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ed their personal religion to fall into this dull and languishing condition, these terms are hard; and I know that much reluctance will be felt to their reception. But all this alters not the case. The omnipotent Saviour, who, in the language of this epistle, says, “I know thy works,” has called you to this one uncompromising course; and if
you who have thus fallen shall refuse the voice of his -warning; if you will still sleep the sleep of sin and negligence; if you will refuse to strengthen the things which remain, which are ready to die; and if you will let go your hold and despise the demanded repentance, be it so.
Yours is the crime, yours the responsibility, yours the penalty, and yours the punishment. Yet ere the resolution is taken to refuse the call; ere the determination is made to continue in this languishing and dying state, hear the same voice as
2. It places before you the awful consequence“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.”
Yes, my friends, and as I have already told you, fearfully was that threat accomplished on neglectful and disobedient Sardis; and the visible calamities under which the members of that Church suffered, were but the outward symbols of a ruin far more deep and tremendous. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God.” We may not pierce the veil which covers futurity from our view, but we may ask, for purposes of practical reflection, where now are the impenitent and infatuated inhabitants of that city and members of that Church, on whom our Saviour sent his judgment like a thief in the night? Their history-what need we of their history ? Every memorial has perished, but we have something better as our warning. Every passage of the sacred Scripture in which this subject is brought particularly into notice, leads our attention to the unprepared condition in which death and judgment and eternity will find the impenitent and unbelieving. “The day of the Lord will so come as a thief in the night, and when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” St. Paul, in his 15th chapter to the Corinthians, in which he treats so largely of the resurrection, declares—“Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” And in his epistle to the Thessalonians, in which he is directing their attention particularly to the great and terrible day of the Lord, he informs them that so sudden and rapid will be the process of these great events, that even those who are alive will not ascend to judgment sooner than those who are in their graves. There will be no time then to watch, no time to strengthen dying and decaying energies, no time then to hold fast, and no opportunity of repentance. The voice of the archangel, with the trump of God, brethren, will be a signal which none can refuse to hear, and which none will be able to disobey. Now, you may listen and disregard; you may lose all interest in the subject from the immense distance at which you may suppose the calamity to be removed; but willing or unwilling, prepared or unprepared, the summons must
be heard and answered, and the dead and the living, the formal and the languishing, as well as the hypocrites and the sinners, the one great mass of earth and seas' inhabitants, shall stand before the judgment-seat. Put the question to your hearts, ye whose religion is in a dull and languishing and decaying condition, are you ready for the coming of him who as a thief may gain access, and in an instant call you from time into an unprepared for eternity ?
Hasten, sinner, to return,
Stay not for to-morrow's sun,
Hasten, sinner, to be blest,
Stay not till to-morrow's sun,
Ere the morrow be begun.
Brethren, if the exhortation of the Spirit of God is rejected, in the name and on the authority of God, I pronounce you
inexcusable; for when I present to you the words of Christ to Sardis, "remember how thou hast received and heard," I call to your memories the unnumbered blessings of the Gospel, and I demand that you recollect how, day after day, and week and year, you have heard line upon line, calls to repentance, calls to faith, calls to holiness. “ Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.” Death and judgment, brethren, are at hand, and to you they
may come as a thief, sudden and awful. If the access of a thief in the solemn stillness of the midnight hour, who comes to rob you of your property, brings terror and dismay, what will be your feelings when the day of the Lord shall come, as a thief, and rob you, ay, rob you of every hope, of every plea, and leave you to stand naked, and destitute, and forlorn, and lost beyond the possibility of recovery? “Oh seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and
ye upon him while he is near.”
FORMALITY IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT SARDIS.
REVELATION iii. 1-6.
We have hitherto, my friends, contemplated the condition of the Church at Sardis with feelings of little better than unmingled melancholy; for most awful is that spiritual condition of which it is said “they had a name to live, but were dead;" and little better is that, where religion is in a dull and languishing, and dying condition. Amidst the moral and spiritual desolation over which we have been engaged in looking, there is one green spot, one oasis in this dark and melancholy desert; and this is the particular forming the
IV th general division under which this epistle is to be considered,—"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."