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He is become an humble believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, He has read the history of Balak and Nebuchadnezzar, of Belshazzar and of Dives; and he has turned it to profit. : sAnd now he says, " O Lord, what wait I for? Truly, my hope is in thee! not in a dream; not in a shadow; not in a pageant! Oh, help me to repel the fiery darts with which I am assaulted. Help me to count thy favour better than life itself.”
Let us learn thus to know the world. All other knowledge is splendid ignorance.
4. We may learn TO KNOW THE GOSPEL.
The Gospel is a foundation for a man to set his foot on, while the world is passing away from under him. Tell the Christian that there is no hope in nature-"God,” says he, “never intended there should be. He never intended this world to stand : and, if there were nothing else to destroy it, sin would effect its ruin. But there is a foundation, that standeth sure; and he, who builds on that foundation, shall stand for ever.”
The Master-builder determined to lay no other foundation: and when we have truly built on that, we may bid defiance to passing worlds, mouldering bodies, and all the ravages of time. While left in the world, walking according to God's will and in his way, you will be taken into his family; for Whoso, said the Saviour, doeth the will of my Father, the same is my brother and sister
and mother : and, therefore, shall dwell with hint for ever
Brethren! have you begun to build against every approaching storm ? The foolish man's house, however fairly erected, was built on sand, and must come down. If you are, indeed, building on Christ, the winds may blow and the waves may rise, but you are secure. Oh, that we may lay it effectually to heart, that, while days pass away and our friends are dying around us, we ourselves shall soon be called to die! Oh, that we may learn to build on the Rock of Ages! The world is departing, and opportunities are passing away. Many say,
“ How swift has this departing year fled!" True--it has; but has the swiftness of its flight brought you to think for yourselves, on what you are to stand, that you may stand for ever? I beseech you, Dearly beloved, as strangers and pilgrims drawing nearer and nearer to your eternal home, to recollect, that now is the accepted time, that this is the day of salvation.
May God, of his infinite mercy, make it such to every one of us, for Jesus Christ's sake!
LOSS OF FIRST LOVE.
Rev. ii. 4.
Nevertheless, I have somewhat against ther, because thou hast left
thy first love. WHEN Christ left the world, in respect of his bodily presence, he left this promise with his disciples: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world; and he gave proof that his promise might be depended on : and, not only so, but he permitted them to see the performance of it.
When a furious persecutor, like Saul of Tarsus, was destroying the Church, had be known of this promise, he would have diregarded and despised it, yet Christ had not forgotten it; and therefore arrests him on his way: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
When St. John was banished to Patmos, and, as it is said by some historians, made a slave in the mines there, had Christ then forgotten this promise ? No! we have here its fulfilment. He visits, and under a glorious appearance, his servant in Patmos. The Apostle sees his Master walking among the golden candlesticks, and hears him bid him write the things which he had seen, and
which should be hereafter. In thus visiting him, Christ proved that he still lived, and that he lived for the benefit of his Church; and he sent by him messages to different Churches.
We have now to consider a part of the méssage which he sent to one of these Churches: Unto the angel, or principal minister, of the Church of Ephesus, write: These thing's, saith he, that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks : 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. These are high commendations : but, in the text, he says, Nevertheless,---nevertheless -I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love: thou art now in a state of decay.
I shall consider, concerning this decay in religion.
1. Its NATURE. 2. Its DANGER. 3. Its SYMPTOMS. 4. Its REMEDY.
I. We are to consider the NATURE of decay in religion.
You are to distinguish here, Brethren, between
a Church decaying, and a Church that is dead. This Church was not dead. A Church is mentioned, in the beginning of the third chapter, that was dead: Unto the angel of the Church in Sardis write, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God: I know thy works, that thou hast à name that thou livest, and art dead. A Church may be alive, as to its ordinances and doctrines; and yet have left its first love. It may hold the truth: it may have the Gospel in the form of it; and in the power of it too, in a certain degree, so as not to be dead : and yet what we may call the soul of religion—the spirituality, the love, the zeal, the fervor, which it once had, may be gone.
There is not one of us, who does not understand this in natural things. You know what it is to be sick, when you are not dead. You know what it is to have a friend sick, and to feel for him; to be alarmed and distressed, when he is not dead: but you are alarmed, because your friend is sick; and because you know that he must die, if he does not mend. You would not
of bad wine, “ It is not wine:" but, “ It is not good wine: it has not a good flavour.” So, of fruit, you would not say,
“It is not an apricot, or a peach :' but, “ It is not a fine one; it has lost its flavour.' And so, of a Church, you cannot say, " It does not hold the truth:” you cannot say, “ It is dead :" but, “ There are evident signs of decay: it has lost its first love."