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and whatever he shall declare, beyond the possibility of gainsaying. Sinners of every grade and denomination, of every age and description, flee from the wrath to come: for the same Lord Jesus Christ, whom you will one day see coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, is the witness whose true and faithful testimony you have to fear. He will testify that you have, time and again, personally and obstinately refused his call, rejected his offers, trampled under foot his blood, despised his grace, and counted the blessings of eternal life through him, as unworthy your regard. He will testify, that you have despised his agony and bloody sweat; his cross and passion ; the garden of Gethsemane, and the hill of Calvary ; his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; his revealed word and his appointed ministry; his Church privileges and his ordinances of the Gospel. By all these he will testify; and well may the sinner then call on the rocks to hide him, and the mountains to cover him, when the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the “faithful and true Witness," rises up in the judgment against him—“Then indeed the great day of his wrath will come, and who shall be able to stand ?"
Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, be not afraid. The very description which he here gives of himself is one of your securities. He is the “faithful and true Witness;" he shall testify that you have repented, for he has seen, and he has treasured up your tears and your contrition; he will testify to your faith, for he has known its exercises, and he has seen you when, casting off all refuges of lies, you have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you, and built on that one foundation of the Apostles and
Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. You shall lift up your head in the assembly of the just; you shall stand in the congregation of the righteous; you shall go to him with singing ; because, when you stand before the Judge's seat, Christ the Saviour, your beloved, your precious Saviour, he is your witness, your “true and faithful witness.”
Once more: I have told you, brethren, that in the text our Lord Jesus Christ also describes himself as the “beginning of the creation of God;" and I have correctly explained this as meaning the first and efficient cause of all creation; for it was Christ in his omnipotent capacity of God who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast. And it is Christ alone, who in the same omnipotent energy is the prime and efficient cause of the new creation. From this truth you read in its most intelligible language, the absolute necessity of an application to Christ for that new creation which alone can qualify for an inheritance in glory. To the sinner there is no promise of salvation in the Scriptures of eternal truth, but that which is connected with an entire conversion of the whole soul to God; a conversion which bears in Scripture the emphatic language of description, a birth from above, a regeneration of the Holy Ghost, an awakening from sleep, a turning from darkness to light, a new creation, a resurrection from the dead, a translation from the power of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son; and for this spiritual consummation to whom are you to turn? To ordinances of religion, baptism and the Lord's supper, and
prayer and Church-going? These lay their hands upon their mouths, and tell you this power is not in us. Do you turn to pious friends and the
company of the faithful, they tell you this power is not
Earth hath it not, and the Church hath it not. Jesus Christ is the prime and efficient cause of . the regeneration which is of a saving character, and if you get it not from him, and by him, you get it not at all. It lies in the power of his cross, and in the life-giving efficacy of his word. Go to him; he is wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. He is your all and in all. The“ Amen, the faithful and true witness,” the maker of the heavens and the earth, the new creator of the sinner's heart. Get from him the seal of his new name, and his will you be while the battle is going on, and his will you be, when, having won the victory, he shall seal you up unto the day of glory.
Brethren, I do most seriously and most affectionately exhort you to examine into the measure of your personal preparation of heart in the matter of religion. I covet for you none of the wealth, none of the honours, none of the passing vanities of this world, which is soon to be given to the last great conflagration. None of these things are valuable, and none of them important; but I do covet for
that spiritual condition, that regeneration of the inward man, which will fit you to stand at the right hand of the throne of judgment. With this, nothing will be wanting, no matter what your condition. Without this, every thing will be wanting, possess ye what ye may. With this you will be safe; without this you will be lost; for thus saith the Amen, the true and faithful Witness, the beginning, the moving cause of the creation—“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THB
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA.
REVELATION iii. 14–22.
I COME, my friends, to-day, to consider one of the most melancholy conditions of professed Christianity, and it is that which, constituting the
IId general division of my subject, is found in the 15th verse of this epistle—“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot." This is the first censure passed upon this Church, and is a censure on the lukewarmness of its members. I have just now observed, that this is one of the most melancholy conditions of professed Christianity: for most unhappily, lukewarmness in relation to this subject, presupposes the profession of religion. Those who make no pretensions to religion are free from the charge. Lest, however, while I grant this, there should be any who might be disposed to pride or plume themselves on their total neglect of religion, and their consequent escape from this sin of lukewarmness, I will leave with them the consideration, that though free from this charge, they lie under the constant imputation of being children of disobedience and heirs of eternal wo. This
of my subject, then, comes entirely upon those who call themselves Christians; and while my present discourse will leave what may be called the ungodly world to themselves, I shall enter upon some particulars which will have a tendency to sift the professions of some as the chaff is sifted from the wheat.
Our first object of inquiry is the nature and symptoms of lukewarmness in those who think themselves Christians; and as a preliminary step I have to observe, that the sin of lukewarmness may exist even in its most aggravated forms, where there is no marked error in doctrine, and no corruption in morals. Now I trust you will observe, my brethren, that the Church of Laodicea is not charged with any departure from doctrinal truth, neither is there mention made of one solitary immoral practice: for all that this epistle furnishes to the contrary, the members of that Church may have been technically most sound in faith and punctilious in practice. There is not here one of the evils which is to be found charged against several of the other Churches of Asia. What then is the difficulty ? “It is,” according to the language of a master in Israel, “it is a subtle, latent wickedness, that has no shocking appearance; that makes no gross blemish in the outward character of a professor in the view of others, and may escape his own notice.” It is as if the Lord had said,