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place through the dreary desert, to “ All the goodness of man is but alleviate the burning heat of guilty the flower of the field,” it wie fear, of harassing temptation, of thereth away; yea, all without distressing affliction, till they flow Christ is not only destitute of sathrough death, into the eternal tisfaction, but under the curses world, an ocean without a bottom Let us not, then, neglect Christ, or a shore! There we shall for disbelieve the record of his glory ever stand adoring the height, the and his grace, nor slight his perdepth, the length, and breadth of son and his salvation. Why should that love of Christ which passeth wè vary our dependence, wher knowledge!
i .. there is but one thing that is good Oh let me take of this stream by for the sons of men, but one foundfaith, flowing from my smitten ation of hope, one fountain of Rock! when unclean let me here blessings? Let us not fall under wash my polluted soul; when again that awful curse, which fell upon defiled, let me come again to the Jeshurun, when, deceived by eartheleansing stream; when thirsty, let ly advantages, he waxed fat and me come and drink till my soul is kicked, &c. when he forsook God satisfied with the loving kindness, which made him, and lightly es.. grace, and goodness of my Saviour. teemed the Rock of his salvation, It is free to every thirsty Israelite: and provoked him to jealousy: and « Whosoever will, let him drink of the Lord said, "I will' hide my the waters of life freely.” (Rev. xii. face from him, and I will see what 17.) Atall times, all through thebar. his end shall be.” Deut. xxxii. ren track of life, it flows in the word 15, 20.) and ordinance; there let me renew Let us, then, exalt the Rock of the taste of covenant and everlast- our salvation in the dependence of ing love, flowing from the river of our faith, the love of our hearts, life before the throne of God, and the praises of our lips., · The through the stricken and bleeding storm which would have over heart of my Redeemer. Here, then, whelmed our souls has struck on is the Rock of salvation; not a this immovable Rock that thus barren rock, however unseemly in shelters us ; how, then, shall not its outward appearance, not only the blessings of salvation flow from suitable for a foundation,--for de him to his believing people? Here fence and shade,—but dispensing let me trust, “ for the Lord is my every blessing of grace and glory defence, and my God is the Rock (Deut. xxxii. 13); secured to of my refuge.” (Psalm xciv. 22.) every believer by his faithful pro- « Come, then, and let us sing unto mise, his covenant and unchanging the Lord, let us make a joyful love, the infinite perfection of his noise to the rock of our salvation." nature, the exalted dignity of his (Psalm xcv. I.) Immutable in his mediatorial person ; his almighty perfections, elevated in his dignity, power, his infinite wisdom, and his eternal in his sufficiency, I trust in unbounded and never failing grace. no created arm when I trust in Je
What an infinite superiority, sus my Saviour; the ETERNAL GOD then, has the believer above the is my refuge, and underneath are people of the world in all their the everlasting arms, &c. (See glory and confidence! Who is a Deut. xxxiii. 27, to the end.) rock save our God? for blessings, 6 Jehovah liveth, and blessed be for security, for duration ! " Their my Rock, and let the God of my rock is not as our rock, our enem salvation be exalted." Amena mies themselves being judges.".-- Amen. How transitory is all below!
ON THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF by: it is a bad sign when people
are displeased instead of humbled. . .. Rev. ii. 4. :
I have somewhat against thee, beNevertheless, I have somewhat cause, &c. Observe here these
against thee, because thou hast following particulars : · left thy first love. .
1. One grand essential in true
Christianity is, love. . · The church of Ephesus was, on 2. What is meant by the first the whole, in a flourishing state, love? and retained much of its original 3. What are we to understand purity and devotedness to God by leaving it ? through the faith of Christ. It is '4. That to leave it is displeasing highly commended in the two pre- to the Lord Jesus, and cause for ceding verses. And those churches rebuke. or individuals of whom such things '1. True religion is described can be spoken, are indeed praise- here by love; this being always a worthy, and approved by him who grand and essential part of it. If is the Searcher of all hearts : “ I this be wanting, there is nothing know thy works, and thy labour, which is of any worth ; as St. Paul and patience, and how thou canst largely shows, 1 Cor. xiii. :“Though not bear them that are evil; and I speak with the tongues of men hast tried them that say they are and angels, and have not charity apostles, and are not, and hast (or love), I am but as sounding found them liars.; and hast borne, brass or a tinkling cymbal ; and and hast patience, and for my though I have the gift of prophecy, name's sake hast laboured, and hast and understand all mysteries and nut fainted." Yet the state of this all knowledge, and though I have flourishing church was not per- all faith, so that I could remove fectly pure and spotless; there was mountains, and have not love, I something in it worthy of rebuke; am nothing; and though I bestow and this St. John 'must administer all my goods, to feed the poor, and to them; and it is the office of all though I give my body to be Christ's ambassadors to reprove burned, and have not love, it proand rebuke, as well as to exhort fiteth me nothing. Now abideth and admonish, with all long-suffer- faith, hope, charity; but the greating and doctrine : he was to write est of these is charity: therefore, to them in Christ's name, Never- follow after charity.” This love, theless, I have somewhat against when true and genuine, proceeds thee, because thou hast left thy first from faith of God's operation, and love. Notwithstanding the fore- from the lively view and belief of mentioned commendations, and the his love to our perishing souls; and excellent graces and works which saving faith cannot be without are found in thee, thou hast some love. In Gal, v. 6, we are shown thing which is to be blamed. The both the necessity and the source Lord Jesus first observes the good of it. In Christ Jesus neither cirwhich was in them, and shows how cumcision availeth any thing, nor pleasing it was to him, before he uncircumcision, but faith, which begins to reprehend; but he can worketh by love. Without faith not overlook or wink at what is of the Spirit's operation, there evil in the best ; and it is for their can be no genuine Christian love : profit that he should not. Men it is a principle which the heart of are to be admonished for their fallen man is destitute of by nature, good, and such as are of a right and the power of divine grace disposition will submit to it with produces it in every regenerate meekness, and seek to profit there, soul: the fruit of the Spirit is
love, &c. And it is faith which and spiritual things, and the love excites and inflames love; the and excellency of Christ, are disfaith of God's love and mercy in covered to their astonished and Christ, and the view of all his pere delighted minds. They behold fections as glorified through Christ's and are impressed with everything satisfaction in the salvation of men; in quite a new manner, and as they and likewise the faith of unseen never were before ; which renders things, which draws the affections them lively and affectionate, though toward them, and loosens them at present their knowledge is but from the things of the world. The small, and their judgment unripe. love here meant is a supreme love They find much enjoyment in com. to God; and this discovers itself munion with God, and in his ways, by a love to his word and Gospel, and yet know but little of the his ordinances and worship, his Christian warfare, the assaults of commands and ways, his people, temptation, and the evil and deand to all men for his sake, and ceitfulness of their own hearts; because he requires it. All that and fancy they shall never tire nor have this love know how they ob- faint, and that no trouble can ever tained it, and that once they were move or dismay them : like Peter, strangers to it. They feel attach- Though I should die with thee, &c. ment to, and delight in, God; it is So it was with Israel, when brought their chief pleasure to wait on him; through the Red Sea (Jer. ii. 2), they count all things but loss for I remember the kindness of thy Christ; they keep close to him in youth, the love of thine espousals, all his appointed means of grace, when thou wentest after me in the public and private, not only be wilderness. When the affections cause it is their duty, but delight are lively, and love to God and his and privilege; they hate all sin be truth and ways fervent and vigourcause God hates and forbids it; ous, the effect of grace, and not and they love to do 'his will, and merely the effect of novelty and are solicitous to please and honour the power of an heated imaginahim in all their ways, and deny tion, there will be a corrrespond. themselves with regard to profit, ing tenderness of conscience, a pleasure, credit, &c. in order dread of sin, diligence to do good, thereto. They love all that appear and to please and glorify God, and to love Christ with a brotherly af. strict and humble walking with him. fection; and love all men, whether And all these ought to remain and friends or enemies; and it is their increase, as the judgment ripens, .. aim and endeavour to do good to and knowledge grows, as trials and all, in body and soul, according to temptations are experienced, and ability and opportunity.-Such is hindrances and oppositions present this love, and it must needs render themselves. It is happy, indeed, all true Christians amiable and when this is the case. God is then useful characters ; and if all were greatly honoured, and his grace is such that are so called, this earth found to be sufficient. But, would much resemble the world 3. It too frequently falls out, above.
that this first love is left, and cools 2. What is the first love. The more or less, through one cause or Ephesians, on their conversion to other ; prosperity or adversity, Christ, were greatly alive to God; cares of the world, the deceitful. their affections were warm, their ness of riches, and the lusts of love strong and fervent: and it is other things, the depravity of na. usually so with others, when first ture, the wiles of Satan, unprofitturned to God, and brought out able company, and the want of of darkness into marvellous light, greater watchfulness and humility.
CHRIST. GUARD, VOL. VI. Pp
Many, indeed, begin, and seem and the soul does not prosper as to run well for a while, and receive before. As for such whose zeal is the word with joy, like the stony employed only about some parts of ground, but lose their good be- religion, and perhaps to excess, gipnings entirely, and all their re- while others are neglected, theirs ligion and zeal vanishes, and they is but a zeal without knowledge, or turn back like the dog to his vomit, mere wildfire and a heated imaginaand become as vile or even worse tion, and not the love of God. than at the first. It is possible for This is a love not worth the retainmen to leave their first love, even ing; and it is possible for this to where the truth and sincerity of be left, and the true love of God religion remains, and there is no take the place of it, which has rereturning to gross wickedness, but spect to all his commandments. A they still, on the whole, walk with church or congregation, as such, God. Thus it was with the church leaves its first love (though indivi. at Ephesus, and many of the mem- duals may still retain it) when it bers of it. There was much in them declines in numbers, in diligent ata and in their conduct to commend ; tendance on public ordinances ; their works, and labour, and pa. and many that appeared to be tience, and that they could not wrought upon by the Gospel, sink bear the evil, and all this for into thoughtless security; and Christ's name's sake. But yet they others, that were reformed, turn had left their first love: they were back again to their old sins. not so zealous, so diligent, and 4. Every thing of this kind is conscientious, as at the first ; but greatly displeasing to Christ, and had slackened and remitted in worthy of rebukes. I have some. some degree in the devotedness of what against thee, viz.. to reprove their hearts to God, and did not and threaten thee for, and to exwalk so closely and watchfully be- press my displeasure against, be.
fore him; and probably their works cause thou hast left thy first love. · and labour-were not so abundant, He was offended with the Ephe.
though their characters and their sians, because their zeal had some. ensample were still good; yet he what abated, though still they were that knows all things, saw that they upright and exemplary. At all to had left their first love, that there cool and grow more indifferent, is was some declension and backslid- of no small guilt, because the cause ing in heart, and they were not so of Christ is só excellent and glofervently alive to God as before- rious, and because it is not easy to time. So it may be, and oft is, say where it may end, and may with others; nay, in too many prove a drawing back to perdition, there is even a visible declension It is greatly dishonourable to and decay, though they may not Christ and the Gospel, and might have left off to walk with God, and seem to imply that backsliders have to love Christ in sincerity: they discovered that his truth and ways are not so vigilant, are less diligent are not worthy their chief attenin duty, in secret prayer, medita- tion and regard. It is complying tion, self-inquiry, &c. than hereto- with, and giving place to, Satan; it fore; perhaps can more readily alis setting an evil example before low excuses to be occasionally ab- the world, and leading them to sent from church, or from the suppose there is no reality in reli. Lord's table; and are less diligent gion; and it is acting directly con. to do good, and to abound in the trary to those injunctions-Give work of the Lord. These and the same diligence, to the full assursuchlike 'are awful and alarming ance of hope, to the end ; Grow in evidences of backsliding, and cer- grace, and in the knowledge of our täin sigus that the first love is left, Lord and Saviour Jesus Christi
Well may it be very offensive to acquaintance with him, whom to Him who searcheth all hearts, and know is life eternal ? And have observes the first beginnings of spi- you an inward and strong affection ritual decay: I have somewhat to all the ordinances and ways of against thee, because thou hast God? Without this all outward left thy first love.
forms of religion are but painting
a sepulchre ; and the hottest zeal APPLICATION.
for some things in religion is but. 1. Christ hath-much against the self-delusion, unless it extends to church in this place for leaving its the whole; doing justly, loving first love. The novelty being over, mercy, and walking humbly with the seeming love, diligence, and your God. What is the love of zeal, have long subsided. Some most too evidently fixed on, but, years ago we had large and atten- the world, its pursuits, and ways; tive assemblies, in season and out some favourite lust, yain amuseof season, on sabbaths and on ments, the house of intemperance, other days :—but how is it now ? ungodly companions, &c.—What. Many that heretofore were regu- awful marks of eternal perdition! larly at the Lord's house, can now Have you left your first love, and keep away through any trifling ex- are become less attentive to your cuse; and others seldom or never everlasting concerns, and less diliattend, and manifest even no ex- gent in serving God and doing ternal regard for God and their good ? Can ye now omit duties own peace. Many that were re- which once ye could not, and comformed are wallowing in former ply with things which once ye could sins, and some that promised fair not allow; and are your conscito be converted, and to fly from ences becomeless tender,&c.? Christ the wrath to come, are now as un- has much against you; and ye have concerned as if they had no im- cause to condemn yourselves, and mortal souls to be saved or lost for to lament and be in bitterness of ever; the Lord's table has been soul. St. Paul prays that the love. forsaken by some, and most of the of Christians might abound more congregation regularly turn their and more ; but it is quite thế rebacks on it, because resolved not verse with you :-how awful and to forsake their sins; while some alarming, grieving to the holy Spi. that appear on the whole devoted rit of God, and pleasing to Satan! to God, have left their first love To grow in grace, in the fear and and zeal, and things are not with love of God, in diligence and dethem as in time past. Christ light in his service, and in useful. ' knows all these things, and is dis- ness, and in watchfulness, and honoured and provoked. We may zeal against all sin, must be highly be assured he has much displea- pleasing to him, and greatly for sure against this place; which his honour, as it is likewise the should alarm all that have any only preparation for death and sense of God, and induce them to ripeness for heaven. How happy cry mightily to him to revive his they that are in such a case, and work in the midst of these years of their growth is not merely in spiridegeneracy, lest, ere long, our tual pride and self-admiration. candlestick should be removed out While many never seemed to have of its place.
any love but to sin and the world, 2. With regard to yourselves, as others that seemed to love God individuals.-Inquire what is your and his ways have lost their love religion, and whether ye have any entirely. If Christ is displeased that will avail. Have ye this love, with those who have but in some through faith in Jesus and spiritual degree left their first love, how