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succeeds the exhortation, our Saviour says—"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." These are topics of future consideration, and, God willing, will be taken up in our next discourse. But I offer them as encouragement to the lukewarm for an awakened zeal, and for a deep and heart-felt penitence. Continue in this lukewarm state, and every soul so doing is lost without a remedy : for, from the habitation of his holiness, Christ says—“I will spue thee out of my mouth.” But be zealous, and repent, and all may be well. Open the door of your hearts and Christ will come in; polluted as has been your bosom, and long as he has been a stranger, he nevertheless will occupy again, and fill you with all the delights of his
peculiar presence. Persist in lukewarmness, and indifference, and carelessness, and sin, and there will be nothing but indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. But estimate yourselves aright, be zealous, and repent, and the song of angels, with the swell of their golden harps, will then once more, though by mortal ear unheard, still sound in heaven with praise for the prodigal returned, the backslider reclaimed, the almost lost caught from the verge of the burning pit, and saved with an everlasting salvation.
LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA.
REVELATION iii. 14–22.
Having, my friends, in the previous discourses on this epistle, considered all the topics so far as the sixth general division of my subject inclusive, I now come to call your particular attention to the
VIIth division, the continued loving kindness of Christ, which is founded on the declaration contained in the 20th verse—“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." These words stand just before the concluding promise of the Spirit to the Church of Laodicea, the spiritual condition of which Church, as we have already seen in the preceding discourses, was, indeed, most deplorable. The crying sin of the Laodiceans was lukewarmness, a disposition of heart and mind truly abominable in the sight of God; for we have the authority of this epistle to believe, that a state even of open opposition to God is not more offensive than that state of indifference which makes men stop short both of avowed enmity and avowed friendship of the cause of Christ—"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Strange as it may appear, pride and a self-justifying spirit stand at the foundation of the lukewarm feeling, and God continues—“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have peed of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and
poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.' He then exhorts them to repentance, and concludes with the declaration of the text, which now comes under our more particular atten-' tion—"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
I need hardly say, my brethren, that these words beautifully express the tender love and gracious condescension of Christ towards these lukewarm, and poor, and perishing sinners. They are full of heavenly eloquence, and the object of the divine speaker is to win to himself the hearts of those to whom they are addressed. I beseech you, then, give your seri
ous attention to a few plain and practical considerations. In the 19th verse, it will be remembered that Christ had stated to the members of the Church of Laodicea, that in the exercise of his love towards them, he had given them the rebuke contained in the previous verses; and that as a general principle, whoever he loved, he rebuked and chastened. He states that the great end of all these rebukes and chastisements are to lead to repentance; and then to excite the more particular attention of these lukewarm professors, and to encourage them to repentance, he calls their attention in a very especial manner—“Behold, I stand at the door." Observe the condescension, the patience, the grace which I extend, notwithstanding your most unwarrantable and deplorable condition. While you have continued, and while you are still wanting in love to me, I have stood without, waiting to be admitted, both to your hearts and to your Church, from which, by your conduct, you have absolutely expelled me. .
These words, while they apply to the case of Laodicea, tell the grace of Christ under the most aggravated circumstances. But, as they pass from the circumstances of the Laodiceans to our own, they present considerations, than which few more decidedly important, in a practical view, can be found in any of the epistles. I shall therefore seek to lay their instructions before you in the following order :
1. The words imply that the heart is naturally shut against Christ.
2. The fact that Christ stands at the door of the heart and knocks.
3. The danger of rejecting him.
4. The blessed consequence of hearing his voice and opening the door.
1. I need not stop here, brethren, to make many remarks on the fruitful subject of the depravity of the heart. It lays at the foundation of all our preaching. I should be at a loss how to frame a discourse which should exclude it; and I desire always to speak of the depravity of the heart, not in a loose and general way, which may mean any thing or nothing, but as most eminently personal. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; and the heart of every unconverted man is enmity against God, and naturally is shut against Christ. This the language of the text very decidedly implies: for it were both unnecessary and absurd to speak of Christ standing and knocking, if the door were not closed against him. We stand not on the necessity of knocking, where we have free ingress; the same truth is otherwise made evident. If it were not truth, preaching would be superfluous, and the influence of divine grace unnecessary: for it is the purpose of preaching to bring truth to the heart, through the medium of oral expression; and it is the prerogative of the Saviour to fix that truth in the heart with power and demonstration. Ignorance and sin, and unbelief, have shut the heart against Christ, for, saith Scripture, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither doth he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. And again: Light has come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. And again : If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world has blinded the eyes of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them. And to settle this matter on Scripture ground, our Saviour says