« הקודםהמשך »
these are the true sayings of God." We see, my friends, by the similarity of the sentiments given in the marriage supper, and those admonitions and prophecies to the Laodicean church, that they must mean one and the same event. To hear the voice of the bridegroom, and to open the door, and go out to meet him, is the way which the bride makes herself ready; and his supping with them and they with him, shows that it is when Christ shall come and live and reign with them.
" To him that overcometh, will l grant to set with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father in his throne.”
Here is another expression which proves we are brought down to the end of time, “to him that overcometh.” What can the faithful and true witness mean by this expression ? He explains himself, " even as I also overcame.' How did Christ overcome when he sat down with his father? I answer, by bursting the bands of death, by conquering the grave, he arose a glorious conqueror, and was seated at the right hand of God. Then this is the true meaning of the text, to him that hath part in the first resurrection, will I grant to sit with me in my throne. “Blessed and holý is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power : but they shall be kings and priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him.” What light may we not receive from the word of God, when taken together, when explained by its own language, when kept unbroken. “He that hath an ear, let bim hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” This closes what I call, and what Christ I think calls a prophecy. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
This Laodicean church began about A. D. 1798, and will last the forty-five years. When this dispensation will close, the judgment will set, and the books will be opened, the hypocrites will be spued out of the church and the sanctuary cleansed.
Will the situation of the church, the character of christians, the doctrines taught, and the signs of the times, warrant us to believe that we live in the Laodicean age of the church ? Let us for a moment examine the evidence
1st. The situation of the church, enjoying peace in and
among the kingdoms of the earth, enjoying all the privileges of citizens without persecution, making great and many improvements in her worldly concerns, rich in this world's goods, having at her command many millions of funds, and almost swaying the destinies of the world ; great, learned and rich men enlisting under her banners, controling the fashions, customs and laws of the day, swaying a mighty influence over the education of our youth, and giving a general tone to the literature of the world, increasing her demands for power, establishing bishoprics, presbyteries, national and state conventions, conferences, councils, associations, consociations, societies innumerable: and all these controled almost exclusively by her clergy. May we not say truly," she is rich and increased in goods?” But
this all? No. Look at her colleges, theological schools, academies, depositories, public edifices, presses, theological writings and publications, in almost every nation, kingdom, state and territory, and in this country in almost every county and town: and all this by contributions. Well may it be said, she has need of nothing. These things too among all sects and denominations, one cannot outdo another apparently, yet each is striving for the mastery.
2d. The characters of christians generally. In speaking of the character of our brethren, it becomes the speaker to be very careful and unassuming, for God has not made him a judge over his brethren. Therefore, to judge this one is right, and that one wrong, we shall leave for the judgment seat of Christ. But on a general scale, surely we may be allowed to examine and compare ourselves with the prophecies. In all ages back christians when living Godly, have been a poor, despised, persecuted people, pilgrims and strangers in the world, plainly showing that this is not their continuing city, but that they are seeking one to come. But is it so now? Have not professors generally, for more than thirty years, been seeking for the riches of this life, for the honors of the world, and following the fashions of the times as greedily as men of the world? Yes. And can we distinguish a professor of religion in our public assemblies from a man of the world, except we are informed ? No. Where then do christians plainly show they seek a better country? Nowhere. May we not live in the same neighborhood with professors for years and not hear them recommend the religion they pro
fess? Yes. But do hear the same persons talk freely, flippantly and zealously about the world, the politics, and
the fashions of the day? Yes. Is it not a general com• plaint with all of our churches, of coldness, of a want of
spiritual life, and a great failure in active spiritual duties? Yes. Has not a spirit of sloth and supineness seized upon professors generally? Do not many think if they have a hired servant to talk religion, and visit the widow and fatherless, and keep themselves unspotted from the world, for them it is enough? Yes. And does not all this, and much more which might with truth be said on this point, declare loudly that the professors of christianity, generally, are in a lukewarm state? Yes. We must respond, yes.
The doctrine taught. Here again your speaker feels a diffidence in speaking on this subject, knowing that many great, learned and good men differ on this point : but we must all stand or fall to our own Master, and I must answer how I speak or shun to declare the whole counsel of God. Your speaker believes that the depravity of the human heart, our dependance on God, and indebtedness to grace, are abundantly taught in the scriptures. See Eph. ii. 4-13. But how stands this doctrine with our public proclaimers at the present day? Some few may preach it, but there is more than ten to one who do not preach it, or if they do they so cover it up by their plausible and specious reasoning, that the force of the doctrine, and the object of the inspired writers are wholly lost. We are now taught that man can make himself a christian as easy as he can turn about in the highway; that obedience or baptism is regeneration; that works are the medium of acceptance withGod, and that the righteousness of Christ is not imputed. How can such doctrine be more clearly pointed out than it is by the "faithful and true witness,” to the Laodicean church? “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?” That is, they know not their depravity. "I counsel thee to buy of me (see here their dependence on God) gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Grace, grace, from the foundation to the top stone. Surely, my dear friends, no candid observer of the doctrine taught at the present day, but what must in his heart acknowledge that the doctrine taught by many,
among the different sects, is the same as described by our divine Master in the prophecy to the Laodicean church.
The signs of the times. In the close of Christ's instructions to the church under consideration, he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice,” &c. Daniel says, "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince that standeth up for the children of thy people. And Christ says, “For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many." These were particular signs given by Christ and the prophets. And how have these come to pass ! Witness the great and many reformations which for thirty years have progressed in our land, in Europe, and the islands of the seas. See also the word of God published in whole, or in part, among all nations. See the missionaries of the Gospel running to and fro through the whole earth. Do not these indicate that Christ stands at the door, and that his voice has gone out even unto the ends of the world, and that Michael has stood up for the children of thy people ? Yes. Again: How many new sects have arose, how many false Christs have come in this blaze of gospel light and are drawing away their hundreds and thousands after them? It is almost incredible, when we take into view the light and knowledge under which we live; but all go to prove that Christ is nigh, even at the door.
In reviewing our subject we learn by the events of the Sardis church, and by the admonitions given, our duty to guard against the introduction of errors into the church and to strengthen ourselves in the truth; and likewise of being active in all the duties of religion, that we may not only have a name to live but have the life and power of the gospel, that we may resist all the temptations and fiery darts of the enemies of the church.
By the church of Philadelphia, we learn that if we keep the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, he will keep us from those trials and judgments which he sends on an ungodly and rebellious people, and that God has opened a door
for the spread of the gospel which no power on earth will be able to shut, until the angel standing on the sea and on the land shall swear that time shall be no longer. We also learn the importance of having brotherly love and perseverance in holy things, that no man take from us the crown which is laid up for those that love God, and which will be given to them who remain steadfast in
Christ Jesus at his coming, which is promised quickly to this church.
By the Laodicean church, we learn the important lesson that we cannot serve two masters; we cannot love the present evil world and at the same time be the servants of God; that to be lukewarm in religion is to be cast out of his presence, and call down the vengeance of God's final judgment upon our heads, and while we may flatter ourselves that we are righteous, find to our everlasting shame that we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
Think, O think, my dear friends, you that are trusting in your own goodness, when that day of justice shall come, and the faithful and true witness shall stand against you, when your goodness shall pass away like the morning cloud, and the righteous Judge shall pronounce the dreadful sentence, depart—what must be your feelings? The world, which you here worshipped, is burning up; the friends with whom you here associated are gone to meet the Lord in the air, or are sinking with you into endless and hopeless misery. The Saviour, whose name you are now ashamed to own, or whose righteousness you think you need not, is now your Judge, seated on a great white throne, from whose face the heavens and the earth shall flee away. Think, O Sinner! where wilt thou be found?