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the Holy Ghost. A free Gospel, and a full one, the Gospel of the marriage supper of the Lamb, shall be heard, yea, and now is heard in the Laodicean church, and blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And who are these by whoin this invitation shall be given ? They are the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Themselves of the Laodicean church? I think rather of the Philadelphian; for the angel of the Philadelphian church is faithful to his Master, whereas the angel of the Laodicean is altogether faithless. As the Lord took out from the Jewish church a body of men, who gathered by their faithful witness a glorious company of guests, so from the present Gentile church I believe he is gathering another band of brothers to go forth amongst the churches, and amongst all nations, and complete the number of his elect people ; after which the door shall be shut, and there will be no more admitted to that blessed communion.

In this opinion, that just before the coming of the Lord, there will be considerable ingathering, the preparation of a goodly company to meet him, I am confirmed by the parable of the Ten Virgins, which represents the church, and the part she takes on the eve of the Bridegroom's coming from heaven to this earth to be married to his church ; for that the marriage residence is on earth, is clear from the language used of the new Jerusalem : “ I saw new Jerusalem descending out of heaven, like a bride adorned for her bridegroom.” I have no doubt the earth is the marriage residence ; but I think the cloud in which he comes, and into which his church ascends to meet him, is like Sinai of old, the place where the covenant of wedlock is sealed. Thither the church ascends and meets her descending Lord, as Rebekah met Isaac in the eventide. Conceiving, then, the fulness of the Father's times to be well nigh accomplished, the time of the Son's session at his right hand to be drawing to its long expected close, and the Father about to bring in the only begotten a second time into the world, and in his mercy giving the world warning, and likewise the church, this parable of the Virgins reveals to us the effect which the warning hath upon the church. They are all found in a state of slum. bering and sleeping at the time the voice is lifted up in

the midnight, “ Behold the Bridegroom cometh." But part of them being both sincere in their expectation, and wise in their preparation, starting from their sleep, arise and trim their lamps, and, being ready, go in with him to the marriage, and the door is shut. The others, having been only formal and hypocritical in their professions of expecting the Divine presence, and being in no state of preparedness, but deeming that there would be time enough to get ready, are taken all in hurry and confusion ; and - while they are in perplexity, in the midst of the night, the Bridegroom comes, and enters into his chamber, and shuts the door, and opens it not again. They knock, but it is in vain : they cry

“ Open unto us, but he answereth, Verily I say unto you, I know you not ;” and so they lose the great blessedness of those who sup with the Bridegroom, who sit at his table in his kingdom, and ever enjoy the sight of his beauty.

This parable, besides confirming the doctrine of our text, that the Lord on the eve of his coming, while he is just at the door, will cause a voice to be heard loud enough to break the slumber of the church, doth likewise give us some insight into the meaning of the expression, “ If any man will open unto me, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me. His supping with us, is previous to our supping with him, and is doubtless a pre-requisite thereto. Now, the pre-requisite to our supping with him, is wisdom. The wise virgins, and they only, are admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb. We must receive therefore Christ as our wisdom, before he will receive us as his marriage guests. As wisdom he sendeth his Holy Spirit, who is the Wisdom from above, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, and of good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. This wisdom is now crying aloud in the streets, in the chief place of concourse, in the opening of the gates in the city, she uttereth her words, saying, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity; and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn you at my reproof : behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you" (Prov. i. 22, 23). This spirit of power and of love, and of a sound mind, is now crying aloud in the ears of men, and entreating access She also pro.

unto their hearts, and she promiseth to them many bless. ings : " Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." miseth to them a supper and a banquetting-house, -speaka ing on this wise ; « Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine ; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens, she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither : as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding" (Prov. ix. 1-6).

While I have interpreted these last two verses of our good Bishop's charge, chiefly in a historical sense, as relating to this last age of the church, and applied them chiefly to the ministers of the word, I am well aware that they contain together, one of the most perfect statements of the Saviour's love unto, and dealings with, every believer, and indeed every man; and it would be an unpardonable omission, did I not present them also in this aspect to every one who hath an ear to hear. To do so I feel not only drawn by inclination, but likewise directed by the language itself, which is of the most general kind : “ As many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent; behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open I will come in and sup with him, and he with me." Let us therefore endeavour to conclude this the last of the seven charges, with a practical exposition of these words.

Rebuke and chastisement are two stages of the same action, each being a penal infliction of God our Father ; the one expressed in rebuke of words, the other in visitation of distress; the one manifested in the conscience, hearing and acknowledging the rebuke of God, whether brought home by the voice of the preacher, or by secret meditation of our own; the other manifested to the sight of all men, in the afflictions and adversities of this present life. Now, in what way soever the rebuke of God doth reach us, we ought to regard it as a token of his love. No matter from what apparent cause it may have arisen, though it may appear to have been brought on by our own guilt; yea, though beyond doubt, it have been the offspring of our own wickedness, we are not on that account the less to regard it as a token of God's love. It is not a part of the evil course of this world, which he overruleth to his own ends, but it is the whole sphere and operation of it: “Is there evil in the city and God hath not done it ?” He is in it all, or he is in none of it; there are no loose ends in the web of his providence. There is no waste chamber in the house of his creation ; he is in it all, or he is in none of it; and in it all he is in his own true character, a God of goodness and of grace. Therefore we deceive ourselves if we look upon the adversities and evils of life in any other light than as God's rebuke and chastisement to us whom he loveth. This is universal doctrine, universally applicable to all men. Therefore I call upon all prisoners, whose feet are laid in fetters of iron; all sick and diseased persons, whose soul abhorreth all manner of meats, and who draw near to death's gates ; and


all oppressed, aggrieved, and miserable men, suffering from innumerable heart-aches, and misfortunes of every kind, surely to believe without any exception, be they ever so worthless, they cannot be worse than this Laodicean minister, that their trials and punishments, their solitude and starvation, are oft by God commissioned for their soul's health, to the end they may be partakers of his holiness. There is not an event of evil, that hath come upon this world since the Fall, but that it hath been weighed and measured by God with scrupulous nicety, for the good of him to whom it was sent. I

say this not to the church only, but to all people that dwell on the earth. Mercy rejoiceth over judgment, love is the heart's core of the roughest blows that man endures. Love is in the pestilence, and in the famine, and in the pains of death, as much as love is in the chastisement of a Father. That progeny of mischiefs, which sin begat, God did transform into a penal code, with which to prevent sin, and in the end to destroy it utterly from the earth. God was a Father to Adam ; and when Adam became a prodigal, God, the unchangeable God, continued his Father still, and, because he is Almighty, suffereth not that any thing should

prevent him from acting the part of a father to the end. And that no extremity of evil is any proof of the restraining of a Father's bowels, he proved by sending his Son into the utmost straits and agony and extremities of evil, yea into death itself, and that a death accursed, even a malefactor's death, yet withal was God his Father still, loved him still, and froni the lowest level of a felon's grave raised him to the throne of heaven on high. Who is he, therefore, that from his circumstances, be they what they may, will, conclude himself forsaken of the love of God. No, I say it again, these are proofs of his love-proofs of a pure, an abiding love, which in its devotedness to the well. being of a man will cut off all bis enjoyments, weaken and wound and slay the flesh, so that the spirit may live. They are not the less punishments for our sins, because they are likewise means of our sanctification. Indeed this is the true character of chastisement: first, that it should proceed for an offence; secondly, that it should be mea, sured out by love, for the removal of the offence: it hath in it both of judgment and of mercy, of anger and of love. Such is the view which the Prophet of God, Jesus Christ, who loved the world, and gave himself for the world, would have us to take of all the evils, which in this life befalleth us. I speak not now of the day of judgment; I am speaking of this, the day of grace. Now, then, when we are thus rightly taught, concerning our trials, what should we do in order to secure to ourselves the good intentions of God, and to be delivered from the state of suffering under which he hath placed us? for, as the Apostle saith, “ No suffering is for the present joyous, but grievous: nevertheless it worketh out the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised therewith.” The Lord answers this question in the two words which follow : “ Be zealous therefore, and repent."

Zeal hath reference to duty neglected, repentance to duty violated. The one is addressed to a state of lukewarmness and indifference; the other to a state of sin and transgression. If we, therefore, would be delivered from the evil with which we have been visited of God, it is by stirring up the gift that is within us, and fervently serving the Lord. It is by considering our ways, by examining and proving our hearts, and turning from the evil which

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