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that holy religion which once flourished so extensively among them; and strangers to all those holy hopes of immortality which would enable them to bear the pressure of their present calamity, on the ground of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved for them in heaven. No Gospel privileges hath now the city of Ephesus, save, perhaps, when some missionary of the cross from Europe or America, comes along to weep o'er its ruins, and to search among its mouldering columns for some straggling individual who would receive the boon of a Bible, of the existence of which he had till then been most probably in utter ignorance. All this comes from having neglected the warnings of God to repent and do her first works. The threat was accomplished-the candlestick was removed-privilege after privilege failed-till at last, the warning totally unheeded, Ephesus fell, apparently never more to rise. The arm of the Almighty appears still outstretched in punishment, and his anger not yet turned away. If the cloud which hath gathered so thick over this portion of Asia shall ever break away, and her sons walk abroad in the freedom which for years they have been bleeding to purchase, if the power of the Turk shall ever be prostrated, and the cross be planted on the spot when the crescent is laid low-if the unadulterated word of God shall find its way amidst these scenes of desolation and of death, and if the voice of the missionary shall ever be heard crying "prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high way for our God"-then may the Church at Ephesus recover from the shock which she hath received at the hand of God, for the sins of which she refused
to repent when warned. She hath drunk, indeed, of a bitter cup, and there may be something better in reserve. God grant it; but as yet, there hangs over the scene a dark and dismal cloud, which it is impossible for us to penetrate.
Brethren, it would be unjust to you, and detrimental to my subject, if I should attempt, in the brief space which may yet be allowed me, to crowd together the many remarks which belong to other particulars embraced in this epistle. I shall, therefore, here close the subject for the present, intending to proceed with it in another discourse, and with one word of exhortation, I have done.
Let me ask you to carry to your homes, serious and deeply interesting thoughts on the evils of decay in religion. They are, ruin, ruin, temporal and eternal-lost glories-lost privileges-lost hopeslost immortality of bliss. And while we know that the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, and that his ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, yet sin unrepented of will separate for ever between God and us; and for this he will refuse to hear. Repent, and call upon God, and do your first works, or iniquity will inevitably be your ruin. The warning voice of God now unheeded, will be awakened in indignation, when it must be heard, and even as a city and a Church, we may share the fate of Ephesus; for God has not lost his power, neither is his justice or his holiness impaired. It may be said to us, "How often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not: behold your house is left unto you desolate." But even if this shall not take place; if God shall not pour out
his indignation in such measures as shall sweep our privileges and our blessings away, as with the very besom of destruction, he hath still left us on the pages of the Gospel a solemn declaration, which must come to pass-"except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Take warning then, brethren, even as a Church, by the history of Ephesus-nay, of the Churches of Asia. "It appears they gradually declined, and finally became extinct; so that for a series of ages, scarcely a vestige of them has remained; while error and superstition have been established in their Alas, they forfeited their privileges, and their candlesticks were removed; nor is their history, as it regards the facts which have been stated, by any means without resemblance or parallel in the annals of Christendom. Are there not districts in Europe, or even in our own country, where flourishing Churches formerly existed, and faithful ministers diffused the light of evangelical truth, but where nothing now appears but a moral desert, shrouded with the thickest gloom of ignorance, or overgrown with the rankest weeds of vice and error? Will this, at any future period, be the fate of the city in which I now labour-instructing, warning, admonishing many, who regard my addresses but little more than idle tales? Will those who profess to be followers of Christ entail a curse on their posterity, and the generations yet unborn, by first sinking into coldness and apathy in religion, and then despising the admonitions of the Saviour who calls them to repentance? Will the time arrive, when the walls of this house, erected to the worship of Jehovah, shall no longer resound with
the voice of prayer and of praise, or at least when the Gospel of salvation, in all its pure and heavenly doctrines, will no more be heard within its hallowed precincts? O let us take heed to ourselves; let us watch our wayward hearts, and pray most fervently for the spirit of grace, that we may not decline and become languid in religion, but on the contrary, increase in every virtue, and thus become useful in maintaining the cause of our Redeemer."
Who among you, my brethren, values as he ought, the holy privileges which he is permitted to enjoy? In these days of Gospel illumination, when the sun of righteousness shines upon our land, with his holiest and his brightest beams, there rests upon us a heavier responsibility than that which pressed upon the members of the Church at Ephesus. For every day we live adds its value to the Gospel which is committed to our keeping, and now, even from his mediatorial throne in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ descends, and by his presence, though unseen, walks in the midst of his Churches to mark their various spiritual condition. Is there no individual here, on whose heart the omniscient Saviour sees the livid spots of a spiritual decay? Is there no one who is going backward in the things of religion? Is there no one who is at this moment conscious of having lost the first love of God which once animated his bosom? Are all who have named the name of Christ, growing in grace and in knowledge? Is the path of every one who calls himself a Christian, as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day? Brethren, let no man deceive himself. If there is in the heart of one solitary individual among you, the slightest evi
dences of a spiritual decay-to that individual, the voice of the Spirit speaks the exhortation to repentance. Remember that once thou didst call thyself a Christian. Remember that once thou didst set out in the narrow path which leadeth unto life; but thou hast grown weary, and thy strength is failing. Repent, and do thy first works; the enemy is behind thee, and thou wilt soon be overtaken. Rouse thyself and call upon the Lord; gird up thy loins, and trim the lamp, whose flame is fading and flickering in the socket. Give glory to the Lord, before he cause darkness, and thy feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and thy expiring light be turned into gross darkness. If thou art declining in religion, having run well but for a time, the case is one which requires an attention as immediate as it must be decided. God may remove thy candlestick out of its place. He may withdraw from thy path the yet sustaining power of his grace. Rouse, rouse thyself to new efforts; awake to an enlivened zeal; kindle afresh the flame of love; remember whence thou art fallen, and by the energy of a desperate effort, lay hold on eternal life. Think where thy strength lieth, and while he is yet with thee, seize the receding angel of the covenant, and say to him, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." This subject, however, I propose to carry out more largely in the concluding discourse. At present, let me leave you with the remark repeated-that decay in religion ends in the blackness of darkness for ever. That growth in holiness, which is as the morning spread upon the mountains, issues amidst the full splendours of the heavenly kingdom, which, through free and sovereign grace, is the inheritance