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the principles of the faith. And if they say, we do not : I would ask again, How can you think
condition a good and a safe one ? Did God set all this forth in order that it might be known, or remain unknown ? And whether is it more seemly in the sight of God that you should labour to enter into the truth, or labour to keep it from you. If you think there can be progress in sanctification, without progress in the knowledge of the truth, you utterly deceive yourselves, and contradict the method of the Lord, which is thus expressed : “ Sanctify them by thy truth : thy word is truth.'
Such was the evil condition of the Laodicean church, and such is the evil condition in which I believe that part of the Protestant church, called Evangelical, is now found; not cold, not hot, but lukewarm; a confusion between faith and sight, an intermixture of duty with expediency, a submitting of God's word to the tribunal of man's judgment,-in one word, an accommodation of eternal truth to present advantage. In spiritual things, it is exactly what in natural things brought about the destruction of the nations of Canaan, after Sodom had been given for an example ; and what is remarkable, it is judged in the very sanje language. After enumerating the mixture and confusion which they had wrought, and exhorting the Israelites to beware of the like, it is added, “ That the land spue you not out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you” (Lev. xviii. 28). So in the case of the Laodicean, or last state of the church, towards which I think we are now verging, it is as threatened by the good Shepherd : “ So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. iii. 16). This brings us to the consideration of the second part of the charge, which is
2. The Punishment proper to this Offence. I can look upon this threatening as signifying nothing less than utter rejection, even as we find Laodicea at this time subsisting in a state of wretchedness, far from God, and any earthly consolation, ever vexed with earthquakes, in the midst of barrenness and misery ; in somewhat such a state as the region of Sodom is described to be. It is very remarkable how, both in the Epistles of Peter and Jude, where the character of the Christian apostasy is described, as it was then shewing itself, and should be exhibited to full view before the coming of the Lord, both these inspired Apostles do refer to the sin of Sodom, and of the angels which kept not their first estate, as the counterpart and warning of the sin and judgment which should be consummated in the church (2 Pet. ii. 4–6; Jude 6, 7). Of this I have been led to think a good deal at various times; and, if I err not, God hath given me to understand the matter. If, as was thought both by certain of the Jewish and Christian fathers, and as I feel disposed to think, the intermarriage of the sons of God with the daughters of men, which produced the Deluge, did really consist in an act of seduction by the angels of the daughters of men: for which purpose they left their proper habitation, and came down to the earth, and tempted woman through the flesh with angelic beauty, as heretofore Satan had tempted woman through the desire of divinity; then am I able to understand how it should be the exact counterpart of apostasy in the Christian church. For we who are baptized into Christ do thereupon become the sons of God, being regenerate of the Holy Ghost, which is the inward grace, whereof the washing with water is the outward sign : thenceforth we are called with the high calling of Christ, risen with him, seated in his dignity, and honoured with his name. We are not carnal but spiritual; not of this world, but chosen out of this world, to be the heirs and inhabitants of the world
There as wide a difference between us and the children of the world as between incorruption and corruption, between life and death, between heaven and hell. “ Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” For us therefore to return unto the flesh which we buried with Christ in baptism, and to the world which we then renounced as a sinful doomed thing, and to the devil against whom we undertook as the enemy of God and man, for us to despise this the hope of Christ's calling, these the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and to return again to the enjoyments of the flesh and of the world, is truly to realize and exemplify the thing which is written aforetime for our leaving of the sons of God intermarrying with the daughters of men. It is to leave the spiritual and celestial estate of holiness
and glory whereto we have attained, and to sink back into the fearful pit and the miry clay, from the which we have been taken. It is only to be likened to the most disgusting of all things in the bestial world, as saith Peter, “ It is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is returned to his own vomit again; and, The sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. ii. 22). The same confusion of things which God hath separated, brought Sodom to its end, and the nations of Canaan. The Christian church he hath separated, from this world lying in wickedness, by uniting it to the risen body of Christ, and baptizing it into the hope of the eternal kingdom; choosing us in Christ as a substantial part of him from the beginning of the world, and preparing for us a kingdom, and constituting us his kings and priests, and heirs ; all which boundless grace setting at nought, and withstanding the Holy Spirit, we sink and degrade ourselves into that world which is separated unto hell, and prefer unto the fellowship of God and Christ, the fellowship of those men, for whom is reserved the fire of hell prepared for the devil and his angels. And therefore it is that these two instances: the sin of the angels, bringing on the destruction of the heavens and the earth, which then were, by water; the sin of Sodom, bringing in its destruction by fire, are presented as the two types of the sin of the Christian apostasy, bringing on the judgment of the world at the coming of the Lord. And as the land is said to have spued out the nations of Canaan, Christ threatens here to spue the Laodicean church out of his mouth. While the deliverance of Noah by the ark, and of Sodom by the visit of the angel of judgment, are represented as the assurance to Christ's faithful spouse, that he will deliver her, in that fearful day of the fiery judgment of the heavens and the earth which now are.
The evil case of the Laodicean church standeth in the attempt, to bring the church and the world into alliance with one another, and when God shall have sufficiently striven against this profane and monstrous union, he will doubtless reject the church with horrible loathing, and return to it no more for ever. It proceeds from losing sight of the true doctrine of the church, her separateness unto Christ by election of God, for the end of being his witness to the world, and saving as many as will believe on him whom he hath sent. The true idea and doctrine of the church is lost, and a system of societyship is instituted in its stead, which, giving heed to no ordinance, not even that of prayer, and to no discipline-save that of subscribing so much, or so much more, is, under the pretence of well-doing, breaking down all bounds and limits, and introducing every evil under the disguise of good. This is the reason why the doctrine of election is no longer brooked, and the doctrine of union unto Christ, and of the assurance of the Holy Ghost, of the church, and the sacraments of the church, and every thing else which hath in it the principle of distinctness and separation from the world. And, in room of this, the true spiritual circum. cision and separateness from the world, there has been introduced an outward and formal one, which is defined by abstinence from this and that fashionable amusement, from this and that worldly indulgence, whereby a schism is effected in the world, instead of a separateness of the church. The world is separated into two divisions, a religious and an irreligious world, but alike the world ; the one being the Pharisaical, the other the sensual form of the natural man; of which the former is supposed to be the church, and so named ; and the end is, that there is no church visible at all. According as this transition from the cold state of high-churchnianship to the lukewarm state of the religious world, is effected; the true saints of God will become more and more visible, by the persecutions and sufferings which they will be called upon to endure. They will stand at the door of their mother's house and knock; but there will be no one to open and let them in. I perceive that this state of things is fast realizing, is in Spirit indeed now realizing, and labouring to exhibit itself in action. I do not think that any power on earth can resist the combined forces which are crushing the church into this worldly form. But I believe that the doctrines which are now preaching in all quarters, will separate a holy people for a witness, and for a sacrifice, until the Lord come and fulfil his threatening of casting into the lake of fire, the beast and the false prophet. And I perceive by the way in which things are now working, it is to be, not a reformation of the church, but a
separation from the church, which God is effecting. For, from all quarters, I hear of little companies who upon being awakened, meet together for prayer and communion, and are immediately separated from the fellowship-and even from the society of the brethren ; spoken against, openly reviled, and in all ways contemned. It is of no consequence how much service they may have done for the church, or for the societies; they are, without remorse, set aside and treated as the offscourings of the earth, as the blasphemers of God, and of his Christ, and of his church. This is not the way in which the Reformation proceeded; but it is the way in which the church was drawn out from Jewry and from Paganism, before their destruction of the Lord. When I speak of separation from the world, as the true condition of the church, I mean not the spirit of schism; but the very contrary of it, the Spirit of love. The world is lying in the evil one, who is a murderer and a liar, is in a state of infinite schism, from which it cannot be delivered by any means but destruction. Persons may be drawn out of it through the Spirit of love, which can alone dissolve the uncharitableness of the natural man, and those who by the Spirit of love are drawn out, do necessarily unite and form one body, of whose perfectness the bond is love. But as love is necessarily not divisive but unitive, the church stands with open arms to receive every one, who by the same Spirit is moved to forsake the world's divisive courses. And so it is the hatefulness which the world hath to love, that prevents the whole world from being included in the church. But when it arriveth, that the church itself becomes divisive' in its spirit, as the Protestant churches are all become, each looking upon another as a rival, it is then necessary to destroy them utterly. And this is done by the Spirit of love, making for itself a home in certain hearts who know the truth, against whose sweet concord and inoffensive ways, the ecclesiastical body arming, do declare themselves thereby to be of those who are doomed to hell fire, because they would not favour and entertain the little ones of Christ.
I do believe, therefore, that Christ's threatening to spue these Laodiceans out of his mouth, is the same judgment with the 'casting of the beast and the false pro