and prayer, which cannot be neglected where the things of serious religion would flourish, must be resumed; that tenderness and seriousness, which is the evidence of real sensibility to the things of religion, must again appear; that spiritual attention to the various means of grace which can keep alive the vital spark of piety, must be sought with the energy and devotedness which were yours when first you walked in the light and liberty of the children of God. You have lost your ground, and you must regain it, or perish. “Repent, and do thy first works.” This was to the Church of Ephe

[blocks in formation]


sus, what it is to every Church, a most serious con

Ruin, both of a temporal and spiritual character, stared them in the face, in case this advice was disregarded, and that Holy Spirit who had condescended to give the exhortation by considerations of the most fearful character. This leads me to notice

III. The threat“Or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Decay in the spiritualities of religion, no matter what the external condition of a Church or an individual be, if not stopped most speedily when discovered, will inevitably end in ruin, as the righteous judgment of God. “ I will come quickly”--that is, in the way of judgment, by the speedy manifestations of mine anger. Let externals be what they may, I will never rest satisfied with them, but I must be served in spirit and in truth. “I will remove thy candlestick out of his place.” This figurative language is easily understood. It means that God, in the execution of his most rightous indignation upon those who had declined in the spiritualities of religion, would take away the means and the privileges which they had heretofore enjoyed; that he would remove from them the benefit of his ordinances, his word and his ministers, and thus leave them in a state of spiritual ignorance; that he would withdraw his loving kindness in displeasure, and make them, as the just recompense of their doings, feel the weight of the evil which they had brought upon themselves. “It is obvious, on a moment's consideration, that if the word of truth and the ordinances of religion are taken away, no Christian society can continue longer to exist. Accordingly, when Christ threatened the Ephesians, that unless they repented he would remove their candlestick out of its place, it was evidently his intention to deprive them of every thing which was essential to the subsistence of a Church ; and that what he declared to them in particular, was applicable to other communities in similar circumstances of declension."*

Viewing the subject in this light, it may be well worth our inquiry, whether this threat was ever executed on the Church of Ephesus. Alas, my friends, among the melancholy recollections of sacred history which now are brought to the mind, we may recur with peculiar solemnity to the glory and the grandeur of this once distinguished city. It was once the capitol of Proconsular Asia, and spoken of as the light of the earth; but now it is sunk into a mass of ruins, and trodden down by the feet of the Infidel usurper. As long ago as the fourteenth century, the Turks burst in upon this region like a desolating flood: they laid low this city of Ephesus, and reduced it to nothing; and they have quenched in the horrible night of their superstition, almost every ray of light which had ever broken in upon the scarcely more palpable night of heathen idolatry. Now, as has been said, hardly a vestige remains of any thing which bears the remotest analogy to the religion of the cross; and the poor, wretched Christian inhabitants (if any such there be) of this once famed and privileged city, now quail beneath the frown of the turbaned follower of the impostor Mahomet; and are strangers to the living principles of

• Wadsworth.

« EdellinenJatka »