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movement told the tidings of departure. The bed of suffering was then exchanged for the coffin ; the house of friends and of sympathies, for the cold, solitary mansion where the worm had none to disturb him. The once admiring, now mourning friends, gathered round the grave; and the once gay and blooming and accomplished object of their love, passed away from the sight; and as there fell on her unconscious bosom-earth to earth; ashes to ashes; dust to dust-the mass of relatives and friends moved onward, and left her alone with her conqueror, and she is forgotten.
Pardon me, my friends, this strong picture of consumption. I have drawn it, not to bring tears from your eyes at the exhibition of frail mortality sinking beneath its power; but I have done it, that I might press upon your hearts the lesson which it reads; for though that lesson may be short, it is solemn and impressive and appropriate. Decay in the spiritualities of religion, is like the worm in the bosom. It eats out the very life, and though, as in the case of consumption, there may for a while be external beauty and ornament and show, there are the seeds of death implanted. If there is one among you, therefore, who is conscious that personal religion is declining, then “hear,” again and again, I beseech
you, “ what the Spirit saith unto the Churches." Repent, and do thy first works.” Take the disease before it is too late to cure. There is one Physician, who is omnipotent to cure.
Oh! live not upon opiates; speak not peace, peace to your hearts, while there is no peace. Humble yourselves before God, and cry mightily for his grace, that you may be snatched from ruin. If
permit me, I will put a penitential hymn into
your mouth, and ask you to let your hearts feel its influence; it is most sadly appropriate to your condition
Oh for a closer walk with God,
A calm, and heavenly flame,
That leads me to the Lamb.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame,
That leads me to the Lamb.
Oh, be guarded, be watchful, brethren, against the insidiousness of spiritual decay. Remember the worm which may destroy your spiritual life, and remember that there is a worm that never dieth.
Brethren, how can I suitably close a subject like this? Ought I not to follow the leadings of the Spirit, and from the depths into which I have sought to depress you, raise your thoughts, and perhaps your hearts, to heaven? Yes! it is my privilege to say—“Hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” I may
not add much, for I would not weary you, even with things which relate to the Christian's inheritance of glory.
The text sufficiently indicates that the Christian life is a warfare ; there must be contest, and there is
the promise of victory. But the promise is not to the indolent, the faint-hearted, the neutral, the declining; it is to Him who “overcometh.”
overcometh.” And as the struggle only terminates with victory or defeat, it is not sufficient for a person to enlist under the banner of the Captain of salvation. It is not sufficient that he girds his armour on, and fights manfully for a season.
He must endure unto the end, if he would be saved.
The portion of a Christian in this life is trial; his reward of grace belongs peculiarly to that world which is to come.
He shall “eat of the fruit of the tree of life,” and one taste of that fruit shall more than repay all the trial and struggle he has been compelled to undergo. In his Father's house he shall hunger no more, neither shall he thirst any more, but the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed him, and shall lead him to living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from his eyes. In the raptured anticipation of such an issue, the Christian may take up the language of confidence and say–Let what may befal me upon earth ; let poverty oppress me; let foes stand themselves against me in the thickest array of battle ; let the world forsake me; I care notif, but by grace upholding and perfecting the work of love, I can persevere unto the end; for then shall I eat the precious fruit of the tree of life; that pledge of immortal bliss which grows in the midst of the paradise of God.
PATIENCE IN SUFFERING,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA.
REVELATION ii. 8–11.
And unto the angel of the Church of Smyrna write ; These things saith the
first and the last, which was dead, and is alive ; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich,) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
This epistle, like that to Ephesus, is addressed to the angel or bishop of the Church. The individual who is supposed to have sustained this interesting and important relation, was the celebrated Polycarp. He was a disciple of the Apostle John, and by him was appointed to the office. This supposition gives to some particulars of the epistle a peculiar interest, for we have some historical notices of this same Polycarp which cannot fail to attach themselves to our feelings, and the consideration of which will assist us in the illustration and practical enforcement of the subject. To these things I shall call your attention in their appropriate place, but in the mean time feel reluctant to pass over the following remarks of a traveller, who lately visited this city. “Smyrna,” says he, “will ever be to the Christian a most interesting spot; the conflict which was maintained here, was one of no common description: it was not only Polycarp himself, who was the gainer by his sufferings; on the firmness of the Christian martyrs depended, under Divine Providence, the transmission of the truth to the latest generations. Had they yielded to the fury of their foes, and denied the Lord that bought them, we should still have been immersed in the ignorance of our forefathers, without God and without hope in the world. We do well then to cherish the memory of these faithful servants of God, and it is just for us to bless the most High for his grace bestowed upon them. I must confess that I tread the ground signalized by the death of a Christian martyr, with unspeakably more delight than I should visit the plains of Marathon. Here was a conflict, not for the liberty which is merely co-existent with the span of human life, but for a freedom which is eternal. Here, without arms, without allies, the world and its God were vanquished. Here was honour won, not that empty honour which fallen man admires, but that eternal weight of glory, which God has prepared for his faithful servants."*