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watched against the world, but have permitted it to gain an undue ascendency over your affections; you have not as yet crucified the flesh. Wake up into life and activity the most intense and persevering; be up and doing the work which most concerns you, the work of your individual, personal salvation, and preparation for eternity. Remain no longer in the dull and languishing condition in which you have suffered yourselves to fall. “Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” Replenish the fading lamp with fresh oil.
If you have any faith, let it lead you to the most unreserved and unhesitating devotedness of yourselves to God. Hold fast to the attainments you have made, and as you love your salvation, let there be no further declension. The word of God to you is onward. Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But, brethren, if your personal religion is, or has been, in this languishing and decaying condition, then rest not even here, for your past neglects call for a deep and pungent sorrow that you have thus permitted yourself to fail in your high and holy obligations. Repent; let no partial, no half-way, no momentarily excited resolutions be made ; let deepfelt penitence mourn over the defections of the past, and let the throne of grace be beset with importunities that a fresh and vigorous effort may be begun; an effort which shall never again be relaxed, but distinguished by a renovated zeal, a firmness of purpose, a consistency of determination, a tenacity of hold, which, under grace, shall cut off from the enemy the very possibility of victory.
I know, my friends, that to those who have suffer
ed their personal religion to fall into this dull and languishing condition, these terms are hard; and I know that much reluctance will be felt to their reception. But all this alters not the case. The omnipotent Saviour, who, in the language of this epistle, says, “I know thy works,” has called you to this one uncompromising course; and if you who have thus fallen shall refuse the voice of his warning; if you will still sleep the sleep of sin and negligence; if you will refuse to strengthen the things which remain, which are ready to die; and if you will let go your hold and despise the demanded repentance, be it so. Yours is the crime, yours the responsibility, yours the penalty, and yours
punishment. Yet ere the resolution is taken to refuse the call; ere the determination is made to continue in this languishing and dying state, hear the same voice as
2. It places before you the awful consequence“If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
Yes, my friends, and as I have already told you, fearfully was that threat accomplished on neglectful and disobedient Sardis; and the visible calamities under which the members of that Church suffered, were but the outward symbols of a ruin far more deep and tremendous. “ The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God.” We may not pierce the veil which covers futurity from our view, but we may ask, for purposes
of practical reflection, where now are the impenitent and infatuated inhabitants of that city and members of that Church, on whom our Saviour sent his judgment
like a thief in the night? Their history—what need we of their history? Every memorial has perished, but we have something better as our warning. Every passage of the sacred Scripture in which this subject is brought particularly into notice, leads our attention to the unprepared condition in which death and judgment and eternity will find the impenitent and unbelieving. “The day of the Lord will so come as a thief in the night, and when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” St. Paul, in his 15th chapter to the Corinthians, in which he treats so largely of the resurrection, declares—“Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." And in his epistle to the Thessalonians, in which he is directing their attention particularly to the great and terrible day of the Lord, he informs them that so sudden and rapid will be the process of these great events, that even those who are alive will not ascend to judgment sooner than those who are in their
graves. There will be no time then to watch, no time to strengthen dying and decaying energies, no time then to hold fast, and no opportunity of repentance. The voice of the archangel, with the trump of God, brethren, will be a signal which none can refuse to hear, and which none will be able to disobey. Now, you may listen and disregard; you may lose all interest in the subject from the immense distance at which you may suppose the calamity to be removed; but willing or unwilling, prepared or unprepared, the summons must
be heard and answered, and the dead and the living, the formal and the languishing, as well as the hypocrites and the sinners, the one great mass of earth and seas' inhabitants, shall stand before the judgment-seat. Put the question to your hearts, ye whose religion is in a dull and languishing and decaying condition, are you ready for the coming of him who as a thief may gain access, and in an instant caļl you from time into an unprepared for eternity?
Hasten, sinner, to return,
Stay not for to-morrow's sun,
Ere salvation's work is done.
Hasten, sinner, to be blest,
Stay not till to-morrow's sun,
Ere the morrow be begun.
Brethren, if the exhortation of the Spirit of God is rejected, in the name and on the authority of God, I
pronounce you inexcusable; for when I present to you the words of Christ to Sardis, "remember how thou hast received and heard,” I call to your memories the unnumbered blessings of the Gospel, and I demand that you recollect how, day after day, and week and year, you have heard line upon line,
, calls to repentance, calls to faith, calls to holiness.
Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.” Death and judgment, brethren, are at hand, and to you they
may come as a thief, sudden and awful. If the access of a thief in the solemn stillness of the midnight hour, who comes to rob you of your property, brings terror and dismay, what will be your feelings when the day of the Lord shall come, as a thief, and rob you, ay, rob you of every hope, of every plea, and leave you to stand naked, and destitute, and forlorn, and lost beyond the possibility of recovery? “Oh seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and
ye upon him while he is near.”