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REVELATION iii. 18.
I counsel thee to buy of ME gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.
BEFORE I enter upon the consideration of this gracious counsel, I conceive it may be of use to give you some account, First, of the person who gave the advice; and, Secondly, of those to whom it was addressed.
The person who gave the advice was our Lord Jesus Christ; that Wonderful Counsellor, and Prince of Peace, foretold by the prophet Isaiah, of the increase of whose government there shall be no end. Here he styles himself the Amen, the Faithful and true Witness: One whose word may be depended upon, who does not come and go, say and unsay, but who is always in one mind,
without any variableness or shadow of turning. He is God's witness to the sons of men; and as he is perfectly acquainted with the Father, so he faithfully reports the Father's mind and will to us. His testimony is infallible; for as he cannot be deceived himself, so neither is he capable of deceiving others. I need scarcely observe to you the vast importance of this part of his character. Indeed without it, our faith, and consequently our hope and comfort, would be mere delusion; but blessed be God, the truth and faithfulness of this divine witness, doth infinitely remove from us every possible cause or ground of suspicion. Men may utter falsehoods through mistake and ignorance; or even when they know the truth, they may be induced, by selfish views, to conceal or disguise it. But neither of these grounds of distrust are applicable to our Lord. His knowledge is unlimited, and absolutely perfect; and his infinite fulness and self-sufficiency, raise him above all kinds of dissimulation or artifice. And probably this is the reason why he styles himself, in the close of the 14th verse, the Beginning, or first Cause of the creation of God. He can have no dependance upon the workmanship of his owIL hands. As their goodness cannot profit him, neither can their malice hurt him; so that he can be under no temptation, either to overawe them with imaginary terrors, or to allure them with vain and Aattering promises. Well then, the character of
Counsellor is fair and untainted; and, if the advice he gives us is kind and obliging, there is no room to question the sincerity of his good-will. Here, therefore, my brethren, is one great point gained; and as I am afterwards to lay a considerable stress upon it, I beg you may attend to it in the mean time, and consider, as I go along, that the person who spoke in this passage, and in whose name I now speak to you, is the Faithful and True Witness, the independent Creator and Governor of the world.
Let us next inquire who the persons were to whom the advice or counsel was addressed. In general they were members of Christ's visible church, and inhabitants of the ancient city of Laodicea; it appears also from the description given of them, that with respect to their spiritual concerns, they were in a very degenerate and -wretched condition. The first thing taken notice of is their lukewarmness and indifference-a temper which is peculiarly loathsome and offensive to Christ, and therefore he threatens to
spue them out of his mouth," that is, to testify his displeasure against them by some very awful and remarkable judgments. Their state is more fully represented in the verse preceding my text, where the Faithful and True Witness tells them that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and which prodigiously aggravated both their guilt and misery-they knew
it not they were insensible of it; though they might have known it, yet they would not. Such was their woeful indifference, that they did not examine their spiritual condition, but took it for granted, and boasted of it, that they were rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. And now judge, my brethren, whether these persons were worthy of any notice or regard, I mean in a way of mercy; for that they merited wrath, I suppose you will readily allow. Behold then, and admire the amazing grace and condescension of our Lord. Though the wickedness of the Laodiceans, aggravated by their pride and loathsome indifference, cried aloud for vengeance, and nothing but vengeance, yet, lo! he vouchsafes to counsel them as a friend!-O how encouraging may this be to those who are burdened with a sense of their guilt and pollution-who see their need of Christ, and pant and long for his great salvation. You say you are unworthy of his aid, and you are right when you say so; but such is his grace, as appears from this epistle, that the greatest unworthiness is no bar in the way of it. He not only counsels, but entreats those Laodiceans, whose condition was as bad as can well be imagined. Behold," says he, in the 20th verse," I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." Here then is sufficient evidence, that there VOL. III.
is mercy with Christ for the chief of sinners. This was his very errand, to seek and to save that which was lost. And therefore every soul that feels its misery has no reason to be discouraged, because of its unworthiness; on the contrary, this very temper lays it as it were in the way of his mercy; for though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.-He resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.-Yea, he dwells with those who are of a contrite spirit, and that tremble at his word. The use I intend to make of this is to obviate an objection which frequently proves hurtful to newly converted sinners. They are tempted to think that their case does not admit of any hope; having dark and imperfect views of the grace of the gospel, they put away from themselves the sweetest and most con'descending offers of mercy, supposing that they are not addressed to them, but to others whose guilt is less aggravated than theirs but give me leave to assure you, in the name of the Faithful and True Witness, whose message I now bear, that the counsel I have read to you, and which I am farther to open, is directed to every soul within these walls, the vilest not excepted. Are you wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked-hearken to the advice of your gracious Lord, an advice which he gives to every one of you in particular, as if he called you by your