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LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA.
REVELATION iii. 14-22.
We have now, my brethren, reached the concluding promises attached to this epistle to the Church of Laodicea, and it of course becomes us to take a brief review of the topics which have entered into our consideration. We have viewed at large the description which our Saviour gives of himself as the Amen, the first and efficient cause of all creation. We have seen that the awful sin of this Church was lukewarmness, a state utterly loathsome in the eyes of Christ; a state of ruinous self-deception, inasmuch as while they thought they were rich, and had need of nothing, they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." We have seen the gracious remedy provided—“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes
eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” We have heard the declaration and the exhortation—"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous, therefore, and repent.” We have largely discussed the gracious design of Christ in the words—“Behold, I stand at the door and knock." And now we come to close the epistle with the discussion of its promises.
The promises with which this epistle closes may be viewed as slightly differing from the others, as there are two distinct branches; the first given to those who open the door, the second to those who overcome; the first is connected with the special exhortation to open the door, the second with the general design of the epistle; the first appears to relate more particularly to the enjoyment of Christ's peculiar love on earth, the second to the enjoyment of his presence in the abodes of his eternal glory. Let us consider them in order. “If any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." This language, if paraphrased, I apprehend, may be correctly considered as declaring, that whoever will open the door of his heart to Christ in the manner and for the
purpose which he desires, shall receive the most abundant manifestations of his grace
mercy sent life, that indwelling of the Spirit, the source of all comfort; and everlasting glory in the life to come. These two points will afford us matter of much delightful meditation.
In the ordinary intercourse of life, supper is wont
in the preto be considered as by far the most social meal to which a friend can be invited ; and when this term is used to mark the character of that intercourse which Christ has promised to hold with his believing people, it leads the mind instinctively to the intimacy and familiarity of the promised connexion—“I will come in to him, and will sup with him.” What can be the meaning of so singular a declaration as this? Brethren, this is a matter of experimental religion, about which I despair of making myself distinctly understood by the majority of those about me. The natural or unconverted man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither doth he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. There is an intimate union between Christ and the soul of a believer, which, like the new name, no man knoweth save he who receiveth it; but by those who are real and devoted Christians, this communion is as much a matter of experience as any thing which pertains to their religious character. The Lord Jesus Christ, by the sweet influences of his grace, comforting and cheering, dwells in the hearts of those who love him, so that like the bride in Canticles, they can say, “my beloved is mine and I am his." If it were not for this indwelling of the Spirit, the believer would never be enabled to have his soul kept in peace amidst the trials and difficulties which he is compelled to encounter while he is travelling through this vale of tears. I know, brethren, that on a subject of this kind, with which the ungodly and the lukewarm are necessarily unacquainted, a doctrine of this kind is liable to be stigmatized as visionary and enthusiastic; but the scoffs of the scorner, and the ridicule of the ignorant, can never cheat the real, devoted
servant of the Lord, of one of his most precious privileges, and I would that the anxiety to possess the comforting presence of Christ, in the peculiarity of his manifestations to the soul, would stir you up to an insatiable desire to enjoy so precious a privilege. This doctrine of the peculiar manifestation of Christ's love to the soul of a believer does not, however, stand upon the fallibility of individual experience; but it is a doctrine of the Scripture so plain that it cannot be mistaken. “I will come in to him,” says Christ, “and will sup with him ;” and to show that these are not words without a meaning, the idea which they contain is amply followed out and corroborated by the most plain declarations in that most heart-consoling chapter of St. John, in which our Saviour provides for his anticipated absence“If ye
love me, keep my commandments: and I will pray
the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he
ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep
my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings : and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things I have spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Such language as this, my brethren, must have an extraordinary meaning, and in the language of bishop Horsly, a man of extraordinary mind, and one in no danger of being charged with enthusiasm, “This indwelling of the Spirit is represented as an immediate action of the Holy Spirit on the minds of men; not, indeed, such an action as might be called a distinct perception, independent entirely of the testimony of conscience, and resolved only into feeling which might be deceptive, but such a decided spiritual impression, as uniting its evidence with the testimony of conscience, comes up to the meaning of that expression which says, “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;' that is, there is such a divine communication between Christ and the souls of believers, as uniting its impressions with the testimony of conscience, gives to believers an undoubting persuasion that they are the children of God.”
This, brethren, I hold to be the decided meaning of the promise of Christ, and the reason why all