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his indignation in such measures as shall sweep our privileges and our blessings away, as with the very besom of destruction, he hath still left us on the pages of the Gospel a solemn declaration, which must come to pass—"except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Take warning then, brethren, even as a Church, by the history of Ephesus—nay, of the Churches of Asia. “It appears they gradually declined, and finally became extinct; so that for a series of ages, scarcely a vestige of them has remained; while error and superstition have been established in their room. Alas, they forfeited their privileges, and their candlesticks were removed; nor is their history, as it regards the facts which have been stated, by any means without resemblance or parallel in the annals of Christendom. Are there not districts in Europe, or even in our own country, where flourishing Churches formerly existed, and faithful ministers diffused the light of evangelical truth, but where nothing now appears but a moral desert, shrouded with the thickest gloom of ignorance, or overgrown with the rankest weeds of vice and error? Will this, at any future period, be the fate of the city in which I now labour-instructing, warning, admonishing many, who regard my addresses but little more than idle tales ?. Will those who profess to be followers of Christ entail a curse on their posterity, and the generations yet unborn, by first sinking into coldness and apathy in religion, and then despising the admonitions of the Saviour who calls them to repentance? Will the time arrive, when the walls of this house, erected to the worship of Jehovah, shall no longer resound with
the voice of prayer and of praise, or at least when the Gospel of salvation, in all its pure and heavenly doctrines, will no more be heard within its hallowed precincts? O let us take heed to ourselves; let us watch our wayward hearts, and pray most fervently for the spirit of grace, that we may not decline and become languid in religion, but on the contrary, increase in every virtue, and thus become useful in maintaining the cause of our Redeemer.”
Who among you, my brethren, values as he ought, the holy privileges which he is permitted to enjoy ? In these days of Gospel illumination, when the sun of righteousness shines upon our land, with his holiest and his brightest beams, there rests upon us a heavier responsibility than that which pressed upon the members of the Church at Ephesus. For every day we live adds its value to the Gospel which is committed to our keeping, and now, even from his mediatorial throne in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ descends, and by his presence, though unseen, walks in the midst of his Churches to mark their various spiritual condition. Is there no individual here, on whose heart the omniscient Saviour sees the livid spots of a spiritual decay? Is there no one who is going backward in the things of religion? Is there no one who is at this moment conscious of having lost the first love of God which once animated his bosom? Are all who have named the name of Christ, growing in grace and in knowledge? Is the path of every one who calls himself a Christian, as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day? Brethren, let no man deceive himself. If there is in the heart of one solitary individual among you, the slightest evi
dences of a spiritual decay—to that individual, the voice of the Spirit speaks the exhortation to repent
Remember that once thou didst call thyself a Christian. Remember that once thou didst set out in the narrow path which leadeth unto life; but thou hast grown weary, and thy strength is failing. Repent, and do thy first works; the enemy is behind thee, and thou wilt soon be overtaken. Rouse thyself and call upon the Lord; gird up thy loins, and trim the lamp, whose flame is fading and flickering in the socket. Give glory to the Lord, before he cause darkness, and thy feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and thy expiring light be turned into gross darkness. If thou art declining in religion, having run well but for a time, the case is one which requires an attention as immediate as it must be decided. God may remove thy candlestick out of its place. He may withdraw from thy path the yet sustaining power of his grace. Rouse, rouse thyself to new efforts; awake to an enlivened zeal; kindle afresh the flame of love; remember whence thou art fallen, and by the energy of a desperate effort, lay hold on eternal life. Think where thy strength lieth, and while he is yet with thee, seize the receding angel of the covenant, and say to him, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” This subject, however, I propose to carry out more largely in the concluding discourse. At present, let me leave you with the remark repeated—that decay in religion ends in the blackness of darkness for
That growth in holiness, which is as the morning spread upon the mountains, issues amidst the full splendours of the heavenly kingdom, which, through free and sovereign grace, is the inheritance
of him that overcometh. Judge ye yourselves, my brethren, that
ye be not judged of the Lord ; and that ye may form a judgment which shall stand, “hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churchesto Him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which grows in the paradise of God;" the promise, and the pledge of an immortality of bliss.
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS.
REVELATIon ii. 6, 7.
In the foregoing lectures, I have spoken of the character in which our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, addresses us in the text, and of the appropriate language in which the introduction to the epistle is couched. “These things, saith he, which holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, and walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." We then passed on to notice the commendation which was bestowed on the members of the Church at Ephesus. “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, but are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured and hast not fainted.” From this commendation, which embraced many particulars of the utmost importance, we passed to the