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yourselves have formed of it. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. You do not openly renounce and disavow my religion, but neither do you mind it as your great concern. You have neither the cold indifference of the infidel, nor the sacred fervour of the true Christian. This state of mind is represented as peculiarly offensive to Christ, and the conduct resulting from it as more hurtful to his cause than that of the avowed infidel, or the openly profane. No man thinks the worse of religion for what he sees in the conduct of those who make no pretensions to religion; but it is otherwise with those who name the name of Christ, and yet do not depart from iniquity. Because of these, the way of truth is evil spoken of, and the name of God is blasphemed. It is on this account that our Saviour wishes that the Laodiceans were either cold or hot; either that they made no pretensions to the Christian character, or that they would adorn it by a life and conversation becoming the gospel. The counsel which our Saviour gives them, is first of all to renounce their pride and self-conceit. They were poor and blind and miserable, and yet they imagined they were rich, and had no need of spiritual illumination, nor of any thing whatever. To counsel is added a word of encouragement and warning. Jesus stands at the door, and knocks for admission into their hearts. If they hear him, and give him admission, he will come in and be their guest. But if they are so taken up with their present company as not to hear him, or at least not to open to him, he will depart, as he did from the Jewish temple, saying, Behold your house is left unto you desolate! Such is the import of the textBehold, 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.
In treating on this important subject, we shall,
I. Enquire what this declaration of our Lord, Behold, I stand at the door and knock, may be
supposed to imply.
II. We shall endeavour to point out the duty of those to whom these words are addressed, to hear his voice, and open the door of their hearts to him.-And,
III. We shall shew the import of the promise annexed to this duty, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
I. We are to enquire what this declaration of our Lord, Behold, I stand at the door and knock, may be supposed to imply.
The body, in relation to the soul that inhabits it, is often spoken of in scripture and in common language, as a house, a tabernacle, a tenement of clay. And sometimes both soul and body, or the whole man, in relation to God, who ought to possess all our powers and faculties, is called a house or temple. Know ye not, says the apostle, when speaking to real Christians, that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? The persons here addressed are of an opposite character. They are merely nominal Christians, who,
though they name the name of Christ, do not depart from iniquity, and, though they trust in them, selves that they are righteous, are utterly devoid of the Spirit and grace of Christ. And when he is here represented as standing and knocking at the door of their hearts, two things seem to be implied. 1. The condescending goodness and patience with which he waited for the conversion of the Laodiceans, and with which he waits for the conversion of sinners in general. And, 2. The persevering endeavours which he uses to accomplish that end.
1. The condescending goodness and patience with which he waits for the conversion of sinners of mankind.
Endeavour, if it be possible, to conceive the hatred which he necessarily entertains against sin, and the long-suffering patience with which he waits for the conversion of the sinner must appear truly astonishing. We can easily bear with that which does not affect or interest us. But to hate şin as Jesus hates it; to desire the salvation of men with the same ardour that he desires it; to be offended and grieved as he is with their impenitence; to bear with their numberless offences committed against the light of his gospel, in defiance of its threatenings and promises, and the benefits he has procured for all those who believe in and obey him—this is long-suffering patience the most wonderful and astonishing! The Lord is indeed patient towards us, not willing that we should perish, but that we should come to repentance and live.
When the message
But let us not imagine that his long-suffering patience is mute and inactive. Behold, says he, I. stand at the door and knock. Knocking is a figurative expression, denoting all the means which our Lord makes use of for the conversion of sinners. He knocks at the door of their hearts by his Word, by his Providence, and by his Spirit.
1. By his Word.---Though his personal ministry was confined to one age and nation, yet by the sacred oracles, by gospel ministers, he even now speaketh to us from heaven. which we are now considering was delivered to the church of Laodicea, he was not then upon earth, nor did he preach to them by his personal ministry any more than he does to us. Notwithstanding of this he says, I knock; because he made the exhortations of his gospel to be addressed to them, and the same thing he continues to do to us. Though published by men, weak and sinful in themselves, his gospel proves mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It displays the guilt and misery of sin, and unfolds the terrors of divine justice; but it opens also the door of hope to the penitent, and comforts those that mourn. It not only reveals the way of holiness, but it also exhorts and strengthens us to walk therein. Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 2. Christ likewise knocks at the door of the heart by his Providence.We have, perhaps, been laid upon a sick bed, or the most distressing events have occurred in our families. The desire of our eyes is taken away at a stroke; our children, one after another, are torn from our embraces ; Simeon is not, and Joseph is not, and Benjamin likewise is threatened to be taken from us. By these means has he, who only can be a sufficient and satisfying portion to our souls, been knocking at the door of our hearts. We have abounded in blessings, but we have forgotten the hand that bestowed them, or we have valued them more than the Giver. He hath taken them from us, to convince us of the vanity of the present world, and to fix our hopes on a better. He has been seeking the possession of those hearts of ours which have been too long occupied with fleeting, transitory, and unsatisfying enjoyments. Such were the reflections of a pious lady, on receiving intelligence that her two sons (all her remaining family) were drowned in one day, while bathing in a neighbouring river :“ I see,” said she, “ that God will have heart, and he shall have it.”
3. Christ also knocks at the door of our hearts by his Spirit.-In the hours of solitude, in those moments of serious reflection which retirement has afforded us, we have, doubtless, had frequent suspicions that all was not right with us. Conscience has suggested, that, though we had the form, we were destitute of the power of godliness ; and that, if we should die in our present state, we must be for ever miserable. These were the striy