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son—that Scripture is its own best interpreter. We should have been utterly unable to have given a rational exposition of this passage, had not history lent us the aid of its interpretation.
But perhaps it may be asked; To what valuable purpose all this may be brought? And here I have to answer, that I only regret that the limits of my discourse will prevent that enlargement upon which I might most profitably enter. But reserving the remainder of this epistle for future consideration, I will proceed as briefly as may be consistent with ministerial faithfulness, to draw the practical remarks which the present development affords us,
And 1. Mark the evil of defective discipline. All the censure which falls upon the members of this Church of Thyatira, was in consequence of not having dealt with this woman as she deserved, by cutting her off from the communion of the Church and drawing a long and well-marked line of distinction. But as she was a woman of power, of wealth, of influence, of speciousness, of great cunning, they appear to have been afraid to excommunicate her. And it was for this that they were censured, for God will not only have his people holy, but he will have them hate and abhor every approach to evil. And, my brethren, I do think that want of discipline is now one of the crying sins which presses its heavy weight on the Christian Church. If a man is rich, and powerful, and talented; if his connexions are great, and his influence desirable, is he not too often allowed to entertain just what heretical notions he pleases, to be just as inconsistent as he pleases, and just as worldlyminded as he pleases, and yet, for the world, we
must not offend such a person? and as to debarring such an one from the privileges of the communion, nothing could produce a greater state of excitement. And yet it was exactly for such a state of things as this, that God censures the members of the Church of Thyatira. Whatever temporalities may be benefited, sure I am that spiritualities are most awfully trified with, when we put the ark of God so much as we do in unhallowed hands. Our system of expediency is absolutely driving out religion, and this the whole history of the Church will show; for in these days, nothing can prosper unless wealth, and talents, and influence, come to the help of the Lord. But, brethren, the Church of Christ is composed of those who are true believers in him, and are truly converted by his grace; and God never intended that his religion should be placed in any guardianship but that of piety of heart and life. The Christian Church, I care not to say it in the face of the world, has an awful amount of censure standing against her on this very account. From the highest assembled body, down to the very internal government of individual Churches, there is too much trusting to every thing more than piety. If any individual who should study the Scriptures should be asked the question—what is the best qualfication for the office of a member of any body connected with the Church? the answer would be by another question—Is his heart right in the sight of God? Is he a pious man? But oh, how different are things arranged; the common answer to the question is-Is he a man of influence? has he such splendid talents that he can bear down opposition ? that he can strike piety dumb by the majesty of his eloquence, or put
honesty to flight by the subtlety of his subterfuges? The Lord have mercy on the Church that so trusts to the arm of flesh.
And to direct your attention one moment to ano ther subject, why is it that there is so much worldliness and so much inconsistency in the Christian profession? Why simply because we are afraid of giving offence, by telling a worldly-minded and inconsistent professor of religion that he or she has no part or lot in this matter, and that either of them had better make no profession, than not to give the heart and the life to God. Fear to exercise discipline brought a censure on Thyatira, and it will always bring a censure from God, let the condition of a Church be what it may.
Again : It is a most singularly important inference from this whole history, that the eye of the omniscient God is always upon us. “I will kill her children with death,” says the eternal Son of God, and “all the Churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and the heart." Is there any thing hid from God? Is there a heart in this assembly too closely covered to allow the piercing of his eye? Well says the Psalmist
Thou Lord, by strictest search hast known
Thine eye my bed and path surveys,
Oh could I so deceived be,
Finally: Learn the terrible catastrophe which hangs over the head of sinners, like the sword of Damocles suspended by a hair. “I will kill her children with death, that all the Churches may know that I will give to every one of you according to your works.” Let sinners learn from the history of Jezebel, that sin cannot go unpunished. The Lord will visit, and the outpouring of his vengeance will be as signal as it will be awful. There is one, and but one way of escape. Repent of thy deeds, so that iniquity be not thy ruin; sin unrepented of, sin unatoned, sin unpardoned, makes the portion of the sinner, the blackness of darkness for ever. God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing; and He, on the veracity of his character, hath said, "I will repay fury to mine adversaries; recompense to mine enemies."
Sinners, as you would escape the catastrophe of Jezebel; as you would not perish under the curse and wrath of God, take heed; seek ye the Lord.
FAILURE IN DISCIPLINE,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA.
REVELATION ii. 13—29.
We come now to the consideration of the concluding portion of this interesting epistle. We have already seen the commendation, and our attention, during the whole of the last lecture, was directed to the censure. The
IVth division of the subject embraces the encouragement and the exchortation—"But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak, I will put upon you none other burden: but that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.” This encouragement seems to have been personally addressed to the angel or bishop of the Church. Unto you I say—he had been censured for his want of decision in not cutting off from the communion of the faithful this most un