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but only silver and gold, and precious stones. Come then come all ye poor ministers of religion, and ye be ashamed of your riches, and come, come buy honour of him, fine gold tried in the furnace, that ye may be rich. Remember these words of the Lord, “ As many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent."
6. The Appeal and Attitude of Love. We come now to the most tender and pathetic part of this, and of all the epistles, expressed in these words : “ Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (iii. 20). It might be made a question whether this verse belongeth properly to the second or the third division of the epistle ; to Christ's charge to the angel, or to the Spirit's promise unto all. The language of it is not personal, like that of the preceding verses ; but general, like that of the verse which follows after : and for this reason we might prefer to connect it with the Spirit's promise, rather than with Christ's charge. On the other hand, it wanteth the constant introduction of the words, “ to him that overcometh," which in other cases hath put the mark between the second and third parts of each epistle; and this reason, as well as its natural and beautiful sequence to the former parts of the charge, hath determined me to treat of it under this head of our Lecture.
The expression, " Behold I stand at the door,” carrieth the mind back to several parts of Scripture. First, to that famous exhortation of James concerning the latter days, wherein woe is denounced upon the rich men of the earth, because they had heaped up riches to the impoverishing of the poor; yea, and gathered them together by grinding the faces of the poor, and holding back from them the proper reward of their labour, whose groanings under oppression, the cry of whose wants, and the pleading of whose rights were entering into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Meanwhile his representatives upon the earth, his stewards, the rich and the noble, instead of imitating his pity and compassion, or fulfilling the obligations which possessions and riches entail upon men, do live in pleasure and in wantonness, and nourish their hearts as in a day of slaughter ;-yea, condemn and kill the just, though he maketh no resistance. In such a time, answering in most of its features to this time, and in its ecclesiastical features well answering to the character of the Laodicean church, the brethren are called upon to be patient, until the coming of the Lord, and over again are exhorted to be patient and establish their hearts, “ for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” And again, lest their hard and evil pligbt should sour and embitter their temper, and lead them to smite one another, he exhorteth him in these words : " Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned. Behold the Judge standeth before the door (James v. 7). I cannot peruse this sketch of the Apostle James, which is expressly said to be for the last days, without being fully convinced that the original is now under our eyes, in these days in which we live ; when the accumulations of wealth are enormous, and the masses of abject poverty are likewise enormous, beyond the example of any former time of the Christian church. Such an evil state of things may be found in the history of Rome, during the reign of the Cæsars, and in Persia before the Grecian conquest, and is still to be found in heathen lands; but the Gospel was given to do away with that as well as the other maladies of society; and behold the love of riches hath prevailed over the Spirit of the Gospel. Christendom, and especially this island, is come into the very condition from which the precepts and institutions of the church were intended to keep mankind. In every city you have the quarter of palaces, and the quarter of hovels; and the pulpit is silent against such iniquity : and rich men say, It is my own; and the servant of God dare not answer, Thou speakest a lie, it is God's. And so they drop their shillings and their pounds into the lap of charity, when they should drop their hundreds and their thousavds. Yea, verily, I will speak the truth, the richest and noblest congregations in this city are the least charitable. And are they the richer for it? No, but the poorer. It goes to gratify vanity and lust; it goes to keep up pomp and state; it goes to feed fat the heart for a day of slaughter. Ah me! there will be such a day of reckoning upon rich London as will pay off the scores of a century. The two extremes will meet, and the vilest of its people will yet revel in the palaces of its nobles. And what do we, we watchmen of the city? Why do we not speak out ? Because we love feasting and getting, and ourselves figure our little part amidst the circles of fashion and assemblies of gaiety. Oh what a sin ! and God also will reckon with us, and it is near for to come, and the Judge standeth at the door.
Another passage forcibly brought to my mind by the expression, 16 Behold I stand at the door," is written in the xiii th chapter of the book of Mark, where the Lord having set forth in order a large discourse concerning his coming, concludeth it with an exhortation to watch; which he enforceth by a short parable, containing, as I think, the original of the language in our text.
• For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore'; for ye
know not when the master of the house cometh; at even, or at mid-night, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning. Lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch” (Mark xiii. 34-37). Christ having been long absent from his church, doth to the Laodicean, or last stage of it, present himself again, and knocks for admission into his own house, “ Behold I stand at the door and knock;" but the servants of the house have all betaken themselves to eating and drinking, and revelling and fighting in their cups, saying one to another, Behold the Lord delayeth his coming. And so the porter is found off his post, and the whole house in disorder, little dreaming whose knock it is they hear, no, nor hearing it even ; and there he standeth and knocketh, for loth is he to break open the house and consume them in his hot displeasure. He will rather stand and lift up his voice and make it to be heard, that some, haply wiser and more faithful than the rest, may come and welcome him back again to his rightful habitation. Once he came unto his own, and his own received him not; again shall he come unto his own, and his own shall not be ready to welcome him. There is however a season, during which he will stand waiting and knocking, as it were lingering upon the confines of creation, and sending through its regions shrill and loud summons to prepare for his coming. The sea shall give sign of it, and the moon and the stars of heaven, the elements also, and the distress of nations, earthquakes, and the sea and its waves roaring. Many, very many methods of mercy will he take; he will cause the voice to be lifted up, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, prepare ye to meet him;" and loth, loth is he to break in upon the world with judgment; fain, fain would he save them all. He lingers long, he sends his angels through the midst of heaven, preaching the everlasting Gospel, saying, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.
Besides this application of these words, “ Behold I stand at the door and knock," to the warnings and alarms which in his mercy he will send forth through every region of nature, just before his breaking in upon its long revelry of wickedness; I think there is also signified, and perhaps more specially signified, the warning voice of the ministers of religion, which shall go forth to the ears of men, calling upon them to prepare to receive into their hearts the Lord of glory. And, in concert with the preacher's warning voice, I believe there will likewise go forth throughout the natural region of man's apprehensive mind, a certain dread and forecast of something awful about to fall in upon the world's ordinary course. The disturbances of nature's laws, the misgiving of man's spirit, with respect to the future, will keep barmony with the preacher's voice, and make men inexcusable if they flee not from the impending ruin into the ark of salvation, which the Gospel holdeth forth continually. To believe that there will be given by preaching, or by the church in general, some notable signs of Christ, while he is just at the door, I am led on many accounts, but especially for this, that whenever the Supper is mentioned in the Gospels, or elsewhere, such an earnest entreaty to the people is given as may be seen by examining the parable of the marriage supper, contained in the xxiid chapter of Matthew, and the xiv th of Luke. In the latter of those narratives, there are three distinct biddings to the marriage. The first given to the worthy part of the people, the landholders, the agriculturists, and the comfortable well-conditioned classes, who would not come. These, I make no doubt, signify the Jews, God's chosen people, bidden from of old to the
feast of fat things which God should make in the mount: of Zion, unto all people, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of niarrow, of wines on the lees well refined. But they, instead of welcoming the invitation to the mar. riage of the King's Son, did settle themselves down contentedly in their several enjoyments, and refuse the honour and the duty which they owed to their sovereign Lord and Master. Yea, and certain of them took his servants and entreated them spitefully, and slew them ; but when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his. armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their cities. Then went forth a second bidding, not as formerly to the privileged Jews, the nation of kings and priests, but to the wretched and worthless Gentiles, who had given themselves up to all manner of open and abandoned wickedness. « Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and the maimeds and the halt and the blind." And such is the invitation which the Gospel carrieth abroad over the face of all nations. But lo! there is a third bidding goes forth : “ And the servant said, Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Now I ask, what is this the note of in the dispensations of God ? I think it is the note of that knocking at every man's heart, which, on the eve of Christ's coming, shall more importunately be made. After the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind, had furnished their complement of guests, there yet was room. The number of the election was still incomplete. There wanted many to make up. the Lamb's bridal company, whom to complete, there. shall be a hasty ingathering at the time of the end, and this ingathering shall be from all classes, both bad and good, from the highways and the hedges, the resort of wayfaring and outlawed men. This now I believe is the voice with which the church is called, in her last or Laos; dicean state. She shall hear an invitation such as the Jews heard by their Prophets, and the Gentiles by the Apostles of the Lord. A voice of preaching, such as hath been heard only once before, shall. be heard again. Christ shall speak once more, by men fully gifted with