Imatges de pÓgina

ligious world. This name "religious world," which they have chosen to appropriate and use, is the complete revelation of the mystery of iniquity which it contains. Substan tively, it is the world; adjectively, it is the religious world. It is the world with a qualification of religion. And, being the world as to its substance, it hath no fellowship with Christ, and seeks not to him for any of his gifts. It is all over natural; He is all over supernatural: its law is the course of the world; His law is the antagonist thereof. The common sense, the sense of the community, hath won the victory over the Holy Spirit; and all things are moulded down into a well-working condition. The machine goes well, and the people are satisfied. The circle of expediency is completed, the doctrine of utility rules, and the reign of toleration and liberality is come in. It is no longer a Jezebel labouring to seduce Christ's servants with her fornications; it is the servants come to a regular settled purpose of casting him out of his house, and reigning without him over his purchased world. Not a conspiracy against the King, but a republic without a King. Clearly it is the lowest, basest, worst estate of the church, when there exists no longer any pulse of affection or desire towards her loving Husband. She is without him, and she is content to be and to do without him. And yet behold how even now the heart of her Husband warmeth towards her. He entreateth her to come unto him for the supply of all her wants, for that he is as free and as large as ever in his bounty; and, though grieved at his heart, and utterly disgusted with her behaviour, he will still make her meet to be his bride, and admit her to the honours of his throne and kingdom. Seeing her love to be set upon created things, he takes to himself the character of the Creator of all, himself the essence of all things created, "the Amen, the Beginning of the creation of God;" and, moreover, perceiving her whole soul to be engrossed with money and goods, and that she is accustomed to no ideas but of barter and exchange, of profit and loss, he condescendeth to address her in her own stock-jobbing language, and to put himself forth as the merchantman who alone hath the precious commodities whereof she is in such urgent need. Yea more, he dealeth with her by loving chastisement, in the hope of bringing

her to a right mind, and doubtless thereby doth save some. And, most wonderful of all, he represents himself as a humble petitioner for admission into his own house. The King from the far country cometh back to his household; and finding them using and occupying all his goods as their own, doth not at once arm himself with vengeance, but tries what parley and entreaty will do; for he greatly loves them he stands at the door and knocks; and if any will open, he will not only forgive all past transgressions and present indifference, but will make common cause with them still, and advance them to be joint-heirs of his throne and his kingdom. Was there ever such a thing put upon record, as that He who had thus bought the church with his precious blood, and watched over her with the seven-fold care and wisdom of God, and been requited through all the ingenious methods of his love, with decline of affection, insolence, deception, and total indifference, should conclude all his labours with these words: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (iii. 20, 21.) When I review these things in my mind, and seek to track out this maze of love, I lose myself in wonder and astonishment. The corruption and coldness of mankind rise up before me and I say within myself, Can man be so ungrateful, and lost to every sense of love and obligation, of honour, and glory, and blessedness? Can the church indeed come to such a pass? Can this indeed be the end of such a wonderful work of love?' I grow almost incredulous of my own thoughts, and if they were my own, I would be the first to anathematize them as a libel upon mankind: I look again if it be so written in the word of God, and, being confirmed by his truth and faithfulness, I exclaim, 'Oh, what a thing is sin! oh what a dark womb of wickedness is the heart of man! Surely it is capable of much evil: surely it must be capable of much suffering. How awful must that retribution be which is thus purchased, which is thus postponed, and sought to be averted! My soul, come not thou into their assembly.'

There is the character of a last, and one would say a desperate, effort about this epistle to the church of Laodicea; wherein the good Shepherd doth as it were cast himself with loving earnestness upon his church, now. well nigh unto destruction, as he did weep in the times of old over Jerusalem, saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. xxiii. 37.) He beholdeth all things tottering to their fall, and he presents himself to their faith as the most sure and stedfast still; "The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God." As if he had said, Though the last great earthquake that is to shake both earth and the hea vens be now mustering its thunders, look to me, the Amen, the Maker, stedfast; hear me, the faithful and true Witness of the new heavens and the new earth about to be revealed; take hold on me, the Beginning of the creation, and the Upholder of its pillars. Then he perceiveth their sealed darkness, their ignorance and infatuation, their self-sufficiency and self-applause, yet utter unprovidedness for the fearful account which is just about to be taken of their stewardship; and he counselleth them to come and be supplied out of his inexhaustible fulness with those stores which will stand them in good stead against that day of consuming fire about to be revealed upon all hay, and wood, and stubble which have been builded into the fireproof building of God: and finally, discovering their lukewarmness and indifference, he presenteth himself in the cold night at the door, his locks full of the dew, and his limbs benumbed with the cold, entreating and entreating to be admitted into the house, that he might sup with them, and in return bring them into his Father's banqueting house, whose banner over them should be love. From thenceforth blessed are they who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Such is the urgency, such the instancy of salvation with which the Son of God presents himself in a last effort to the church of the Laodiceans. This epistle I now proceed to examine and enlarge upon. It is the last. I am grieved that it is the last; and I still linger over it with a fond affection, and endeavour to draw out

of it excellent instructions for that evangelical or religious world, whose case it contains, and whose remedy it reveals. So, O my God! be my helper, for in thee I do put my



The words by which our good Shepherd is pleased to address his last epistle to the church, is the fullest and most weighty of them all; containing three designations of the most wonderful kind: 1. The Amen; 2. The faithful and true Witness; 3. The Beginning of the creation of God: which we shall now examine in order.

1. The Amen.

The exact power of the sublime title is, I think, expressed by our great poet in these words, "The be all, and the end all." Christ is the Be all, and the End all of the whole purpose of God; the Amen, which, for its meaning, is, So let it be, and for its place in any prayer or discourse, is the final ending. The Amen is likewise the certainty of things according to that which is written, 2 Cor. i. 20, "All the promises of God are in him yea, and in him amen." This remarkable expression is used by the Apostle, in a connection which casteth light upon the title before us. There had been false teachers amongst the Corinthians, shuffling men, worldly men, whose purposes were according to the flesh, and therefore changeable; in contradistinction from whom he averreth of himself thus, "The things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh? that with me, there should be year yea, and nay nay; but as God is true, that our word to you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me,' and Silvanus, and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you, in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." From this passage, so explanatory of the title before us, it appeareth that the amen is put in opposition to the nay; yea and amen being a style opposed to another style, yea and nay. The style yea and nay, bespeaks instability of purpose in


him who useth it; signifying that he hath changed his mind, and altered his purpose, and therefore is not altogether to be relied upon. The contrary style therefore, yea and amen, must signify stability of purpose, an unalterable, unchangeable stability; yea being the purpose, amen being its stability; yea being the promise, amen being its confirmation. And this style is not unusual, in the Scripture. In the first chapter, at the 7th verse, where the great object of the prophecy of this book is mentioned "Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, yea amen." And in the xxiid chapter, at the 20th verse, the same style occurreth concerning the same event: "He which testifieth these things, saith, I come quickly: Amen; yea, come Lord Jesus." My idea, therefore, of the title Amen, is, that it expresseth the stedfastness of all the purposes and promises of God, as if Christ had said, I am the maker fast; in me all is secured. I am the nail fastened in a sure place, which shall never be cut down, and upon which hangeth all the glory of my Father's house. This leads to an aspect of Christ, as the covenant confirmer, as the promise certifier, which we shall a little open out.

Christ hath this glorious distinction, from the nature of the Divine revelation; which hath this peculiarity, that it consisteth of promises abiding their fulfilment against a future time, and upon certain conditions. Of these conditions, Christ is the fulfiller, and so becomes the Amen, of the promise. The promise itself displayeth the goodness, and grace, and love of the Father. The condition attached to it of perfect holiness and obedience, displayeth the sinfulness of the creature, sheweth that the creature is not the Amen; that he is not the confirmer; and that, had it rested with him, God's purpose of grace and mercy must for ever have failed. And accordingly the history of God's dealings with mankind is only a succession of failures, through the impotency of man, to present the full obedience which God requireth. There wanted an Amen to every promise of God that Amen came in the person of his own Son. He, as a creature, did present the condition of perfect obedience, necessary to the lordship, and headship, and

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