Sermon 217. Declension from First Love
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, September 26, 1858, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."-Revelation 2:4.
IT IS A GREAT THING to have as much said in our commendation as was said concerning the church at Ephesus. Just read what"Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness," said of them-"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thoucanst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found themliars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." Oh,my dear brothers and sisters, we may feel devoutly thankful if we can humbly, but honestly say, that this commendationapplies to us. Happy the man whose works are known and accepted of Christ. He is no idle Christian, he has practical godliness;he seeks by works of piety to obey God's whole law, by works of charity to manifest his love to the brotherhood, and by worksof devotion to show his attachment to the cause of his Master. "I know thy works." Alas! some of you cannot get so far asthat. Jesus Christ himself can bear no witness to your works, for you have not done any. You are Christians by profession,but you are not Christians as to your practice. I say again, happy is that man to whom Christ can say, "I know thy works."It is a commendation worth a world to have as much as that said of us. But further, Christ said, "and thy labour." This ismore still. Many Christians have works, but only few Christians have labour. There were many preachers in Whitfield's daythat hadworks, but Whitfield had labour. He toiled and travailed for souls. He was "in labours more abundant." Many were theyin the apostle's days who did works for Christ; but pre-eminently the apostle Paul did labour for souls. It is not work merely,it is anxious work; it is casting forth the whole strength, and exercising all the energies for Christ. Could the Lord Jesussay as much as that of you-"I know thy labour?" No. He might say, "I know thy loitering; I know thy laziness; I know thyshirking of the work; I know thy boasting of what little thou dost; I know thine ambition to be thought something of ,when thou art nothing." But ah! friends, it is more than most of us dare to hope that Christ could say, "I know thy labour."
But further, Christ says, "I know thy patience." Now there be some that labour, and they do it well. But what does hinderthem? They only labour for a little season, and then they cease to work and begin to faint. But this church had laboured onfor many years; it had thrown out all its energies-not in some spasmodic effort, but in a continual strain and unabated zealfor the glory of God. "I know thy patience." I say again, beloved, I tremble to think how few out ofthis congregation could win such praise as this. "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canstnot bear them which are evil." The thorough hatred which the church had of evil doctrine, of evil practice, and its correspondingintense love for pure truth and pure practice-in that I trust some of us can bear a part. "And thou hast tried them whichsay they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." Here, too, I think some of us may hope to be clear. I knowthe difference between truth and error. Arminianism will never go down with us; the doctrine of men will not suit ourtaste. The husks, the bran, and the chaff, are not things that we can feed upon. And when we listen to those who preach anothergospel, a holy anger burns within us, for we love the truth as it is in Jesus; and nothing but that will satisfy us. "Andhast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." They had borne persecutions,difficulties, hardships, embarrassments, and discouragements, yet had they never flagged, but always continued faithful.Who among us here present could lay claim to so much praise as this? What Sunday-school teacher have I here who could say,"I have laboured, and I have borne, and have had patience, and have not fainted." Ah, dear friends, if you can say it, itis more than I can. Often have I been ready to faint in the Master's work; and though I trust I have not been tired of it,yet therehas sometimes been a longing to get from the work to the reward, and to go from the service of God, before I had fulfilled,as a hireling, my day. I am afraid we have not enough of patience, enough of labour, and enough of good works, to get evenas much as this said of us. But it is in our text, I fear the mass of us must find our character. "Nevertheless I have somewhatagainst thee, because thou hast left thy first love." There may be a preacher here present. Did you ever hear of a ministerwho had to preach his own funeral sermon? What a labour that must have been, to feel that he had been condemned to die,and must preach against himself, and condemn himself! I stand here to-night, not in that capacity, but in one somewhat similar.I feel that I who preach shall this night condemn myself; and my prayer before I entered this pulpit was, that I might fearlesslydischarge my duty, that I might deal honestly with my own heart, and that I might preach, knowing myself to be the chiefculprit, and you each in your measure to have offended in this respect, even though none of you so grievously as I havedone. I pray that God the Holy Spirit, through his renewings, may apply the word, not merely to your hearts, but to mine,that I may return to my first love, and that you may return with me.
In the first place, what was our first love? Secondly, how did we lose it? And thirdly, let me exhort you to get it again.
I. First, WHAT WAS OUR FIRST LOVE? Oh, let us go back-it is not many years with some of us. We are but youngsters in God'sways, and it is not so long with any of you that you will have very great difficulty in reckoning it. Then if you are Christians,those days were so happy that your memory will never forget them, and therefore you can easily return to that first brightspot in your history. Oh, what love was that which I had to my Saviour the first time he forgave mysins. I remember it. You remember each for yourselves, I dare say, that happy hour when the Lord appeared to us, bleedingon his cross, when he seemed to say, and did say in our hearts, "I am thy salvation; I have blotted out like a cloud thineiniquities, and like a thick cloud thy sins." Oh, how I loved him! Passing all loves except his own was that love which Ifelt for him then. If beside the door of the place in which I met with him there had been a stake of blazing faggots, I wouldhavestood upon them without chains; glad to give my flesh, and blood, and bones, to be ashes that should testify my love tohim. Had he asked me then to give all my substance to the poor, I would have given all and thought myself to be amazinglyrich in having beggared myself for his name's sake. Had he commanded me then to preach in the midst of all his foes, I couldhave said:-
"There's not a lamb amongst thy flock
I would disdain to feed,
There's not a foe before whose face
I'd fear thy cause to plead."
I could realize then the language of Rutherford, when he said, being full of love to Christ, once upon a time, in the dungeonof Aberdeen-"Oh, my Lord, if there were a broad hell betwixt me and thee, if I could not get at thee except by wading throughit, I would not think twice but I would plunge through it all, if I might embrace thee and call thee mine."
Now it is that first love that you and I must confess I am afraid we have in a measure lost. Let us just see whether we haveit. When we first loved the Saviour how earnest we were; there was not a single thing in the Bible, that we did not thinkmost precious; there was not one command of his that we did not think to be like fine gold and choice silver. Never were thedoors of his house open without our being there. if there were a prayer meeting at any hour in the day wewere there. Some said of us that we had no patience, we would do too much and expose our bodies too frequently-but wenever thought of that "Do yourself no harm," was spoken in our ears; but we would have done anything then. Why there are someof you who cannot walk to the Music Hall on a morning, it is too far. When you first joined the church, you would have walkedtwice as far. There are some of you who cannot be at the prayer meeting-business will not permit; yet when you were firstbaptized, there was never a prayer meeting from which you were absent. It is the loss of your first love that makes youseek the comfort of your bodies instead of the prosperity of your souls. Many have been the young Christians who have joinedthis church, and old ones too, and I have said to them, "Well, have you got a ticket for a seat?" "No, sir." "Well, what willyou do? Have you got a preference ticket?" "No, I cannot get one; but I do not mind standing in the crowd an hour, or twohours.I will come at five o'clock so that I can get in. Sometimes I don't get in, sir; but even then I feel that I have donewhat I ought to do in attempting to get in." "Well," but I have said, "you live five miles off, and there is coming and goingback twice a day-you cannot do it." "Oh, sir," they have said "I can do it; I feel so much the blessedness of the Sabbathand so much enjoyment of the presence of the Saviour." I have smiled at them; I could understand it, but I have not felt itnecessary to caution them-and now their love is cool enough. That first love does not last half so long as we could wish.Some of you stand convicted even here; you have not that blazing love, that burning love, that ridiculous love as the worldlingwould call it, which is after all the love to be most coveted and desired. No, you have lost your first love in that respect.Again, how obedient you used to be. If you saw a commandment, that was enough for you-you did it. But now you see acommandment, and you see profit on the other side; and how often do you dally with the profit and choose the temptation,instead of yielding an unsullied obedience to Christ.
Again, how happy you used to be in the ways of God. Your love was of that happy character that you could sing all day long;but now your religion has lost its lustre, the gold has become dim; you know that when you come to the Sacramental table,you often come there without enjoying it. There was a time when every bitter thing was sweet; whenever you heard the Word,it was all precious to you. Now you can grumble at the minister. Alas! the minister has many faults, but thequestion is, whether there has not been a greater charge in you than there has been in him. Many are there who say, "Ido not hear Mr. So-and-so as I used to,"-when the fault lies in their own ears. Oh, brethren, when we live near to Christ,and are in our first love, it is amazing what a little it takes to make a good preacher to us. Why, I confess I have hearda poor illiterate Primitive Methodist preach the gospel, and I felt as if I could jump for joy all the while I was listeningto him,and yet he never gave me a new thought or a pretty expression, nor one figure that I could remember, but he talked aboutChrist; and even his common things were to my hungry spirit like dainty meats. And I have to acknowledge, and, perhaps, youhave to acknowledge the same-that I have heard sermons from which I ought to have profited, but I have been thinking on theman's style, or some little mistakes in grammar. When I might have been holding fellowships with Christ in and through theministry, I have, instead thereof, been getting abroad in my thoughts even to the ends of the earth. And what is the reasonfor this, but that I have lost my first love.
Again: when we were in our first love, what would we do for Christ; now how little will we do. Some of the actions which weperformed when we were young Christians, but just converted, when we look back upon them, seem to have been wild and likeidle tales. You remember when you were a lad and first came to Christ, you had a half-sovereign in your pocket; it was theonly one you had, and you met with some poor saint and gave it all away. You did not regret that you haddone it, your only regret was that you had not a great deal more, for you would have given all. You recollected that somethingwas wanted for the cause of Christ. Oh! we could give anything away when we first loved the Saviour. If there was a preachingto be held five miles off, and we could walk with the lay-preacher to be a little comfort to him in the darkness, we wereoff. If there was a Sunday-school, however early it might be, we would be up, so that we might be present. Unheard-of feats,things that we now look back upon with surprise, we could perform them. Why cannot we do them now? Do you know there aresome people who always live upon what they have been. I speak very plainly now. There is a brother in this church who maytake it to himself; I hope he will. It is not very many years ago since he said to me, when I asked him why he did not dosomething-"Well, I have done my share; I used to do this, and I have done the other; I have done so-and-so." Oh, may the Lorddeliver him, and all of us, from living on "has beens!" It will never do to say we have done a thing. Suppose, for a solitarymoment, the world should say, "I have turned round; I will stand still." Let the sea say, "I have been ebbing and flowing,lo! these many years; I will ebb and flow no more." Let the sun say, "I have been shining, and I have been rising and settingso many days; I have done this enough to earn me a goodly name; I will stand still;" and let the moon wrap herself up inveils of darkness, and say, "I have illuminated many a night, and I have lighted many a weary traveller across the moors;I will shut up my lamp and be dark forever." Brethren, when you and I cease to labour, let us cease to live. God has no intentionto let us live a useless life. But mark this; when we leave our first works, there is no question about having lost our firstlove; that is sure. If there be strength remaining, if there be still power mentally and physically, if we cease from ouroffice, if we abstain from our labours, there is no solution of this question which an honest conscience will accept,except this, "Thou hast lost thy first love, and, therefore, thou hast neglected thy first works." Ah! we were all so veryready to make excuses for ourselves. Many a preacher has retired from the ministry, long before he had any need to do so.He has married a rich wife. Somebody has left him a little money, and he can do without it. He was growing weak in the waysof God, orelse he would have said,
"My body with my charge lay down,
And cease at once to work and live."
And let any man here present who was a Sunday-school teacher and who has left it, who was a tract distributor and who hasgiven it up, who was active in the way of God but is now idle, stand to-night before the bar of his conscience, and say whetherhe be not guilty of this charge which I bring against him, that he has lost his first love.
I need not stop to say also, that this may be detected in the closet as well as in our daily life; for when first love islost, there is a want of that prayerfulness which we have. I remember the day I was up at three o'clock in the morning. Tillsix, I spent in prayer, wrestling with God. Then I had to walk some eight miles, and started off and walked to the baptism.Why, prayer was a delight to me then. My duties at that time kept me occupied pretty well from fiveo'clock in the morning till ten at night, and I had not a moment for retirement, yet I would be up at four o'clock topray; and though I feel very sleepy now-a-days, and I feel that I could not be up to pray, it was not so then, when I wasin my first love. Somehow or other, I never lacked time then. If I did not get it early in the morning, I got it late at night.I was compelled to have time for prayer with God; and what prayer it was! I had no need then to groan because I could notpray; forlove, being fervent, I had sweet liberty at the throne of grace. But when first love departs, we begin to think that tenminutes will do for prayer, instead of an hour, and we read a verse or two in the morning, whereas we used to read a portion,but never used to go into the world without getting some marrow and fatness. Now, business has so increased, that we mustget into bed as soon as we can; we have not time to pray. And then at dinner time, we used to have a little time for communion;that is dropped. And then on the Sabbath-day, we used to make it a custom to pray to God when we got home from his house,for just five minutes before dinner, so that what we heard we might profit by; that is dropped. And some of you that are presentwere in the habit of retiring for prayer when you went home; your wives have told that story; the messengers have heard itwhen they have called at your houses, when they have asked the wife-"What is your husband?" "Ah!" she has said, "he is agodly man; he cannot come home to his breakfast but he must slip upstairs alone. I know what he is doing-he is praying.Then when he is at table, he often says-"Mary, I have had a difficulty to-day, we must go and have a word or two of prayertogether." And some of you could not take a walk without prayer, you were so fond of it you could not have too much of it.Now where is it? You know more than you did; you have grown older; you have grown richer, perhaps. You have grown wiser insomerespects; but you might give up all you have got, to go back to
"Those peaceful hours you once enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still!"
Oh, what would you give if you could fill
"That aching void,
The world can never fill,"
but which only the same love that you had at first, can ever fully satisfy!
II. And now, beloved, WHERE DID YOU AND I LOSE OUR FIRST LOVE, if we have lost it? Let each one speak for himself, or rather,let me speak for each.
Have you not lost your first love in the world some of you? You used to have that little shop once, you had not very muchbusiness; well, you had enough, and a little to spare. However, there was a good turn came in business; you took two shops,and you are getting on very well. Is it not marvellous, that when you grew richer and had more business, you began to haveless grace?
Oh, friends, it is a very serious thing to grow rich? Of all the temptations to which God's children are exposed it is theworst, because it is one that they do not dread, and therefore it is the more subtle temptation. You know a traveller if heis going a journey, takes a staff with him, it is a help to him; but suppose he is covetous, and says, "I will have a hundredof these sticks," that will be no help to him at all; he has only got a load to carry, and it stops hisprogress instead of assisting him. But I do believe there are many Christians that lived near to God, when they were livingon a pound a week, that might give up their yearly incomes with the greatest joy, if they could have now the same contentment,the same peace of mind, the same nearness of access to God, that they had in times of poverty. Ah, too much of the world isa bad thing for any man! I question very much whether a man ought not sometimes to stop, and say, "There is an opportunityof doing more trade, but it will require the whole of my time, and I must give up that hour I have set apart for prayer;I will not do the trade at all; I have enough, and therefore let it go. I would rather do trade with heaven than trade withearth."
Again: do you not think also that perhaps you may have lost your first love by getting too much with worldly people? Whenyou were in your first love, no company suited you but the godly; but now you have got a young man that you talk with, whotalks a great deal more about frivolity, and gives you a great deal more of the froth and scum of levity, than he ever givesyou of solid godliness. Once you were surrounded by those that fear the Lord, but now you dwell in thetents of "Freedom," where you hear little but cursing. But, friends, he that carrieth coals in his bosom must be burned;and he that hath ill companions cannot but be injured. Seek, then, to have godly friends, that thou mayest maintain thy firstlove.
But another reason. Do you not think that perhaps you have forgotten how much you owe to Christ? There is one thing, thatI feel from experience I am compelled to do very often, viz., to go back to where I first started:-
" I, the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me."
You and I get talking about our being saints; we know our election, we rejoice in our calling, we go on to sanctification;and we forget the hole of the pit whence we were digged. Ah, remember my brother, thou art nothing now but a sinner savedthrough grace; remember what thou wouldst have been, if the Lord had left thee. And surely, then, by going back continuallyto first principles, and to the great foundation stone, the cross of Christ, thou wilt be led to go back tothy first love.
Dost thou not think, again, that thou hast lost thy first love by neglecting communion with Christ? Now preacher, preach honestly,and preach at thyself. Has there not been, sometimes, this temptation to do a great deal for Christ, but not to live a greatdeal with Christ? One of my besetting sins, I feel, is this. If there is anything to be done actively for Christ, I instinctivelyprefer the active exercise to the passive quiet of his presence. There are some of you,perhaps, that are attending a Sunday school, who would be more profitably employed to your own souls if you were spendingthat hour in communion with Christ. Perhaps, too, you attend the means so often, that you have no time in secret to improvewhat you gain in the means. Mrs. Bury once said, that if "all the twelve apostles were preaching in a certain town, and wecould have the privilege of hearing them preach, yet if they kept us out of our closets, and led us to neglect prayer, betterforus never to have heard their names, than to have gone to listen to them." We shall never love Christ much except we livenear to him. Love to Christ is dependent on our nearness to him. It is just like the planets and the sun. Why are some ofthe planets cold? Why do they move at so slow a rate? Simply because they are so far from the sun: put them where the planetMercury is, and they will be in a boiling heat, and spin round the sun in rapid orbits. So, beloved, if we live near to Christ,wecannot help loving him: the heart that is near Jesus must be full of his love. But when we live days and weeks and monthswithout personal intercourse, without real fellowship, how can we maintain love towards a stranger? He must be a friend, andwe must stick close to him, as he sticks close to us-closer than a brother; or else, we shall never have our first love.
There are a thousand reasons that I might have given, but I leave each of you to search your hearts, to find out why you havelost, each of you, your first love.
III. Now, dear friends, just give me all your attention for a moment, while I earnestly beseech and implore of you to SEEKTO GET YOUR FIRST LOVE RESTORED. Shall I tell you why? Brother, though thou be a child of God, if thou hast lost thy firstlove, there is some trouble near at hand. "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth," and he is sure to chasten thee when thousinnest. It is calm with you to night, is it? Oh! but dread that calm, there is a tempest lowering. Sin isthe harbinger of tempest: read the history of David. All David's life, in all his troubles, even in the rocks of the wildgoats, and in the caves of Engedi, he was the happiest of men till he lost his first love; and from the day when his lustfuleye was fixed upon Bathsheba, even to the last, he went with broken bones sorrowing to his grave. It was one long string ofafflictions: take heed it be not so with thee. "Ah, but," you say, "I shall not sin as David did." Brother, you cannot tell:ifyou have lost your first love, what should hinder you but that you should lose your first purity? Love and purity go together.He that loveth is pure; he that loveth little shall find his purity decrease, until it becomes marred and polluted. I shouldnot like to see you, my dear friends, tried and troubled: I do weep with them that weep. If there be a child of yours sick,and I hear of it, I can say honestly, I do feel something like a father to your children, and as a father to you. If youhave sufferings and afflictions, and I know them, I desire to feel for you, and spread your griefs before the throne ofGod. Oh, I do not want my heavenly Father to take the rod out to you all; but he will do it, if you fall from your first love.As sure as ever he is a Father, he will let you have the rod if your love cools. Bastards may escape the rod. If you are onlybase-born professors you may go happily along; but the true-born child of God, when his love declines, must and shall smartfor it.
There is yet another thing, my dear friends, if we lose our first love-what will the world say of us if we lose our firstlove? I must put this, not for our name's sake, but for God's dear name's sake. O what will the world say of us? There wasa time, and it is not gone yet, when men must point at this church, and say of it, "There is a church, that is like a brightoasis in the midst of a desert, a spot of light in the midst of darkness." Our prayer meetings wereprayer meetings indeed, the congregations were as attentive as they were numerous. Oh, how you did drink in the words;how your eyes flashed with a living fire, whenever the name of Christ was mentioned! And what, if in a little time it shallbe said, "Ah, that church is quite as sleepy as any other; look at them when the minister preaches, why they can sleep underhim, they do not seem to care for the truth. Look at the Spurgeonites, they are just as cold and careless as others; theyused tobe called the most pugnacious people in the world, for they were always ready to defend their Master's name and theirMaster's truth, and they got that name in consequence, but now you may swear in their presence and they will not rebuke you:how near these people once used to live to God and his house, they were always there; look at their prayer meetings, theywould fill their seats as full at a prayer meeting as at an ordinary service; now they are all gone back." "Ah," says theworld, "justwhat I said; the fact is, it was a mere spasm, a little spiritual excitement, and it has all gone down." And the worldlingsays, "Ah, ah, so would I have it, so would I have it!" I was reading only the other day of an account of my ceasing to bepopular; it was said my chapel was now nearly empty, that nobody went to it: and I was exceedingly amused and interested."Well, if it come to that," I said, "I shall not grieve or cry very much; hut if it is said the church has left its zeal andfirstlove, that is enough to break any honest pastor's heart." Let the chaff go, but if the wheat remain we have comfort. Letthose who are the outer-court worshippers cease to hear, what signifieth? let them turn aside, but O, ye soldiers of the Cross,if ye turn your backs in the day of battle, where shall I hide my head? what shall I say for the great name of my Master,or for the honour of his gospel? It is our boast and joy, that the old-fashioned doctrine has been revived in these days,andthat the truth that Calvin preached, that Paul preached, and that Jesus preached, is still mighty to save, and far surpassesin power all the neologies and new-fangled notions of the present time. But what will the heretic say, when he sees it isall over? "Ah," he will say, "that old truth urged on by the fanaticism of a foolish young man, did wake the people a little;but it lacked marrow and strength, and it all died away!" Will ye thus dishonour your Lord and Master, ye children of theheavenly king? I beseech you do not so-but endeavour to receive again as a rich gift of the Spirit your first love.
And now, once again, dear friends, there is a thought that ought to make each of us feel alarmed, if we have lost our firstlove. May not this question arise in our hearts-Was I ever a child of God at all? Oh, my God, must I ask myself this question?Yes, I will. Are there not many of whom it is said, they went out from us because they were not of us; for if they had beenof us, doubtless they would have continued with us? Are there not some whose goodness is as themorning cloud and as the early dew-may that not have been my case? I am speaking for you all. Put the question-may I nothave been impressed under a certain sermon, and may not that impression have been a mere carnal excitement? May it not havebeen that I thought I repented but did not really repent? May it not have been the case, that I got a hope somewhere but hadnot a right to it? And I never had the loving faith that unites me to the Lamb of God. And may it not have been that I onlythought I had love to Christ, and never had it, for if I really had love to Christ should I be as I now am? See how farI have come down! May I not keep on going down until my end shall be perdition, and the never-dying worm, and the fire unquenchable?Many have gone from heights of a profession to the depths of damnation, and may not I be the same? May it not be true of methat I am as a wandering star for whom is reserved blackness of darkness for ever? May I not have shone brightly in themidst of the church for a little while, and yet may I not be one of those poor foolish virgins who took no oil in my vesselwith my lamp, and therefore my lamp will go out? Let me think, if I go on as I am, it is impossible for me to stop, if I amgoing downwards I may go on going downwards. And O my God, if I go on backsliding for another year-who knows where I may havebackslidden to? Perhaps into some gross sin. Prevent, prevent it by thy grace! Perhaps I may backslide totally. If I am achild of God I know I cannot do that. But still, may it not happen that I only thought I was a child of God, and may Inot so far go back that at last my very name to live shall go because I always have been dead? Oh! how dreadful it is to thinkand to see in our church, members who turn out to be dead members! If I could weep tears of blood, they would not expressthe emotion that I ought to feel, and that you ought to feel, when you think there are some among us that are dead branchesof aliving vine. Our deacons find that there is much of unsoundness in our members. I grieve to think that because we cannotsee all our members, there are many who have backslidden. There is one who says, "I joined the church, it is true, but I neverwas converted. I made a profession of being converted, but I was not, and now I take no delight in the things of God. I ammoral, I attend the house of prayer, but I am not converted. My name may be taken off the books; I am not a godly man." Thereare others among you who perhaps have gone even further than that-have gone into sin, and yet I may not know it. It maynot come to my ears in so large a church as this. Oh! I beseech you, my dear friends, by him that liveth and was dead, letnot your good be evil spoken of, by losing your first love.
Are there some among you that are professing religion, and not possessing it? Oh, give up your profession, or else get the truth and sell it not. Go home, each of you, and cast yourselves on yourfaces before God, and ask him to search you, and try you, and know your ways, and see if there be any evil way in you, andpray that he may lead you in the way everlasting. And if hitherto you have only professed, but have not possessed, seek yethe Lord while he maybe found, and call ye upon him while he is near. Ye are warned, each one of you; you are solemnly told to search yourselvesand make short work of it. And if any of you be hypocrites, at God's great day, guilty as I may be in many respects, thereis one thing I am clear of-I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. I do not believe that any people in theworld shall be damned more terribly than you shall if you perish; for of this thing I have not shunned to speak-the greatevil of making a profession without being sound at heart. No, I have even gone so near to personality, that I could nothave gone further without mentioning your names. And rest assured, God's grace being with me, neither you nor myself shallbe spared in the pulpit in any personal sin that I may observe in any one of you. But oh, do let us be sincere! May the Lordsooner split this church till only a tenth of you remain, than ever suffer you to be multiplied a hundred-fold unless youbemultiplied with the living in Zion, and with the holy flock that the Lord himself hath ordained, and will keep unto theend. To-morrow morning, we shall meet together and pray, that we may have our first love restored; and I hope many of youwill be found there to seek again the love which you have almost lost.
And as for you that never had that love at all, the Lord breathe it upon you now for the love of Jesus. Amen.