The church, though in this deplorable state, was not aware of its condition, but thought all was going on well; it did not know that it was “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” This is surprising and affecting, and shows, in an alarming view, how far self-deception may be carried, especially in the case of those, who, like the members of the church at Laodicea, are much taken up with the enjoyment of worldly prosperity. Let a professor of religion have his mind much occupied with the cares of business, and his affections much engrossed with the objects of sense, and it is astonishing how ignorant and mistaken he may remain as to the real state of his soul.
The book, The Church in Earnest, was a followup book to An Earnest Ministry. It was published in 1850. This chapter is the first part of his exhortations to the churches in Revelation through Thyatira.
Souls are wont to be brought into trouble before God bestows true hope and comfort. The corrupt hearts of men naturally incline to stupidity and senselessness before God comes with the awakening influences of his Spirit. They are quiet and secure. They have no true comfort and hope, and yet they are quiet; they are at ease. They are in miserable slavery, and yet seek not a remedy.
It is a part and duty of spiritual wisdom, as also an evidence of a due reverence of God, to take notice of extraordinary occurrences in the dispensations of his providence; for they are instructive warnings, and of great importance in his government of the world. In them the “voice of the Lord crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see his name.” And there is a mark left on them, — as profligate persons, — who will not see when his hand is so lifted up. An example of this wisdom is given us here in our blessed Saviour, who, on the report that was made unto him of some severe providential accidents, then newly fallen out, gives an exposition of the mind of God in them, with an application of them unto the present duty of them that heard him, and ours therein.
John Colquhoun, former pastor New Church in South Leith, Scotland. Educated at Glasgow University. Shortly after his conversion he walked all the way from Luss to Glasgow, a distance in all of about fifty miles, to buy a copy of Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State. MonergismDOTcom
It is time to be alarmed! It is time to tremble for the church of Christ! While the enemy is thus coming in like a flood, must not the Spirit of the Lord “lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19)? How can it be expected that sinners will hearken to the voice of the Son of God when saints will not hearken? How can we hope that the world will regard what the church will not regard (Amos 6:12)? How few will be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus unless the Lord revive the languid graces of His own people and pour out His Spirit upon His enemies?
Reading from Thomas Goodwin’s works volume 10, Man’s Guiltiness Before God.
Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture as lights set up in the churches, and in the present state meet their people, from time to time, in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn aside to the right hand or the left, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it.
But perhaps it may be said, ‘I believe this, but I do not find peace in my conscience.’ Nay, but you do not believe it: if you did, it would certainly bring present relief; for guilt comes from the broken law, and from the apprehension of punishment deserved : but the law has been restored to its dignity, and made infinitely honorable by the righteousness of Jesus—how can you believe this, and yet be under guilt? The punishment was laid upon Jesus, and he suffered all that was due to his people, as their atoning sacrifice—how can you believe this, and yet fear that justice will punish you? A debtor would not fear to be arrested, if his surety had paid the sum, and got him a full discharge. A felon, with the king’s pardon in his pocket, would dishonor it greatly, if he was to live in continual dread and terror of suffering for his crime. Examine carefully, and pray for the right understanding of your case: and depend upon it, you will find that either you do not believe the matter of fact, or the record concerning it.
“But the men told him to take care of himself, and they would take care of themselves; and as to laws and ordinances they should keep them as conscientiously as he; and as to all his pretense of inward experience, the new birth, repentance and faith, and all that, it might do for such a ragged creature as he had been. All the neighbors knew that he had been a worthless wretch, and it was well indeed that he had got such a coat to cover his nakedness; but they had always gone well dressed, and having never been so bad as he was, needed not so great a change; their laws and ordinances would save them.”