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and of doom let the righteous lift up their heads, for the day of their complete redemption hastens on. Many days of comparative darkness have they passed on earth, but theirs will then be the brightness of the morning-star; and in the mansions of their Father and their God, there is no night, and not one intervening cloud. The Lord himself is the light thereof, and the glory of the Lamb doth shine upon it.
Oh, brethren, how low and grovelling must our conceptions be, when visions of glory such as these can make no permanent impression on our souls. Our thoughts, instead of being directed to those bright realms, are fixed upon the gloom and the darkness which are underneath.
See how we grovel here below,
Fond of these earthly toys;
To reach eternal joys.
And yet whose shall be the clear shining of the morning star? Not the slothful, not the careless, not the lukewarm, not the sinner. It is to the conquerer that the promise is confined, and he alone shall inherit glory. At the throne of judgment then, will be the public recognition of the conquering Christian's claims, and before the assembled universe of men and of angels shall he be declared a partaker of the triumphs which his Saviour's grace hath achieved. Then, when the wicked are severed from the just, and they enter upon the darkness of that night on whose bosom no morning-star will ever shine, then shall the righteous, in the train of the King of kings, go to Zion, with songs of everlasting joy; and as they come to the gates of the city, the shout of triumph will arise—“Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory will come in.”
Loose, loose your bars of massy light,
And wide unfold the chrystal scene ;
Receive the King of Glory in.
He claims these mansions, not for himself alone. It was not for himself alone that the King of Glory, the Lord of Hosts, strong and mighty, fought the battle and won the victory. It was to impart it to his friends and through himself to make them conquerers over all his foes. Ay, that they might have dominion in the morning, and dwell for ever beneath the brightness of his shining. Would to God that I could stimulate you to the struggle against all the enemies and the hindrances of your salvation. Would to God that for one brief moment, I could picture to you the happiness belonging to those who keep to the end the word of Christ. Would to God that for one brief moment I could draw the curtain from the bosom of nature's night, and show you the splendour of His presence who calls himself the morning-star. But no; such wishes were presumptuous, and such wishes vain; for as “if ye believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would
be persuaded though one rose from the dead;" so if ye heed not the voice of God as he says—“hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches,” neither would ye be persuaded even if the azure canopy were rent, and unborn ages were to crowd their vision on your souls. Nature's night-nature's night must first be dispelled from your hearts, and ere that will come, you
must be convinced of your need of spiritual illumination, and your yet sightless eyes must be turned to heaven, and the warm prayer be uttered—“Lord, that I may receive my sight.”
Oh, of light thou great Creator,
In our deepest darkness rise ;
Pouring eye-sight on our eyes.
Tis darkness with your souls till he,
Yes, and when that morning-star hath lighted up the darkness which now rests on our hearts, he will light the path of your pilgrimage, the valley of the shadow of death, and the realms of immortality.
FORMALITY IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT SARDIS.
REVELATION jii, 1–6.
And unto the angel of the Church in Sardis write; These things saith he
that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars ; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die : for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white : for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
SARDIS was an ancient city of Lydia. It was situated at the foot of the mountain Tmolus, now called by the Turks Bouzdag, or the cold mountain. Sardis is only remarkable in history as the residence of Crosus, the king of Lydia, who was so famous for his riches. It was conquered by Cyrus, king of Persia, and thus united to the Persian dominions, and under the kings of Persia, it became the residence of the Satraps of Asia. Sardis was one of the twelve cities that were destroyed in the seventeenth year of the Christian era by earthquakes. It must have been afterwards rebuilt, as there certainly was an externally flourishing Church in the time of St. John. It was eventually overrun by the Turks, and received the name of Sart, by which name it is still distinguished. I shall have reason to speak particularly of the fate of this city hereafter. These are all the historical notices necessary for our present purpose, and I take up the epistle. In considering this epistle, we have
I. AN INTRODUCTORY DESCRIPTION OF OUR SAVIOUR.
II. A DESCRIPTION OF THE AWFUL SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THAT CHURCH.
III. A WORD OF COUNSEL AND A THREAT.
IV. AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL CHARGE OF SPIRITUAL DEADNESS; and
V. THE CONCLUDING PROMISE.
I. In general there are no parts of these epistles so difficult of explanation as the brief sentences by which they are introduced. In the present case, commentators have widely differed as to the meaning of the declaration," he that hath the seven Spirits of God.” By Dr. Clarke it is confidently asserted that seven angels are meant, and the argument by which he arrives at his conclusion is, that this is a Jewish phraseology, and that the ancient Jews, who, in representing the throne of God being wont to