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are filling up the measure of our iniquity, the consumption is advancing, and every day we draw nearer and nearer to dissolution. Whereas, if we accept of the ponishment of our iniquity, and put away from us those evil doings which provoke the Lord to jealousy, then may we hope that he will return to us in mercy, and rejoice over us to bless us and to do us good; according to that encouraging promise, (Jer. xviii. 7.) “ At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy; if that nation, against which I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I also will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."
It is this which should always give check to any de. sponding thoughts. We have but one to please, one whose favour is desirable, and one wbo is most easily pleased; because he hath told us, without ambiguity, what will please him; and at the same time hath declared bis readiness to aid our feeble endeavours, by working in us effectually both to will and to do of biş good pleasure.
Let us then hearken to the call of the Lord God of Hosts. Let us, with weeping and mourning, return to bim, from whom, alas! we have deeply revolted, and ask of him, this day, the spirit of repentance, and grace to walk in newness of life, by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.
In this way only can we hope, that he who hath the hearts of all men in bis hands, will give judgment to them who sit in judgment, and strength to those who turn the battle from the gate; and cause our eyes once more to see our Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, none of whose cords shall be broken, neither any of the stakes thereof ever removed. Amen.
REVELATION ii. 18.
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 with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
BEFORE I enter upon the consideration of this gra. cious counsel, I conceive it may be of use to give you some account, First, of the person who gave the advice; and, Secondly, of those to whom it was addressed. The
gave the advice was our Lord Je. sus Christ; that Wonderful Counsellor, and Prince of Peace, foretold by the prophet Isaiah, of the increase of whose government there shall be no end. Here he styles himself the Amen, the Faithful and true Witness: One whose word may be depended upon, who does not come and go, say and unsay, but who is always in one mind, without any variableness or shadow of turning. He is God's witness to the sons of men; and as he is perfectly acquainted with the Father, so he faithfully reports the Father's mind and will to us. His testimony is infallible; for as he cannot be deceived himself, so neither is he capable of deceiving others. I need scarcely observe to you the vast importance of this part of his character. Indeed without it, our faith, and consequently our hope and comfort, would be mere delusion; but blessed be God, the truth and faithfulness of this divine
witness, doth infinitely remove from us every possible cause or ground of suspicion. Men may utter falsehoods through mistake and ignorance; or even when they know the truth, they may be induced, by selfish views, to conceal or disguise it. But neither of these grounds of distrust are applicable to our Lord. His knowledge is unlimited, and absolutely perfect; and his infinite fulness and self-sufficiency, raise him above all kinds of dissimulation or artifice. And probably this is the reason why he styles himself, (in the close of the 14th verse) the Beginning, or first Cause of the creation of God. He can bave no dependance upon the workmansbip of his own hands. As their goodness cannot profit him, neither can their malice hurt him; so that he can be under no temptation, either to overawe them with imagi. pary terrors, or to allure them with vain and flattering promises. Well then, the character of Counsellor is fair and untainted; and, if the advice he gives us is kind and obliging, there is no room to question the sincerity of his good-will. Here, therefore, my brethren, is one great point gained; and as I am afterwards to lay a considerable stress upon it, I beg you may attend to it in the mean time, and consider, as I go along, that the person who spoke in this passage, and in whose name I now speak to you, is the Faithful and True Witness, the independent Creator and Governor of the world.
Let us next inquire who the persons were to whom the advice or counsel was addressed. In general they were members of Christ's visible church, and inhabi. tants of the ancient city of Laodicea; it appears also from the description given of them, that with respect to their spiritual concerns, they were in a very degenerate and wretched condition. The first thing taken notice of is their lukewarmness and indifference-a temper which
is peculiarly loathsome and offensive to Christ, and therefore he threatens to “spue them out of his mouth," that is, to testify his displeasure against them by some very awful and remarkable judgments. Their state is more fully represented in the verse preceding my text, where the Faithful and True Witness tells them that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and which prodigiously aggravated both their guilt and misery—they knew it not they were insensible of it; though they might have known it, yet they would not. Such was their woful indifference, that they did not examine their spiritual condition, but took it for granted, and boasted of it, that they were rich, and increased with goods, and bad need of nothing. And now judge, my brethren, whether these persons were worthy of any notice or regard, I mean in a way of mer. cy; for that they merited wrath, I suppose you will read. ily allow. Behold then, and admire the amazing grace and condescension of our Lord. Though the wickedness of the Laodiceans, aggravated by their pride and loath. some indifference, cried aloud for vengeance, and no. thing but vengeance, yet, lo! he vouchsafes to counsel them as a friend !_0 how encouraging may this be to those who are burdened with a sense of their guilt and pollution—who see their need of Christ, and pant and long for his great salvation. You say you are unworthy of bis aid, and you are right when you say so; but such is his grace, as appears from tbis epistle, that the greatest unworthiness is no bar in the way of it. He not only counsels, but entreats those Laodiceans, whose condi. tion was as bad as can well be imagined. “Behold," says he, in the 20th verse, “I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to bim, and sup with him, and he with
me.” Here then is sufficient evidence, that there is mer. cy with Christ for the chief of sinners. This was his very errand, to seek and to save that which was lost. And therefore every soul that feels its misery has no reason to be discouraged, because of its unworthiness; on the contrary, this very temper lays it as it were in the way of bis mercy; for though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.-He resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.-Yea, he dwells with those who are of a contrite spirit, and that tremble at his word. The use I intend to make of this is to obviate an objection which frequently proves hurtful to newly converted sinners. They are tempted to think that their case does not admit of any hope; having dark and imperfect views of the grace of the gospel, they put away from them. selves the sweetest and most condescending offers of mercy, supposing that they are not addressed to them, but to others whose guilt is less aggravated than theirs : but give me leave to assure yoù, in the name of the Faithful and True Witness, whose message I now bear, that the counsel I have read to you, and which I am far. ther to open, is directed to every soul within these walls, the vilest not excepted. Are you wretched, and misera. ble, and poor, and blind, and naked-hearken to the advice of your gracious Lord, an advice which he gives to every one of you in particular, as if he called you by your name:
“ 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 with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”
It is needless to inquire very critically into the precise meaning of these figurative expressions. I reckon