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“me."-Well christians, if such be the case of any of your hearken to the affectionate, rebuke and admonition of your Redeemer addressed to you, to warn you of the languishing state of your graces, and to arouse you to return to your first love. Wherefore I proceed,
Secondly, to explain the duty of those who may apprehend the reproof applicable to them. “Remember therefore from « whence thou art fallen, and repent and do thy first works,
elfe I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy “ candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
First, be thoroughly sensible of thy condition. We can.. not be too deeply concerned about our everlasting peace and welfare. Let us consider how matters stand between God and our souls. We are ready to enquire after, be careful of; and consult the health of our bodies ; wiry should we not be as anxious about the health and vigour of our immorcal spirits? Whether they prosper or languish ?-Whether their graces encrease or decline ?-Whether our faith, love, holy affections, and hope flourish, or whether they wither, fade and decay ? -Whether we make advances in religion, or go backward ?Whether we grow in regard to, and stedfastness in duty, or whether we become more indifferent to, and negligent of the divine service. Let us awake up and search and try ourselves. If upon fcrutiny, we find ourselves. departing : from our first love ; is it because God is less good, Jesus less amiable, religion less excellent, heaven less desirable, and less a relish for divine ordinances? If this be our unhappy case, nothing strange that doubts and fears should arise, that there should be fecret damps, fearful misgivings, and fad fun picions of heart. Examine yourselves, try yourselves, know ye not your own felves, how the love of Jesus is in you?
Secondly, be deeply affected with the unhappiness of your present circumftances. We should not only endeavour to
know our condition, but we should lay it to heart, larneat and bewail it, and repent in duft and ashes. Let us remember from whence we have fallen. How warm our affections once, how tranquil our fouls, serene our hopes, and substantial our joys, when God first pacified our troubled consciences and re. vealed his pardoning love to our hearts. How did we feel in a world of pleasure, as tho' heaven had come to earth ? Sen. timents of gratitude then glowed in our breasts, and we felt as tho' we would be no longer faithless but . believing. With a Sacredi ardour and humble dependence upon divine
grace, we fe: forward in our journey towards the heavenly Canaan. But doleful consideration, where are we now? How has our love and zeal, our hopes and comforts languished ? What drowliness and stupefaction beset us? How many fellow christians are putitriping us in every grace and virtue, in every good word and work? What fpiritual pleasures do they enjoy, what ceieitial dulighies do they talle ? Let Our fouls blush and be confounded, when we contemplate others far afcended to. wards paradile, and we perhaps till groveling on the earth, or it may be, going the down ward way. Can we charge God with unkindness, or our blessed Immanuel with negligence? Where is the wisdom, truth, honor or grace in our hearts when we unreservedly dedicated ourselves to the Lord and folemnly vowed to be forever his ? Has he been a barren wilderness io us or a land of drought ? -Has he dealt with us untenderly, unfaithfully or deceitfully ? - No. We know that his love is perfect and unchangeable. If he hath forsaken us, it is because we first departed from him. What will be our wretched condition if he should treat us as we do him ; if he should resent our coldness and neglects as they deserve ? Tremble at the thought, O christian! and shake off diy supineness.
Thirdly, répent and do thy firit works. Consider the path on which thou didst take thy departure from God, and return back in the same way in which thou wentest altra, A
Kaveller who hath lost his road and finds himself wandering, paufes, stands ftill, and recollects where he is sure he was right, and returns by the same track, however mortifying, tedious and irksome, and perseveres till he finds himself right again, and then with more vigilence and industry, he pursues the well known way, that he may recover the time he hath loft. Thus let the wandering christian go and do likewise. 6 Thus “ faith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and Tee, and ask for " the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein and " ye shall find rest to your souls." Every wrong Itep leads farther from God and happiness, encreases guilt and danger, and the return more difficult, the heart becomes more etranged and alienated, the sense and relish of divine things more languid. Let wanderers and backliders be speedy therefore in their return to God. Whoever defers things necessary to be done, never performs them so easy as at first. If we delay in this important business, and should be visited with fickness or the symptoms of death, what anguish must feize the soul, what terrible and dismaying fears, what stings and reproaches of conscience must the creature feel, who in this condition apprehends himself just ready to appear before the bar of God. Let a dying prospect aroule us from our leathargies, flumbers, and flee from the awful danger. If we would wish to die in peace and in sweet ferenity of soul, and have the consolations of the divine presence in that folemn hour, let us instantly remember from whence we have fallen and repent and do our farft works.
Fourthly, make a new and folemn dedication of yourselves to God. When you have suitably considered and inquired into your departures from a precious Christ, when your hearts become affected with your evil conduct, are touched with the unhappiness of your condition, begin to relent, foften and break, then take with you words and return unto the Lord,
and say with the Psalmist ; “ Against thee, thee only have “ we finned ; pardon our iniquities for they are great,"-Or cry with the repenting and broken hearted publican, “ God “ be merciful to us finners.” Let the language of every christian who hath forsaken his first love be, “O Lord my God, I blush to call thee mine, or by my name, which exprefses thy relation or right to me, or my obedience and love, for I have unreasonably and wickedly departed from thee, and in ftriet justice thou mightest take no farther notice of me, but discard me forever, as hell deserving, ungrateful wretch ; from my heart, I humbly acknowledge and own that ulter deltruction is my rightful portion ; yet, O Lord God, thou keepere covenant, and art full of compassion, who repentest thee of the evil, and passet by the tranfgreflion of the remnant of thy people, accept, thro' the atoning merits of thy dear Son, the devout purpose of my heart, and this renewed surrender I make of myself to thee. I resolve now, in thy grace, to rinwe to thee forever, and never more to wander or depa from thee, take not thy spirit from me, but restore, O God of my salvation, thy forfeited countenance and favour; deliver my soul from guilt and the other effects of my wanderings, then fall my tongue sing aloud of thy righteousness.”
Fifthly, be watchful and vigilent when thou art restored to thy first love and do thy first works, and by fervent and al. siduous prayer deprecate a relapse into that evil condition. “ Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. What “ I say unto you, I say unto all, watch.” Let your past deviation teach you circumspection, and your part follies wisdom. Endeavour to avoid the like departures for the future, " Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues “ of life.” Consider how you were first beguiled ; recolleet how it advanced till it arrived at the dreadful issue in our text. Learn no more to trust in yourself, or rely upon your ewn strength, but confide in divine grace, and lean continually upon your beloved. Maintain a deep and tender impression of your constant dependence upon God. Keep up a constant tenderness of heart, and thus you will be preserved in peace and comfort, and in the love of your precious Saviour.
Lastly, all this counsel, exhortation, and admonition, is enforced by a strong argument of threatening and terror, if it should be neglected or contemned. “I will come unto thee “ quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place." If the love of Christ be uncultivated, and the spirit of his grace be flighted, he will descend in tremendous judgments upon backsliding churches and declining christians. The threaten. ing comprehends in it every spiritual evil. He will unchurch them, take from them and their pofterity the means of grace, remove his gospel, his ministers and his ordinances, his spirit shall no more firive with them, their house will be left unto them desolate. And what will the churches, or the angels of the churches do when these fatal calamities shall come upon them? What has been the gloomy state of that once flourishing city and church of Ephesus, to which St. Paul wrote an instructive and comforting epiftle, and the rest of the other glori.' ous churches in the extensive province and proconsulate of Afia? They are gone, and hardly a veftige of them has appeared for many centuries. That fine country is wholly loft, overwhelmed and buried in the thick gloom of Mahometan superftition and delusion. Let all churches and individual chrif. tians be all attention to their unhappy example, to the warning voice of Christ, and the folemn monitions of heaven. This is a great and flourishing church of ours, it has been founded more than an hundred and thirty-five years, yet for our fad decays God may remove our candlestick from hence; where. fore let us always keep alive our first love ; let us be living peaitential lives, and working the works of righteousness.