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there are so many defects, and so much unsoundness of motive in their best actions, that God can have no delight in them, such as he has in the obedience of his own people, who are reconciled to him by the great Medietor.
They cannot so far please God, as to render their persons acceptable to him; nor have they any promise that this partial obedience of theirs shall 'e recompensed with any favour or reward. The truth of these observations is confirmed by a multitude of passages of Scripture. There we are told, that the thoughts of the wicked are abominable to him; that the plowing of the wicked is sin; that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; yea, he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer, saith Solomon, shall be an abomination unto God. And how can it be well with the man, whose whole life is a perpetual offence to the God that made him ? Consider this, ye that now despise reproof, trample on the blood of Christ, and resist the motions of his Spirit. In vain do you rest on the favourable parts of your character, as a compensation for this ungrateful abuse of the divine goodness and long-suffering. In the sight of men, indeed, this balance may be of some avail to you; but God seeth not as man seeth. In his sight your whole character is depraved, and every part of your conduct offensive. I shall only add, in the
5th and last place, that if you die in this state, your perdition is inevitable. “Except a man be born again," saith our Lord, “ le cannot see the kingdom of God."“ Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” These passages are plain and decisive; and I have selected them, among innumerable others to the same purpose, for this reason, that they were uttered by the firmest and tenderest friend of the human race, the truth of whose warnings we can have no reason to doubt.
In reviewing what has been said, the impression lett is undoubtedly gloomy, and nothing but a sense of duty could have prevailed on me to deliver so harsh a message. But that watchman would be very unfaithful to his trust, who would not call the alarm of fire, because of the un. pleasant sound it has in men's ears. I have not been sternly delivering truths in which I have no concern myself. We are
all embarked in the voyage of life, upon the same conditions. These conditions I have endeavourcd to set before you; according to that commandment of God, Say ye to the righteous; it shall be well with him, for he shall eat the fruit of his doings; but woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, neither shall he proJong his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not before God.” Knowing, therefore, the terrors of the Lord, I have been endeavouring to persuade you to fly from the wrath to come.
The way to escape all this misery is patent; efen to the chief of sinners. The door of mercy is open.
God is seated on a throne of grace, ready to receive every humble penitent; and this is his call to the sons of men, “ Turn yė, turn ye, wliy will ye die?-Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near:Let the wicked forsake his way; and the unrighteous mari his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for hre will abundatitly pardon.-Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your souls shall live: and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure niercies of David." Amen.
REVELATION ii. 5.
Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, und do
the first works ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy canellestick out of his place, except thou repent.
These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the church of Ephesus. They contain a call to repentance and reformation, with a severe and terrible threatening in case of disobedience. In the second and third verses, we have an acknowledgment of what was good in that church, " 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, and 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.” Nevertheless, says he, in the 4th verse,," I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Their affection was cooled, their zeal was abated, they were beconie more reiniss and lukewarm in the duties of religion. Now, this our Saviour could not bear; he therefore calls them to remember their first es. tate, to consider their present degenerate condition, to mourn over it, and to rise from it by a speedy repentance and reformation. And to give this summons the greater efficacy, he threatens them with the removal of the gospiel from them, if they did not repent : “ I will come into thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
Many useful observations might be made from this passage, as, first; That our Lord Jesus Christ takes special notice of those to whom the gospel is sent: His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; but he walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and carefully observes the improvement which men make of this precious light. This teaches us what manner of pers sons we ought to be. We are placed here, as it were on a theatre, and act in the immediate view of our King and Judge. Yea, he hath in a manner entrusted us with his glory, and called the world to take notice of us, as the persons by whom he expects to be honoured, and there: fore our behaviour cannot be indifferent to him. He may wink at others, but cannot wink at us. The husbandman is not dishonoured by the unfruitfulness of a wild tree, upon which he has bestowed no culture ; but the barrenness of what is planted in his garden, or inclosed field, reflects upon himself, and therefore he cannot be unconcerned about that, but must vindicate his bronour upon it, by cutting it down, and casting it out as a cumberer of the ground.
Secondly, We may observe, that not only gross apostasy, but even the smallest decays among his people, are highly offensive unto him. This church had many good things among them, and after the commendation that was given them in the second and third verses, one would be ready to put the question, What lack they yet? But our Lord remarks the coldness of their hearts, and resenta that inward and secret declension from their former love and zeal, and threatens them with swift destruction is they did not repent. O how does this magnify God's patience towards us ! and what cause have we to tremble and be afraid of his judgments, seeing we have not only fallen from our first love, but by gross and open acts of enmity, have made it extremely doubtful, whether there be any remains of love abiding with us at all. But, without insisting upon these, my design is, to consider this threatening separately by itself. And my method shall be,
I. To shew that God may be provoked by the sins of a people, to remove the gospel from them.
II. I shall represent to you the terribleness of this judgment. And,
III. Direct you to the proper use of this awful subject.
In the Scriptures, we have many comfortable promises of the church's stability: it is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It was Christ's promise to his Apostles, “ Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world;" not with their persons, for these were soon to be removed out of the world by death, but with their doctrine, which was to endure throughout all generations ; so that we have the fullest assurance, that the Zion of God, or the universal church, shall never perish ;-that the light of the gospel shall never be extinguished; bụt that the King of Zion shall always have subjects to serve him in some corner of the earth or other. But though the gospel shall never be removed out of the world altogether, yet it may be removed from particular places. The candlestick is a moveable thing, and not an entailed inheritance.
The Jews are an eminent instance of this. Never was a nation so highly favoured as they. To them pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; theirs were the fathers, and of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. They were God's chosen people, his peculiar treasure, his first born, and his spouse; for by these honourable titles were they long distinguished from the rest of the world. Nor were they only distinguished by titles,